Monday, March 13, 2017

BAD BLOOD Giveaway!

It's release day for Demitria Lunetta's new novel, BAD BLOOD! 

I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this book. The wonderful Scottish setting and characters transported me to another place (and time - thanks to some well-placed flashbacks). There was just the right amount of magic and creepy mysteries to keep the pages turning, but not so much that I was afraid to turn my lights off at night. Best of all there was just a bit of romance, which was so very well done and something I always enjoy. All in all it's a great read and one I highly recommend. So trust me, you definitely want a copy. And as luck would have it, I am giving away a copy.

On a more personal note, Demitria is also a close friend of mine. Last year we were even co-mentors for PitchWars. If you have't yet heard of her amazing new book it's because she hasn't been able to do a lot of promo as she's been busy kicking cancer's ass since last November. Demitria has also been amazingly brave and honest about her whole journey so far and you can read more about it on her blog in a brilliant post title: "My Cancer Diagnosis: How My Left Breast Is Trying To Kill Me"



A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.

FIND IT ONLINE: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

FIND DEMITRIA ONLINE:  Twitter, Facebook


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

PitchWars Critique - THE KILLING BLOG

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 


Dear Agent,

For some girls, the Internet is a place to go shopping. For others, it's a place to post their hottest selfies and get as many likes as possible. But for Amy Fickett, it's a place to share pictures of her freshly-killed victims with her millions of fans across the world. So the first two sentences here come across as gendered in a rather negative way. It feels like you are making statements about girls that really apply to all people. This is easily solved by removing the word girls in your first sentence.

After pulling the trigger on her father's suicide, Amy starts a new life with her estranged mother and sister in the picturesque and WASP-y suburb of Rochester, Michigan. WOH!!! The whole "pulling the trigger on her father's suicide" needs way more explanation. Like, for example, what does that mean? So far I am getting a really negative view of your MC all I know about her so far is that she posts pics of her murder victims on a blog and she helped kill her own father. We need some details to humanize her and get the reader on her side. On the other hand, I don't think we need to know she moves to a picturesque and WASP-y suburb - those are details that seem much less vital. She tries to fit in at her new high school, but her exotic looks and violent past make her an outcast. Amy withdraws deeper into her online world, where her love of shocking Internet videos and memes gain her a following. Can you be  more specific about the exact nature of these shocking internet videos?

But when Mom's boyfriend crosses the line, Amy snaps, killing him and taking pictures of his dead body. Again more details are needed here. How exactly does he cross the line? How does she kill him? Right now I am not convinced I would like or be able to understand your MC if I were to read your book.  The photos go viral and Amy, thrilled with her newfound fame, creates her own website to share her murderous deeds. The Killing Blog is born and Amy craves more blood, along with followers and likes. 

To hide any suspicion she transforms herself into a fashionable, charismatic, and manipulative teenage girl while she moonlights as the first serial killer of the Social Media Age. More kills leads to more fame until she's dangerously close to losing it all. She must fight to evade the law, keep her sanity, and stay alive. Okay, same problem again. This may just be a matter of taste and my own personal preferences, but a girl killing people for no other reason than to get social media likes and followers just does not feel like a character I want to spend a whole book with. Even describing her as a manipulative girl makes me think that there is nothing here that makes her seem like a character I can relate to. Think of a character like Katniss. She kills people brutally, but she has reason because she herself is hunted and in danger. Even if your book is about a character who kills for no good reason, you still need to humanize her in some way (ie: Dexter) so that your reader wants to stay on board with you.

THE KILLING BLOG is a young adult contemporary thriller, completed at 73,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Byron Sadik



Three weeks in a mental hospital, days of police interrogation, and tThe white carpet soaked in blood and flesh lingered on her mind as she headed to the bus stop. This sentence reads a bit jumbled - I had to read it a few times. I think it's because you start listing passage of times three weeks and then days of interrogation - then you switch to an image. It would make more sense to either follow the first two with something more like, "and weeks of packing boxes to move." Or (and I think this is the stronger choice) start with focusing on just that image of the white carpet per my cuts above. Dad's unexpected suicide forced Amy away from the run-down strip malls and apartments she lived for many years, and back to the cul-de-sacs and McMansions I don't think McMansions should be in caps of Rochester there are Rochester's in many different states, maybe be more specific? Walking through the winding sidewalks do you walk "through" sidewalks? and massive lawns, each driveway had a mandatory BMW-policy: every driveway had one parked just outside the garage. every driveway is repetitive after "each driveway" and this whole clause really just says the same thing that you already communicated more succinctly with "mandatory BMW-policy." As she wound through the big, airy, and monotonous homes of her new “neighborhood,” she found a group of kids around her age, backpacks slung on their shoulders. The two girls had blonde hair, though their eyebrows were as dark as Amy's black ones. So I think you spend maybe a little too much time on the optics of this neighborhood and Amy walking through it. It's a bit repetitive because you have Amy first "headed to the bus stop" then "walking through the winding sidewalks" and then later "wound through the big, airy, and monotonous homes." You really want to grab a reader with your first page and make every single word count. 

“Excuse me,” Amy said. Amy looked around and instantly felt out of place. Her pin-straight black hair, courtesy of her Indian father, didn't match with her golden-haired peers, natural or otherwise. Looking down at her own black pants, black boots, and black Nirvana shirt, she looked like a vagrant. She noticed one of the girls eying her up and down as though she knew her. Amy begged fate not to have to talk to her, but Amy knew what was coming.

“I like your hair,” the girl said. “You look like Alexa Arzniyan.”

Nothing made her blood boil worse than that. Amy hated Alexa Arzniyan. She hated that someone could go from a grainy sex video on Spankhub to an American icon. The best American icons committed suicide, as indicated by her Kurt Cobain shirt.

“I'm not Armenian,” Amy insisted. “I'm Indian.”

“Aren't you guys basically the same?”

Amy sighed. “Yeah, sure.”

“Do you speak Indian?”

Nobody speaks 'Indian', you dipshit. “I know a little Punjabi,” mostly swear words uttered from Dad's drunken lips.

“So are you, like, full Indian? You look pretty—”

“—White, I know.” Though her skin was pale, it had enough olive tone to remind herself that though she was white, she would never be white enough. Her hands dug deeper into her pockets and she turned away, but the girl didn't get the hint. By then it was too late. A tear dripped down her face like the blood from her father's gunshot wound. Suck it in, suck it in. Amy stiffened her lip, as she always did when he used to beat her. Years of abuse trained her to hold in her tears even as her ribs cracked within her. Okay, so the scene definitely picks up here with the dialogue - I would get to this sooner! And you do a nice job of humanizing Amy in this paragraph - it might be helpful to mention in your query that she was abused by her father.



Rochester High School was a barb-wire fence away from being a prison with its two main buildings joined by a walkway and surrounded by giant brick walls. Nice details - not overstated. Amy stepped off the bus, and took in the sight of her new classmates. They seemed wealthier, and, compared to the ethnic diversity of her old school, whiter. She followed her peers into the academic penitentiary. She roamed through the sterile, white walls. Amy hated white. It reminded her of places of despair: hospitals, police stations, and her father's apartment. She found her way to the correct classroom and opened the door. This paragraph may actually work better as your opening than what you have above.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

PitchWars Critique - EVIL IN THE WALLS

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 



Dear Mentor:


I’m currently seeking representation for my YA Horror novel, EVIL IN THE WALLS

After Annie’s grandmother dies, her family moves into her hotel during the summer in an attempt to save it. Due to a few murders that occurred in the past, the hotel has gotten a bad reputation over the years. This second sentence comes across as unintentionally funny, because to say that a hotel has a bad reputation after a few murders feels like a HUGE understatement. A bad reputation might happen after the discovery of cockroaches in the bathroom or a few cases of food poisoning, but murders seem like they would have a more chilling effect. I also think you could really just get a lot more atmosphere and details in here, since overall this query feels really thin and underwritten. Maybe something more like: Over a hundred years old, The Hotel Hampton (or whatever it's specifically named - specifics are always good) was once the best place to stay in Hampton Grove. However, after a series of bloody murder five years ago that left three women dead, only those truly desperate booked rooms.  Upon moving in, Annie and others begin to notice that strange things keep happening. Okay, again, we need more specifics here. What strange things are happening? Also a little atmosphere would be nice. Right now the big problem here is that this just doesn't feel original enough. What sets this story apart from other haunted house/hotel stories?

Annie and her new friend, Charlie, How does she meet this new friend? begin to unravel the mystery within her grandmother’s journal what is the specific mystery within her grandmother's journal? but as more of the guests and staff begin to die, MORE people are dying? How are earth do they have anyone staying or working there??? the evil inside the hotel becomes stronger. When Annie is forced to see what is real and what isn’t, she may have to sacrifice something dear to save her family. Again specifics. What does "what is real and what isn't" mean? What exactly is she seeing? And what exactly will she have to sacrifice?

EVIL IN THE WALLS is complete at 51,000 words and available, in part or full, upon request. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Author




FIRST PAGE:
1

T
he tea cup was halfway to her lips when she first heard the noise. Her hand paused, slightly shaking. No. Not again. Aya Hara pressed her lips together tightly and waited. One second. Two. Five. Twenty. Everything was quiet. Swallowing, she moved the cup all the way to her lips, opening them to take a sip of the hot tea. She took a sip of the hot tea. She always liked to have a cup or two at night; it helped calm her.

There was the sound again. Low, but it resounded throughout the room. Something in between a groan and a howl. Her hand began to shake so badly that a stream of brown liquid began to dribble down the left side of the delicate china cup. Taking a deep breath, Aya tried to calm herself as she lowered the cup to its saucer on the table beside her chair.

Aya pressed her hands together. “That’s enough,” she said as loudly as she could. It wasn’t very loud. She was ninety-six years old, and her voice seemed to be getting quieter and quieter lately. Taking another deep breath, Aya reached for the ornately bound notebook that she’d been scribbling in since the death of her husband. Ten years of musings and she only had one last page left. She hoped that it would explain everything when she was gone.

There was no other solution that she could see. The hotel had to be destroyed. Over fifty years of hard work had to be demolished. Sadness filled Aya, but she knew it had to be done. If she didn’t destroy the hotel, it would destroy her and all that she loved. She couldn’t let that happen. So she pressed the tip of her pen to the paper, thinking of how to word an explanation in case she didn’t make it. Though she planned on surviving, she knew she shouldn’t take any chances. She was too old to be sure, and even if she’d been younger, there was no way to know for sure if she’d be safe even then. Why now? If things have been bad for a while and she is nearly a hundred years old why wait so long to make this decision?

This was her insurance plan in case things didn’t pan out. No one else was here; all of the help had been asked to go home over the weekend. All of the guests had checked out, the vacancy sign outside was dark, and no one was able to check in. It was just her and the evil that dwelled inside the walls. Her heart felt heavy. She had worked so hard and for so long on this place that it was like she was killing a piece of herself. She had to, though. If she didn’t, she knew deep in her heart that it would go after her family. The Grand Kansai had to go.

This first page has the same problem as your query - there are just not enough specifics. What is the evil inside the walls? You can leave a bit of mystery but you need to show us rather than just tell us how bad it is. Right now all we're shown are a few scary noises, which doesn't actually seem all that frightening. I am also not sure if this is the best place to start your story. As a YA novel starting with an elderly grandmother may not be the best way to grab your intended audience. Otherwise, the writing is good, although there are a few places where the wording is a little clunky or unnecessarily detailed (ie: cup to its saucer on the table beside her chair.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

PitchWars Critique - Killers, Inc.

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 




Dear Agent,

So far, 1979 is a year seventeen-year-old Alia Nasiri would like to erase from her memory. Disowned by her parents, her life is unravelling. So when groovy, yet severely wounded stranger, Fabio Santos, offers Alia big bucks to drive him to hotspot Miami, she has no option but to accept. There’s only one problem: Miami’s the cash, cocaine and murder capital of America. Okay, the voice is really nice here... or should I say groovy. ;) I think, however, you could be more precise with your wording. For example does she have "no choice but to accept" or it is too tempting of an offer to turn down? Also you don't quite explain why Miami being the cash, cocaine, and murder capital of America is a problem for Alia. 

Though with its allure and glamor, glamour accompanied by her growing feelings for Fabio, Miami seduces Alia into staying longer than she expects. But Fabio isn’t being entirely honest about himself. He keeps dozens of different identities tucked in his wallet and has a clear link to the gun-toting Columbian hit men who dominate the cocaine rush raking the city. They’re called cocaine cowboys. 

And Fabio is one of them. 

After a night gone horribly wrong at a disco more specifics here about what specifically goes wrong, Alia is hurled into Fabio’s world, with six days to make up for a hit she accidentally ruins.There are only two ways out of it - catch and kill the targets herself, or end up another unmourned body on the streets. Until then, Alia’s on Fabio’s list his list for what? I don't understand this—whether he wants her there or not.

Trouble is, Alia’s no murderer. But the longer she stays in Miami, the quicker killing doesn’t look so bad anymore. But then again, neither does dying. This just repeats the same problem you state above - that she needs to kill or be killed. Is there something else - something bigger at stake here?

Complete at 83,000 words, KILLERSINC. is a historical fiction with a cross between Pretty Woman and Scarface. If this is a young adult novel (which you should specifically state) then you need at least one of these comps to be a young adult novel, especially because both of those movies are very adult movies. Thank you for your time and consideration.



July 28, 1979

    I’m a thief. 
            Everything I’m dressed in right now…all stolen. This nurse’s uniform. The matching apron and cap. The white stockings. The stethoscope hanging around my neck. Stolen.
            Oh, and the car I’m driving?
            That’s stolen too. 
            Quick. I punch the car’s radio buttons and switch the station. I’m sick of rock and roll. Of Janice Joplin and Led Zeppelin and Kiss. Adam used to love that crap, jamming in his dank basement with his head bobbing and a joint dangling from his lip. But he’s done with me, and I guess I’m done with Detroit. So yes, rock ’n’ roll can go to hell, and Adam along with it.
            After settling on an Earth, Wind & Fire disco tune, I look out the rearview mirror and scan the road for cops. It’s been forty minutes since the start of this heist and already my heart is clambering out of my chest, jolting every time a car inches too close like they’re trying to get a good read on my license plate.
           Look, there’s one now. My heart starts beating wildly like it’s trying to steal out of my ribcage. above you mention her heart clambering out of her chest - it's a bit repetitive Then I realize that it’s just a taxicab. Relax Alia, calm down. But I suppose that happens when you use chloroform to knock out a nurse and steal her junk: you get a little paranoid. A little on-edge. Maybe explain why she would decide to do this?
          I wipe the sweat from my brow.
         A fly lands on the steering wheel between twelve and one o’clock, rubbing its tiny hands together like it’s coming up with some devilish plan—probably one more sophisticated than mine. It’s been staked here since before I pinched the car and I can’t seem to guide the little shit out the window. I try to wave it away, to wave it over to the other seat, but that’s when my gaze lowers and I spot something I really didn’t want to see.
         The gas gauge shows the tank is near-empty. 
The voice here is really nice and I can feel the character's desperation. I'd like a bit more information about why she's in this desperate situation and also more of a sense that this is a teenager.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

PitchWars Critique - Heart of A Brave

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 


Dear Agent,

In 1928, seventeen-year-old Amelie Lecuyer thinks a clandestine romance with her womanizing, alcoholic boyfriend, Jonathan, is her biggest worry. It isn’t until her Native American ancestry comes to light, inciting her brother’s murder, that she discovers her family lineage is a far more dangerous secret. This is a great start and gives us the basic info about Amelie and what her main problem within the story will be. The only thing that gave me pause was the first sentence - I wonder why Amelie is involved with a womanizing alcoholic boyfriend and why she cares to continue her clandestine romance.

Turning to her mother’s long-forgotten tribe for help, Amelie learns that their ancient adversary, Tsinoo—soulless humans, immune to both love and pain, who feed on the hearts of others to extend their survival—have returned. Oh, so this has a paranormal angle and the book seems to be more about this. Hmm, in that case, I would maybe skip that whole first sentence above about the boyfriend and just go straight to brother's murder uncovering her family lineage. 

Pressured by her tribe into training as a Brave—a chosen warrior—to help destroy them, she is thrust into a violent world of fear and death. Why would her tribe want her to do this? Is there something special they believe she can contribute? Can she find the courage to detach herself from Jonathan and the carefree life he provides? But the life you described with Jonathan sounds anything but carefree. Or will the onus of killing Tsinoo lead her to reject this frightening legacy? Under all her doubt and fear, does she have the heart of a Brave? Great final sentence!

Heart of a Brave is a stand-alone Young Adult Historical Horror novel (with a lovely smack of romance). It is complete at 74,000 words and has series potential.

A bio paragraph would be nice here - especially since you are two authors writing together - might be nice to know a bit about you both.

Thank you for your consideration!

Warm Regards,
Laura Poston and Erin Locati



June 1, 1928
Chapter 1

"Jump, Amelie!"
I peer over the twenty-foot drop-off into the Winooski River and can't help but break into a smile. The fifty-four new graduates of Saint Monica's Catholic Academy are swimming in nothing more than their underclothes. They look like a rookery of white seals splashing in the sea.
I cup my hand around my mouth and yell, "I'm not a senior!" The water looks cold.
"You're close enough!" shouts my best friend Lydia. She shakes her short blonde hair, sending a shower of water over her twin brother. He picks her up and throws her in retaliation, making her scream with delight.
Dozens of spectators line the old red brick bridge; most of them are junior classmates like me. Ten minutes ago the last bell of the day rang, signaling the end of prep school for a quarter of the student body. To carry on the long-standing Saint Monica tradition, the enraptured seniors had raced down the back lawn of the school to fulfill their unofficial, yet obligatory farewell bridge jump. 
I step back from the edge and undo the buttons on the front of my navy blue school dress. I slip it off and hang it over the parapet of the bridge as everyone else has done. The wall is littered from end to end with the navy and white uniforms of Vermont's finest school.
I kick off my shoes and climb atop the middle of the bridge's low barrier wall. The deep river flows gently below me and for a dizzying second I feel like I could fly into the cloudless sky. The sun is hot my skin as a breeze blows up, fluttering my pale pink chemise.
Jonathan begins chanting my name and others quickly join in. "A-me-lie! A-me-lie! A-me-lie!"
Butterflies dance in my stomach as I take a big breath and leap into the air.  This is a great first page! This is such a vivid and fun opening scene that immediately draws me in. I really have nothing to critique except that a part of me wonders how historically realistic it is that girls and boys together in 1928 would be swimming in their underthings together and no one would be scandalized by it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PitchWars Critique - FREAKSHOW

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 



Trapped within depths of Hell, seventeen-year-old Freakshow is content spending his eternal damnation torturing sinners, warping their bodies into hideous abominations known as Freaks, and performing drag in dresses made of human flesh for the Devil’s amusement. I feel like as the first introduction of your character this is a bit off-putting. I like how specific you are, but maybe soften it a bit by saying Freakshow copes with eternal damnation rather than that he is content with it? 

However, when the Devil demands Freakshow ascend to Earth and corrupt a heavy metal band known as The Darkest Star, he suddenly finds himself coming face to face with horrors he thought were buried along with his corpse. Why does the devil want to corrupt this heavy metal band? And what are the exact horrors that Freakshow comes face to face with? 

Armed with a backpack full of makeup and a penchant for mutilation, Freakshow finds that his mission, much like Heaven and Hell, isn’t just black and white. Okay, maybe a bit more detail on specifically how he plans to act out his mission? As he falls for both the band’s transgendered guitarist, Gio, and Priscilla, the school’s “slut,” Freakshow must defy the Devil and save the band from a fate worse than death…an eternity with him. Nice last line. 

FREAKSHOW is a YA horror novel complete at roughly 71,000 words  I like dark YA but this strikes me as really REALLY dark. You might have a bit more success selling this concept with some really good comps. Also this query is a little on the thin side. I think you could beef it up with a few more specifics to make it really shine.

First Page:

The lips on Marie’s severed head curled into a sneer when I walked in. Her beady eyes, thick and heavy with lead based eye shadow, narrowed as I passed behind her mirror. Just her headless body I know what you're trying to say, but the phrasing here is awkward began applying a truly hideous shade of red lipstick to her chapped lips; I snatched the tube from her and flipped her off as I made my way down the rows of old and broken vanities.
Marie let out a low growl and picked up a wooden hairbrush. The wig she was wearing tonight was a hideous thing: big, white, and at least two feet high. Occasionally, if you turn your body just right, you could see the tiny little trinkets expertly woven into the human hair. The entire thing made me gag, and not in the good way. Is there a good way to gag?
"The French Revolution was so 200 years ago." I told her, stripping the T-shirt from my body. My hairless torso was sticky with sweat and blood. I ran my fingers between my pectorals as I gazed into Marie's bejeweled vanity.
"You're so fucking late," Norma bellowed as she sashayed towards me, all ready done up like a good little pin-up girl.

I think this is a good beginning. You immediately put us into the world and give us a feel for what it's like. I would maybe like to get a bit more sense of how does Freakshow feels about this place, the people in it, and his own place there as well?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

PitchWars Critique - RISE OF THE OMEN SUN

I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many ones with so much potential. 

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Demitria Lunetta and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query cirtiques on our blogs. Demitria will be hosting critiques on her blog on Tuesdays, while mine will be here on Thursdays. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback. 

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here 


Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Sam has grown up in a world where crushed world.  Wwar, disease, and natural disasters have left humankind weak and Earth ripe for the taking – so the Biede have taken it all. If Sam keeps her head down and doesn’t draw attention to herself, she’s convinced she can survive life in alien-occupied America. But the Biede know she’s the only surviving daughter of charismatic freedom fighter Samuel Pierce. And now that they’ve killed him, they want her dead too. They want her dead just bc she's his daughter? This motivation feels a little weak. Can't she have some secret that her father found that could bring down the Biede once and for all? Pursued by alien trackers, Sam flees her desert homestead and heads to Chicago, the last of the free human cities. It’s there that rumors of a human rebellion are beginning to surface and Sam believes they may be the only ones able, and willing, to save her life. 

Once in Chicago, Sam crosses paths with seventeen-year-old Tsy. While Sam struggles to uphold the legacy of a father she never knew, Tsy seeks to unravel the knots of his own mysterious past. When Biede soldiers begin gathering outside the city, the resistance believes they’ve come for war, while Sam fears they’ve found her out. But the Biede’s intentions are far more sinister than any of them can imagine I think it would be stronger to be more specific here - what exactly are the Biede going to do? What is at stake? and it could be Tsy, and the strange deaths that haunt him, which may hold all the answers. Sam is your main character, so I think you need to bring it back to her. What does she need to do? What is at stake for her?

Complete at 60,000 words, RISE OF THE OMEN SUN is a YA science-fiction novel told from the points of view of the two main characters, Sam and Tsy.  I believe it will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey's THE 5th WAVE and Patrick Ness's THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. Good comps.

This is my first novel and has series potential.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Where's the bio? Even just a one sentence one with basic information is nice.

Best Regards,


RISE OF THE OMEN SUN
CHAPTER ONE: SAM

Sometimes it feels like dirt makes up the entirety of my life. I can’t seem to get away from it. Dried mud crusts on our dugout bricks and piles up in little mounds around the base of my home. Dust travels on the wind on gets stuck in everything; it nestles into my hair, the cracks in my dry lips, the creases of my eyes, and under my fingernails. I track dirt home every evening after spending another back-breaking day hauling water from the pump to our small plot of land where, each year, I manage to coax a few rows of corn to life. I like the voice here and I think this is a good beginning. My only problem is that I've read lots and lots of YA books with a terrible dystopian or post apocalyptic near-future of this type and I even though the writing is good, I'm not sure if this is original or different enough from those other books.  

It’s not the dirt that’s the problem, though. It’s the lack of water. Standing at the top of our dugout steps I squint at the dark sky in hopes of seeing at least one tiny little rain cloud. Nothing. It’s been fourteen months, three days, and six hours since we’ve seen any moisture fall from the sky. I’ve been counting.

Swinging the bow and arrows into a more comfortable position on my back, I blow on my hands and take a look around. A small, fenced off area is our garden. A few meters away from it is our rusted pump. I hate the old thing because I’m constantly cleaning out the sand and grit it dredges up from below. Seventy percent dirt and grime and thirty percent water, Mags always says. She also likes to remind me that at least it’s still working after over a decade.

The last bit of our homestead is the little wooden shack built up against the side of our dugout. That’s where our four chickens roost at night. I can hear them clucking and cooing, rustling their feathers and waking up from their chicken-dreams.

“I’ll feed you when I get back.” I whisper the promise, then set off at a brisk pace towards the west.

The soil crunches under my boots and I keep an eye out for snakes crossing the path. That’s all I need — to get bitten out here. As I walk, I try to dispel the dream which hangs onto me like a bad stink. It’s not the first time I’ve had the dream, but no matter how many times it happens, I don’t get used to it. I always wake up feeling sad for reasons I can’t understand.

Two miles to the west of our dugout is a watering hole. It’s a small puddle compared to what it was before, but I think some sort of underwater spring feeds it because it never goes dry. If I go early enough and park myself upwind, I’m sometimes lucky enough to find a jack-rabbit running around.

Again, overall the writing here is good. However, I'm not sure you want to spend your entire first page basically giving us the same information (things suck, lots of dirt/not enough water) in several different ways. Maybe consider trimming some of this to bring in action or other characters sooner.