Author Topic: As Red as Snow - YA Fantasy  (Read 307 times)

Offline Merry

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: 1
As Red as Snow - YA Fantasy
« on: July 26, 2021, 06:19:26 PM »
This is a fairytale retelling. I've started querying, but haven't gotten much response. Any comments are much appreciated.

They say my mother dreamed of me before she died.

I perch on the edge of my lace-canopied bed, sketching the room around me. It’s a vast circle that could house a whole family. Mom never got the chance to hold me, but my bedroom was her final project. She designed it to be utterly perfect, fit for a princess.

My pencil pauses and I toss my sketchbook to the side. I have pictures of my room dating back to the first time I picked up a crayon. It’s not like there’s much else to draw. It looks exactly as it did when she decorated it almost seventeen years ago. The pearly pink wallpaper, the castle-shaped bookshelf, and the stuffed animal collection are unchanged. The same old theater-style velvet curtains frame the lunewall where I watch movies.

There have been a few minor updates. A new computer for schoolwork—five hours a day, contact with instructor only, no video chats ever. A violin and music stand, purchased for the required music course. Art supplies and sketchbooks on the bookshelf.
Daddy had the window treated for sunlight protection. Right now, the sky outside is robin’s-egg blue through the shimmering force field. Tufts of cloud gather for an evening rain shower, right on schedule.

Utterly, boringly, painfully perfect. I desperately need to look at something different. I need something to be different.

I tweak the curtains and swap a few stuffed animals. Then I pirouette to the furniture. Most of it is far too big to move on my own. I grab one of the theater seats, but it doesn’t budge. It’s bolted firmly down, and so are the candy-striped counters in the little café section. When Mom installed the indoor play area, she probably didn’t realize I’d be spending quite so much time inside.

My violin and music stand are small, though. Easy to tote around. Humming, I sweep up the violin and pose it between my chin and shoulder, only to set it back down. Nobody’s ever going to hear me except for people already in the house and the digital instructor that Daddy downloaded. Violin wasn’t my first choice anyway. I still think tuba would have been cooler.

“I’m redecorating!” I yell to the uninterested house. “If anyone wants to help me move my bed, this would be a great time!”

I twirl with the music stand like a dance partner, only to stumble. The heavy stand slips, cracks against the wall and hits the ground with a colossal clang, surprisingly musical. I jump back, saving my toes just in time.

As the echoes of the crash fade, I raise my eyes. The edge of the metal tray has punched a brand-new dent into the wall at waist-level.

“Nooo,” I groan. Where do I find something to cover this? It’s not too big. If I can find some tape—

Along the edge of the dent, the wallpaper has chipped. Through the tiny gash shines a crescent of deep blue paint. When I tug at the torn edge, it peels away. The corner of an orange triangle emerges from underneath. A hidden image painted on the wall.

“Miss Vanora?” calls a panicked voice.

With a gasp, I spin around. I plant my back against the gashed wall and fold my hands before me as the door swings open.

Daisy, the newest maid, stands there looking panicked with a duster in hand. Her cap is slanted on her thin blond hair; worry fills her freckled pink face. “M-Miss, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

She averts her eyes. “I heard a crash.”

“I was moving my music stand.” I nod at the collapsed stand by my feet.

“Oh . . .” She busies herself around the room. She smooths the mussed bedcovers and rearranges the pillows. Anything rather than look at me.

I’m used to it.

My skin and my hair are white. Not pale pink, not faint beige—white. I am as white as chalk, as bone, as the flutter of a ghost’s dress. I am cold, dead, frozen snow. The only exceptions are my hands and lips, scarlet as if dipped in fresh paint. My eyes are black orbs with no visible whites, smooth as obsidian.

They say my mother dreamed of me before she died, but sometimes I think it must have been more of a nightmare.

I smooth my sleeves down to my knuckles, covering as much skin as possible. “Daisy? You can call me Nor. Everyone does.”

“Th-that’s all right, Miss Vanora.”

I wish she’d stare and get it over with. She’s been working here five days. It’s gotten better since her first day, when she signed the nondisclosure agreement and was introduced to the Blanchettis’ Reclusive Teenage Daughter—a.k.a. me. But she’s still nervous.

Daddy says soon enough we won’t need servants. Tech will be able to do everything for us: clean the carpets, trim topiaries, cook copi-food. But for now, we must rely on maids and gardeners and cooks, which means awkward introductions. All I can do is act as non-threatening as possible.

“There we go.” Daisy darts close and sets the music stand upright. I stay frozen, hyper-aware of the wall’s new scar right behind me. “Do you want help moving anything around?”

“No, thank you. I changed my mind.” I need to look at the wallpaper and so I need Daisy to get out. I smile politely at her.

She flinches. I quickly adjust my smile to be less toothy.

Daisy seems relieved as she flees, and for once I’m equally thankful. I spin back to the wall.

The blue paint underneath doesn’t match anything else in my room. It glares like a beacon.

“Sorry, Mom.” I get my fingernails under the edge and tear away a pearly strip of wallpaper. Beneath is a blue field filled with painted race cars, orange and yellow and red. Extremely un-princess-y.

Daddy had this house built exactly to his own specifications. Mom didn’t decorate my room. She redecorated it.

I peel off more strips, pulling them down to the baseboard. My fingernails ache from digging. A couple feet above the floor, a scrawled dark loop comes into view. Crayon marks.

Someone drew stick figures here, a man and a woman. The man holds a square shape—either a book or a lunepanel. The woman cradles a baby in both arms. Around them, children line up clasping hands. I count as I scrape away wallpaper. One, two . . .

Seven kids. A sprawling family of nine. I let the crumpled handfuls of wallpaper fall. Sitting back on my heels, I give a slow whistle.

This room belonged to someone before me—several someones.

The ones we’re not supposed to talk about.

I need to think. In a daze, I open the door to the hallway, only to hear the maids chatting in the distance.

“She’s fine,” says Daisy. “Just knocked over the music stand. You know, I can never tell what she’s looking at, with those eyes. It’s so hard to talk to her.”

“You’ll get used to her,” says Lily, who’s been here several years. “She ain’t so strange once you know her.”

“When I got here, I thought she would be short. I heard the Blanchettis had a kid who was really tiny. I heard they had a lot of kids, actually.”

“Oh, the baby boys.” Lily sighs. “So sad what happened to them.”

No one ever talks about my older brothers. It feels like serendipity. First the picture, and now this conversation. I hunker down and strain my ears.

“Did you see them?” Daisy asks, equally greedy for details. “Is it true that they all vanished from the nursery when the doors and windows were locked?”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t know that. That was a long time ago. None of us worked there back then. Miss Blasine, the nanny, was the last one, and she passed a few years back.”

“One of the gardeners said he saw one, though. Walking around at midnight, barefoot and wrapped up in a white sheet.”

“Don’t you talk like that. If Mrs. Chalkhill hears you, we’ll both catch it.” Lily clatters around, going back to work.

“What is wrong with Miss Nor, though?” Daisy asks insistently. “Why does she look like that? I know Mr. Blanchetti said it was albinism, but it looks like sorcery to me. I heard that the first Mrs. Blanchetti came from outside the walls. Is it true she—”

“I don’t know nothing about the first Mrs. Blanchetti. Even if there was sorcery, they pay us well enough and we signed those forms. I just feel awful for Miss Nor. Poor little thing’s never even had friends of her own. If you ask me, it’s a real shame.”

Offline rivergirl

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1574
  • Karma: 294
Re: As Red as Snow - YA Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2021, 07:04:53 PM »
They say my mother dreamed of me before she died. Great first line

I perch on the edge of my lace-canopied bed, sketching the room around me. It’s a vast circle that could house a whole family. Mom never got the chance to hold me, but my bedroom was her final project. She designed it to be utterly perfect, fit for a princess. just a warning. I don't love stories told in present tense but this is only a personal preference.

My pencil pauses and I toss my sketchbook to the side. I have pictures of my room dating back to the first time I picked up a crayon. It’s not like there’s much else to draw. It looks exactly as it did when she decorated it almost seventeen years ago. The pearly pink wallpaper, the castle-shaped bookshelf, and the stuffed animal collection are unchanged. The same old theater-style velvet curtains frame the lunewall I googled this wall and couldn't find it where I watch movies. Great, I can see this room. I'm also curious about why she seems to be a prisoner

There have been a few minor updates. A new computer for schoolwork—five hours a day, contact with instructor only, no video chats ever. A violin and music stand, purchased for the required music course. Art supplies and sketchbooks on the bookshelf.
Daddy had the window treated for sunlight protection. Right now, the sky outside is robin’s-egg blue through the shimmering force field. Tufts of cloud gather for an evening rain shower, right on schedule.

Utterly, boringly, painfully perfect. I desperately need to look at something different. I need something to be different. You've got three sentence starting with "I". They can be distracting.

I tweak the curtains and swap a few stuffed animals. Then I pirouette to the furniture. Most of it is far too big to move on my own. I grab one of the theater seats, but it doesn’t budge. It’s bolted firmly down, and so are the candy-striped counters in the little café section. When Mom installed the indoor play area, she probably didn’t realize I’d be spending quite so much time inside.

My violin and music stand are small, though. Easy to tote around. Humming, I sweep up the violin and pose it between my chin and shoulder, only to set it back down. Nobody’s ever going to hear me except for people already in the house and the digital instructor that Daddy downloaded. Violin wasn’t my first choice anyway. I still think tuba would have been cooler. Get rid of as many "I's" as you can. Tuba would have been way cooler...works just fine

“I’m redecorating!” I yell to the uninterested house. “If anyone wants to help me move my bed, this would be a great time!”

I twirl with the music stand likein place of or as a dance partner, only to stumble. The heavy stand slips, cracks against the wall and hits the ground with a colossal clang, surprisingly musical. I jump back, saving my toes just in time.

As the echoes of the crash fade, I raise my eyes. This sentence doesn't work imo. I'm doubting the echo and the raising of eyes, pulls the reader out. with the room silent once more, a gaping hole in the wall jumps out at me The edge of the metal tray has punched a brand-new dent into the wall at waist-level.

“Nooo,” I groan. Where do I find something to cover this? It’s not too big. If I can find some tape— IMO this thought doesn't work. I think they (thoughts) can be tricky. They need to be sparing and not whole sentences in the head. Dang. I look around, trying to figure out a way to patch the hole

Along the edge of the dent, the wallpaper has chipped. Through the tiny gash shines a crescent of deep blue paint. When I tug at the torn edge, it peels away. The corner of an orange triangle emerges from underneath. A hidden image painted on the wall.

“Miss Vanora?” calls a panicked voice.

With a gasp, I spin around. I plant my back against the gashed wall and fold my hands before me as the door swings open.

Daisy, the newest maid, stands there looking panicked with a duster in hand. Her cap is slanted on her thin blond hair; worry fills her freckled pink face. “M-Miss, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

She averts her eyes. “I heard a crash.”

“I was moving my music stand.” I nod at the collapsed stand by my feet.

“Oh . . .” She busies herself around the room. She smooths the mussed bedcovers and rearranges the pillows. Anything rather than look at me.

I’m used to it.

My skin and my hair are white. Not pale pink, not faint beige—white. I am as white as chalk, as bone, as the flutter of a ghost’s dress. I am cold, dead, frozen snow. The only exceptions are my hands and lips, scarlet as if dipped in fresh paint. My eyes are black orbs with no visible whites, smooth as obsidian. It took me a moment to connect these two para. You might preface this para with: I was born looking like a mutant (or whatever is true. This explains why the MC is used to it and the sudden description of herself doesn't seem out of place)

They say my mother dreamed of me before she died, but sometimes I think it must have been more of a nightmare. good

I smooth my sleeves down to my knuckles, covering as much skin as possible. “Daisy? You can call me Nor. Everyone does.”

“Th-that’s all right, Miss Vanora.” I'm having trouble with all the stuttering. It doesn't feel natural to me..

I wish she’d stare and get it over with. She’s been working here five days. It’s gotten better since her first day, when she signed the nondisclosure agreement and was introduced to the Blanchettis’ Reclusive Teenage Daughter—a.k.a. me. But she’s still nervous.

Daddy says soon enough we won’t need servants. Tech will be able to do everything for us: clean the carpets, trim topiaries, cook copi-food. But for now, we must rely on maids and gardeners and cooks, which means awkward introductions. All I can do is act as non-threatening as possible.

“There we go.” Daisy darts close and sets the music stand upright. I stay frozen, hyper-aware of the wall’s new scar right behind me. “Do you want help moving anything around?”

“No, thank you. I changed my mind.” I need to look at the wallpaper and so I need Daisy to get out. I smile politely at her.

She flinches. I quickly adjust my smile to be less toothy.

Daisy seems relieved as she flees, and for once I’m equally thankful. I spin back to the wall.

The blue paint underneath doesn’t match anything else in my room. It glares like a beacon.

“Sorry, Mom.” I get my fingernails under the edge and tear away a pearly strip of wallpaper. Beneath is a blue field filled with painted race cars, orange and yellow and red. Extremely un-princess-y. a small strip reveals all of this? It must be a tiny little painting and not a mural

Daddy had this house built exactly to his own specifications. Mom didn’t decorate my room. She redecorated it. I love the use of daddy this and that. its wonderfully creepy

I peel off more strips, pulling them down to the baseboard. My fingernails ache from digging. A couple feet above the floor, a scrawled dark loop comes into view. Crayon marks.

Someone drew stick figures here, a man and a woman. The man holds a square shape—either a book or a lunepanel.Oh, okay, your own creation The woman cradles a baby in both arms. Around them, children line up clasping hands. I count as I scrape away wallpaper. One, two . . .

Seven kids. A sprawling family of nine. I let the crumpled handfuls of wallpaper fall. Sitting back on my heels, I give a slow whistle.

This room belonged to someone before me—several someones.

The ones we’re not supposed to talk about.

I need to think. In a daze, I open the door to the hallway, only to hear the maids chatting in the distance.

“She’s fine,” says Daisy. “Just knocked over the music stand. You know, I can never tell what she’s looking at, with those eyes. It’s so hard to talk to her.”

“You’ll get used to her,” says Lily, who’s been here several years. “She ain’t so strange once you know her.”

“When I got here, I thought she would be short. I heard the Blanchettis had a kid who was really tiny. I heard they had a lot of kids, actually.”

“Oh, the baby boys.” Lily sighs. “So sad what happened to them.”

No one ever talks about my older brothers. It feels like serendipity. First the picture, and now this conversation. I hunker down and strain my ears.to hear.

“Did you see them?” Daisy asks, equally greedy for details. “Is it true that they all vanished from the nursery when the doors and windows were locked?” You've given us such great descriptions of the room. you might consider a small peek into the hallway and where the maids are in relation to the room that the MC can't see them

“Oh no, I wouldn’t know that. That was a long time ago. None of us worked there back then. Miss Blasine, the nanny, was the last one, and she passed a few years back.”

“One of the gardeners said he saw one, though. Walking around at midnight, barefoot and wrapped up in a white sheet.”

“Don’t you talk like that. If Mrs. Chalkhill hears you, we’ll both catch it.” Lily clatters around, going back to work. I'm not sure what you mean by clatters around. Give the reader more visual or explanation to the sound such as..."..we'll both catch it." There's the clink of silverware as Lilly collects the remnants of teatime

“What is wrong with Miss Nor, though?” Daisy asks insistently. “Why does she look like that? I know Mr. Blanchetti said it was albinism, but it looks like sorcery to me. I heard that the first Mrs. Blanchetti came from outside the walls. Is it true she—”

“I don’t know nothing about the first Mrs. Blanchetti. Even if there was sorcery, they pay us well enough comma and we signed those forms. I just feel awful for Miss Nor. Poor little thing’s never even had friends of her own. If you ask me, it’s a real shame.”

This is a very engaging first five with lots of interest to keep the reader moving forward. Hope my comments were helpful. I love fairy tales!

Offline Merry

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: 1
Re: As Red as Snow - YA Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2021, 09:04:36 PM »
Thank you for the notes! :) I'll go through the wording there.

Offline Wheelsgr

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 59
  • Karma: 37
Re: As Red as Snow - YA Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2021, 07:54:40 PM »
Hi there :) Well I'm not going to be as thorough as the previous commenter because I was just reading and enjoying! The story is compelling and while the maids gossiping in the corridor is a bit convenient for exposition it is still somewhat believable since Daisy is new so... yeah it kinda works and we all cheat when it comes to these things. Just be aware going forward that there are other ways to let your audience learn about your world that don't involve overly coincidental and convenient tropes. Only note that stuck out otherwise are words like lunewall not having a context - don't know what that is, same for copi-food.
Also: "None of us worked there back then." I think it should be here not there.
Otherwise great work, I totally want to read more :D  :clap: