The Writer’s Voice 2014 Query and First 250

I’m so excited to be participating in The Writer’s Voice this year! I am entry #92.


Dear Writer’s Voice Coaches:

Seventeen-year-old Nadari Clarke is a violinist. In 2170, that is a crime punishable by death. The televised artist shootings won’t let her forget it. The only thing more lethal is having a disability—being Damaged. So when a stray bomb from a brewing revolution blinds her, she should be dead, not loaded onto a train and sent away to a place that holds hundreds of people. They’re all Damaged and all masters at their art.

Her new home has harsh rules and a leader with a vendetta against her. Plus, being blind means relearning even simple things like how to walk and how to eat. But not how to play violin. She’s the virtuoso she’s always been. Solomon, a deaf painter and her only friend, says no one is ever Damaged wrong. There are no blind artists or deaf musicians. He insists the bomb that blinded her wasn’t accidental and warns her to avoid the revolutionaries, many of whom she is housed with.

Then her father disappears, and the revolutionaries are more enraged than Nadari is. Every step she takes toward finding out why takes her deeper into a conspiracy that shatters everything she thought she knew. Nadari must follow the revolutionaries if she wants to find out who her father really was, but now there are three reasons returning home is a death sentence.

DAMAGED is a YA social science fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English and work as a technical editor.

Per your guidelines, the first 250 words of my manuscript are pasted below. Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250:

I am a criminal. It’s been ten years and I’ve never been caught, but every televised shooting reminds me the inevitable is just a bullet away. There was another one at midnight. They’re always at midnight and always at full volume. Muting the television doesn’t help. It’s impossible to sleep through them. Hours after the blast, I’m still shaken.

Thirteen, my favorite Blue, slips into my bedroom to clean. She does her job and I don’t do mine, staying perched on the edge of my bed, half-watching as she picks up my laundry. She runs a hand along her shaved head. “You okay?”

She practically raised me. I don’t acknowledge her.

When she leaves, my father, Aba, appears at the door. “Nadari? Are you ready yet?” He intrudes when I don’t answer. “Not even dressed?”

I glance at my closet. The Blues organize my clothes onto wooden hangers, shirts ironed, jeans folded evenly. To the far right are dresses I never wear. They block the tiny entrance to a room only my father and I know about. Inside is my violin. I think about the woman whose execution still rings in my ears. Hers was a flute. Close enough.

Aba follows my stare. “The police don’t go digging around Lair Hill,” he says. Lair Hill is our neighborhood, and the neighborhood of most upper-class citizens. “They don’t think we commit those kinds of crimes.”

He’s kept me safe from suspicion for ten years. I should trust him.

I don’t.


  1. It’s so good, Rochelle! Love getting to see more into the Blue concept. Wishing you lots of success w/this!

  2. Your voice and premise are absolutely fantastic. I would read this in a heartbeat. SO COOL. Do you play the violin? I’m wishing you all the best of luck!!!

    • Thank you! I don’t play violin–I play piano–but Nadari was a violinist from the moment I dreamed her up. I’ve had some great help with making the violin scenes realistic, though. Best of luck to you, too!

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