Monday, July 24, 2017

July Pass Or Pages Entry #1

Welcome to the feedback reveal week for the latest round of Pass Or Pages! We're so thankful to our agents for taking the time to critique these entries. We hope seeing an agent's perspective will help both the authors and our readers! Many thanks as well to our brave entrants! Now, without further ado...



This interracial romance is complete at 80,000 words and will appeal to fans of Stephanie Danlers’s SWEETBITTER.[KP2] Although this work has series potential, the novel can stand alone.[TS1]

Just out of culinary school, Natalie lands a private chef job with the Whitneys. To Miami high society, the Whitneys are a trendsetting family. In reality, they’re looney—grandma smokes joints, the toddler melts Barbies, and the wife has an addiction to pool boys and scotch for breakfast[KP3]. And the husband? Well for Natalie, Damien incites heat and dirty thoughts.[TS2]

Upon meeting, Damien and Natalie experience an immediate spark. For him, her food is an aphrodisiac.[KP4] For her, his body is a taunting mass of gorgeous muscle, seducing her senses. [RB2] While his marriage runs colder, Natalie and he burn hotter.

It’s a battle against dark urges with no solution in sight. Damien has tried to divorce his wife and she’s always threatened to take their daughter away. And while Natalie has big dreams, none of them includes a scandalous affair with a married man. The days continue. Desire swells into obsession.[KP5] Damien must make the life-changing decision—stay in an unhappy marriage to keep his daughter or risk it all with Natalie whose[KP6] guaranteed to be delicious. [RB3][TS3]

Rachel's Notes:
RB1: Great comps!
RB2: His attraction to her because of her cooking skills seem more unique than why she connects with him –he’s hot- but reading on…
RB3: Here I’d be hesitant, but would still look at the sample. It’s a well written query, but I am not fond of romances with married heroes/heroines cheating with the hero/heroine, even if they are in a bad relationship. I’m also a bit over the “evil spouse/ex” as a plot device.

Tricia's Notes:
TS1: A full paragraph and I’ve learned nothing to hook me on the story. All this back matter can wait until the end. Hook first, market later.
TS2: Cheating heroine and hero?
TS3: The query paints Natalie and Damien in unsympathetic light. What could have worked? Show earlier that Damien is trapped by cruel wife using daughter against him. Natalie’s arrival is a glimpse at freedom, if they’re willing to give in to their desires.

Kelly's Notes:
KP1: Author? Is this CHOCOLAT?
KP2: Why will it appeal to these fans? What is similar about your work?
KP3: Cut "for breakfast."
KP4: This makes it seem like the only reason he likes her is for her cooking skills.
KP5: Cut the previous 2 sentences.
KP6: Should be "who's."

First 250:

Pictures of breasts and kids? What have I gotten myself into?

Each painting on the wall showed nude black women breastfeeding white babies. The women had brown skin like me and were younger than my twenty-one years. The babies feasted as milk streamed down their chubby cheeks.

What is up with their art?

Mortified, I carried the tray to—hopefully—my new employer. My interview was supposed to be with the whole family, but only Mrs. Whitney and her assistant showed up.[KP1]

“Hello,” I said. “I’m Natalie Jones and today we’re starting off with an amuse bouche—”

“Are you a whore?” Mrs. Whitney poured a glass of scotch, strolled over to the table, and sat down. Coated in make-up, she had wicked blue eyes and blond hair that fell to her hips. Very reality tv chic. Fake breasts. Fake lashes. Fake smile.[KP2]

Silence thickened within the room of odd paints, fine china, and a huge chandelier.

“Are you a whore?” she asked again.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” She was clearly wasted. Reeking of alcohol, she slung her feet on the table like she’d been working in somebody’s yard all day. But from the elegance of their dining room, I doubted she wiped her own behind this morning.[KP3]

Miami Times called their home the most opulent estate in the rich suburb of Coconut Grove. 12,000 square feet of top architecture. Three levels. Six bedrooms. Eight bathrooms. The place had an infinity pool. A sun deck on the roof. [RB1]

Rachel's Notes:
RB1: I’d pass. While someone else could love this, the writing felt a bit trying too hard to be shocking, and it just didn’t win me over when I was already on the fence about the plot from the query. Subjective though.

Kelly's Notes:
KP1: How does she know this if she hasn’t introduced herself yet? Was she informed by someone else? It seems she’s just walking into the room with a food trial and wouldn’t know this yet.
KP2: Do we need this description right here? If she flat out asked if she was a whore, I would think my first reaction would be to sputter a bit, stare blankly, etc., rather than take notice of all of her details. Maybe her description can be placed a little bit later in this conversation?
KP3: She’s being sarcastic here. I would love for you to just full on say “ass” rather than “behind” in this sentence to show your main character’s sass a bit.

Though I find your first interaction interesting, the first 250 words I feel need a little bit more voice from the MC. I’d love to see her really come alive through interaction with Mrs. Whitney. If you can save the descriptions for slightly later on in this conversation, or maybe as she’s throwing away the food or leaving the house and has time for her own thoughts, I think this might be a much more effective first page! Draw your readers in with that awkward first encounter. =)

This will be a pass for me simply because I’m not sure I can fully get behind the concept of this story and seeing a married man.
Rachel: PASS
Tricia: PASS
Kelly: PASS

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