Title: THE PRINCESS OF TANGLED DAYS
Genre: Upper MG Fantasy
Word Count: 86,000
My Main Character would use snow to battle their biggest obstacle:
Here in the heat of the c-c-castle kitchen, if anyone looks past my scullery rags to wonder what sort of mind I might possess, their c-c-curiosity is quickly dispelled when I open my mouth to sp-sp-sp-speak. Upon hearing my st-st-stammering words, I’m dismissed as slow-witted, whatever their c-c-content might be.
Oh, but the chill of winter makes everyone sp-sp-speak like I do! And layers of warm clothing hide my rags! So it’s the snow that I cherish, when I can go cr-cr-crunching across the c-courtyards of Castle Stonegruffle and, at least on those wonderful, frost-filled evenings, seem a normal g-g-g-girl.
Scullery maids seldom save princesses—especially not twelve-year-old headstrong ones, and most especially not orphaned ones who speak with a crippling stammer.
When Mattie Tidsbury is sent to a remote tower of Castle Stonegruffle to tend to Princess Athlendora, she unravels the secret that has eluded the kingdom’s best physicians, priests, and astrologers. A secret that forces the daughter of the king to spend her entire life hidden away.
Princess Athlendora has been cursed, you see; cursed to live the days of her life out of order. From her perspective the world is an ever-changing confusion, where people and places—even her own body—are not the same from one morning to the next. It’s little wonder she never learned to speak; little wonder she lies in bed staring blankly on her best days, or flails in terror on her worst.
Mattie discovers the person behind the vacant stares, and finds a way to connect Athlendora’s disparate days. In the course of just a few months—months with more than the average quota of glowing hedgehogs, secret tunnels, murderous cooks and killer crows—these two ill-starred children develop a unique bond that, in a way, spans an entire lifetime. But when the witch who cursed the princess marshals a foul army to invade the kingdom, Mattie's wits and Athlendora's memories are the only hope they have of averting a terrible future.
Trouble is, there's a fine line between changing time, and becoming lost in it.
First 250 words:
Even when the master of the kitchen yelled for her to stop, Gurte kept her knees planted on Mattie’s shoulders, joggling the smaller girl’s head back and forth as if trying to remove it from her neck. Only when Master Lark stopped shouting and began to walk toward her did his brawny head maid finally take heed. With a disappointed sigh, she heaved herself off her victim and moved to stand by the drying racks that lined the center of the room.
Mattie was left lying on her back with a now Gurte-free view of the scullery ceiling, where a fly quivering in one of the many webs caught her eye. She remembered her mother had always tolerated spider webs in their cottage. Good luck, she’d called them, but Mattie doubted this particular fly would agree. Alone and luckless, she thought as it struggled. Like me. She eased herself to a sitting position just in time to receive the slap of Lark’s ladle across her back.
The blow bent her sideways, leaving her sprawled on her belly amid the shattered remains of several plates. Most of the other scullery maids watched helplessly from their positions at the various sinks and tables, but Mouse, the youngest, peeked from behind a drying rack. That’s where Mattie had pushed her after the child had tripped and dropped the dishware, just moments before the noise brought Lark and Gurte running in to the scullery.
Where they found Mattie standing, alone and guilty-looking, among the wreckage.