Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #24

Name: Heather Hawke
Genre: YA Fantasy
Tagline: When noble-born Raven joins the rebels to escape being forced to secretly bear the king’s heir, she risks her life to lead a coup and restore her family to power, but the real price of failure is slavery for everyone she loves.

First 250:

My brother had no name. He was our secret. Until the night we were betrayed.

Mother towed me along with such speed that I soared between impossibly long steps. Her dress wrapped around me; the cloth billowed and flowed like jewel colored clouds. I felt her fear as we ran for our lives. Even though I was small for twelve summers, I slowed her flight.

“Hurry Vellineuvia!” she hissed at me between gasps for breath. “They’ll find us!”

My side cramped with pain.

I looked over at my brother in the evening light. Mother clutched his hand too. He was taller than I was and could keep pace. He grinned and giggled. Sometimes he would talk, but only to me.

“Veldt,” he would say, “Veldt, Veldt, Veldt.”

That was his name for me.

Mother and Father just called him “our lamb.” He had never been allowed outside; even the courtyards of our home were too exposed. My sisters and I had seen little of the world either. Before going out, my nurse would shroud our faces in veils that were supposed to hide our mahogany-colored eyes from unworthy peasants.
That day, I had no gauze to smudge the city of Ursing into opacity.

My two older sisters ran together behind us over the decrepit floating walkways that united the marsh city’s many islands. I don’t think I had ever seen them hold hands before.


  1. Love the title. The tagline feels long, like you're trying to cram too much into it.

    I think if you tweaked the first line to be - My brother was our secret - it's hookier.

    Was completely sucked in to the excerpt. Well done!

    1. Yes, those taglines are a beast. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I agree that the tagline feels a bit long, but I didn't get hung up too much trying to understand what you were saying, which is a good thing. Sometimes in the excerpt your writing is too choppy for me, but I think you're trying to capture their moment of escape in that style. Other than those few things, your excerpt completely pulled me in! Good job!

    1. Hey Ambiguous - yes, it is a bit choppy here. I am usually accused of being too "lyrical." This is an example of me fighting against that urge. I will squint at this scene to see if I took it too far. Thanks!

  3. I agree that the tagline is wordy, especially the first part "When noble-born Raven joins the rebels to escape being forced to secretly bear the king’s heir..."

    I'm curious to know why the MC felt someone betrayed her and and her family. I'd keep on reading to find that out.

  4. I totally agree that the tagline is a bit wordy and awkward. I kind of got lost, and my mind started wandering.

    I like the excerpt though. I'm curious to know why they are running. The tension is certainly there. And I'm certainly curious to know why they have to hide their faces. I'd read more!

    1. Le sigh - oh that tagline. I gets to work. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Are you a gardener? I was flipping through the entries but had to pause to read this one because of the title. I have Raven's Wing cow parsley growing in my garden; a relative of the wild Queen Anne's Lace, which seems appropriate to your story. :)

    You do a good job of starting to set up the world even while describing their flight. Lots of intriguing details, but I don't feel like the tension flags as they're shared.

    I don't think you need the opening line; everything it says is shared later on in your excerpt, and just the fact that they're on the run is enough to create tension for the reader. You could start with "Mother towed me along..."

    1. Hey Seabrooke. Too funny. I am indeed a gardener and preserver of all foods abundant. However, I had no idea about the parsley despite making parsley pesto in bulk and freezing every year. Also, I'm a botanist of sorts (work with rare or invasive plants) and still had no clue. I've even pointed out the (crucial) difference between local anise vs. poison hemlock (in same family) to students. I learned something today and that makes me happy. :)

      The opening 3 lines are funny in this context. They really comes above the chapter heading. A number of other chapters are the same as the whole ms is actually a letter to a specific fictional person. Those bits are a direct address. So, in a sense, I do as you suggest.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

    2. Seabrooke - just stalked you. Moths! How cool! I used to do a lot of endangered butterfly and other invertebrate work. Are you among the entries somewhere?

  6. While the tagline twisted my tongue and confused my mind, I am in love with your words. Really well done. Love the images-the mom's dress, the sister's holding hands, the city without the gauze. The only thing I would nitpick is if they're running for their lives and the mom's out of breath, wouldn't she use a shorter name for her daughter. Surely she doesn't always call her by her full name.

    I would read more for sure.

  7. I loved your tagline. I think it works really well. I can sort of see why others found it wordy (there were a few minor clunky spots) but all in all I think it pitched the story very, very well.

    Your first 250 words were wonderful. The language and descriptions were so beautiful! I really loved the image of the mother's dress billowing around her feet. That was so pretty. The only thing I'd watch out for is some parts where there was telling--you didn't really need it and it can be deleted without altering the rest of the page. For instance, you said: "I felt her fear as we ran for our lives. Even though I was small for twelve summers, I slowed her flight." While the voice and word choices here are done so well, I really don't think you need this bit. Mostly because the mother's body language in the next few sentences says the same thing but *shows* the image very clearly--that the MC is slowing her mother down and that her mom is afraid. (Maybe even add another sentence to show the mom looking over her shoulder, to drive the point home.)

    Well done! I would absolutely read more of this!

  8. Loved your 250 words! I could feel the family fleeing together. Great imagery!

    I'm a bit confused as to who Raven is that is mentioned in the tagline?