Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #27


BLOOD OF ISIS
YOUNG ADULT - CONTEMPORARY FANTASY
55, 000 WORDS

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Aziza Harper has been traveling the world with her Egyptologist mother since her parents’ divorce, seven years ago.  As a result, Aziza has found it difficult to make friends and now she’s about to change schools, again.  But fitting in is the least of her problems when on her first day of classes, after surviving two attempts on her life, she’s told she is a descendant of the Goddess Isis–the one fated to restore balance to the cosmos by stopping the God Seth from taking over her world. 

However, Aziza doesn’t believe in myths. She’d rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, and hanging out with the friends she’s beginning to make. Nevertheless, she is about to find out that her friends and some of her classmates are not as ordinary as she thinks.  And if Aziza wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs to start figuring things out and fast, for Seth is resurrecting and this time he’s back for revenge.

First 150 Words:

I have a mild obsession with Harry Potter.  When I was eleven I made a wish.  I wanted to go to boarding school, to a place like Hogwarts.  I wanted to have instant friends like Harry's.  Sure, he had to go through some stuff and it wasn't easy but at least he had friends who were always there when it mattered. 
            Well, I'm finally getting to go to boarding school.  Unfortunately this happily ever after is too late.  I stopped making that wish six years ago.                                                                                                                           
            “Aziza!” snapped my mother.  "Are you listening to me?”  My mother wore her hair in its usual style, a tightly woven braid that ran down her back.  Even though she never took her eyes off the road, I could tell she wasn't pleased.
       “Yes, mother," I said, taking the time to let every syllable roll off my tongue.  “I hear you.”  

33 comments:

Mia Celeste said...

Grin. I think Aziza is way more interesting than Harry Potter. Good luck with your pitch.

Patrice said...

Thanks Mia :)

Jeannette said...

I really like your premise! Egyptian myth hasn't really been touched in YA and I think there could be a lot of opportunity there.

I'm no expert on queries, but yours is very easy to read and straightforward. One suggestion is to reorder this a little bit... I understand Aziza is likely in denial about the assassination attempts, but the sequence it's presented in takes away some of the urgency and power. If the assassination attempts are your inciting incident, it could have a little more thrust, rather than having her discount them in the next sentence.

Good luck! This sounds awesome!

T Y said...


Query:
I really like this. My eyes immediately lighted up at the mention of 'Egyptologists,' which sounds new and refreshing in the YA genre. Your query was short, sweet, and too the point. It reminded me of Harry Potter (yup, 250 confirms it) and 'Wildfire' (girl goes to boarding school and discovers she's a volcano goddess.
-First sentence: You could probably cut 'seven years ago' because how long her parents have been divorced seems irrelevant to the casual reader.
-The last sentence is vague to me, especially the 'she needs to start figuring things out fast' part. What things? Her superpowers, right? Her classmate's superpowers?

150:
This reads very well. Love the voice and the Harry Potter mention. That being said, Harry Potter refs are a double-edged sword as it could work for you or hurt you.
-There are a few things I seem 'done' to me: MC goes to boarding school/getting ready for the first day of school routine, MC is not pleased to go to school...All familiar. The word count of 55K seems short for me, considering that the query promises myths and supernatural elements, so I do wonder if the world is drawn out enough.

That being said, I'd still read on because EGYPTOLOGY trumps all.

Good job!

Jodie Andrefski said...

I agree with the others..I really love the premise and think you have a fantastic voice!

I also agree that maybe a bit more stress should be placed on two previous attempts on her life, since that seems like it would kind of be a biggie. Maybe even lead off with that.

I love how you say she takes time to let each syllable roll off of her tongue, such great word choice!

I do like the going to boarding school bit, especially since you are making the HP reference of how she had always wanted to go. I think that for your premise to work with all the kids being in one place, you probably need something like that so it makes sense to me.

Super job.

Patrice said...

thanks for commenting everyone :)

Jeanette, I agree I think it's a really untouched field in YA, so I'm excited for all of this.

I was thinking about that myself and you all seemed to affirm that I should revert my query back to an earlier version where I had the inciting incident upfront. Instead of having her denial throw things off.

T Y, I like your suggestion to take out the seven years ago, it's unnecessary, as for the clearing up of the vagueness I'll look at the query and make sure to clean that up. I meant to have it as a hook, like she needs to start figuring out who she is, her place in all of this, her powers, her friend's identities, etc...

As for the 150 words, I know those are familiar and done, however as Jodie said, I feel that it's necessary...I wish there was more but I promise things change up soon and they aren't at boarding school for the whole book. As for the 55K , as of right now, I'm saying it's done...I'm have a few revisions to add so it should go up but we shall see. I do have a feeling though that sometime between the time *hopefully soon* when I get an agent and the book being published the word count will increase with revisions that I and critique partners and such haven't noticed.

Jodie, I'm glad you like the voice and the word choice. Voice is such a tricky thing because for me I feel like you either have it or you don't.

--Thank y'all so much, your feedback, suggestions, critiques, and compliments are all helping me a lot. Please post if you're post is one of the pitches up so I can make sure to return the favor.

Jadzia Brandli said...

I loved this. You have a fantastic voice going here, in your query and your first 150. I loved thh Harry Potter thing, it really shows us more of Aziza's personality and in the first paragraph, no less! Great job with this. :)

Patrice said...

Thanks Jadzia, glad to hear you liked it!

I also saw that you're 18 and a sister to 6 on your blog, I'm 19 and a big sister to four siblings!

Good luck at GUTGAA!

Zvi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seth Z. Herman said...

Hey,
Enjoyed this very much. I think the first 150 words are much stronger than the pitch - your voice comes out much better there. The pitch seems... almost... formal. See if you can use that great voice from the novel itself in your pitch.

Good luck!!!!!
Seth

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet said...

Hi there! I thought the opening of your query was great, but now (she says, rubbing her hands and cracking her knuckles), let's get on with the crit...
But fitting in is the least of her problems when on her first day of classes, after surviving two attempts on her life, (yes, I agree with other posters, a bit more here - which means breaking up this very long sentence) she’s told (by whom? I think this is REALLY important to know) she is a descendant of the Goddess Isis–the one fated to restore balance to the cosmos by stopping the God Seth from taking over her (whose? the MC's today world or Isis's afterworld?)
and hanging out with the friends she’s beginning to make (ok, so has she moved or not, in the first paragraph it says she "about to change schools again", this confuses me)
for Seth is resurrecting and this time he’s back for revenge (by saying "this time" it sounds as though he's resurrecting for at least the 2nd time, if that's not the case then remove "this time").

Unfortunately this happily ever after is too late. (I don't really think of HP as a "happily ever after" kind of story so this reference throws me off). I stopped making that wish six years (what wish? she got the wish to go to boarding school, was she wishing to live happily ever after as well? it's not clear).
Having said all that (because we're supposed to be offering suggestions) I love the voice and the interaction between mom and daughter promises to be fabulous. I also love Egyptology and that was always my favorite part of the Boston MFA - I could spend hours hanging out with mummies and canopic jars ;-)

Patrice said...

Hi Seth! Thanks for your comment, I agree it's something I've been working on, to take away "the formalness" of the query.

Patrice said...

Hi Rhiann, thanks for the honest feedback, so helpful.

With the query I'll make sure to revise that to clear those things up, same with the wish thing in my 150 words.

For happily ever after thing, it's part of a sub idea I guess in the book, because first she says HP has to go through "some stuff" and I think we can all agree that he went through way more than that and that while he ended up okay, it was not a happily ever after. That is purely the narrator, my MC to show how she changes because by the end of the book she understands exactly what it means, what HP might have felt like, that in order to get where he ended up...he and his friends went through a lot and lost a lot of people. I don't want to give anything away but I did want to clear that up.

Thank you for your comments about the voice and the mother-daughter interaction...I love her and her mother. When I was little I wanted to be an Egyptologist and the Boston MFA's Egyptian portion is practically my playground, especially their old Kingdom artifacts :)

Let me know if there's anything else...thanks for the continued feedback everyone!

Diane Riggins said...

Hi,

I agree with some of the others. The Query was good. It did seem a little more formal. The first 150 words drew me in and made me want to read more. Good luck!

jumpingfromcliffs said...

Far be it from me to cast any criticism on the first 150 words of your work, but I just wonder if mentioning HP in the first sentence is setting yourself some monumental expectations in the minds of potential readers? It's a brave tactic and one I heartily admire in one sense, yet in another I fear you may be setting the bar very very high... But what do I know?? :)

Robin said...

Thank you for reading my entry (#51 Lovesense) I wanted to do you the same favor.

The query is easy to read and sets up a great story, but 2 points had me confused. 1. the 2 assasination attempts came from out of nowhere and seems too minor a mention, as if in passing. I'd give them more attention. And 2-I don't know Egyptian mythology well enough-Seth is mentioned only in the last line and I'm not sure who he is.

I enjoyed the voice of the 1st 150-engaging and fun to read. Good luck!

Patrice said...

Thanks Diane, I will definitely be revising the query :)

Patrice said...

Haha, thanks for the honest feedback, I think you have every right to state your critique, I appreciate it.

My goal was to immediately have the readers have a connection with the MC and as odd as it might sound, Aziza really does love HP. I'm glad you think of it as brave, I agree it might be risky but it suits the story well.

Thanks for
Commenting!

Patrice said...

You're Welcome, thanks for commenting Robin!

I will be revising the query, I'm glad everyone picked up on the minorness of the assisination attempt because it was something I didn't think I needed to elaborate on.

As for Seth, that's trickier but I'll see what I can do, in an earlier version of my query I talked about him too much and I don't want to give a mythology lesson, the book explains everything but I'll see if I can include a little more.

Thanks again for the feedback :)

Alex Brown said...

Everybody's left very insightful comments, so I just want to say that I LOVE that you're incorporating Egyptian mythology into your story :)

And your voice is excellent! I would totally read on!

Angela Brown said...

Some things can't be emphasized enough. One thing is that I enjoy the premise of your story.

Second is that the first paragraph of your query reads well but would really read better with bit of reordering and emphasizing the two attempts on her life.

Enjoyed the voice in your first 150 -)

Meagan said...

Seventeen-year-old Aziza Harper has been .... --> backstory

As a result --> the formal language in this is drowning out what needs to be there: voice! This isn't an English paper, it's okay to break away from that format.

Aziza has found it difficult to make friends and now she’s about to change schools, again. --> backstory

But fitting ... world. --> Whoaaaa. Okay. *this* needs to be where you focus. I hope you'll consider shifting things around, because that would get my attention more than what you have as a start.

However, --> formal

Aziza doesn’t believe in myths. She’d rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, and hanging out with the friends she’s beginning to make. --> A good piece of advice someone once gave me was to look at how often your characters begin or start actions. Make them do, not start.

Nevertheless, she is about to find out that her friends and some of her classmates are not as ordinary as she thinks. --> I feel like this needs to be stated outright, even if she isn't aware of it.

And if Aziza wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs to start figuring things out and fast, for Seth is resurrecting and this time he’s back for revenge. --> Okay, I think a lot of other people brought up the fact that you should make this more overt. But this sounds like the big event in the book, and you've introduced us to her stakes, which is awesome. So if you could make Seth's appearance more important, it might make it make more sense.

I've pulled out some things I think you could build from:


Seventeen-year-old Aziza Harper doesn’t believe in myths, but on her first day of classes, she survives two attempts on her life. Then [whoever] tells her she'sis a descendant of the Goddess Isis -- the one who's supposed to restore balance to the cosmos by stopping the God Seth from taking over her world.

But after spending seven years following her Egyptologist mother, Aziza’d rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, or hanging out with her new friends. She's not used to sticking around one place for too long, and she's not about to give it up without a fight.

When she finds out her classmates are not as ordinary as she thinks, Aziza ______. If she wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs figure things out. Seth is resurrecting, and this time he’s back for revenge.

---

I'm not hooked by your first 150 words. I understand why she relates to Harry, but "he had to go through some stuff" doesn't cut it for me. I'm also not finding a lot of voice -- there's such a formal tone to the writing that it's really hard to imaginea teenager saying or thinking this stuff -- or describing the world around her like this.

An editor (and I don't say that to sound ~more advanced~, just because it had more merit than me alone saying this)once pointed out that my MC called her Mom mother and her Dad father. While *i* did that, it stuck out to her as uncharacteristic for a teenager -- even a smart one, or a well-disciplined one. Think about that.


It might sound like I'm down on this, but trust me, I'm not. I would be interested in the story itself, because I think you've got a good thing going here.

Patrice said...

Thanks for the great feedback Meaghan!

Everyone seems to be pointing out similar things so I'll be looking over and revising everything, the query just won't reflect the changes. But I wanted everyone to know I am taking their feedback into account.

As to the mother thing, she says it as an emphasis in that one part, the other times she says mother (in thought) should be mom, as it is throughout the story.

I will definitely play with the tone a little more though.

Thanks!

Patrice said...
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Patrice said...
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Patrice said...
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Patrice said...

I don't really know if we're suppose to do this but if you're interested here is my revised query, thanks to your feedback:

On her first day of classes, at a new school, seventeen-year old Aziza Harper survives two attempts on her life and is told by her grandmother she is a descendant of the Egyptian Goddess Isis -- the one who’s supposed to restore balance to the cosmos by stopping the power-hungry God Seth from taking over her world.

But after spending seven years traveling with her Egyptologist mother, Aziza would rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, or hanging out with her new friends, who aren't as ordinary as she thinks.

If Aziza wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs figure everything out and fast for Seth is coming back to power, and this time he wants revenge.

Jodie Andrefski said...

Just wanted to throw a different viewpoint in on the "mother" thing. I took it that she was calling her mom that more out of a touch of sarcasm than anything...especially the way you worded the rest of the sentence. That's what made me especially like it. It helped me to get a feel for her character actually. I know my 14 year old does that kind of half-sarcastically when she feels I'm nagging or whatever...and she doesn't ever call me "mother" normally. I'm always "Mom".

Patrice said...

Hi Jodie,

Thanks for your comment that's exactly what I meant it to be taken as, when Im being sarcastic with my mom who usually call mom or mama I say mother.

My MC and her mother have a very up and down relationship that I wanted to show from the very beginning.

Rich Knight said...

Good pitch. I'd like to know more about this line, though: "after surviving two attempts on her life."

That's pretty major. What happened to her? I'd like to know!

Patrice said...

Thanks Rich...

Here is the revised query as of 9/12/12...more info as requested.

I posted it below and it's here: http://whimsicallyours.com/2012/09/11/query-blood-of-isis-gutgaa/

The first day at a new school is an event that is rarely forgotten especially if it is a first day like the one Aziza Harper had.  First she survives what was meant to be a fatal Equestrian accident.  Then, while bed-ridden, she is told that somehow her new friend, Jordan, knew and alerted authorities about a bomb that was meant to kill Aziza.  And to top it all off Aziza’s grandmother revealed that Aziza is a descendant of the Egyptian Goddess Isis -- the one who’s supposed to restore balance to the cosmos by defeating the power-hungry God Seth.

But after spending seven years traveling with her Egyptologist mother, Aziza wants to enjoy her senior year as a normal teenager. She would rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, or hanging out with her new friends–who aren’t as ordinary as she thinks—than chase after a myth.

Nevertheless, if Aziza wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs accept her abnormalities. And fast. For Seth is coming to power and this time he wants be ruler of the world.


Cynthia said...

I like the name Aziza and the premise for your story. I myself like reading and learning about Egypt. When you say that Aziza "needs to start figuring things out and fast," I wonder how she will go about doing this. Will Aziza discover that she has a super power? Does her relation to Isis grant her special privileges that allow her to fight evil? I want a clearer picture of Aziza's role in bringing down her adversary. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

Patrice said...

Thanks everyone!

Here is the final version of the query, revised as of today:


Seventeen-year old Aziza Harper’s first day of her senior year will never be forgotten. After surviving a near-fatal accident and a bomb attack, she learns that she is a descendant of the Egyptian Goddess Isis—the one who’s supposed to restore balance to the cosmos by defeating the power-hungry God Seth.

But after spending seven years traveling with her Egyptologist mother, Aziza wants to enjoy life as a normal teenager. She would rather spend her time lusting after David Lewis, the student council president, or hanging out with her new friends—who aren’t as ordinary as she thinks—than chase after a myth.

Nevertheless, if Aziza wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday, she needs to accept her abnormalities. And fast. For Seth is coming to power and this time he wants to be ruler of the world.