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,


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.

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