This submission is from Sarah - she can say her surname later if she wants to but I'm just calling her Sarah. She is offering her novel, The Looking Glass, for your comment.
When commenting - and please do! - be constructive, honest, fair and open. Say whether you have any particular knowledge of or affinity for this genre / age-group, either as writer, editor or avid reader. We don't necessarily expect all comments to agree so if someone says something and you disagree, do say so. It will be up to Sarah to work out how to interpret and value your comments. These have been very successful in the past and writers have unanimously benefited, so you all have a lot to live up to!
Over to Sarah...
Dear Ms. Morgan,
They lived happily ever after. Of course they did. Cinderella was beautiful and Prince Charming actually enjoyed attending the ball.
This time, the heroine isn't the loveliest lady at the ball, and the prince dances with her alluring second cousins instead. This time, a country's romantic custom becomes the center of a plot to steal the throne.
The Looking Glass is a 95,000 word YA novel that begins a century after King Richard of Eiden fell in love with a maid when he returned her dancing slipper. Now royal balls are part of Eiden's traditions and one of Prince Philip's chief annoyances.
After her parents' deaths, Elsbeth moved from the Lowlands to live with Lady Augusta. Lady Augusta believes that with enough training, plain-looking Elsbeth could be almost as admired as her own two daughters. After a humiliating experience at her first ball, however, Elsbeth decides she'll attend the next one her own way. Lady Augusta can't pick her partners or monitor her conversation if she can't find her.
As Elsbeth hides on the edges of the three-night ball, she discovers part of a plot that could cost Prince Philip the crown. The future of Eiden will be decided at the ball- by a girl who didn't want to be there in the first place.
I'm a member of SCBWI and participate in a critique group. The Looking Glass is my first novel, and I'd be happy to send you the manuscript. Thank you for your time.
FIRST 500 WORDS
The tables in the low hall of the Underwall Inn overflowed with merchants ready to display their wares at Taylan’s Fair. Few men spoke, however, as Elsbeth finished her story. For a heartbeat, silence stretched across the room. Then someone shouted from across the hall.
“Elsbeth, you changed the end!”
Elsbeth came back from that world between the story she’d told and the crowded room before her. She half-smiled and called to the leather merchant, “I always change something, Nigel! You never complained before.”
“You never mucked around with one of my stories before!”
Elsbeth scowled for the crowd’s benefit. “Your story? You told me you heard it from one of your tanners.”
“A tanner, Nigel?” called someone over the laughter in the room. “We like our Elsbeth’s version better!”
Already the room echoed with dozens of conversations spoken in at least four languages. She had told one tale earlier that evening, but the men had coaxed her into telling one more. It was the last tale she’d spin at the sUnderwall. The knowledge weighed on her, and she sensed the others felt it as well. They had stopped heckling Nigel.
Before they could request another story, she walked towards the table nearest the kitchen hallway. Lady Augusta’s three men had camped there all evening, their livery setting them apart from the travel stained clothing of the merchants. Still, one could have told they weren’t merchants without the livery. The footman nervously eyed the curved knife of a passing merchant, and the man who rode as guard remained stone-silent. Only the coachman, with his endless appetite, occasionally nodded at those who walked past. They were her first glimpse of the High Valley. She felt her heart sink a little as she watched them, and realized she had hoped friendlier men would escort her there.
She glanced again at the door on the far end of the hall. He still hadn’t come.
“Miss Elsbeth…” Sadie, one of the Inn’s servants, appeared before Elsbeth reached the men. In her nervousness, the poor girl had all but knotted the rag she used to wipe the tables.
Sadie gestured at a table of scowling merchants from Ermion. “Them from-” she faltered over the foreign name, “Er-mee-non declare they will not eat the stew Mistress had the kitchen prepare. They say they’ll leave. And if they do, Mistress will…” the girl shook her head miserably.
Elsbeth knew Marion, wife of the Inn’s new owner, wouldn’t hesitate to make good use of a cane across Sadie’s back. She caught the gaze of the irate merchants, and held up a finger, asking them to wait. Jin’s face lost some of its sternness when he recognized her. He nodded his approval, and said something to the men at his table.
Elsbeth touched Sadie’s shoulder. “Come with me.”
Elsbeth stopped just inside the kitchen to see if Marion was there. She wasn’t. Of course she wasn’t. The sharp-faced woman rarely entered the kitchen, lest the meal’s odors cling to her new, fine clothes.