Middle Grade High Fantasy with witches
I’m a middle school English teacher, mom of two teenagers, married to a scientist. Outside of work and family I write, sing old jazz songs, and get outside as much as I can. I’m a lifelong book addict who started writing her own a few years back.
I love good writing in any genre, although lately I’m reading mostly fantasy. Maggie Stiefvater (especially Scorpio Races and the Raven Cycle), Gregory Maguire (love Egg & Spoon), Naomi Novik (everything). I started my current MG fantasy out of longing for Terry Pratchett’s witches after he died–my main character gets taken in by some fierce old women. Other authors…Jane Gardam makes me swoon. Love Kelly Barnhill, The Trees by Ali Shaw, Markus Zusak (especially I Am the Messenger).
Novels written in verse (not sure why I’m a-verse to these), homophobia, anything too preachy or religious.
(from my query in progress)
There are no witches in Cindik’s hidden village. It’s safer that way.
At her father’s graveside, Cindik discovers the Undercurrent, a thread of magic that flows and buzzes underground, between the roots and seeds. Comforted and enchanted, she recklessly ignores her mother’s warnings to leave it alone. When her growing obsession causes a near-deadly wasp attack, she draws the attention of Ratimir, the king’s power-hungry magical advisor, who enslaves witches in order to drain their current.
The village council exiles Cindik, and Mother hides her with two formidable old witches deep in the forest. There she encounters giant stoats, a mountain of chores, and her own family secrets as she struggles to master her power. Too soon, Ratimir and his soldiers arrive, capture Cindik, and threaten her family and the village. She’ll need to use her wits and the Undercurrent to save herself and everyone she cares about.
CINDIK AND THE UNDERCURRENT is a 60,000 word middle grade fantasy in the vein of The Witch’s Boy, by Kelly Barnhill, and Grayling’s Song, by Jane Yolen, with a nod to Terry Pratchett’s incomparable witches.
Father’s death was just the beginning of things going wrong. By the time the wasps attacked, no one in the village was sorry to see Cindik go.
They’d buried Father in the town center, alongside the other dead, marked with stacks of stone. Father thrived on talk and laughter, and Cindik hated thinking of him alone and suffocated under rocks. So she spent her free hours keeping him company, sitting or lying next to his grave. With her face pressed to the ground, she watched new grass spring out of the warming earth, watered by her tears. She brought seeds and dug holes with her fingers to plant them, then waited and watched the seedlings uncurl under the sun.
It was there she first felt the tingling in the dirt. Something flowed and buzzed underground, around and between the roots and seeds, and it comforted her to think Father had joined it. All winter and spring she wandered in the village and the fields, digging with her fingers and sometimes pressing her face against the ground. She noticed which plants grew where, and how the soft hum of a new bean sprout differed from the thrum of a pine tree.
The underground world became everything to her. She grew distracted and dirty, with leaves in her braids and thorn rips in her clothes. Folks first thought she was mad with grief, and then just…mad. Children avoided her, or threw taunts and laughed. Mother told her to leave the underground alone, but it soothed and pulled her into wonder. Giving it up would be like promising not to breathe.
Also in the works: a “realistic” middle grade fiction about size and voice, with the terrible working title “Take up Space”.
My first “book” is a YA sci-fi that I queried too soon. It’s resting somewhere I don’t have to look at it.
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