Friday, November 29, 2013


TITLE: The Crimson Crown
GENRE: YA Fantasy

When her lord sends Tiandra to the kingdom of Peran to complete a task, she hopes that this will be her chance to prove that she can be useful, despite her deaf ears. But in Peran, Tiandra oversees a conversation and makes a terrible mistake. To save herself and thousands of others, she now has to find a way to appease her lord and stop an invasion, before she’s caught and turned in for the price the king of Peran has set on her head.

At dawn the auction block was full of human merchandise. By noon the adults were gone. Boys who looked like they might be useful on a farm were sold next, followed by girls pretty enough to work for tavern keepers. Slowly our numbers shrank until the sun was low in the sky and I was the only one left.

The block stretched out around me, huge and empty. Beyond it was a world of gray: gray ships, gray water, gray buildings, gray sky. The clouds hung thick and heavy, threatening to add snow to the misery of the day. Beneath them, a bitter wind blew in off the water. My ears were deaf to the sound of it; but I could see the long strands of red hair that the wind threw into my face and feel its icy fingers wrapping around my limbs. I had never felt so cold or so small.

Sailors and merchants hurried through the harbor, seemingly blind to my existence, while a small crowd clustered at the bottom of the auction block to watch the sport. The number of spectators had dwindled as the weather worsened, but there were still prospective buyers. A handful of them stood talking to Soren, the man who had owned me for the past year and a half.


  1. This one has very nice feel to it. It's a softer opening (i.e., as opposed to explosive and action-packed), but it really, really works. The writing flows well. I'm curious about this girl and her fate. And the logline promises a big story.

    I have no crits. I would definitely keep reading.

    Best of luck with it!

  2. I really like this one. I'm drawn in right away and I would definitely keep reading, if only to see if she's sold or not.

    If I'm looking for something to crit, I guess I would say to watch out for your paragraph lengths. Each of these are almost identical. Maybe some different sentence lengths or dialogue to break it up?

    Otherwise great job

  3. This line from your logline is golden: 'Tiandra oversees a conversation and makes a terrible mistake." LOVE 'oversees a conversation'!

    This first page is beautifully written and the gray atmosphere really sets an appropriate tone for the scene. My only real comment (and a very subjective one at that) is that I didn't entirely connect with your MC.

    Like I said, you definitely set the tone, but I don't yet know how your MC feels about what's happening to her. Does she dread being sold? Or happy to be rid of her last owner? She almost sounds hopeful that there are still some 'prospective buyers' around, but I just don't have a good beat on her to know for sure. Maybe consider slipping in a line or two of internalization to bring out her emotional state?

    Excellent opening though. Good luck on Tuesday!

  4. I can't quite feel your MC. She seems vulnerable, but not in a personal way yet. While your descriptions of location paint a clear although bleak picture, I'm wondering about your MC. Who is she? What does she want?

    I'd read on a little longer in the hopes of answering these questions soon. Good luck!

  5. I really appreciated the vivid descriptions in your opening page. As others pointed out, it can be harder to connect with your MC without more inner monologue, but I actually like it how it is and feel like we'd probably know more about her thoughts on the next page.

    Only one point of criticism - your logline is not really a logline; it's too long. That said, you've set up an intriguing premise. I would read more!

  6. A story with a deaf MC who experiences everything through her eyes makes for an interesting read! It's different from most of the YA novels out there. Kudos to you for tackling something like this!

    Your MC's name hasn't been introduced yet in these first few paragraphs. Perhaps she sees Soren, her owner, mouthing her name? How does she feel about being the last person who's not sold at the auction? How does she feel about the other buyers talking to Soren? Does it mean anything? Is she frightened? Get inside her head a little more.

    Watch out for sentences beginning with "I see, I hear, I know." For example: "My ears were deaf to the sound of it; but I could see. But there were still..." Because we are in the MC's head we know she sees it. The less passive, the better. I also think you can delete a few sentences which will make for a smoother read.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  7. Yes! Is my first thought. What a compelling premise and I'm instantly intrigued by the MC.

    My comments:

    1. "before she’s caught and turned in for the price the king of Peran has set on her head."
    This sets the stakes, but the last part of the sentence sounds awkward maybe remove the word has?

    2. "sky and I was the only one left." I almost think this would have more impact by removing the word and. Then make it into two sentences.

    3. Your imagery and the MCs interpretation of it is very effective in reminding the reader we're seeing, not hearing, the MCs world.

    Good luck!

  8. I wasn't a huge fan of your logline, it was a bit vague and generalised, which made it feel like a hundred other epic fantasies.

    Your first page, on the other hand, I thought was excellent. Great atmosphere and the setting really comes alive, and of course we want to know who she is and why she's being sold and who will buy her. And I like that she is deaf, which is interesting and different and not something you see enough of.

    The only thing I'd suggest is perhaps making it clear from the first sentence that this is Tiandra's POV, because we don't gather that till the last line of the first para and 'our'.

    Otherwise, nicely done! Good luck :)

  9. I like the setting here, and feel a bit sorry for Tiandra, but I also echo what the others above said - where is her emotion in all this. What does she feel about it? Or Soren? Or the buyers? It would add a lot to know that.

  10. I am definitely interested in the story...deaf MC. Would agree that we could get a better sense of the MC if it were a bit more internalized.

    Be sure with a deaf narrator that we don't just get the sight and touch. Smell and taste would be huge too. (I know, its only 250 words...I'm being nitpicky.) Taste the salty air, smell the fish and unwashed humans. Did any other slaves wet their pants earlier? That scent would mingle with the others. I know its crude, but this seems like the bitter dregs and though you painted it very gray...literally...and I like it, I would love a bit more desperation.

    A contemporary novel with a deaf MC you may be interested in reading is "Five Flavors of Dumb". Totally different feel, but a good representation of the Deaf Community today.

  11. Sorry, didn't say earlier...I really did like this. The beginning drew me in. However, I'm getting my degree in interpreting for the deaf, so I'm thinking of my friends and colleagues as I mention these nitpicky bits. Best of luck!!!

  12. Sorry, didn't say earlier...I really did like this. The beginning drew me in. However, I'm getting my degree in interpreting for the deaf, so I'm thinking of my friends and colleagues as I mention these nitpicky bits. Best of luck!!!

  13. This is just a minor thing, but the title has been used before: the conclusion to Cinda Chima's Seven Realms series (a fairly popular YA fantasy series) was also called The Crimson crown. As it was just released last year and it's in the same genre, you may want to query with a different title.

  14. Hey, there,

    This is totally subjective, but I enjoy scenes of people being auctioned off in fantasy. Go figure! That said, I do think it's a scene that's been done before, so it's important to look at how yours is fresh and new and different.

    The most interesting detail is that adults were bought first. I raised my eyebrow when I read that. Why adults and not young, presumably healthier children?

    I agree with others that I'd like to know what's going on in the MC's head during this auction. Is she desensitized to this because it's a regular occurrence? Or is it sadder than that? Are people being pulled away from their families? Or are people resigned to this fate? Has she ever been up for auction before? How many times, exactly, has she not been bought if so? Lots to explore there!

    Also, I like the sense of setting you develop in the second paragraph, but please keep an eye out for cliches and repetition. "The Clouds hung thick and heavy," "a bitter wind blew," "feel its icy fingers wrapping around my limbs"--these feel overdone.

    And also watch for when you could have stronger visuals. Using the word "gray" five times is a bit of a lazy way to describe the world around your MC.

    Really great stuff to work with though. Keep writing, and good luck!

  15. I'm confused. Did I have to go to 150 first. If so, 150


    The full goes to Caryn Wiseman!

  17. Well, this is just absolutely engrossing, very enticing. I too agree with the comments on paragraph length, but I'm hoping and assuming that once dialogue gets going along with everything else that follows these 3 paragraphs that that won't be as big an issue.

    I would also reiterate the warning to beware repetition and cliche, as this is a scene that's been done to death in fantasy over the years. That's why I was so overjoyed at the whole 'deaf ears' twist. I, too, wanted to smell and taste as well as see and feel the setting. More of that, please.

    The voice is, for me, welcoming but also distant. I feel as though we're seeing what Tiandra sees, but we're not feeling what she feels. Which is all, really, that I think this needs. That emotional connection, even in just a line or two, to ground us on her side, in her world.

    Beautiful, very well done!