Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pass Or Pages Entry #2

Welcome to our feedback reveal for Pass Or Pages. In this contest, randomly chosen entries were critiqued by our agent panel. We hope it will give everyone a sense of what is going on in an agent's head as they read queries and first pages. We're so grateful to the members of the agent panel who gave their time to provide feedback on these entries. We'd also like to thank the entrants. It's hard to put yourself out there. Thanks for being brave!



Meet Sam Jameson. [CF1] She’s an athlete with a self-deprecating sense of humor trying get [US] her life on track after a family tragedy. Just as she takes up hot yoga to work through her grief, she becomes the target of a stalker. There are notes left on her windshield, a strange package on her doorstep, and her car is keyed with a nasty epitaph. As a former sprinter, Sam realizes she can’t run from her pain or her fear, but learns to gather strength in and out of the yoga studio. [CF2]

Sam is the protagonist in my novel titled Corpse Pose, the first in a series of suspense novels set in the enigmatic world of health and fitness. In the next installment (Finish Strong), Sam competes in a sprint triathlon, where a dead body is found floating in the water. The following book (Defensive Stance) takes place in a high-energy kickboxing class.[CF3]

Sam Jameson and Corpse Pose have been floating around in my head for years. I finally decided to write the book I wanted to read: a little intrigue, a little inspiration, and a lot of heart. [CF4] I'm in the process of looking for an agent, and would be thrilled if you would consider my tales.

[CF1] This is a little overused. You can just start with “Sam Jameson is an athlete….
[US] Missing “to”. Careless. I would actually stop here. Please, always proofread.
[CF2] I want to know more in the last sentence. Right now, it sounds like you are trying to sell readers on going to a yoga studio, not your book. What does she do about the stalker? Is it someone from her past? Gives some hints to the mystery and leave agents wanting to read more.
[CF3] I just want to hear about the book you are querying, not the other books. You can mention that it is the first in the series, but don’t need to provide details
[CF4] I would pass, on the query as it is right now, because of the above and also because I am not sure where it is on the mystery/suspense spectrum. The crime sounds like it would be very suspenseful, but this sentence makes me think it is lighter.
[MG] need to know word count

FIRST 250:

The music was loud, which was good. Head-banger stuff, trite and unimaginative. [US] But it afforded a cover for quiet footfall through the apartment, which was an added bonus. The first phase of the plan had gone unexpectedly well. It was almost a disappointment, how easy it was. Everything else – admittance into the locked lobby, memorizing her schedule, attacking the perfect moment – had been scrupulously researched and executed. The Metallica was pure serendipity.

After moving in buried silence to the bathroom, the door frame was a perfect hiding spot to watch her parade before the mirror. She faced away from the door and appraised herself from the side. Now there was a woman trying too hard. Much too old to be wearing skin-tight jeans and a slutty top. As she turned her torso from left to right, looking back over her shoulder at the bloated body she offered the world, it was easy to use her distraction to reach in and turn out the light.

“Shit. Now what?” she mumbled, as if somebody was there.

She moved toward the light switch, and it required only one sudden move to wrap a hand around her weak little wrist. As fingers curled tightly against her skin, she shrieked, a high-pitched scream that echoed off the bathroom tile.

It was a shame the knife couldn’t be seen in the dark, but that couldn’t be helped. Sleek and serrated, it would feel as good going in as it did coming out.

[US] I don’t like it when a novel begins with non-sentences. I know the intent is to create suspense, but we need a setting, not a breathless introduction. Place the reader into the novel’s world by guiding him into the world.
[CF] These first 250 words do not match the tone set in the query. If this is closer to the tone of the book, you should edit the query to match.
While I really like this tone in the 250 words, if the tone matches more the tone of the query, I think you have started in the wrong place. If you are going back and forth between Sam and the stalker, I think you should start with Sam. Let readers know that this strong, inspirational voice is the main tone of the book and the darkness is beneath the surface.
The writing in this is VERY good.

[LA] I’m passing on this entry. From the query, I was expecting to meet Sam Jackson with her self-deprecating humor. Opening with a murder is somewhat overused as a “hook.” Also the transition to a new character’s perspective in the last paragraph didn’t work for me.

Uwe Stender: PASS
Caitie Flum: PASS
Mark Gottlieb: PASS
Lisa Abellera: PASS

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