Work on the last stretch of The Aeronauts has stalled in the wake of bachelorette parties, book club (John Green’s Paper Towns), applying for a fellowship with Literary Arts, and chomping through Beth Revis’s debut YA sci-fi novel, Across the Universe. Maybe I’ll review it and its sequel, A Million Suns, when I’m finished with them. If time permits. Or if someone asks nicely.
I’m also struggling to stay away from planning this “new adult” (“NA,” as it is affectionately called; the term means “16-18+” age range) novel about superheroes, and the middle grade novel that I–guilty swallow–might have started writing last weekend about chick viking dragon hunters.
And oh, yeah, my hair is blue.
Anyway, some presents for you:
– SlushPile Hell, an anonymous agent posting anonymous (and completely ridiculous) queries, direct from his inbox. This is pretty much exactly why Tumblr exists. Also, don’t do these things.
– Literary agent Sara Megibow (@saramegibow) does a weekly special in her Twitter feed called #10queries10tweets. Every Thursday she takes 10 queries from her inbox and writes a short Tweet about why she passed on it or asked for a full/partial.
And last but not least, an excerpt from a WIP currently codenamed The Legend of Bo.
“What am I going to do with you, Lora?” My mother shakes her head as she helps me out of the mud. I wipe my face with one hand so I can see her. She looks so bright against the dark rain, the black mud, and the dirty wood targets in her green dragonscale that I wonder if she is some kind of goddess. If she is, I am no demi-god. Just a mere mortal, unable to be a goddess herself, not even close.
“Sorry,” I say, a word that has become a mantra. My mother snorts in disgust.
“Don’t apologize. Do better. That is all I want from you, Lora—just hit that target once. Please. And we can go inside.”
We’ve been at it for hours. Though I am the one mired in the mud, throwing the same spear over and over and never once hitting a mark, it seems the hours grate on my mother’s nerves much worse than my own.
I almost say sorry again, but bite my lip and turn back to the three targets arranged on the far end of the field, long necks reared back in a silent roar, branch limbs splayed in ridiculous postures that I doubt have any likeness to a real dragon. I pull back my spear arm and focus on the closest target. The spear leaves my hand with a hiss.
It falls to the mud twenty yards away, not even close to a target, and I am breathless from the effort of hurling it. My mother lets out a sound that is almost like a wail. When I turn to her, she is gone, and the door of our house is swinging.
My stomach burbles. “No dinner until you hit a target,” she’d said. But what if I never hit one? Would she let me starve?
No, she wouldn’t go that far. I hope. I gather myself up and put the spear back on the rack. I clear clumps of mud from my knees and shoes. I walk to the door, but pause when I hear my father’s voice boom from inside.
“Mira,” he says. “I understand your frustration with the girl. But remember that you were a prodigy, Mira. Lora will learn eventually—not as quickly as you, but when the time is right. She has your blood in her. She’s just a late bloomer.”
“That is what I am afraid of, Bern,” replies my mother. “I’m afraid she’s not going to bloom. Sometimes I wonder if Lora is really my daughter, because none of Alene Dunmar’s blood runs in her veins—not a single drop of it.”
My father has nothing to say to this, so when it has been quiet between them for a minute, I walk inside. My father starts when he sees me, but my mother remains sitting at the table, her head in her hands, her dragon helm sitting open-mouthed beside her plate.
“Hey, Lora, there’s a leg still on the spit for you–” A look from my mother silences him. She’s never been this upset with me before. I feel cold.
“No, thanks, Dad.”
I keep my head low as I pass them and go to my room. I dig out some salted meat from a chest beside my bed and eat, tearing at it with my teeth while tears make it soft and chewy, wishing for everything that I could have been born a boy like my little brother Riggen. He has twice as much skill with a spear as I do.
If only I’d never been born at all.