Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Agent,

It’s hard to hang on to your virginity when you’ve been raised to believe that pleasure is the ultimate prayer to your Goddess--and She delivers up your sexy soul mate on a platter.

When Asta, heir to a Bronze Age high priestess in Minoan Akrotiri, races after a pickpocket, she thinks she’s doing her civic duty. It isn’t until soulful foreigner Kyan--owner of the stolen satchel--charms her into a beachside picnic that she realizes it might be difficult to follow her mother’s requirement to save her virginity for her religion’s annual fertility ceremony. Kyan introduces her to a new way of thinking about society--and their discordant places in it. Because while Asta has spent her sheltered life with the priestesses focusing on her Goddess’s demands, Kyan faced tumult and horrors she never knew existed.

Never fitting in with native Minoans in his adopted home of Knossos, Kyan searches Akrotiri for his long-lost father, rumored to be close by. He hopes to heal his inner turmoil and Asta becomes the perfect panacea. She sees him for him, not his “slave-like” appearance. And when they fall in love, he’s as happy as he believes he can be.

Unfortunately, nothing about Kyan is good enough for Asta’s mother. When she--as the mortal voice of her Goddess--demands his blood after it’s found out he’s been sneaking around with her daughter, Asta faces a dilemma: rescue the lover and best friend she can’t live without, or imperil her island’s people. 

AKROTIRI is a 105,000 word Historical Romance with hints of magical realism and alternating POV's. I’ve studied this culture for over twenty years and visited the archeological sites of Knossos and Akrotiri over Thanksgiving this past year. I am so inspired by the idea of bare-breasted priestesses drinking wine and ruling and empire. I am a high school history teacher, traveler, and lover of mythology.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

M.M.


AKROTIRI

I winced as one of the hundreds of sticky people in the marketplace elbowed me in the back. The blow knocked the crudely-formed goddess figurine out of my hands. I scooped Her up and waggled Her under the pouty frown of my cousin Julla.

“I hope the real goddess doesn’t look like this."

She sucked her teeth but reverently took the votive. “Sometimes I wonder if your mother chose the right Descendant to be her heir. How can you be so blasphemous?”

Her well-aimed thrust hurt more than the elbow. We both knew my mother only chose me by default. But that’s not what Julla was really angry about.

I softened my voice. “You know the Rites don’t mean anything.”

She glared at me, hands on hips, her face in mine. “I hope one day you fall in love and know what it’s like to have your man ripped from your arms.” She stormed into the sea of people.

I spoke to the air. “You can have him back afterwards. It’s only sex.”

I dove into the crowd to find her and stopped.

A tall man with golden hair wove through the jostling elbows and chattering shoppers. I didn’t know every one of the inhabitants of the city of Akrotiri--how could I? But this man looked like the two westerners my mother enticed to visit and discuss trade a few moons before. Why was there another foreigner here now, and how did the Ladies not know about it?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the concept. Very fun. I'm a big historical romance reader, so this is right up my alley. Though, I wonder if your query could clarify genre earlier on. At first I thought the novel was YA (especially due to character's conflict with her mother & the whole virginity issue), then at the end, it's stated as HR. Just a thought. The 250 showed a glimpse of the character, but I wanted more voice. Overall, though, I'd definitely be interested in reading more of this title.

Jessica said...

Love this concept! Definitely a unique setting, and I'm interested in reading more! As far as suggestions go, I'd recommend cutting the logline. It really is great (use it for #Pitmad!), but it's jarring to go from that to the second paragraph. The info is also restated later in the query, so it makes it redundant. I'd also recommend cutting Kyan's paragraph. I know it's multiple POV, but it's better to focus on one character in a query due to lack of space. Finally, I'd shorten the author bio. You want it to be as short as possible. I'd keep the research for 20+ years and the visit, but leave out everything else. Good luck!

The Agent said...

This is a really fun premise and I'm intrigued from the start!

The second paragraph is well written and keeps me curious!

I feel like you lost me a bit in the third paragraph: "He hopes to heal his inner turmoil and Asta becomes the perfect panacea." - not so in love with this sentence - what is it really saying?

"She sees him for him, not his “slave-like” appearance. And when they fall in love, he’s as happy as he believes he can be." - do they really fall in love that quickly? I'd rather see you talk here about instant attraction in a sexy way - he can't stop thinking about her etc.

The next paragraph is great! But I again wondered about "best friend" - would she really feel that way about him so quickly? I think "lover" might be a better word to use without "best friend" and maybe something like "that she's slowly starting to feel like she can't live without..."

I am also intrigued by the idea of bare-breasted priestesses drinking wine and ruling an empire! (Though there is a type in that sentence...) - I would definitely keep reading!

The text:

I understand what you're trying to do here with "sticky" people but perhaps just say "sweaty"?

I would revise the use of "sucked her teeth"

But in general this is a really great start - I like your dialogue and the setup - I would definitely keep reading.

MJ Marshall said...

Not trying to be tedious and repeat myself, but I am not sure if my previous message went through since I don't see it! Thanks for all the feedback!!! If I get the chance to *officially* send this to the Mystery Agent, all those revisions will be incorporated. In any case, thanks for reading, everyone!

Unrepentant Escapist said...

There's a typo--priestesses drinking wine and ruling an empire.

Some of the dialogue at the beginning sounds maid and butlery to me. I love the historical stuff.

Jessica Gorbet said...

M.M.,
You had me at Bronze Age. I would read this in a heartbeat. I like the juxtaposition of Asta and Kyan’s respective places in this society. I like that you come right out and clearly set out the stakes and the decision Asta is going to have to make between Kyan and her people.

I dig that you’re going to alternate P.O.V.s, but for the purposes of the query, I might keep the focus on Asta and leave out Kyan’s paragraph for now.

I might also shake up this sentence slightly: “When she--as the mortal voice of her Goddess--demands his blood…” to “When she demands his blood in the name of the Goddess…” Just a thought.

In your first page, I really like the conflict you’re setting up with Julla because it’s not only setting up conflict, you’re establishing Asta’s stance on sex, a sentiment that I suspect is going to be turned on its head when she meets Kyan.

My suggestion would be to restructure that last paragraph to avoid asking the first rhetorical question. So (just playing here), maybe something like:

I dove into the crowd after her, pulling up short as a tall man with golden hair wove past me and through the jostling elbows and chattering shoppers. This stranger, and there weren’t many in Akrotiri, looked like the two westerners my mother enticed to visit and discuss trade with a few moons before. So why was there another foreigner here now, and how did the Ladies not know about it?

As I said before, you had me at Bronze Age. I’d definitely read this. Good luck with it, M.M.!