Friday, November 28, 2014


TITLE: Where All the Missing Pieces Go
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Needing a place to crash, down-and-out Jane finds refuge in a sorceress's castle. But when the sorceress asks her to paint the stars to earn her keep and pieces of Jane's soul are ripped away to create living, breathing star creatures, she flees. Now Jane must race to find her stars both before the sorceress, and before they return to the sky and her missing pieces are lost forever.

Waiting in front of Lord and Lady Crocket’s dining room, I could only think of one possible explanation for why I’d been summoned. They were kicking me out.

Mrs. Cowl had her hands clasped behind her back as she stood beside me staring at the doors. Sunlight flickered down through the glass ceiling, casting rainbows across her gray-streaked bun. She didn’t have to be here, waiting with me. I knew she had a million other head-housekeeper-duties she could be doing instead. So she probably knew.

I tilted my head back, wincing at the sunlight refracting across the roof. I’d lived here my whole life. This was my home.

The footman appeared from behind the door and held it open for me. “Her Ladyship will see you now.”

After one last glance at Mrs. Cowl, I stepped inside and squinted. Of all the airy rooms of the solarium, this had always been my favorite. Arching stained-glass windows lined the outside wall, their sun-warmed scenes drenching the parquet. Combined with the glass ceiling, it sometimes felt like I was standing inside a kaleidoscope.

They were all at the table. Lord Crocket read the paper, Lady Crocket swirled a biscotti in her coffee. Sari and Stella lit up as I approached.

Lady Crocket’s eyes snapped to me. Her expression reminded me of the one Sari made whenever Stella brought up politics at dinner. “Ah. Jane. Thank you so much for coming.” She cleared her throat. “Please, come sit. Would you like a biscuit?”


  1. I love this beginning and was sucked in by the setting and details. But it almost seemed as if this was not at all the story in the pitch. This page seems so grounded in a fun and interesting Lord and Lady world -- which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wasn't sure though, why she thought being summoned meant she'd be kicked out. Great read.

  2. Lovely writing! I'm not a big fantasy reader, but I can definitely see myself getting pulled into this story. Beautiful descriptions -- love the kaleidoscope image! Well done. :)

  3. I love the idea of painting stars resulting in the loss of pieces of her soul. What an intriguing premise!

    Like Carol suggested, I'm unsure how she knows being summoned means she'll be kicked out. I think the first paragraph would be stronger if her internal was more on the vein of not being able to imagine why they were summoning her. Then you could remove the last line: They were kicking me out. This way, you'd build more mystery and tension in the scene.

    All the best on Tuesday!

  4. I actually liked the fact that she jumped to the conclusion she was being fired. It gave me some insight into her character (she doesn't always obey the rules) and into her state of mind (does she have a guilty conscience? What has she done?)

  5. The idea of the stars is beautiful and intriguing. Definitely makes me want to read more.

    For me, I thought a few extra details would help set the scene even more clearly. For instance, she immediately thinks she's being thrown out. Why would she think that? Has she done something awful? Or does she know they don't have the money to keep her employed? Don't need a long explanation here, but a hint about whether it's something that is Jane's fault or not.

    When she looks at Mrs. Cowl (either time), what does she see? What is the expression on her face? Why doesn't she ask her for a clue? Or why she's waiting with her? Does she look neutral? Disapproving? Happy? Smug? Is Mrs. Cowl someone Jane thinks of as a friend or an enemy or something else?

    I like where it's going and I would read more. Even better, I think my two teenage daughters would want to read more, too.

    Good luck!

  6. Hi!

    What a wonderful concept. I love it when even fantasy feels fantastical. A very fairy tale feel to that idea.

    Onto the page itself, I agree with above that I love the way you give us insight into the MC's personality with her assumption she's being fired. So much better than telling us about her mindset.

    BUT, rather than give more space than necessary to the potential impending firing (a little goes a long way, and I don't think we need you to continue on and say this is her home, we get that, and can get it more later) I would LOVE a mental glimpse at why she thinks she's being kicked out. What did she DO? Perhaps not even telling us what she did, but a hint, a tease, would be nice, since the rest of the page is pretty straight forward. I don't care she's being kicked out, I want to know WHY ;)

    Also, love the kaleidoscope line.


  7. Nitpick. “Needing a place to crash,” seems like such modern phrasing for a story featuring a sorcerer in a castle. Obviously, it just your pitch, so it may not even matter, but it just read a little funny to me. I like the premise though.
    My problem with the second line, “they are kicking me out,” is that it kind of makes the rest of this drag. We already know what is going to happen, or at least what the MC THINKS is going to happen, so going through and introducing all the staff and waiting around before finally starting the actual conversation at the end just seems to drag on. Maybe you could just have her think about getting kicked out, then place her already sitting with the Lord and Lady and just focus on them for a bit?
    Good luck!

  8. I didn't get firing from this. Her worry about getting kicked out, and the fact that the hall had been her home for her whole life made me think she was a ward. If she's a servant, it wasn't clear.

    I like your premise, the only part of which i found confusing was the phrasing in the last sentence. She must race to find her stars before the sorceress takes them to the sky, or before the sorceress finds them or they return to the sky independently?

    Nitpick: Why does the refracting sunlight make her wince? Headache? Hangover? Did she cause it? Or is she already missing it at the thought of leaving? If the latter, perhaps a different word.

    Why is Mrs. Cowl there? Does she give any encouragement? Does she avoid eye contact? Is she just there to make sure Jane doesn't steal the silver? With the footman in charge of opening the door and announcing Jane, what does Mrs. Cowl have to do, especially as she clearly has other tasks?

    I agree with the commenter above: I'd love a little of her mental reasoning as to why she thinks she's about to get kicked out. And if she truly is about to get the boot, your last line is more ominous without the offer of a biscuit. Lady Crocket just gave Jane a look of disdain. Why would she want to prolong Jane's visit, even with a social nicety? Such ladies are never above a little icily polite snubbing.

    But a good read, and a strangely beautiful premise. And I kind of like the verbal anachronisms of the modern phrasing in the Victorian (Regency?) setting.

  9. I agree with everyone else about expanding on the 'why' she thinks she's being kicked out. Rather than giving us all that description, (which won't mean a thing if she is being kicked out, since the story will take place somewhere else) give us more of why she thinks that will happen. Either tell us, or hint at, the problem.

    You could also give us a bit more of Mrs. Cowl. Is she smirking at the MC? Sympathizing with her? Just a simple look from her could add a lot to this.

  10. I love the premise, the writing, and the imagery, and I agree with the others who were curious about why she'd assume she was being kicked out. But I also wonder if this story is starting a little too early. It might be interesting to play with starting off with the MC already in the room with the Lord and Lady, rather than having her wait outside the door with Mrs. Cowl. For me, Mrs. Cowl's actions (or lack thereof) don't really accomplish much, so I wonder if the space could be better used by skipping ahead a bit. You could still have MC thinking the only reason they'd summon her was to kick her out, you could still work in the great description of the room and the other characters, but it would get more of the story (and the stakes) onto that crucial first page. Just a though. Good luck on Tuesday!

  11. This is a wonderful idea and first page; good job! I agree with the previous commenters that you should give a little more of a tease as to why she immediately thinks she'll be kicked out. Also, her role in the house is a bit unclear. If she's lived there her whole life, she's likely a foster child or maybe an orphan that was taken in to be a playmate for The Lord and lady's daughters. Whatever the case, I'm intrigued and would like to read more. One nitpick: I'd remove or relocate the line about that being her favorite room. It's already inferred by how lovely the description is and just seems too telling (rather than showing). Good luck in the auction!

  12. I'm so compelled by this concept; it reminds me of the whimsical, offbeat feel and magic of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE! And Jane is a fascinating protagonist - I get the impression she's rebellious and resourceful, which I like in a main character.

    I agree with the feedback above that I wanted a little more insight into Jane's feelings in this moment. There's a lot of (gorgeous!) external description, but I wanted to know more about her internal state. We know she's being kicked out and that this place is her only home, but does that make her sad? Angry? Conflicted? I thought the 2nd half of this 250, in particular, could be beefed up with a little more of an emotional undercurrent.

    I also think there might be some merit in starting a bit later in the scene, with Jane already in the room, confronting the Crockets. I do love many of the details in this passage, but I'm not completely sure standing outside with Mrs. Cowl adds much to the story or tells us anything about Jane's personality.

    The magic in this world sounds so cool, and I would read on to learn more about that. Good luck!

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  14. I bid 60 pages

  15. CLOSED! Full goes to Carlie Webber.

  16. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 2, 2014 at 11:40 AM