Monday, March 1, 2021

Are You Hooked? #10

TITLE: Zodiac Misfits
GENRE: MG Epic Fantasy

Without warning, the stars shifted to seal Abree’s fate. Her rotten day was about to get worse . . .


Chapter One

Abree sat before the fire in the orphanage’s common room. Her arms stretched out to the hearth. In her fingers was the tingling promise the flames would obey—but first, she needed to persuade the Fyre spirit she was its master.

Her lips move fiercely, repeating the ancient charm with all the will she could summon. 


Luminous wisps danced away from the blazing logs into the midst of the room, advancing and retreating, twisting into spirals and rosettes they approached her. Fire tickled her feet, only to withdraw before she could shape them. “Moon’s sake!” Abree cursed.

“Concentrate, child,” Nana hissed, her tongue flicked over her thin lips. “The flames are too agitated to shape. Calm them.”

Sweat formed and fell across Abree’s forehead, stinging her eyes. Her midnight-black hair was damp with it. She fluttered her fingers again in command and watched for signs of obedience.

“Ausculto. Ausculto.”

The blaze flickered in response. 

“Focus,” Nana encouraged. “Use the flame as a paintbrush. Create your form above us.”

Abree tapped her finger to the air and willed the embers to transform from orange to her favorite deep-red. She drew her heart-shaped face, a puckish nose, then added wide-set eyes. Above the ear, Abree added her left horn to the silhouette, curving forward and circling into a ridged spiral that swooped up at the tip. She didn’t dare stop.


  1. Okay, I AM HOOKED at the outset with this fantasy! The writing is tight and clean. The promise of the premise is there right up front which is amazing: "she needed to persuade the Fyre spirit she was its master." And I'm intrigued about what Abree is drawing or conjuring with the fire. And a horn? Cool. I definitely want to read on. The only recommendation I would have would be to possibly incorporate the opening line into the actual text. Is it meant to be a prologue? It might be more meaningful and useful to give that thought from Abree's perspective, even her having a feeling that her day's about to get worse, things aren't going her way. It would also give readers more insight into how she's feeling. Also, I'm not sure you could sweat enough for it to sting your eyes (unless you were drenched and/or had loads of product in your hair. LOL. But very compelling start! Like I said, I'm hooked and I'm rooting for Abree.

  2. I like we see some action and magic right away. I know what kind of world this is. Some of the descriptors could be more... detailed? I dunno. I wanted to know things like what is deep-red? Is it more like a raspberry or a chili pepper. It might add some insight into the MC as well.

  3. I really liked this! In a short excerpt, you provided so much to show us the world, the main character's personality, and then you ended with that detail about Abree's horn, which got me completely intrigued! I don't think you need that first lead-in sentence because the story gets going on its own right away. I'd definitely read on!

  4. I really enjoyed the writing. I have no sense of who Nana is, though (although it's a great name for a character), so maybe give us something to help ground her a bit. Also, the opening line feels more like a blurb on the back of a book than an opening of the story. I think it could be cut. The opening paragraph is strong enough without it IMO.

  5. Wow! This absolultely sings, right off the page. It has the perfect balance of world building and intrigue and left me desperate to read on. Who is the mysterious Nana, what is Abree trying to summon, what's with the horn? Great stuff!

  6. A great beginning that really pulls the reader in. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Abree and the woman I assume is her grandmother (my grandkids call me nana :)). I agree with those who said you don't need that intro line about her rotten day about to get worse. It's too telling. This is an active beginning with just the right amount of description to set the tone and establish genre. I would certainly read on. Good work!

  7. Loving it! The descriptions are terrific. I assume the next lines explain why she doesn't dare stop, what terrible thing will happen if she does.
    Quick question, should this be moved? "Her lips move..." since the rest seems to be in past tense?
    Truly an interesting read!

  8. I'd read the next few pages. I'm interested to see what Goes Wrong (something does Go Wrong, right?).

  9. Love your descriptions! I was hooked already but the mention of a horn ramped up my intrigue even more. Good luck with this story!

  10. You have an interesting beginning with some good worldbuilding, but I'll be honest. My thought when I read the first line was "orphanage? really?" At this point, orphans/orphanages in MG fantasy seem a little cliche. Is it essential that Abree be an orphan? (Of course, I may be misunderstanding. Possibly, she lives in an orphanage but isn't an orphan herself, child of the caretaker or something similar. If so, ignore me.)

    Abree drawing her own face with the flames feels a little like a cheat, similar to having her look into the mirror and describe herself, but I was intrigued to learn she has a horn (at least one!). That's a nice detail.

    Overall, I enjoyed the writing. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I agree, great opening! I second the comment that the line before Chapter One doesn't need to be there (at least we don't need it first). The horn is a wonderful touch - maybe focus on that and leave other description of the MC for later? The flames she's summoning seem to have a personality of their own - I think that's something you could continue to play with here and going forward. Any other comments I have are nitpicky - for example, in the first paragraph maybe "Her fingers tingled with the promise..." to put that sentence in a more active voice.

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