Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #9

Ms. Gref,

I have completed a fantasy novel with paranormal romance elements of approximately 118,000 words. I would like you to consider my novel for representation.

In BLOODSWORN, Liana, a construction business owner from Colorado, has two problems: her sister is missing in another world, and her untrained ability to transfer emotion and energy constantly disrupts her life. When a worldgate opens and her talent informs her that her sister is in grave danger, she jumps through the gate--into the action.

Two feudal rival races covet any human with talent--especially Liana’s. Unfortunately, Liana doesn’t know how to use her gift to protect herself. Then someone smuggles a pistol from Earth into the hands of the man-eaters. Liana must decide if she wants to align with the charismatic Warlord--aka the vampires, to save her sister or take her chances on her own.

Liana's knowledge of Earth’s technology makes her invaluable to both species. When war erupts, humans are caught in the middle and unless Liana learns to wield her talent, her sister will remain a slave until she’s eaten.

Bloodsworn is the first of a series that I believe fans of Laurel K Hamilton will enjoy. Currently I’m a business owner of 20 years and I understand a quality product, deadlines, and commitment fulfillment. As a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, I have honed my writing skills at regular critique group sessions, and feel confident you will enjoy my novel. 

Per your instructions, I have pasted the first 250 words below for your review. Thank you in advance for your time.



I didn’t know what a portal jump would feel like, but that wasn’t what I expected. And this rutted wagon road surrounded by creepy dense forest wasn’t the sunlit cottage I thought I was headed toward either. Besides, shouldn’t someone be here to greet me?

The fast thud of my heart and sweaty palms made me question why I was stupid enough to step into a different world, but the gate was gone, committing me to my decision. I scanned the forest with my senses. Most of the birds and mammals were similar to Earth’s fauna, their dark auras indicating animals that rely on instinct for survival. Others, like a family of canines, had a brighter glow. They weren’t human intelligent, but probably smarter than a dog at home.

The trees and plants were mainly green and normal. I stepped closer--but not too close--to a pink bush with two inch thorns. Its energy spiked as if anticipating lunch. I skittered sideways almost tripping. D*** it. Why couldn’t Lizzi call for help from someplace normal, like Safeway or the Apple store?

My sister’s fear and despondent misery leached across a thousand miles through our birthbond. How could I find her--and rescue her when survival might override my best intentions? I had to try, even though it would take me months to reach her. I shuddered, what had brought my free-spirited sister to such depths?

I’d have to use my senses judiciously, so I didn’t exhaust myself and be completely defenseless.


Martha Mayberry said...

Your query: I’ve read never to use “approximately,” as it implies your MS isn’t complete. You could take that out. Fantasy is hard to query, as there’s so much going on in your world, so it helps to keep it as simple as possible. That said, in your first sentence, it would help to explain what the other world is, to ground the reader as soon as possible. When you say she jumps into the action, I’m unsure what you mean. What kind of action? Specifics can help the reader better understand what’s going on. Same with her ability: I’m unsure what the value of transferring emotion and energy means, or how it could protect her. Overall, however, I think your premise is intriguing, and definitely a new twist on vampires.

Your 250: I believe the two parts of your first sentence basically say the same thing. It’s vital to begin your story with a hook, a sentence that latches onto the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. Each sentence after that needs to keep the reader enthralled. I believe, instead of telling us it wasn’t what she expected, it would be better to tell us what it is.

All the best with your entry.

Merriam Saunders said...

You clearly define the stakes for your MC and her goal and main conflict. But there also seems to be a lot going on in the query: guns, vampires, man-eaters, talents, so it felt a bit hard to focus on what was most important. I wonder if you might consider carving out some of the details.

Your first 250 read a bit like a false start - like perhaps where you needed to start the book as the author in order to understand your MC. But there is a lot of narrative and description and it didn't hold my interest right away. It's that delicate balance between action and being inside the MC's head so the reader cares-- difficult but important to nail in the opening.

Beth said...

This sounds like it might be fascinating, but I'm a little unclear on some of the details in the query. You mentioned two rival races, but I'm not sure what they are. One is vampire. Are man-eaters different from vampires? If so, what are they exactly?

I'm also curious as to what the portal jump actually felt like. What are the auras? I feel like I need a better grounding in your world. I do really enjoy your voice and writing style. I just feel like I need more information.

M.T. said...

Your introduction of Liana and her missing sister is the most interesting part of the query for me. I think if you began there and focus more on Liana's personal struggles rather than mention the smuggled pistol and vampires, the query would feel more coherent.

The first and last paragraphs seem to contain the most important information. Maybe you could find a way to incorporate why Liana and her sister are in this situation into one of these paragraphs.

The idea is really intriguing!

Emily Gref said...

Hi R.K.,

While I love a good story about sisters, I would not request this query. There is just way too much happening in your query - you need to pare it down to just the basics, give me a strong hook and a clear conflict, and then let the work speak for itself. Don't try and cram every detail in there.

I would consider starting the story when Lizzie cries for help, and then introducing the reader to Liana's powers and the portal gradually. As it is, it is very sudden and confusing - it leaves too many questions ("what DID the portal jump feel like??") that distract from the story.

Hope that helps, and best of luck!

All the best,