Friday, November 28, 2014


TITLE: Monsters of Wintervast Island
GENRE: YA Magical Realism

A ’90s-obsessed gamer girl, still an outsider even to her unlikely group of friends, struggles to find a missing boy on an island where H. P. Lovecraft-esque occurrences are a regular part of the day.

I slid the knife into my skin, cold metal seeking warmth against the snow falling endlessly around me. The scent of my blood spread into the storm, wind-thrown away from me like a fishing lure. I removed the knife, pain not even crossing my mind, and waited.

As if I had summoned it, an equinocus, or snow pony, appeared twenty yards away.

I held my breath, shutting out the chill, and absorbed the sight of it. Someone from the mainland might have marveled, starry-eyed, at the part-horse, part-apparition like it was miracle. But for me, someone who knew the tales of the equinocus, I saw it for what it truly was.

A killer.

The Fat Man stood beside me, squinting through his facemask until he saw it, too. He muttered into his earpiece, “Snow pony, ten o’ clock from my position. Move in.”

Two ghost-like puffs of breath escaped the equinocus’s nostrils as it watched us. Its powdery ears, seemingly made of fine snow, twitched toward the Fat Man’s gruff voice.

“Earn your pay, girl,” he grunted, raising his rifle loaded with lard-filled bullets. I knew what he wanted, but my legs refused to move. For a moment, we stood at an impasse, none of us breaking the frozen spell.

He jerked the gun barrel toward the equinocus and barked, “Now, Stacie.”

For the money, we need the money, I chanted to myself, shutting down the small voice in my mind that wondered how the Fat Man knew my name.


  1. I really liked the sample page. It gave me a Scorpio Races vibe. I did feel there was a bit of a disconnect between the logline and the page though. I was expecting a completely different character when I read '’90s-obsessed gamer girl' (more nerdy I suppose), but I thought the logline still worked.

  2. I love the title.

    I agree with Emily's comments.

    I am hooked by the magical feel of the story. I would definitely keep reading.

    I love the equinocus. It is mysterious, fantastical, and I want to know why it's a killer.

    The heroine is sympathetic. I want to know why she's being forced to help capture the equinocus against her will.

    Overall great intro. My only problems were:

    1. The opening paragraph seemed awkward. I tripped over the phrases "cold metal seeking warmth." and "wind-thrown away from me like a fishing lure."

    2. I was surprised by the Fat Man's presence. It made me re-read the first few paragraphs to see if he'd been mentioned before. It'd be helpful if he were mentioned earlier.

    Overall, great submission.

  3. I also have to agree, which is kinda funny. I liked the opening and it easy kept me engaged, but I took felt the first paragraph was a little clunky.

    I also had a hard time after reading the log-line and seeing it was magical realism, and then these first 250 words, although beautiful, made me think this was fantasy.

  4. I enjoyed this and liked the strangeness of it all. I did think the Fat Man needs to be introduced earlier. We should know from the start that he's there. It took me out of the story when he was mentioned because I had assumed she was alone.

    I also wondered if the equinocus should be a snow 'pony.' When I think of a pony, I see a cute young horse. When I read euinocos, I see something more like what you described. I also thought this was Fantasy, as opposed to Magical Realism.

    Overall, though, I thought it worked. We have a character in an interesting situation, and you've left me with lots of questions.

  5. I love it. The name Stacie and'We need the money' suggests that the story will work it's way back to the realism part soon enough, so I thought it was fun to start with the magic. Intrigued by the lard-filled bullets. I would definitely want to see more.

  6. Just wanted you to know that someone put a comment to this story in #58 by mistake.

  7. Another I would read on although I agree that the log line didn't seem to tally with the actual passage. I guess it may develop further as the chapter continues. I love the description on the horse and I would deffo read on :)
    Good luck!

  8. Interesting! I would keep reading. The only thing I would drop is the extraneous ", or snow pony," explanation. You've defined the term beautifully in context. Good luck!

  9. I actually agree with several of the comments said above, both about the opening paragraph, which feels clunkier to me than the rest, and about the disconnect between the logline--EPIC, by the way, god I love magical realism--and the page, which is very good, but slightly off the pitch.

    I think it would be worth your gamer girl contextualizing just one thing in the framework of her passion so we get a bit more of her, because right now she's coming across as detached. No quest speak here, not even a thought of points or leveling up :p But seriously, it would be really nice to get a more immediate impression, as a taste.

    Love the concept though!

  10. I think this is SUCH a cool concept! It sounds like a mash-up as two of my favorite books, READY PLAYER ONE meets THE SCORPIO RACES. Gamer girls are so underrepresented in the current market.

    I'll repeat what the others have said about the disconnect between the logline and the sample. I wonder if you really want to position this as "magic realism" - I think of magic realism as a very specific genre, where the story's events may or may not be true and there's often an unreliable narrator. Think Karen Russell or Nova Ren Suma. I wonder if this is actually contemporary fantasy (fantasy that takes place in our modern world, or at least, in a world that is very similar to ours, but with magic) - that's how I would classify THE SCORPIO RACES, too.

    I also wanted a tad more context for this opening scene. I think I was a bit thrown off as to whether this scene was taking place within a game or actually on this strange island, due to the mentioned of the main character's game obsession in the logline. If the character's interest in games is less relevant to the story than the actual monster-hunting she's doing in real life, I wonder if that little detail is necessary for your immediate pitch?

    Overall, I'm super intrigued and definitely want to know what happens next!

  11. Log line was a little confusing to me. Maybe a different description of your hero?

    The sample worked for me. I'd like to read more.

  12. I agreed with what others were saying above but was very drawn into your enigmatic story and definitely wanted to read on. One specific thing, I was a bit confused by: "As if I had summoned it…" I imagine that was exactly what she had done with the knife? Good luck!

  13. Hi
    I'm your tweet diva for the contest!
    Good Luck

  14. I'll start the bidding at 5

  15. I'll go 30 pages

  16. How about 40?

  17. CLOSED! Full goes to Sarah Negovetich.

  18. 90S OBSESSED GAMER GIRL SCREAMS PAM. IT JUST DOES. I'll get you, my pretties. And your internet connection too!

  19. I want you to know I thought of you, Pam. As I typed full and danced gleefully around the room. :)

  20. Congratulations on the win. I'm curious about the opening paragraph, because if she drew blood to attract the snow pony, why does the second paragraph begin "As if I had summoned it?"
    Nice world creating.