Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #78

Title of MS: Finding Meara
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 80,000 


Hazel Michelli has achieved her dream life.  A bull’s-eye intuition wins her easy money through online horse races; she lives in a penthouse apartment and gets invited to all the cool parties around Denver.

Her idyllic existence unravels when a winged creature mistakes her for a girl named Meara and kidnaps her.  Taken to the Realm, a parallel land where magic and monsters exist, she’s horrified to learn her sadistic father, Lucian Rosen, sent the creature to recapture Meara, who turns out to be Hazel’s much younger half-sister.  He’s desperate to sacrifice a daughter to remain immortal, and with the Earth-Force magic in Hazel’s blood he could take over the Realm.  Hazel is moved to the top of the sacrificial short list.

All Hazel wants is to forget the Realm and reclaim her comfy life, but Meara remains in danger, and Hazel’s the only one who can save her.  Racing between the two worlds, Hazel searches for the little girl while attempting to stay one step ahead of Lucian.  Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.

First 150 words:

By late morning, the unseasonably warm weather forced me to open all the windows of my penthouse apartment.  The crisp aroma of dried leaves drifted through the rooms and mingled with the infrequent rumble of large delivery trucks coming off I-25 on their run into downtown Denver.
The beautiful fall day gave no hint of the unbelievable mess my life would become.
I focused on my laptop’s screen, and wished my online racing bet would download faster.  The loading bar ticked up to ninety-seven percent, ninety-eight…
“And…done!” I said to the empty apartment.
Snapping the laptop shut, I set it on the coffee table, and checked my cell phone for the time. 
Dang.  I could still go for a run before lunch.  I forced myself off the couch to go change. 
I got halfway across the living room when the front door shattered. Shards of wood flew by me.  


Jessica L. Celaya said...

Good opening for the first 150 words.
the query is pretty good too, but how important is the first paragraph? Is it absolutely essential to the story to know about her pent house and how she got her money? It feels a bit like backstory to me.
The query picks up and gets exciting in the second paragraph. Maybe start there?
Also, is Meara a little girl or Hazel's age? It would seem that she would be close to Hazel's age for them to be mistaken, but later she is referred to as a little girl.

Unknown said...

Loved your first 150, and want to know more!

Enjoyed how the query unfolded, from Hazel's dream life into the heart of the conflict and then wrapped up with the story premise.

Adriana Ryan said...

I love this. The query is well-written, and the 150 words hooked me. My questions are: 1. You say Hazel wants to forget the Realm, but then you say she has to act quickly because the future of the Realm is at stake. Feels contradictory to me.

2. If Hazel has never met Meara before, why does she care? She comes across as a party girl, not as someone who'd risk her life to save a half-sister she's never met. Maybe we could get a glimpse into what changes her mind?

Mara Rae said...

Hi there! Great writing and an interesting premise. My two cents: I would take out the sentence "The beautiful fall day gave no hint..." since in the last sentence it's clear something bad is about to happen. If you take out that sentence you'll have room to give us even more at the end, and in 150 words, I think that's really important. Also, I realize Lucian is insane, but would he have no idea how hold his daughters are? Just wondering...
Overall great job! Good luck!
Mara (#67)

Cheryl Koevoet said...

Hi - sounds like an interesting read, but the first thing I noticed in your query is that the first and second paragraphs are extremely disjointed. I agree with some of the previous comments that the first graph seems too much backstory so maybe you can try to whittle that down.
Your first 150 words are great and I love your description. A couple of the sentences could be tightened up a bit, but in all, the reader does get pulled into the story from the beginning. I hope this helps and I'd appreciate you taking a look at mine (#80).

Mara Valderran said...

Love the first 150 words. I am hooked there! The opening paragraph of the query is a bit weak. I understand giving us some insight into the character and what her life is like before the drama happens, but I would try to think of a hook first (like the line in the 150 "The beautiful fall day gave no hint of the unbelievable mess my life would become." and then maybe a sentence about her and how her life changes.

I am also confused as to why she is mistaken for a half sister that is much younger than her. Is there a way to explain this without going into too much detail or bogging down the reader with details better suited for the story?
-The other Mara :D (#77)

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

A small suggestion for your 150 would be to weed out some of the 'I' uses. Maybe something like: 'Halfway across the living room, the front door shattered. Shards of wood flew.'

And: "Dang. Still time for a run before lunch. I forced myself off the couch to change."

I hope this small idea helps.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Thank you all for such helpful comments! I definitely have altered the first paragraph, and some of the second. I could see where it might be heavy and unnecessary. :)

The age difference between Meara and Hazel and why one is mistaken for the other continues to be problematic. I've altered the query to try to minimize the mistaken identity issue, because it really isn't something that can be easily explained. There is a reason for it and it is explained in the book, though!

Michelle 4 Laughs - you and I had the same idea today. I was reading through the words again and went "Ack - way to many I's!" I did change the line to "Dang. Still had time for a run..."

Thanks again for the helpful feedback! Good luck to all of you for a prosperous GUTGAA!

Anonymous said...

I think there is something missing from your query: what Hazel feels when she gets kidnapped, brought to a magical kingdom, sees her father, finds out she has a half-sister, etc. This would have more impact if I connected with her emotions. Right now, I get the sense that she just doesn’t care about the magical stuff (just wants to go back to her comfy life) but decides to save the sister she’s never met. I can’t relate to having NO emotion upon finding out all that stuff. Saving the sister is great. The journey is great. But I don’t really know what she’s feeling through any of this. I wish that I did.

I’m not sure about the first 150 words. I know you want to start with a bang, but if she’s getting kidnapped on page one, I don’t even know what her life was like or anything. This is tough because if she’s going to be a “fish out of water,” we have to know what the water was like where she came from. We have to know about her old life so we can appreciate how out of her element she is when she gets taken. Maybe if I read more I’d see that it works out just fine, but my impression is that you might be rushing things. I hope I’m wrong.

Your premise is good and I am a sucker for a hero’s journey! Good luck!

-Craig # 76