Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #100


Title: WARDER
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Word Count: 105k


Query:


Elf Mona Lisa Kubrek wants to work in the Buffalo enclave, despite the fact that at twenty-eight it's clear she'll never create spells, so when she's picked to train to maintain the wards which keep magic hidden and Folk safe she's thrilled. And it's great, even though her mentor is cranky and insists she trains at crazy hours… until she's barely evades a death spell, her teacher goes missing and an evil mage sends Weres under his control out to kill her.

Throw in investigator Cart Dupree, an aggravation whose side she can't seem to leave, and Mona learns the job's a lot more complicated than she thought, a lifetime more complicated.  Mona's determined to shoulder her responsibilities even after learning of the bleak life ahead of her as a Warder. Head of his den, Cart is tied to obligations and commitments back home. With the mage more than he seems Folk hierarchy in flux and legends coming to life, staying together may not be an option. First, though they need to track the mage and the Weres he controls, for despite all the changes in her world, Mona will always be a Warder. 

First 150 Words:

Mona's battered body protested being pulled from sleep, while her brain gladly left the macabre dream of decapitated humans running around an obstacle course while carrying wolf heads in their arms. Weird shit that, although, for once there wasn't much subtlety about the vision given she knew quite a few shifters. Thank the Goddess because waiting to figure out what her occasional premonitions meant drove her batty.

Daylight painted the back of her eyelids a fiery orange and warmed her face. The heat felt good, so it wasn’t the sun which had awakened her. Mona rolled over, she was too damned tired, hurt too much to get up. Shit! Her abraded elbows scraped against the nubby fabric of the couch making her flinch in pain.

Wait. Why was she on the couch feeling like someone had used her like a hockey puck?

Her stomach knotted at the memory of her sheer panic as the spell she'd accidentally triggered sent boulders stabbing up through the asphalt. Her body slamming into the icy ground as she lost traction and barely managed to scramble away.

Breathing deeply she tried to quiet her frantic heart. Cracked acorns, she'd been stupid and blithe and assumed she didn't need to check for spells so close to the Warder's complex when she’d arrived for her lesson, particularly with him right there. Old as he was he didn't typically miss seeing spells. But this one, someone had buried it under the ground. There'd been no glow, no signal until she'd triggered the working and the ground heaved under her feet.

10 comments:

Jessica Peterson said...

I think you could start a new sentence at "so when she's picked".... train to maintain is kind of a mouthful. typo? until "she's barely evades..." is Weres a person or things? I like your line "a lifetime more complicated" Your last paragraph leaves me quite confused, I feel like there is a lot going on and lots of characters, maybe it's just me though. Best of luck :)

Brittany Pate said...

Let me just start off by saying I would totally read this. It sounds like just my thing.

Query:
Elf Mona Lisa Kubrek wants to work in the Buffalo enclave, despite the fact that at twenty-eight it's clear she'll never create spells,(I agree with Jessica, I'd start a new sentence here.) so when she's picked to train to maintain the wards which keep magic hidden and Folk safe she's thrilled. And it's great, even though her mentor is cranky and insists she trains at crazy hours… until she's barely evades a death spell, her teacher goes missing and an evil mage sends Weres under his control out to kill her.

Throw in investigator Cart Dupree, an aggravation whose side she can't seem to leave, and Mona learns the job's a lot more complicated than she thought, a lifetime more complicated. Mona's determined to shoulder her responsibilities even after learning of the bleak life ahead of her as a Warder. Head of his den, Cart is tied to obligations and commitments back home. With the mage more than he seems (comma?) Folk hierarchy in flux and legends coming to life, staying together may not be an option. First, though they need to track the mage and the Weres he controls, for despite all the changes in her world, Mona will always be a Warder.

I have to agree that there is a lot going on in this query. There are a lot of unfamiliar terms that throw me off just a little while I'm reading.

First 150: I think you have an excellent opening. The first two sentences of the first paragraph seem a little long. If possible, I would try to break them up into three or four sentences.

Best of luck!

Michael McDuffee said...

I loved the first paragraph of the query. I was completely lost in the second. I actually think that in the first paragraph you drop in vocabulary words from your book's world well and understandably. The name of the main character is grabbing by itself, and starting off with it is a good move.

" an aggravation whose side she can't seem to leave"

I think I know what you're getting at here, but this isn't well said. Is she the aggravation, or is he? I think the issue is that this comes too close to the common saying of "a thorn in one's side," and so I'm thinking he's the aggravation, but she's the one who can't seem to leave his side... and... yeah.

"With the mage more than he seems Folk hierarchy in flux and legends coming to life, staying together may not be an option."

First, there should be a comma between 'seems' and 'Folk.' Second, I wasn't aware that Elf and Cart were together before you talked about them not being able to get apart. In retrospect it looks like that might be the implication of the first sentence of this paragraph, but I didn't realize that as I read through.

I think you should explain why Cart and Elf meet - did he come after her, find her in the course of investigating the evil mage, or what? If this wasn't listed as a Romance, I wouldn't have any idea that Cart and Elf were getting together.

I don't mean to sound too harsh - just trying to be helpful. I really do love the first paragraph, and this sounds like a book I'd like to read. I'm just worried about the ending of your query. Best of luck.

Leslie Karst said...

Query: I found the story line confusing and difficult to follow. Maybe if you simplify it some, and focus on just the primary plot line, the story--which sounds very exciting--could shine through more.

Also, a lot of your sentences are very long; you might want to break them up into two. "And it's great" seems vague. Some grammar nitpicking: "insists she train"; "until she barely evades"; add comma after "With the mage more than he seems"; add comma after "First, though."

1st 150 words: I like the contrast of what her body and brain wanted. But the image of decapitated humans in the very first line of the book was a bit off-putting for me. Also, I wouldn't use "shit" twice in the first two paras. In the fourth para. you slip back into the simple past ("Her body slammed") when I think you mean "had slammed"--makes it confusing if it's happening as she awakens or the day before. Like the "Daylight painted the back of her eyelids..." a lot.

Mia Celeste said...

I like that you’ve got a non-spell casting elf as your heroine. I have a feeling that her lack will end up being a plus at the end—an ugly duckling type tale. I’m a sucker for these. I bet a lot of others will like this as well. All the best.

amandakbyrne said...

Your first paragraph is excellent-I'd do what the others recommended and split that first sentence into to a the "so".

Your second paragraph...I think you're trying to tell us that eventually Mona and Cart manage to overlook their differences and give us a shot at an HEA, but the way you've worded it confuses me. It sounds like there's no way in hell Cart would ever show any interest in Mona, and vice versa. Then you throw in the mage (which, at first, I thought was Cart, before I remembered the evil mage who tried to kill her) and I got really lost. Once you pick through it, you can find all the elements, but they need to be more cohesive.

myupsndowns said...

I've got to be honest-- the first paragraph of your query confused me. I think you'd do well to explain a little about the world you're writing about before just launching into the story. I also think the first sentence of the query is way too long. Break it up a little, spend just a bit more time explaining, and I think it would be much better.

Good luck to you! :)

Ellie Heller said...

*mwah* <-- that's a big ol' kiss!

Thanks EVERYONE!! I will definitely be reworking that second paragraph to make clear the story arc and character progression. And breaking up the very first sentence of the query, I guess I like long sentences. :-)

And... wow, I've got a lot of work to do. Off to revise. I can't tell you how helpful this has been.

Rebecca Enzor said...

I hate to be late to the party, but here's my two cents:

Elf (maybe explain she's an elf after her name? Right now it reads like part of her name to me) Mona Lisa Kubrek wants to work in the Buffalo enclave, despite the fact that at twenty-eight it's clear she'll never create spells, (period, new sentence) so when she's picked to train to maintain the wards which keep magic hidden and Folk safe she's thrilled. And it's great, (delete)even though her mentor is cranky and insists she trains at crazy hours…(/delete) until she's (she) barely evades a death spell, her teacher goes missing and an evil mage sends Weres (huh? Is this a person/elf, or something worse?) under his control out to kill her.

--Overall a good first paragraph. It's not something I've seen before, and I really like what's going on here. I'd definitely pick the book up.

Throw in investigator Cart Dupree, an aggravation whose side she can't seem to leave, and Mona learns the job's a lot more complicated than she thought,(delete) a lifetime more complicated.(/delete - you can show us how complicated, but don't repeat yourself) Mona's determined to shoulder her responsibilities even after learning of the bleak life ahead of her as a Warder (<3 this - you don't even need to explain Warder, we can tell it's undesirable). Head of his den, Cart is tied to obligations and commitments back home (we just switched POVs). With the mage (Cart?) more than he seems Folk hierarchy in flux and legends coming to life (oooh, intrigued!), staying together may not be an option (Cart went from aggravating to lover without our knowledge?). First, though(comma) they need to track the mage and the Weres he controls,(period, delete "for") for despite all the changes in her world, Mona will always be a Warder.

This sounds like my kind of love story!

150: It's cliche to wake up on the first page. You might consider moving ahead a couple minutes. But I love the dream - maybe have her still thinking on it later in the day? I know my bad dreams don't go away that easily, and if I'm still thinking of it later that day they *really* disturbed me.

"Weird shit that" <3 I love the way you phrased this.

"Thank the Goddess (comma) because waiting to figure out what her occasional premonitions meant drove her batty." <3

"Wait. Why was she on the couch feeling like someone had used her like a hockey puck?" <3 That actually made me laugh out loud a little.

"boulders stabbing" Boulders are round, they can't stab.

"Cracked acorns" Didn't realize this was a phrase she says - I thought it might be symbolism from the dream still. Maybe have her say it out loud?

"particularly with him right there." Specify who "him" is right from the start. Otherwise we're completely lost.

"But this one, someone had buried it under the ground." But someone had buried this one under the ground.

Sorry for being so picky, but when I'm really interested in something I get really picky :)

Damianrofa said...

I like that you’ve got a non-spell casting elf as your heroine. I have a feeling that her lack will end up being a plus at the end—an ugly duckling type tale. I’m a sucker for these. I bet a lot of others will like this as well. All the best.