Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #4


TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: LAU DAI LÁ
GENRE: MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY
WORD COUNT: 41,000
Query:

Linh Briggston’s only friends are elves, fairies, and other magical creatures who live with her in Dublin, Ireland—friends she must never reveal to anyone. When a windhorse whisks the eleven-year-old girl from her home, she lands in Lau Dai Lá, a parallel world destroyed by black magic. There, she meets a male fairy named Tombo who warns her about a terrible threat from a group of dark magicians.
The magicians plan to enslave her in order to steal a powerful weapon, a magic crossbow, after discovering that she lives on Earth. With the crossbow, they will regain enough power to conquer Linh’s world. Linh faces a staggering task: to locate the crossbow before they do and to earn Tombo’s friendship, risking her life to stop them from putting her family, her magical friends, and humankind in grave danger.
First 150:

Linh sighed in the hallway, her arms folded. She became bored of doing homework after school, so bored that she sat on the bottom step of the staircase and fiddled with the phoenix talisman around her neck. Suddenly, strange sounds came from the living room.
Eeek! Eeek!
“Mom, are you already there?”
No response. Of course, her mother was at work.
They were probably mice. No surprise there. She’d grown used to hearing those horrible little rodents scuttling inside the clogged drainpipes at school. Likely they’d come out because of her house’s currently clogged drain.
Then she heard thumps within the wall. These couldn’t be mice—unless their tiny feet had grown overnight. She tiptoed toward the sound and tried to pinpoint its source.
One minute. Three. The sounds had stopped.
Stepping toward the large window, she pulled away the long, velvet curtains. She gasped. A narrow door stood beneath the window.

16 comments:

Jessica L. Foster said...

This seems like a cute middle grade idea.
The first line of the query feels a little vague to me. But the ending of the first line is pretty hooky.
I'm not sure if I get the connection between her being from Earth and them wanting to steal the crossbow.

Is Tombo important to the query? It seems to read fine without him there. I wasn't sure how getting the crossbow related to earning his friendship.

The first 150 starts at a cool place. What middle reader hasn't remembered being horridly bored? Maybe show it more. What is making the homework so boring?

Suddenly might not be a necessary word. It sort of draws the reader out. Show it is sudden instead of telling us.

Why did she ask for her mom if she knows she is at work?

I was confused about the line that starts "Likely they'd come out . . ." I wasn't sure what or who came out of where.

the ending of the first 150 words is very hooky and awesome.

Cat said...

The title of your manuscript leaves me guessing until I read the query. Mybe you should change it to "The Lands of Lau Dai Lá" to make it clearer.

Next, there's a big logical problem between your query and your sample. In the query, you make it sound as if she's familiar with all the creatures you mentioned, even friend with some of them. But the sample starts out as if she doesn't expect to see a small door (maybe for a leprechaun or some such) in her wall.

In the query, the first para is fine. The second one starts fine until it comes to the last sentence. It's convoluted and throws several things together that don't belong imho. Is befriending Tombo and rescuing her friends and family part of the staggering task or the result of it? I don't think but maybe it is. Also, who is THEM (I'm sure you mean the evil magicians but it's not clear from the sentence). You need to be very clear in a query.

The first sentence of the sample is boring, so is the second. Is it important that she just finished homework? Think about something like this:

Linh sat on the bottom step of the staircase and fiddled with the phoenix talisman around her neck. Boring, boring, boring homework. I wish I could do without.
Strange sounds from the living room cut through the silence in the hallway.

Eeek! Eeek!

Deana said...

This comment is also from Jessica Foster. She left it when I accidentally posted your entry too early:)


This seems like a cute middle grade idea.
The first line of the query feels a little vague to me. But the ending of the first line is pretty hooky.
I'm not sure if I get the connection between her being from Earth and them wanting to steal the crossbow.

Is Tombo important to the query? It seems to read fine without him there. I wasn't sure how getting the crossbow related to earning his friendship.

The first 150 starts at a cool place. What middle reader hasn't remembered being horridly bored? Maybe show it more. What is making the homework so boring?

Suddenly might not be a necessary word. It sort of draws the reader out. Show it is sudden instead of telling us.

Why did she ask for her mom if she knows she is at work?

I was confused about the line that starts "Likely they'd come out . . ." I wasn't sure what or who came out of where.

the ending of the first 150 words is very hooky and awesome.

Jayme said...

Your hook caught me right away. Very nice. However, I’ve never heard of a windhorse. Is it another magical creature? If so, you might go with something more descriptive (flying horse, winged horse, etc). I also think you could streamline a bit after the first sentence. Maybe something like this:

“When a winged horse whisks the eleven-year-old to Lau Dai Lá, a parallel world destroyed by black sorcerers, she learns not all magic is friendly. A fairy named Tombo warns her about a group of dark sorcerers who plan to use her gift to steal a magic crossbow. With the crossbow, they will regain enough power to conquer Linh’s world – unless she and Tombo find it first. The only way to do that is to earn Tombo’s trust. And he’s one magical creature whose friendship doesn’t come easy.

Obviously, I haven’t read your manuscript, so I don’t know if that last sentence is accurate, but I’d suggest giving something more concrete than “risking her life…in grave danger.” There is a lot of fantasy out there. Giving concrete details helps an agent see how your book is different/special.

Otherwise, I think this is top notch. :)

Lauren said...

It's a cute idea, particularly considering the area's legends.

I think the last sentence of the first paragraph can go, and the mention of Tombo below in the second paragraph.

I'd like to see the first sentence rephrased so we know she just met them, and hasn't known about them her whole life.

And what is a windhorse? I'm assuming some kind of air spirit?

Lauren

Christine Sarmel said...

A couple of things to think about:

-What is Tombo's role in the story? If he's really important I'd like to know more about why and if he's not, I'd cut him out especially the second reference.

-Bored is something middle grade kids can relate to, but it's tricky to start with it because you don't want the opening of the book itself to be boring. Can the first sentence be an action that shows she's bored?

-Is she surprised to find creatures in her house or does she expect them to be there?

Heidi Schulz said...

I love a good fantasy. It sounds like your book is full of interesting creatures.

Query:
I think you are off to a good start, but it could use a little polish.
I'd start with the second sentence. The first one seems to introduce a bunch of characters/creatures that are not central to your story.
First 150:
Start with some action, even if it is Lihn throwing her pencil down or slamming shut her book. Sighing is not gripping enough to entice readers to keep going.
Good luck!

marcyblesy.com said...

Hi. Creative premise. I am left wondering after the query why a girl from Earth is useful in stealing a crossbow as opposed to anyone/anything else. Just a thought although I am sure you explain it in the book. Maybe that should come through in the query? Also, as I have this problem in my own work, I noticed the abundant use of adverbs in the first 150. I have been cautioned not to overuse those myself. Best wishes.

theemptypen said...

I have never heard of a windhorse, but can picture one after you talk about the other magical creatures. However, I don’t know if you need to mention the other magical creatures because those creatures don’t seem to be the same ones she enteracts with in the parallel world. And if you don’t need to mention those magical creatures, I would need a description of what a windhorse is.

Why does the windhorse take Linh in the first place?

When I first read the beginning of the second paragraph, I thought the magicians were planning on enslaving her because she already had the crossbow.

The last sentence has a lot going on. I’m confused by it, especially the part about having to earn Tombo’s friendship…if they weren’t friends, why would he warn her about the terrible threat?

As an eleven-year-old I would have loved to save the world and to romp in a land of fairies, so I think there is a lot of appeal in that premise.

Nicole said...

I'm always a sucker for middle grade fantasy. The earlier commenters made some excellent points. A couple other suggestions: be specific with the stakes in your query. What exactly will the magicians do to Linh's friends and family? "Grave danger" can mean a lot of things. Also, why is earning Tombo's friendship a "staggering task?"

Good luck!

Elaine Smith said...

This sounds like a cute young MG idea. I was initially confused by the strong opening of the query that suggested that magical creatures were the norm - I wondered if that was ll in her head?
I love what Jayme did with the query it was very streamlined. With a little voice, and with the luck of the Irish, it could be something you could build on.

Jambo said...

Hi there
I love middle grade and any mention of elves and fairies, you have me from the get go, lol. I think Jayme has given you some excellent ideas for your query, so I won't even try to offer advice there but best of luck with it. Cheers Julie

Hong said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time to give me feedback!

I did my best to incorporate everyone's comments and here's my revised query:

When a winged horse whisks eleven-year-old Linh Briggston one day from her home in Ireland to Lau Dai Lá, a parallel world overtaken by dark magicians, she learns not all magic is friendly. A fairy named Tombo warns Linh about a group of dark magicians who plan to enslave her in order to steal a magic crossbow, after they discover that she lives on Earth.

With the crossbow, they will regain enough power to conquer Linh’s world—unless she and Tombo finds it first. The only way to do that is to earn Tombo’s trust, and he’s one magical creature whose friendship doesn’t come easy. Ultimately, Linh must risk her life to stop the magicians from crossing over to Earth and killing her family, her magical friends, and humankind.

Jayme said...

Given that you mention Linh’s magical friends in your final line, I think you might need to reintroduce your original opening line: “Linh Briggston’s only friends are elves, fairies, and other magical creatures who live with her in Dublin, Ireland—friends she must never reveal to anyone.” I know some people didn’t like this, but if her magical friends are part of the stakes at the end, I think you need to establish them early on.

Other than that, I just see a typo (I’ve marked it in all caps): “…unless she and Tombo FIND it first.”

Otherwise, I really like what you’ve done. And thank you so much for your feedback on my query. I’ll let you know when the latest revision is up. Please let me know if you’ve got any other query questions/concerns. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love MG fantasy. I think this is a cute idea.

Eleven-year-old Linh's Briggston loves her friends: elves, fairies, and other magical creatures. But after a winged horse whisks her rom her home in Ireland to Lau Dai Lá, a parallel world overtaken by dark magicians, she learns not all magic is friendly.

A fairy named Tombo warns Linh about dark magicians who plan to enslave her in order to steal a magic crossbow. With the weapon, they will regain enough power to conquer Linh’s world—unless she and Tombo finds it first. The only way to do that is to earn Tombo’s trust, and he’s one magical creature whose friendship doesn’t come easy. Ultimately, Linh must risk her life to stop the magicians from crossing over to Earth and killing her family, her magical friends, and humankind.

The title might be a turnoff for MG readers.

Loved the excerpt!

Hong said...

Thank you so much for your help Nicole, especially for tweaking the first sentence!