Friday, May 2, 2014

The Writer's Voice Entry

Here's my entry for The Writer's Voice!

Title: Needle's Eye
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Word Count: 69,000

17-year-old Akira Tanaka isn’t your typical Russian girl. Sure, she does ballet, but only to hone her Japanese sword-fighting skills, and she wouldn’t be caught dead in stilettos or a mini-skirt. Between her Russian grandparents and Japanese-American father, Akira has been raised on a combination of cultures that leaves her feeling out of place even in her hometown of St. Petersburg. With her sights set on an upcoming kenjutsu tournament and university in Japan, Akira is blindsided by the mysterious Dmitri, who not only wants to be a part of her future, but knows entirely too much about her past.

Meanwhile, a series of violent murders has left several major Russian cities on edge, and there are strange links to a story Akira’s grandfather told her when she was still a child: the story of Koschei the Deathless. Up until now, she never believed her grandfather’s ridiculous claim that Koschei had spared his life in exchange for Akira’s soul, any more than she believes in the big bad wolf. But the strange, insect-like sound her grandfather once described is eerily similar to the one Akira hears every time another victim is killed. And the more time she spends with Dmitri, the more she starts to wonder if there isn’t something evil lurking behind his ice blue eyes.

As the murderer closes in on the people surrounding Akira, she finds herself on the verge of losing everything—and everyone—she’s ever cared about. Now it’s up to Akira to stop the killer, but this time it will take more than a deal with the devil to save the people she loves.

NEEDLE’S EYE, a multicultural YA urban fantasy, is complete at 69,000 words and will appeal to fans of Christina Farley’s Gilded. I have written and edited professionally for multiple publications including Leatherneck Magazine, the Costco Connection, and the Veteran’s Administration blog. For the past year and a half, I have lived and worked in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where my husband is serving as a diplomat. I hold a Master’s degree from the University of London and blog about my experiences abroad at

First 250: 
When I was very small, my grandfather told me stories of Koschei the Deathless.

He was trying to frighten me. They were the kinds of tales villagers told children to keep them from wandering alone into the woods, the Russian equivalent of Little Red Riding Hood.  But just as there was nothing scary about a wolf wearing a bonnet and bifocals, there was nothing remotely frightening about my grandfather, so I paid little attention to his stories.

Solavushka,” he began (he had called me “little nightingale” since I was an infant, when I kept everyone up all night with my “singing”), “the thing you must know about Koschei the Deathless is that he will not appear as a wicked old man with a long white beard, the way the storybooks say. He will not take you to his castle to make you his wife.”

I nodded as I examined my grandfather’s long, wiry eyebrow hairs, wondering why my grandmother didn’t trim them.

“Akira, are you listening?”

“Yes, Dedushka. I will make sure to stay away from Koschei.”

“You are not listening, child,” my grandfather grumbled, standing abruptly so I tumbled onto the floor. “How many times do I have to tell you?” He shook his head as he stormed off into the kitchen for some of my grandmother’s walnut oreshki. 

“I met him when I was a young man,” he told me once, not long before he died. “He had taken the form of a small girl, just a year or two younger than you are now.” 


Copil Yanez said...

Great cultural touches! Good luck in the contest!

Heather M Bryant said...

I think I've read this 250 before, and I love it just as much as the first time. You have to let me know when you're published!

Katharine Manning said...

Love this opening, such beautiful writing. Good luck!

Annette T. Dodd said...

Good luck in the contest!

Laura Rueckert said...

I really like the first 250. Your MC sounds fascinating. Best of luck!

Kip Wilson said...

Oooooh. This is fascinating! I'm a sucker for non-US settings and sounds like you're spot-on with a GILDED comp. Love your opener. I definitely want to read on!

Yamile said...

I love, love multicultural and I love this setting and premise! Best of luck in the contest!

kimcjohnson said...

Interesting story. Good luck to you!