Saturday, December 4, 2010


GENRE: YA urban fantasy

Sixteen year-old Dahlia Kennedy never thought the deserted forest she went to in her dreams could be real, until she meets the mysterious Rowan Rochfort and discovers she's been going to his world. But when he disappears, Dahlia must find him before his country of Ambrosia falls into the wrong hands, or everything she holds dear in both his and her worlds could be lost forever.

Some people believe you can feel when change is coming. A strange feeling clouding around you, that you just can't shake. A gust of cool air on the back of your neck, leaving goosebumps up and down your arms, as it dissipates. A sudden twist, deep in the pit of your stomach. A dull ache in every fiber of your bones.

I felt all of that and more the morning I turned sixteen. But I didn't think it was change I was feeling -- I thought it was what I'd been dealing with for most of my life.

Every. Single. Year.

Like clockwork.

I was running late for work, rushing out the front door. So distracted, in fact, that my own birthday had slipped my mind. And there it was, when I stepped down from the porch -- the second something shifted beneath my shoe. Cool air on the back of my neck. My stomach twisting. Loss of breath. Goosebumps.

I lifted my foot to look down and confirm what I already knew. My stomach lurched into my throat.

Trying to swallow, I sent my foot down again and looked up and down the street, scanning the neighbors' windows. No movement, from what I could tell. Maybe no one had noticed.

The air rushed out of me, my breath a lingering mist in the frosty air as I bent down to pick it up. The flower commanded my attention, standing out against my light skin.


  1. In the last paragraph, you are saying that she bent down to pick up her breath which is a little weird. I can tell you mean a flower when I read on but you should probably fix this.

    Otherwise, I like this but I think it's a bit heavy on the physiological responses. These are great when used well but lose their effect when used this much.

  2. The log line could be clearer. Does she meet Rowan in the real world or the dream world? And perhaps say who 'the wrong hands' people are.

    The excerpt is dragged out and tells us nothing. Your MC has no name (except in the logline, which the reader doesn't get). The first two pargs. tell us all about what change feels like, and yet, when she experiences all those things, it's not change at all. It's what she's been feeling all her life. Which is? You don't tell us. And then you take three pargs. to say there was a flower at her feet. But the flower doesn't mean anything to us because you kept its meaning a secret. There's no reason to read on. I don't know anything about this person except that today is her birthday.

    Perhaps instead of telling us about all the fear that doesn't amount to anything, you just hopped right into the story? Give us something to latch on to.

  3. I like how the first paragraph feels by itself, but I don't think you need it...the tension might be higher if you start with "The morning I turned 16 I didn't think..."

    The feelings you describe in her are better than the first paragraph, and I'd like to see more about the flower soonter.

    Nice writing. Good luck.

  4. I can see the disconnect Barbara is referring to, though I can also see that you're saying the MC *thinks* it's the same old thing she's experiencing and only in retrospect discovers it's change. I think the disconnect still happens because to buy into it, all those physical sensations mentioned in the first paragraph become non-specific: These are things you feel in a variety of situations, so the feelings really mean nothing at all.

    I like the idea of building tension with the question of why the flower creates such a strong reaction in her. At the same time, it does feel a little like you go out of your way to avoid telling us it's a flower as long as possible.

    All that said, the writing did engage me, and I wanted to read on to figure out why the flower was such a big deal. Good luck with it. :)

  5. Logline:
    Clear logline.

    Line comments:
    I'm a bit confused--does she feel it for most of her life, or does she feel it once, every year, in a fashion that repeats like clockwork?

    There's some interesting bits here--I like the description of when she feels the symptoms--but the pace feels a little off. Honestly, though, it's hard to tell with such a short snippet. I would read on, but much would weigh in the next few pages.

  6. The prose has a nice flow and sound, especially in the first paragraphs. However I think if the discription of the feeling was given only when she steps onto the flower, then the tension would be stronger and the pace faster. In other words, I suggest you start with her rushing out the door.

    I liked the logline and it made me want to read the story

  7. I liked the logline a lot - in fact, I liked it more than most of the ones I've read in the Baker's Dozen so far.

    I liked the excerpt and would read on to find out what's going on with the flower and why she's concerned that the neighbors might have seen it. There's some interesting tension there and I'd like to know more.

    One critique: You tend to use commas between clauses in almost every long sentence. This becomes distracting. It's a common flaw in relatively inexperienced writers (and one many experienced writers struggle with, myself included) so you might want to perform a comma-ectomy on a few sentences. The reader does get the flow without them and your prose, though already strong, would become even stronger.

    Great piece, though, and a nice premise too!

  8. Your logline is clear and makes me want to read the story.

    I agree with the comments above to start with her rushing out of the door.

    I would read more.

  9. I'm pretty sure I read another version of this first page previously. I'm torn about whether I like the earlier version better than this one, but either way I'm curious enough about the story to want to read on.

  10. I'm intrigued, yet it seems wordy without much happening. I'd read on to see if it the pace picked up.

  11. I'm not sure what the first "something shifted beneath my shoe" was--given that there's a second. So that was a little confusing. If you mean "second" as in time, it needs to be rephrased to avoid misreading (perhaps "moment").

    I'm also not sure what the dull ache she's been dealing with most of her life is, and need more hints. I'm not quite hooked enough yet to want to turn the page to find out--needs to pick up the pace first.

    Part of the reason why I'm not hooked enough to want to read more is because the logline isn't hooking me. The traveling-to-a-dream world thing is really interesting--finding out it's real, etc is awesome, especially the meeting the new guy and his disappearance. But then we get into the same old "the entire world will perish and it's up to the protagonist" stakes, which have become so prevalent in fantasy that sometimes I just wish the world *would* end in one of them. Isn't it enough if her friend is in danger, or that something more close to home might happen if she can't find him?

    That's my own personal taste, I know. But it's a fantasy trope that I see in so many submissions that it's starting to get on my nerves.

    Yet the voice is nice--though a little clunky in some word choices--and if the sample had been more specific about what she feared and why (why would the neighbors notice if she looked at her shoe?), it might hook me more...if the stakes were more personal.