Saturday, December 30, 2017

Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens Saturday, January 6th w/ mentors Lit Agent Abby Saul and Author Christina June!

Our January workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, January 6th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Christina June as our author mentor and Abby Saul of The Lark Group as our agent mentor! (See below for Abby's background and query preferences.)

The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these aren't perfect, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is!

On Wednesday, June 3, from 8-9 pm EST we will be hosting a 1st 5 Pages twitter chat, to answer any questions and chat about those crucial first pages, under the hashtag #1st5pages. We hope you can join us!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

  • You are mentored by at least two traditionally-published published or agented authors for the duration of the workshop. These authors have been through the trenches and know what it takes to get a book deal, solid reviews, and sales.
  • In addition, you receive feedback from the four other workshop participants.
  • Feedback is given not just on your initial submission, but on two subsequent opportunities to revise your manuscript based on the previous feedback so that you know you've got it right!
  • The final revision will also be reviewed by a literary agent, who will also give you feedback on the pitch for your story--the one that may eventually become your query letter or cover copy.
  • The best entry from among the workshop participants will receive a critique of the full first chapter or first ten pages from the mentoring agent, which may, in some cases, lead to requests for additional material.

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow, @charlotteclg ), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to the rotating team of our wonderful permanent author mentors, the final entry for each workshop participant will be critiqued by our agent mentor.

January Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Abby Saul 
Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

Abby is looking for: adult literary fiction and adult commercial fiction (including historical fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers)

Click here for how to query Abby!

January Guest Author Mentor: Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor.  She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.  

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @ChristinaJuneYA

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, was released in May 2017, and a companion, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be available in 2018. She was also part of the anthology NEVER BE YOUNGER,  collection of short stories based on the works of Shakespeare. 

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Where to Buy: 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#1st5pages Writing Workshop Mentor News!

The 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop will be on hiatus in December, re-opening on Saturday, January 6. We will be adding to our website, and plan to add twitter chats come January - so check back frequently for news!

In the meantime, we have some wonderful mentor news to share!

Happy book birthday to Heather PettyLOCK AND MORI, FINAL FALL, came out yesterday. I started it last night and I'm already hooked!!!

Several of our mentors had books come out this fall, including:

SEIZE TODAY (FORGET TOMORROW #3!) by NYT bestselling author Pintip Dunn - I loved this YA fantasy, and this entire series!

SVEN CARTER AND THE TRASHMOUTH EFFECT by Rob Vlock is a hysterical middle grade sci-fi adventure and I highly recommend it!

THUNDERSTRUCK by NYT bestselling author Brenda Drake - a fabulous YA fantasy, with Norse Mythology and plenty of romance!

SCARLET MOON by  S. D. Grimm - the first in a wonderful new YA fantasy series!

MARKED BEAUTY by S.A. Larsen - another fabulous YA fantasy!

FLAME AND FURY by Lisa Gail Green an action packed paranormal romance!

And don't forget to put these wonderful books by our mentors on your TBR list:

REIGN OF THE FALLEN by Sarah Glenn Marsh releases January 23rd - (I was lucky enough to read this epic fantasy, and believe me you don't want to miss it!!!)

ASSASSIN OF TRUTHS by Brenda Drake  I adore this NYT bestselling fantasy series, and can't wait for the conclusion which I know will be EPIC!!!!

BLACK PANTHER, THE YOUNG PRINCE by award-winning author Ron Smith releases January 2nd and I can't wait for this action packed adventure!

Happy Reading, Writing, and Revising!


About the Author:

Erin Cashman is AYAP's 1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog. She writes YA fantasy. UNCHARTED is coming fall of 2018, and THE EXCEPTIONALS, a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year, is available now. For up to date information about the workshop, you can follow Erin on twitter here

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of the November 1st 5 Pages Workshop!

Thank you to all of the participants who trusted us with their pages, and worked so hard during our November 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop - and congratulations to Sue Weems, our workshop winner! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, Robin Constantine as our author mentor and Alec Shane of Writer's House  as our agent mentor! As always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these pages aren't compelling, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is! We take December off, and will re-open in January. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy Writing (and revising!)


About the Author:

Erin Cashman is AYAP's 1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog. She writes YA fantasy. UNCHARTED is coming fall of 2018, and THE EXCEPTIONALS, a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year, is available now. For up to date information about the workshop, you can follow Erin on twitter here


Guest Mentors

Author: Robin Constantine,
author of:

Literary Agent: Alec Shame
 of Writers House

Assigned Permanent Mentors

Erin Cashman, the workshop coordinator, is a YA author whose debut fantasy novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book. Her second novel, UNCHARTED, a contemporary fantasy, will be published in fall of 2018. She primarily writes YA and middle grade fantasy while eating chocolate and drinking tea. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and very energetic rescue dog.

Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and all-around lover of words and those who create them. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, COUNTING THYME, was published by Putnam & Sons in April, 2016. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs.

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and author of SCARLET MOON and the forthcoming SUMMONER. She currently has four books under contract, including the remainder of her YA fantasy series Children of the Blood Moon. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and binge-watching shows with great characters. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

Stasia Ward Kehoe is the author of YA novels THE SOUND OF LETTING GO and AUDITION, both published by Viking. She grew up performing at theaters along the eastern seaboard, then shifted from stage to page and has been writing fiction, marketing copy and educational materials for almost two decades! She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University and MA in Performance Studies from New York University, is represented by Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management, and still enjoys choreographing the occasional musical.
Sheri Larsen is a writer, reader, and Maine-iac ice hockey fan, who has watched more hockey games than she could ever count. She loves books that open up secret passageways and hidden worlds to inspire and challenge the heart. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, MOTLEY EDUCATION (Leap Books) is now available, and her debut young adult novel, MARKED BEAUTY, is set for release October, 2017; both are written under S.A. Larsen.

Lisa Maxwell is the New York Tim bestselling author of SWEET UNRESTGATHERING DEEPUNHOOKED, and THE LAST MAGICIAN. When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult for teens and those young in spirit. Her debut ALTERATIONS is set for release by Bloomsbury Spark. Her writing is also featured in WELCOME HOME, a YA anthology focused on adoption themed stories. Stephanie is an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA, and a current writing mentor in online pitch contests. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. One current life goal is to cosplay Hoth Leia from The Empire Strikes Back. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband.

Ron Smith is the author of the Middle-Grade novel HOODOO, awarded the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe New Talent Award, and THE MESMERIST, both from Clarion Books.

Wendy Spinale is the author of EVERLAND and UMBERLAND, both from Scholastic. She's a published professional journalist with the AOL/Patch Media’s Pleasanton Patch and an active member of both the California Writers’ Club and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A former Disneyland Cast Member, she is familiar with the world of "make believe."

Rob Vlock is an author trapped in the body of a struggling jazz musician who, in turn, is trapped in the body of another, somewhat shorter author. (It’s complicated. And kinda crowded.) Rob’s debut middle-grade action/comedy series kicks off with SVEN CARTER AND THE TRASHMOUTH PROTOCOL, which comes out on October 3rd. (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin). When he’s not writing, Rob can be found somewhere in the greater Boston area trying to make his trumpet sound like something other than a dying goose. It’s a work in progress.

Learn more about our permanent workshop mentors here. 


Workshop Entries

Daughter of the Forest by Michelle Fohlin 
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Mentors: Robin Constantine, Melanie Conklin, Rob Vlock
     Original Submission with Comments
     First Revision with Comments
     Final Revision with Comments
     Agent's Comments

Captain Valencia by Alanna Peterson
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Erin Cashman, Lisa Maxwell
Mentors: Robin Constantine,
     Original Submission with Comments
     First Revision with Comments
     Final Revision with Comments
     Agent's Comments

Shook by Steph Sorensen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Mentors: Robin Constantine, Stephanie Scott, Sarah Grimm
     Original Submission with Comments
     First Revision with Comments
     Final Revision with Comments
     Agent Comments

Ghost Town Diaries: Stanton's Shadow by Sue L. Weems
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Mystery
Mentors: Robin Constantine, Wendy Spinale, Ron Smith
     Original Submission with Comments
     First Revision with Comments
     Final Revision with Comments
     Agent's Comments

The Mirror Maker by T.K. White
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Mentors: Robin Constantine, Sheri Larsen, Stasia Kehoe
    Original Submission with Comments
    First Revision with Comments
    Final Revision with Comments
    Agent Comments


Previous Workshops

      (Use sidebar links for earlier workshops)

Enter Your Own First Five Pages    

Interested in participating yourself? See here. But even if your own manuscript isn't in the workshop, seeing how the manuscripts evolve over three weeks with the help of our mentoring authors and literary agent can help you make HUGE leaps forward with your own manuscript.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The November 2017 Workshop is in Progress

Our five manuscripts for November 2017 have been selected, but that doesn't mean the learning opportunities for aspiring authors and editors are over for the month! We invite everyone to follow along by reading the entries, the mentor's comments and watching the manuscript transformation over the course of the workshop.  Changes that worked, those that didn't work, and more importantly--why--will help in your own manuscript.  You're also welcome to make comments yourself about what you feel is working and what isn't. And you can ask questions of our mentors about their comments as well.

Want help from a literary agent and our published, award-winning, and best-selling authors to get your own first five pages and pitch ready for submission or jump start your novel? There is no December workshop, but the January 2018 workshop will open at noon on January 6th. We always accept manuscripts on a first come, first served basis so your chances are as good as anyone else's. All we ask is that your pitch is no more than 200 words, your submission overall is no more than 1200 words, and that both are formatted correctly, free of typos and grammar errors, and that you've worked through your story idea to make sure it can be written as presented into a full-length novel.

Need help getting your pitch and manuscript ready? Click here for writing help and submission tips

Sunday, November 19, 2017

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- Fohlin Rev 2

Name: Michelle Fohlin

Title: Daughter of the Forest

Genre: Contemporary/Historical with fantasy elements

After her family makes a cross-country move, eleven-year-old Jemma can’t seem to navigate her new middle school. She wants to belong but is ostracized for reasons she can’t fathom. Even worse, her beloved twin brother Jaxon has replaced her with baseball. When she befriends a quirky classmate and a yarn bombing septuagenarian, life doesn't seem so bad anymore. But she still wants to get her brother back.

Searching for a way to do just that, she takes Jaxon to check out a crumbling stone wall in the woods behind their house. After toying with a rock that suspiciously looks like a key, they hurtle through time and land in Revolutionary Massachusetts. With only each other to rely on, they discover a cryptic note that gives the means to their return home—they must foil a plot to destroy the United States. But a smallpox outbreak might derail their plans and pirates deliver an ominous message: they must escape the King’s plot to sell Jemma into bondage or they’ll be stuck in this dimension forever.

If Jemma knew rekindling relationships would have so many complications, she might just have learned to like being alone!


April 1755, Princeton, Massachusetts

The forest is a funny thing: it’s full of peace and yet, if one is unlucky, menace lurks within it.

And Lucy Keyes was having a particularly unlucky day.

“Patty! Anna!” she called to her two older sisters, but neither girl responded. The elms on either side of the leaf littered path seemingly swallowed them up, leaving Lucy stranded. And the longer she wandered through the woods looking for them, the farther she got from her home.

She tugged at a plait the color of a fawn’s hide, fingers trembling. Maybe she shouldn’t have followed them out here after all, but they could have let her follow them to the lake. She would be ten soon enough; she could look after herself without spoiling their fun.

Lost and alone, she could do nothing to stop a fat tear from coloring a rock at her feet. Somewhere to her left, a single blue jay’s call cut through the still air. It sounded like it was laughing at her, so she grabbed the rock, wet from her tears, and threw it towards the bird. The stone didn’t get very far, but she was satisfied as wings flapped away.

But satisfaction soon gave way to fear. In every direction there were trees, no matter how many times she turned around. She couldn’t see the path she took to arrive there, the one that would lead her home. Nor was there a path to her sisters.

Oh pickles, she thought. What have I done? The milk she drank for breakfast sourly turned in the bottom of her stomach and she stuffed her first into her mouth in a poor attempt to settle her nerves.

“Patty? Anna?” The hesitation in her voice was clear, as she knew there wasn’t much hope they would hear her through all the trees. She paused to listen, but her voice disappeared in the evergreens. Not even her echo called back.

Great Jehosephat!

A twig snapped in the distance and she turned her head to see who—or what—it was. She couldn’t make out anything, but more sticks broke under someone’s—or something’s— feet. Oh I hope I hope I HOPE it’s not a bear. Her heart beat faster, in time with her shallow breaths.

“Mama?” Please let her have realized I snuck out. Please let her have found me.

A large figure came into view, but it wasn’t her mother and it wasn’t a bear. Instead, a neighbor, roughly twenty-years-old and hair flapping up like crow’s wings, stomped closer. She couldn’t remember his name, but knew he held a bitter grudge against her father. He thought Lucy’s family had stolen some of his land.

And he looked at her as though she was nothing but dead flies in his sugar pot.

Like he hated all children and wanted them all gone.

“Hello? Mister? Can you help me?” Lucy tried her sweetest girl-eye face on him as he came closer, breathing like an angry bull. Sweat wafted off his dingy brown overcoat.

Why wasn’t he answering her? She balled her fists, squeezed her nails into her palms. “Can you help me find my Mama and Papa?”

Still he said nothing. Run, Lucy, said the tiny voice in her head, but her feet were frozen to the earth, even though her legs shook.

“You did me wrong, Robert,” he finally said, and that made no sense, because Robert was her father. I’m Lucy, I don’t look like Papa at all. She tried to scream, but it was nothing but a bubble stuck in her throat.

He came closer still, and raised his fist as if about to strike.

Oh Jesus deliver me!

A thousand thoughts fluttered through her mind and as his arm lowered—oh so quickly!—toward her head, the last lingered like a winter breeze, chilly and forbidding.

Why did my sisters abandon me?


December, Present Day, Mount Wachusett, Princeton, Massachusetts

Jemma blew a plume of frosty breath. Good grief, Massachusetts was cold. It had been a year since her family moved here from Hawaii, and she hated it. Sure, the snow was cool the first time she had seen it, but nothing beat air perfumed by plumeria and year-round temps that hovered in the 80s. A lifetime in the tropics taught her that. Even though her lifetime was only eleven years.

But she had to remember she was here for Grandpa Ted.

She adjusted her gloves and the knit band keeping her ears from freezing off her head, cinched her hood tighter around her chin. Then she gripped her poles as her twin brother, Jaxon, flew past her. Trust him to master skiing after a single lesson while Jemma wobbled around looking like a newborn giraffe.

“Come on, Jem! You’ll be great!” he called after her, white powder spraying her goggles.

Yeah, great. Like a great big ol' lump of awful

Skiing had been her dad’s idea. He wanted his family to become involved in one of his childhood loves in the hopes it would soften their uprooting. Everyone, even her four-year-old sister, Nora, got the hang of it. Everyone, that is, except the baby giraffe.

“Be there in a sec!” she shouted, though only Mother Nature heard her; Jaxon was nearly halfway down the hill. Alright, you goofus. Easy peasy, hugs and squeezies. You got this.

With a final inhalation that chilled her lungs, she set off down the hill, praying that she wouldn’t end up rolling like a tumbleweed to the bottom. You got this. She needed to make one of these runs side by side with her brother. If she could prove she could do something, anything athletic here, she might have a chance of getting them to hang out again like they always did as little kids. Ever since they moved, and especially since they started middle school and he joined every team he could, she and Jaxon drifted farther apart.

She gained speed and her heart beat a persistent thrum in her chest. She was doing it! Her knees wobbled a couple times, but she hadn’t fallen yet. Ha! She loved winter! She was killing it!

And then a high feminine scream cut through the night, followed by a keening wail that sounded more wounded animal than human. Terror shot through her stomach, worse than her nerves on the first day of school and she lost all balance. Her imagination ran wild: did she just hear an attack? Did everyone see her fall? Geez, how horrible am I that I’m worried about myself goofing up over someone being hurt? She careened down the rest of the hill on her side, skis askew in the air, the unknown woman’s grief providing the soundtrack to her embarrassment and fear.

When she landed at the bottom of the run with an unsatisfying slide on her bum, she hustled to her feet—as quickly as she could, given the awkwardness of her skiis—and turned to face the hill. She saw nothing ominous, only fellow skiers. Nothing to identify the source of the scream, and no one in distress.

Her brother sidled up next to her and she startled at his laughter.

“That was brilliant Jem! It looked like you meant to go down that way!” He doubled over, holding his stomach, giggling like she was his personal comedian.

She ignored him. “Didn’t you hear that?”

“What? Other than you barreling down the hill?”

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- Sorensen Rev 2

Steph Sorensen
Young Adult Contemporary, with some magical realism


The Homestead Cooperative Community seems innocent enough, if a little weird. A band of hippie farmers living at a former children’s summer camp site, working together under the direction of their charismatic leader, Deacon, to escape the temptation and pain of modern life, and to become one with the land. The community offers refuge for those who wish to escape—junkies come to get clean for good, and victims to flee their abusers.

Colt’s family is there hiding from his violent father. But dark visions during Colt’s epileptic seizures suggest that Deacon may not truly be the benevolent figure that his followers see.

Peach, fifth of Deacon’s seven wives, thought she loved the community. Though only sixteen, she’s considered an adult, ready to find her own path. If she can only figure out where it’s supposed to lead.

Alara, shut down by grief over her mother’s death, was dragged in with a bag over her head.

Together they must uncover the dangerous secrets hidden by Deacon and his flock, and whether this supposedly virtuous community is really a cult, being shepherded toward destruction.



The day Colt died started off the same as the rest, muggy and still. Mom said she was just running out for a refill cartridge of her raspberry vape drops. But he knew she’d be gone an hour at least, doing whatever she was actually doing and not saying. He was left in charge of his little brother, as usual. Being six years older basically made him the fallback parent.

“Can we swim?” JoJo pleaded, giving Colt the sad little boy eyes, although at nearly ten he was just about too old for them to work anymore.

“You heard Mom,” Colt answered blandly, picking bald spots in the Astroturf flooring of the sunroom and waiting for a breeze to blow through, but it didn’t come. “We’re not supposed to be here, so we can’t let anybody see us hanging around.”

JoJo stuck out his lower lip. He’d thrown his swim trunks on as soon as Mom had left, and his round kneecaps jutted like lollipops on his skinny stick legs. “They won’t know we’re staying here just because we’re swimming. We could sneak over to the beach through the trees down the road a little.”

Colt knew the answer was supposed to be no. Summer just had that pull though. Or the lake did, anyway. Colt guessed it was the combination of the two. He could just see the flicker of the sun off the lake through all the trees like it was sending signals. Come on boys, it would whisper in its watery voice made of light. Come swim.

They’d been at the little lake cottage more than a month without swimming once, and that was just wrong. Once might be okay, if they made it quick. Colt had outgrown his swimsuit last year and Mom hadn’t gotten him a new one. She hadn’t gotten him a new anything, not in a long time. He gritted his teeth. His cutoffs would do fine.

“Let’s go,” he said, grinning at JoJo’s yip of joy.

The first splash in was a shock and Colt made a sound, like oh! Like his body was remembering cold after so much heat. And then under, and the muffled crunching that splashes make in underwater ears. The chill was a shock that made his whole body clench up, but the release that came after was worth it. Colt was never one to wade in. The lake was fed by underwater springs so it stayed cold all summer. Except the surface, black water heated by the sun.

Colt had only just broken back through the warmed skin of the water when he felt it coming on, and tried to head back toward the shoreline. The fear followed fast, and he thought this was what it would feel like if he’d just spotted a shark in the water. But it was only a lake.

He wasn’t too far out, his toes could just touch the muck on the bottom. He made it a few strides closer and then his muscles tensed. In that last second he could accomplish a lot, even if he couldn’t really do much of anything about it. Colt curled his tongue back behind his teeth, that was habit by then. And he tried to spot JoJo while his eyeballs slid up inside his skull. He couldn’t catch sight of his brother, but he saw some splashing off the side, and that would have to do. The last thing he felt was the coolness of water on the back of his neck as he slipped under, and the tight choke of fear.

It always started with a feeling of falling. A lot of the time he was actually falling, although if he got the feeling early enough he had time to lie down, and that saved some bruises later on. After that he just wasn’t there. He’d been told how it looked from the outside though. His whole body tensed up, his back arched sickly, he shook and drooled and sometimes moaned a little.

At least, up until that day that’s how it was. But he’d never seized up in the water before. He’d never died during one before. Colt’s best guess was that the drowning’s what did it, switched something on inside him that he wasn’t supposed to be able to see.

It was like watching a slide show in school. Murky, dirty images flickering past, some holding, others just a flash and then gone. A field of brown and yellow grass. A falling-down wooden barn. Mom prone on a sofa and a man leaning over her, hands reaching for her throat. And then a girl. She was blurry and yellow-green and made him feel like she was reeling him in by a hook through his chest. And he didn’t know whether it was bad or good.

And that was it. When he came back around it was with a screeching headache in a hospital bed.


Another August, another wedding. Peach was supposed to be with her sisters helping Celia ready herself mind body spirit but found she was more distracted by concerns of the flesh. Those concerns being in this instance the scratchy yellowing lace of her dress and the flesh referring uncouthly to her armpits. She had blossomed quite a bit since last summer’s wedding, and all that blossoming was causing her dress to pull uncomfortably across her chest and under her arms. Not to mention it was just too hot for a wedding day.

“Peach! Come away from there and help with this braid,” her sister Ella called, making little effort to hide her annoyance.

Peach sighed and forced herself to leave the window. The breeze was hot too but at least the air was moving over there. As she approached the tall, swiveling chair where Celia was being made ready, Peach made an attempt to smile at her new sister. Celia looked so young and small amid the lacy poofs at her shoulders and hips. Or where the hips would be in a few years.

Ella shoved an unraveling braid into Peach’s hands, eliciting a small yelp of pain from Celia. “It’s an in-between year for you, Peach. You should be helping the ceremonial girls get ready, not daydreaming in the corner. Why am I always stuck making sure nothing’s missed?”
Peach understood Ella’s irritation. It was her receiving year, after all. And Ella’s own hair was still tied messily atop her head. But she was only stuck managing the other sisters because she chose to. There was no real hierarchy between them, beyond helping meet the needs of the pregnant girls, and minding the small children.

Ella huffed off to sort out her hair situation, and Peach unwound Celia’s locks slowly, tugging on the small knots that had formed. She caught Celia’s dark eyes in the cloudy mirror. The girl looked frightened. Likely just overwhelmed. Peach remembered her own wedding day, just two summers earlier. She’d been so nervous she had thrown up. She looked down at the small brown stain on the bottom hem of her dress. That day it had been dragging on the floor, tripping her. Today it fell above her ankles.

“It’s easy to become overwhelmed,” Peach spoke softly above Celia’s ear while her hands worked on arranging the girl’s long waves. “Better to focus on the smaller things. Won’t it be nice to cut all this hair off tonight?”

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- White Rev 2

Name: T.K. White
Title: The Mirror Maker
Genre: YA High Fantasy

Aeris, the notorious Prince Charming, is a smooth-tongued con man with a penchant for causing trouble. He’s earned quite the reputation of woo’ing unsuspecting princesses whilst stealing away in the middle of the night, leaving behind trails of broken-hearts…and empty vaults.

One day, Lila, a fairy fighting her own demons, lands herself in none other than Prince Charming’s treasure-filled cave. With her life on the line, Lila scrambles to save herself, offering a deal she knows Charming won’t be able to resist: the con of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle has no idea she’s been served up on a platter for Prince Charming’s next con. The stench of death closes in on the fierce princess’s kingdom, leaving no room for distractions. When she learns about the existence of a mirror - one that might be the key to unlocking the mystery surrounding her kingdom’s demise - Gabrielle spurs into action, determined to find this mystical object.

Little does the princess know an evil queen is hunting for the same mirror, which she's convinced Prince Charming stole. But who really has the mirror? And once it’s found, will Lila, Aeris, and Gabrielle have the courage to face whatever might be lurking inside?


Aeris was in trouble. He cursed himself as he watched the princess stretch, waking from her deep slumber. He had given her a strong potion, one that should have made her sleep for hours.

A cool breeze brushed through the air, and little goosebumps peaked across Aeris’s arms. The window. Aeris hadn’t shut the window. A rookie mistake. No doubt the gust of air was what now roused the princess awake. Aeris gently closed the door on his view of the princess, retreating further into his current hiding spot.

Normally, after the princesses fell asleep, Aeris would grab any jewels or trinkets of value and high tail it out of there. But this Princess Gria just had so much. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, Aeris could see the shelves lining the walls of the room, which was easily the size of a peasant’s house. On the shelves gleamed iridescent pieces of jewelry. Over the past few weeks, Princess Gria had mentioned this room - her jewelry room - a beacon of pride, many times. It contained her rarest gems, fetching quite the price. Say, the cost of an entire village’s grain supply for a month.

Aeris had felt like if he didn’t grab as much as he could carry, it might be the difference between life and death. Trina was sick. Again. A relentless raspy cough that made Aeris’s insides curl each time he heard it. The healer had given a grim outcome: without the expensive medicine she needed, she might very well be dead within a month. Ysara had grown out of all her clothes and had nothing for the harsh winter months, soon approaching. She might freeze to death if she didn’t get appropriate outerwear. All the orphans in the realm of Neleque were far too skinny, their bones jutting out, their bellies swollen from hunger. The innocent faces had played through Aeris’s mind with each jewel he grabbed, and he had become lost in his determination to save every orphan he could. Now, he was stuck with a bag full of jewels and no way to escape.

“Aeris, my darling?” Aeris heard the princess’s voice through the closed door. It started off sweet enough, but when there was no reply, it turned sharp and sour like a tart berry. “Aeris, where are you?”

Flattening himself against the back wall of the room, Aeris frantically looked for a place to hide. The room was entirely closed, it’s stone walls a barricade. There was only one way out: the window, which lay directly next to the princess’s bed.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Gria’s voice trailed off. She must have been sitting in front of her mirror, vain princess that she was. Her laughter pealed through the air. “I don’t need a mirror to tell me who is the fairest of them all.” Aeris held back a snort of disbelief.

“Esmerelda!” Aeris heard the beautiful princess call. Esmerelda was a dark-haired younger girl. From the immediate sound of sweeping skirts against the floor, he imagined she was right outside Princess Gria’s chamber waiting for the moment she might be summoned.

Esmerelda’s shy voice sounded. “Yes, m’lady?”

“Have you seen Aeris? Did he leave my quarters?”

“No m’lady, I haven’t seen him at all.”

“Why are all of my servants so useless?” Gria whined.

While the two women discussed his whereabouts, Aeris tried to imagine the distance to the window. If Esmerelda distracted her long enough, if her body was angled away from the jewelry room, maybe Aeris could stealthily find his way to the window and escape.

“Esmerelda,” Gria’s voice crackled through the air like angry lightning about to strike. “Where are my makeup brushes? My golden makeup brushes?”

“I-I don’t know Mistress. I haven’t seen them!” The serving girl’s voice faltered just enough to raise suspicion.

A chair scraped across the floor, and footsteps padded heavily. Aeris’s heart quickened its pace, and he hoped the footsteps weren't headed in his direction. “If you don’t tell me where my makeup brushes are, I’ll cut that shy tongue right out.”

Anytime Gria had been unkind to Esmerelda, Aeris had always made it a point to give the poor girl a smile or a wink so she knew there was someone on her side. Right then, he wished he could do just that. But instead, his only hope was that Gria would find the white rose he left behind. Long ago, Aeris had witnessed a servant come under blame for his thievery. Ever since then, he left a trademark white rose, so there was no question about who had struck. It had actually gained Aeris quite a bit of notoriety, and a nickname he didn’t entirely hate.

A long silence stretched out. Then, “What is this? Where did this rose come from?......But, impossible.....the thief!” A crumpling of paper followed Gria’s proclamation.

Well, she found the rose with the note attached. Now, there was no telling how quickly he would be found.

Crash! Bang! Clink! “M’lady, please, there’s no need to ruin your beautiful furniture.” Esmerelda pleaded with her mistress who screamed out in rage. A loud crack banged against the door to the jewelry room, spurring Aeris into action. He tried to find any crevice he could to sink into.

 “Check this entire room! NOW!” Gria roared, followed by a mess of sobs and angry mumbling about her irreplaceable jewels.

Light flooded into his temporary sanctuary and Esmerelda jumped to see Aeris crouched in the corner, bag full of the very stolen treasure Princess Gria searched for. She bit her lip, like she was faced with an insurmountable decision. A determined look spread across her face as she cleared her throat, “Princess!”

Aeris cringed, waiting for the inevitable.

“What?” Gria groaned from the other room.

“I think I just saw him, in your powder room!”

A distressed shuffling sounded and faded. Esmerelda stepped aside and held open the door, motioning her hand for Aeris to move. Taking the invitation, Aeris darted out of the room, treasure bag clanging behind him.

“I don’t see him anywhere!” The princess’s voice rang out, spiked with panic.

“What if he’s on the ledge, outside the window?” Esmerelda replied. She whispered to Aeris, “Go, this is the only chance you have!”

Aeris swung one leg over the windowsill, he looked back to Esmerelda’s young face. “Why are you helping me?”

“You deserve it....and so does she.” Her voice darkened as Esmerelda emphasized the ‘she.’ With that, Aeris was out the window, and on the ledge.

As he leaped from the sill down to the shadowy gardens below, Gria shrieked out a note of fury. A Promise. “You’ll pay for this Prince Charming! You will pay!”

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- Peterson Rev 2

Name: Alanna Peterson
Genre: Young Adult Mystery


Valencia Roberts, Shaved Ice Hut employee and aspiring gastroenterologist, can’t wait for the all-night company retreat at Seven Seas Water Park. Not only will she be able to spend time with her co-worker/girl-crush Carmen, but she'll also get the chance to prove to management that she’s supervisor material.

The only downside: her nemesis, the lifeguard Bryce Dawson, will also be there. Which might give Val the perfect opportunity to exact revenge for what he did to her sister the previous summer... as long as she can avoid getting caught by his dad, who happens to be the general manager.

But when her register comes up $100 short, Val is suddenly in danger of losing the job she depends on. Convinced that Bryce is trying to sabotage her, Val becomes determined to prove he took the money. During a team-building treasure hunt that soon spirals out of control, Val’s plan unravels as secrets are revealed, uncovering an even bigger mystery—one that could have life-changing consequences for them all.


I love my job, but today has been brutal. It’s way past my usual break time—when will someone rescue me? As the shaved ice machine spews snow into yet another cone, I glance past the counter to the water park beyond.

That’s when I notice Bryce Dawson. He stands in his lookout spot at the wave pool’s edge, flaunting his impeccable pecs, his blue eyes squinting at the waves.

The pool is so crowded that I can’t even see the surface of the water. It’s just this sea of people and inner tubes rising and falling, rising and falling. It’s hypnotic, but not relaxing. In a pool that full, it would be way too easy for someone to drown.

If it has to be somebody, I hope it’s Bryce.

The whirring blades of the shaved ice machine slow to a stop, and I shape the fluffy mound with my gloved hand. But as I drizzle cherry syrup on the cone, the sharp blast of a whistle startles me, and I turn just in time to see a flash of Bryce’s red trunks as he dives into the water.

My stomach clenches. I stare at the pool, waiting for him to come back up, wishing I hadn’t been thinking about people drowning.

The red syrup overflows, leaking out of the white cone onto my glove. I set the bottle down, then jab at the stainless steel counter with a paper towel, still keeping an eye out for Bryce.

Finally, he emerges. He’s carrying someone up the pool’s sloped ramp, but when the crowd parts, I see that the “victim” is actually a bikini-clad teenager. Her arms are wrapped around Bryce’s thick neck. It looks like she’s about to kiss him.

He sets her down, letting his hand linger on her arm, and they start talking—flirting, from the looks of it. My initial relief flares into anger. Does he think this is all just a game?

I wish I could report Bryce for abandoning his post, but that wouldn’t do any good: he only works here because his dad is the general manager. To Eric Dawson, and everyone else, Bryce can do no wrong.

I’ve had enough. That girl smiling up at him has no idea who he really is, and this will just keep going on and on, unless…

Unless I do something about it. And at the retreat tonight, I’ll have the perfect opportunity.

Tonight, he’s going to pay for what he did to my sister.

But my revenge plotting will have to wait, because right now, I’ve got a job to do. I finish up the snow cone and hand it to the wet-haired little kid on the other side of the counter. She doesn’t look pleased when I place the red-and-green-and-yellow cone into her outstretched hands.

“It’s supposed to be rainbow.” She sounds semi-heartbroken, as if her whole afternoon at the water park has been ruined by the shaved-ice girl’s inability to keep blue syrup in stock. 

I probably shouldn’t care. But something about this kid yanks at my heart. Maybe it’s her chunky little torso, the way the swimsuit fabric stretches taut against her belly. I want this to be a good day for her. “I’m sorry. We’re out of blue raspberry.”

It’s been at least an hour since I radioed the kitchen asking for more. I’m also out of churros, and about to reach mission critical on nacho cheese stock. Pretty soon everyone in line will start revolting, demanding their amusement park snacks. Maybe they’ll get so angry that they’ll force me to climb to the top of the highest slide tower and walk the plank. That’ll teach the kitchen staff to forget about me! They’ll feel so terrible about my untimely demise that they’ll erect a tombstone for me in the faux-graveyard out by the shipwreck in the jungle. Here lies Valencia Roberts, the best Seven Seas employee ever to shave ice.

Luckily, it doesn’t come to that, because right then I notice Carmen in the distance. Yes. They sent Carmen! She’s pushing a cart piled high with supplies: churros in their foil-covered steel pan, three bags of nacho cheese, a fresh bottle of blue raspberry syrup.

The little girl is turning to leave, but I call to her, “Wait!” even though I should be helping the next person in line. I point to Carmen, our savior. “More’s coming! Hold on a sec and we’ll fix up that rainbow!”

I unlock the back door to the hut and Carmen steps inside, the squishy silver bags of nacho cheese cradled in her arms. I grab the blue raspberry syrup from the cart and screw the pour-top on. Then I give the little girl a generous drizzle. She skips away, satisfied.

“Who’d you murder?” Carmen asks, eyeing the red syrup pooled beneath the shaved ice machine.

“I’ll never tell.” I shoot her an enigmatic smile before helping the next customer in line, a mom in gigantic sunglasses who orders a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The fragrance of citrus fills the entire hut when I crank the lemon squeezer. “Thought you guys forgot about me,” I say to Carmen, careful to keep my tone light.

“We’ve been slammed all day, too.” She opens the nacho cheese dispenser and replaces the empty bag. “You can go take your break now.”

“In a minute. If you want to help the next person, I’ll clean up a little.” Though I can’t wait to eat, I don’t want to leave Carmen yet.

After finishing up the lemonade, I pile the churros into the warming oven, inhaling their cinnamon goodness. If only I could have one for lunch! Those crispy ridges, sandy with sugar; the soft interior, flaky and sweet… closing the door on that oven is literally the hardest thing I’ve done all day.

“Hey Val, could you get me a large Diet Coke while I make this shaved ice?” Carmen asks.

“Aye aye, cap’n.” I regret my dorky response almost immediately, but to my surprise she snort-laughs as she loads more ice into the machine.

After we fill the order, there’s a brief lull when we have no customers. Carmen rips off her gloves and tears the ponytail out of her black hair, re-fastening it into a messy bun that somehow looks elegant.

I tuck a strand of my own short brown hair behind my ear and ask her, “So, are you going to the retreat tonight?”

She turns to me, surprised. “Yeah. Why?”

“I am too! I saw another sleeping bag in the office when I brought mine in, and Vince said it was yours. Why do you think they asked us to come? I mean, we’re not supervisors. I think all the other people coming are either supervisors or managers.” She’s looking right into my eyes as I talk. Her intense focus makes me nervous, which tends to give me a touch of logorrhea. (Like diarrhea, but with words. I learned this very useful term while helping my sister study for her medical terminology course, back when she wanted to be a nurse.)

“Don’t know. Guess we’ll find out,” Carmen says.

“Do you think they’re, like, testing us or something? Seeing if we have what it takes to get a promotion? Since Aidan quit, they must be looking for a new kitchen supervisor.” I try to say it casually, even though I want to become supervisor just as badly as I want to get revenge on Bryce Dawson.

1st 5 Pages November Workshop- Weems Rev 2

Name: Sue L. Weems
Genre: Middle grade, historical mystery


Gold! That’s what everyone’s chasing in the Arizona territory in 1890—everyone but Rebekah “Reb” Harden. Reb’s father disappeared six weeks ago on his way to settle an inheritance from a man who died in a wagon fire, and Reb’s determined to find out what happened before they lose their land.

When she and her best friend Sammy set out to look for clues, the ghost of Junior Junior, who died with his father in the wagon fire, offers to help in exchange for bringing his killers to justice. The clues lead Reb and Sammy through danger in ghost towns and mining camps, where they have to sift through dilapidated buildings, unreliable ghosts, and an abandoned mine to find the truth.

But when Reb is caught by the Varga gang, she discovers who’s behind the land grab and how far he’ll go to own a mountain. He offers her a deal: her father and railroad tickets back to Kansas in exchange for their land and her silence—a choice that will certainly leave Stanton a ghost town and crush her father’s dreams.

Can Reb escape in time to alert the town, save her father, and avoid becoming the next ghost?


1890, the Arizona Territory, Stanton

“Nobody wants to smell the six-day-stink on a miner on their birthday or any other day,” Reb grumbled. Her momma plaited Reb’s hair, the gentle pull and tug somehow irritating tonight.

“I can’t cancel breakfast. It’s our only income,” her momma said. “I’m not taking in boarders with your father away.”

“Except Corky.” Reb smiled thinking of the gray-haired, peg leg man who lived downstairs and filled the lunch pails every day.

“Corky isn’t a boarder. He’s practically family, and we couldn’t run the place without him.” Her mother finished the braid with a torn piece of muslin.

Shadows flickered in the kerosene lamp’s glow as Reb picked at the worn yellow quilt. “Still no word from Daddy?”


Reb knew it wasn’t entirely true. She’d seen Momma and Corky huddled over a letter that had come in the morning’s post. She’d pretended not to notice but snuck into her mother’s room to read it while Momma fixed dinner. It was a letter from the land claims office in Prescott. One line had formed a lump in her stomach that wouldn’t go away. “Sorry, your husband has not visited our office this month.”

He’d left six weeks ago!

“Maybe we should ride over to Prescott and check to see what’s holding him up,” Reb said.

“Reb, this boardinghouse that J.R. Martin left us is all we have. We’ll lose it if we leave. Daddy’ll be back once he’s settled the paperwork.”

“I don’t see why ol’ Mr. Martin had to leave us this boardinghouse. It’s not like we’re related.” Reb thought back to the morning when news had come in about the Martin family dying in a wagon fire two miles outside Stanton. Her family had only been boarders at the time. The  men spoke in hushed whispers, and Reb had caught mention of the Varga gang and land disputes. A whole family dying in a wagon fire was no accident and everyone knew it.

“Hush. Don’t speak ill of the dead.” Her mother stood and stretched her back. “Corky said he’d send a message to some people over in Prescott. Hopefully we’ll hear back soon.”

“Corky also said he’d take me to his mine claim for my birthday and we’d find a vein of gold.”

Her momma laughed. “He did not. Stop with your stories.” She hugged Reb and pulled the thin sheet over her. “Night, lightning bug. Keep shining.”

“Still no lightning bugs in the Arizona territory,” Reb said.

Her mother’s smile sagged, and Reb felt a pang of regret. “Night.”

She rolled over on the scratchy sheets and stared out the window at the last dim streaks of day. She wished Corky had told her he’d take her to his mine, maybe they could stop in Prescott on the way and take a look around. She stared up at the rafters wondering how she could find her father.

A whistle sounded nearby.

Reb stepped softly from bed and opened the window to see her best friend Sammy perched in the branches of the maple outside. He was nestled against the trunk a few feet away, his black hair rooster-wild in the glow of dusk.

“Already in bed?” he asked. “Sun just went down.”

She leaned out the window and rolled her eyes. “Momma said I’m not twelve until tomorrow.”

Sammy didn’t reply. He’d probably never had a bedtime.

Tomorrow she’d be twelve. An idea flashed in her mind. “Sammy, let’s go out to the wagon ruins tomorrow.”

Sammy frowned. “What for? I don’t like it over there. Besides, your Ma won’t let you go.”

“I’m not gonna ask her! You ride all over the territory and nobody bats an eye.”

Sammy snapped off a twig and twirled it in his hand. “That’s different.”

“Naw, it ain’t. You’re only five and a half months older than me. Why’s everybody trying to keep me cooped up at the boardinghouse all the time?”

“It’s cause you’re a girl.” Sammy pointed at her and grinned, knowing his barb hit its mark.

“Do you want me to jump out there and shake you down from that tree? I can shoot better than you!” Dishes clattered in the kitchen below and they both froze as they heard the back door open. Reb stepped back from the window, listening.

She heard the slosh of dishwater splatting against the gravel below, followed by crack of the back door closing again.
She crept back to the window, lowering her voice, “Sammy, we gotta go out to the wagon ruins tomorrow.”

He sighed. “It’ll take us til lunch to get out there and back. And it’s haunted. Panners say they seen the dead walking out there.”

“You scared?” She knew Sammy wouldn’t back down from a dare.

“Scared of missing lunch,” he said.

“I’ll bring Momma’s biscuit sandwiches. Please, Sammy? For my birthday?”

Sammy kicked a boot at the air. “Oh all right. Since it’s your birthday.” They made plans to meet after breakfast and Reb watched as Sammy shimmied down the tree before she climbed into bed.

Twelve will be different, she thought, hope rising like the moon beginning to peek into her room.

 The next morning, Reb rubbed her eyes. Light was just dawning over the edge of the canyon through her window. Her birthday! She sat up, delighted to see not one box, but two sitting on the edge of her bed. She already knew the first box was boots from back East— the one thing that her momma splurged on each year. Reb opened it and inhaled the new leather. Tucked down the side of the box was a book of blank pages. On the inside was an inscription:

“Things start to change at twelve, but I know you’re ready. Write down your days to share with Daddy when he returns. We love you so much. Keep shining, Momma and Daddy.”

In the bottom of the box was a quill pen and little glass bottle of ink. Reb set it aside.

She opened the second box and frowned, suddenly glad she wasn’t opening it in front of her mother. Clothes. Reb held up the cream colored shirt, a single simple ruffle along the button line. There was also a calico skirt and underthings.

Reb scowled. She supposed this was her momma’s way of letting her know she was going to be a grown up soon, but Reb wasn’t trading in her pants. Not now and maybe not ever. She pulled on a her favorite trousers with a plaid short sleeve button down shirt, and she tugged on her new boots.

In the stairwell, the gruff voices beneath her rumbled like storm clouds.

“But what’s she doing running around in pants? Ain’t right…”

Corky’s voice was crisp. “Shut it, Varner. None of your business.”

Anger rose in Reb’s chest. Dumb old men in dirt-stained shirts with grizzled uncut beards and hair, the black dirt permanently buried in their fingernails and ears—wanting to tell her how to dress!

Reb tiptoed back up the stairs and made a point to stomp down loud enough to wake the dead. Corky shouted at the men.

“It’s Reb’s birthday, ya filthy animals. Try to be respectable!”

Reb jumped down the last two steps, landing with a bang just outside the main dining room.

“Here she is!” Corky yelled. All six tables full of men hollered “happy birthday” along