Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #77

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 58,000


The Wiccan Rede counsels witches to harm ye none, do what ye will. But that isn't stopping the man who's been challenging the most powerful Wiccans to duels of magic. The loser of a duel loses their mind. It's what happened to sixteen year old Shay Maverick's mother, who's now missing and wandering the streets, deranged and helpless.

The search to find her mother and figure out who attacked her is being led by a secret Wiccan crime organization called the Rede Consulate. And lucky Shay gets partnered with the most infuriating boy she's ever met. 

Mason Kress, Mak, is all charm and arrogance and her eyes are starting to hurt from rolling them at him.  He has a ridiculous notion that if Shay get's too close she won't be able to resist him. But he's sadly mistaken if he thinks he'll have any effect on her, and Shay's determined to keep their relationship all business. Civil, but only barely.

What they need to focus on is the man who's been causing havoc with Duellos. He's escalated to murder and he doesn't seem to be afraid of the Law of Three, your deeds coming back to you threefold. He's committing crimes without remorse or fear...and in Shay's quest to find her mother, she's headed right for him.

I have a Bachelors degree in English Literature, I’ve recently written freelance articles published by Metro-Parent magazine and various parenting websites, I’m an active member of SCBWI, and my first short story has been accepted for online publication by Ascent Aspirations literary magazine.

First 250:

Shay Maverick was so sick of shoving pills down her throat she wanted to throw the little cup right back into the nurse’s face. Medicine never worked, anyway.

“I swallowed them,” I said. I’m Shay Maverick. Unfortunately for my throat.

Nurse Hillsy did her obligatory check of my mouth, under my tongue and both sides as though I was able to hide four different pills in some secret lair behind my lips.

“I told you,” I said, shrugging.

She looked at me from under her glasses like she could see into my soul, and didn’t like what she saw very much. Her curly gray hair shook around her face, and it was so dry 
and frizzy it almost crackled when it moved. Thankfully she didn’t have time to distrust me all day, so she nudged my arm letting me know I was dismissed.

I trudged down the hallway back to my room, away from the noise of the television and the other raggedy teenage girls talking and standing in line for their medications. Westbrook Psychiatric Hospital was home sweet home, and the crazies here were my only friends in the world now.

My fuzzy purple slippers made my feet slip noiselessly down the white linoleum, but some of the nurses and orderlies turned to watch me anyway as I walked down the hallway. I knew what they were thinking. They were feeling sorry for the poor suicidal girl. Usually, I ‘acted out’ as they put it, refusing to take pills, calling my psychiatrist a lazy quack. 


  1. Yay for more YA Fantasy! It seriously makes me so excited :D :D

    I really like the sound of your story and your query has excellent voice. I might consider calling Mason just Mak if that is his name in the story. You want to try and keep your query as proper noun free as possible when writing a fantasy query(trust me, I HATE this rule). That being said, I might also get rid of Duellos because I'm not sure who that is and it confuses your query.

    Your first 250 were great. I love Shay's voice so much. The only part that was a little confusing was going from 3rd person to 1st person. Really, if you just took out those first couple sentences, I feel like you first 250 would pack a punch!

    I love the Wiccan idea. I would totally have picked this up in the bookstore on the idea alone! Plus, Shay's voice just makes me want to read the book.

    Best of Luck!
    Jessica #96

  2. Thanks Jessica! I just went over to yours :)

    Thank you for your comments, and I agree. I think I'll make some changes. Ahhh, how good it always is to have another eye.

  3. Hi Marie. First off, thanks so much for your kind comments on my entry. I love the feeling of community these contests bring!

    I love the concept and voice here! I've always been a sucker for Wiccan stories, and this seems to have a great, fresh angle. I'm curious what's special about Mak to make him irresistible?!?

    Here are a couple of things to think about:

    I agree with the previous poster about the POV switch. I would drop the first par and consider starting with "I swallowed them." I'd consider changing the second dialogue line to this: I shrugged. "Told you." Otherwise, the voice is a stand out, and your use of sensory detail puts me right in the scene without being heavy handed.

    As for the query, I love the first paragraph. Some of the prose in the rest of the query could be tightened (e.g., "is being led by . . ." could be rearrange to pack a bigger punch diction-wise). And I agree to go with Mak only and change Duellos to duels (if that's what it means).

    Overall, I love this. Intriguing premise. Great voice. Best of luck!

    Monica #75 Prime Grade

  4. I really liked this one. You have a great voice in your first 250 words and the details stood out ('fuzzy purple slippers', the nurse's dry and frizzy hair). Like the other commenters, I found the POV switch from 3rd to 1st confusing, so I'd change that. And I'd suggest tightening up the 3rd paragraph of the query (about Mak) because it seems a little repetitious. You could even end it with 'But he's sadly mistaken if he thinks he'll have any effect on her.'

  5. Thanks so much to everyone. I'd meant the POV change as a 'get your attention' thing. Now I know it get's the wrong kind of attention. The distracting, throw you off kind. And the rest of the book is in 1st so I'll take it out. I'm really so grateful for these contests, they're great teachers. :-)

  6. Get that apostrophe out of that "gets"! :)

    I'm also sold on the Wiccan theme. I agree to start with first person and first person only.

    Your plot is very clear in the query so you're good there. The writing is fresh and the voice and her perspective are interesting. I just wish the 250 had a little something in there to make me go hmmm?

  7. Haha! I took the apostrophe out of the 'get's' today and cringed. Uuugh that's painful!! ;) And I'm revising to give the hmmm... I agree. And I think I've got just the thing. Thanks again.

  8. I too liked the voice. I was immediately drawn into the character with the first 250. Except the POV shift threw me off too. And this passage: “I swallowed them,” I said. I’m Shay Maverick. Unfortunately for my throat. It threw me off where she says I'm Shay Maverick in the middle. I'm not sure if it's necessary.

    Two nits - I used to work at a mental health center... When she talks about the girls in line for medications - she'd probably call them meds or pills. I think medications might be too formal for a teen. And the floor is probably tile, not lineoleum.

    The query was great too. I agree with another commenter about tightening Mak's paragraph, but aside from that I thought it read well. The story seems full of mystery. Love that! :)

    Hope that helps... Best of luck!!