Saturday, November 22, 2014

December First Five Pages Workshop Opens On November 29!

The First Five Pages November Workshop has come to an end.  This group worked so hard on their revisions, and it showed! A huge thanks to our guest mentor,  J.R. Johansson (I can’t wait to read CUT ME FREE!) and also to Pam Glauber, my editor for The Exceptionals, and now a free lance editor.  And thanks to our own Rob Smith who read two participants entries this month.

We at the workshop are so proud of our amazing mentors!  COMPULSION, by Martina Boone, workshop founder, permanent mentor (and founder of AYAP), came out a few weeks ago, and is already #9 on Goodreads best books for the month! And FORBIDDEN, by permanent mentor Kimberley Griffiths Little, received a starred review by Booklist! 

Our December workshop will open for entries at noon on Saturday November 29, 2014. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the talented Peter Salomon, author of HENRY FRANKS and ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, and agent Ginger Clark!

Click here to get the rules!

DECEMBER GUEST MENTOR: PETER SALOMON!


Peter graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, published by Flux in 2012, was named one of the ten ‘Books All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book in 2014. His second novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, was published in 2014 by Flux. His short fiction has appeared in the Demonic Visions series and he was the featured author for Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. His poem ‘Electricity and Language and Me’ appeared on BBC Radio 6 performed by The Radiophonic Workshop in December 2013. In addition, he edited the first book of poetry released by the Horror Writers Association, Horror Poetry Showcase Volume 1.  He lives in St. Petersburg, FL with his wife Anna and their three sons





ALL THESE BROKEN ANGELS (Flux, September 2014)



Richard Anderson was the last person to see his friend Melanie alive. She vanished when they were six and while the police never found Melanie, a part of her remained—a living shadow that is now Richard’s closest friend.

For ten years, Richard has never questioned the shadow that keeps him company . . . until a new girl moves to town, claiming to be Melanie. Desperate to prove the girl is a fake, the shadow leads Richard to the place where her killer buried her bones. But Richard finds skeletons from several different children . . . and evidence suggesting that perhaps the shadow isn't who she says she is. (From Goodreads)







DECEMBER GUEST AGENT MENTOR: GINGER CLARK!
We are thrilled to announce that Ginger Clark, of Curtis Brown LTD., will be our guest agent for December! See below for Ginger’s bio!

Ginger Clark has been a literary agent with Curtis Brown, LTD. since the fall of 2005. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition to representing her own clients, she also represents British rights for the agency’s children’s list. Previously, she worked at Writers House for six years as an assistant literary agent. Her first job in publishing was as an editorial assistant at Tor Books. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a member of the Contracts Committee of the AAR. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. Ginger is taking on new clients, and she prefers emailed queries. Please send just a query letter and your contact information to gc at cbltd.com. She responds only if she’s interested in seeing material. 
  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Minsky Rev 2

Name:  Connie Minsky
Genre:  Young Adult Contemporary
Title:  THE GIRL IN THE WOODS

I had never seen a dead body, but I suspected the one I was staring at would be my first.
 
Sam, my boyfriend, and I, went with our dogs for a hike through the Presidio, a national park in the middle of our city, San Francisco. We entered the park through a creaky iron wrought gate. We stood on a damp cement road about to turn and wander down a small grassy hill with tall trees when I spotted the body.
 
It was Sunday morning, and the July fog was thick. Wisps of white ghosts lingered about as the foghorn blared in the distance. It was windy and chilly. I tugged at Sam’s jacket and nodded toward its direction. It was to our right, not too far down and slumped against a tree. Her head hung low with long blond hair covering her face. She wore dark clothing with a black backpack by her side. Miles, my dog, began barking. I pulled his leash not wanting to be dragged down the slope blanketed with grass, dried leaves and fallen branches. We stood frozen, fixated on the girl.
 
My body tensed as my heart picked up its pace. It pounded against my chest and my hands became clammy and unsteady. I gripped my dog’s leash a bit tighter. I couldn’t take my eyes off her distant, limp body. I wondered what happened to her. It was eerie the way the body leaned against the tree with its head dangling forward like her neck couldn’t sustain its weight.
 
“Do you thing she’s dead?” I asked. I took two steps when Sam grabbed my arm.
 
“Lexi, don’t go down there,” he said. “She’s definitely dead.”
 
I stopped and glanced at him. “But what if she isn’t and needs help?” I asked. It felt wrong to stare and do nothing.
 
Sam stepped forward and shouted, “Hey! Are you all right?”
 
The only sound was a whine from Penny, Sam’s dog. Sam took out his cell. “I’ll call 911. I don’t think we should mess with anything like touching her or her stuff.” He made the call and then put his arm around me. I snuggled into him.
 
“She could be unconscious,” I announced even though I believed it was only a hope.
 
“I don’t think so, Lexi. She looks kinda stiff even from here. Really creepy,” Sam said. “I wonder how long she’s been here.”
 
“What do you think happened?” I questioned.
 
“Don’t know. Can’t be good.” We both gave a shiver as if we were shaking off something undesirable that fell upon us.
 
Sam was generally laid-back, always calm, but the quivering in his voice said otherwise. Some minutes passed and we became brave. We decided to go down a short distance. Would we see her face if we moved in closer? Could it be possible she was breathing and Sam was wrong? Still, all we could do was wait for the police.

With our dogs on leashes we made our way down the hill. Thin branches crackled under our feet while we descended. I slipped and then panicked as we neared the site. I changed my mind. I agreed with Sam, she was gone and getting close to death suddenly scared the hell out of me. I wanted us to turn back, so we did.
 
I shuddered and said, “Should we go? The police will find her without us.”
 
“Okay,” Sam said. “I’m a bit spooked.”
 
As we turned away, I gave it some thought. My curiosity got the best of me. What would the police say? I wanted to know what happened to her. Also, abandoning her felt cruel. We stayed. It wasn’t long when two male police officers, a woman in plain clothes and paramedics arrived. By then we weren’t alone. Several people gathered around us wanting to know what happened. When one of the officers asked about the body, Sam pointed toward its direction. The woman introduced herself as Detective Rosales and asked the small crowd if any of us made the call.
 
“I did,” Sam said.
 
“Would you mind waiting?” she asked. “I would like to ask you some questions.”
 
“Sure,” he replied.
 
Carefully, they navigated the grassy hill to the girl. The detective and police wore light colored purple gloves and knelt down next to the body while the paramedics waited with the gurney they wheeled along. They also examined the tree and surveyed the area. It all intrigued me. While that was taking place a man wearing a gray coat walked through the gate. He walked with determination and looked official. He held a camera in his hand. He joined the crew near the body. They were all quite chatty.
 
Seeing the camera inspired Sam. He handed me Penny’s leash and lifted the camera that hung from his neck. He brought his camera wherever we went. I called it his fifth limb. Photography was more than a hobby for Sam; it was his passion. He snapped away. He took photos of the girl and the police. At one point he zoomed in on the girl.
 
“Lexi, look at this!” He removed the camera from his neck and handed it to me. I gave him the leashes. I still couldn’t see her face, but what I did see made me look away from the camera and stare at him. Blood. Her blond hair had strands streaked with blood. I saw drops splattered on her jacket. Dried, caked, dull red blood. Nausea rose up in me.
 
Carrying the girl’s backpack, Detective Rosales made her way up. She was a tall, slender, pretty woman with short dark hair. She was stylish, had a confident walk and when she spoke, her voice was strong and serious. It contrasted with her soft, model-like beauty. I was intimidated, not by her appearance, but by her tough demeanor.
 
“You didn’t notice anything or anyone? Just walking through and spotted the body?” she asked Sam.
 
“Yeah, that’s right,” he responded.
 
“Did you go down there? Touch anything?” she inquired.
 
“No, we stayed here,” he said.
 
“Good. How old are you?”
 
“We’re both seventeen,” Sam answered.
 
“Your name?” She looked at Sam.
 
“Sam Taylor.”
 
She looked at me. “And you?”
 
“Alexis Chase.”
 
“Do you live around here?” she asked me.
 
“Yes,” I answered. “About a ten-minute walk.”
 
“Thanks for calling it in. I’m sure this was scary for you to see.” She then asked for both our phone numbers, our home, not cell numbers.
 
“Do you know what happened?” I hesitantly asked.
 
“It appears to be a suicide,” Detective Rosales stated.
 
“Oh.” My voice was a murmur. Murder was bad enough, but choosing to take her own life really disturbed me. Why did she say it appeared to be suicide? Was there uncertainty? Was it possible something else occurred? I wanted to know.
 
“Suicide?” Sam repeated.
 
“Sadly, yes. We found a note in her backpack.”
 
“Why aren’t you certain?” I asked.
 
“Further investigation will determine,” Detective Rosales responded.
 
“How old was she?” Sam asked.
 
“According to her driver’s license she was twenty-three,” the detective said. “Thanks for your help. If we have any more questions we’ll call.”

“Okay.” Sam spoke for the both of us.
 
The dead girl was placed on the gurney, completely covered and wheeled back up. The detective thanked us again and handed Sam her business card telling him if we thought of anything to call her. They all walked out the gate and the crowd dispersed. Once again we remained alone.

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Towle Rev 2

Sarah Towle
Young Adult Historical Fiction
LEGEND OF THE PLANT HUNTERS

Chapter One: Introduction

It’s not every family that can claim to have an asteroid named after them. But mine can. The flying rock is called Jussieu. That’s my last name. My first name is Laurent. It’s an old family favorite I share with a couple of ancestors who made history once upon a time, but were then forgotten by all but their heirs.

You can call me Larry, most of my friends do. They think I’m exotic because my parents are French, but I grew up all over, a “citizen of the world.” They consider me smart because I’m 100% bilingual. But lots of people are, in one language or another. That’s not really so unusual. They call me a nerd, because I wear glasses – I prefer frames that are dark and thick, like Clark Kent’s – and because I like history.

I think they’d like history too if they knew the part their family played in making it.

The truth is, I’m not all that interesting. But my forbears are. And it’s their story I’m going to tell you now.

It’s more legend than story, passed down through the generations starting with the famous but forgotten de Jussieus I just mentioned. It’s the story I grew up with and enjoyed, but refused to believe was anything more than a tall tale until I learned that we were worthy of an asteroid. That was also about the time I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. And crazy as this may sound, that movie turned me into a believer.

Indiana Jones possessed the same bravery and determination that my real-world ancestors were said to have had. They were the king’s gardeners and so-called “fathers of botany,” inventors of the modern system for grouping and sorting plants. Until I met Indiana, I’d imagined them as grizzled old men with over-sized green thumbs. But they did much more than dig in the dirt and mow lawns. They traveled the world to find what they planted. They had extreme adventures and endured terrible sacrifices to search for the sources of coveted medicines, exotic foods, material needed for never-before imagined products of human invention – even for poisons.

If they managed to survive their trials, they brought their specimens back to France and figured out how to make them grow there. Sometimes it took years, in special greenhouses they built with their own hands from their own designs. But once adapted these plants were then cultivated in the King’s gardens. My great-great-great-great-uncle Joseph even went crazy doing it!

By the time they reached me, their stories seemed too fantastical to be true: like how they’d risked life and limb at the service of the Kings of France to contribute to creating the great gardens of Versailles; then how they stood up to an angry mob of thousands to save the gardens from destruction during the French Revolution.

I thought it was all make believe. A really fun bedtime story. Then I found out about our asteroid and I encountered Indiana Jones. And then, we studied the French Revolution in school.

When we hit the chapter on the October March of Women, my palms turned sweaty and my heart started racing. I nearly fell out of my chair. That was where the family legend ended – on the terrace of the Versailles gardens just outside Queen Marie-Antoinette’s apartments on the day she, Louis XVI, and their children became prisoners of the mob.

Then I just got mad. I mean, if these guys really did make history, why didn’t the world know?

No one in my family seemed to care if the legend of the plant hunters was fact or fiction, so I decided to find out for myself. When I told my Maman that I wanted to take a gap year and spend it in France researching our history, she put her hand up to my forehead. She said, “Laurent, are you feeling alright?”

But I felt fine. I feel even better now to be able to share this: The story of my ancestors is the story of Versailles. It’s the story of France’s Sun King, Louis XIV, and the story of the final 100 years of the French monarchy. It’s the story of the great 18th century race between Britain and France to measure the circumference of the Earth. It’s also the story of the fall of feudalism and the rise of democracy. It’s our story.

All these stories grow from the seeds discovered, named, and cultivated by my forefathers, the Plant Hunters. They weave together to form the tale that was passed down to me, starting with my great, great, great grandfather, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu, who was witness to Revolution and the fall of the 800-year-old French Monarchy. And who, if family legend can be trusted, was at the Chateau de Versailles on the fateful morning of 6 October 1789 when the 800-year-old French Monarchy teetered and fell.

Meet me there. At Versailles. While you’re on your way, I’ll fill you in on the backstory, for the tale begins even before Antoine Laurent. I’ll be waiting for in the gardens at the place where I believe he faced down a frantic and desperate mob.

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Leath Rev 2

Name: Ashley Leath
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: Anna By Any Other Name

Anna MacIntosh spent her mornings wrangling with two things: her tangled head of curls, and the truth about her real name. At least the curls could be scorched into submission with her flat iron. The truth? Not so much. 
 
All families had secrets, Anna assumed. Some ended up splattered all over the nightly news. Some were tiny things—except to the people who nursed them. Because that’s what this felt like to Anna. Like a little entity inside her heart, constantly needing to be cared for and looked after. It was exhausting.
 
It wandered into her mind in the most inconvenient times too. Like tonight, while she sat on a deteriorating log beside her best friend Dan, burrowing the toes of her shoes into the sand as the chilly waves of the Pacific swirled into themselves a short distance away.
  
“Marshmallow, milady?” Dan held a bag of jumbo marshmallows aloft in his hands, like a trophy. His floppy brown hair fell over his eyebrows, unkept and wind-tossed and so exceptionally Dan-like that she had the urge to run her hands through it.
 
She grinned and sat up straight. “Why absolutely, good sir.”
 
Anna had managed to keep the existence of her MIA biological father a secret from everyone except Dan, who had stumbled upon her one day in the fifth grade as she stood in front of a steamed-up window in an empty classroom. She’d spelled out the words in the one place safe enough to do so, where every trace of them would vanish without evidence. Her real name, written in steam.
 
It wasn’t the best outcome, sharing a secret with Daniel “The Thunderbolt” Thunderberg, what with his tendency to rev with excitement and spew information like Coke from his nose. But what could she do? Threats of eternal servitude only went so far. She had to trust him.
 
“You ready?” Dan asked.
 
He tossed a marshmallow into the air and Anna leaned back, catching it between her teeth. She bowed as everyone around the bonfire clapped for her.
 
Steve Lu tipped his s’more in her direction. “Best present of the night, Anna.” They’d all pitched in with different foods for Steve’s birthday party tonight. The s’mores had been Anna’s contribution. “My mom is going to be so jealous. This is way better than ice-cream cake.”
 
“I don’t know if I’d want the same birthday as someone else in my family,” said Mabry, draping her legs over her boyfriend Conner’s lap.
 
“I don’t mind.” Steve brushed graham cracker crumbs from his plaid shirt. “Did I tell you guys what my dad did for her? He framed a sheet of paper he’d saved from when they were in college together. She’d doodled her first name with his last name across the top of her Calculus notes. She cried when she unwrapped it.”
 
“That’s so sweet,” said Anna. Across the fire, Jarred rolled his eyes, and her smile faded.
 
“I always wondered why girls write their names like that.” Dan stretched out his long legs, crossing his ankles. The wind shifted, and everyone squinted as the smoke from the bonfire billowed into their faces.
 

Mabry twirled a finger around Conner’s ear. “It’s not just a name. It’s like...a daydream or something. Right, Anna?”
 
The five of them peered at her, and Anna’s mouth went dry. Attention was fine in small doses, but Anna couldn’t stand the panicky feeling that washed over her when a group of people turned their eyes on her.
  
“I don’t know,” Anna began. “I guess—”
 
“It’s because girls are ruled by their emotions.” Jarred stabbed his finger into the center of his glasses as he hiked them up his nose. “Guys think with their—”
 
“Dicks?” asked Anna.
 
Jarred gritted his teeth as everyone howled with laughter.
  
Mabry fell off Conner’s legs into the sand, her hands grabbing her stomach. “Oh my God, Anna,” she gasped. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you say anything like that.”
 
“That wasn’t what I was going to say,” said Jarred, dragging a hand through his sandy blond hair. Jarred was cute enough to date whoever he wanted, but his looks were washed dull by his attitude.
 
“We know what you were going to say.” Dan fished a marshmallow from the bag and threaded it onto a stick. “Guys think with their brains, girls think with their emotions, blah, blah, your usual sexist grossness. Have a s’more, Jarred.”
  
“Give one to Anna,” said Conner. “So she can get the taste of that word out of her mouth.”
 
Cursing was a norm for everyone else. The guys had embraced it first, in middle school, as if it were a new flavor of Doritos. So wrong, but so good. Mabry followed soon after, leaving Anna behind, per usual.
 
Dan offered her the stick, but Anna shook her head. “Should’ve known,” he said with a shrug, hovering the marshmallow over the fire.
 
“Known what?” asked Steve. Behind him, the horizon sucked down the last remnants of sunlight, turning the sky ombré shades of blue.
  
“Anna wouldn’t eat something off a stick—”
 
“Wait, wait.” Conner raised his hands in the air. “There’s something there. Hold on. I’ll think of it.”
 
Anna blushed. “You’re all ruled by your dirty minds.”
 
“Fine, then. Whose name would you write on your notebook?” demanded Jarred.
 
Anna exchanged a covert glance with Dan. “I wouldn’t write anything,” she mumbled, heat flaring up her cheeks. “Talk to Mabry about that.”
 
Mabry popped a piece of chocolate into her mouth. “Everybody knows whose name I write.”
 
“I know whose name Anna would write.” Dan bit off a wad of blistered marshmallow and began to chew.
 
Anna’s breath caught. He wouldn’t. He’d promised. She swallowed the sip of Coke in her mouth and tried her best to send telepathic shock waves in his direction.
  
“It’s really all-American too,” Dan continued, his mouth half-open as he chewed.
 
Oh my gosh.
 
“I saw her do it once.”
 
Her heartbeat stuttered. Please, Dan. This isn’t funny anymore. Stop!
 
“A-N-N-A—”
  
She clapped her hand over his mouth with more force than she’d meant, and he slipped from the log and tumbled backward into the sand. Everyone went still. For a second he looked straight at her, the hurt visible in his eyes. A wedge of guilt stabbed into her chest.
 
She flew down the beach before anyone could say a word.
 
#
 
The lapping of the waves masked his footsteps, so she didn’t hear him approach until he was already there. Anna smeared her tears onto her cheeks with her palms, hoping it was too dark away from the fire for him to see her freckles, which would show now that’s she’d sobbed away all her makeup.
 
“I brought you your Coke.” He tapped the can against her shoulder.
 
Anna set it between her legs and wiped her hands on her pants. She’d rolled the cuffs of her jeans up a few times, but not far enough to keep sand from collecting in the folds. “Thanks.”
 
Dan fell onto the sand beside her with a sigh. “You hurt my feelings back there, Banana.”
 
Anna sniffled and wiped her face again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you fall or hurt your feelings, but how do you think I felt?”
 
“I know how you felt.”
 
“No, you don’t.”
 
A few feet away, the tide withdrew a little more each second, pulling itself into the darkness.
 
“I know what you thought I was going to say, and it wasn’t that. I was just going to make a crack about you and me.” He pulled a pair of thin-rimmed glasses from his pocket and put them on. Dan had been struck by lightning as a kid, and ever since, his left eyelid sagged down when he got upset. Like a puppy fighting sleep. “That really sucks. I thought you trusted me.”

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Romano Rev 2

Karina Romano
Young Adult, Fantasy
The New Bargain

It had been decreed by the council that when I was eighteen years old, I would be of the rightful age to marry the prince of the north. Aligning the southern and northern werewolves. Peacefully bringing an end to the madness that began so long ago.

My betrothed came from a land that we have been at war with since before my birth.

I came from the southern lands. It was not much but it was my home. We had cottages while the northern people had manors and castles andmansions. My dresses were raggedy old things that were quite itchy while women in the north had the finest quality made. They didn’t even have to wash their own clothes while I had to scrub mine.


We were the same species separated by how we could afford things. Essentially they were rolling around in gold while we had dirt. But we had enough to get by and we traded our own property to get the things we needed in the market.
I was too young to remember. But my father had told me stories that they were the ones responsible for my mother’s death. They had annihilated the humans to the point of extinction. They were the ones
responsible for the start of the battle. They were savage creatures.

Ever since I was young, my father had been telling me that I was a special key in stopping it all. That it would be an honor to sacrifice myself for the greater good of our people.

It had sounded so great when I was a little girl but now it felt like my soul has been damned to hell.

It seemed like so long ago that I stepped through the witches’ portal that sent me to Northern Hiralind. But it has been mere hours.

..........

I was standing in the guest chamber where I would sleep until the night of the ceremony that would bond the werewolf prince and me. During the ritual, he and I would exchange blood. The thought of drinking
his blood disgusted me.

They had told me that he would be returning later on from a mission in time for my welcoming ball. That’s where I would officially meet him.

The silence in my chamber was overwhelming as it was vacant. I started to recall my last discussion I had with my father and the vows I made to myself…

I was back at home, in my room when my father barged in.

I turned to face him. His gaze was stone cold just like his personally was and I waited for him to say something. But he just continued to stare. I dared not look at him and just kept my face down.

“Do you know such stupidity that you don’t care for your own safety?”

I sighed. He was going to lecture me again.

“I expect an answer when I speak, Eileen.” I rolled my eyes and hoped he didn’t catch it.

“I know, father.” I simply said, still not looking up at him. “I know what I did was wrong but I can’t go through with this marriage. His people killed mom.” I gazed at him.

“This isn’t about you,” he said, his face was composed but still held an angry expression. “This is about the good of our realm. You will not bow out of this.” He gritted. “You need to stop focusing on yourself and start thinking about the good of our people,” he was changing the topic as always.

“You have a duty as a father!” I yelled, getting more impatient by the second.

“Do not tell me what my duties are! Unlike you, I know what my responsibilities are! You have yet to learn your place.”

I winced as if I've been pricked by a needle. It was moments like these that made me think of mom. How could she have married such a cruel man?

“This discussion is over. You will marry the prince whether you like it or not.” He pointed his finger at me. “Your belongings have been sent through the portal.” He turned to leave.

“Wait! I have to say goodbye to Mia. It’s the least you could do, don’t you think?”


“I cannot allow that. Especially not after the stunt she pulled. She’s been confined for the atrocity she committed.”

What was he on about now?
“Atrocity? She didn’t do anything wrong.”

“On the contrary, she kidnapped our future queen and broke the law. That girl must be punished,” he countered.

He couldn’t. I had to save her but I was to leave this very minute.

“Please father,” I begged, crossing my hands together. That’s not something I do lightly but she was the only closest thing I had that I could call family. “Please set her free. She’s my friend.” I pleaded with my eyes.

“I already knew it would come down to this. You care too much for that girl. You will do what is necessary to keep her out of harm’s way. I will release her.”


I sighed in relief.
“I will release her on three conditions,” he gave me a warning look. I nodded. “You will leave willingly. You will marry the prince. And when the time comes…” I did not like where this was going. “You must be ready to please the prince.”

I jumped out of my bed and onto to the floor. I clenched my hands.


“That’s preposterous! How can you say that to your own daughter? Fathers are supposed to be protective!”

He whipped his hand back and collided it with my cheek. It stung and I felt the blood in my cheek heating as I stroked it.
I turned to gaze at my father. I inhaled a breath and held it before letting it out. He turned to leave and slammed the door with so much force that I was sure it would fall down just like I did.

There was nobody there to see me off.

I had no one.

In a way, I had no home. My mom was dead and I loathed my father. Mia was my only friend, who was probably already free this very moment. But I didn’t get to say a final goodbye. I felt a warm tear trace
my cheek all the way down until it fell away.

Soon, I would be married and “pleasuring” him at his will. The very thought made me shiver with disgust.

I turned around one last time for old times’ sake and walked into what would be bringing me to my impending doom. But not before making a pact to my deceased mother that when I stood a chance, I would
reign in my personal hell. I would not let this prince seek control over my body. I would find a way out and travel where no man would ever dare enter and create a place I could call home. I would not be used like some meddling fool to stop an endless war that has gone on for centuries between my people and the
people of the northern lands.

Monday, November 10, 2014

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Towle Rev 1

Sarah Towle
Young Adult Historical Fiction
MY ANCESTORS, THE PLANT HUNTERS: 
BUCCANEERS OF THE BOTANICAL WORLD

Chapter One: Meet the Plant Hunters

It's not every family that can claim to have an asteroid named after them. But mine can. The flying rock is called Jussieu. That's my last name. My first name is Laurent. It’s an old family name I share with several ancient ancestors who lived and made history hundreds of years ago, but who were then forgotten by all but their decedents.

You can call me Larry, most of my friends do. They think they know all about me: that my parents were born in France, but that I grew up abroad, a “citizen of the world”; that I was schooled in English and am 100% bilingual. But what they don’t know is a lot more interesting, and that's the story I'm going to tell you now.

It’s the story that was passed to me by the forgotten de Jussieus. The family legend that I grew up with and enjoyed, but that I refused to believe was anything more than a tall tale until I learned that we were famous enough to deserve an asteroid. That’s also about when I sawIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the first time.

I recognized in that modern-day archeologist the same drive and bravery that my real-world ancestors were said to have possessed. Until then I’d only pictured them as grizzled old guys with over-sized green thumbs, the so-called fathers of modern botany and the plant classification system. But their stories also spoke of great adventures and terrible sacrifices. By the time they reached me, these men, three generations in all, had turned into giants. They were said to have risked life and limb at the service of their kings, first to create the great gardens of Versailles, then to save the same gardens from certain destruction.

I now understand that these men, along with their forebears, made history, that theirs is a tale worth sharing with the world. And so I give you this homage to my ancestors, the Plant Hunters – buccaneers of the botanical world – as it was passed down to me by my great, great, great grandfather, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu.

If the tale is to be trusted, old Antoine Laurent was there, at Versailles, eyewitness to the day the 800-year-old French Monarchy teetered and fell. Forever


Chapter Two: The October March of Women

By late afternoon on 5 October 1789, the King’s Garden at Versailles had been pelted by a most uncommon storm. This was no ordinary squall from the heavens, but a gale of humanity. And it would change to course of history forever.

The women of France were starving. Their children and aged, alike, were starving. A hailstorm had wiped out the country’s wheat crop that year. Now all but the richest lacked daily bread, their main—and sometimes only—source of food. Their hunger—and the quiet rumblings of those wishing to fan the flames of revolution—had whipped their hunger into fury.

That morning at Paris’ central marketplace, Les Halles, the women’s shared outcry over the high price of bread erupted into a volatile demonstration. They charged City Hall, Le Hotel de Ville, demanding food. They beat drums and brandished kitchen knives, encouraged by the revolutionary agitators who joined them.

Their cries for justice attracted more and more women until their numbers swelled to as many as 10,000. They surged through the gates of the Hotel, ransacking its stores and weapons. But they wanted not just one meal. They sought assurance that bread would once again be plentiful and affordable to the masses. Rather than answer the women’s anguished appeals, however, the city’s governors merely fled.

À Versailles ! To Versailles!” someone shouted. “Let’s petition the Queen! Surely a woman and a mother will understand our torment.” 

And just like that the women were away, on foot, ready to march the 23 kilometers to the king’s Chateau.They set out to persuade Queen Marie-Antoinette to leave her gilded cage and come to Paris to witness their suffering. Sprinkled among them, dressed as women, the furtive revolutionaries had another motive: They wished to take advantage of the women’s misery to force the king, his court and governors—The Assembly—to leave Versailles and return to Paris once and for all.

I was compelled by my colleagues at the King’s Garden in Paris to outrun the women if I possibly could. Upon arrival at the Chateau I was to go immediately to the aid of the palace gardeners and under-gardeners. They had no knowledge of the tempest that approached to threaten their masterpiece: the lush tapestry woven from nature over the course of 150 years. We could not allow the mob to lay waste to this legacy. It had to be safeguarded.

Born into a wealthy family, I knew only an existence of privilege. I had no knowledge of riots and starvation. I had never been in company with such people as these. I jumped at their cries for justice or blood. I flinched each time one of them brandished a makeshift weapon.

All along the route, I watched as more women dropped their washing and their brooms and left their children to join the fray. I grew more consumed with apprehension with each fretful step. Sweat dripped in rivulets from my brow. I wondered what I could possibly do to help calm a cyclone of humanity gone out of control.

Just stop now, my subconscious argued. No one will ever know if you never reach Versailles. And yet I kept advancing toward the torrent that surely lay ahead.

I knew not what would happen to the gardens, or to me, in the hours that ticked down to minutes faster than the ever-increasing beating of my heart. But I did understand this: Everything royal was under threat that day if the king and queen failed to do the crowd’s bidding. Even the soil that had been cultivated these 150 years to raise the crops intended for the king’s table.

Indeed, the yields of its furrows could well prove the salvation of the starving throng.

That was the answer!

I steeled my nerves and picked up my pace. I had to move quickly. The future of the King’s Garden depended on it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Romano Rev 1

Name: Karina Romano
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Title: The New Bargain

It had been decreed by the vampire council that when I was eighteen years old, I would be of the rightful age to marry the prince of Hiralind. Aligning my kingdom and the kingdom of the werewolves. Peacefully
bringing an end to the madness that began so long ago.

My betrothed came from the land that my own has been at raging war for many years, beyond my birth. He comes from werewolf territory.

I was too young to remember. But my father had told me stories that they were the ones responsible for my mother’s death. They had annihilated the humans to the point of extinct. They were the ones responsible
for the start of the battle. They were savage creatures.

Ever since I was young, my father had been telling me that I was a special key in stopping it all. That it would be an honor as a princess to sacrifice myself for the greater good of our kingdom.

It had sounded so great when I was a little girl but now it felt like my soul has been damned to hell.

It seems like so long ago that I stepped through the witches’ portal that sent me to Hiralind. But it has been mere hours.

..........

I was standing in the guest chamber where I would sleep until the night of the ceremony that would bond the werewolf prince and me. During the ritual, he and I would exchange blood. The thought of drinking his blood disgusted me.

They had told me that he would be returning later on from a mission in time for my welcoming ball. That’s where I would officially meet him.

The silence in my chamber was overwhelming as it was vacant. I started to recall my last discussion I had with my father and the vows I made to myself…

I was at the manor, in my room when my father came in.

I turned to face him, the king. His gaze was stone cold just like his personally was and I waited for him to say something. But he just continued to stare. I dared not look at him and just kept my face down.

“Do you know such stupidity that you don’t care for your own safety?”

I sighed. He was going to lecture me again.

“I expect an answer when I speak Eileen.” I rolled my eyes and hoped he didn’t catch it.

“I know, father.” I simply said, still not looking up at him.

“You know what?”

“I know what I did was wrong but I can’t go through with this marriage. Not to a werewolf! They killed mom.” I gazed at him. “Don’t you care that you’re handing me off to live with mom’s killers?”

“This isn’t about you,” he said, his face was composed but still held an angry expression. “This is about the good of our realm, our kingdom. You will not bow out of this.” He gritted. “You need to stop focusing on yourself and start thinking about the good of our kingdom and of the people,” he was changing the
topic as always.

“You have a duty as a father!” I yelled, getting more impatient by the second.

“Do not dare tell me what my duties are! My duty is to my people! Unlike you, I know what my responsibilities are! You have yet to learn your place.”

I winced. That stung me like a bee’s needle. It was moments like these that made me think of mom. How could she have married such a cruel man?

“This discussion is over. You will marry the mongrel whether you like it or not.” He pointed his finger at me. “The maids have already taken your belongings through the portal. You have fifteen minutes.” He turned to leave.

“Wait! I have to say goodbye to Mia. It’s the least you could do, don’t you think?”

“Oh, I almost forgot. Mia’s been confined in a cell for the atrocity she committed.”

What was he on about now?

“Atrocity? She didn’t do anything.”

“On the contrary, she kidnapped our princess and broke the law. That girl must be punished,” he countered.

He couldn’t. I had to save her but I was leaving in fifteen minutes. I’d never reach her in time. Not with all the guards around.

“She had no right to take you out of the manor. You could have run into rebels who would have surely killed you.”

“Please father,” I begged, crossing my hands together. That’s not something I do lightly but she was the only closest thing I had that I could call family. “Please set her free. She’s my friend. Don’t harm her.” I pleaded with my eyes.

“I already knew it would come down to this. You care too much for this commoner. You will do what is necessary to keep her out of harm’s way. I will release her.”

“Don’t you care that my betrothed is the enemy? That I’m marrying someone I don’t know. Someone who already detests me because of who I am?” I said, my eyes were starting to get glassy but I held it in.

It was not a secret that my father harbored bad feelings towards lowly commoners. He didn’t like me being around Mia. Yet he agreed so quickly.

“I will release her on three conditions,” he ignored me and gave me a warning look. I nodded. “You will leave willingly. You will marry the prince. And when the time comes…” I did not like where this was going. “You must be ready to please the prince.”

I jumped out of my bed and onto to the floor. I threw my hands in the air and then fisted them.

“That’s preposterous! You make me sick! How can you say that to your own daughter? Fathers are supposed to be protective!”

He whipped his hand back and collided it with my cheek. It stung and I felt the blood in my cheek heating as I stroked it.

I turned to gaze at my father. I inhaled a breath and held it before letting it out. He turned to leave and slammed the door with so much force that I was sure it would fall down just like I did.

There was nobody there to see me off.

I had no one.

In a way, I had no home. My mom was dead and I loathed my father. Mia was my only friend, who was probably already free this very moment. But I didn’t get to say a final goodbye. I felt a warm tear trace my cheek all the way down until it fell away.

Soon, I would be married and “pleasuring” him at his will. The very thought made me shiver with disgust.

I turned around one last time for old times’ sake and walked into what would be bringing me to my impending doom. But not before making a pact to my deceased mother that when I stood a chance, I would reign in my personal hell. I would let no werewolf seek control over my body. I would find a way out and travel where no man would ever dare enter and create a place I could call home. I would not be used like some meddling fool to stop an endless war that has gone on for centuries between my kind and the savage creatures.