Princess Leena’s mother is dead. Her brother, Averyn, did it. Or, so the kingdom thinks. But when Leena visits Averyn in the dungeons, her brother reveals a note from their mother, Malise. The message is written in her hand, on an illicit Vagari playing card—“Come find me.” Which means Malise is alive. Averyn is innocent. And Leena is the only one who believes him.

Desperate to exonerate Averyn by bringing their mother home, Leena barters passage to Vagari. But when she arrives, she’s kidnapped and dragged before their newly-returned Pirate Queen: Malise. Her mother is on a mysterious mission that’s apparently more important than Averyn’s imprisonment. Leena wants to join her crew, but Malise—always scornful, always merciless—abandons her on the isle.

With such a mother, Leena doesn’t fear pirates, and she stows away aboard the ship. But she learns living among scoundrels carries a different code of honor than she was raised on, and Malise allows her no excuses. Leena must shed her life as a princess and fight to earn her mother’s trust. Because with the Pirate King and the Royal Navy on their tail, their chances of both succeeding in their quest and rescuing Averyn are slim. To survive the seas, mother and daughter must do the unthinkable.

They must learn to rely on each other.

Complete at 103,500 words, STOLEN BY THE SEA is a Young Adult fantasy novel with the potential to be a series. It will appeal to readers of TRUTHWITCH and SEAFIRE.

My novel was born from my love for the sea, but mostly from my childhood search for YA mother/daughter tales. None offered a window into my own teenage arguments with my mother. So when I grew up, I wrote one.

I am a graduate of James Madison University and a member of SCBWI. In May 2019, I was chosen as a mentee for #WriteMentor. I am currently pursuing my MFA at Lesley University in Writing For Young People, while daylighting as a middle school English teacher.

My first 500 words are included below. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Valley C. Shaia


Chapter 1

Leena didn’t know how a normal princess’s day unfolded, but she was relatively certain this wasn’t it.

Again,” her half-brother, Averyn, drawled, voice thick like the mulled wine he cradled.

She rolled her eyes and exhaled through her nose, staring across the training yard to the target.  The glaringly empty target.  The target she had been missing all morning, her arrows arcing haphazardly through the snow flurries.  They shot across her view of the knights scrimmaging in the field and the three cerberi, yanking each others’ ears in their distant pen.

She sucked her teeth.

Quit griping,” Averyn said from inside his wineglass, “and lower your elbow.” 

Leena stuck a white-gloved hand on her hip and glared at him.  “Averyn.  My fingers are icicles.  My arms are sore.  My curls are frizzing.  And I’m shit at this.”

Averyn’s black eyes flicked to hers, but he only slurped noisily and blinked.

Insufferable, wine-drinking lordling.  How could anyone at court perceive danger in him, other than inebriation?

Leena yanked another arrow from the snowbank, staring through the flurry to the target and mumbling, “Damn you to the Trenches.”

Mother will, if you don’t bloody improve.”

Mother.  Queen Maliseof Auraun.  The Queen of Stones.  With her olive-brown skin that glowed under torchlight.  Black hair, like a dark cloud that parted around the storm of her brown eyes.  Copper cuffs on her wrists that always glinted.  Crimson lips that always grimaced.  She was a cobra curled in its basket, teasing with docility.

Leena nocked the arrow, groaning as she pulled her arm back once more and let fly. It cut a dark brown streak across the snowcapped mountains and the hazy sunset beyond.

If Leena had been born twenty-six years before, Mother wouldn’t make her take these combat lessons.  No, her days would have been spent in Sol training, learning how to use the different types of magik.  She knew Sol had manifested in one’s hair, that one plucked strands to wield it and each color carried a different power.  Powers like enhanced senses and communicating with animals.  Like rupturing the earth and growing plants toward the skies.  There were even rumors a white-haired woman had existed once, who had been blessed by Aster and held dominion over tempests.

But those were simply stories.

Now, fire choked the skies of Kira, the desert continent across the Feanix Sea.  And every country had their teeth bared at it, the land which had birthed the Grey Haired Pharaoh and the Demon of Kira—the two women who had wrought the Scorching and burned away Alutura’s Sol.

Twenty-six years, and all that remained were blood and whispered Old Stories.

Twenty-six years, and the only anomaly was Averyn.