Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Writer's Voice: Query & 1st 250 Words


The California Gold Rush had promised untold things. Riches. Freedom. Life anew. Gold promised anything. Gold promised everything.

And it was all a lie.
It’s 1850, and the easy gold is gone. Sixteen-year-old Annie Duvall’s father and his mining crew are on their last legs, losing men, patience, and their sanity in the process. Desperate and out of options, Annie’s father recruits Severo, a foreigner whose mining technology has the ability to cycle through the riverbed five times faster than his men’s bare hands.
When Severo’s equipment is vandalized in the night, rendering it inoperable, he quickly points his finger at Annie. But it is not Annie who is sabotaging the mining operation, rather Keme, a mystic Indian boy whose tribe is dying at the hands of her father’s mining methods.
As Annie begins to develop feelings for a native she didn’t know were possible, she is forced to choose between the lure of gold and helping a savage destroy everything her father has worked tirelessly for. Both will tear her heart apart, but one will leave her dead.
GILDED FEVER (80,000 words) is a YA Historical novel about the California Gold Rush. This novel may appeal to fans of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
I am a blogger and YA reviewer for the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox The blog was featured in VOYA’s Trending in Youth Culture: The Best Blogs and Sites for Youth Advocates in 2012. GILDED FEVER was also a finalist in the PitchWars writing contest. Per your request, the first 250 words are included below.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Cuyler Creech

GILDED FEVER (1st 250 Words):
Thomas Miller had never killed a soul before in his life.
He had never uttered a foul word, or even been in so much as a fight. Thomas Miller was a good ol’ boy in the eyes of many.
But it only took a sparkle. A single sparkle and Thomas pointed his gun and pulled the trigger.
Thomas bent over the man. His head was face-down in the river, a thick shadow of red coloring the water. Once he and the man had been as close as brothers, but now Thomas barely cared to remember his name. All he cared about was what was in the man’s hand.  
Thomas pried open the dead fingers. They were still warm, still covered in a layer of dirt from the day’s work. He unfurled death’s grip, and grasped what had caught his eye just seconds before he’d  pulled the trigger.
He’d been working for months. Worked so hard it seemed like this was all he knew. Like breathing or keeping his heart beating. He’d heard the stories—they all had. Stories about a rock so pretty it shone with the sun’s light. A stone that granted man’s wishes. A pebble that meant life anew.
Gold, gold! Gold found in the great American River!
It was a story worth leaving families for. Excitement spread through the entire world like a flame to a haystack. They flocked from everywhere, coming for a taste of golden freedom. A taste Thomas craved so hard it ached.


  1. This is written so well! I don't normally read historicals but your query and 250 really drew me in.

  2. Dayum. Nicely done, fantastic query. Good luck in the contest!

  3. I've read a ton of YA and never about the gold rush - cool! I'm also not usually into historical but I'd give this a try.

    1. I think it's a fascinating time in history. Thanks!

  4. I'm a sucker for historical fiction and this is particularly well done. Good luck!!

    1. I think HistFic is a great place for YA. Thank you for the kind words--you too!

  5. Ooooh, so many things to love about this! Great time period and compelling hook. Great comp titles. Reminds me also a bit o SERENA by Ron Rash, but that's adult. GREAT opener. I would definitely read on. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! I'm SO excited about this one.

  6. Did not expect to find another western here! Yours sounds awesome :) Love the opening. Good luck!!!

  7. Hey, Cuyler!

    I really liked the premise of this. And I think my guest coach, Stacey, would really love this--since she sold her historical YA to Penguin recently and it was about the gold rush, too.

    So, your main character is Annie. And I didn't get to feel her voice. The page you put there sounds like a prologue, and that's the thing about prologues and contests--they usually use a different voice. So, I'd like to read a few more pages.

    Can you send Annie's first five pages my way? Email them pasted on the body of the email to: moni.bwATgmailDOTcom.


    1. It is a prologue! I would love to send you more pages. Thanks for the interest in my work! Pages heading your way now!

  8. Not a big fan of historical, but I'd read this one! Awesome set up and GREAT 250! Good luck in the contest!

  9. Love historical and I think there is a market for it in YA. Great premise and I agree about just jumping in and starting your story with Annie. I had a prologue in my story originally and decided to take it out. Best of luck!