Mentor Name: Marieke Nijkamp
Mentee Name: Brandi Ziegler
Title: THE SILENT SALT SHAKER
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 70,000
A royal heist is supposed to be her greatest stunt yet, but when a mute sixteen-year-old acrobat discovers the object she’s forced to steal is a powerful relic, she must choose between loyalty to her glee troupe and protecting the faith that’s helped her survive.
Beyond the deerskin curtains, the crowd rumbled like the rainfall on Sakai’s roof that morning. She rolled her neck and shoulders, pulling up one knee then the other against her chest. The Big Top’s patchy ceiling billowed, keeping out the wet, winter chill. The main attraction tent reeked of manure and honey ginger sticks.
Sakai’s stomach growled. She ignored the hunger pang. The last time she ate before a performance she had puked in her mouth after completing a series of cartwheels. She never wanted to master grinning while swallowing turnip chunks again. She had also stopped eating turnips.
The crowd roared, stomping and whistling, the ground quaking beneath Sakai’s bare feet. Her hands clenched. She was next. Moments later, her gleemaster’s deep voice boomed over their cheers.
Sakai checked the pouches at her waist and smoothed her black, silk cloak over her costume. She patted the silk choker around her neck and fingered her coarse hair, braided into a bun with more silk weaved through her reddish brown curls. Her hands trembled as she secured her hood.
“And now…” Fallon’s voice echoed throughout the Big Top. He rattled off praises and accomplishments, listing cities and royalty she’d entertained. Exaggerating her supposed beauty. Telling them she could fly.
Well, that much was true.
“The renowned, the ravishing, one-of-a-kind salt shaker, Sakai,” her gleemaster announced, making her name twice its usual two syllables.