Backspace Competition

I’ve got my entry for the Backspace Competition ready to go. I’m a day ahead of myself, but if I don’t get it mailed tonight, it won’t get out at all.

I wonder how many competitors I’m up against? Probably the known writing world, considering how many times the competition arrived in my inbox.

Well, just in case you’re interested, I think I’ll post my first and second pages. I won’t bore you with the majority of the query letter, although I think it’s damn good. Here’s the gist of the story:

When Liu Jie vows to serve his Emperor, the Son of Heaven, he embarks on an epic journey where ghosts are guides and heroes are traitors. Jie endures the brutality and anguish of war before facing his greatest fear: Must he sacrifice his family to save his empire?

And here are the first two pages. Feel free to make suggestions. 🙂

By Victoria Dixon

Chapter One

In the Ron Empire, wars did not erupt over cups of rice wine, which was why Liu Jie and his family stopped at the Peach Orchard Inn. It was a meager tamped-earth structure, but he did not care. Traveling was too stressful in these times. They wanted rest.
Despite his guard’s protest, Jie dismounted and opened the inn’s courtyard gate himself. The cold, flaky metal felt good and solid after hours of nothing but leather and horsehair under his fingers. His wife and son’s litter passed inside and Jie helped Mei and Shan out of the stuffy sedan chair. A breeze blew the smell of earth and peaches through the courtyard and all three of them breathed deep. Together, they entered the inn.
To his right, several men gathered around something mounted on the wall. It was an unrolled silk scroll and it caught and held his attention. The weave of the ivory fabric was intricate, and the Imperial Chop blazed like a crimson brand in a corner. He read it in a glance.
The Son of Heaven requires the aid of all men, as sons might come to their father. Rebels assault the people and threaten the capital. All districts report.
Jie took a step toward the scroll and stopped, hands clenched.
Beside him, his wife read it and blanched. “No,” she whispered.
“We knew it would come to this, Mei,” Jie said.
“I’d hoped-“
Jie nodded and took her hand in his for a quiet moment. When servants brought in the family’s luggage, Mei followed them past garish red pillars and up the stairs. He knew she wanted to avoid the noise of the tearoom and the implications of the notice.
Their son, Shan ran outside to play in the last rays of sunlight. Jie bought a cup of rice wine and sat at an empty table. He contemplated how to respond to the summons. Servants lit paper lanterns and the tearoom filled with more men who crowded the notice.
A group of boisterous young men sat at a nearby table and a game of sixes commenced with a clatter of dice.
The voices and noise blended into a monotonous drone. When the innkeeper brought him a plate of dumplings and a set of chopsticks, he barely tasted the food. Instead, he used the chopsticks and wrote plan after plan in the congealing sauce. He abandoned every scheme as impractical.
He did not have enough money to fund a campaign against the rebels. I may have no choice –
The inn door slammed open and Shan rushed inside.
Bemused, Jie smiled as his son looked around the room as if all the demons of hell chased him. After all, he is eight.
Then Shan’s wide-eyed expression found him, and Jie knew something was wrong.
“Papa, come outside, quick!”
“It’s dark outside, Shan. There’s nothing to see.”
“There’s a body!” Shan said. “A dead boy is in the garden.”




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2 Responses to “Backspace Competition”

  1. Jeannie Lin says:

    I like the part in the query where "ghosts are guides and heros are traitors".

    The opening is very intriguing as well. Good luck!

  2. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Jeannie! I could use some. I've daydreamed (and written) my encounter with Scott Hoffman at this thing several times now. ;D
    Does anyone else feel like an agent stalker?

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