Name: Heather James

Twitter Handle: @makexbelieve

YA or MG: YA

Genre: Fantasy

Title: FEARFull

Twitter Pitch (140 characters max): A Seer afraid of her future, a healer crippled by her past & a magician thwarted by anxiety must defeat the Fear Guard to save their queen.

1st 250 words of opening: “I see a ring,” Cass began, tilting the teacup around to analyse the mushed leaves from different angles.

“Yes!” The young man in front of her was jigging on his stool, a beaming smile beginning to spread across his cheeks.

“And a skull,” Cass continued, her brown, many-ringed fingers twisting the cup.

The smile dropped into a frown. “That doesn’t sound good.”

“It isn’t. Next to it, there’s a letter L, with a cross through it. Oh, Dom,” Cass said, putting the tea cup to one side so she could meet the young man’s eyes. “You’re not planning to propose to Lettie, are you?”

Over at the shop counter, Lis gasped before she could stop herself, the vial she’d been cleaning almost dropping from her hands.

Dominic’s cheeks burnt the bright red of an evening sun. “We’ve been dating for almost six months now, and I’ve seen a ring in the jewellers. I just… I just wanted to check with you first, to see if it was the right time.”

Cass shook her head, her brown bun bobbing from side to side. “I’m sorry, Dom. But the cup doesn’t look good.”

“So I should wait?” he asked hopefully.

She twisted the corner of her mouth, biting down on her lip. “I think it would be best if you… reconsidered Lettie altogether.”

Dom’s face crumpled inwards like a collapsing pack of cards. “But-”

“I’m sorry, Dom.” She patted his hand. “I wish the cup was better.”

Synopsis (200 word max): Cass’s visions started when she was thirteen; now the only future she can’t decipher is her own. She channels her power by reading tea leaves in her best friend’s family apothecary.

All Lis has ever wanted is to follow in her father’s footsteps and train as an apothecary, but she must overcome the lingering guilt of her brother’s kidnap by the Fear Guard if she truly wants to move forward. Secretive and brutal, the Fear Guard keep order throughout the kingdom. But when Cass ‘sees’ the commander of the Guard murdering Queen Astyanna, the friends are forced to flee.

On the run, they meet Wilf – a magician who’s magical ability is hampered by his anxiety. Together, the trio race towards the capital, thwarted by the Guard at every turn.

When Cass is captured by the Guard, Lis and Wilf continue to the queen alone. However Astyanna believes Cass’s ‘visions’ are nothing more than a charlatan’s trick.

Lis can’t prevent the attack on Astyanna, but she uses her healer’s skills to save her life before heading to the citadel to rescue Cass. Inside, she is reunited with her brother. Cass gets out, but Lis stays, refusing to escape without him.

Feedback tips (any areas where you specifically want people to focus?): Where should I start? I’m worried I’ve simplified the synopsis to the point where the story sounds really boring. I’ve received so many rejections from agents and for competitions now that I’m starting to wonder if my writing is terrible and I just can’t see it… Constructive and unbiased feedback is desperately needed!