Friday, May 2, 2014

The Writer's Voice


Twelve-year-old Sam can't cry, no matter how hard he tries. But the Wizard Ero demands tears from everyone in his kingdom, using them to control people like puppets on strings. If Sam's eyes are dry on his day of collecting, the wizard will punish Sam's mother and his only friend, Tria, to force his tax of tears.

Cutting onions. Nearly drowning. Shoving his hand into a fire. Nothing ever works. Even when collecting day arrives and Ero tortures Tria, Sam can't find his tears. So Ero keeps Sam prisoner, using Sam's mother and Tria as a constant threat. Since crying isn't possible, Sam can only protect the others one way: making sure Ero can't control them again.

But finding and destroying the tears is easier said than done. Puppets roam the castle at all hours, acting as Ero's eyes and ears. And Sam's sure the tears are in the east tower—the one place in the castle he's forbidden to go. But what he finds in the tower convinces Sam that destroying Ero's stash isn't enough to keep his loved ones safe. He'll have to destroy Ero.

Defeating the wizard will free an entire kingdom. Failing gets the only two people he loves killed. Either way, crying won't solve anything.

TEARLESS is a middle grade fantasy complete at 56,000 words. Thank you so much to everyone involved in putting on this contest. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate.


Sam really didn't want to shove his hand in a fire. But he was out of time.

He fidgeted with the bits of kindling he'd stolen from his mother's kitchen. He tried to keep his eyes on town, searching for Tria in the darkness, but kept glancing to the east. Dawn was surely only minutes away.

By the time a shadowy, Tria-shaped form ran toward him, Sam had broken the kindling into tiny pieces. "Did you bring them?" he asked.

Tria held out her hand, but it was too dark to tell if the steel striker and chunk of flint were actually there. "Of course," she said, pretending to be insulted. "When have I ever let you down?"

"Never," Sam said. She was the only one he could really count on. His mother tried her hardest, and Sam loved her for that. But she hadn't been the same since Sam's father died. There were days she didn't even make it out of bed, and she almost never ventured beyond their garden.

Everyone else in Eller's Grove pretended Sam didn't even exist.

"Exactly," Tria said. Sam didn't have to see her face to know she was smirking. "We'd better hurry, though. If my papa wakes up to find these missing, he won't be happy."

Sam rolled his eyes. Even a surly man like the blacksmith wouldn't punish them on their day of collecting. Besides, there was always the chance their plan would work, and Sam would finally cry. The whole town would rejoice to hear such news.


  1. Great concept and beginning! Good luck in the contest!

  2. I love your concept! The way you play with cliches in the first and last lines of your query works really well, and I love the first paragraph of your 250 especially. Good luck!

  3. *squishy hugs* Good luck, Sammy!

  4. So interesting, and the opening grabbed me. Good luck!

  5. This is really different and unique. Good luck!

  6. This is mythic. It reminds me of Fearnot.

  7. This is such an awesome premise! I was pulled in by the query and first 250 and definitely wanted to keep reading. Good luck!

    When I was reading your entry, I’m SURE my heart started beating faster. I immediately knew that I would choose you, even if I hadn’t finished reading all the other entries. This is just SO good!
    And then I started to freak out, because I realized that you were on another coach’s short list. I think I almost screamed. So I knew I had to hurry!
    I know my blog is titled Love YA. And yours is MG. But I have a twelve-year-old boy who’s always making me buy books for him. So I read a lot of MG. I know what excites him, and I think this would be awesome for kids like him.
    I love how Sam seems to be brave, doing what it takes to cry. But then, even in the query, you show me a hint of his character arc—crying won’t solve anything.
    I already love Sam.
    And it’s awesome that by just reading your first page and query, I got a great sense of who he is. Hats off to you!
    I have a few nitpicks, but absolutely nothing major. I would LOVE to read more, though, and I’ll do my best to make this even better than it already is. Also, I would send this one to Stacey Lee (my guest coach) and see what she has to say. (She already read your entry and loved it, too, btw.)
    Oh, Ashley, PLEASE pick ME!! I so want you on my team!!
    Pretty please!!

    1. Congratulations, Ashley!!!!

      P.S. Monica, I've read the whole manuscript, and it just gets better. I love it to pieces! It's one of my favorite books, and I can't wait for it to find a home, so everyone else can love it too! <3

    2. Awesome, Veronica!! :D Thanks for letting me know.

  9. Seriously though I want this for both of my middle school sons. Pleaaaassseeeee!

  10. I WANT YOU!!! I REALLY, REALLY WANT YOU! This is so unique and I love Sam from the start. I love how Sam is so concerned about his mother and friend, that he can't cry, and my heart broke for him as he's trying to find a way to make himself cry. A lot of emotion right off. I'm not saying there isn't work to be done, but you have the voice and the premise, so whatever we do, won't be too difficult.

    I write MG and just finished re-writes with my agent, so I'm in the MG state of mind. I think we'd be a great fit. I know Monica got here first but I had so much going on. PLEASE PICK ME!! You will not be sorry. Okay, I'm trying to be as winded as Monica, but failing miserable. I just LOVE THIS, so now the balls in your court! Psst.... PICK M!!!!

  11. Congrats. This is a great one!