if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! About My Query LXIII

winterhonemoon_salvatoreferragamo_boots_450x360Thanks for putting up with my late post today (and all this week)! The hazards of having family in town while still trying to get work done, I suppose. Anyway, all that’s behind us now, and we can concentrate on today’s About My Query post, and the fabulous winter boots that go with it! Here goes:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

Twelve-year-old Jess is a terrible pickpocket, and she knows it will be the death of her. Ever since her parents abandoned her on the streets five years earlier, pick pocketing has been her only means of survival. She barely stays a step ahead of the city’s gendarmerie and the Thief-King’s wrath. With winter closing in, Jess fears she will lose even that small lead.

When a mysterious young man offers to take her away from her life of crime, Jess is naturally suspicious. She knows no one is trustworthy. A fellow pickpocket would stab her in the back if it meant his survival. On the other hand, anything has to be better than the Thief-King’s court, so Jess finds herself in the home of the nineteen-year-old boy.

He seems genuine, this Mage, though Jess knows that no one is who they seem. Like Jess, he was once a pickpocket, and he claims to understand her struggles. But she knows he can’t. No one can understand the dirtiness she feels even after she has bathed. No one can understand the self-loathing that fills her when she looks in the mirror.

Jess knows she’s not normal. She has strange, mystical powers that, according to the priesthood, are caused by demons and evil spirits. She is impure and soiled. She is godless and inferior.

Mage offers Jess an education, teaching her to read and write, attempting to teach her to like herself. However, Jess’s education comes to abrupt halt when Mage is falsely arrested for treason against the crown.

Jess finds herself at a crossroads. She can overcome her fear of her powers and rescue Mage, or she can continue to believe her powers are evil and abandon the man who rescued her from certain death on the wintry streets.

Spirit Riddled is a middle grade fantasy novel, complete at 52,000 words. Thank you for your time and your consideration of my work.


Thanks for sharing, Mandy! I think this has promise, but it reads as pretty long to me. Not to be lazy, but I’m going to throw the bulk of the work on today’s query to my readers. I want you guys to help Mandy finesse her query down a few paragraphs.

A couple of extra points to ponder: does the phrase “pick pocketing has been her only means of survival” work for you? Did you get confused and wonder what connection the Thief-King has to the crown that arrested Mage for treason? Does “Mage” seem more like a title than a name, especially in connection with the MC’s name Jess?

Have at it in the comments!

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