Genre: upper MG Fantasy
Word Count: 75,000
Is Your Antagonist hot or cold:
Something is out there. Something that burns, hotter than a flash fire. It's stolen breath and soot, simmering and patient, the uncanny heat of a star that looks cold until you get close enough to realize it's a flame. It's the fire of want, and take, and scorch.
Unluckily for Molly, that something knows her name.
Like a fire, it's hungry. And it will stop at nothing to obtain the fuel it needs: a still-beating heart, fresh and young and full of life. Molly's still has seventy-seven years remaining. On it beats like a siren song, drawing the blaze closer.
Thirteen-year-old Molly Crewe just wants out: anywhere would be better than her room at the top of the crumbling girls' dormitory. But after eleven years of waiting to be adopted, it's obvious that nobody wants the weirdest girl at St. Jerome's School for Misspent Youth.
Maybe if she could make it through one day without earning another detention, things would be different. Maybe if she wasn't the kind of girl who still believed in fairytales, or wishing on stars, or if she had even one single person she could call a friend. Maybe if she didn't spot mysterious golden doors that nobody else sees. Of course, the doors aren't a problem until one of them opens, depositing a sweetly soft fox at her feet. It's really too bad the fox is there for just one purpose: to steal Molly's heart.
Gasping, body failing, Molly barely manages to chase the fox back through his tree. And when she does, she finds herself in a world full of talking trees and animals, a place where magic is built into the earth, the sky, the stars. A place where she can breathe in deep. This magic is keeping her alive, but it's failing. Magic--and time--are running out. The fox has plans for Molly's heart--plans she has to stop. Molly has three days to catch the fox, take back her heart, and find a way home, or she'll be stuck there when the magic runs out and the world tears itself apart.
First 250 words:
The first time she saw the door, Molly was in detention.
This wasn’t unusual. Molly had been getting detentions for as long as Headmistress Paige had been handing them out. In the last month, Molly had been involved in the Unfortunate Language Choices Incident, which had led to the Unfortunate Wash Molly’s Mouth Out With Soap Incident and the Unfortunate Molly Sits In The Box Incident. Just last week there’d been the Unfortunate Signs And Portents Incident, in which Headmistress Paige had definitively decided that Molly’s prediction of the upcoming demise of Orchard Grove, Alabama to a hailstorm of stray comet dust had no bearing in scientific fact.
Even when she tried to do things right, Molly excelled at getting everything wrong. But the detentions, at least, had variety. Molly had worked bathroom-scrubbing detentions and scrubbed lint filters with toothbrushes. She'd peeled potatoes until her fingers bled. Her latest detention found Molly sitting outside in the dirt, preparing a flower bed for fresh plantings of bruised blue and purple pansies with just one rusty trowel and four full, heavy buckets of manure.
But it didn't matter. There wasn't a detention in the world that could bother Molly, because she had met with the kindest, gentlest, nicest lady in the world just yesterday. Dr. Lyess was the kind of lady who asked her questions about her dreams, and where she had come from, and about Molly's love of books, and she’d actually cared about the answers.