Jun 7, 2017


Title: Secrets in the Stone
Entry Nickname: ESTELLA+AYRON
Word Count: 77K
Genre: YA Historical Fiction


In 1912, eighteen-year-old Estella Ripley would rather study nude portraits in Paris than bow to the conventional duties her vain, judgmental aunt has deemed important. After another argument with her aunt, Estella makes plans to live in Paris, away from the family's eerie island manor that boasts peculiar perspiring stone walls and an ominous underground passage. But Paris is not in her future, because she learns she has inherited her beloved grandfather's estate nearly a decade after his death – and the estate is in financial trouble.

With her plans for Paris now at a halt, Estella grapples with the difficulties of running the large manor on her own. She enlists the help of the estate's enigmatic attorney, Edward Maxwell, whose trustworthy assistance attracts her to him. When Estella discovers that Edward is conspiring with her aunt to usurp Ripley Manor by marriage to Estella, she flees, unable to face the betrayal of the only person she trusted.

Before she can get to Paris, Estella's boat capsizes, and she discovers a secluded glen in the middle of a remote forest where several clans of Irish fugitives have built homes and thrived for nearly a century. Estella befriends the Irish and, through keen insight and her affinity for interloping, they confess the glen's history is directly related to her grandfather. But when Edward Maxwell tracks down Estella to reveal that he, too, has discovered the glen's secrets and will use them to blackmail her into marriage, Estella must decide: yield to a restricted albeit financially stable life with Edward pulling all the strings, or find a way to extinguish his control before he exposes and destroys every precious secret her grandfather left her to protect.

First 250:

Stabbing someone was a messy endeavor. Still, it got the job done.

Admittedly, the closest Estella Ripley would ever dare come to touching her aunt was in her imagination, where she could plunge the tip of her mechanical pencil into Florence's chest. But since the woman had no heart, this would be rather ineffective. Stabbing her in the stomach would prove futile, as her whalebone corset would likely obstruct any puncture. A pencil to the neck might work—

No, Estella, she scolded herself. You are not her. You are better than Florence.

"Mrs. Allchurch will attend your party tonight," Florence said. They sat for tea in the chilly, stiff drawing room. "We'll have to open the double doors just to enable the entrance of that Clydesdale of a woman."

Estella bit her tongue, as she had for the past ten years in her aunt's presence. She promised herself she would not engage in this game of ignorance; it was too easy to become Florence, too easy to veer toward that clear, spiteful path. Estella must endure just a few months more until she was free of her aunt's hideous lacework of self-righteousness. Vicious daydreaming would only make Estella resemble Florence, which was the last thing Estella wanted.

Yet if her aunt could get away with murder, then so could Estella…

"Thank you for joining me, Niece. I see you so rarely. You're always tucked away somewhere with that pencil drawing God knows what. Sometimes I feel we live in separate residences."

If only, Estella mused.


  1. Intriguing! I'd love to see pages. Please send your query pasted in the body of your email to querylindsay@emeraldcityliterary.com and include #querykombat in the subject. Pages should be sent as a Word attachment.


  2. I would love to see more of this! Please send a query + requested materials to submissions@pagestreetpublishing.com with YA QUERY KOMBAT in the subject line!

    -Ashley Hearn

  3. Id like to read on! Please send pages, a synopsis and query to: chquery[at]mcintoshandotis[dot]com