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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Entry for "The Writer's Voice" Contest

Query:


Dear Mr./Ms. XXXXX,

As the granddaughter of an Earl, fifteen-year-old Kenna Somerled is used to a life of privilege and ease. But in the fall of 1665, when her sister dies under mysterious circumstances, Kenna discovers the killer and must flee for her own safety.  Instead of a refuge, she finds herself locked behind the guarded gates of the Close, a warren of narrow alleyways in the poorest section of Edinburgh, with no money, friends, or shelter.   What’s worse is that somehow, word of her arrival preceded her.  To the residents of the Close, Kenna is “the Poisoner,” a girl who murdered her own sister.  Armed only with her wits and a stolen knife, hampered by a young street urchin who has latched onto her, Kenna must seek any means to survive.

Kenna gradually gains the trust of mysterious benefactors, but soon discovers they are none other than the leaders of the Guild, a band of thieves who steal from the dead.  Bent on escaping the locked streets and seeking revenge for the murder, Kenna joins the thieves.  In so doing, she begins to learn the secrets of the Close and its residents, and gain their respect as they earn hers in return.  But time is running out, for the so-called quarantine that locks all within the Close continues with no end in sight and Kenna now has a price on her head.  With no supplies going in our out, food grows scarce and the residents of the Close grow restless and angry.  Kenna must have the aid of the Guild in order to escape.  But will Kenna’s new friends be able to trust her when her own secret is revealed?

“KENNA’S CLOSE,” a YA historical novel set in 17th century Edinburgh, is complete at 76,000 words.  I have been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2008, and have written other novels, including contemporary and historical genres.  I’ve worked as a speech-language pathologist for many years, a profession that continues to increase my love for children’s literature.   I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Rebecca Bischoff


First 250 Words:

KENNA'S CLOSE

When I find Oliver, I will plunge my knife into his heart.  I won’t trifle with potions, the method he used to murder his wife.  I will not allow myself the luxury of watching him die by inches, as pain fills his wretched soul.  What I have learned in this filthy place echoing with the squeal of rats and moans of the starving is that I will only have one chance.  I must not falter. 

I only want to see Oliver’s life breath leave his body.  Then my sister will rest, and so shall I.

Annie murmurs and fidgets in her sleep.  I place a hand upon her matted hair, and my light touch is enough.  She quiets and her breathing slows.  The child clung to me the moment she saw me.  Her eyes, like pools of clear water, pleaded with me, though she said not a word.  I could not bear to push her away.  Not in a place like this.  Here, I am certain she cannot survive without me. 

She told me her name, after I fed her a bit of stolen bread.  But she has said nothing else.  I blow my breath out in a long stream.  What shall I do with the child?  Why did she have to choose me, plucking at my skirts as I passed?  For it is not likely that I myself will survive this place much longer.  The Close is my prison.  If I am to live, and if I am to have my revenge, I must find a way out.


13 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca, your first line pulled me to the edge of my seat �� I hope to have a chance to read more! Good luck with the contest and hope to connect on Twitter.
    Dev
    @tallcapdoppio

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  2. Good luck in the competition! (Are you on Twitter, btw?)

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  3. Rebecca, this is wonderful. You pulled me in with the first sentence. Edinburgh is a beautiful city! Good luck.

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  4. Thanks for the kind comments! I'm on Twitter but don't visit often... @BischoffR

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    1. A lot of us entrants are hanging out at #TheWVoice over there – come and join in the fun! :o)

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  5. I love your setting and premise. Good luck!

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  6. Wonderful plot line. Promises an interesting read. I love the writing style. Bets of luck

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  7. Love the premise her, full of possibilities for discovering a subculture through an desperate outsider's eyes. Good luck!
    Connie

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  8. Hi, Rebecca. Just wanted to let you know that KENNA'S CLOSE was a strong contender and my second favorite historical in the mix. If I'd lost the battle for #81, I almost certainly would have picked KENNA'S CLOSE to fill that spot. The concept was intriguing, and the voice in the first page was spot-on. It's hard to blend a historical voice with modern reading sensibilities, and Anna-Marie and I both thought you did a great job.

    If you'd like some additional feedback on your query and first page, feel free to e-mail them to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. I won't be able to take a look until I get my teammates' entries squared away (which will probably take a few weeks), but I'd be happy to share a few more thoughts.

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    1. Thanks, Krista. I really appreciate your offer to look at this later. I emailed it today. No hurry. :-)

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  9. Hey Rebecca! Your entry was on my short list too, but there were a couple things that held me back. First, in my opinion you're starting the book too late in the story. When I read your query I thought the book would start with Kenna living her life of privilege, then her sister dies and she discovers who murdered her, since that is in the inciting incident. I wanted to see that moment when everything changes for her, where she has to make that huge decision to run away, etc. I wanted to see her arrive, meet the street urchin, etc - but you have skipped all of that and it feels like you're starting in the middle of the book. So my suggestion is back it up to just before everything goes wrong for your character, so that the reader can see how it all changes and can sympathize with her decision and her journey.

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    1. And I guess that was my only main comment after all! I really like your voice and writing, and love the concept. Hope this helps!

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    2. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I had been wondering about this very issue, thinking maybe I needed to start my story a bit earlier. You've given me food for thought, and I greatly appreciate it.

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