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  1. #466
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    The Jersey Devil!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Hawke View Post
    PREDATOR IN THE PINE BARRENS is a paranormal thriller containing an increasing sexual tension between the two main characters.
    So it's a paranormal romance and the romance is the main plot? If not, it might make more sense to mention that romance grows between them in the plot description instead of as your first intro. Otherwise, you are likely to confuse them. If it is a romance, then you would want to say that it's a paranormal romance.

    Paranormal Investigator Casey Windall,
    Because you capitalize this, it sounds like an official title which may confuse folk into thinking you're writing an alternate contemporary universe where the police now have paranormal investigation units. (Because we have those in fantasy.) So, I would suggest making it: "Paranormal journalist Casey Windall." Otherwise reads pretty good to me; how do you feel about it?

    My name is Tyler Hawke. I’m currently a photographer/lecturer/writer. I have written many magazine articles over the years on photography. Prior to my photography career I was a promotions producer/writer for MSNBC, Riki Lake and CN8 the Comcast Network (news and programming). I have also written some TV commercials for local politicians as well as having written many published Letters to the Editor.
    This is a good bio, but take out the Letters to the Editor part; they won't care about that.

  2. #467
    Thank you - the romance is a subplot so I'll make sure that point is made.

    Paranormal journalist works - I can see with the growing market in this genre, especially in the teen (Twilight) market and such, how this could confuse.

    Thanks on the bio info and I will tweek.

  3. #468
    Start judging theWallflower's Avatar
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    PREDATOR IN THE PINE BARRENS is paranormal thriller containing an increasing sexual tension between the two main characters.
    -he sexual tension is mentioned nowhere in the rest of the query. In fact, it doesn't feel like the characters interact much at all.
    -Also, by leading with this, it makes it sound like the story is all about sexual tension.

    In the rural regions of southern New Jersey, known as the Pine Barrens, bizarre killings begin to mount.
    -Animal? Man? Rutabaga? Be specific.
    -This sentence is passive voice. You want to avoid that if all possible, especially in a query letter.
    -I find it unusual that you start with the setting, instead of the main character. I think you want to focus on the character-drive story.

    At first the freakish animal mutilations on a local farm give detective Hunter Matthews little pause but when a late night roadside murder mirrors the same method of killing he begins to suspect a psychopath is on the loose.
    -Why do they give him little pause? If they're freakish, they should give him great pause.
    -I would say M.O. instead of "method of killing" - word conservation
    -Wouldn't a mutilated body do more than make someone just "suspect" a psychopath?

    Paranormal Investigator Casey Windall, looking for a real story to break, inadvertently becomes involved in the investigation when she hits something as she tries to make her way to the crime scene of the roadside murder. As suspects are eliminated Casey proposes an alternative theory that Hunter initially dismisses but can’t entirely shake from his conscious.
    -And that alternative theory is...?
    -What is that something she hits?
    -More word conservation - "tries to make her way" could be "drives", "but can’t entirely shake from his conscious" could be "but can't ignore".

    Casey begins to look further into the possible reality that a mythical beast from folklore known as the Jersey Devil may actually be more than a scary campfire story.
    -"a mythical beast from folklore" is repetitive

    More killings occur that Hunter looks into and when a mass murder of sixteen people confounds another police department, he is called in as a special investigator.
    -I don't see this line as being especially necessary. Nothing happens in this sentence. Just more murders. No new character development or plot development.

    Meanwhile Casey tracks down a credible lead that reveals knowledge about the beast that’s been hidden in plain sight.
    -Doesn't this count as part of the "looking further" she was doing before.
    -"that's been hidden" is passive voice.
    -You never say what that clue is, so I can't get invested. In fact, your characters don't seem to have any personality. What are their character archetypes.

    As they both begin to witness their perceptions of reality unravel, what comes to pass is an answer rooted in history that neither wants nor can accept.
    -This sentence means nothing. How does their reality unravel? A history neither wants nor accepts tells me nothing about what happens in the story.
    -This query could be cut by half. I the first half is the basic set-up -- bizarre killings that could be the work of something supernatural. The rest is rewordings of the phrase "they investigate further".
    -I think you need to reexamine the real summary based on who the main character is/are, what they want (both internally and externally, which is to stop the murders), and what's stopping them from doing it. In this case, I assume it would be a lack of clues. But if that's the case, tell us what clues there are so we can be intrigued to read more.

  4. #469
    Thanks for the tips Wallflower, I will take them into consideration in crafting a less passive and more engaging letter. It is certainly refreshing to hear bold assesments that both you and KatG have offered. It will help in getting this work published.

  5. #470
    Start judging theWallflower's Avatar
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    Here's mine. If anyone can give me feedback, I'd be much obliged. I'm mostly concerned if everything's clear and there is nothing unexplained. What I've got here only summarizes half the novel.

    Gene got himself a mermaid.

    He didn't want her, of course. The damn thing swam up his ship's vent while he was trying to avoid the mafia he owes a debt to. She only speaks gibberish, so there's no telling where she came from or how she could exist.

    It's bad enough most of the world is flooded and he has to eke out a living on the ocean with only his portable AI assistant, Stitch. Fortunately, Gene knows a long-time scientist friend on a nearby station who could find out. Could be a lot of money in it. And meanwhile, Gene could lay low, scrounge for jobs, and fix his spit-and-chewing-gum boat.

    But the mermaid keeps popping up in his life, especially when the general populace learns about her. Everyone wants to know if she's a fantasy made real or a bad omen for sailors as the myth goes.

    Just as they discover the secret of her existence, a mysterious silver ship attacks. As the station goes under, Gene must decide whether to escape with the mermaid, because doing so means betraying his scientist friend.

    MERM-8 is a 90,000 word science-fiction novel in the tradition of "The Little Mermaid" meets "Waterworld". I have been previously published in blee-blee and blah-blah...

  6. #471
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    I like the style, makes me think of a tongue and cheek affair.

    As a general note, being SF, you may want to say something about where your novel happens. At first, I thought that it was normal to have mermaids around by the casual way you introduced the fact that Gene got one (I got after that it was just the style of your cover).

    Reading the rest, I think that is a flooded Earth, but I'm still not sure.

    Just a few more things that could be a bit clearer:

    Quote Originally Posted by theWallflower View Post
    The damn thing swam up his ship's vent while he was trying to avoid the mafia he owes a debt to.
    Is this a specific mafia? As it is somehow this sentence seems unfinished.

    But the mermaid keeps popping up in his life, especially when the general populace learns about her. Everyone wants to know if she's a fantasy made real or a bad omen for sailors as the myth goes.
    So the mermaid is not always with him? I thought he brought her to the station for examination, instead she just appears here and there?

    Just as they discover the secret of her existence, a mysterious silver ship attacks. As the station goes under, Gene must decide whether to escape with the mermaid, because doing so means betraying his scientist friend.
    This could use a bit more explanation. When you say the station goes under, what do you mean? Underwater in hiding? Destroyed? Overtaken by the silver ship's occupants? Also, how is it that he is betraying the friend? Just because he's leaving him to deal with the ship?

    Either than that, it's intriguing for sure. Any reason why you want to summarize only half of the novel? You seem to have the space for more.
    Last edited by Taramoc; December 21st, 2011 at 08:46 PM.

  7. #472
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Right, this year I really am going to get my finger out and try to hunt down an agent. This is the basis of my query at the moment, with sample / synopsis / whatever each specific agent wants added at the bottom as required. Any feedback gratefully received!

    ------------------------

    Dear <name of agent>,

    Ruth, patron of thieves, is in very big trouble. In 1990s London, the immortal Shadowkin once more walk among us as the demon wars are rekindled by family feuds and treachery. For Ant, recovering from heroin addiction and trying to put his life back together, this strange girl could be just the change he needs. For Michael, fallen magus and self-destructive alcoholic, she is his worst nightmare come calling. With an immortal inquisitor on her trail and the Demon King seeking revenge, Ruth will have to do something drastic or be lost in the shadows forever.

    My 77,000 word Contemporary Fantasy novel “Shadows of Ruth” tells the tale of how a family disagreement between demons restarts an ancient war that almost destroyed the world six thousand years ago.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours Sincerely

    <my name and contact details go here>

    <sample pages if the guidelines ask for them go here>

  8. #473
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    I think you need to put a lot more details in this to make the plot clearer.

    Here's a breakdown:

    Ruth, patron of thieves, is in very big trouble. In 1990s London, the immortal Shadowkin once more walk among us as the demon wars are rekindled by family feuds and treachery.
    Family feuds? Demons are not typically involved in family feuds, you need to elaborate more. Treachery is too generic as well. Also what is a Shadowkin? All I know is that he is immortal.

    For Ant, recovering from heroin addiction and trying to put his life back together, this strange girl could be just the change he needs.
    How so? Love interest? She has some way to cure addiction?

    For Michael, fallen magus and self-destructive alcoholic, she is his worst nightmare come calling.
    Again, how so? Is she a weapon against magic? She drinks all the boozes in sight?

    With an immortal inquisitor on her trail and the Demon King seeking revenge, Ruth will have to do something drastic or be lost in the shadows forever.
    Again, what has she done to the Demon King to deserve his revenge? Is he the Shadowkin? What drastic thing does she have to do? Also, if she is the patron of thieves, how bad can he be for her to be lost in the shadows? Unless you are talking about some particular shadows, but then you need to tell us what they are.

    how a family disagreement between demons restarts an ancient war that almost destroyed the world six thousand years ago.
    This is the clearer sentence of the query, so I would start with this instead of putting it at the end.

    I don't mean to bee harsh, but I'm really having a hard time to figure your plot. Hope it helps.

    Taramoc

  9. #474
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    No, harsh is good, I need harsh! Thanks for looking - I've just had a good savaging of this over on AW as well so I'll start again from scratch with it I think. I've never attempted one of these before, and so far it's turning out to be harder than writing the sodding book was

  10. #475
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Wallflower -- apologies, I missed your query letter with the turn of the year stuff. It seems to have missing text. It sounds like an interesting SF story but the description of the story is kind of chaotic as Taramoc pointed out. I would suggest putting aside the cover copy needs for a second and just imagining that you're out to dinner with someone and trying to explain the book to that person. Then see if you can work that critical info into the cover copy. I'm guessing there are some interesting scenes, with ships and such, to this story, and you might want to mention one or two in there.

    PeteMC, you have to remember -- I don't know what the world of your story is. So, as Taramoc pointed out, we don't know what you mean by Ruth being the patron of thieves, or what you mean by demons and a demon war. 1990's London gives us a place, but it's clearly not regular 1990's London. So you're going to have to give us a frame of reference that these characters are operating in.

  11. #476
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    I’ve had a go at re-working this, any comments very gratefully received.

    ----------------------

    Ruth is the spirit of thieves, one of the immortal family of A’Druim, the first people. To repay her debt to an ancient god, Ruth is forced to steal a talisman of great power from her father, the Demon King. Ruth flees with it to 1990s London where she enlists the unwilling aid of a recovering heroin addict and an alcoholic fallen magus. With an immortal inquisitor on her trail and her father desperate to recover what she stole, Ruth discovers that the talisman is the key to releasing the ancient enemies of the A’Druim from their prison. All Ruth wanted was to repay her debts, but now the war that almost destroyed the world at the dawn of civilization is in danger of restarting and Ruth discovers she must do everything in her power to keep the talisman away from the god she stole it for.

    My 77,000 word Contemporary Fantasy novel “Shadows of Ruth” is a stand-alone novel but is also the first of a completed trilogy.

    -------------

    I'm not sure if I should even mention there are three books at this point or not - is it better to just pitch the first one to start with?

    Once again many thanks for looking, it's greatly appreciated!

  12. #477
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Much improved, Pete. I don't know anything about query letters (I gave up), but this second one gives me a clear picture of the story line, and I'm interested to find out how she juggles it all. That last sentence is a bit long and was a little difficult to get through. You might try to break that up, or cut it down.

    Otherwise, looks good to me!

  13. #478
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Definitively a lot better. As KatG points out, though, the nature of your world is still not completely clear. Is magic and the supernatural something well known or you are talking about real 1990 London, and your characters are hiding their powers from the common people?

    Also, there are still at least a couple of points in which I'd love some more clarification.

    Ruth is the spirit of thieves, one of the immortal family of A’Druim, the first people.
    Are the A'Druim demons? You mention that Ruth's father is the Demon King, is that just a title or he actually rules demon? In other words, are there going to be hordes of demons chasing Ruth?

    With an immortal inquisitor on her trail
    Where is this inquisitor coming from? Was he guarding the Talisman? Is he really an exorcist trying to get the demon Ruth? (Again that ambiguity about Demons I mentioned above).

    Finally, if you have the space (not sure if you are shooting for a specific word count), maybe explain a bit more the Ancient God and the relationship with Ruth, since he is such a big player.

    I can say though that now I know a lot more about your plot, and it definitively got my attention as something I'd enjoy reading

  14. #479
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taramoc View Post
    Definitively a lot better. As KatG points out, though, the nature of your world is still not completely clear. Is magic and the supernatural something well known or you are talking about real 1990 London, and your characters are hiding their powers from the common people?
    Nope, this is real-world London (ish, obviously).


    Also, there are still at least a couple of points in which I'd love some more clarification.

    Are the A'Druim demons? You mention that Ruth's father is the Demon King, is that just a title or he actually rules demon? In other words, are there going to be hordes of demons chasing Ruth?
    The A'Druim are non-human immortals. They were here before we were, and have come to be called "demons" through the evolution of human mythology. They're not demons in the biblical sense (they're something I made up ), I was shooting more for the classical Greek/Roman style of "like people only more so" type of god/immortal, so they have their own relationships and family squabbles etc like the gods of Olympus did.

    Where is this inquisitor coming from? Was he guarding the Talisman? Is he really an exorcist trying to get the demon Ruth? (Again that ambiguity about Demons I mentioned above).
    To start with, Ruth doesn't know. It turns out the inquisitor has been sent by the god to track Ruth down. It's female, btw.

    There are no exorcists involved (not that sort of demon) although my magus character is pretty much true to a real-world ceremonial magician.

    Finally, if you have the space (not sure if you are shooting for a specific word count), maybe explain a bit more the Ancient God and the relationship with Ruth, since he is such a big player.
    I don't know how much space I've got tbh, I've read these things are supposed to only be a couple of hundred words long?

    I can say though that now I know a lot more about your plot, and it definitively got my attention as something I'd enjoy reading
    Thank you!

  15. #480
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteMC View Post
    Ruth is the spirit of thieves, one of the immortal family of A’Druim, the first people. To repay her debt to an ancient god, Ruth is forced to steal a talisman of great power from her father, the Demon King. Ruth flees with it to 1990s London where she enlists the unwilling aid of a recovering heroin addict and an alcoholic fallen magus. With an immortal inquisitor on her trail and her father desperate to recover what she stole, Ruth discovers that the talisman is the key to releasing the ancient enemies of the A’Druim from their prison. All Ruth wanted was to repay her debts, but now the war that almost destroyed the world at the dawn of civilization is in danger of restarting and Ruth discovers she must do everything in her power to keep the talisman away from the god she stole it for.

    My 77,000 word Contemporary Fantasy novel “Shadows of Ruth” is a stand-alone novel but is also the first of a completed trilogy.
    Oh well there we go, that's much better. You do need to clear up the demon thing, as Taramoc noted. So first question, are the gods also part of the A'Druim? Is the god she stole the talisman for then an A'Druim too? Are the A'Druim essentially a small immortal race whose magical abilities played into the human myths of gods, angels and demons from their encounters with them? Are there factions and is one faction called the demons, so her father is the "Demon King"? Or is the god something different?

    Second question, if the A'Druim are simply an immortal, magical people, how is she the "spirit of thieves" which sounds rather like a god with a dedicated power? As opposed to just being really good at thievery. Did "Ruth" have other names worshippers gave her in the past? So you gave us some of the structure, but there are a few details left out that are the set-up.

    I would suggest that you find a way to work in this bit from the previous version: "For Ant, recovering from heroin addiction and trying to put his life back together, this strange girl could be just the change he needs. For Michael, fallen magus and self-destructive alcoholic, she is his worst nightmare come calling." But re-worked re the problems Taramoc mentioned. It's fine to just list them as a recovering heroin addict and an alcoholic fallen mage. That will work. But if you could give a bit more detail, such as their names and their relationship to Ruth in the plot, it may make them more interesting sounding, enhancing the appeal of the book.

    Next question, regarding the inquisitor, is she A'Druin too? What is the inquisitor's goal? Presumably to make Ruth give up the whereabouts of the talisman? So that may be a way to clarify it a bit, but "an immortal inquisitor" will probably work okay.

    So what you have is that Ruth, goddess of thieves or a master thief of the A'Druin, clan Demon, steals a talisman from her father, the king, to pay a debt to [another] [A'Druin] god. She flees to 1990's London with it. Does she time travel there or is it just that it happens to be the 1990's when she does this?

    She's pursued by a mysterious [A'Druin] inquisitor after the talisman and her father's forces, also after the talisman. Then she finds out the talisman is the key to unlocking the prison of her people's enemies and if they get out, the war that almost destroyed the world will start again. She cannot just hand the talisman over to her father and his forces for some reason, but she's not going to give it to the [A'Druin] god who wants to unleash their enemies (just for my own curiosity, why does he want to do this?) and not to the mysterious (or known to be working for the god) inquisitor wanting to capture and torture her or to any of the other A'Druin clans who are fighting over it and trying to take out her daddy. So she begins the biggest attempt at being a slippery thief of her life, holding off everyone's pursuit and catching up in the mess two humans -- an alcoholic mage for whom Ruth and the A-Druin are his worst nightmare, and a recovering heroin addict who regards Ruth as a savior because he A) thinks she's a goddess; B) falls in love with her; C) she gives him something to do, or possibly all of the above.

    Sounds fun. You just need to give the description some tweaks and you need to make it clear that the book is not dealing with biblical, Satanic hell demons and probably also not with actual gods, unless there are actual gods who are separate from the A-Druin.

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