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Welcome to Son of a Pitch! The third entry… Please save comment area for the participating authors’ feedback. I will put my thoughts at the bottom of the post. Because I can. If you don’t want to know what I think, close your eyes. If you read my opinions and agree, want to add, or completely disagree… GO FOR IT!

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Title: JAGUAR CHILD

Age and Genre: YA Fantasy

Word Count: 79000

Query:

In two weeks, sixteen-year-old Nadya has to announce her choice of hut-mate to her entire rainforest village, but she has no idea which unlucky man she’ll pick. Her last hope is that the ancestral Mother will give her guidance during a pilgrimage with other teens from the village. But instead of advice, the Mother torments her with nightmarish visions about her past, cementing Nadya’s belief that she’s cursed.

When the group attempts to return from their journey, a translucent dome has risen over the huts, trapping their families inside and banishing Nadya and the others to the perilous jungle. Distressed by the strange magic, they set off to seek answers from the shaman of the nearest village.

While battling past vicious apes, thundering waterfalls, and swarms of venomous wasps, Nadya learns why she has been haunted by visions: she’s hadana, a monster who can shift into the form of a jaguar. Even though she can leap through the treetops with the wind whistling through her whiskers, being hadana makes her worse than an outcast. The Ancestors, after all, demand such abominations be put to death.

Worse, Nadya unknowingly caused the dome around the village and is the only one who can fix it. But her jaguar form is overtaking her mind. As she struggles to keep from becoming feral, Nadya must decide how long she will fight against herself to save a people who have never accepted her—and who will surely execute her if she succeeds.

 

First 250:

I sweltered by the river and considered dropping my hearth bowl into the green-shadowed water. Maybe the current would carry the monstrosity away, past the palm trees and orchids that crowded the shoreline, until it finally sank down among the anacondas and rotted.

Rotting couldn’t make it any uglier.

My fingers tightened around the bowl. It was supposed to be a gift for my hut-mate, to be presented when I announced his name in front of the whole village at the hearth ceremony in two weeks. I had hoped to carve a masterpiece that would win the affections of my chosen man—and prove I had the blessing of the Ancestors. Prove that, in spite of everything, I belonged in the village of Liermo.

But whichever man I picked would probably take one glance at my pathetic bowl and flee ten miles through the jungle, seeking refuge in the village of Cardua to avoid marrying me. Because though I had been laboring over my bowl for weeks, trying to listen to the wood, to let it tell me where to chisel and scoop, the wood remained as silent as a dung beetle. I couldn’t even figure out the direction of the grain.

And now only an hour remained before the thing had to be finished. So tossing it in the water wasn’t really an option. But maybe if I could just add the right details, no one would notice the bowl wasn’t exactly smooth.

 

Now for my two cents…seriously, two cents, that’s all I got.

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Query:

In two weeks, sixteen-year-old Nadya has to announce her choice of hut-mate to her entire rainforest village, but she has no idea which unlucky man she’ll pick. (unlucky…hahaha!) Her last hope is that the ancestral Mother will give her guidance during a pilgrimage with other teens from the village. But instead of advice, the Mother torments her with nightmarish visions about her past, cementing Nadya’s belief that she’s cursed. (I like this opening! We know the mc, and what she faces, this curse possibility is intriguing. I’d tighten it up a bit…I like the “unlucky man” part, but is it needed? I’d cut “during a pilgrimage with other teens from the village” … go right into the visions.)

When the group attempts to return from their journey, a translucent dome has risen over the huts, trapping their families inside and banishing Nadya and the others to the perilous jungle. Distressed by the strange magic, they set off to seek answers from the shaman of the nearest village. (Good! Maybe tighten? When a translucent dome rises over the huts of her home, trapping her family in and Nadya and other teens out…)

While battling past vicious apes, thundering waterfalls, and swarms of venomous wasps, Nadya learns why she has been haunted by visions (this is pretty passive, up the tension here!!!! Make us long to know what happens…does she suddenly transform into a hadana? Endangering the others with her? How does she learn what she is?) : she’s hadana, a monster who can shift into the form of a jaguar. Even though she can leap through the treetops with the wind whistling through her whiskers, (Do you need the first part of this sentence? Get to the meat.) being hadana makes her worse than an outcast. The Ancestors, after all, demand such abominations be put to death. (Dude. Suck.)

Worse, Nadya unknowingly caused the dome around the village and is the only one who can fix it. (oooohhh!) But her jaguar form is overtaking her mind. (NOOOO!) As she struggles to keep from becoming feral, Nadya must decide how long she will fight against herself to save a people who have never accepted her—and who will surely execute her if she succeeds.

Overall…I like this! Up the tension in that second to last paragraph. I would so read this. Magic and a dangerous jungle!

 

First 250:

I sweltered by the river and considered dropping my hearth bowl into the green-shadowed water. Maybe the current would carry the monstrosity away, past the palm trees and orchids that crowded the shoreline, until it finally sank down among the anacondas and rotted.

Rotting couldn’t make it any uglier. (Haha!)

My fingers tightened around the bowl (what does it feel like?). It was supposed to be a gift for my hut-mate, to be presented when I announced his name in front of the whole village at the hearth ceremony in two weeks. I had hoped to carve a masterpiece that would win the affections of my chosen man—and prove I had the blessing of the Ancestors. Prove that, in spite of everything, I belonged in the village of Liermo.

But whichever man I picked would probably take one glance at my pathetic bowl and flee ten miles through the jungle, seeking refuge in the village of Cardua to avoid marrying me. (Haha! Though sad too…)  Because though I had been laboring over my bowl for weeks, trying to listen to the wood, to let it tell me where to chisel and scoop, the wood remained as silent as a dung beetle. I couldn’t even figure out the direction of the grain.

And now only an hour remained before the thing had to be finished. So tossing it in the water wasn’t really an option. But maybe if I could just add the right details, no one would notice the bowl wasn’t exactly smooth.

Overall…I don’t have too much to say. I was drawn in. This character is likable, the scene is set. I’m ready to find out how this hut-mate choosing goes! Only thing…senses, we have sights, what of sounds, smells and touch?

Thanks so much for participating! I hope this helps spark ideas, if not, then ignore it.

Writers unite!

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