Title: A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN
Age Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 76K
Pitch: To appease the violent spirit of her murdered sister, Princess Anh agrees to marry a foreign king so she can investigate in his country. But now the assassin’s after her. Vietnamese and Maori-inspired elements.
First 250 Word of Manuscript:
My shoulders stretched against the silk of my *xia lai* as I wrenched myself up to the highest branch that would still carry my weight. A mother dragonbird in the nest above cawed and flapped her wings in an attempt to drive me away. If only one of her feathers would flutter down to me. I stilled, waiting until the kitten-sized bird stopped panicking. But a hopeful breath later, my patience gave out. I’d need to get the feather straight from the nest.
The iridescent blue and green bird dove down at my face then hovered, battering me with its wings. I couldn’t risk injuring her or the ritual wouldn’t work, so I curled into the tree trunk, pressing my lips together to avoid a mouthful of feathers. As gently as possible, I brushed her away, and she landed just out of reach.
“I won’t hurt you or your babies. I promise,” I muttered, as she hopped frantically along a thick twig.
I didn’t quite trust the branch not to splinter below me, so I circled the trunk with one arm and groped up into the nest above my head, praying for the sensation of one of those long, beautiful feathers against my fingertips.
Dry grass…twigs…fluffy down that wouldn’t do. The mother bird screeched at me, and I hurried all the more. One egg, then two. A silky length! My heart sang even as my arm muscles cried. I plucked the feather from the nest.