Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Ms. Gref:

I’ve read you’re seeking fantasy novels with mythological twists. I believe Twist of Fate may interest you.
Twenty-two-year-old Pandia is in so much trouble she’s shaking in her Jimmy Choo’s. After the goddess-born NYC socialite travels through time and meets Julius Caesar, she convinces him to abandon politics for gardening. Pandia’s father, Zeus, summons her to twenty-first century Olympus and chews her out for messing with a notorious human’s destiny. To teach her a lesson, he strips her power and sentences her to a stint of mortality in Italy.
Pandia refuses to let her punishment get her down. She’ll do her time, leave mortals’ destinies untouched, and be home before the next sale at Saks Fifth Avenue. But instead of modern-day Italy, Zeus sends her to ancient Pompeii. Pandia’s mistaken for a prostitute and hauled before a local official. When she can’t pay her tax, and refuses to give the official a free sample in trade, she’s sent to work in Pompeii’s Gladiator School. There she’s assigned to Caladus, a gladiator whose steamy kisses make her reconsider her vow to remain uninvolved.
To escape Pompeii, Pandia must prove she respects mortals’ pre-ordained fates. But she’s falling for Caladus, and her time’s running out: Mt. Vesuvius is rumbling.
TWIST OF FATE, complete at 81,000 words, is an adult historical fantasy, a mix of Clueless, Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER, and Gladiator, but with a happier ending, because I always thought the gladiator was cheated. I’m an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist, which means I decipher physician handwriting and twist it into medical codes. I spin tales for my husband and children in central Maine.
Thank you for your time and consideration.



Standing outside the Great Hall, I yanked down my red crop top with trembling fingers and wondered what I’d done to piss my father off this time. Was it Marco? Or fish-lipped Julius? It couldn’t be about Christopher, because it wasn’t exactly my fault Chris turned those ships around and returned to Spain.
Four guards in military uniforms flanked the entrance, guns strapped to their hips. One opened the door and nodded for me to enter.
I swallowed the wad of fear lodged in my throat and swept into the Hall.
My father, Zeus, sat with my stepmother in gilded Ikea chairs at the end of the room, matching scowls on their tanned faces. Hera’s eyes met mine across the expanse. A smirk lifted her lips and she spoke as she nudged Dad’s arm, although the distance was too great to catch her words. Dad grimaced and loosened the collar of his Armani shirt.
Sunlight filtered through the stained glass windows along the walls, spilling a profusion of rainbows across the marble tiles. As I walked through the aisle leading to the receiving area, the click-click-click of my heels echoed in the stillness surrounding me. Normally, gods dressed in designer clothing packed the alcoves between the pillars, gossiping as they waited to speak with my father.

The fact that it was just me, Dad, and Hera meant I starred in a command performance. My steps faltered. With considerable will, I resisted the urge to flee to my apartment in Manhattan.


Katy White said...

This sounds adorable, and I love how much voice the query has. However, I'm really hung up on the mixing of mythology/locations here. Zeus and Olympus are firmly greek, whereas Pompeii, Vesuvius, Julius Caesar, and Gladiators are all Roman. Considering that the Romans caused Greece's fall, I can't imagine Zeus comfortably consorting with the enemy! This is distracting me from being able to enjoy the query and first page. I'd recommend making Zeus his Roman equivalent, Jupiter, instead, or making everything else Greek (though the Gladiator and Caesar elements don't exactly translate). If these inconsistencies weren't there, I would absolutely pick this book up. :)

MaryB said...

I adore this. Making Olympus modern is very cool and very original. I think what readers have to understand when they read this book is that first: It's fantasy. It's your world and based on what I've read, you've done a fantastic job at building it for us to see, if you mix things up -- awesome. Plus, this is 21st century Olympus. Any irritation with Rome is old news and Zeus isn't worried about that these days, I'm sure. Pandia hanging out with Julius is her own idea and she's modern and unconcerned with conflicts from before her birth, so it makes perfect sense.

I can't wait to read this book in print.

GSMarlene said...

I've read this query a few other times - probably too many to make any useful comments. But I've never read the first page and I LOVE this! Chris returning to Spain, yeah, that's huge alright! Ikea chairs - too much fun. I'd definitely read on.

Beth said...

I really love this concept. The modernized gods are interesting, and I like the visuals like the suits, the armed guards, the Ikea chairs, etc. I wasn't personally bothered by the mixed locations and pantheons, though maybe adding some information about modern relationships between these gods would help people who have trouble with it.

The query was clear enough to me. The only thing that bothered me was the "chews her out" in the first paragraph. It seems to casual here. I also want to know who her mother is. You say goddess-born but not of which goddess.

Martha Mayberry said...

Thank you, everyone, for your exceptional critiques. I'm open to anything that will make my MS better.

Emily Gref said...

Hi M.M.,

This looks like such a cute premise! I love the idea of a modern Pantheon in designer clothes.

Your query would benefit from some simplification, though. Right now you're throwing a lot of stuff at me at once, and it's difficult to piece it all together - and raises questions that don't seem to have very much to do with the actual plot. (eg, what are the consequences of Pandia messing with Caesar??) I might suggest starting out by introducing the concept of designer-clad Olympians, tell me about Zeus's wayward daughter (who is her mother? "Goddess-born" implies a goddess, but then only Zeus is mentioned) and her trouble-making hobbies, and then get (briefly) into her Pompeii adventure.

All the best,

Martha Mayberry said...

Thank you so much for your critique, Emily. 95% of the book takes place in Pompeii. Pandia convinces Julius to abandon politics, and her father, Zeus discovers her interference when he tries to book a July vacation and finds July no longer exists. He pulls her to Olympus and sends her to Pompeii to teach her to respect the destiny of others. This is explained in the first chapter. The rest of the MS takes place in Pompeii.

So, perhaps the best way to simplify this is to leave Julius out of the query, and instead suggest she's in trouble for changing a mortal's destiny, then focus on Pompeii.

Her mother is Selene, Goddess of the Moon. Selene and Zeus had 3 daughters. Pandia is Goddess of the Light. I've twisted her into a Greek goddess version of Paris Hilton.