Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart #1

TITLE: The Cross Queen
GENRE: YA Fantasy

When Colista (17), a pillaging street rat, dethrones the current Fire Queen of Lavelle, she must survive attempts on her life, endless scrutiny of her virtue, and forbidden love. However, when she realizes she can wield all four elements, the remaining Elemental Queens and their secrets threaten the crown she fought for.

I run into the storm.

When the dreaded bell sounds throughout the valley, the villagers scatter from the marketplace, leaving their pushcarts, stalls, and errands behind. It is protocol in Lavelle to race for shelter when disaster is warned to hit.

I wish I could say I am brave - that I don’t run away because I’m a thrill seeker - a risk taker. But that’s not the case at all. I’m terrified. Every time a storm, a fire, a tidal wave or avalanche charges for our province, I fear it’s the last time I’ll see daylight. But I race into the marketplace whenever that bell sounds for one reason only: to survive.

I spy from behind a brick corridor, waiting for the marketplace to empty. The last few people gather up some belongings or wrangle their horses in a hurry to escape the escalating winds that kick up the sand and pebbles from the poorly-kept dirt roads. The few guards remaining tell the stragglers to leave everything and get moving. They check the abandoned vendor stalls and scan through the whipping canvas of the tents, which surely won’t be here in a few hours.

When one of the guard’s eyes peer my way, I duck back into the corridor. If they see me, they’ll hustle me away. Part of me wants them to see me - to usher me back to safety. But a bigger part of me is hungry and knows that Magda needs her medicine.


  1. I like the second paragraph as the beginning. The bell sounding is intriguing. A tiny too much detail for a beginning, but I am drawn in. The scene feels heavy and dangerous and mysterious. I definitely want to keep reading.

    1. My screen name isn't showing up for some reason, should be Shelley

  2. The Pitch is slightly confusing. You use however to denot two different threats but both seem similar in character - secrets and political intrigue. The four elements seem very last airbender style.

    The writing is good and the tension descriptors are spot on. Hopefully this sparks her fire powers.

  3. I agree that your pitch could be shorter: just the first sentence would already make a great hook.

    "I run into the storm." is a catchy first line but doesn't quite fit into the later image of her hiding from guards. Personally I like "I sneak into the storm." even more.

    I'd also be curious for a little more detail. What does the bell sound like? How is this market different from any generic market? How are the guards dressed?

    Overall, your tension is good and strong from the beginning.

    Note to Authoress: My screenname on my submission form doesn't match, it was katydid, entry #2.

  4. I found the pitch a bit vague. I don't know what made her overthrow the fire queen. What is her motivation? What does she want? I also thought that had already happened, and when the story opened, she would already be queen. But it turns out she's still a street rat. There are also no stakes mentioned. What is she risking by taking on the fire queen?

    Loved the opening Parg. It raises many questions. The good kind.

    Pargs 2 and 3 stop the story so Calisto can explain things to the reader. You might cut those and go straight to pargs 4 and five, which pull us back into the story. The purpose of first person is to bring the reader closer, to allow us into your character's world. Parg 2-3 do just the opposite. They bring the character into the readers' world. Just show us what Calisto is doing, thinking, and feeling. Allow her to act rather than explain.

  5. In your pitch, I would spell out seventeen-year-old... I think the entire third paragraph could be cut. Show how scared she is instead of telling the reader. You do this a bit in the next paragraphs but maybe add more here but definitely cut it because it forces the reader out of the moment. You want the reader in the moment with your MC. You can show her struggling with this by how she runs, how she stares at those around her... Good luck with your work!