I have only ever written one proposal in my life ( last week), and have not sent it in yet, so don't take what I say on this as professional advice. But I had to research so that I knew what I was doing. Perhaps what I found will help any of you with no idea where to start.
AMG Publishers is a Traditional Christian publisher in the CBA. They are one of only a couple that I have found in this market that except unsolicited manuscripts. They are the only one that provides a proposal outline.
MacGregor Literary, the agency that works with both Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill (for those of you who also follow Go Teen Writers), gives an example of both a fiction proposal and a non-fiction.
Because I entered into the Novel Rocket Contest this year, I needed to have a proposal written up in case I passed the first round. So I looked up the above out lines and used them to make my own. I have it below so you can read and see what I did. If you know that I did something wrong, please let me know in the comments. Other wise, I hope that this post helps you out! (Sorry, but I only give you one sample chapter in this post)
A Novel Proposal
by Rebekah Gyger
Set in an early medieval society where cities are loosely held under the control of one king and where the people give more loyalty to their Lords than the crown, Thyne has become a kingdom of ever shifting allegiances. In the city of Vanor, greed is now stronger than any other tie and its Elders throw their support to the heaviest purse, that of Thyne's enemy, Hanama. Yet their price is greater than they know.
Ateriux's gift to Thyne is its dragons, one breed for each of the five cities. With the dragons come lessons to mankind, ones that are often forgotten. Now spring has brought the bond dragons' reminder to the people of Vanor, if they will take the time to listen. But time is running out.
Caught up in the intrigues of the Elders, Lan and Othniel have found their lives flipped upside down. Nothing is as they hoped for that spring and no one will explain why. Being a dragon rider is not what it seemed, being from Vanor is not as honorable as they believed, and being a citizen of Thyne is more difficult than it had been. And all they have to cling to is the gift that Ateriux gave.
About the Series:
Bonded Souls is book one in a five novel series, Souls of Thyne. Each book is set in one of the five main cities of Thyne. Bonded Souls is set in Vanor, Lone Souls in Rifar, Souls of Children in Taira, Thieving Souls in Hurm, and a yet untitled novel in Curtac. Each book works with a theme that centers around the dragons and their defining traits in order to teach their riders and keepers the lessons of Ateriux.
The central theme of Bonded Souls is that unconditional love and forgiveness are what bind people together and makes them strong.
About the Author:
Rebekah is a sophomore at Pellissippi Community College where she majors in Anthropology, the study of human history and culture. She uses what she learns in class to create worlds with a depth of history, culture, and social interaction.
According to Publishers Weekly, 55% of Young Adult readers are actually adult. In the Christian market, the majority of fantasy novels are young adult, which forces adult lovers of fantasy to read books geared for their children. While adults do enjoy these novels, there is a gap left for adult fantasies. Bonded Souls and the series, Souls of Thyne, follow universal and age bridging themes applauded in YA, while incorporating adult fears and perspectives. The novel will reach out to adults who wish to uphold their adult lives and yet embrace their childhood fantasies.
In Young Adult:
The Hero's Lot by Patrick Carr (Bethany House)
King by R. J. Larson (Bethany House)
Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard (Zondervan)
It had been Lan’s greatest dream to be chosen as a dragon rider for Vanor, a city of Thyne. Now in her eighteenth year, she finally has the chance. All she has to do is get to the training fields in time for a dragon to pick her. She just never considered what would be required of her afterward.
Othniel has a prosperous career as a merchant. He has done everything right… except marry a nice girl as his father wishes. This one disappointment pushes him to chance another when he goes to the training fields to watch the bondings, a once a year event where dragons choose both their mate and their rider. Yet this decision brings about an unforgivable offence in his fathers eyes. He’s become a dragon rider.
When night comes, Lan and Othniel learn that they are riders of a matched dragon pair and thus must marry as well. Othniel can’t fathom marriage to Lan, the opposite of who his father expected for him, and life with a man who resents her is not what Lan had hoped for either. Can they make their relationship work on such a rocky foundation?
Misunderstandings pile up between the couple in a heap that seems unsurpassable. Matters are made worse when the Elders decide to send the new riders to the Manjer Mountains to train in a effort to reduce costs. Now Lan and Othniel must work through their issues far from all that they know and along side four other rider couples.
Strife abounds amongst the differing personalities forced together and tempers build. When they meet a caravan in the mountains, a soothsayer amongst the cargo promises freedom to the rider, Drenda. She believes the soothsayers words and leaves with the caravan, unaware that the people are not who they seem.
Meanwhile, Lan and Othniel have wondered away from the group in search of time alone. They stumble upon an old hermit, Makon, who claims to be a prophet, exiled from Vanor years before. When he discovers who they are, he insists that the riders return to the city, regardless of the Elder’s wishes.
Returned to the riders, Lan and Othniel learn of Drenda’s disappearance and that no one has gone after her other than her husband, Slat. Makon persuades the riders that Drenda has put herself in danger and that they must rescue her.
Unbeknown to the other riders, Drenda has been imprisoned and taken to a camp of Hanamite soldiers, enemies of Thyne to the West. Their General, Crónm, is under orders to infiltrate Vanor and sees Drenda as a perfect opportunity to get the information he needs to do so. When Slat is captured in his attempt to rescue her, Crónm, uses him to obtain the information.
On their way to save Drenda, the riders are set upon by Hanamite soldiers. The fight results in grave injuries to many of their numbers. Those unharmed must enter the enemy camp, rescue Drenda and Slat, and escape in time to bring the injured back to Vanor.
Yet when they return home, the riders find that much has changed. The cities walls are under repair, the training fields have been turned over to sheep herders, and the dragons are locked up. What can Lan and Othniel do to convince the people of Vanor that they have made a mistake when evidence points to the Elders as the source of the problem?
Wind that carried the sweet sent of flowers blew over the hillside and ruffled Lan’s hair in a relief from the heat. As she laid on the ground and watched the clouds overhead, tufts of grass tickled her arms and pricked the back of her head. In a low whisper she named off the images formed as the white puffs bunched together and pulled apart. “A bunny, a ladle.”
A shot of blue drew Lan’s gaze to a bird that winged passed. It darted to the branches of a nearby tree and spread out its tail. Shuffling side to side, it trilled for the attention of a hen a few branches below. Obliging, the hen cooed in return. She hopped up the few separating limbs and nestled into his side.
This was Vanor’s greatest offering. The first of spring, the season of love and marriage, when the flowers showed their faces and the animals found their mates. Once, Lan had heard a little girl call the way people and animals acted during this time of year as being twitterpated.
Returning her gaze to the sky, Lan sought another cloud picture. The white stood out against the bright blue. “A puppy, a gown, a―” She sighed, air leaving her lungs to make room for her wistful dreams. “A dragon.” The second best offering of Vanor.
Bond dragons were found throughout the area, living alongside its citizens. Each the size of an elephant from Rifar, as people liked to say. Lan could not say if it were true, since she had never seen such a creature. With scales of every hue, the dragons of Lan’s home town were the most beautiful of all the breeds.
No one could mistake a bond dragon for anything else. Each born with but one wing, males with a right and females a left, they could only fly by bonding together. Shifting scales on their sides would be overlapped with that of their mate in order that they could fly as one. The trust it took to fly together ensured that the bond dragons stayed with their mate for life.
Soon after choosing a mate, the dragons would each pick a rider. Ever since Lan was little, she had watched her parents ride their dragons and dreamed of what it would be like. To soar above the mountains in Curtac or the oceans near Hurm. Places she had dreamed of but never seen with her own eyes.
It was in their fifth year that a dragon chose both mate and rider. And for the first time in her life, Lan had a chance of being picked.
Perhaps by the blue dragon, Surtha, or the orange Fril. Now in their fifth years, they had garnered many of the males attempts at a closer look. To each approach the female dragons had bared their teeth and growled a deep rumble in their chests.
“Don’t be silly,” Lan said aloud.
The nestled birds squawked protest at her outburst and fled their branch.
She smiled at their chastisement before remembering her thoughts. “It is rare that any are chosen the year of their majority. Eighteen is young, and-”
Lan groaned and flopped a hand over her eyes. “Who am I kidding? I want to ride so badly.” She sat up and bunched her skirts in her hand. A quick shake dislodged a yellow britterbug from its path down her leg. “What do I care if the elders say I’m too young or if the matrons say I should be patient?”
A shadow fell over Lan and blocked the sun. “With that mindset, I’m surprised you’re not already down at the training fields.”
A glance up revealed a figure, framed by the sun. “Hello, Tilly.” Lan ignored the comment about the training fields. She would do her best to be patient. “Care to join me?”
“You know I would.” Tilly pushed a strand of hair away from her face. “But today I’d just have to stand right back up.”
“What are you going on about?” Lan waved to the clouds overhead. “The skies are perfect for imagining.”
Tilly put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. “Have you heard nothing I’ve said?”
“I’m doing my utmost to ignore you.” The britterbug had returned to the folds of Lan’s dress and she brushed it away.
“The dragons began the bondings early this year.”
For a moment, Lan blindly at her hands. Then she leapt to her feet. “What?” Her balance wavered and she rocked forward. “Why did no one tell me?”
With a hand on Lan’s shoulder to steady her, Tilly laughed. “What do you think I’m doing?” She tugged on Lan’s sleeve. “Come on, we must hurry.”
Lan took off down the hillside, her skirt held scandalously above her ankles. Behind her, Tilly laughed once more.
At the bottom of the hill, dewy grass yet untouched by the sun wet Lan’s already scuffed shoes. She slipped and a squeal left her mouth as she flung her arms out to her sides for balance. Tilly screamed and landed on the ground beside her.
Her heart beating faster, Lan stood rigid until her friend’s voice reminded her to breathe.
“Oh, no.” Tilly pushed back to her feet with a moan. “Mother is going to kill me.” She attempted a swipe at a green stain now visible on the back of her dress. Instead, her hand swatted at the air behind her.
Lan was certain that against the blue of Tilly’s dress, the stain was hardly worth mention. “Stopping worrying. Your mother will not even notice .”
“It is new.”
That did pose an issue. Lan clasped Tilly’s hands and drew her friend’s attention away from the blemish. “We can fix it.”
“How? The stain will never come out.” The expression of despair on Tilly’s face tempted Lan to smile.
“I think I know a bit about grass stains.”
“Because you are always collecting them.” Tilly covered her face with her hands, though Lan still had hold of them. “Why could you not have fallen. No one would have thought a thing.”
That didn’t mean Tilly had to wish it upon her. Lan shook her a little. “Remember when my parents went to Taira last summer?”
Tilly glanced up and shook her head. “I don’t see how that has anything to do with-”
“Just listen to me. My mother brought back a bottle of this slimy goop that-”
“No, no, no.” Tilly pulled her hands away and backed up. “You are not putting anything slimy on my dress. That would only make it worse.”
“It’s not going to make it worse. I promise.”
“I don’t see how it could make it any better.”
“There was no time for this.” The bondings were going on with out her. “Just come on.” Lan did not wait to see if Tilly followed or not. This time she was careful to watch where she placed her feet so as to not slip again before they reached the road.
Tilly should be thankful she made that concession rather than cut through the fields.
The road was a hazarad with ruts from wagons passing in and out of Vanor. It was dry from the heat as well. As Lan’s wet shoes gathered dust like a viscor rat its “pretties”, her feet were certain to be a mess once they reached the gates. Though not even a viscor would want the shoes for their collection then.
Just outside the cities borders were sheep filled pastures. Their wool less than appetizing, sheep were the only flocks kept within the dragons’ reach.
A shepherd waved to the girls as they passed him, a smile creasing his weathered face. Ewes milled around his legs, chomping grass.
The walls of Vanor rose in the horizon, waves of heat rising from the gray stone. Sentries appeared as dark spots along the battlements. Light glinted off their helmets and the bright flashes struck Lan in the eyes. She averted her face from the glare.
The girls fell in behind a string of wagons entering the city and likely destined for the market. They were covered in green fabric and guarded by men on horseback. A man in the rear glared at her until she fell farther away from the final wagon.
What did they carry that he acted in such a way?
A man shouted something from near the gate and the wagons slowed. The one in front of Lan and Tilly came to a halt, its rear wheel resting on top of a stone. The crates inside rocked precariously and a man in the back of a wagon reached for a strap holding the boxes in place. He muttered a colorful curse and Lan glanced away as though she had not heard.
The sun beat down on Lan’s head. A bead of sweat dripped down her back and between her shoulder blades. She waved a hand in front of her face. Without the wind she had on the hill, it was far hotter than she would like. Beside her, Tilly moaned. “Will they ever get moving again?”
“I hope so,” Lan answered, still not looking around her. The wagon rolled and she made a jump forward only to find that the wheel had merely come off its stone perch. She made an unladylike sound and then glanced to make certain no one had heard her. Even the guards on the wall appeared half asleep.
Rather than wait any longer, Lan motioned for Tilly to follow and then darted around the wagons.
At the gate, a man argued with the guards. “I demand that you let me pass.” He drew a scroll from within his deep red tunic. “This is a missive for Elder Prind.”
“Until I look over your papers, you will not enter this city.” The guard, glanced over the foreigner’s shoulder at the girls. “Back already?”
“The bondings have started,” Lan said.
“Then you should get going.” He waved them passed, despite the foreigner’s protests that he had been there first.
Wagons clattered along cobble stone streets on their way to the market and people milled about. The girls walked until they reached the second street on their right, where they darted into a narrow way. Now that they were out of sight, their steps quickened.
Voices and barks echoed through the space. Lan gathered up her skirt in her hand to free her legs so that she could run. Doors and windows whipped by in a mark of their progress.
A window slammed overhead, the sound a warning. Lan glanced up just as Tilly squealed. Overhead, a bucket tilted into the alley and its contents poured over the rim. Heart thumping, she leaped out of the way. The bucket’s contents splashed on the ground. Lan shuttered. There had to be a better way to get rid of excrement.
Still stunned from the near miss, Lan glanced to see how Tilly was. Her eyes were closed and she had a hand to her stomach.
This was getting to be too much. What more would delay them? “Jump over.”
Tilly’s eyes snapped open, wide with horror. She looked at the brown puddle between them and then away. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” She swallowed visibly and backed up. Her eyes scrunched shut, she took a running leap.
Her body slammed into Lan and knocked them both back, away from the stench. Lan reached down and gripped Tilly’s hand. “Come on.”
A few empty streets and alleys later and Lan stopped them before a white washed house. She pushed the sun bleached door open and stepped in. Rather than close out the extra light, she left it open after Tilly had entered.
The house was quiet. Absent of Mother’s usual bustle. Today Mother was surly already at the training fields, wondering where her daughter was.
In her excitement, Mother had not even finished sweeping the priceless rugs or moved them back into place. There were dirt tracks, probably from Father, that lead to the hallway where one rug lay bunched up. It was odd to see that for once Mother had neglected the family heirlooms.
They entered the hall and Lan pointed to a harpoon that hung on the wall. “Watch out for that. I already tore one dress on it.” A recent souvenir from Father’s travels to the port city of Hurm with Mother, it now rested beside a sling from Taira and a war hammer from Curtac. It was the last of the collection of pieces from the major cities of Thyne.
Lan came into the washroom, situated behind her and her parents’ bedrooms. It was hardly larger than a closet with most of the space taken up by a tub set in the middle. A furnace Father had insisted on purchasing from Curtac rested in a back corner. It was a rather ugly, and in the summer it made the heat unbearable, though it did save Mother the effort of hauling water from the main room.
Shelves lined one wall. Each bore an instrument used for washing, whether it be clothes pins and baskets or soap. The top shelf held all sorts of jars filled with ointments, salves, and other such things from Taira.
“It should be right here.” Lan pulled a stool over to the wall. The legs screeched against the floorboards. She on to it and stretched out on her tip-toes in order to reach the rust colored jar she sought. As her fingers touched it, the stool wobbled beneath her.
“Be careful,” Tilly said.
Lan huffed out a breath as she struggled to grasp the jar’s rim. “I know what I’m doing.” Her fingers closed over the rim. “Got it.” She held the jar triumphantly over her head. The stool trembled and she reached out to grab the shelf, nearly losing the jar in the process.
Tilly put her hand to Lan’s back until the stool righted itself . “Please, get down now.”
Peaking at Tilly from under her arms which still grasped the shelf, Lan saw her frown. “I’m coming. Don’t get your undergarments in a knot,” she said, in hopes for a smile.
It didn’t work. Tilly turned a bright pink at the referral to her unmentionables. “You shouldn’t say such things. You’ll get us in trouble.”
“We’re in my house.” Lan set the jar on the stool and then lifted the covering off. A glance inside revealed the brown sludge that she wanted. She drew back, her nose wrinkled. It was almost as bad as the puddle Tilly had jumped over.
“You can’t put that on my dress.” Tilly held her hand before her face and eyed the concoction warily.
Lan pintched her nose. “Where’s you sense of adventure?”
“Back on the hill where I fell. It decided not to tag along.”
“Funny.” Lan dipped her finger into the smelly goop and grimaced. It felt like raw egg . “You’re right though. You can’t go the training fields with this on you.” She rubbed the slim between her fingers. “We’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Perhaps I should just go home.”
“No.” Lan scraped as much of the stuff off her hand and back into the jar. “You have to come with me.” Hands on her hips, Lan worried her bottom lip between her teeth. A dress of Lan’s hung on a peg at the door where it had been left the day before to dry. “You know, we’re about the same size…”
Lan ignored Tilly and reached for the dress. She held it up to Tilly’s chest to picture what it would look like. Its light grey fabric would work nicely with a woven leather belt. “You can wear this one.”
Tilly shook her head, yet fingered one of the sleeves. “I’ll trip. The skirt would be far too long.”
Leaving the dress in Tilly’s hands, Lan glanced around the room for a quick fix. Mother’s sewing basket rested on a midway shelf as though waiting to be noticed. Lan raised its lid. She spied a pin cushion and lifted it out, careful to not prick her finger. “We will simply have to fix it. A quick stitch should do.”
“I’ve seen your quick stitch. It would be better for me to wear my stained dress.”
“It is not that bad.”