Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart #22

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Zaina has no desire to leave her tribal home. Staying means she can spend more time with an afrit named Tasdemir, the elemental earth spirit who protects the valley where she lives. But then Tasdemir disappears, throwing the valley’s natural balance into chaos. If Zaina can recover the afrit, she may be able to save her tribe and the valley.

           The tree was full of goats.

           Zaina locked eyes with the closest, a male who was perched several feet above her head on a thorny branch, chewing his cud and glaring at her balefully.

            Zaina matched the heat and disgust in his gaze with her own. “Get down.”

            The goat considered her command, pausing in his methodical chewing. It was all the warning she received. Moments later, he spat haughtily in her direction.

            Zaina ducked, missing being pelted by a whistling kali seed by inches, but she was not quick enough to evade the rest of the cud. The slobbery, oozing mess landed on her shoulder, coating the ends of the scarf she had wrapped around her hair. Zaina wrinkled her nose as the glob slid lower, onto her sleeve. It was pungent, the odor made stronger by the heat of the sun overhead.

            Planting her feet in the dusty ground, Zaina threw her head back and met the goat’s eye again. A giggle at her elbow drew her attention away from her quarry, and she turned her hard glare on a new victim.

            Her younger sister lifted her chin in response and didn’t wilt like Zaina was hoping. “Were you expecting something different to happen?”

            Zaina bit her tongue and stomped over to the lowest branches, brushing her stained shoulder and scarf as she did so. “Let’s try something else.”


  1. I really like your pitch! I think it promises an interesting premise. Two main issues jumped out for me. 1)You start four of your paragraphs with "Zaina." It's good to vary how you start your paragraphs, otherwise it reads very repetitive. Every time you refer to Zaina, you don't need to write out her name, you can say "she" or "her." 2) You write in passive voice for some of your sentences. Sometimes this is fine, but one sentence that stood out to me was, "Zaina ducked, missing being pelted by a whistling kali seed by inches, but she was not quick enough to evade the rest of the cud." Because it is passive it reads unnecessarily wordy. Consider rewriting it in active voice, which will eliminate unneeded words. Otherwise, I think you do a great job setting up an interesting opening image.

  2. I loved the first sentence. I can see Zaina's personality right away in her humorous encounter with the goat. You described the scene well, but you could add to it by likening the odor to something the reader can understand and by adding some color. A good start.

  3. Can she read the goat's mind? It reads like she can, so I'm wondering if she has this ability.
    I was kinda thrown off by "heat" in his eyes, but after reading through a second time I understood what was meant.

    I absolutely loved the first line. Grabbed my attention right away. And I loved the relationship already established between the sisters. I think this opening works well and I want to keep reading to find out what happens on the next page.

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