Friday, December 2, 2011

#58 YA Fantasy Romance: The Iron-Bound Fae

TITLE: The Iron-Bound Fae
GENRE: YA Fantasy Romance

Seventeen-year-old Cecile’s fortunes deteriorate when the trolls of Broken Mountain discover she meets all the criteria on their curse-breaker checklist. But when kidnapping and bonding her to their prince fails to secure the trolls’ freedom and her own, Cecile must seek another way out of their labyrinthine prison. Only the trolls are not all the monsters she expected. Cecile’s fight to escape becomes a choice: free the boy she has hopelessly fallen in love with or protect humanity from a race that was cursed for good reason.

My voice rose an octave, resonating through the Goshawk Hollow marketplace, drowning out the bleating sheep and the hammer of the blacksmith down the way. Dozens of familiar faces abandoned their business, expressions uniform in their nervousness as they watched, anticipating the note I had dreaded daily for the past month. She liked an audience for my failures.

A tremor raced through my body, my palms slicking with sweat. Madame Delacourte’s gaze burned between my shoulder blades, her low expectations only fuelling my resolve. I would not break.
Resisting the urge to ball my hands into fists, I pushed my last breath into the crescendo of the piece. Almost there. Several people stepped forward, the words of encouragement on their lips drowned by the enormity of my song. This was when my voice broke. Always, always.

But not today.

The market erupted with cheers as I finished. “Well done, Cecile!” someone shouted, and I bobbed a little curtsey, my cheeks flushed with a sweet combination of embarrassment and delight. The echo of my soprano song drifted off through fields and valleys tinted green with spring, and everyone went back to their business.

“Don’t go getting all puffed up in the head,” Madame Delacourte sniffed from behind me. “Impressing that lot of backwards country folk is no great feat.”

My back stiffened, and I turned to meet her wrinkled glare.

“You’re good,” she said, lips drawn tight to the point of invisibility. “But not as good as her.”

Her. My mother.


  1. Ooo, I'm a singer in a band so this one really speaks to me :)

    The logline: Is the boy she fell in love with the prince she's bonded to? I also don't understand the line 'the trolls are not all the monsters she expected'. Does that mean they aren't monsters? Or that there are more monsters she must face?

    As I singer I totally am in love with your first 250 words. You express my feelings when I'm performing at a large gig perfectly. And the last line, brilliant. I'd keep reading.

  2. Oooh, intriguing! I'd love to read about a singer, and the trolls of Broken Mountain sound interesting too.

    I liked her nervousness, how she sang through the butterflies and Madame Delacourte's scrutiny. Lovely way to start.

  3. Gah, the feeling of inadequacy-- gut wrenching! Way to draw us in to your protagonist's plight. I also love your title. Good luck!

  4. Great line, "sweet combination of embarrassment and delight." So true to a performer.

    I was worried I was missing something in the first paragraph - who is "she?" But the question was soon answered, so it's probably fine.

    Especially strong is the choice hinted at in the log line - what will she choose? Very exciting.

  5. The first sentence of your logline just drew me in. Great concept! I was also thrown by the "she" in the first paragraph. What about naming Madame D there instead of the next paragraph? I love that it starts with singing, but one other thing held me up--how do all these country folk know about this note she's worrying about? Do they know she's taking lessons and the girl complains to them? It just seems odd that so many of them would know that's a nervous spot for her. But I love that last line. My mother. Ouch! I already don't like Madame Delacourte, nice work! I would definitely read on!!

  6. Another singer here! :)

    I love the sample. My only quibble is that, even as a singer, I wasn't clear that she was singing in that first paragraph. And because of that, I reread it a couple of times trying to figure out what note she was talking about. lol.

    But overall, I love it. :)

    Good luck!

  7. Yes, I would keep reading. Even though not everything's crystal clear, the voice is so good, I'm willing to hang in there.

    Best wishes,

  8. I'm intrigued by your logline, especially the bit at the end about the race cursed for good reason (assuming that you mean the trolls there).

    The excerpt was a bit confusing though. Like some of the others, I wasn't sure what "note" referred to. Also, I feel like there's some tension missing from the scene. Why is she singing, and why is it important that she hit this note? Maybe you could start the story a paragraph before she starts singing, or somehow let the reader know what's going on a bit earlier? On the other hand, 250 words is a ridiculously short amount of space.

    Best of luck!

  9. It actually took me a minute to realize she was singing. "My voice rose an octave" could be referring to someone squeaking in surprise, after all. Looks like other people didn't have this issue, but I'd also just like a explicitly little musical description for its own sake.

    You built up a lot of tension quite successfully, but it was rather anticlimatic for me; if she's on a first-name basis with the villagers, it's not that much of a humiliation that she's facing.

    I get the feeling we were cut off just when things were about to get interesting -- the protagonist's relationship with her superior-voiced mother. And actually, I'd like to know more about the relationship between Delacourte and the mother as well. Clearly there's a reason why this bitter woman has a hold over Cecile. So nice build-up.


    - Madame Delacourte’s gaze burned between my shoulder blades, her low expectations only fuelling my resolve.

    I found the latter half of this sentence awkward; I think "low expectations" is a little clinical, for one, and it's a little too condensed for such a powerful feeling. Spreading it out into its own sentence could help with that.

    - The echo of my soprano song drifted off through fields and valleys tinted green with spring

    Wait, isn't she in the marketplace? Even in a small village I don't think that would grant direct access to verdant fields; there would probably be buildings in the way, wouldn't there?

    - I turned to meet her wrinkled glare.

    Hmm, I think I know what you mean -- her face is wrinkled and glaring -- but calling the glare "wrinkled" struck me as odd.

  10. Loved your concept! If your logline was the blurb on the back of a book--I'd definitely read it.

    The characterization is great in just this snippet of your work--both of the MC and of Madame Delacourte. She reminded me of Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter--someone the reader can love to hate.

    One thing I found: "my palms slicking with sweat"--I think it would sound better without the -ing.

    Also, great last line!

    Good luck!

  11. Logline: Oooh! Trolls! I do want to know exactly who the boy she loves is, though. I love to be nosy about romance from the get-go. :)

    Beautiful writing - Not sure the events of the first page itself makes me want to flip it, but the promises in the logline plus the readability of it would propel me forward.

    I agree with Jessica about Madame Delacourte - I love that we were salivating to meet her after the "She liked an audience for my failures." Line.

  12. Unlike some of the people above, it was clear to me that she was singing in the first sentence.
    And not only that--I really liked that first sentence, because it seems that you grounded the reader (with the place she is) and it sounded effortlessly.

    I liked the voice and I would read more.

    As someone said above, I'd also would name Madam D in the first para. instead of saying "She."

    I don't mind that the first page doesn't connect with your logline, because I assume that her singing will turn out to be important somehow. But I do think the logline could use a bit more of precision. Like, what curse? What boy? The prince? I *think* there are parts I didn't need to know in the pitch. Like "the trolls are not all the monsters she expected." It's a bit vague. I think that if you cut vague things and add precision the pitch will be stronger. But that's just me ;)

    Overall, I loved the 250, so I would definitely keep reading! :D

  13. First of all, it's nice to see one of the, uh, less traditionally attractive mythological creatures in a paranormal/fantasy romance. You've also got a solid high stakes choice-- the boy she loves or the whole world. I'm also interested in seeing the labyrinthine prison, and what cunning she'll have to employ to escape.

    But the excerpt didn't grab me as much as the logline. I'm another one who didn't intially realise she was singing. The voice going up an octave and drawing attention made me think yelling rather than singing, and I read note as the kind you write on paper. I'm also not sure someone would comment on their own blush as a 'sweet combination' of anything. It feels too self-aware to be sweet, which, to me, implies a certain naivete.

    Like Monica B.W., I'm assuming the singing will come into play later, but I kind of wanted to get straight into the story conflict, since there isn't much at stake if she doesn't hit this one note. She hasn't before, so I assume the punishment won't destroy her. The competition with her mother is interesting, but I'm not sure I'd have gotten to that point if I hadn't read the logline first.

  14. The writing is solid with a very unique beginning. I'm wondering if you are trying to show that your MC isn't as good as her mother in more ways than just the singing? If so, I was hoping for more from your MC. Perhaps Madame Delacourte can echo a thought she's already had? There is more impact in your MC feeling inferior than Madame Delacourte saying it out loud.
    Maybe this is more clear later on, but you might consider trying to get it on the page sooner.

    Good luck!

  15. I am absolutely in love with your premise!! It's unique and exciting and exactly the kind of thing I'd love to read! I like the phrase "meets all the criteria on their curse-breaker checklist" and I really think you've got a fantastic idea here. I'd love to read more because as someone else mentioned, I wasn't entirely sure she was singing at first. On second read it's obvious though.

    Maybe I'm reading this wrong but I'm curious if the crowd is anticipating the note, or if it's just Cecile, because you say their expressions are nervous ones... so are they used to her missing that note? Does she sing this same song a lot? That might be answered afterwards, but from this snippet I'm not sure.

    I like the way you weave the action and description together in the "The market erupted.." paragraph. Really like your style and would love to read more! Good luck!

  16. The last line of your logline is the real winner, IMO. If there's a way to bump that up or get to it quicker, go for it. The 'or protect humanity from a race that was cursed for good reason' bit is awesomely ominous and sets up a great moral quandary.

    As for your first page, I loved the second half, but your first half didn't grab me as much. It felt....muddled...kind of like it took you a little bit to find your footing, and I wonder if there's a more confident beginning you're overlooking. Once it became clear that she was singing and there was some special degree of importance being placed on her song though, I was hooked. And the comparison to her mother was a fantastic way to end this excerpt and all but guaranteed I'd turn the page to learn more, so bravo!

  17. I love the idea of the trolls kidnapping Cecile, and her coming to appreciate their society. That said, I'm not sure about the logline as those choices don't seem very balanced. Why free the boy she loves if it will destroy humanity? Surely she's not so selfish, and what sort of life could they have if all of humanity was at risk? And also, I thought she liked the trolls now--why are they still "cursed for good reason" in her eyes? What exactly is the threat they pose?

    I'm intrigued by Madame Delacourte and the mention of Cecile's mother. I like the setup! The opening sentences seem a little busy. Her voice rises an octave, resonates in the marketpace, drowns out sheep, and drowns out the hammer down the way, all in one sentence. That's a lot for a first impression!

    I also got confused a little at "She liked an audience...". I like the mystery about who "She" is, but I thought you were referring back to the dozens of familiar faces. Has Cecile been practicing every day in the marketplace then? Could you add in something like, "They always winced when it was coming up, just like She wanted. She liked an audience for my failures." Just as an example--something to bridge the two as related ideas.

    I wonder what was different that she could hit the note this day. Is that important? Why the change in her character? I think knowing why she can finally sing the soprano piece well would add a lot to this opening.

    Interesting idea and loving the misunderstood trolls. Good luck!

  18. I really loved this sample and am dying to read more. I bid five pages!


    Logline: It’s a little rough (are Cecile’s “fortunes” money or luck? And the second sentence seems to imply that Cecile kidnaps herself), but I get the idea.

    Line notes: I like the opening paragraph very much, the way you can see the anxiety in the faces of everyone in the market, so you know that this is an event they understand and dread, and it’s weird and great the way you’ve handled the crowd.

    Overall: I’m not usually a fan of Fae stories, but I like the fantasy marketplace scene here, and the singing mc (even if forced and potentially humiliated). And I think Cecile’s feelings of inadequacy are compelling. I’m rooting for her already. I’d keep reading to see if it avoids my pet peeves about this kind of fantasy.

    Best of success.