Saturday, September 26, 2015

Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens in 1 Week!

Our October workshop will open for entries on Saturday October 3, 2015, at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author Lee Bross and agent Saba Sulaiman!

And we have a new format! The workshop is three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Saba will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

October Guest Mentor – Lee Bross

LEE BROSS is the author of Tangled WebsFates and Chaos (as Lanie Bross), and she writes NA (Right Where you Are releasing 11/15/2015, and Whatever it Takes, releasing 12/15/15) as L.E Bross. She was born in a small town in Maine, where she spent the next eighteen years dreaming of bigger places. After exploring city life, she and her husband and two young sons ended up going right back to the wilds of Maine. They now live just one house down from where she grew up. Fate, perhaps? Lee loves chasing her rambunctious kids, playing tug-of-war with her ninety-five-pound Lab, and writing for teens. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter.

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and add to Goodreads!

October Guest Agent - Saba Sulaiman

After double majoring in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies at Wellesley, Saba studied modern Persian Literature at the University of Chicago, where she got involved with editing the department’s academic journal. And it finally hit her—working closely with writers to hone their craft; seeing a piece of writing from its inception through to its eventual publication; and advocating for what she believed was stellar prose worthy of recognition—this was her calling. So she interned at various newspaper and magazine publications, worked as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, and then wound up at Talcott Notch, where she’s excited to begin her career as a literary agent. She is looking for strong voices and unconventional narratives that really make her sit up, pay attention, and move her. Introduce her to unforgettable characters with complex, deep relationships, and show her worlds where things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Intelligent, sharp writing with soul is her biggest weakness, and if you can offer a fresh perspective on top of that, she’ll probably be sold.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

1st 5 Pages September Workshop - French Revision 2 + Pitch

Christa French


Cate’s magic is the worst. She loves singing and dancing through the Free Cities with her traveling caravan show; magic threatens everything. Unlike normal, cookfire-and-candle magic, Cate’s manifests as wildfires. Or earthquakes. Or blood rain.

When her mother dies, Cate starts to lose control. She has to find a magic teacher, fast, and there’s only one place to look: the magician-priests of the Union – terrifying, self-mutilated, and morally opposed to such frivolities as singing, dancing, and freedom. But when Cate travels to the Union and meets her first priest, she finds the last thing she expected: love. And also that the Union is about to invade her homeland.

Cate must fight for control – not just of her magic, but of those who would use her for it. As the world erupts into war, she must make peace with her own destructive power in order to protect those she loves.

UNION is a young adult fantasy novel about making one’s place in the world, complete at 79,500 words. It will appeal to readers of Kristin Cashore, Rae Carson, and Sarah Maas.



I’m dreaming of my mother when fire wakes me.

My wagon is blazing, flames spread beyond saving anything but my own skin. My eyes burn; smoke strangles my screams. A crockery jar explodes, sending jagged shards to slit my cheek. The canvas cover is in tatters, burning to bright ash, revealing the night sky. And there, unmistakable even in the roaring chaos of the fire, singing through my veins as the last of it leaves my body, is the magic.

I wrap the blanket around myself and launch over the side of the wagon to the ground. Someone screams, and I hear running feet. I'm rolled over and over inside my cover. I struggle out, coughing and disoriented, a circle of indistinct faces staring down at me. Then I scramble up in panic and lurch back toward the wagon. Mama hasn’t been able to walk by herself for a year. I have to get to her.

“Cate! No!” Hands clutch at me, but I break free.

“I have to get Mama!”

“Cate!” The new voice stops me. It’s Nerissa. My best friend scrambles between me and the wagon and plants her feet, palms digging into my shoulders. Her dark hair rises behind her like flame, caught in the updraft. “Stop it! She’s not in there! Catey! Look at me!”

I blink. Try to wake up.

My mother is not in the wagon, I remember, because she is already dead.

I let Nerissa pull me back toward the others. The rest of my caravan stands a safe distance from the flames, contortionists, fortune tellers, animal trainers, and musicians all staring at the blaze that used to be my wagon. Behind them, just visible in the pre-dawn light, rise the great stone faces of what we on the island call the Gathering of the Gods: a host of well-worn statues, some lovingly preserved, some mysterious with age. Among them stands the Lady of Mist, goddess of the dead, at whose feet I personally vomited earlier tonight.

Nerissa says, "Calm down, Cate. You have to calm down.” She’s right. I squeeze my eyes shut, try to let the searing emotions of the dream fade into the night.

“Are you all right?”

I am not. I’m still wearing my green dress, slightly drunk on the wine of my mother’s funeral celebration. I have burns I can barely feel. And everything I had left of my mother is charring to cinder.

Because I can’t control the magic.

Someone tugs at my skirt. It's Boggle, the goblin who rides with our caravan. The top of his head only comes to my knees, but I see his knobby black body plainly in the firelight. He butts his head against my legs and winds around them, humming and hopping a cheerful dance.

At least someone likes my magic.


In the morning I sit a fair distance from the cook fire, wrapped in one of Nerissa’s blankets, and let her brew raspberry tea for both of us. Boggle sits close by, eyeing Nerissa’s proceedings and smacking his lips.

Nerissa would be with me anyway, but as of last night she’s officially also here as my babysitter. No one has decided yet what to do when I sleep, but in the daytime, they rest of the caravan will be taking shifts to stay near and keep me calm. To stave off magical catastrophe.

I pick at the dressing on my burns and wish the air would stop smelling of smoke and ash. At least, I tell myself, it only burned my wagon, and not anyone else’s. At least it wasn’t worse.

At least this time it wasn’t blood rain.

Minor fire magic is normal. I’ve met plenty of people who could heat a pot or kindle a cookfire, and our sword-swallower lines his blades with magic flame for his act. I’ve heard there are a few wild magicians in the Union – but to Unionists, Free Cities folk are all godless heretics, in need of salvation by punishment. The only wild magician I ever knew was my mother; and by the time my own wild magic showed up, she was too sick to train me.

My friend Carolaine stumbles up, still strapping on her knives, and heaves down next to us. She came all the way from Kern for the funeral, and she’s not used to the caravan's famous white liquor. Nerissa has been at the stuff since she was ten, and she's sipping more from a hip flask right now. I’d join her, but I can’t afford anything that might make me lose control.

“You look like you’ve been wadded up in a pocket,” Nerissa tells Carolaine, smoothing her own pretty blue dress. “Don’t traders learn how to drink?”

Carolaine doesn’t answer. Instead, she palms a knife and whips it into the dirt between Nerissa’s feet. It shocks me out of my self pity, and I let out a startled laugh. Nerissa sticks her tongue out at both of us.

“Kern girls learn other skills,” I snicker, picking up the knife, feeling its heft.

“You should let me teach you,” says Carolaine, her frown making it clear I’m not holding the blade right.

“I could use knife tricks in my act,” chirps Nerissa. Carolaine glowers at her.

“Weapons are not for tricks. They’re for self-defense.”

“Oh, no,” I laugh. “We don't defend ourselves with knives. Nerissa and I are caravan girls! We entertain! When that doesn’t work, we lie. And when that doesn’t work, we run away.”

“Is that your plan for the magic?” Carolaine says. "It's getting worse, Cate."

Carolaine doesn’t pull punches. That’s more fun sometimes than others, and this one lands hard. I hand the knife back. "It’s never happened in my sleep before."

"She was upset last night," Nerissa says, and scoots closer to me. She glares at Carolaine. This is like a starling glaring at a hawk. "It was her mother's funeral. That doesn't happen all the time."

"No," I say. "Carolaine's right. It's getting worse."

Nerissa bites her lip. After a moment, she offers Carolaine some tea, but the bigger girl waves it away. Nerissa gives me a cup, hands Boggle a smaller one, and drinks the rest herself, adding a generous splash from her flask.

Carolaine asks, "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know,” I say, and that is the truest sentiment I’ve uttered in weeks. I’ve been trying to be strong and sometimes succeeding, but right now I’m lost. I press my eyes closed, trying to clear them. They burn from the smoke. “Mama was so sure she could teach me to control it, but at the end . . . well, Nerissa knows. At the end she couldn't remember my name."

Carolaine half-rises, then shakes her head and sits again. It seems like she wants to comfort me but doesn't know how. I smile at her, putting my caravan-girl charm to good effect. Carolaine calls this “lying with your face,” but right now I don’t care. I can’t handle her sympathy on top of everything else.

"It's okay. I said goodbye to Mama before last night." At least that much is true. My mother was a shadow for the last year, a mumbling skeleton who had to be protected from herself. I’m glad, for her sake, that she’s gone to the Other Land. But for myself . . . I could use a little help.

1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Wallace Revision 2 + Pitch

Name: Marie Wallace
Genre: YA - SciFi/Horror
Title: WEIRD

17 year old Evangeline Aster isn’t clever or pretty or brave, but she has a power. Evan can blow things up just by feeling sad. Or happy. Or any other normal human emotion. To keep everyone safe, all she has to do is keep her emotions in check.  Unfortunately, her dad has just died, her twin sister is a monster, and they’ve both been sent to boarding school in middle-of-nowhere Vermont. Nestled on top of Glastenbury, a dangerous mountain full of dark and twisted secrets, Aldebaran is no ordinary boarding school. Danger lurks around every mossy corner--the perfect triggers for Evan’s emotion-fueled-bomb. But the people at the Academy already know this. They’ve brought Evan to the mountain of nightmares on purpose, to take her power and turn it into a weapon that no one on Earth could ever survive.

My story is the stuff that bad movies are made from. 
Late last week and in the middle of a thunderstorm, an exhumed plot from cinema’s graveyard had come knocking, stealing away our father and sealing my fate.  
Boarding the woods...with my sister Morgen. The orphaned-teenage-girl-attends-creepy-school-movie-of-the-week, had officially become my life.
I almost cried. Almost. My tears still weighed heavy, stinging my insides, but I couldn’t let them trickle out. I wasn’t allowed to grieve. As my doctors had put it, feeling strong emotions are ‘inadvisable’ for someone with my condition. Especially while traveling on a six and a half hour flight. 
You see, I have superpowers.
Sort of. Stuff blows up when I get upset. Or pissed off. Or over the moon happy, although I can’t remember what that last one feels like. It’s more glamorous to call yourself superhuman than human-grenade. Honestly, my condition is a nightmare. It makes being a teenager impossible. 
The only thing protecting the rest of Flight 777 from me were the pharmaceuticals pumping through my veins.
Tears would have to wait.
The old Boeing finally touched down in Burlington Vermont. I picked the last bits of Nevada out from under my fingernails, having gotten up extra early that morning to throw dirt on my father’s coffin. As we waited for the plane to taxi-in, I felt the heat of Morgen’s face an inch from my own.  
“Quit it,” I mumbled.
“Just checking to see if you’re still breathing.” She sounded disappointed. Her face lingered as she studied my mouth. “Nice snore by the way.” 
“I wasn’t sleeping.”
I shoved the airline pillow between us, and pushed her off. Of all the things Morgen did to bother me, this creeped me out the most.
“If cats can steal a baby’s breath, imagine what I could do,” Morgen had once said. 
She was six.
I often wondered if my twin was trying to reabsorb me, ex utero.  
“Grab your backpack, Evan, we’re here.”
I couldn’t budge. I glanced at the happy faces flurrying about the cabin. They all had something to look forward to. Better yet, someone. I sighed and pushed up the window cover, but the layers of filth blotted out the view.
Double Ugh.
I released myself from the faded blue seat. The stiff belt buckles clanked to either side, but I couldn’t move. Instead, I let the cracked pleather pinch me into place a little while longer.
“Who’s picking us up again?” 
“I told you,” Morgen snapped, annoyed. “Aunt Daphne will be waiting for us at the gate-”     

“I still don’t understand how she’s our aunt.” 
“Shocking.” Morgen snorted. “She’s dad’s sister. They’re estranged. We’re staying with her tonight. Then we go to Aldebaran.”  
Aldebaran. Aldebaran Academy. Our new home sounded more like a mid-century insane asylum than a progressive institute for academia. The online site for Aunt Daphne’s alma mater reeked of nouveau riche preppies from all corners of New England. 
Blond kids in cardigans were not what I had in mind for my thirteenth year of school. 
Most kids our age chose what they studied during their transitional year. Engineering, politics, agriculture; whatever they could contribute to society, that’s what they’d do. Our futures were determined by our strengths. Mine would have been Astronomy, but after our dad died, guardianship was turned over to a Ms. Daphne Aster of Glastenbury Vermont. She got to call the shots now.
Morgen took the news surprisingly well. Expectant, even. Then again, Morgen’s strength was sex, so she’d adjust. I, on the other hand, had never heard of Aldebaran Academy. Or an Aunt Daphne, for that matter.
Three months. Three more months until I’m eighteen, and then I can do whatever the hell I want.
“Let’s go!” My twin snatched up the backpack, and plowed her way through the laggers, still struggling with the overhead.
“Dammit, Morgen.” I hopped up quickly to chase after her. “Sorry,” I mouthed, as I passed the indignant faces my sister just mowed down. 
Morgen stood at the end of the boarding bridge, twirling my bag by a loop at the top. She grinned and twisted the zipper, taunting me. 
“Give me the bag, Morgen.” I held out my hand. She knew my pills were in there.
Morgen barely shook her head. Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth twitched up at the corners.
My hand began to shake.  
Oh God, not here, not in the middle of a crowded airport. 
Watching me lose control was Morgen’s game of choice. Didn’t matter who got hurt. Morgen was beautiful and popular and ordinary. My curse was that shiny toy she could never have, but was determined to play with.    
Should’ve known. She waited the whole flight to do this.     

My sister would’ve never done this on the plane. Not with her own precious ass on the line. 
I needed another dose to stop this.
Morgen tilted her head, enjoying the show. She fished out my prescription, along with a bottle of aspirin. “Your last real dose was twelve hours ago.”
“Jesus, Morgen. What did you do?”
“Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing, what, thirty-seconds from now?” She stuffed the bottles back into her jacket.
“You switched my pills, are you insane? You could have blown up the plane--”  
People claim to see a metaphorical red when they’re angry.  I saw blue. Actual blue.
The blue flash zigzagged across my line of sight. I squeezed my eyes shut, trapping the light inside.
Don’t get mad, don’t get mad--
“Careful sweetie. You don’t want to give yourself a nosebleed, do you?”
“Give me my p-p-pills,” I stuttered, fighting against the rush of adrenaline. Wouldn’t be long now. We both knew what was coming next.
“I can’t,” Morgen grinned. “They’re back in Nevada. In the toilet.”  
I tightened my body, bracing for the inevitable.
Maybe no one will notice.
“Tick-tock, Leeny,” Morgen said. “Gotta let it out on something."
Morgen was pure evil.
I clenched my fists. Bright halos of light burst into my peripherals. They swallowed my sight, replacing my eyes with headlights. Electricity spread down my neck, sharpening the edges of my skin. Bathed in eerie blue light, my body creaked in objection. 
Distract yourself.
My eyes flew open. They settled on a young man kissing his lover near the magazines. His lips smoldered and bruised blue. 
They darted away, to a woman peddling roses from a beat-up satchel, but her flowers wilted.
I frantically scrambled my attention towards something I couldn’t hurt. Out of the giant window and onto the tarmac, the runway, the airplanes, all shimmered in a hot blue haze.
“No,” I gasped.
The mountains.
My gaze lifted to the shadowy outline of the distant Green Mountain Range. 
Focusing on the farthest peak, I slowly released the tension from my body. 
Too fast, and BOOM, I would detonate. 
The blue light burned as it passed through me. I winced at the sensation, at the hot chemical pain that seared another hole into my shirt. Not that clothes mattered. Things like fashion lost their meaning a long time ago. 
I sighed my relief when the blue cloud mushroomed off the distant peak and smothered the sun.
“That’s good, Leeny,” Morgen muttered over my shoulder. “Except for all the hikers you just barbecued.” She snickered into my ear. “You really should control that temper.”

1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Archer Revision 2 + Pitch

Name: Chelsea Archer
Genre: Young Adult
Title: An Ugly Beauty

Four years after her brother's death, Kali still sees his face in every hiker that has ever gone missing or died in the North Woods. Was it an accident or murder? Determined to unlock the truth, Kali enlists the help of her childhood sweetheart, Dean, and boyfriend, Lucas, determined to unearth the secrets lurking beneath the trees.
Lured into a seemingly endless cave by the very hiker they're searching for, Kali, Dean and Lucas find themselves in a forgotten world. Faced with a beautiful yet haunted king on one side and a mutated army of reformed sinners on the other, they must forge their path to the truth or risk being lost themselves.
In a world where appearance is everything and death is nothing more than a new beginning, can Kali come to terms when faced with her brother's killer or will she too disappear into the woods?

Dean Westford sat back and ran his fingers through his hair, thinking of Kali. His phone vibrated, the screen lighting up with a local news blurb. “Hiker Missing in the Northwest Woods.” Shit, he thought. Kali will be all over this.

His eyes scanned the meager details. A single female hiker missing since Thursday afternoon; moderately skilled in outdoor survival; the authorities are hopeful. Dean checked the time. Kali only lived eight minutes away from the cafe where he was sitting. He debated whether to skip hisSaturday breakfast ritual in favor of avoiding Kali until his shift at the dive shop started, but his desire to see her was just too strong.

Since her brother Eric had died four years before, all Kali had thought about was finding the truth. Each missing hiker was a clue, a link to the brother who’d disappeared for six weeks before his body had been found. Cause of death a supposed heart attack, dead less than twenty-four hours–where had he been all that time? A mystery for sure, but Kali just couldn’t let it go.

A steaming cup of coffee and a high-rise of pancakes were set gracefully onto his table.

“You looked in desperate need of your usual, love,” Marjorie said.

Dean smiled despite his mood. “Perfect timing as always.” Marjorie was an old family friend who’d been exchanging meals for chores since Dean had starting coming to Brails when he was nine.

She glanced at Dean’s phone resting on the table. “Best to leave the worrying to the professionals, eh?” She smiled and turned to another table.

She was right, as usual, but he knew Kali would never leave this alone. He thought back to all the other hikers who had gone missing over the past several years, all the ones that were never found or the ones whose bodies eventually showed up. Six deaths and eight missing hikers over the past fifteen years. Odds were that they were accidental, but that wasn’t good enough for Kali.

He leaned in, savoring the buttery aroma of fresh pancakes. He took a big bite of the fluffy wonder followed by a sip of coffee, then looked up as the bell over the door jingled. Kali walked towards him, her phone clutched tightly in her hand.

“It’s a girl this time,” she said as she leaned in and rested her palms on the table.

“So I saw.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? The forest service is mounting up a search party and we’re going to be late.”

Dean pushed his breakfast to the side, giving her room to sit down.

She sat, but she did not relax. He pried her phone from her hand and switched the screen off, setting it to the side. He took in her disheveled blonde hair, the dark circles rimming her green eyes, her frayed sweatshirt resting loosely on thin shoulders. He worried she hadn’t been taking care of herself, and wished, for the thousandth time, that she would let go of this mystery and come back to him.

“Seriously, Dean. Let’s go.”

He pulled his plate back and took another bite of his pancakes, his eyes never leaving her. “It’sSaturday, I have work, remember?”

“Isn’t the search for a missing girl more important than doing inventory at the dive shop?”

Dean leaned back, putting distance between them. He resisted the urge to shake his head, knowing it would only start a fight.

“I need this money for college, Kali. There’s no one else to pay my way, you know this. We can’t just put our lives on hold every time some hiker gets lost in the woods. They’re not Eric.”

Kali’s face flushed. “You think I don’t know that? Of course they’re not Eric, but they’re still missing and they still need our help.”

Dean’s gaze was drawn to Kali’s phone as it started vibrating, Lucas’ smug face appearing on its screen.

Kali answered, a bit too eager for Dean’s liking. “Lucas,” she exclaimed.

The relief and happiness in her voice was like a dagger in Dean’s gut. He watched her face as she listened to the pompous idiot on the other end. Her resulting grin made Dean push the rest of his breakfast away, his appetite gone.

“Okay, yeah, I’ll see you there… Yeah, me too. Bye.” She hung up and set the phone back on the table, screen down.

“What did he want?” Dean asked, trying desperately to hide the contempt in his voice and failing.

Kali raised her right eyebrow and frowned. “He was actually just calling to let me know that he’ll be joining me on the search.”

Dean swallowed, his throat clicking. “I thought he was working today.”

“He took time off.”

“Just like that, huh?”

Kali cleared her throat and fixed her gaze on the granular surface of the table. “Some people will do that Dean, when a person they care about asks for help.”

Dean leaned forward. He tucked his finger under her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet his, his frustration boiling over. “Let’s be honest here. If Lucas really cared about you he would see what I see and he would stop helping you with this crusade. It’s been four years, Kali. Four years of me watching you kill yourself and I can’t do it anymore.”

“Then don’t,” Kali said. “Lucas does care about me, he cares about what I want, Dean, and right now I want to go for a damn hike.” She stood and practically bolted for the door.

Dean clenched his teeth so hard his jaw creaked. He picked up his mug and threw back the rest of his rapidly cooling coffee. He took a deep breath, then another. It was only when he set the mug down that he realized his hands were shaking.

He exited the building half hoping Kali would still be there and half hoping she’d left. She was leaning against the bumper of his SUV, arms crossed, head bowed. He walked up to her, and placed the toes of his boots against the toes of her shoes.

“You’re an ass,” she said.

“Yeah, well, so are you.”

Kali sighed. “I’m sorry, Dean. I know you care, it’s just,” she paused and shrugged her shoulders. “Sometimes I think you care too much.”

Dean nodded his head slowly, her words threatening to undo him. “Yeah, maybe I do.” He took a calming breath, swallowing his guilt and longing. “But that doesn’t mean I'm going to let you go into those woods alone.”

Kali frowned. "I won't be alone, Lucas is coming with me."

Dean snorted. "Yeah, but you and I both know how worthless he is in the wilderness."

She peeked out at him from beneath her eyelashes. “Does that mean you’re coming along?”

“Yeah, but you owe me.”

“Two cases of beer and a pizza coming up.”

“Make it three.” It was an old joke, and Dean felt relieved to see a genuine smile cross her face.

“Thank you,” she said, leaning up and placing a chaste kiss on his cheek. She pulled away and crossed the lot to her car.

Dean watched her pull a hiking pack out of the back, all the while his cheek burning like fire.

“You’re driving,” she said, walking toward Dean’s green Ford Bronco.

He climbed nimbly into the SUV and slammed the door.

1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Pohl Revision 2 + Pitch

Laura Pohl
YA Fantasy


Tatiana Koscheiovna’s existence revolves around the prophecies spoken at her birth – she would be feared and eventually become a killer, a destiny she desperately wants to avoid.

When she is summoned to attend her sister’s engagement tournament, Tatiana sees no choice but to go back to Koschei’s palace, where she obviously doesn’t belong. During the tournament she meets one of her sister’s suitors, Ivan Tsarevich – a charming and handsome prince, who believes Tatiana is more than her destiny – and falls madly in love with him. They plan their escape together, knowing they belong in each other’s arms. On the night of the escape, however, Tatiana has a prophetic dream and comes back home to find her father gone and her kingdom burned to ashes.

Helpless and alone, Tatiana begins on a new path to find a way to stop her father’s death and rescue him and her captured sisters from the clutches of her enemies.  Time is running out – if Koschei is not back on the throne of the Dead, the entire world will shatter and life will cease to exist.

From the palaces of Imperial Russia to the hut of Baba Yaga, Tatiana chases the legendary Firebird, the key to restoring her kingdom, knowing that finding it may cost her her life. With betrayal lurking at every corner, Tatiana must decide whether she will lead the mortal life she has always wanted to – or save her father and the kingdom she loves.


The body lay sprawled on the floor, the blood creating a pool around her that stained the wood a deep red.
It was a woman and she had been stabbed multiple times. I tiptoed my way around the room, avoiding where the blood had touched. After all this years, I had learned not to stain my clothes. I held my breath as I faced her, only a pale reflection of what she once had been. Her life was slipping away, as she struggled on the floor, the knife plunged into her chest.
I did not know this woman's name.
But she knew mine.
"Tatiana Koscheiovna" she said, with her last will. Her final words.Daughter of bones, daughter of blood, daughter of death. These were her last moments. I had seen too many like it to care anymore."Have you come for me?"
There was no relief on her voice, like there wasn't in any of the others when they saw me. She knew she was as good as dead. Her body lay violated and broken in her own house, having suffered the most violent of deaths. My appearance only confirmed what she already knew.
"Yes" I answered. "I have come for you."
I stood outside with the knife in hand, my braid slashing in the wind like a coiling whip. The smell of the blood didn't seem to vanish from my nostrils, grounding me to the world that wasn't accustomed to my presence.
The Mortal Realm. Something I thought I'd never see in person, and yet, here I was.
The wind sent shivers down my spine, but the sensation was relishing. New. Like my body was telling me that I belonged here, and not the drab and cold castles on the Other Realm. Telling the daughter of Mariya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless that she had stood in the wrong place. Like always.
 At the same time, the scene of death had never felt more real. At least, in the dreams, the blood hadn't smelled so strongly. The woman didn't matter -- like none of the others had. Ever since the day I was born and my role was made clear into the world as the daughter of the Tsar of Death. Three daughters of death, with three different roles as spirits of death. My sisters appeared for those who had died honorably or reached old age.  I was the one who had to appear to all of those who had been murdered.
Not ferry them into the next realm exactly -- but remind them that death didn't forget, even when life had. When life had abandoned them, death was there to welcome them home. Every time I closed my eyes to sleep, the dreams would be a mixture of mortals' violent deaths -- be it murder, fire, poison or punishment. At least by now I'd gotten used to it, and their features weren't more than a blur in my head.
This had been one of the first time I had done this presently, and not my powers acting and splitting me into a thousand different fragments to appear at every mortal who died and waited for me to appear. My name played on their lips like echoes of bones, but it got them nowhere. It was no use praying to the spirit of violent death.
I slid my hands back into my fur coat, one of them still gripping the bloodied knife while I waited. I wished my godmother would hurry herself.
"Did you find it?" Morena's voice echoed in the clearing, as if my thoughts had summoned her.
In a moment, the raven materialized into shadows and then into the goddess of nightmares. Her appearance never failed to take my breath away and a chill climbed up my spine, as if my nightmares had come alive. She stood with her dark clothes and dark skin against the bleak setting of the dying woods, a vision among mortals. Her crow pendant hung from her neck, bright silver, the only thing that gave her any color.
She walked forward and I handed her the bloodied dagger, still wet from the body that wasn't so cold inside the cabin. An anonymous cadaver. Morena caught it, turning it in her hands and evaluated it. Her eyes turned to appraise me, dark and mysterious, a pitch of endless black.
"How did it happen?"
Morena knew very well, but still she wanted to evaluate me. Test my knowledge.
"Multiple stabs" I answered, my voice barely a whisper. The blood didn't stain my fingers, but if I looked close enough, it was almost like they were tinged with red. "By a man. He missed the first strike and went for the second, which hit close. The third was only to make sure she died."
Morena didn't question me any further. By touching the dagger, she could probably tell this and much more from the victim. The dead woman who knew my name like every child in Russia feared it. The last face anyone who died violently would ever see before they really left this world.
I stood in the middle of the clearing, shifting my weight as Morena took the dagger and slid it inside her cloak.
"Walk with me" Morena ordered, turning around to walk in the woods. I followed her, having to take double steps for every single she took. She's several feet taller than me, her eyes and cheekbones set perfectly in her aristocratic face. She's a true goddess, while I'm the shadowy copy of what to be one. Of what could be but never was. "Tatiana." The way she said my name sent shivers through my spine, as if she could break through all of my fears and nightmares and expose them until I had lost my mind to darkness. "Do you ever wonder why I train you like this?"
Morena's training was grounded on making sure I knew what I was doing in the Mortal Realms. She had taught me spells and how to read the bones of a man when he falls, or how to listen to the whisper of the wind when death was knocking at your door. She had taught me how to use my magic and when not to use it, how to wield my sword and any weapons, and how to survive the coldest of winter snows without food. I knew what shadows and nightmares looked like and how to walk in a way that would make a man's spine stretch and what patterns crows would fly if a man's death was near. I knew how to look at a man's face and tell what his death was, and whether it was bound to his bones. I had still two years left of my training, but not one one single time had she mentioned why she did it.
Not that I needed much training. When it came to frightening people, I had somehow become a legend without even a contest for the crown. The thoughts made my mouth turn sour.
So I tried my next best guess.
"So I can't run from my destiny?"
Her voice was firm when she answered, "So you can fulfill it. No one escapes destiny, Tatiana."
My destiny -- the one no one ever talked about, and still everyone seemed to be conscious of it, that started when the Zoryas had come down from the Heavens in the Other Realm and made the prophecies by my crib. Promising me a future of endless death, of being feared and despised. A future of not belonging.
"Yes" I answered through gritted teeth, unwilling to go further into the subject that seemed to shape my life and upbringing. That beat me into obeying, that molded me into something I did not wish to be. "I know, godmother."

1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Adrian Revision 2 + pitch

Name: Dottie Adrian
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Title: Ratman's Revenge


Twelve-year-old Cody and his dog, Sandy, venture into the creepy woods
for the first time and discover a city hidden deep underground. With
crystal caves to explore and new friends who have awesome abilities
like reading minds and blending in with nature, it’s the perfect place
for Cody to escape his too-busy divorced parents.

Then Cody learns the Detectors, the underground people who warn the
city of natural disasters and invading beasts, are disappearing. For
no-talent Cody, becoming a hero could be his ticket to feeling like he
belongs, so he searches for the missing people. Instead, he finds
Ratman---a man-sized rat with mind control abilities and an annoying
habit of turning invisible. But Cody is the only one who ever sees the
freaky fur-face.

As Cody searches for clues, Ratman attacks Cody both mentally and
physically. Cody becomes convinced there’s a real man behind the rat
illusion and he has something to do with the missing Detectors.

Cody realizes it’s up to him to hunt down Ratman in time to save the
Detectors and the city from whatever disaster that whiskered weirdo is
plotting---or at least before Ratman’s next attack actually kills him.

First Five Pages:

Mom’s warning blared in my head. I mean it, Cody, she’d said a
bazillion times. It’s too dangerous. Gangs and drug addicts hang out
in those woods. I don’t care what the other boys do, I don’t ever want
you to go in there. Promise me, Cody.

I shaded my eyes with my hands and stared at the woods along the back
of the dog park. The leaves flickered in the breeze as if a million
green fingers were reaching out, begging me to come inside.

Okay, so maybe I did promise, but that was ages ago. Besides, my
friends would be so jealous if I went into the woods without them.

Sandy, my golden retriever, ran up with a tennis ball in her mouth. I
grabbed the slimy ball and tossed it for the seventeenth time that
morning. She raced after it with her ears flapping.

Sweat dripped down my face and I wiped it with my t-shirt. Oh man,
while I melted to death here, my friends were probably swimming in
that freeze-your-toes-off lake at camp right now---lucky turds. The
only water I’d get to swim in this summer was in the bathtub. Dang
Matt and Zach for going off to camp---and for a whole month.

Sandy ran back with the ball and dropped it at my feet. I knelt and
hugged her. “You’d never bail on me, would you, girl. You’re my best
friend in the whole universe.” She licked my nose. Yeah, she agreed
with me.

Suddenly, Sandy turned and raced off toward the woods, barking. I ran
after her. “Sandy, wait! No!”

When mowed grass turned to tall weeds at the edge of the park she
stopped, but she kept staring at the trees, barking. We’d never been
this close to the woods before. I caught up and knelt beside her.
“What is it, girl?”

A boy with long black hair stood just inside the woods, staring at me.
Whoa. Where’d he come from? I waved but he turned and disappeared
between the trees. “Hey, wait!” He was long gone.

I petted Sandy and stared into the woods. That boy looked normal to
me. Maybe Mom made up that stuff about killers and druggies. How would
she know what’s in there anyway? Maybe there are tons of kids riding
on bike trails or swimming in a pond. Or chasing Bigfoot! Something.

“You know, Sandy, I bet Mom and Dad wouldn’t care if I go in there.
I’m almost a teenager now. And they’ve been too busy dating other
people since the divorce to go on picnics or go camping with me.” I
nodded. “Yeah. If they think I’m old enough to be on my own all the
time, then I’m old enough to go into the woods. Right Sandy?”

She licked my nose. Yes!

I stood and dusted off my shorts.

Sunlight streamed between the trees and dotted the shady ground. One
ray of light pointed right at my feet, daring me to come closer.

“You’re on,” I said to the woods. “C’mon, Sandy. Let’s go find that boy.”

I pushed low-hanging branches out of the way as we marched in,
crunching through the dry brush. A warm breeze brushed across my face
and Sandy bobbed her nose at all the new smells. Birds squawked
overhead and hidden bugs made grinding noises like monsters waiting to

Oh man, this was gonna be awesome.

Weeds swiped my bare legs, some reaching as high as Sandy’s head, and
she’s tall. She’s not as tall as a purebred golden retriever because
she’s a mix of who-knows-what like me. My mom is Native American but
Dad’s plain-old mix-of-everything American. I’ve got Mom’s tanned skin
but I’ve got Dad’s floppy brown hair, so I’m a mix of everything just
like Sandy.

Sandy sniffed a dozen tree trunks then stopped to pee. When her pee
break turned into a poop break I looked around. No bike trails, no
pond, and no kids. But I wasn’t giving up. That boy was in here

Sandy finished her stinky brown deposit (that’s what Mom calls it) and
we pushed on, dodging around a prickly bush.

Clack! Clack! Clack! A brown blur zipped down a tree and two squirrels
hit the ground running. Sandy bolted after them.

“Sandy, no!” This time, she didn’t stop.

I took off, racing between the trees. Bushes scraped my legs. Ow!
Branches smacked my face. Ow! Ow! I followed the sound of her barking,
but it was getting farther away every second. “Sandy, wait for me!”

The heat sucked the air right out of my chest, and my side cramped
with a sharp pain. I raced on, deeper into the woods, jumping over
fallen logs and ducking under low branches. “Sandy!”

Sweat dripped down and stung my eyes. Finally, I stopped and doubled
over, panting. When the stitch in my side let up, I stood and spun in
a circle. There was no sign of Sandy, and no kids either. I was lost
in the middle of the woods while Sandy ran around playing with
squirrels. Great. My friends would crack up laughing over that.

Deep in the woods, only a few streaks of light poked through the tops
of the trees. Shadows surrounded me like zombies in a horror movie.
And this time, the birds and bugs were quiet. Spooky quiet.

This wasn’t so cool anymore. My stomach tensed and gas rose up in my
throat. I gulped it down then picked a direction and started walking.

Footsteps crunched behind me and I whipped around. “Who’s there?” No
one---just the trees.

Maybe that boy was hiding from me. Or maybe Mom’s killer gangs were
about to jump out.

Crunch. Crunch.

All the hair on my arms stood up and I took off running. “Saaannnndy!”

Woof, woof.

“I’m coming, girl!” I raced up and found her with her front paws on a
tree trunk, staring up at the leaves. Her tail wagged so I figured
she’d found the squirrels. I grabbed her leash from my pocket and
hooked it on her collar. “C’mon, Sandy. Let’s get out of here.”

She stayed with her paws on the tree so I looked up. Halfway up the
tree, a group of leaves shook, but there wasn’t any breeze. Something
was up there---something much bigger than a squirrel.

A giant blob wiggled in the branches, blending with the leaves like a
chameleon. But the outline of it was as big as I was. Then glowing
green eyes blinked at me.

Whoa. I jerked back and fell on my butt. A shiver raced down my back
as if an ice monster ran its icy claws down my skin. I couldn’t take
my eyes off the blob as I scrambled to my feet and pulled on Sandy’s
leash. “C’mon, Sandy, let’s go.” She didn’t move. “Sandy, please!”

She stared up at that thing as if she was in a trance. Was that freaky
monster melting her brain? Would it turn us into tree monsters, too?
Jittery waves of panic raced through me. “Sandy, let’s get out of

Thump! The leafy blob landed on the ground next to the tree. It looked
like a tree branch standing there with brown wooden legs and arms, and
flickering leaves all over.

Okay, maybe the sun fried my brain or the heat melted my eyes.
Something. This had to be just my imagination.

Then that tree branch shuffled toward me.