Thursday, September 27, 2018

September Pass or Pages Entry #4

pass or pages query contest

It's feedback reveal time for Pass or Pages, the query contest run at here Operation Awesome. We hope you'll find tips to benefit your own work and query letters. Copious thanks to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Our gratitude to all authors, especially those who participated in this round of Pass or Pages. The only path to success is by trying. Bravo to those entered.

Entry 4: The Curse of the Moon Spirit


Sold to pay off her family’s debt, misfortune plagues seventeen-year-old Mitsuko. She'll do anything to prevent her sister from succumbing to the same fate. Praying to the Moon Spirit, Tsukiyomi, for help, she receives his offer: her eternal servitude for the safety of her sister. [KP1]

Desperate, she agrees to his terms and leaves her family behind. As Tsukiyomi showers her with gifts—and his advances [KP2]—Mitsuko soon finds herself falling for him. But a curse set on Tsukiyomi threatens to end what Mitsuko is starting to crave, and the death of the deity will destroy more than just her world. Only she can find a cure [KP3] for her love before his death disrupts the balance of heaven, plunging the earth into chaos.

Thank you for taking the time to look over my pitch for my 65,000 word YA Japanese Fantasy Romance [WJ1] [KP4], THE CURSE OF THE MOON SPIRIT. [SH1]


Kelly Peterson's Notes:
[KP1] - Is this after she’s sold to pay off her debt? So if she’s sold and belongs to another, how does she then sell her soul/servitude to someone else?
[KP2] This seems to be a more adult word for unwanted flirting to me. Is it possible to play this word down just a bit to “flirting” or something of the sort that insinuates the sexuality while not making it seem like unwanted attention.
[KP3] Is this a chosen one trope? What would the cure be, exactly? Why is she the only one who can find it?
[KP4] This information would probably be better up front at the beginning of your pitch. 

Saritza Hernandez's Notes:
[SH1] - I like this premise a lot. I hope the sample delivers.

Weronika Janczuk's Notes:
[WJ1] - Figure out what exactly you want to communicate here—is it Japan? Japanese stories, or mythology? Also: I would encourage you to read EAST by Edith Pattou, especially to look at the very beginning part of that novel for some clarity on scene structure for yourself, per the feedback below; I think it needs work.

First 250 words

The first hint of trouble came when Father summoned us inside before the sweltering August sun had a chance to set. [WJ1] Father didn't like work to go unfinished around the farm, especially right before harvest. Dusty from replanting red beans, my sister and I took turns patting each other down outside our ramshackle little house. I leaned a hand against the large shutter attached to the yellowing walls of our house, yanking it back [KP1] as a piece of the cracked wood sliced the skin on my finger.

“Ouch.” I sucked away the pain. Another splinter. Mother patiently removed each with the same attentive care she gave our teetering house, keeping all her children and worn out home clean if not structurally sound.

Our older brother, Yasahiro strode past us, already having gotten most of the dirt from his clothes. I gave my little sister a final pat and waved away the dust cloud. My throat burned in anticipation of cool well water that I would soon have once Father delivered his news.

“You’re good-go on," I said.

Yuki’s tired face stretched into a smile, “Thanks, we better hurry, don’t want Father to yell at us more than he probably already is.” [KP2]

Biting my tongue, I nodded. Nothing can keep Father from his favorite pastime.

“You go in, I’ll just be a minute.”

“Alright.” [KP3]

She hurried inside leaving me to stare at the shabby straw-woven mat we used as a door. [SH1]


Kelly Peterson's Notes:
[KP1] - Yanking it back into place? Is it falling off? Or is she yanking it towards her, as if ripping it off the wall?
[KP2] - Is this a younger sister or older sister? She sounds older by the way she’s speaking here.
[KP3] - There’s no physicality here to help the readers figure out how the characters are feeling, reacting, etc.. 

Saritza Hernandez's Notes:
[SH1] - This is strong writing. I’d definitely request more pages to read based on this sample.

Weronika Janczuk's Notes:
[WJ1] - I would everything after this and start later into the scene—all of it reads like unnecessary detail, especially following your first sentence, which sets up the reader for a v. profound and intense and tense scene (what is the trouble?), but the rest of this first set of 250 words completely deflates the promise of tension.
Be thinking about plot and pacing, especially with regards to scene structure--the way that you begin, move through, and end individual scenes: A huge part of the journey to publication, as well as career-building, requires a constant perfection of one's craft.

Also be thinking about the compactness of your query and your pages:


Kelly Peterson: PASS  I think you have such promise with your writing if edited to include more of our senses and world building, but the 65k word count for a fantasy worries me a bit. I’d be sorry to say it didn’t quite grab my attention enough in order to request more at this time.
Saritza Hernandez: PAGES
Weronika Janczuk: PASS 

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