Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's The Writer's Voice!

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Dear Writer's Voice Coaches,

In a modern-day Paris, where fearsome beasts of legend are not only real but forced to live in human form, 12-year-old Zahra Tanzer is the only one who can’t keep her wings under wraps. Zahra is a Phoenix, able to morph into a giant flaming bird that can set all of Paris ablaze. And since she can’t control her changes, she lives in fear of reducing her human family to a smoldering pile of ash.

Her only hope for a cure is to hunt down the fabled mutation serum that turned all the beasts into humans 200 years ago. All except the Phoenix, that is. After she's attacked by a flesh-eating Manticore, Zahra realizes there are more creatures out there like her. Except these creatures don’t want to bond, they want her blood.

Now hunted by humans and beasts, Zahra seeks refuge in a commune of “creants” – the mutated beasts in human form. Her new friends help her find clues to the serum’s secret formula, but the closer she gets to a cure, the harder her beast side tries to break free and take over. When the commune is attacked by more supposedly extinct monsters, Zahra must figure out why they’re after her Phoenix blood—and fast—or she’ll lose her friends, her family, and her chance to become a human for good.

UNFORTUNATELY PHOENIX is a 50,000 word middle grade fantasy with sci-fi elements, similar in tone and style to THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann and THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachmann.

I am an actor/producer/writer living in Los Angeles. The indie comedy I co-wrote, produced and starred in, has secured domestic distribution. I am also a member of SCBWI.

Below are my first 250 words. Thank you for your consideration,

Amy Mills

Trouble on the Train

The greasy-haired man on the Paris Metro stared at Zahra, horrified, as if she had magically sprouted wings. She patted down the sides of her jean jacket to make sure she hadn't. It had been two weeks since she last changed shape, and she had almost convinced herself that she was just a normal girl.
A high-pitched squeal rattled the glass as the train took a sharp corner. Zahra gripped the edge of the seat to steady herself and repeated in her head that she was safe. She had never morphed in public, so the greasy-haired guy couldn’t possibly know her secret.
Yet the giant sign by the Metro door taunted her with its admonishment, written in six different languages so there was absolutely no misunderstanding:
Attention! This is a human-only train. Any Creature Mutant (CREANT) found in violation of GACCO regulation 3.21a will be removed. Report any abuses immediately.
As if everyone didn’t know there were only a dozen places in the city where creants were allowed.
Worse, at the top of the sign were two pictures: one was a little girl, blonde pigtails, all smiles, with an arrow pointing to her bare neck. To her left hunched an old man with a bulgy nose, bushy hair, and an even bigger arrow pointing at the seven-digit tattoo that crawled down the left side of his neck. The creant mark.

Zahra shivered. She wasn’t marked, but she definitely was something that had no business riding on a train with legit humans. 


  1. The query has character, goal, and stakes in spades and I love the excerpt! Good luck in the contest!

  2. So, so good. I really like your first 250, veeery interesting world. Nicely done! Good luck in the contest!

  3. Good luck - what an interesting premise!

  4. There is so much to love here! What a great concept, and smooth query and opening, too! Good luck!!!

  5. What an interesting concept! I especially love the first two sentences of your sample, but the query makes the whole story seem interesting. Good luck!

  6. Love the premise and your first 250 are amazing! Good luck in the contest!

  7. Whoa! 1) I love the name Zahra 2) this sounds so good! Good luck!

  8. I WANT YOU! Your concept is awesome and I loved your first 250 words and how you show this alternate world. I also love that it's set in Paris and that it combines fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi elements. I know my assistant coach Krista will have some great thoughts on your query and pages too, since she is a MG expert. I think your entry has a ton of potential and I'm super excited to invite you to team Liz & Krista aka Team Rock Star!

  9. I really liked this one! I almost picked it. I'm stepping aside, though. Krista and Liz are great coaches! Congrats! :D

  10. WELCOME TO TEAM ROCK STAR! Please email your query and first chapter (as an attachment) to and also CC We can't wait to work with you!