The Writer’s Voice

So. Remember how I was going to get better about talking about my own writing? Well today we’re taking a big leap forward because I am entering a contest called the Writer’s Voice, which requires that I post a query (pitch) letter and the first 250 words of my novel. So here it is.


Moriarty is the son of Death, raised believing in the beauty of ending a life. Then he takes over his Father’s work, and finds that ripping souls from mortal bodies is nothing like the stories that populated his childhood. It’s violent and bloody, and as hard as he tries, Moriarty can’t find anything to love in it.

Until he meets his next victim: Rocsanne Vetrario, the bold, bohemian daughter of Venetian glaziers. Instead of ending her life, Moriarty accidentally saves it, thus kindling a friendship that tumbles into love amid the canals of 1890’s Venice.

But their summer together shatters when Moriarty learns that Rocsanne’s step-mother Lavinia is on a crusade to recover the lost secrets of Venetian glass and its power to bestow immortality. When Lavinia discovers her daughter’s romance with the soul collector himself, she threatens to kill Rocsanne unless Moriarty helps retrieve the legendary glass.

Surrendering the glass would give Lavinia control over Moriarty and his work, but if Rocsanne dies, he would lose her forever to the afterlife. Moriarty will do anything to save Rocsanne—he isn’t about to kill the only girl who ever loved Death.

DEATH AND THE GLASSMAKER’S DAUGHTER is a YA historical fantasy complete at 67,000 words.

I am currently a graduate student at Simmons College, earning my MFA in writing for children and young adults. I have had short pieces published in Talkin’ Blues, Pandora’s Box, and The Newport Review.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.


The first thing he noticed was the rain.

Moriarty had never felt rain before. It didn’t rain in the Greylands, nor did the brushed-black sky wink with tiny pinpricks of light, like jewels floating in a glassy lake. Even the sky itself was new—there was no sky in the Greylands.

But the rain was the first, and most marvelous thing—the way it felt against his skin, each drop unexpected and ephemeral.

Yes, Moriarty decided. I like the rain best.

Hector hadn’t told him about the rain.

But Hector had hardly told him anything about the humans, or mortality, or the work he would be doing there, the work that used to be Hector’s.

Though they had never discussed it, Moriarty had always known that someday, Hector would grow weary of soul collecting, and the work would pass to him. Father to son.

He had not expected it to be so sudden.

He had thought that, day by day, Hector would begin to impart to him the secrets of his work. The little things, like how to know which humans were the closest to dying, and what it looked like when they did. Then he would begin to take Moriarty with him on his errands to the human world, show him the correct way to separate a reluctant soul from the mortal body that housed it. They would steal together through mortality, disguised, and visit workhouses and operating theaters, places where Hector could school him in the exact moment that a soul was released, and how to catch it between his fingers. He would let Moriarty try it a few times under his watchful eye before the day that he remained in the Greylands and sent his son ahead alone.

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32 thoughts on “The Writer’s Voice

  1. hezdavis says:

    What beautiful writing! Love his description of rain. I’m hooked already! Wish I could read more. This is one of my favs so far. Good luck to you!

  2. Christie says:

    Yay! A fellow YA historical fantasy writer! Looks good–best of luck to you!

  3. Lovely. Great character from which to write.
    Best of luck to you!
    ~Jill Haugh

  4. Marieke says:

    1890s Venice? Oh yeah! I love your style of writing, it’s gorgeous. Good luck!

  5. Jennie says:

    LOVE historical! This sounds very intriguing. I definitely want to read more! Best of luck to you!

  6. This sounds like a great premise and the writing is beautiful. Good luck!

  7. I really like the atmosphere you’ve created here. (Small nitpick – I think you’re missing a word (or have one too many) in the sentence ‘Then he would begin take Moriarty with him…’) Good luck!

  8. leahgoodreau says:

    Ooh, I love Death as a narrator. Also Venice. Sounds intriguing, good luck!

  9. I want you! I’m a huge fan of historical fiction with a twist, and this is everything I could have asked for and more. Your query paints a picture of a lush, vibrant world than I want to dive into, and the writing in your first page is simply stunning.

    To be honest, I don’t have a ton of suggestions off the top of my head, but that doesn’t mean we won’t tweak and polish during the coaching round. I’m such a fan of this genre (and your writing!), and I’d love to have you and DEATH AND THE GLASSMAKER’S DAUGHTER on my team.

    Oh, please, pick me!

    • MackenziLee says:

      ahhh thank you thank you!!! I will, of course, wait and see if anyone else makes an offer, but you make a pretty compelling case to be on your team! :)

      • Oh, and I have more ammunition if one of the other coaches swoops in here and tries to steal you away… :)

        Hey, are you on Twitter? I couldn’t find your handle.

    • MackenziLee says:

      Drat, this comment is not posting where I want it to! But in re. to your last post – I am on the twitter -@themackenzilee

      • Thanks! I’m now following!

        Oh, and I had some thoughts about how to make your query even better (thanks in large part to Liz Briggs, a good friend of mine who reads a lot of slush). Since the most interesting part of your manuscript is the history/fantasy mash-up, I want to make sure agents get a sense of that right off the bat. It will require some rewriting–and reordering–of things in your query, but I’m certain you can pull it off!

    • MackenziLee says:

      I love that idea, and I think it will make the query much stronger!

      Thanks for the twitter follow! PS – are you a Utahan? I saw the BYU fan in your bio. I’m a native Salt Lake City-er.

    • MackenziLee says:

      Krista, I believe Cupid has also made a case for me to join Team Cupid. What say you to that?

  10. Melissa says:

    OOO historical fantasy – there is NOT enough of that out in the book world. I love the way you describe the rain. :)

  11. Death saving Life . . . it’s such a great premise. I’m glad you got picked up. Good luck with the agents!

  12. Tabitha Martin says:

    This sounds so intriguing! And the voice is great! Good luck!

  13. dianafsousa says:

    I love the concept, the voice, everything! I want more! Congratulations on getting picked! You deserve it! :D

  14. Artemis Grey says:

    I am a total sucker for Death as a narrator, historical, Venetian… safe to say I’m sold on your idea and enamored of your writing!!! GOOD LUCK!!!

  15. Tons of cool things going on here. The immortality glass intrigues me…Knock ’em out in the Agent round!

  16. Hannah Scott says:

    Congratulations on your pick! You have a beautiful writing voice and the story sounds enthralling. Best of luck to you! :)

  17. Tali Thorne says:

    You were picked so you really don’t need me to tell you what an awesome entry this is. :) Congrats!!!

  18. Donea Lee says:

    This is really intriguing and the writing is beautiful ~ congrats! And best of luck continuing in the contest ~ :)

  19. Lina says:

    OOH~!! Everything about this is so awesome, and I LOVE your style. Your query paints such a beautiful picture of your world. I just want this book in my hands right noooooooow.

  20. Holy smokes! This is a fantastical idea. Everything about it sounds delicious. Congrats on making it through.

  21. What a lovely piece!! I really love everything about it. The flow, the imagery, the girl who loved Death… congrats of being selected! I would have selected this off the shelf at the book store in an instant. Best of luck!

  22. Sarah Blair says:


    LOOOOOOOOVE! Oh, I have to say more than that? Where to start? Where. To. Start? The writing is fab. I love the rain part. I love the name Moriarty. I love the setting. I love the romance. AAAAHHHHH! It’s just SO GOOD!

    Even though I’m the second coach to pick you, I hope you will seriously consider joining my team because I love you just as much! (Or more J) Please, please, please pick me!!!! All I want is to love your work. Please let me. :D

    Come join me on Mt. Olympus!!!”

    YAAAAYYYY CONGRATULATIONS!!!! *stuffs confetti cannon with rainbow sparkles* BOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!

  23. *shakes fist at Cupid* All right, here come the big guns…

    First off, I had a YA historical on my team last year, Anna-Marie McLemore’s THE COIN DIVER, that did very well, so I know how to coach historicals to make them really shine. Also, I, um, did just sell a historical sci-fi to one of the Big Six/Five, so I think it’s safe to say I have a lot more experience in this genre.

    Please, please, please pick me!

  24. […] If not and you have a burning desire to see it, the entry is here. […]

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