Sunday, March 22, 2020

1st 5 Pages March Workshop - Savage Rev 2

Name: Amelia Savage
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy romance
Title: Sea of Betrayal


Sixteen-year-old Annabelle is a born leader, ready to replace her father as governor. However, ladies don’t get involved in politics, don’t fight, and certainly don’t wield guns. When her father is poisoned, she sets sail to enemy territory, braving storm season to retrieve the antidote from a murderous prince. But the prince finds her first, and he’s not what she expected.

Haunted by his violent childhood, Noah always hid his feelings for Anna. The governor—her father—fostered him after his parents’ death, so asking for his daughter’s hand is not the way to repay the favor. Rescuing her, however, is. Too bad she doesn’t want to be rescued.

To protect the ones she loves, Annabelle needs to forget her hopes and dreams. As she untangles her father’s secrets, she realizes the enemy may not be the one she thought. To stay safe, Noah must hide his true identity at all costs, even if it means betraying the ones who gave him a second chance.

Chapter One

Annabelle climbed out of the coach and welcomed the ocean air. The breeze whipped her long golden hair, and she tried to keep the strands from her face. Her leather boots sunk into the sand as she scanned the sea, hoping to catch sight of her father’s vessel. 

Nothing. She sighed.

“What a horrid smell!” Her mother made a great show of covering her dainty nose with her perfumed handkerchief. “I don’t understand how your father tolerates this. And now your brother…”

Shouts of merchants unloading their cargo muffled her mother’s complaints. Annabelle focused on the sound of the waves crashing against the wooden posts supporting the dock instead. Sweat and dampness provided the ideal environment to all the flies gathered around the stalls. The port was busy, like every Friday morning, and unlike her mother’s elegant clothing, Annabelle’s simple blouse and trousers blended in well with the crowd. If it weren’t for the guards and servants following them.

“Let’s get this over with. The wharves are no place for ladies,” her mother continued in her usual haughty tone.

Annabelle rolled her eyes. Her behavior never met her mother’s expectations, but lately things have gotten infinitely worse. She somehow got the crazy idea that finding her daughter a suitable husband would transform her into someone less wayward. These were her mother’s exact words. Complete nonsense.  

“You want me to be the perfect proper lady, but you bring me here with you. You can’t have both ways, Mother,” she snapped.

Annabelle shouldn’t have said this as she preferred being outside rather than home. Especially when her mother was all in her ‘reception prep mode’.

“You always can when you do it right.”

They headed to the shellfish merchant’s stall. Behind them, the servants panted as they carried heavy crates of scallops.

“Greetings Mrs. Heatley—”

“This is not what I ordered,” her mother pointed to the scallops.

Yikes. If her mother thought she could boss this shellback, she overestimated her negotiating skills.

The bulky man dropped his bloody knife on the wooden block. 

“You can fool my servants, but not me. I asked for shrimps and—”

“Shrimps?” The old fisherman burst into laughter. “What d’you want me to do? Turn back time?”

“I will not tolerate you mocking me.”

Annabelle pushed her mother aside and took a step closer to his stall. “Mr. Fell, we’re well aware shrimps season ended two months ago. But I also know you often sail near the waters of Carrasio without a proper permit to have a longer season than your competitors.” 

Beads of sweat formed across the fisherman’s forehead. “I’m sorry, Miss Heatley. I might’ve forgotten to renew it.” 

Sure. Ages ago.

“Let me offer you the scallops for your trouble and the shrimps will be deliver in time for Sunday’s banquet,” he continued.

They thanked him before they returned to the coach. The poor servants had to carry the crates of scallops back home.

“See? Both ways.” Annabelle’s mother tilted her head. “I’m glad I brought you here with me. You know how to talk to these people.”

These people were the reason she had food on the table and clothes on her back. Her mother shouldn’t misprize them because they worked to get those things. As First Lady, she should help them and try to make the community better instead.


Annabelle turned to the sound. Women shrieked as a stocky hooded man bolted through the crowd. She looked at the guards who were busy helping the servants loading the crates onto the coach. They didn’t even stop to look. 


Robberies happened more often in Narrow Bay, Hastenia’s Capital, and if guards shied away from their job, she wouldn’t. She dropped her satchel and ran after him. 


Ignoring her mother’s scream, she kept running, dodging barrels, boxes, and people staring at her, their eyes wide. The robber was fast, but she was faster. She had weaved and dodged through the haphazard stalls a hundred times before chasing her brother. This was not so different.

The thief turned his head and pulled a stack of lobster cages behind him. Annabelle jumped to avoid them. Everyone jerked aside to let her pass.  

She got close enough to grab his jacket, making him stumble and fall. Struggling to stand, his eyes widened as if he had just realized who had chased him. She punched his snub nose before he had time to react. Her fist hurt, but she tried not to let it show.

“This doesn’t belong to you.” Annabelle yanked the pouch from his hands. 

Alerted by the commotion, two officers approached, pistols raised. Their green uniforms were pristine, probably because they had been doing nothing all day. A forced smile formed on Annabelle’s face, and she bowed before handing them the pouch. Then she headed back to her mother. 

Indignation blazed in her eyes. “Annabelle, you should have let the patrol apprehend him.” Her mother scowled as she examined Annabelle’s tan trousers, now covered in dirt.

“Mother, if I hadn’t helped, the thief would still be—” 

“That is not your problem.” 

Annabelle looked away, letting the mist cool her heated skin. She stared at the sea. A three-masted man-of-war appeared in the distance, and all her tension released at once. Her father would be back tonight.

“Don’t wait for me, I’ll stick around here a little while longer.”

Her mother shook her head. “I don’t like you being here alone.”

“I won’t be alone, I’ll be with Father.”

Annabelle hated to admit it, but being a daddy’s girl had some privileges.

Her mother turned to the sea and nodded. “Don’t stay too long. You must not be late for your dinner date with Arthur tonight, remember?”

As if she could ever forget. Her mother was a talking calendar.

Chapter Two

Noah could see the coast as he leaned against the guardrail. Familiar shapes in the distance turned into hills and houses. They would arrive soon. This recent promotion was tiring, but worth it. He never planned to get higher in ranks, but if Governor Heatley was pleased with his hard work, then Noah was too.

Patches of orange and red stood out among the dense green barrier on the horizon. It meant in a few weeks, they would put the Mystical in drydock. He would miss the gentle rocking of the ship and the sound of the waves splashing against the hull. But storm season awaited. He would rest then.

“Lieutenant Jensen.” Governor Heatley’s voice was calm but firm.

Noah straightened and saluted the country leader. “Sir?”

“In my office. Now.”

By the serious tone he used, it meant nothing good. And just when Noah thought times were getting easier. What a fool. He followed the governor to his quarters, acknowledging the other officers he passed. They seemed relieved they weren’t the ones being summoned. 

The old man entered his office, which also served as a private cabin, and headed to his massive greenheart desk. “Close the door.”

The light coming from the multiple stained glass windows added warmth to the austere furniture. Noah did as ordered and straightened even more, making his whole body on edge. Inhaling the deep scent of salt and wood, he felt at home. He shouldn’t.

To calm his nerves, he looked over the governor’s shoulder, examining the spines on the shelf against the cabin wall. Volumes he had read a dozen times.


  1. Hi Amelia,

    I love what you did with your revision.

    The flow of the narrative works well, with smoother transitions into the next scene.

    I love that you brought back the merchant. Your description of the thief chase rolled before my eyes like a movie.

    All in all, you have painted a vivid and realistic world that is easy to slide into, with sounds, smells and movement. And Annabelle has a healthy, strong voice. Well done!


    Your pitch is clear and readers will recognize the genre. You promise a great journey of adventure! Is there any way you could add a mention of the place and/or time when this story is occurring (maybe through the use of a single word - cutthroat, cutlass sword, three-masted ship or something of the sort)?


    I only have small comments that aren't related to the story.

    - Her behavior never met her mother’s expectations, but lately things have (change to: had) gotten infinitely worse.

    - “You always can when you do it right.” (I had to read this sentence twice as I wasn't quite sure what it referred to.)

    - shrimps (remove the 's') season

    - the shrimps will be deliver(add: 'ed') in time for Sunday’s banquet

    - She looked at the guards who were busy helping the servants loading the crates onto the coach. They didn’t even stop to look. (maybe find a different word for 'look' which is repeated twice)

    - dodging barrels, boxes, and people staring at her, their eyes wide. The robber was fast, but she was faster. She had weaved and dodged (maybe find a different word for 'dodged' which is repeated twice)

    - all: check where you have the word 'all' because you might be able to delete some of them.

    As you can see, nothing major. And again, readers of your genre will love where this is going!

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your feedback. It's really appreciated. I like your suggestion about showing time period/setting into the pitch. I'll work on that.

      Thanks again

  2. Hi Amelia,

    Your premise is fascinating. I’m a sucker for rebellious heroines and childhood loves. Based on that I would definitely download a sample to check out the story, so at least for me, the pitch does its main job: create interest.

    It’s always a challenge to pitch a story with multiple POVs in so few words, but you managed to create intrigue, to hint at mystery, adventure, and conflict. I was wondering: is Noah the murderous prince? If he’s not, maybe it’s better to remove this reference, because it introduces a character in an already crowded pitch (because of the two POVs). This way you’ll have an extra sentence for additional information on Anna and Noah. And besides, Anna’s story is represented by enough twists: the mysterious prince, her father’s secrets, false enemies.
    If at all possible, make the third paragraph about the two characters together. So that we see how their stories interact. Otherwise it sounds a bit like two parallel stories. You mention that Noah wants to protect her and she doesn’t, but that’s vague. Do they sail together? Do they become partners for some reason? What is their relationship in general and their interaction in the story?

    And about the chapters: with every iteration, I see the text getting clearer, like it’s finding its true form. Great job! I’m curious how the story goes on.

    I hope my comments have been helpful to let you see your story with fresh eyes. Wishing you best of luck on the publishing path😊


    1. Thanks a lot for your feedback. Merging the two POV was the hardest part of the pitch and I see it's not clear enough yet. I'll figure something out.

      Thanks again for the nice comments.

  3. Hello, Amelia. What a pleasure to read this latest pitch and revision. I've appreciated your help with my story, as well.


    I love your first 2 sentences!They introduce and reveal character and give strong indication of the action in the story.

    This sentence is a little confusing: "But the prince finds her first, and he’s not what she expected." Is it the prince's identity or something about him that is unexpected? Stating that clearly would be helpful.

    In your pitch's 2nd paragraph, so many characters and relationships are mentioned, it may help to move related people/situations closer together. Noah, his violent childhood, his parents' death and subsequent fostering by the governor; rework these related sentences to give clarity. Then move on to Anna: the governor's daughter, Anna, has always held a secret place in Noah's heart, but he feels [out-ranked, or some other sea-faring or military term to indicate that he doesn't feel worthy] of asking for her hand. Still, Noah feels compelled to help Anna when she's in danger. Too bad she doesn't want to be rescued. Or however you want to state that to make it a little easier to follow.

    In the 3rd paragraph, I wondered why "...Annabelle needs to forget her hopes and dreams." Does one ever forget her hopes and dreams, or does she perhaps set them aside?

    This sentence could be simplified: "As she untangles her father’s secrets, she realizes the enemy may not be the one she thought." How about, "As she untangles...secrets, she battles an unforeseen enemy?"


    You've done a great job with your edits, and the story reads much smoother. I'm glad that the shellfish merchant scene is back and is expanded. I love Anna taking charge of the situation, revealing the "dirt" she has on him, and using it to make him back down. Fabulous!

    I will say that a lot of pronouns are used, and a few times, I had to reread sentences or passages to be sure who the pronouns were referring to. Consider checking your pronouns for clarity, and for smooth reading, you may need to replace a pronoun with a person's name or title.

    Great job, Amelia, and I wish you success as you move forward with this story.

    1. Thanks a lot for your feedback. This is really appreciated. I understand what you mean and I'll see what I ca do to fix it. Nice suggestions.

      Thanks again and I wish you the best too!

  4. I liked your query! Overall, it's logical, coherent and presents an interesting fantasy premise. 

    Some minor comments from me.

    I think there's a segue missing between the 2nd sentence and the 3rd? You go from "ladies don't..." to Anna suddenly just doing all those things. Can you give more of a grounding for this switch? Some way to show what is it that enables Anna to step up (aside from her father's poisoning - which, of course, gives her a motivation). Perhaps, she's the only child and with everyone else giving up on her dad, it is up to her to save him? I'd also want a sentence somewhere in the beginning describing Anna a bit more, e.g. her sailing skill - where did it come from. Otherwise, I'm not sure how she's suddenly equipped to sail the seas to save her dad.

    The middle paragraph is really good. It sets up the tension between the two leads perfectly. 

    So, I'm 99% sure that Annabelle and Anna are the same person, but there's also a tiny element of confusion. Would it be better to just pick one name for her and stick with it?

    I'm not sure how useful this sentence is: "To protect the ones she loves, Annabelle needs to forget her hopes and dreams." It's ok, but it's vague. I'm not sure why exactly Annabelle's forgetting her hopes and dreams equates to saving her dad. Maybe just drop it?

    The biggest comment from me on the query concerns the last paragraph. For books with two equally important leads (which sounds like the case of this one), the final paragraph/sentence of the query would need to show what happens when the two main characters inevitably clash. What you've got so far are Annabelle's and Noah's separate paths which don't seem to cross at all. Instead, I suggest you show them on a collision course and then hint at the explosive consequence of their paths crossing. 

    The pages are near perfect. The narrative flows well and I can see the work you've accomplished in revisions. Well done!

    Just a small query... In the part where Annabelle gives the stolen pouch to the police, she bows to them. I'm not sure why she'd do that. She doesn't seem to have a whole lots of respect for them. Maybe just have her give them the pouch without bowing? The forced smile bit is good and in character for her. 

    Good work! It was a pleasure reading your pages. I hope my comments were of use to you. Always feel free to reach out. I'm all Twitter, IG and FB as katyadebecerra


    1. Thank you for your great feedback. I'll see what I can do to make my query clearer. Using sarcasm is hard so I'll probably change some parts to avoid the confusion.
      Thanks again for your generous time and precious advice.

  5. Hello!
    Thanks for all your comments on my revisions. They've all been super helpful. I can't wait to see your book on bookstore shelves. I'll definitely be picking it up & reading. (Let me know if you need a beta reader!)
    I agree with the comments above: I don't think you need to mention the prince second prince sentence, "But the prince finds her first, and he’s not what she expected." I've heard you want to limit introducing too many characters/subplots in a query letter. (Let the agent know where the story takes place, introduce no more than a couple of characters who are pivotal to the main plot, and vividly describe the arc of the story. - Huffington Post: Anatomy Of A Query Letter: A Step-By-Step Guide)
    One question the pitch brought up for me: Are Noah and Annabelle (Anna?) foster brother & sister? I didn't get that the governor was his foster father reading the intro chapters. Maybe I'm wrong, or we'll get there eventually.

    You've done a great job with your rework! I loved the new version of the fisherman interaction, and the mother's reaction to Annabelle wanting to stay behind to wait for her father. Again - is she waiting for her brother too? (Noah?) Is her mother concerned with the time that she will be alone before her father gets there?

    “You always can when you do it right.” - I found this sentence confusing. I get the idea you're conveying, but may need reworked. Maybe something like, "You can be a lady and be useful if you know how to do it right." (Not great example, but you get the idea.

    Again, I super love this! Great job!

  6. Thank you for your kind words and for helping me improve my work as well. The first paragraph of the query is the only one I like. I've change it so much time I don't know what to do. At first it was Anna only but since there are other POV, I read that it's best that the query reflect the book so I changed it to add Noah's POV.

    Thanks again and best of luck with your publishing path.

  7. Pitch:

    The weaving of the two characters and the mention of their previous backstory is intriguing. I find the pitch making me ask more questions than you might want. Like why is she the one going to get the antidote? Don’t they have a whole army or spies or other trained professionals to go get it? Especially if women are so limited. And what makes her think that a murderous prince who poisoned her father is going to give her the antidote rather than just kill her?

    I think the vague last paragraph could be more specific. I find myself wondering exactly what the stakes are. So far, we begin with the governor being poisoned, and ending with him maybe not worthy of being saved. I’m not sure who or what I should be rooting for.


    Some verb tense shifting.

    How is this world unique? How are these people unique from any other Prince and Princess story? Show this world from a viewpoint we haven’t seen before, even if it is the princess’s POV. What makes her different?

    Instead of going against her mother, we see Annabelle actually helping the mom wring what she wants out of the poorer class. This doesn’t help us root for her as the hero. You could have the same conversation with the man at the market but show Annabelle slip the man a couple coins as she’s walking away. Make it more clear that the man stealing the lobsters isn’t doing it because he’s starving. Perhaps he could steal it from an older lady. The small details can make all the difference.

    I like Noah. He’s more relatable. In the few paragraphs we have, I’m already interested in him. Good job on that.

    Good luck with this! I wish you the best!