Friday, November 29, 2013


GENRE: YA Fantasy

In a city where light is deadly, the people of Creperi are confined to darkness. Sixteen-year-old Jazzlyn’s immunity from the Star’s deadly rays may be the key to their salvation but when the black clouds protecting the city threaten to break, Jazzlyn discovers that someone doesn’t want Creperi freed from the dark. If she can’t figure out who before the sky opens up, her city, along with everyone she loves, will burn.

Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they’re the only food that isn’t rationed, and the pungent stink wafting through the house is a sure sign we’re having them for breakfast. Again.

I blow out an exasperated breath and plod downstairs.

Mother stirs a pot of fungi ragoût that boils over the hearth’s open flames. The firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder. She looks up as I pause beneath the stone archway that divides the common room from the kitchen.

“Jazzlyn,” she says. “What took you so long?”

“I was just...” putting off the inevitable.

“Never mind,” she says. “You’ll have to eat when we get back.” When my face scrunches up, she sets her spoon on the counter and plants a hand on her hip. “What?”

We’re attending another birth this morning, that’s what. Regardless of what the Shadow Council thinks, forcing this world upon anyone is hardly fair, not that Mother will listen. “Nothing.” I grab a lantern off the table. “Are you ready to go?”

She nods and we slip out the front door and into the ebony morning, where endless black clouds pulse overhead like a living, breathing thing, blocking the light out, or perhaps, sealing the darkness in. The swaying lantern casts a pale glow over rows of mortar and stone houses and their barren plots of dirt. I scan the spaces between shadows, uncertain of what I expect to find.


  1. Intriguing concept! I really liked "...the pungent stink..." of the mushrooms; immediately made me cringe my nose. I also liked what your MC didn't say to her mother: ...putting off the inevitable.

    The only thing I would change would be the first part of your opening sentence. " they're the only food that isn't rationed..." Those words take me out of your story instead of pulling me in because they're all telling.

  2. Love the concept. A city and people that need protection from their star. It's a great setting.

    Overall, I enjoyed the writing. It flows nicely and introduces several potential points of conflict. Definitely enough to keep me reading. And although it perhaps risks entering the mundane with a "getting ready to go" opening, I think the unique setting is enough to carry it forward.

    Best of luck with it!

  3. Your longline intruiged me, and your first page definitely delivered. I love the concept and the voice and little details like the mushrooms. It really helped set the scene. Great job! I'd read on!

  4. An interesting concept, and it's great that you told us what Jazzlyn's (love the name!) immunity is. I am confused how her immunity can make a difference, since it seems people are okay while the clouds are there, but if the clouds aren't, the people will die right away. Maybe I'm just dense. :)

    Your writing is smooth, and I already like Jazzlyn's attitude, as told in these first words. And yes, I can smell the mushrooms!

    Best of luck!

  5. Awesome job grounding the reader in your world from the first paragraph!

    I think you could probably shorten your logline considerably, though I know that is challenging when the world-building is complex.

    I love the contrast you've already set up between what Jazzlyn does and says--that gives us a sense of her voice right away. Good luck!

  6. Hooked by your logline, great premise!

    Not *quite* hooked by your first page. You weave description and character and world-building together well, and I'm a little intrigued about their attending a birth and what that means, but there's something missing. I think maybe it's missing a sense of urgency, a real hook.

    Perhaps also we could do with more of a sense of the main character? After all, we get a descrption of her mother before we get one of her. All I really know about her is she doesn't approve of more births and she's sick of mushrooms.

    I'd also like a punchier first sentence. Perhaps something linking mushrooms thriving in the dark to the people not thriving in the dark, or something. A first para just about vegetables isn't hugely hooky.

    But there's definitely a bunch of interesting ideas in here, so I'd read on a bit to see if it caught my attention more. Good luck!

  7. I like this a lot. I like the first sentence. That mushrooms aren't rationed of course means other foods are, so I immediately get a sense of the difficulties of this world. That's followed up with the MC's observation of her mother's thin shoulder and later the barren plots before the other houses. Of course the MC's thoughts deepen this image: "Regardless of what the Shadow Council thinks, forcing this world upon anyone is hardly fair." Now there's also an antagonist looming over the scene--a Shadow Council in charge of a dark world. How appropriate!

    This is definitely a story I'd want to keep reading. Such an intriguing concept.

  8. In true conflicting feedback tradition, I was hooked by the pages and not as much by the logline. The premise is great, but it's a bit too long. If you can cut it down a little (even just 5 - 10 words) I think it would make a big difference.

    I love opening with the mushrooms. It makes me wonder about the people and other things that thrive in darkness. It also immediately grounds me in the world.

    I almost think the beginning is more hook-y if you cut her thoughts about the Shadow Council out. "We're attending another birth this morning, that's what" standing alone raises a ton of questions in the readers mind. It also avoids introducing the in the first few pages because let's be honest, doesn't every fantasy book have a council? ;)

    Great job and good luck at the auction!

  9. Seems intriguing. That would be a depressing existence for sure. I like how there is no backstory or "as you know Bob" dialog. It leaves me interested in what will happen.

  10. Hey, there--

    I am super interested in this world! I like the idea of a future dystopian society in which something natural is no longer around and/or deadly, and darkness would really affect a lot of our senses.

    I like the pace of this opening scene, I have to say. I agree with the above comment that what makes the mushroom sentence so interesting is that mushrooms aren't rationed--so we already get an idea of what they're going through, how monotonous the routine is, and it piques my curiosity: what is being rationed? What's special to them? What I like about the first sentence, too, is that it conveys a very subtle sense of hope, that something is surviving in this environment.

    Also, you don't linger on the mushrooms for long, which I think is smart. We immediately move into the next scene and learn that a birth has become a sort of spectacle in this world. The best part about this--besides being intriguing--is that we really learn more about the MC her attitude in this future.

    There is a lot of strong character and world building here, and I would definitely read on.

    Great job--keep it up! Good luck!

  11. I like the tone of this a lot! And I'm definitely down for reading a story about a world cloaked in darkness. Sign me up for that.

    I did have a question about the concept. If the light is terrible and murderous, why do they hate the dark so much? Wouldn't they like it because it keeps them safe and secure?

    Of course, I'm just going off a logline and 250 words so it's most likely that all of this detailed worldbuilding takes place in the MS.

    Good luck!

  12. I Like this! I'll bid 5 pages please!

  13. Danielle is AwesomeDecember 3, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    This one is kinda awesome. 25 pages.

  14. 150 pages!

  15. 170 pages!



  17. Warning: Tangent approaching. I have just finished The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I loved it. Absolutely wonderful.

    There is a significant portion of the book that takes place at Camp Ashpit. I found it pretty much 100% impossible not to keep reading that as Camp Apeshit. Sorry, but I did. Every single time. Was it important? No. Did it bother me? No. Did it consistently throw me out of the story for absolutely no reason at all? Yes.

    While I adored this excerpt, absolutely LOVING starting an entire book with mushrooms!!! (and, yes, I agree with the commenter who complimented you on not staying with those mushrooms too long)...I'm not sure a planet named Creperi is the best use of the letters of the English language. Not sure if its the whole 'crepe' thing or the whole 'crap' thing. Whatever it is, it threw me and I figured I'd mention it.

    As for the excerpt...oh my, love this. Not sure off this and the log line that I fully understand why, exactly, it is that the clouds are bad or the star is bad or the stars and clouds are bad together but I'm sure that's made clear fairly quickly. My immediate thought was that the star was deadly and the clouds, therefore were manmade to protect them. Maybe that's just me.

    Best of luck with this one, sounds and reads great!!