Friday, March 31, 2017

March Pass Or Pages Entry #5

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!







Entry #5: PASSING AGES

Query: 

Nora is thrilled to discover time travel’s real, but falling for the Traveler may get her killed[H1], and leave her heartbroken[K1], not to mention the threat of erasing 900 years of history. PASSING AGES, an 80,000-word upmarket contemporary fantasy, combines historical intrigue and modern romance in the spirit of Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger, aged up for an adult audience. It’s a standalone book with potential for a sequel.[H2]

When history professor Nora Cordone learns her late mother’s professional research extended to time travel, she’s determined to find out if those theories[H3] could be true. Only with the help of Henry, a man who claims to be a twelfth-century prince[H4], can Nora vindicate her mother’s research — but he’s focused on finding a recently-recovered artifact that could help him return to his age and win the English throne. As they race across modern France to find the artifact[H5], Nora and Henry are tracked by the Guardians, a group devoted to preventing time travel at all costs. When their pursuers finally catch up to the pair and expose the truth about Henry, a shattered Nora learns that he’s visited the future before with fatal consequences. Now, her decision to trust and ultimately love Henry could cost her life. But if she walks away, Henry will die without his artifact or his throne[H6], altering the past and sending powerful reverberations through almost a thousand years of history.[L1] [K2]
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Lisa's Notes:
[L1] Nice query. Succinct with intriguing details that hook me.

Kirsten's Notes:
[K1] This seems like it’s in the wrong order, unless it’s intended as a deliberate time travel joke. If that’s the case, it needs to be more clear.
[K2] This is a nice pitch, although I wish I knew the characters better. Also, when you send out the query, agents may be interested in your author credits, particularly on how you researched the history.

Hannah's Notes:
[H1] Period. This is a fun first sentence, no need to pile on.
[H2] This might be personal preference, but I generally prefer this AFTER the summary, not in the middle/before.
[H3] Research =/= theories, so be clear here.
[H4] Wait, where does she meet Henry? In the past or the future?
[H5] When did they get to France? What time period in France?
[H6] Okay so…what is at stake for Nora? On a personal level? Her motivation for doing this is vague, I’m not sure what the inciting incident actually is, and I don’t know what she personally gains or loses from embarking on this quest. Especially once Henry turns out to be a bad guy. And I don’t know what these powerful reverberations are, and how they might occur. Help me understand.

Also, please chunk this out into paragraphs! One whole paragraph is hard to follow.

First 250: 


Nora’s pulse quickened as she stood on the steps of Fontevraud Abbey Church in the dark of night. There, in front of the large wooden door studded with iron, she weighed her choices. She’d likely send one of her students home for trespassing like this, and yet, she had to know what lay inside the church.

It was hours after closing time, but the padlock dangled open around the door handle like an invitation. She looked over her shoulder for any sign of security, but the abbey remained quiet, squatting like a glowing mushroom against the empty lawn, with its scaly roof and white stone walls. Even in the middle of the night, the abbey’s beauty took her breath away.[K1]

Her hand hesitated over the handle. Nora could almost hear her mother’s voice, the first Professor Cordone, whispering in her ear, “Go ahead. You’ll never know if you don’t explore a little bit.”[K2]

When Nora pushed on the heavy door, it opened with ease and she slid into the chilly interior. Her light footsteps echoed through the cavernous church. Farther into the nave, she crossed under a large dome held up by thick columns. Hundreds of years before, stained glass would have bathed the interior in blues and greens, but now clear windows let in the muted violet-gray of the cloudy night sky.

The Abbey Church stood empty except for four tombs sectioned off by metal bars. Nora approached the tomb area and flashed back to that afternoon.[L1][K3]

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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 time-travel stories right now.

Kirsten's Notes:
[K1] These descriptions seem at odds with each other; a squatting, glowing mushroom doesn’t immediately read as beautiful.
[K2] This strikes me as a little cheesy.
[K3] This flashback feels a bit predictable. Overall, the writing is capable but not blowing me away, so while I do like the premise, I don’t think this is for me.

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

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