Sunday, October 29, 2017

Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens Saturday, November 4th w/ mentors Lit Agent Alec Shane and Author Robin Constantine!

Our November workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, November 4th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Robin Constantine as our author mentor and Alec Shane of Writer's House  as our agent mentor! (See below for Alec'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!

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.

November  Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Alec Shane

Alex began his career at Writers House as an intern, and then as assistant to Jodi Reamer. He's now actively building his own list and currently represent a fairly eclectic mix of Children's and Adult fiction and nonfiction. He's eagerly looking for both.

On the fiction side, he love mysteries, thrillers, bad-ass protagonists with a chip on their shoulders, beautifully told historical fiction, well-researched adventure stories, and great horror. In terms of children's books, getting boys to read again is especially important to him, and thus he's particularly on the lookout for a fun middle-grade adventure series, ghost story, or anything else geared toward younger male readers.

Click here for submission information!

November Guest Author Mentor: Robin Constantine

Robin Constantine is the author of The Promise of Amazing, The Secrets of Attraction and The Season of You & Me. A born-and-raised Jersey girl, Robin likes to spend her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, eventually, but not without a lot of peril, angst, and the occasional kissing scene. She loves swoony books, flip-flops, dark chocolate and the full moon.

Find her on Twitter @RConstantine14
Find her on Facebook at: Robin Constantine


Cassidy Emmerich is determined to make this summer—the last before her boyfriend heads off to college—unforgettable. What she doesn’t count on is her boyfriend breaking up with her. Now, instead of being poolside with him, Cass is over a hundred miles away, spending the summer with her estranged father and his family at their bed-and-breakfast at the Jersey Shore and working as the newest counselor at Camp Manatee.

Bryan Lakewood is sick of nevers. You’ll never walk. You’ll never surf. You’ll never slow dance with your date at prom. One miscalculated step and Bryan’s life changed forever—now he’s paralyzed and needs to use a wheelchair. This is the first summer he’s back at his former position at Camp Manatee and ready to reclaim some of his independence, in spite of those who question if he’s up for the job.

Cass is expecting two months dealing with heartbreak.
Bryan is expecting a summer of tough adjustments.
Neither of them is expecting to fall in love.

Where To Buy:


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Free #1st5pages Workshop Opens in 1 Week - And Mentor News!

The Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop will open again for submissions on Saturday, November 4th at noon EST. In the meantime, a few of our wonderful mentors had books come out in October, so be sure to check them out!

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!!!)

LOCK AND MORI, FINAL FALL, by Heather Petty comes out November 28 - I can't wait, I love this series!!!

ASSASSIN OF TRUTH 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 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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of October's 1st 5 Pages Workshop!

Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard during our October 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, Amy Dominy as our author mentor and Kaitlyn Johnson of Corvisiero Literary Agency as our agent mentor! And as always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

Our November workshop will open for entries on Saturday, November 4th at noon, EST. 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!

Remember, 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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The October Workshop Is In Progress

Our five manuscripts 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 and mentors comments and watching the revision transformations in progress to see what worked, what didn't work, and discover why and how to make improvements. 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? The November workshop will open at noon on November 4th. We 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 manuscript is formatted correctly, free of typos and grammar errors, and that you've worked through your story idea thoroughly to format your pitch. Need help getting your pitch and manuscript ready? Click here for writing help and submission tips.

Monday, October 23, 2017

1st 5 Pages October Workshop - McGuire Rev 2

Name: Amy McGuire
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


Chess is war, and for sixteen-year-old Rowan Darroch, it's about to become life or death.

Recruited into a lethal chess match between opposing factions of a soulless race, Rowan finds herself carried more than two hundred years into the past, where she's trapped in a time-bending war game that will decide the fate of humankind. Her only guide is Conor, a scarred soldier from an ancient, hidden order tasked with safeguarding human souls. And while she might be infatuated with him, she sure as hell doesn't trust him.

At home amongst the thieves and confidence women of London’s criminal underworld, Rowan and Conor concoct an elaborate plan to infiltrate the court of George IV, where Conor must complete his next move. But as Rowan becomes convinced she has more influence on the chessboard than Conor would have her believe, she faces a choice: play by his rules and make it home alive, or play by her own, and risk everything.


Chicago. December, 2015.

It’s Friday, right after fifth period gym, and the crowd is thick outside the girls’ locker room. For reasons I can’t name I glance around, searching for something. But what?

I almost give up, prepared to ignore whatever is making me twitchy, when—there. A boy.

In that fleeting moment, I can’t help but wonder if fate is about to mess with me because (a) I usually skip gym, which, on any other day, would have placed me well outside the trajectory of his path, and (b) I’m boy blind.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see boys; I know they’re there. I just fail to perceive any great difference between them.

Not so with this boy. Though I didn’t catch a glimpse of him until he’d already passed me, his retreating back holds my undivided attention. Before I can quite work out what that means, something inexplicable happens. I follow him.

Just like that. One minute I’m heading to calculus, happy to be free of the odor and aggression of teenagers in uniform shorts, and the next I’m trailing an unknown figure down a packed hallway.

It’s a nice figure from behind. He’s got roughly six inches on me, putting him around six-one or six-two, and he carries himself with a gravity most guys my age don’t have. Watching him move, I almost feel…not nothing. And I want more of it.

Clocking his every step, I walk swiftly through the noisy mob. Jammed up by a pair of hand-holders, I wiggle my way around them, just in time to see the guy steal a piece of paper from some girl’s back pocket.

My jaw drops like a stone.

Eyes darting, I swivel my head, apparently alone in my outrage.

Do I call him out? What if he took something important?

With that thought, I dig into my own pocket, seeking the black rook I always keep on me. My hand closes over cheap plastic, and relief fills me. A chess piece from the first Illinois K-8 tournament I’d won as a kid, it helps me focus, reminds me to always look to the future.

My gaze finds the guy again. As if on cue, he stops, drops a rectangular object, letting it slip through his fingers and fall to the floor, and then promptly disappears.

Hold on. Cue the WTFs.

It couldn’t be. And yet I’d been looking right at it. The dude had just blinked out like a light.

Tension hums at the base of my skull, and my breath comes a little harder. Because I can’t think of a single reason not to, I jog ahead. When I reach the item the Boy Who Vanishes had left behind, I stare at it, hesitant to pick it up. It appears to be a small address book, the words IF FOUND RETURN TO JMM written on the leather binding.


I nearly groan. Not now.

“I know you can hear me, Rowan!” It’s a warning. One that won’t be ignored.

Already regretting it, I swipe up the address book, jam it into my pocket, and turn around, scouring the sea of faces for the one I know as well as my own. Harper Boyd, best friend and pocket-sized human, is seventy feet behind me and gaining fast.

Harper and I go way back. Way, way back. Free agents at birth, otherwise known as sad little orphan babies, we’ve been hustled in and out of foster care facilities our entire lives. We haven’t always remained together, but peculiar chance keeps returning us to one another. Right now we live in a group home in Norwood Park, where we were placed within weeks of each other during freshman year. I call it The Layover: another pit stop on the way to somewhere better.

I shoot an antsy look over my shoulder, not ready to give up on finding the BWV. But I know Harper won’t back off until I acknowledge her. Resigned, I give a sharp whistle.

It brings Harper up short. Her green eyes zero in on me, and she flashes me one of our secret signals—where are you going?

My life consists mainly of school, job, and chess, and you can set your watch to my schedule. If I deviate from it in any way, Harper always manages to appear out of nowhere to interrogate me. Every single time. Like, poof.

Most days I roll with it. Most days I got nothing to hide. But today I’m actually up to something, and no way am I telling her what it is.

Bathroom, I signal.

Rapid hand movement. I’ll join you.

Thanks, but I pee alone.

Her eyes narrow to slits. She knows I’m lying, and she knows I know she knows. It’s one of the more inconvenient side effects of our years together.

Fine, she tells me.

Her hands are still in motion, but I’m already walking away.

The decision to go out of one’s way between classes is never to be made lightly, because a Tyler High School hallway holds unspeakable power. It can take you to other parts of the building, anywhere you wish to go, or it can take you to your knees with a single well-placed idiot. With more than thirty-two hundred students jockeying for position in a building designed to accommodate less than twenty-one hundred, the idiots rule.

Coming around a corner, the scent of body spray almost knocks me over, the guy in front of me evidently having bathed in it that morning. He achieves true douchebag status when he knocks the books out of someone else’s hands and then holds his arms up in victory.

I angle my head to breathe better air—and then it happens all over again. Awareness pricks at me, right before the BWV reappears! I see him enter a room directly across the hall a split second before the door closes behind him. Beyond all reason, and without hesitation, I follow.

Once inside the room I freeze, surveying the scene before me in confused shock. Several guys are standing at irregular intervals facing one wall. Others are washing their hands and fussing with their hair in front of mirrors hanging on the opposite wall. And one guy pulls a small foil packet from a metal dispenser not far from where I stand.

I’m in a boys’ bathroom.

When the synapses start firing again, flight should have been the natural response. Instead I think, Blend!

I tug the bottom of my sweatshirt down over my hips and pull the hood up to cover my hair. I have an asymmetrical bob that falls just above my chin on the right and just below it on the left. With the hood up, only my side-swept bangs are visible.

My gender swap won’t bear up under any kind of scrutiny, but I’m getting a distinct no-look, no-talk vibe from the room’s occupants. Guy etiquette. Who knew?

Head down, I stride over to the wall of urinals, stopping in front of the one with the most graffiti around it (might as well have something to read).

The majority of messages and drawings on the wall are vulgar, but a few show real promise. Someone had sketched a perfect likeness of the school mascot, the fierce-looking Tyler Falcon. Someone less gifted had drawn an arrow pointing to the urinal bowl and scribbled Willie Wuz Here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Willis Rev 2

Name: Latrice Willis
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: The Wayfarer's Chains

For sixteen-year-old nomad Mika, “being adventurous” usually means “being reckless.” Risking her mother’s wrath to run off with her martial arts instructor is no big deal. So, she doesn’t think twice about attacking a noblewoman who insults her tribe. Her actions lead to their eviction, but she couldn’t have known kingdom guards would turn it into a massacre.

Traumatized, Mika flees to another kingdom, only to get detained due to self-destructive behavior. She gains an ally in a guard named Amblyn. When she decides to avenge her tribe, Amblyn doesn’t believe she has the physical or emotional capacity to do so. She suggests Mika gets the strength she needs—by becoming a guard.

Mika’s mind and body are on the line as she faces xenophobic commanding officers, and strenuous training and athletic games. She becomes a political pawn for Amblyn, putting a strain on their allyship. And her own reckless behavior and grief threaten to send her down a more dangerous path of self-destruction. Mika is determined to one day face the men who slaughtered her tribe. But guard life could destroy her before a plan for vengeance even comes to fruition.

The plucking of the linti strings were complemented by the soft drumming and melodious voice. Mika’s arms moved in tune with each lyrical inflection. She spun around, thrusting her arms upward, and accentuated each rotation with the stomp of her right heel. She leaped into a split, her arms up again as she landed. The only sound from the crowd was the shifting of bodies on the crudely built benches.

Mika stepped back, now in line with her two close friends, Lewa, and Malani. She scanned the crowd in front of them. An intimate group of just over thirty people, all family and friends. And on a bench to her far right sat one of the most important people in her life, looking right at her, giving her that smile.

That smile.

That same smile pushed her through training. Working hard was the only way to see it over and over again. She wanted to keep staring at those encouraging, parted lips; they gave her the confidence she needed.

Certainly, she was making the right decision that night.

But she couldn’t put her focus on that right now. The crowd was enthralled and they hadn’t even started it. Mika forced herself to look at her friends to get back on track.

It was time.

The voices of the crowd rose and hands came together as the drum thundered. With leaps, body rolls, foot stomps, and shaking hips, the three friends made use of the small area between the crowd and the musicians. The bright red tassels attached to the sides of Mika’s black shorts slapped against her thighs, and her thick braids bounced around her head. The drums were getting louder and louder. She launched herself into the air one last time.

With one final pluck of the linti and softening drum roll, Mika’s feet hit the ground. She smiled through her heavy breathing as they received a standing ovation. Their first performance in front of everyone was flawless. It took four weeks of practice, sore bodies, and a few missed meals, but their hard work had paid off.

She glanced at her friends again, giving them each a slight nod. Malani backed away, leaving the two girls alone. Mika faced Lewa, crouching slightly as she waited for the cue. Her hand-painted headband did little to prevent the sweat from dripping down her forehead. Her cropped shirt clung to her shoulders. Why did it have to be such a hot, humid night? Stains covered Lewa’s own shirt. It was fortunate Mika had talked her into braiding her tightly, coiled hair for the night, who knows what the air and dancing would have done to it. Unlike her, Lewa had decided not to add the decorative beads to her hair.

The sixteen-year-old girls stood about five feet three inches. They were members of a Sanga tribe, one of the nomadic groups from south Khalavan. Like most southerners, each girl had plump lips, and dark amber colored skin. What made their tribe stand out was their bright green eyes and hair, the color of malachite.

The drum started again, signaling the most anticipated part of the night: The rutha battle. The traditional martial art was usually taught to young boys, with only Malani and three others being allowed to learn at that time. Mika’s mother, who learned through her husband, advocated for the girls to learn after catching them imitating the training on their own. In a matter of four years, they mastered the complex moves that incorporated swift arms, elbows, kicks, flips, and cartwheels. Their impressive skills got them chosen by the tribe leader to perform that night.

The two girls rocked back and forth, putting one foot behind the other. Mika had just a few seconds to look over Lewa’s shoulder and get a glimpse of him.

Datani. Her rutha trainer. The man she was going to run away with that night.

She exhaled, and set her focus back on Lewa. Her friend gave her a knowing look and mouthed the words quickly, but Mika knew exactly what she said:

I’m destroying you tonight.”

Such bold words. They were equally skilled, and matches between them were often unpredictable. But Mika was going to put everything into that match tonight. She had to shine. She had to win.

"Amijo!" Malani shouted. Lewa made the first move with a spinning kick aimed for Mika’s right shoulder and chest. She felt Lewa’s leg brush her hair as she ducked, and retaliated with her own spinning kick at Lewa’s shoulder. The series of kicks between the girls continued. That was the choreographed part of their routine, simply for the crowd’s own pleasure. Once Lewa backflipped away from Mika, they would have to rely on their own abilities to win the battle.

The girls fought furiously, grunting, and yelping with each hit. One-handed cartwheels and flips targeted the upper body, and sweeping legs were directed towards ankles and shins. Mika regretted putting the beads in her hair as they smacked her in the face, blinding her temporarily. Lewa took advantage of the moment and got her right side with a knee.

They had only been fighting for five minutes, but the girls began to slow down as their bodies grew fatigued. Mika knew she wasn’t going to last too much longer. They hadn’t fought this long before. But her determination to win gave her the strength to ignore her pains just a little while longer. Lewa was struggling to keep up. Her kicks and elbow shots had lost their fierceness. Time for the take down.

She dove feet first, opening her legs just enough to envelope Lewa’s left leg. With the slight twist of her body, Mika used her weight to pull Lewa down to the ground. Her friend groaned as her back hit the dirt.

"Mika bota!" Malani declared Mika the winner. She extended a hand to Lewa, who glared at her for a second. She rolled her eyes. One of them had to lose, obviously it couldn’t be her. But the pride in Lewa’s eyes gave it away; she wasn’t upset at all.

As the girls limped away from the cheering crowd with their arms around each other, a tired smile crossed her face. Datani would be proud of her. A reminder to him that she had paid attention to every word and every lesson he taught. Her eyes might have lingered on his face and lean body a little too long sometimes. But she still learned something!

He needed to see her as a great fighter. After all, she was going to confess her love for him and wanted to share all of his adventures. She had to be someone who could take care of herself and be his support whenever he needed it.

"Mika! Lewa!" Her mother, Alaya, pushed her way to through the group. "Come on girls. Let’s get you taken care of." Many people outside their tribe assumed Alaya was actually Mika’s sister. They were the same height, but Alaya’s green eyes turned slightly upward on youthful face.

Alaya led the girls to a blanket near the food. A small, overturned box with a large ceramic pot of ootuga paste, gauze, and flat string were set up on top of a blanket. She anticipated slight injuries, and had the foresight to prepare the area for them.

1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Hoover Rev 2

Name: Audrianna Hoover
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: Princess of Darkness

Seventeen-year-old Arielle, Princess of Dagengrath, is cursed with dark magic she cannot control, in a land where magic rarely exists. A single touch can be deadly to the entire kingdom, but the amulet locked on her wrist keeps her powers at bay.

Taken prisoner by Dagengrath’s rival kingdom, Arielle’s powers are growing and the amulet will not be able to protect those around her much longer. When it fails, the secrets she has been hiding expose more than just her own lies, and  force her to take a place on the battlefield and choose: her family or the kingdom she has come to call home.

Chapter One

The door crashed into the wall behind it as it swung open, letting in precious air.

Arielle pulled her face away from the tiny window, where her cheek pressed against it with the hope of making her tiny room stop closing in. Even the distraction of watching the men training below hadn’t been helping today. She took a gloriously deep breath as space opened around her once more.

Creda limped in, clutching her walking stick. “The king wishes to see you,” she announced. Arielle only stared, still catching her breath. Her maid slammed the end of the stick onto the stone floor. “Now!”

Arielle jolted and hurried towards the door, vaulting over the cot that stretched out the width of the room. A flare of hope tightened her chest. Maybe today was the day she would be set free.

Creda whacked the walking stick across the back of her legs, Arielle’s gown protecting her from the sharp sting it should have elicited. Arielle flinched even so, remembering the strikes she occasionally received directly to her flesh.

“Hurry girl,” Creda grunted.

Arielle stuck her tongue out, careful to hide the action, as they descended the stone staircase into the hall below. No matter how cruel her maid was, Arielle was sure to never let the hateful crone see her displays of contempt. If she noticed, no doubt Creda would slip enough poison into her every meal to keep her bed ridden for the rest of her life; or kill her.

With each stride across the main floor of the castle towards the throne room, Arielle’s heart pounded. Her skirts whispered on the stone as she passed the closed library. She averted her eyes from the doors, the thought of the mural painted inside sending a shiver down her spine. A single servant slipped past her and Creda, staring at Arielle with wide eyes.

Where is everyone? she thought as they passed the Great Hall, which stood eerily quiet and empty.

She forgot about her curiosity as she crossed the threshold of the throne room alone, Creda halting in the gallery outside. Arielle slowed her pace until she stood at the foot of the throne and curtsied deeply. She straightened, feeling relief and excitement as the king regarded her with a calmness that was unlike him. A moment of silence passed over the room.

“You will be presented for selection of the sacrifice tonight.”

She stared up at him, unblinking. She could feel the despair pooling in her gut, even as the fear of what he had announced quaked through her. She wished for freedom and found death. Her eyes flicked to the king’s right, to her twin there beside him.

His hair was the color of spun gold, his eyes a solid crystal blue. His fair skin was tanned from his time outside, from training to be a warrior, which was where the lean, toned body came from. But discussing such a bleak subject, Aeron’s expression held nothing but emptiness – not the slightest bit of compassion.

He did not care that their father was going to march her before a crowd of their own people and sacrifice her, should she be chosen.

If Aeron and her father were mirror images in their looks, she was the inverse. Her jet-black hair and eyes proved it, but the difference of personalities between her and Aeron was the most apparent. While her brother obeyed their father without a moment’s hesitation regarding everything, Arielle suffered a terrible and strange compulsion to rebel against even the simplest commands.

“Why?” She drew herself up to full height, eyes connecting with her father’s. She clenched her fists, directing her anxiety the nails that bit into her palms. The iron bracelet around her wrist glinted in the light from the fire, the deep orange amulet inset into the metal gleaming. “You despise me so much, you would spill my blood?” she asked, her voice cracking.

A flash of childhood memories came to her like a quick strike of lightning. Standing in front of the altar at Haebor’s temple, hand clasped with Aeron’s. The blood of the chosen spilling onto the marble steps as they tried to keep from screaming…

King Jerald gave her an icy smile, the crinkling around his eyes evidence of the pleasure he felt at the fear she was sure he sensed. “You’ve been away too long. You’ve forgotten which rite this is, Arielle.”

Arielle’s eyes widened, her lips moving as she whispered to herself to count the days since she was last out – something she quit doing a long time ago. Only the castle knew of her imprisonment, the king not wanting the entirety of his kingdom to know of his daughter’s evil deed. Even then, those who knew could not say why she was locked away, nor why she sported the bracelet which kept her from hurting anyone.

The blood drained from her face. “The Spring Rite,” she choked out. “You’re going to give me to Haebor.”

“Of course not.” He drew his lips into a firm line. “I’m merely offering you for his assessment. If he were to choose you, it would be a way for you to redeem yourself.”

“I will not go,” Arielle said, but her tone was unconvincing. She tried again. “You cannot make me offer myself. It must be done freely.”

The king stood, menacing in his stance. The men who guarded her father stepped forward to each claim an arm. She kept her head high and proud as he approached, Aeron keeping at his heels.

King Jerald appraised her, his lip curling. “Arielle, you will go,” he said, stepping close enough to make her want to retreat. His expression softened. “I’m only trying to save you, to save your soul. Someone must right the path you’ve chosen. Please don’t throw away this chance to prove you’re not as you appear.”

Arielle felt apprehension wind tight in her gut as she took in the look – the one which almost seemed to say he cared for her and what might happen to her. If she could prove to him she wasn’t evil. If she could prove she hadn’t meant to defy him that day. The blood on her hands was an accident, the thoughtless mistake of the child who had been locked away four years ago.

“It is, of course, as you say. You must offer yourself freely.” He hardened again as he looked her over from head to toe, grimacing as if the stain on her sleeve from lunch was the stain on her soul he so abhorred. The king swept back to his throne of glittering gold and black diamonds and rich rubies, but Aeron remained in front of her. “But you must choose now,” he added, reclaiming his seat.

Arielle stared up at her twin, searching for any sort of sympathy or sibling bond. A single hand rested on his sword, his knuckles white with his grip, though his expression remained blank. She could swear she sensed the slightest bit of hesitation, but if it was truly there, her brother did not display anything to confirm it.

“Choose,” King Jerald demanded. He leaned forward in his seat, waiting for her answer.

Arielle felt herself breaking. Her desire for redemption was prevailing over her need to be released. But consenting to the selection for the sacrifice was not a light matter.

If she were chosen, she would be bred like an animal by Dagengrath’s only deity – Haebor.

1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Everett Rev 2

Name: Sam Everett
Genre: Middle Grade fantasy

200 Word Pitch:

Mona O’Naughton is the sort of fairy who sees to your happiness in the small ways she can, hoping to earn your belief in her so that fairies and humans might coexist as they did long ago. And though no fairy truly expects to make contact with her human, Mona’s wings would buzz forever if she at least achieved the success of her best friend, Kyna.

However, Mona is the cautious type who sees the carpet stain as soon as the juice glass is set at the edge of the table, leaving her cursed with the reputation of a fairy more concerned with her human’s safety than his happiness.

When she is assigned to thirteen year-old human Holly, it would seem a perfect pairing, for the girl has only barely survived an attack by a wild animal--an attack which took her hands, and much more. Mona is charged with keeping the girl safe, a task natural to her.

But she wants more. To shed her reputation, she vows not simply to protect Holly, but to fulfill her dream.

Of course, that’s before she learns Holly’s dream is to find the animal who took her hands, and to fight him.


Chapter 1


Ben Stiglitz died at a hundred and one, a noteworthy age. There was no real reason for him to have died. He wasn’t sick, and he didn’t fall down stairs or eat a microwaveable Salisbury steak too fast. That morning, he simply locked his front door, took a bus to the hospital, and crawled into a bed to doze off. If he’d had family, they would have heard his nurse say he died from having lived so long.

From his pillow, his tiny shrug fairy Mona O’Naughton heard it, and it made her smile.

Fairies had many different jobs, and a shrug fairy’s was to make her human happy in any small way she could. She was so named because her magical feats--moving a lost book to a table where a boy has already looked, vanishing a jelly stain from a poor girl’s church dress--were the sort to make humans rejoice, mutter I-don’t-know-how-that-happened, and give their shoulders a shrug. If Ben made a hundred and one years out of his life, Mona knew he must have been one of the happiest humans to ever have lived.

She was certainly sad to lose him. He was her first human. She had seen him every day of his life, even if he had never once seen her. (This was the way it was with fairies and humans, regrettably.)

But--a hundred and one! Her human! Her first human!

She didn’t know another fairy whose human had lived so long, because getting a human to a hundred and one was a lot of work. When Ben was a baby he put everything into his mouth, and so Mona often found herself in his gullet deflecting pennies and marbles like a horsetail brushing away flies. When he grew to walk, Mona held his shoelaces tight so he wouldn’t fall and cry. When he became an adult, he so liked to sleep that she struggled to get him out of bed in time for work each morning. His job was being a counter of some sort at a small desk in a big building. It was the only job he ever had, though Mona never quite understood what exactly he did. (This was the way it was with fairies and counting, regrettably.)

The last help Mona would ever be for Ben was making the remote control to the hospital room television work. This one was nothing like the model he’d owned for years. Fortunately, Mona received constant training in gadgets, for they were the things that made humans happiest and the things humans understood the least. And so she burrowed into the remote control through the button marked 8 and sprinkled her dust in all the right places until she heard Ben’s favorite channel crackle on.

“Then he watched the television and shut his eyes and went to sleep.”

With these final words penned, Mona closed her logbook and tucked it into her pouch. Sad as she was, a fairy never thought to take even a moment off. After all, there was so much work to do, and with the fairy shortage, so few fairies to do it.

Besides, if she was going to get her next human to a hundred and two, she had better get started. And so she flew immediately to her godmother’s office for her next assignment.

Her godmother, Maw Nora, conducted business from a human coffee shop called the Seaside Café. It was decorated in oak wood, and its ground coffee made for an earthy aroma. In all the fairy province of Evergood, the café most closely resembled a fairy’s natural forest habitat.

It was not without its own danger, however. A flabby cat colored black and grey and orange and white lay under an empty bench outside the front door. Though humans did not believe in fairies, cats did, and took a wicked pleasure in swatting them out of the air. Thankfully this cat, appearing old and in poor shape, would have been lucky to graze a fairy only five feet from him. Mona could never be too safe, and so she put twenty feet between him and herself on her way into the café.

Once she entered through the keyhole of the front door, the buzz of fairy wings washed over her. Hundreds of fairy wings belonging to hundreds of fairies up to provincial business, zig-zagging from countertop to tabletop, from pantry to pastry rack, careful not to fly through a waterfall of steamed milk or between the pages of a closing book.

Her godmother’s office sat under an upturned mug on a high shelf. Mona flew toward it with all the bubbling energy of a child before the first day of school, eager for her next assignment.

When she touched down outside the mug, she removed her flight goggles, put on her glasses, and combed the wind out of her dark hair with her fingers. At the mug’s reception window, she greeted a filing fairy on the other side of the glass. “I’m here to receive my next human,” she said, and her feet had to dance to it.

The filing fairy pointed Mona down a spiral hall, at the end of which she would find Maw’s office. Most days, Mona would have noticed on one side of the hall the wood-framed portrait paintings of all the province’s godmothers throughout history. And she would have noticed on the other side the paintings of all the province’s most celebrated fairies, from its first shrug Elva O’Farrell all the way to the world’s preeminent fairy, Aurnia O’Dowd. But this triumphant day, she could not resist letting her thoughts play in her dreams. The ones in which she herself was a celebrated shrug. The ones in which she earned a portrait of her own. And so she noticed neither the paintings nor the dead end of the hallway before she smacked into the wall.

Maw’s office door recognized she was there, and it creaked open for her. Inside, a swift and whispery shuffle carried Maw from a waist-high stack of paper on one end of the room to another towering stack on the other end. The old fairy appeared as Mona remembered her when she was first assigned to Ben. Rosy cheeks, a round body and, under her silver crown, white hair no doubt brushed that morning but wild and shapeless by her second cup of honey.

The one difference was this morning her handlebar mustache wavered in her busy breeze. It was no more real than Mona’s neat and clean chevron, but every fairy day was some holiday, and this day was Mustache Day.

Maw swept a string of bangs from her face and made a smile for Mona. “Come in, shrug. I won’t bite, sweet as you might look!”

Mona entered and felt herself blush, which she hoped masked the mark the wall left on her forehead.

Maw’s voice turned soft. “My deepest sorrows for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Mona said, and set her logbook down in one of the few empty spots on Maw’s desk. “At least Ben made it to a hundred and one.”

The godmother gave a quizzical look. “All of a hundred and one years in just that one book?” Then her warmth returned. “Maybe you just have small handwriting!”

“Don’t we all?” Mona joked. But in fact she felt suddenly prodded by the worry that strikes every student who has ever been first to finish a test. Could she have, somehow, written more?