Genre: MG Steampunk
Word Count: 32,000
Pitch: When twelve year old Zanetta’s big brother, his airship and its priceless cargo all go missing, she throws off the corseted conventions of her exclusive academy and escapes through the jungle to find him.
Family Day at the Harledge Altheric Academy and my only living relative had not appeared. All morning, steam clouds rose and gears whirred as airships and ornithopters delivered mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins …everybody except my big brother Joseph.
“I promise we’ll be there, Zani,” he’d said. ‘We’ meant him and his new fiancee. He was probably too busy getting ready for his wedding. Making plans for a new family that wouldn’t include me.
Maybe I shouldn’t care so much now that I was twelve. I didn’t need a big brother. I was Zanetta Kallo, Analytical Detective and Future Important Person.
Still. This time he’d promised.
I stood on tiptoes in my high-button boots, hoping my long skirts would cover my improper stance. I turned slowly, trying to take in every corner of the terraced courtyard. The Academy building loomed beyond, rising like a multi-tiered cake with its flying buttresses, crenellated towers and fanciful gargoyles. The courtyard itself was jammed with Family Day visitors. Students and their families sipped punch, ate crumbly cake, talked and laughed. The visitors who were rich and lazy reclined in their float chairs, surrounded by their children and the soft hissing of steam propulsors.
I pushed away memories of my own parents and focused on my goal—find Joseph. There was no way around the starched and proper visitors. I’d have to go through them if I wanted to search the gardens on the other side.