Thursday, October 27, 2022

October 2022 Pass or Pages Entry #4

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Michelle Hauck and Ernie Chiara for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!

Entry 4: The State of Solid Dragons[MH1]

Genre:  Adult Fantasy


Dear Agent,

Grel desires acceptance by his fellow dragons, although he abhors their fighting, and they are disdainful of his love of reading[MH2]. When he[MH3] breaks restrictions placed on him after his refusal to take part in ranking fights he’s driven out of his mountain Eyrie home, and[EC1] into the clutches of the dragons’ ancestral enemies – the humans.

While being held captive and flightless in caves below a caldera, Grel makes an empathetic connection with Dirna, the human mage who tried to kill him. She wants nothing more than to keep her family and town safe, so when Grel finds Dirna’s lost children through their unique emotional link she agrees to spare his life. They form a friendship, despite her protective instincts.

When Dirna’s communally-run town is threatened with invasion by her father, the mage-lord of a nearby city, Grel must[MH4] go back to the Eyrie to persuade the dragons that want him dead to follow his lead in aiding Dirna, or risk losing his new home and found family.

The State of Solid Dragons[EC2] is a standalone adult high fantasy of 110,000 words [MH5], envisaged as a series of three standalone novels based on the states of matter with a fourth bringing them together. It’s written from the points of view of Grel, Dirna, and her brother.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoy the dragons of The Priory of the Orange Tree and the political intrigue of City Of Lies by Sam Hawke.

Content warnings[MH6] for dragon cannibalism, emotionally abusive family and one instance of magical physical abuse.

Thank you for your time,


Michelle's comments:
[MH1] Hmm. I’m sensing a dragon theme creeping in. 😊
[MH2] This is kind of overdone in characters. I see endless characters who love reading, libraries, books etc. I would go with something else that makes him different from the other dragons.
[MH3] I feel like there is a more interesting way to show this whole sentence. That will give him more personality. This paragraph feels dry and a little wordy. [Possible alternative paragraph - Grel desires acceptance by his fellow dragons, although he abhors how they fight over ranking, and they are disdainful of his love of reading. When he refuses to fight once again, he’s driven out, and into the deadly clutches of ancestral enemies –humans.]
[MH4] I feel like something is missing between these sentences. How is that invasion so bad that Grel would consider returning home for help? 
[MH5] Delete the next sentences and change to something like "with series potential.  With multiple POV, this book ..."
[MH6] I always appreciate content warnings. And if there is a chance Grel could get eaten by his kin, that might be something to include in the query. Overall, the query gives me a sense of plot and stakes, but I want more about the characters.
Ernie's comments:
[EC1] Misplaced comma. It needs one after "fights" and doesn't need one after "home".
[EC2] Book titles should be capitalized in queries. That includes your own and all comp titles.

First 250 Words

Not a Real Dragon

Grel wasn’t a real dragon[MH7]. Unlike the rest of the Eyrie, currently fighting amongst themselves, naturally. They screeched, beating their wings and claws in the arena on the mountaintop as Grel finished cleaning around it[MH8]. Loud calls, betting how many dragons Marler, the lead male, would beat before dusk echoed in the minds of everyone in the males’ quarters. If only they had more congenial interests.[MH9][EC3]

Marler’s voice echoed in his head, Grel, get over here, and clean up after us.[MH10]

Grel’s ears twitched as he aimed his reply directly to Marler. Coming.

Cleaning the rock surrounding the fighting space was one thing, but sluicing blood from the arena made his stomach flutter.

The males clustered near the fighters – two dragons flew low, clawing lumps out of each other. Of course, they were posing and calling insults in every dragons’ mind, as well as screaming vocally. Grel turned away, his hearts beating almost as fast as the clash of the spectators’ claws on the rocks. When he’d been forced to fight he’d cowered on the rock with his forelegs over his head.

The calls bombarded Grel[MH11] as he approached the ring.

Get on with it!

At least he can clean – he won’t fight.

Marler glared at him, indicating a pool of slick blood on the edge of the fighting ring. A small blue dragon with cuts engraved on his chest was escorted away from the puddle of his blood.[MH12]


Michelle's comments:
[MH7] I would make this his opinion instead of stating as a fact.
[MH8] I would suggest describing what he is doing.
[MH9] I would go into this deeper. If only his fellow dragons cared about something other than rank. And then maybe list something he wishes they did care about.
[MH10] I usually see this inner talking set off by italics, but maybe that formatting got lost in the transfer to me. 
[MH11] Can you describe how this makes him react. Does he cringe and duck his wings? We aren’t getting much description of the dragons. That sort of detail is something that would interest me.
[MH12] I love dragons and it’s so great to see stories featuring them. I would really show Grel’s personality here, his opinions, his thoughts, and highlight how these dragons are unique from dragons in other books. I’m going to pass on pages as I feel this one needs a little more polish.
Ernie's comments:
[EC3] I'm not a fan of the writing here, so I'd stop at this point. It would be a pass from me, unfortunately.

[If you receive a "Pages!", click on the agent's name at the top of this post for submission instructions.]

Michelle - Pass
Ernie -Pass

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