Friday, December 2, 2011

#34 YA Fantasy: Time Bound

TITLE: Time Bound
GENRE: YA Fantasy

While visiting her grandmother in Japan, sixteen-year-old Holly meets a Time Dragon trapped in a boy’s body and learns her blood is the key to releasing him from his human prison.  Holly feels honor bound to help him, as it was her ancestor who helped capture him in the first place, but there’s one small problem - if she sets the dragon free, he will rewrite time to heal his past and she just might become history herself.

Holly stood at the edge of the farmer’s market and wrinkled her nose. Usually the scent of yuzu and fresh chestnuts spiced the air. But today was Wednesday. Fish day.

Just her luck.

Located at the edge of town, the market was a shiny new structure of red iron pipes and stretched canvas roofing that bustled with the usual market activity. Vendors shouted and laughed as they greeted customers, shoppers gossiped over shiny fruit. It could have been any market in America. Except it wasn’t.

She was back in Japan for another summer and now she had to get used to the place all over again. It had only been a year since her last visit, but it always felt so foreign, so alien to return, like stepping off a spinning merry-go-round and trying to stay upright. And the older she got, the longer she took to regain her balance.

The scent of burning leather replaced the fish as Holly weaved past tables strewn with belts and wallets. Men streaked with sweat hunched over their tables, hammering designs into the glossy surfaces. Several glanced up as she passed, their quick judgment of her easy to read in their drawn brows and cold eyes.
Despite being half-Japanese, she was still an outsider. Everyone was much too polite to say anything but she knew what they were thinking.

Hafu. Hapa. Half-breed. The terms were different depending on her location, but the meaning was the same. She didn’t fit in anywhere.


  1. I think I've said this a few times already, but I love the setting and the mood of this opening. The merry-go-round comparison is fantastic. Also, I love Japan as a setting so I'm definitely hooked.

    I do have a few comments on the writing. "But today was Wednesday." doesn't have to be a separate sentence, imo. It breaks up the flow. A little bit like "Except it wasn't." (Though that one might work, I'm just not entirely convinced.)

    The "Just her luck." threw me a little because it seemed obvious for her to know it was a Wednesday and to avoid the market then. Her just being back in Japan cleared that up though.

    Other than that, I really, really liked this.

    (Also, I remember this from WOC '10 (I think!). So exciting to see how much the writing has improved and grown <3)

  2. I really enjoy this, especially since I've been to Japan twice and know exactly what you mean by the "Merry-go-round" comment. I'd definitely read on.

  3. Logline: A girl feels honor-bound to help a dragon trapped as a human because someone she's related to trapped him. If she does, he might, essentially, kill her. What, she's not going to make a deal with him to NOT rewrite her out of existence if she helps? She's not going to wonder why her ancestor trapped him in the first place? I'd say discovering that second question's answer would be key.

    Excerpt: Overall, I liked it. I do feel it's odd that she's so focused on their judgement, not what's changed since when she was last here. Surely she'd be used to it by now; spending time searching for belonging always throws me out of things, because when you don't fit in, you don't spend time thinking about it unless it's about how to change it or not let your feelings be hurt. I'm also really not feeling a voice; maybe it's because I've never been to Japan, but I'm getting no sense of voice, just of facts and backstory and setting being thrown at me.

    I'd pick this up in the library, but the half-breed bit, plus my lack of connection to the character, would keep me from buying it at the store.

  4. Oh, I LOVE this, and I LOVE the fact the story's set in Japan. I'd read it for that reason alone!

    PS Just out of curiosity, when you say the dragon will rewrite time, do you mean it'll go back in time, or will it do some awesome magic trick where it literally rewrites history?

  5. I really like the writing in this -- really gets all the senses -- sight, sound, smell. I like that that this is set in another country and that she is half-Japanese and feels different as a result. It gives her something unique as a character, a unique perspective. I also like the idea of a time-dragon, and see this as having a lot of potential for conflict and dramatic action. I would read on. Best of luck!

  6. I enjoyed your merry-go-round simile and your description of the market place. This has got a nice pace. I'd read on.

    Best of luck!

  7. I liked this. I have always loved Japan, so I would also look into it just for that fact. I DO find it interesting that you chose 3rd person for a YA when most are 1st, but I would love to see more.

  8. What? Time Dragon? Blood? Ancestors? And do I sniff a ROMANCE with the boy? (I'm sure he's cute. RIGHT???) Yum. Sign me up.

    I might do some light editing and condensing of the first page just to get us into some action faster, but the description is BEAUTIFUL.

    There is foreshadowing ALL OVER your last line.

    If you were to send this to me for my personal enjoyment on my Kindle before it snags you an agent, I would not be sad. Nottttt at all. *whistles*

    Awesome job. So much luck to you.

  9. this about a TIME DRAGON in JAPAN? Hooked.

    I enjoyed the opening scene. I could picture it, and the last sentence gives us a hint of conflict to come. Would most definitely read on!

    Good luck!

  10. I must say the first paragraph really transported me there. And I just LOVED those first sentences. The contrast between yuzu (whatever that is) and chestnuts with fish was genius, imo! :D

    I bid the full. Oh wait. I can't!!
    It's so unfair that I'm not an agent!! :P

  11. This is really great. Love the premise. Like others, I love the merry-go-round lines. :)

    Great work and good luck! :)

  12. After living in Asia for 10 years I'm a fan of stories set in Asia! Yeah! I would pick the book up instantly for that alone. But I loved the premise, it's unique and creative.

    Japan is such a lovely country too. Great job at bringing in those setting details and I liked how you brought in her comparisons too.

  13. Yay, Japan! You have good taste ;) Natsukashii!

    Yuzu and hot chestnuts set the tone for me instantly. Very typical and pungent smells. And man do I love yuzu.

    I love that she's half-Japanese, because it's definitely a bigger deal in Japan than America, and there would be that polite exclusion going on, particularly in a rural area which this sounds like it might be. Plus, diverse protags are the best.

    I'm not sure I'm convinced that honor is enough of a reason to release the Time Dragon. It doesn't sound like there's a good side to releasing him except to assuage her guilt. Is there a better reason for releasing him, strong enough to prevent him rewriting time and destroying people? They seem unbalanced otherwise.

    Anyway, 110% I would definitely read this! Let's take over the YA world with Japanese fiction! More seriously, it's nice to see a fresh fantasy based on a different mythology.

  14. I like the setting and the mood you've set up here, and her feeling "other". Good work. Not sure about the premise. It doesn't seem like a true dilemma to me. "Honor bound" wouldn't replace her instinct to survive. So if there's more to the story, I'd find a way to get that in.

    The writing is really solid. Good luck!

  15. #34 TIME BOUND
    Logline: I don’t know much about Time Dragons, but I’m interested in the idea of an Asian mythology. And the idea that doing the right thing might make bad news for the mc is ripe with drama.

    Line notes: I like the way you establish the character’s feeling of being out of place. The merry-go-round comparison makes the emotion physical.

    Unfortunately, the magic/fantasy that the logline focuses on isn’t here at all, however, and I found myself wishing that the “usual market activity” wasn’t quite so ordinary as Holly finds it – that your unique setting couldn’t be “any market in America.”

    Overall: I’d be interested to read more, to see how you move from this relatively contemporary opening scene to a fantasy.

  16. I think this is a cool concept and I liked the setting. I bid 5 pages!

  17. I bid 20 pages.