Free writing workshop for aspiring authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. The first five pages may be all that agents, editors, and readers read, so get them right with the help of three authors over the course of three weeks. During the third week, an agent will also critique your pages and your pitch and pick a workshop winner - the prize is a partial request!
Name: Lana Kondryuk Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy Title: MOLFAR
Ian Hill is a dud. Despite being the first
male in a long line of witches, his sixteenth birthday has come and gone
without even a hint of power. Any power. He would’ve settled for levitating
Condemned to a dull suburban existence and
working at his mom’s pagan supply store, Ian has given up hope—that is, until
he meets Violet, a talented witch who awakens his power as well as his raging
hormones. Welcome to the world of telepathic trees, killer shadows, and ghost
As soon as Ian receives his unique —and
practically extinct—tree-whispering Gift, the Dark Soul Stealers are after it.
To make matters worse, Ian ruins his budding relationship with Violet by
“borrowing” her treasured book of spells for a shortcut to master more magic.
Violet disappears from his life, and without her training, Ian fails to prevent
the Dark Soul Stealers from destroying his hometown and making his mom gravely
ill. As he races to save his mom and to find Violet, his adversaries present
him with an impossible deal: his mother’s and Violet’s lives in exchange for
When your mom is a walking lie detector, you
master the art of withholding the truth.
Sitting in a shade of a mighty oak, I grab the
next sack full of herbs and tie it so tightly the twine stings my hands.
Since Mom keeps canceling my plans every time
a high holiday rolls around, dooming my social life in the process, I feel zero
guilt about sneaking out tonight. Midsummer—Litha, as witches call it—may
be in a few days, but Rick’s end of school party is tonight. Mom knew
I’d be missing it when she sent me on a three-day plant harvesting trip to
Gram’s cabin in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Poconos.
I planned well; even Mom’s internal lie
detector won’t pick up on this. And if she does find out, the worst she can do
is make me work overtime at her store. I practically live there
already—what’s a few more hours?
I bind the sacks together and hoist them onto
my shoulder. My phone vibrates in my pocket. I fish it out and read the text from
Denis Gorash, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Chornohora’s Senior Class: Ian,
everyone but you has confirmed. You gonna make it to Rick’s tonight?
Everyone includesSamantha Lawrence—my reason for
breaking the rules today. Day one of junior year’s French class, when Sam
waltzed over and sat in the chair next to mine, I was a goner. She threw
her long, honey-blond hair over her shoulder and said, “Bonjour.” I’m pretty sure
time stopped for a while.
Before I type my response, my phone buzzes
with the second text. This one isn’t from Denis. So you aren’t
coming. Can’t blame you. Gotta suck knowing Sam’s my date tonight.
My jaw tightens. “You bastard,” I mutter.
Paul Carter, that filthy-rich, self-absorbed,
gym-dwelling, hair-gelling moron. He’s got muscles to make Schwarzenegger
jealous and a wallet full of cards with six digit limits. Girls are lining up
for him, but he’s chasing Sam. And only because I like her. Just when I finally
work up the courage to ask Sam out, Paul ups his game. Coincidence much? I
can’t believe we used to be friends.
You bet, I reply to Denis. Determined to spoil Paul’s evening, I
tuck my phone into my backpack and head out of the oak grove. Clear skies and
warm summer wind hissing between the rocks promise a perfect night for a party.
In the first clearing,
the wind snatches my baseball cap and hurls into the thorny brush.
Crap. With a grunt, I drop my sacks on the ground and climb into the prickly
bushes to get my stupid hat. Then I freeze. Scarlet flowers with fuzzy purple
leaves shaped like the wings of a Phoenix sway beside my worn blue baseball
I hold my breath and look closer. Then I close
my eyes and open them up again—the legendary Phoenix Flame is still there. It
looks exactly like the drawings in Gram’s old books. All those botany lessons
Gram forced on me no longer seem like a waste. If only she were here to witness
this. I can’t believe I’ve found the mythical plant that can unlock the body’s
ability to heal itself even if one is an inch from death! This is every witch’s
dream, and I’m the one who gets to live it. Me. The guy who was skipped by his
family witch gene.
My pulse pounds in my head as I position my
fingers an inch above the ground to snap the stem, but then I pause.
The legend warns that only those chosen by the
flower may harvest it; all others will die violent deaths. Uncertainty creeps
into my mind. Do I dare? The worth of one flower can sponsor my college
education. I’d be richer than Paul and never have to work at The Moon Goddess
again. I’d finally get to make my own decisions. I can almost savor the sweet
taste of independence, but a violent death would put a damper on my plans.
“Damnit,” I mumble and leer at the flower. I
just can’t get a break. I’ve never been lucky; haven’t even won a dollar
playing the scratch-off lottery. But this, hands down, is the worst snub of my
life. To be so close yet so far.
The whole curse thing is probably bogus since
no one’s seen this plant in centuries. How do we know there ever was one? Not
all stories are true. If they were, all witches would sport warts, fly on their
brooms, and cook disobedient children for dinner.
But let’s say the legend is true. It can’t be
a coincidence that my hat blew right to the Phoenix Flame; the flower has to
have chosen me. This is my chance to make something happen; to decide for
I push my shoulders back. I’ll only take
one, just one from a dozen. Enough for my college tuition and a new ride. And I
can always come back for more, now that I know where to find them.
Before my resolve fades, I snap the stem of
one plant, roll it up in my baseball cap, and hide it inside my shirt. There’s
no way I’m parting with it, not even for a second.
Hoisting the sacks over my shoulder, I hurry
out of the woods, grinning. My steps and spirits are light until I reach the
A powerful gust of wind makes me take a few
steps back and then lean forward to keep my balance. Dark clouds swarm the
skies, blocking out the sun. Angry lightning bolts slice through them and echo
with ear-splitting thunder. This can’t be good. I was so enthralled by the
Phoenix Flame that I didn’t even notice the storm coming.
I scan the meadow for shelter and spot a
protected area between the rocks. But then I remember the party. If I get stuck
on this mountain for hours, I’ll miss it. Images of Paul Carter kissing Sam
invade my mind, and all of a sudden getting to the party becomes more important
than dodging lightning bolts.
Ignoring all self-preservation instincts, I
press my treasure-filled baseball hat tighter to my chest and dash for the path
that snakes down the mountain.
The heavens open, releasing a torrential
downpour. I slip and slide in mud. When I pass a boulder that looks like a
turtle, I know the ledge is dangerously close. Swearing loudly, I latch onto a
young oak and come to a halt. But the ground under my feet breaks off, like a
piece of soft chocolate cake, and slides down the mountain, taking me with it.
My heart drops into my stomach. Letting go of
the sacks, I frantically grab at plants and roots to slow my fall. Sharp rocks
cut into my skin, and dull waves of pain rush through my ribs and knees. The
next bump knocks the wind out of me and sends me into the air. I hover for a
second in a state of weightlessness, gasping, and then land on a large stone.
My head smashes against something hard and then everything goes black.
I awake to pain tearing through my body. When
I open my eyes, my surroundings swim in a gray haze. Slowly, the shapes come
into focus. Dancing flames on wax-dripping candles cast shadows on mud walls.
Plants hang suspended from the ceiling in bunches. My heart starts pounding.
Where the hell am I?