Sunday, January 13, 2019

1st 5 Pages January Workshop- Passerotti Rev 1

Name: Katie Passerotti
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: Lost Souls

Mud splashed, sending rivulets of brown water dripping down Rook's
boots as she chased after her younger sister. Rook reached for
Mareah's arm, but her sister moved too quick and slipped away, weaving
through the trees, her echoing laugh all that remained.

Despite Rook's warning, her younger sister had taken off, forcing her
to give chase. Draghiar Forest was not the place for games and she
should have made more of an effort to stop her. But Mareah's laughter,
luminous and contagious, unfurled the bud of tension nestled in Rook's
heart and she welcomed the smile that stole across her lips.

Brambles snagged on Rook's clothes as she burst into a small clearing.
In ten strides she'd reached the massive Daelen tree that called the
meadow home. She pressed her palms against the rough bark and a
welcoming warmth prickled through her fingers. Sucking in a lungful of
crisp, fall air, she looked for Mareah.

"Where are you hiding?" Rook rolled her eyes. Mareah was always
playing jokes--a mischievous streak she'd inherited from their father.

She stepped back from the Daelan tree, her eyes sweeping the
surrounding forest. The dense rows of trees beyond the clearing were
nearly devoid of leaves, their branches scraping at the clouds like
skeletal fingers. Thick undergrowth filled the space between their
trunks, making it impossible to see deeper.

Worry stirred in Rook’s belly. The clearing was barely a kilometer
from the forest’s edge, but still farther than most dared to come.
She’d gone beyond the clearing only once. The memory of that mistake
shivered through her, leeching the warmth of the midday sun from her
skin. The creatures that inhabited the inner forest--imps, banshees,
dragons, and worse--were not to be taken lightly. They were dangerous.

Deadly. And Mareah knew better than to go past the Daelan tree.

"Mareah!" The name echoed back and unease skittered along Rook's
spine. She let her hand trail over the Daelan tree as she paced around
its trunk.

The tree was massive. Its bark, a mottled grey and black, twisted
together to create irregular ridges and more knotholes than she could
count. Unlike the rest of the trees, it hummed with energy. Pale blue
buds unfurled along its branches, brought to life by the autumn sun.
While the rest of the forest drifted into its winter slumber, Daelan
trees bloomed.

Reaching the other side, Rook's hand dropped to her hip, fighting the
misgiving prickling at her heart. "Mareah," Rook’s voice caught on the
last syllable. She shouldn’t have given in to her sister’s pleas to
come along on her foraging trip; their mother never would have given
permission. "We don't have time to play games. If you don't show

A hand grabbed her shoulder and Rook screamed. She whirled to find
Mareah doubled over behind her, trying to subdue her fit of laughter.

"You never thought to look up," she managed between giggles and
pointed into the branches.

Rook crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows, her gaze flicking from
Mareah to the Daelan Tree. "You cheated."

The wind shifted, sending a flurry of petals spiraling through the
air. They whispered against her skin like an apology. Rook turned her
stern look to Mareah. "You promised to behave if I let you come. The
forest is dangerous, there are creatures--"

"I know," Mareah interrupted, her expression suddenly too serious for
a ten year old. She worried her lower lip with her teeth. "I'm sorry."

Rook shook her head, her irritation fading. When had her little sister
started to grow up? "Don't leave the clearing. Stay where I can see

Mareah grinned, grey eyes sparkling, and took off, her arms
outstretched, raven hair flying behind her. Rook turned her attention
back to the tree. She drew a pair of thick leather gloves from her
satchel and pulled on the right glove, but not the left. Stepping
closer to the tree, she ran her bare fingers lightly over the trunk,
searching for a place to harvest its sap.

This was the only Daelen tree Rook knew of. If there were more, they
were deeper in the forest, inaccessible and guarded by whatever dark
creatures dwelled there. A sharp pain sliced through her thumb and
Rook jerked her hand away. A thorn jutted from the tree, a bright drop
of crimson trembling on its tip.

Odd. In all her years collecting sap, she'd never encountered a thorn.
She brought her thumb to her mouth and sucked at the small wound.

"Where did the thorn come from?" she murmured, pressing her hand to
the bark once more. The Daelan Tree didn't answer and Rook sighed.
Warmth pulsed beneath her fingers and the question was forgotten.

She marked the spot with her nail and pulled on the other glove. Raw,
the sap would turn her skin red and leave blisters that would take
weeks to heal. It wasn't safe to handle until she'd refined it. After
that, it became a potent remedy and the apothecary gave her a healthy
cut of the profit from its sale. Money she and sister desperately

Rook drew the knife from her belt. Sunlight flashed off the polished
blade. It was shaped like a hawthorn leaf, wide and round at the
bottom before tapering to a fine point. She drove the tip into the
pulp of the tree. Rich amber bubbled from the wound and she deftly
replaced the knife with a small tube attached to a glass vial. The
golden liquid moved slowly, its sweet aroma reminding her of honey and

Rook sank to the ground, pulling her gloves off as she settled amongst
the tree's massive roots. She hummed quietly, watching Mareah collect
snakeroot and hummingbird blossoms. When her hands were full, her
sister bounded over and dropped the plants between them. Plopping down
next to Rook, she began to weave them into a crown.

Words gathered on Rook's tongue. It had been two months since they’d
last heard from their mother. Two months where Rook's meager earnings
from the apothecary had barely been enough to feed Mareah. That she'd
taken to begging scraps from her friend, Bettina, who worked at one of
the taverns in the city.

But she couldn’t bring herself to say them. If she said them, it would
mean they were real and something had happened to their mother and she
refused to believe that. The tree creaked and Rook tilted her head to
look up through its branches. Her gaze fell on the thorn and she

A moth perched on its tip, its fragile wings bright scarlet with a
burst of blue around the edges. Laughter bubbled from her at the sight
of the creature cautiously unfurling its wings, testing them out as
though it had only just emerged from its cocoon. It drew a slender leg
to its mouth and flexed its fuzzy antennae.

"Mareah, look," she whispered. "A baby dragon."

Her sister's grey eyes flitted up and she giggled. The moth launched
itself from its perch and spiraled toward them. Rook lifted her hand
and the moth alighted on her fingers, tickling her skin as it explored
the surface.

"Is it really a dragon?" Mareah breathed, eyes wide as she leaned closer.

"Maybe?" Rook didn't have the heart to steal away her sister's wonder.
Mareah's favorite stories were about soulkin--pairings of humans and
creatures whose souls and magic complimented each other and forged an
unbreakable bond.


  1. Hi, it's Charlotte posting for Amy McNamara. We still can't figure out the technical difficulties!

    Nice revision. I appreciate the addition of more information about their world. Your visuals are great and my earlier suggestion had been to round out the sisters more and I think you’ve done that (as far as one can in a few pages). I certainly have more of a feeling for Rook and what she’s facing as she cares for her younger sister.
    I’m still a little confused about the forest – are there two forests? The one they cut through to the meadow (one which is, theoretically less frightening than the other) and the one at the far side of the meadow, containing the imps, banshees, etc?

  2. Hi Katie!

    I love that the revisions give us a bit more insight into the characters and help us connect with where they are emotionally.

    I saw on last week’s post you commented that the “You cheated” was supposed to be to the tree because she can speak with them. I didn’t get this from the writing still this week…maybe try clearing that up a little better (and if it’s important that we know she can talk to the trees and they can talk back, then maybe add a response from the tree too.)

    Great job!

  3. I really like what you've done with this opening. I'm tossed directly into the story and world of these two characters. I also like how you've edited some description, especially how you've chosen to display (through both description, action, and reaction) Rook's feelings. You share parts of Rook with the reader without really telling them. Love that. You've also cleared up any confusion about the number of Daelan trees known to Rook. Wow, I enjoyed this ending much better. I'd love to read more.

    There are a few areas that still can be tightened, but many less than in your original draft. Again, it's mostly description; think phrases. Sometimes limiting a paragraph to one bold piece of description can highlight the rest of the paragraph without you having to use any words. (Oh, and I didn't get that she was speaking to the tree about cheating either.) Looking forward to your next revision!


  4. First of all, great job on trimming and spreading out the descriptions! The pacing and flow of the beginning are a huge improvement and make for a more thrilling read as we follow Rook through the forest. I love how you added more feelings from Rook, it makes me care about her and whether she will find her sister again.

    Your descriptions of the tree are spot-on! I feel immersed into the world and again you did a great job trimming down the fat haha

    Same here for the "You cheated", I didn't get Room was speaking to the tree.

    Great revision!

  5. This is Jeannie Lambert.
    The first two paragraphs are pristine. I appreciated the background glimpse related to the forest being dangerous. The angst Rook felt as she tried to find Mareah was palpable. Mareah is just testing the limits by playing hide and seek and it is clear that Rook has to remember that being a child is also important. I can relate to the worry related to losing a younger - fear. It would be a nightmare to fervently look for Maleah with the restriction of keeping her voice down because the imps, dragons and banshees may be pulled into the hunt? (I'll add more later)

  6. I'm back...I like how Mareah thought through her difficulties, but decided against sharing them with her sister. The pace was steady and really enjoyed many of your descriptions. I am curious about what barrier keeps the danger away from the girls. Enjoyed the story telling. Thanks, Jeannie

  7. Katie,
    From the context, I am able to visualize your world. This is a great revision, helps the reader see the protagonist in her element. The relationship between the two sisters is endearing.

  8. This is Erin posting for Carlie:
    I very much appreciate the strong sense of place I'm getting here. I can tell that you as the writer have a clear idea of the environment you want to place your readers into, and that's coming through well. I'm having some trouble getting on board with Rook, though, because this opening is about ninety percent description and action, and ten percent emotion. For me, an opening needs to be about fifty-fifty, or lean a little more heavily on emotion. I see Rook moving through her world, but I don't know much of anything about who she is or what she wants by the time I get to the end. This early in the book, it's not important to tell the reader what soulkin are, but it is important to show how the main character fits into this world and how she feels about living in it. Once that's established, I think more descriptive scenes like this will have greater emotional impact.