Friday, 26 June 2009
SUBMISSION SPOTLIGHT 2: younger readers
This is PART TWO of the Submission Spotlight - Annie's submission for younger readers. To see the rules and understand what on earth I'm on about, please go to the previous post here.
Please comment - on BOTH submissions if you can.
Dear Secret Agent Man (or Woman),
I am seeking representation for RAVENSCOURT MANOR, a Middle Grade fantasy mystery novel that takes place in a pseudo-Victorian setting, borrowing heavily from Gothic literature. Complete at 46,000 words, it is a darker work for young readers.
Abigail Crowe is willing to accept that her father died of natural causes. She's willing to appear proper at the funeral (or at least try). She's even willing to put up with her little brother and his questions about death. But when Abigail's mother whisks them away to the estate of their estranged uncle, Dr. Edward Crowe, Abigail decides she is not willing to put up with the eerie strangeness that surrounds ancient Ravenscourt Manor. Ghastly screams in the night, an insane gardener, and a murder blamed on her late father are only the beginning. In order to prove her father innocent, and perhaps avenge his death, Abigail and her brother must face down their uncle, uncover the clues, and unravel a tragic family secret.
The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you, and whatever your decision, I thank you for your time.
The first 480 words of Ravenscourt Manor:
As the eldest child of the late Mr. Lewis Crowe, it was, of course, Abigail’s understood duty, as she stood at the foot of her father's grave, to look most properly saddened. Proper sadness, however, proves to be a rather difficult thing to pull off – as you are to shed tears (but not bawl), be respectful (yet not grave), and stand up straight and tall (without being too stiff). While her dress, cut of black crape and horridly uncomfortable, made her, indeed, too stiff, she found the other problems in her proper appearance far more troubling.
For one thing, she could not cry. She did not bawl either; her cheeks remained pale and dry, her eyes distinctly lacking in puffiness. All morning, she had been confronted with the stark reality of her father’s death, and through all of it: through the processions and the prayers and the muted mutterings of the crowd - she had not shed a single tear. It was not that she was unwilling to; even now, she tried her hardest to feel the sadness that she was supposed to be feeling. But for all her trying, the only thing she felt was the very strong urge to hit things.
Her brother William was an appealing target. Pale from medicines that were always too expensive, with his cherubic blue eyes and blond hair, most people thought him an angel. But he, certainly, was being neither respectful nor grave – fidgeting with his collar in an incessant way most improper for a funeral. Only the presence of their Mother – never mind the Preacher and other mourners! – prevented Abigail from acting on her more vindictive instincts.
Ashes to ashes," droned the preacher in a voice as parched and cracked as the pages of his Book. "Dust to dust..."
A sudden breeze, cold and heavy with the scent of rain, blew over the crowd. It pulled at Abigail's frizzy red hair and rustled the fabric of her skirt, a dull and mournful sound, like the whispers of a dying person. Abigail sighed. Even the weather knew how to act properly at a funeral.
And now William's fidgeting could not be ignored. Along with the Preacher’s ecclesiastical ramblings – as meaningless and frustrating to Abigail as ancient Greek – it made the situation almost impossible to bear. But still, she had no reason to break decorum until:
“Oh!” exclaimed the boy. “When is he going to finish, Abby?”
Abigail kicked him in the shin. And just to show that she was serious, she added a disapproving and very grown-up glare. Tsks and titters came from the other mourners, though the Preacher continued on, and Mother remained oblivious – but the important thing was that William got the message, and remained quiet and still throughout the rest of the Preacher’s prayers.