The only difference in this version is that in the second paragraph I replaced Lan with she to avoid repetition. This is the version I submitted to the American Night Writer’s beginning of the book contest. The results were given at their writer’s conference last February. I won first place in the young adult category. At this conference I met an editor for Shadow Mountain Press who asked to see my full manuscript. I am still waiting for her response.
Lan willed her feet to pick up their pace. Sweat rolled down between her shoulder blades, dampening the tan beggar’s clothes assigned to her. She rushed through the crowded streets, her long black braid snapped at her back while dust and loose pebbles splintered out behind her.
She glanced up at the sliver of setting sun then at the ominous stone wall of the Imperial Palace. Soon the gate would come into view, if only it still sat open. Lan had never been this late before. Foolishly, she had watched the dragon riders into the early evening, her eyes mesmerized by the dragon’s powerful wings, their long graceful necks, and their fire.