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PW #382: Young Adult Backpacking Space Opera: SANCTUARY MOON

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Tabitha Martin

Mentee Name: Cliff Lewis


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Backpacking Space Opera

Word Count: 92,000


She packs her tent, her boots, her shape-shifting lantern.

Ava sneaks out of her utopian colony to help Dex, a refugee desperate to reach a distant sanctuary. Ava once dreamed of hiking this wild planet, of surveying the alien beasts, but real life is no safari adventure. Both travelers are being trailed—Dex by the labor camp he escaped and Ava by the memories of a friend she left behind.



Ava Waltonbury was alone—mostly. No one else got up this early, except for the old tin lantern. Tinker. Ava named him that when she was very small, after she’d learned how to read and before she’d forgotten how to dream. Tinker floated behind her shoulder like always, but apart from the lantern, Ava was alone.

She left the dorms of Waltonbury Castle and shambled into the flowery courtyard of Wingracks Academy. It was like sleepwalking minus the sleep.

Just another restless morning in the happiest place ever built.

Tinker zipped in front of her face, chirping about the shabby nightdress Ava hadn’t changed out of. His tin-can body cast lamplight through a punched-out crescent moon.

“Nobody’ll see me this early,” Ava yawned.

Tinker chirped again.

“Fine.” Ava tucked the nightdress into her wrinkled trousers. “Now it’s a blouse. More or less.”

Tinker tweeted something about less, but Ava wasn’t paying attention. She gave him a pat and wandered ahead. “What time is it anyway?”

The lantern twisted into a filigreed cuckoo clock, his clock face backlit by a golden flame.

Ava froze. “Six already?”

A tin cuckoo popped out and nodded.

By now there should’ve been at least one professor out here on a quilt, reading poetry by lantern-light or doing something obnoxiously picturesque like that. The entire quad was empty.

“Awfully quiet for six.”


Filed: PW Entries

  • I love this sample! Please query me and upload the full manuscript here: QueryMe.online/devinequeries/PitchWars

    Thank you!

  • Joanna says:

    I’m totally intrigued by this – the comps are two of my all-time favorite movies.I can’t wait to read the full. I know I’m not the only agent here at Nelson Literary Agency who is excited to read this one! Please send just one email to query@nelsonagency.com with PITCH WARS UPLOAD in the subject line. We will reply with our upload instructions, and then all the interested NLA agents will read and consider your manuscript. Thank you!

  • Quressa Robinson says:

    You pretty much had me at THE NEVERENDING STORY. It one of my all-time favorite movies. I own a Child-Like Empress Tiara! As Joanna mentioned above, more than one agent here at Nelson Literary Agency wants to read your amazing work! So, please send just one email to query@nelsonagency.com with PITCH WARS UPLOAD in the subject line. We will reply with our upload instructions, and then all the interested NLA agents will read and consider your manuscript. Thank you!”

  • Rena Rossner says:

    I’d love to take a closer look! Please send the full manuscript attached as a word document to: rena@thedeborahharrisagency.com


    – Rena

  • Cliff, I love this opening! Please send the first 50 pages as a Word doc or PDF attachment to melissa@rpcontent.com. Please also include your query letter in the body of the email, and Pitch Wars in the subject line.

    I look forward to reading!


    Melissa Nasson
    Rubin Pfeffer Content

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