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Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

 Pitchwars Badge (Square YA)

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Laura Salters
Mentee Name: Rebecca McLaughlin
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 105,000


Coin is Nameless—no home, no family, no legal rights—but she’s just been named Queen.

If she finds her name, the Royals will fit her for a crown. If she fails, they’ll fit her for a noose.

And she’s not the only one searching.



I wake up the same way I fell asleep: knife in hand, boots for a pillow, and Nameless.

When I push away the heavy window shutter, a shiver runs up my arms. My shoulder aches from sleeping on my side, but that’s the best way to stay warm: small spaces and a candle flame. I pull on my boots, wiggling the numbness from my toes.

Curling my fingers into my threadbare sleeves, I leave behind the pungent puddles and uneven alley brickwork for the smoother cobblestone street bearing the morning foot traffic. Passersby shrug off yawns as vendors shout their prices. Two iron rings for a jar of dried apples. Three copper coins for a cut of a morning pastry.

The city of Seriden is waking up.

Ren waits for me at the corner. Most mornings, he trades our stolen coins for a breakfast of stale cornbread while I pick out bump-grab marks. The easiest are pudgy-faced Legals with leather purses flaunted at their waists, or flashy gems dangling past their stiff, starched collars.

Usually Ren leans against the dark bricks, staring out at the morning crowds, his shoulders even and strong, a small smile on his lips that I don’t think he notices.

Today, he’s fidgeting; shoulders pinched, fingers twitching. Never a good sign.

“Bad news?” I ask. Fresh air, sharp with ocean salt, chases away my morning lethargy.

He grabs my hand and pulls me back down the alley. So much for fresh air.


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