Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #48

Title of Manuscript: BLACK HEART, RED RUBY
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
Word Count: 74,000


Seventeen-year-old Ava Nolan grew up in the shadow of her father's obsession with macabre artifacts.  An elixir brewed from witches’ blood.  A cabinet of mummified cats.  And Arabella's Curse, the missing prize in his collection: a ruby with the power to resurrect the dead.  With a father who resents her existence, a dead-end job, and her expulsion from school to live down, Ava sets out to recover the ruby and reclaim her self-respect.  Lucky for Ava, local legend says the ruby is buried in a crumbling mansion by the sea, not far from her new home.

But life as an amateur relic hunter is not without its share of emergency room visits.  Or cutthroat competitors.  And nearly plummeting to her death doesn’t terrify Ava half as much as her uncle, a gentleman graverobber with a vendetta against her father and sinister plans for the ruby.

Entangled in a web of family treachery, Ava finds solace with a lonely boy who fills her nights with stolen kisses and her head with ruby lore.  But there's something strange about Ben Wolcott.  He's a bit too cunning, a bit too preoccupied with keeping Ava out of his basement, and much too interested in Arabella's Curse…

Who knew ruby hunting involved so much backstabbing—not to mention literal stabbing?

First 150 Words:

The boy I caught lurking outside my bedroom window deserved a good beating, but my brother never knew when to quit.  Cam’s head, as our dad used to tell my brother’s probation officer, was filled with missiles instead of brains—and it only took a tiny spark to launch WWIII.  As his sister and keeper, only I knew how to work the controls.

Diving into the fray, I rammed Cam from the side and broke his stranglehold on the stranger. The creeper collapsed to the ground, choking and wheezing in the weeds. He was a scrawny guy about my age, seventeen, maybe nineteen at the most.  Propped against the side of the barn, he looked as pathetic as a tattered scarecrow. Somehow he’d seemed scarier standing in my backyard, a dark prince cloaked in fog and shadow.

His name, we learned after Cam put him in a headlock, was Ben Wolcott.


Jeannette said...

I don't know if there's much room for improvement here. The story sounds fantastic and your query is easy to digest. I'm intrigued, which is the whole point!

Great first 150 as well. I want to read on.

yo said...

I really think too that your query is perfect, well worded, showing voice and perfectly making the reader want to read more.

You have great showing on your first words.

Unknown said...

Hi there - I'm doing the Gothic block party tour (come visit me at #50 and gnaw on my pitch). I liked your opening line. A LOT.

And Arabella's Curse, the missing prize in his collection: a ruby with the power to resurrect the dead. (This threw me because I presumed he had the first two items on the list, right? But he doesn't have this one so it's not fitting in well with the list you've started, at least for me).

reclaim her self-respect(is it not also about earning her father's respect and/or love?)

2nd paragraph - UTTERLY AWESOME

Third paragraph, love it, except the ... at the end.

Closing line - I'm really not sure if I like it and I'm not sure the query needs it.

Love your first 150 - go gothic girl go!

Trish Esden said...

I suggest you start the third sentence in the query with "And the missing prize in his collection..." to clarify the shift from things her father obsessed on and owned, to things he obsessed on and didn't have.

Other than that I loved the query. It's clear and makes me want to read the story.

I loved your 150!

Trish Esden said...

Oh--and I'm #49. We should have had our own gothic meet and greet!

Mara Rae said...

I really enjoyed your first 150, but I agree that the last line in the query could be tweaked or taken out all together. It just kind of fell flat for me. Otherwise, though, I thought it was clear and well-written. Great job!
Mara (#67)

Mia Celeste said...

Awesome title.

I agree with others about the last line in the query--I'm not sure you need it.

Grin. You had me in the first and second paragraphs.

I look forward to reading this story when it's published. All the best.

Gothic romance enthusiast and author of Dark Bringer (#99)

Unknown said...


I agree with the others about the query. It is good. Had me hooked. Good luck!

Wendy Jo said...

I agree with the others that the last line in your query might not be needed.
I loved your first 150. It has great voice.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Wow, I enjoyed this. My only suggestion is to get rid of the last line in the query, as others already said.


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