Friday, November 14, 2014

How I Miss You Blogfest Returns!

How I Miss You Blogfest!

It’s that time of year again! Hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Me.

The bloggers you miss and the ones you would miss.
List one to three bloggers you really miss.
List one to three bloggers you would really miss if they stopped blogging.
And then go let them know!

Join us November 24! Sign up below!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A to the Zizzle

There's a tiny little announcement over on the A to Z Challenge Team Blog this morning. I'm hoping that maybe being involved again can re-invigorate my passion for blogging. Or at least introduce me to some new bloggers. Will any of you be taking part?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Iron Hearted Violet at Project Mayhem

I'm over at Project Mayhem this morning, discussing IRON HEARTED VIOLET, by Kelly Barnhill. Stop by if you have a moment.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where's Lenny Lee Birthday Bash!

Man, as the few of you who still visit here are well aware, I rarely blog anymore. But when I heard about a blog fest to remind Lenny how much we love him on his birthday, I was in!

Lenny is a great kid, a fun blogger, and someone we all miss! If you happen to not know Lenny, you can find out some more about him at his blog, Lenny's World, and be sure to follow him for updates about his posts. If you do know Lenny, and are curious to know more, you can find out a little bit from my posts, here, and here.

But either way, Lenny hasn't been blogging much lately, and while of course we understand, and don't expect him to do anything that isn't comfortable, we just thought it would be nice to let him know we miss him, and he is in our thoughts.

Happy Birthday, Lenny!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Andrea Franco-Cook's Current Query Revised - Critiqued

Today we have Andrea's query again, this time with my feedback, in blue.

The letter:

Dear Agent,

Soledad Mendoza is mankind's last hope. Okay, again, this is vague and a bit cliche. Who is she? I mean as a CHARACTER? At least that's what the winged Mayan god who shows up after her father's death tells her. But she is an unlikely hero. The young English professor doesn't understand why a god would choose a person whose weakness for scotch makes her a prime candidate for a twelve-step program. Growing up in the sleepy town of Charleston, West Virginia never prepared her for anything like this.

Hmm. Something about this is difficult to connect with. You've got all the necessary details, inciting incident, hook-ish premise, a character we can sympathize with, but ... for some reason it just feels off. 

I think the problem is that you're presenting this in the wrong order. Tell me about Soledad's teaching and scotch drinking and missing her father before you get to the god. Remember: almost all stories begin with an innocent world, in which a character may be suffering, but the major conflict of the actual plot of the story is not going on yet. Then an inciting incident occurs, and their world is flipped on its head. That kind of opening in a query, a kind of innocent world in which you can really deliver a sense of CHARACTER, will start you off right, get the reader to care about your CHARACTER, which will then make everything that comes after automatically that much better.

In the 1500s the Mayan God secretly entrusted her conquistador ancestor with the Ouroboros Amulet, a weapon containing the power of Heaven, which only one Mendoza descendant can wield. I'm not sure you need this. Don't get bogged down in too much detail. Just give us the good stuff. Too bad, her father took the amulet's location to his grave. Like this.

That's only the beginning of her troubles. She learns that her late father's friend, U.S. Senator Earl Edmondson, is aligned with a malevolent god who will assure ensure? the politician's ascendance to the presidency. Knowing that his only obstacle is the amulet that Soledad seeks, the senator turns his dark eye on her.

This is actually pretty good. A little wordy, but full of specificity.

As her enemies converge, the winged god offers a strategy to help, but his motives aren't exactly noble. Soledad discovers that she is merely a pawn in a supernatural game of treachery. If she is to stop Edmondson from ascending to the White House, she must find the amulet and the strength within herself to defeat him, or there will be Hell on Earth.

This is pretty great. Not exactly a sadistic choice, but you do end with a nice sense of either/or.

Pawn of The Gods PAWN OF THE GODS is a completed 95,000 word Urban Fantasy novel, and it is the first of a planned trilogy. This tale of an ordinary English professor caught in a battle between good and evil, flashes between the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries, blending Spanish history with Mayan lore and apocalyptic Christian beliefs.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Andrea Franco-Cook

Okay, in summary, this is definitely an improvement. In fact, I think you're pretty close.

I would focus on the first paragraph, and if you can get it into the kind of format/order I suggested, so we really get to know your character first, and then once we care about her, BAM! you hit us with this winged god showing up, and suddenly her comfortable world of sipping scotch and grading papers becomes exciting and scary as hell.

After that, maybe a few tweaks here and there, but the final two thirds of this query are pretty good as-is.

That's it!

What do you all think? Anyone want to take a crack at rewriting Andrea's opening paragraph?