Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 6, 2010

Betsy Devany Wins Writer’s Retreat Contest

Every year at the Writer’s Retreat, I send out a prompt to the writers attending.  They use the prompt to come up with a first page for a new story.  The group ranks all the entries and the top five are given to the editors, so they can rank the top five.  Betsy’s first page was ranked number one by both editors and now they are eager to hear the rest of the story.  It’s funny, but a lot of these entries have gone on to become full manuscripts.  I thought you might like to hear the prompt and read Betsy’s winning entry.

The prompt:  The door opened and my brother…  Also the first page had to have a family, a bank and a dragon.  It was judged on how well the person integrated the additional details into the story. Other things they were to consider while judging was:  Was it laid out in a logical way? Did you have to go back and read sentences over?
Were the words used appropriate for the story? Did the dialog ring true? Would you want to read more? And the originality of the story.

Here’s the winning entry:  Majestoral Dragon by Betsy Devany

The door opened and my brother stumbled out of the bank, falling backward into the snow with a pfft-thud; his white tunic soaked with fresh blood, though, clearly not his own. Blood splatter the color of liquid emeralds could only have come from a Majestoral dragon.

 “Eswin!” I slapped the side of his head to stir him. Except for a broken lock, he was empty-handed. Obviously, he had failed his task. “Eswin! We were sent to rescue the dragons. What happened? And where are the eggs?”

He lifted his head and pointed at the Bank of Lors. “Unreachable . . . buried too deep beneath the vault . . . and the guards—I tried to stop them, but—the female may be dead!”

Crack! Scorching fire burst through the bank’s windows. I shielded Eswin as shards of shattered glass sprayed over us, settling deep into the snowdrifts. A flame escaped . . . then another . . . and another, shooting up into the sky, crackling and spitting with vengeance. Bright turquoise flames, edged in gold, illuminated the dark night like fireworks. Norsk was still alive!

“Take cover over there! Behind that barrel,” I barked.

Eswin clung to me, his nails dug deep into my forearm, his body quivering. “It’s hopeless, Yosk.” I pushed him away, then pulled him through the snow to the four-foot wide barrel. With a flick of my arms, I released my only brother. “It’s only hopeless if you give up.”

Fastovia was counting on us, on the last known family of Majestoral dragons; on their babies, not yet hatched from their black marbled eggs. Without them our world would perish.

Hot flames scorched my skin, and the stink of burning flesh hung in the air. Hand-over-nose, I sprinted towards the bank when a forty-foot winged shadow slid past me: the great dragon rising out of the ruins with a twig nest on his back, the size of a small boulder. I turned to follow Norsk’s direction when he seized Eswin, then veered in the direction of the full moon. And with one final exhale of flames, the future of Fastovia flew off into the night.

Congratulations Betsy!  It was a good weekend even for Betsy’s friend Norman (in picture at the top).  Norman drove down from New England with Betsy.  He was her co-pilot sitting in the passenger seat and he had a great time with us.  He even made a little friend when Lynne Pisano brought her little hedgehog friend with her.  Now Norman has a pen pal.  Norman has his own blog:  Stop by Betsy’s website and blog” and

Today:  I added Agent, Marissa Walsh from Fine Print Literary to the November 14th Mentoring Workshop.  Marissa specializes in pop culture, humor, narrative non-fiction, memoir, and children’s books (picture books/middle grade/YA).

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow, Betsy! Outstanding writing! I know I would want to read more! Very gripping, full of details (though it seemed like more than one page?), wonderful imagery and tension! No wonder you won! 🙂 Yea for you! Congratulations 🙂


  2. Thanks, Donna!
    I have never written fantasy before and this is what came out when I sat down to respond to the prompt. I wrote it in less than an hour. But more of the story is coming, and I will have to follow it, though, I am more of a picture book and middle grade writer. It is always fun to try something new!

    Thanks to you, Kathy, for featuring me! Norman’s blog now has photos up.


    • Well, Betsy, all I can say is I’m really impressed! I’m glad it sparked you to write more, and it seems this could be considered MG or YA, depending on where you go with it. Keep the truly adult content out and it can be both! 🙂


  3. Congrats, Betsy! Great job — I want to read MORE!


  4. BUT… BUT… WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?! Wow, Betsy! Good job! You know when you start a book, and then you have to put it down and go do other stuff, but part of your brain is still on pause where you left off with your book? Well, you paused my brain, and I don’t have this book to pick up! Are you going to keep writing this story? Hugs!


    • Yes, I am compelled to write this story. It should be interesting coming from someone who doesn’t read much fantasy. The Majestoral Dragons and the brothers are stuck in my brain, and then there is the girl, but enough of that now. I have to finish my two lower middle grade novels first. I made a promise to an editor that I would do that before anything else. As long as I take notes on what is coming with the Majestoral Dragon, I can keep those characters in the back of my brain. I hope.


      • You know, Betsy, for someone who’s not into fantasy all that much, you certainly seem to have a feel for it. Your words are wonderful. I mean, how can one NOT be curious about something as intriguing as a “Majestoral” Dragon?! GREAT word! 🙂 Good luck writing it when you get to it 🙂


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