Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Pass Or Pages Entry #4

It's feedback reveal time! We hope everyone reading can find something helpful as they work on writing their own query letters. Many, many thanks to the members of our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries, and major props to the authors for putting themselves out there in the name of improvement. We salute you!



Evryn's best friend and college roommate isn't herself: she's moody, withdrawn, and disappearing for days at a time. Determined to find out why, Evryn accompanies her friend to a Goth club she frequents in downtown. But Evryn’s investigation nearly makes her a victim of a deadly attack by a supposed vampire – faux fangs and all. Luckily, a stranger helps Evryn fight back, and she seeks him out for further answers[H1]. A little harmless breaking and entering quickly uncovers that the stranger might be more monster than man.[K1]

Dalamar, a 200-year-old vampire and bass guitarist, can’t consume human blood. His aging body rejects it, forcing him to hunt witches as a source of magical blood instead. With the local coven shrinking every passing week and his human experiments failing[H2], Dalamar is running out of time. When he senses the unidentifiable magic running through Evryn’s veins, he pursues her as his new potential cure.

Evryn bargains her blood to Dalamar in exchange for her friend’s life.[H3][K2] When Dalamar reveals her supernatural gifts, Evryn stands up to him and forges a new bargain – her blood in exchange for training her in the ways of magic.[H4] Unbeknownst to Evryn, it’s the kind of magical training that drove Dalamar’s first and only love brutally insane.

As his past ghosts and her newfound powers awaken, their arrangement attracts unwanted attention from the deadly vampire court. Evryn must use her magic to protect Dalamar and find out the truth about her ancestry - but if she can't control it, it might consume them both. [L1]

SHADOW’S EMBRACE is an Urban Fantasy novel of 68,000[H5] words told in alternating first person POV. [K3]It weaves the snarky wit of Veronica Mars and the tormented mystery of The Great Gatsby into a darker, modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast.[H6]
Lisa's Notes:
[L1] Interesting query but it is entirely too long. It reads more like a book summary than a pitch to hook me. I suggest really tightening. While the details are great, a lot of it isn’t necessary. We really need  to get here sooner. I suggest focusing on the main theme, plot, and what is driving the story and the main characters.

Kirsten's Notes:
[K1] Not sure how I’m meant to interpret Evryn breaking into Dalamar’s place. The Veronica Mars comp below would suggest that I’m supposed to think it’s spunky, but absent a better reason for investigating, it mostly makes Evryn look kind of creepy.
[K2] First indication that Evryn’s friend is in actual danger, but from whom?
[K3] The query is in good structural shape and the story looks fine in its own right, but urban fantasy and vampires are such a hard sell nowadays that I’d have trouble taking this on regardless of quality.
Hannah's Notes: 
[H1] Further answers about what?
[H2] Human experiments…?
[H3] What is wrong with her friend’s life? Why is Evryn bargaining with this vampire?
[H4] Why does she assume he can train her?
[H5] This feels a bit short for fantasy.
[H6] These are a lot of very different comps, and I don’t see them at play in your query. This sounds more to me like a take on something like TrueBlood.

First 250: 

City hall’s distant bell tolled midnight as I joined the queue on the corner of Intoxicated and I-Should’ve-Known-Better, waiting for entrance into the Admiral’s Underground.

Nora followed me into the line with the expression of sneaking food into a library. Bringing me here wasn’t exactly her idea. And yet, she still outfitted me in a black corset dress that squished my wide hips and crushed my chest. A straight jacket would’ve been more comfortable.

To take my mind off of the lack of oxygen, I surveyed the lights from high-rise office windows and tall apartment buildings which dotted the skyline like urban stars. The nightscape of the city inspired my ease, but only until the Elvira look-alike in front of us giggled with her friends.

I raised my eyebrow at Nora. “You’re sure this is the place?”

Nora nodded. “I like the band.”

“You like industrial rock?”

She shrugged, her brown eyes darting around.

Nora had been my roommate and best friend for three years, ever since our freshman Shakespeare 101 class. I knew her taste in music, and unless industrial rock recently adopted the scores of Bach and Mozart, this wasn’t it.

I folded my arms, observing the bags under her eyes – another cue of her recent shift in behavior. I needed to find the cause. The quicker, the better. And I didn’t have to be a member of the Scooby gang to suspect her recent visits to the shady nightclub might have something to do with it.[L1] 

Lisa's Notes:
[L1] I’m passing on this entry.  Interesting concept and nice beginning, but the project is not for me.  I’m not looking for paranormal fantasy right now.

Kirsten's Notes:
There’s some occasional awkward phrasing throughout this, and overall, the writing isn’t strong enough to change my mind about the difficulties of the genre.   

Hannah's Notes:
I'm not looking for vampires.

Lisa Abellera: PASS
Kirsten Carleton: PASS
Hannah Fergesen: PASS


  1. Reading this query and 250 first words, I now actually feel said that this entry was rejected. I loved the writing.

    1. Thank you, Ela. A comment like that means the world to me.


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