Author Topic: Home Brew - YA fantasy (currently querying and losing my will to live)  (Read 125 times)

Offline RAMoon

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**Heya. I'm currently querying this story but I keep getting rejections, so I'd appreciate any insight or help you can give me - or if it's maybe all in my head and I'm an impatient writer bouncing on his seat...** (I've submitted this in the 1st Chapter forum as well but I suppose it can't hurt to get more eyes on it)

Thanks :)

Chapter 1

It was a drizzly Tuesday evening, and I was trying my best not to set anything on fire.
Again.
“Ignis.”
The word escaped my lips with the lightest touch of power. The candle wick trembled before my eyes, a minute spark winking into existence and dying out just as quickly.
I exhaled and braced myself for another attempt. I would succeed at this today, no matter how long it took.
“Ignis.”
This time I added more power. The course’s notes said not to exceed five percent energy but the notes weren’t failing miserably at this spell.
Time to turn up the heat—pun intended.
A tongue of fire burst into existence. I snatched my hand back instinctively, an act accompanied by a totally girly squeal from yours truly. The flame was now big enough to cover the wick and certainly hot enough to burn my skin when I left my hand there for too long.
But I forgot all about the burn as I watched with no small amount of self-satisfaction the growing fire consuming the virginal wick and slowly filling the gloomy bedroom with light.
The only other creature in the room padded over. Shade, a monstrously-sized black cat with white tufts in the ears, white paws, and a snow-tipped tail brushed against my legs. His fur was long, silky, and voluminous. From a distance he could be mistaken for a lynx, or perhaps a diminutive mountain lion.
“Finally. I was starting to wonder whether setting you on fire would motivate you.” He cocked his head at the candle, light reflecting off of his feline eyes. “It looks good.”
Even though I’d had the familiar for nearly seven months it was still weird to hear him talk. Not that familiars should talk—or at least, the course never mentioned they can. I asked Shade about it once and all I got was a lecture about not prying into others’ business. My familiar was not a cuddly loving cat. Our relationship was mutually beneficial. I just wasn’t sure what he got out of it.
I was still green magically-speaking—and literally during that one accident with color-displacement magic—and I would be lying if I said there weren’t times I wondered if him speaking was really just me going insane. Maybe this whole magic thing was all in my head.
I went back to admiring the candle, watching that little tongue of flame dancing sinuously on the wick. Nah. I had plenty of accidents to prove otherwise, chief among which was the reason why I—Cassie Delaney: accident-prone mage extraordinaire—was no longer welcome at her previous high school.
“You’re supposed to watch the door,” I said, keeping my voice low. “We agreed you would be a lookout.”
“I got bored. This is much more interesting.” He chuckled as he noticed the ambient light in the room increase. “And look, I was right. It’s about to become quite entertaining.”
I turned my attention back to the candle. The flame had now doubled in size and was rapidly increasing until it was about the size of my whole thumb.
I might have made a catastrophic error. Scratch that—I’d definitely screwed this up.
Oh gods, not again.
“This was supposed to be at five percent, wasn’t it?” Shade remarked as I scrambled around in a panic. “Looks more like a ten to me. Or a fifteen. Then again, I’m a cat, quite bad with numbers, but very adept good at running away from disasters.”
I grabbed him before he could skitter. The flame was now the size of my fist and still growing. Wax sluiced down the candle sides, filling my desk with a neat round puddle. Half the candle was already gone.
“How do I fix this?” I asked the cat.
“Fire extinguisher, home insurance,” he said.
Fwoosh!
“Reeeaaaally big bucket.”
“Shade!” My voice rose in parallel to my panic. “I’ve been in this house for five weeks. I can’t burn it down. Help me, I don’t have time to scroll back up through the notes.”
“I just told you: the power, you imbecile. You fed it too much so simply take it back.”
I dropped the cat unceremoniously and held my hands as close as I dared over the ever-growing inferno. I pushed my will into it, feeling for the source of magic that empowered my previous spell and extracted it, willing it back into me.
The fire remained ongoing, completely impervious to my attempts. I had pulled the plug too late. With only about two inches of wax between the fire and, you know, the rest of the room, I took a deep breath to prevent a heart attack and forced myself to sit at the laptop.
Magic created this problem and magic would fix it.
I hovered the mouse pad, brought the machine to life back on the course home page and looked up the fire spell I’d been using. Thank the universe it was part of a set, which handily included a freezing spell.
Perfect—fire, meet ice.
Then, scowling like a gladiator headed to the arena, I turned towards the surging flames that had now met my desk, marking their territory with a very big scorch mark, and said, “Frigus.”
Magic leapt from my magical core and found the fire. The temperature in the room dropped by a few degrees, enough to make me shiver, and the flame stunted its progress, writhing as if in agony.
I hit it again.
“Frigus.”
The second dose of ice magic reduced it to a small lick, but the flame still resisted.
Just die already!
“Frigus!”
Something snapped and I realized it was a chunk of ice in the shape of that flame. It tumbled across the desk—which now also had a lovely patch of frost to cover that scorch mark—and fell, rolling on the ground until Shade pawed it. He gave it a few curious taps. Then he reared up on his hind legs, a further reminder that this was no ordinary animal I was living with, and picked up the shard of ice.
With his opposable thumbs.
Or claws in his case, I suppose.
Familiars had all the same human physical functions in order to serve as assistants to mages. Yep. I had a cat that could basically walk, talk, and do all the things we humans do. Except he was still a cat, which was why he then proceeded to slam said ice ball on the ground and shower frost everywhere.
“Why?” I demanded.
He chucked in response, fell back on his forepaws, and sauntered off with feline grace and a whole lot of attitude.
I once told him that anecdote about if cats had opposable thumbs they would rule the world and he blankly stared at me and said why go to all the trouble of ruling when you had a perfectly good human who did all those pesky chores for you?
I picked pieces of ice from my hair, a mane of unruly ebony that curled and waved no matter how much I wrestled it with a brush.
Well, that could have gone better.
Bright side, it could have gone a lot worse. I mean, just a few weeks ago back in my old high school, I messed up big time. As in, almost literally brought the roof down. There was a test, I tried to cheat. I didn’t have to cheat because I already knew all the answers but I wanted to. Not because I’m a rebel. No, I guess I subconsciously wanted some attention—or so my mom keeps saying every time the topic is picked up.
I wanted her to pay attention to my pain. Seeing her get serious with another man wasn’t good for me. It was selfish, I’m well aware of that. And irrational.
It wasn’t going to bring my dad back.
Funny thing, death. Dad’s been gone for three years. Those people giving me condolences and ‘sorry for your loss’—four words that made me want to blacken eyes and bloody lips—they all disappeared after a few months. Their lives went back to normal. Their pain was temporary.
I guess my mom’s pain had been temporary too. Maybe there was a secret grown-up way to just slap a band aid on the wound and move on. Get a new boyfriend, drag your daughter to a new town. I loved my mom, she was my best friend, and that betrayal stung.
Magic was about the only thing I could truly control—relatively speaking, as tonight had made pretty evident.
The smart thing to do right now would have been to pack it up and call it a night. You did your spells, you prevented a house fire, time to chill out. But no. Magic was my crutch, my therapy. Thinking back to mom, and dad, and the old high school generated a type of stressful energy, and that needed release, lest it welled up inside me and threatened to eat me alive.
I picked up the water bottle. I could feel Shade glaring at me intently. He kept silent. I would have ignored him anyway.
“Frigus.”
Taking heat seemed to be easier for me than pushing it into something. I guess it was because I’ve always been a winter girl. Give me ice and snow and big ugly sweaters any day over hot sweaty summer days and tourists getting red while posing for Instagram pictures.
Plastic scrunched in my hands as heat left the liquid and air in the bottle. The water turned slushy at first, then solid. Frost covered the bottle when I set it down.
Shade chuckled.
“Well, well, would you look at that. Progress.” He cocked his head, which did not ease the creep factor with his glowing eyes. “Emotions equal power. Your anger gives you strength. You would do well to remember that.”
“You sound like a Sith lord.”
To my surprise he got the reference. Then again, the first week I got him, we watched the entire Star Wars movies (sans the latest ones, because no one deserves to suffer like that), plus Buffy, Harry Potter, and my favourite, The Lord of The Rings.
“Come to the dark side; we have cookies,” he said. “Although, who would want cookies when you can have ham? What was that lovely thing your mother made for me last time?”
“Jamon Iberico,” I answered. “And how do you know that meme? Did you access my laptop again?”
“Obviously,” he replied. “What else am I going to do whilst you’re attending that insipid institution?”
“School.”
“The very same.” He stiffened, head turned towards the door. “Ah, it must be time. Your mother should be calling right about-”
“Cassie!” came mom’s voice from downstairs. “Dinner’s ready.”
“Now.”
“Coming, mom!” I yelled back. I frowned at the cat. “You’re creepily accurate with that.”
“Of course,” he said matter-of-factly. “There is ham involved. Now open the door, human—my hunger requires sating.”

Offline rivergirl

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Sometimes it just the subject matter and not the book, or so I'm convinced.

It was a drizzly Tuesday evening, and I was trying my best not to set anything on fire.
Again. good first two lines
“Ignis.”
The word escaped my lips with the lightest touch of power. The candle wick trembled before my eyes, a minute spark winking into existence and dying out just as quickly.
I exhaled and braced myself for another attempt. I would succeed at this today, no matter how long it took. two back to back sentence starting with "I" is taboo in my book. All the "I"s of first person stand out like a sore thumb. Be creative in getting rid of about half your I's. For example: There would be some measure of success today if it killed me.
“Ignis.”
This time I added more power. The course’s notes said not to exceed five percent energy, but the notes weren’t don't you mean, were failing? failing miserably at this spell. a book about magic. This might be your problem right here. Agents are looking for something new and surprising
Time to turn up the heat—pun intended. don't talk to your reader. It yanked me right out of the story
A tongue of fire burst into existence. while I like the creativity of this sentence, it's confusing, because I'm visualizing a literal tongue without further context I snatched my hand back instinctively, an act accompanied by a totally girly squeal from yours truly. The flame was now big enough to cover the wick and certainly hot enough to burn my skin when I left my hand there for too long.
But I forgot all about the burn as I watched with no small amount of self-satisfaction the growing fire consuming the virginal wick and slowly filling the gloomy bedroom with light.
The only other creature in the room padded over. Shade, a monstrously-sized black cat with white tufts in the ears, white paws, and a snow-tipped tail brushed against my legs. His fur was long, silky, and voluminous. From a distance he could be mistaken for a lynx, or perhaps a diminutive mountain lion.
“Finally. I was starting to wonder whether setting you on fire would motivate you.” He cocked his head at the candle, light reflecting off of his feline eyes. “It looks good.”
Even though I’d had the familiar for nearly seven months it was still weird to hear him talk. It's not until this point do I realize the cat is talking. You might make it more clear above Not that familiars should talk—or at least, the course never mentioned they can. I asked Shade about it once and all I got was a lecture about not prying into others’ business. My familiar was not a cuddly loving cat. Our relationship was mutually beneficial. I just wasn’t sure what he got out of it. lol
I was still green magically-speaking—and literally during that one accident with color-displacement magic—and I would be lying if I said there weren’t times I wondered if him speaking was really just me going insane. Maybe this whole magic thing was all in my head.
I went back to admiring the candle, watching that little tongue of flame dancing sinuously on the wick. Nah. I had plenty of accidents to prove otherwise, chief among which was the reason why I—Cassie Delaney: accident-prone mage extraordinaire—was no longer welcome at her previous high school.
“You’re supposed to watch the door,” I said, keeping my voice low. “We agreed you would be a lookout.”
“I got bored. This is much more interesting.” He chuckled as he noticed the ambient light in the room increase. “And look, I was right. It’s about to become quite entertaining.”
I turned my attention back to the candle. The flame had now doubled in size and was rapidly increasing until it was about the size of my whole thumb.
I might have made a catastrophic error. Scratch that—I’d definitely screwed this up.
Oh gods, not again.
“This was supposed to be at five percent, wasn’t it?” Shade remarked as I scrambled around in a panic. “Looks more like a ten to me. Or a fifteen. Then again, I’m a cat, quite bad with numbers, but very adept good at running away from disasters.”
I grabbed him before he could skitter. The flame was now the size of my fist and still growing. Wax sluiced down the candle sides, filling my desk with a neat round puddle. Half the candle was already gone. great visual
“How do I fix this?” I asked the cat.Shade
“Fire extinguisher, home insurance,” he said.
Fwoosh! I'm not clear on what is making this noise
“Reeeaaaally big bucket.”
“Shade!” My voice rose in parallel to my panic. “I’ve been in this house for five weeks. I can’t burn it down. Help me, I don’t have time to scroll back up through the notes.”
“I just told you: the power, you imbecile. You fed it too much so simply take it back.”
I dropped the cat unceremoniously and held my hands as close as I dared over the ever-growing inferno. I pushed my will into it, feeling for the source of magic that empowered my previous spell and extracted it, willing it back into me.
The fire remained ongoing, completely impervious to my attempts. I had pulled the plug too late. With only about two inches of wax between the fire and, you know, the rest of the room, I took a deep breath to prevent a heart attack and forced myself to sit at the laptop.
Magic created this problem and magic would fix it.
I hovered the mouse pad, brought the machine to life back on the course home page and looked up the fire spell I’d been using. Thank the universe it was part of a set, which handily included a freezing spell.
Perfect—fire, meet ice.
Then, scowling like a gladiator headed to the arena, I turned towards the surging flames that had now met my desk, marking their territory with a very big scorch mark, and said, “Frigus.”
Magic leapt from my magical core and found the fire. The temperature in the room dropped by a few degrees, enough to make me shiver, and the flame stunted its progress, writhing as if in agony. love this
I hit it again.
“Frigus.”
The second dose of ice magic reduced it to a small lick, but the flame still resisted.
Just die already!
“Frigus!”
Something snapped and I realized it was a chunk of ice in the shape of that flame. It tumbled across the desk—which now also had a lovely patch of frost to cover that scorch mark—and fell, rolling on the ground until Shade pawed it. He gave it a few curious taps. Then he reared up on his hind legs, a further reminder that this was no ordinary animal I was living with, and picked up the shard of ice.
With his opposable thumbs.
Or claws in his case, I suppose.
Familiars had all the same human physical functions in order to serve as assistants to mages. Yep. I had a cat that could basically walk, talk, and do all the things we humans do. Except he was still a cat, which was why he then proceeded to slam said ice ball on the ground and shower frost everywhere.
“Why?” I demanded.
He chucked in response, fell back on his forepaws, and sauntered off with feline grace and a whole lot of attitude. lol
I once told him that anecdote about if cats had opposable thumbs they would rule the world and he blankly stared at me and said why go to all the trouble of ruling when you had a perfectly good human who did all those pesky chores for you?
I picked pieces of ice from my hair, a mane of unruly ebony that curled and waved no matter how much I wrestled it with a brush.
Well, that could have gone better.
Bright side, it could have gone a lot worse. I mean, just a few weeks ago back in my old high school, I messed up big time. As in, almost literally brought the roof down. There was a test, I tried to cheat. I didn’t have to cheat because I already knew all the answers but I wanted to. Not because I’m a rebel. No, I guess I subconsciously wanted some attention—or so my mom keeps saying every time the topic is picked up.
I wanted her to pay attention to my pain. Seeing her get serious with another man wasn’t good for me. It was selfish, I’m well aware of that. And irrational.
It wasn’t going to bring my dad back.
Funny thing, death. Dad’s been gone for three years. Those people giving me condolences and ‘sorry for your loss’—four words that made me want to blacken eyes and bloody lips—they all disappeared after a few months. Their lives went back to normal. Their pain was temporary.
I guess my mom’s pain had been temporary too. Maybe there was a secret grown-up way to just slap a band aid on the wound and move on. Get a new boyfriend, drag your daughter to a new town. I loved my mom, she was my best friend, and that betrayal stung.
Magic was about the only thing I could truly control—relatively speaking, as tonight had made pretty evident.
The smart thing to do right now would have been to pack it up and call it a night. You did your spells, you prevented a house fire, time to chill out. But no. Magic was my crutch, my therapy. Thinking back to mom, and dad, and the old high school generated a type of stressful energy, and that needed release, lest it welled up inside me and threatened to eat me alive.
I picked up the water bottle. I could feel Shade glaring at me intently. He kept silent. I would have ignored him anyway.
“Frigus.”
Taking heat seemed to be easier for me than pushing it into something. I guess it was because I’ve always been a winter girl. Give me ice and snow and big ugly sweaters any day over hot sweaty summer days and tourists getting red while posing for Instagram pictures.
Plastic scrunched in my hands as heat left the liquid and air in the bottle. The water turned slushy at first, then solid. Frost covered the bottle when I set it down.
Shade chuckled.
“Well, well, would you look at that. Progress.” He cocked his head, which did not ease the creep factor with his glowing eyes. “Emotions equal power. Your anger gives you strength. You would do well to remember that.”
“You sound like a Sith lord.”
To my surprise he got the reference. Then again, the first week I got him, we watched the entire Star Wars movies (sans the latest ones, because no one deserves to suffer like that), plus Buffy, Harry Potter, and my favourite, The Lord of The Rings.
“Come to the dark side; we have cookies,” he said. “Although, who would want cookies when you can have ham? What was that lovely thing your mother made for me last time?” At some point in here. it'd be nice to see her bedroom.
“Jamon Iberico,” I answered. “And how do you know that meme? Did you access my laptop again?”
“Obviously,” he replied. “What else am I going to do whilst you’re attending that insipid institution?”
“School.”
“The very same.” He stiffened, head turned towards the door. “Ah, it must be time. Your mother should be calling right about-”
“Cassie!” came mom’s voice from downstairs. “Dinner’s ready.” You've got a lot of competition with a book about magic. Make yours as unique as possible. You can't get any more cliche than dinner's ready. Have mom say something really surprising.
“Now.”
“Coming, mom capitalize mom here since it's used as her name !” I yelled back. I frowned at the cat. I find it unusual that she addresses Shade as the cat since he's her companion “You’re creepily accurate with that.”
“Of course,” he said matter-of-factly. “There is ham involved. Now open the door, human—my hunger requires sating.”

Great personality with Shade in here. He is the best part of these first few pages. Great voice in here too but I'd avoid any appearance of the narrator speaking to the reader but that may be must my personal preference. The part about her mom felt a little like an info dump. It was a little dry. I'd consider shortening here or omitting her altogether and work it in more slowly. maybe in the scene below where she actually sees her mom (I assume)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2021, 05:03:35 PM by rivergirl »

Offline justintime

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I'm just going to say I really liked it. It has great voice and is easy to read. I think I'm going to mosey over to the first chapter form and read the rest.  :clap: