Age Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 87,000
Pitch: When sixteen-year-old Queen Janai is unfairly accused of using dark magic to kill someone, she must use her swordsmanship skills in a sparring arena to clear her name and reclaim her throne.
First 250 Words of the Manuscript:
The darkness below held the traitor in its midst.
With Ralel’s steadying arm around my own, we descended, my gold high heels clacking down the stone steps. The odor of mildew, urine, and feces ambushed my nostrils. It was difficult to refrain from gagging, but my desire to face the traitor kept my stomach settled.
We reached the bottom of the stairs and continued down a hallway lined with torches whose flames swayed as we passed them. My gown dragged across the floor, gathering dust and who knew what else, but I didn’t mind. I did, however, tighten my grip on the muscular biceps of my defender when a rat scrabbled by us.
“I find it amusing that someone who once wanted to become a fearsome warrior is afraid of a puny rat,” Ralel said, his tone suggesting amusement, but his face as serious as usual.
“I find it amusing that you find anything amusing,” I grumbled, giving the rat a dubious glance.
He worked hard to keep a smile off his face. “I told you this is no place for a queen.”
“You’ve made your disapproval quite clear. But it’s time for me to do this.”
“You should’ve allowed the guards to bring the prisoner to you in chains.”
“I want to see how he’s living. I want to see him suffering.”
He sighed and rubbed a hand across his close-cut hair. His skin—a deeper brown than mine—was already glistening with sweat.