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PW #256: YA Speculative Western: A SHOW OF STEEL

Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Elizabeth Briggs
Mentee Name: Lyndsay Ely
Category: YA
Genre: Speculative Western
Word Count: 95,000


Leaving a dead-end life behind, gunslinger Pity finds an unlikely home as a performing sharpshooter in a decadent, lawless city. But in a place where seduction is business and murder is entertainment, the price for her new life comes high. Is she an entertainer… or an executioner?


They dragged in the scrounger in the fade of the afternoon, tied to the back of the last truck in the convoy. Dust clouds billowed after the vehicles like a fog, blanketing the compound’s entrance in ochre twilight.

Pity squinted and pulled her bandanna over her nose. She wandered into the bedlam, eyes half-scanning the jumble of vehicles and riders for her father, but mostly letting her feet carry her over to where the scrounger lay. Flies alighted on him, and on the trail of wet muck he had left behind. He was face down, though when one of the convoy guards kicked him over, Pity reckoned that was no longer an apt description, as there wasn’t much face left to speak of. She swallowed the sourness that rose in the back of her throat.

The guard, dressed in a Transcontinental Railway uniform, sniffed and spat. “Shoulda left the trash outside for the crows.”

“What’d he do?” Pity toed the scrounger’s mangled hand. There wasn’t a lot to be made of the body. Male, certainly. Maybe young. Maybe not.

“Thief. Found ‘em sneaking around camp this morning. Nearly made off with an armful of solar cells.”

Brave, she thought, but dumb. It was one thing to pick through the abandoned landscape, another to steal from a TransRail convoy.

A hand clamped around her arm and yanked. “Get yer ass away from that!”

She grimaced beneath the bandanna, careful not to let the emotion touch her eyes as she turned to face her father.


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