Friday, October 28, 2022

October 2022 Pass or Pages Entry #5

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 5: Crescent Moon Rising

Genre:  Adult Fantasy


Dear agent,

I am seeking representation for my adult fantasy novel, CRESCENT MOON RISING, which is complete at 93,000 words as a standalone novel with series potential.  It will appeal to fans of the sapphic romance in Tasha Suri’s THE JASMINE THRONE and the worldbuilding of Samantha Shannon’s PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE[MH1][EC1].

The astral realm surges[MH2] beside the world like a shadow. The barrier between is fracturing.

Though it is her sole purpose to spy for the ever-expanding Solestrian Empire, Mita knows there are secrets beyond her grasp — and she wants the truth[MH3]. So when she is followed by a stranger during a mission in enemy territory, she pursues them towards a raging energy storm, which sends her crashing into the forbidden ruins of a heretical temple. There she finds that the empire’s conquest has caused a cataclysmic rift[MH4] in the barrier between the astral realm and her world. If the emperor pursues another war, this rift will allow the dimensions to collide and shatter the world.

To avoid the impending cataclysm[MH5], Mita agrees to work with the empire’s enemies[EC2] to overthrow the emperor and prevent[MH6] the war. To help take the throne[MH7], Mita must go undercover as handmaiden to Princess Catryn and manipulate her into staging a coup.

But exploiting Catryn isn’t[MH8] as easy as Mita expects. The more time she spends with the princess, the more Mita finds herself falling in love. As the coup approaches, Mita must decide if she can let go of her feelings to prevent destruction — or if her love for Catryn will end them all.[MH9]


Michelle's comments:
[MH1] Hello again to this comp! Well, this is a great book!
[MH2] Curious. I look froward to hearing more about it as I’m not getting much information yet.
[MH3] About what? What I’m not getting is what Mita wants and how she feels about the empire and her job. I think maybe spend less time telling how she discovers the barrier is failing and more about her motivation/goals.
[MH4] How? Too much magic use?
[MH5] I’m not really feeling yet why I should care that she succeeds. Knowing more about the character could help with that.
[MH6] I thought they were already at war. Maybe end the war?
[MH7] This makes it sound like she wants the throne.
[MH8] I’d like a little more about Catryn. Her character. What makes Mita love her?
[MH9] I get enough from this query to understand what to expect from the story. On to the pages!
Ernie's comments:
[EC1] This opening paragraph is well done.
[EC2] Stories like this, that require a lot of worldbuilding to understand the character's actions, can be especially difficult to write queries for. Sometimes trying to include enough worldbuilding elements to set the stage doesn't allow us to get a good sense of who the character is and how they feel about their circumstances. 

First 250 Words

Mita was being watched.

How this could be, she did not know, as she was not really there. She hovered listlessly in the corner of the royal bedchamber, watching the enemy queen scream new life into the world, trying desperately to ignore the feeling that someone’s gaze was boring into her back. It stippled through her energy with insect-like determination – she shuddered, but the feeling did not shift.

She refocused her attention[MH10]. Nothing more than her paranoia, a lack of sleep perhaps. There was no way someone could see her here in the astral realm[MH11]. She was only present insofar as a concept like time, or hate, or power – unseen. Undeniable.

Mita stood at the windowsill, where diamond-paned glass blocked a thundering tempest from entering Queen Weronika’s keep. Such storms were[MH12] not so unusual on the Bluelandic steppe. Mita had rarely felt the sting of cold rain on her skin — the rainy season in Solestria brought water droplets as warm and cloying as an unwanted kiss. The sheets of water of this foreign storm warped and frayed into tendrils of energy with the strange veil that covered the astral realm. Her body only felt the hunger clawing at her empty stomach, the crust forming around her closed lids — she could sense it faintly, like a shadow lingering in the corner of her eye. She’d been away from her body for hours, but it felt like years.[MH13][EC3]


Michelle's comments:
[MH10] Can you show with her actions?
[MH11] So she’s a magic user. I did not get that from the query.
[MH12] I would maybe move the description and details of the storm to farther into the chapter and focus on why Mita is there and how she feels about being there.  It’s really hard with such a short sample to judge pacing. And so it’s just a suggestion. Maybe more important details are in the very next paragraph and this would be fine here. 
[MH13] Given what is in the query and the page, I am going to pass. I’m just not seeing what makes Mita stand out as a character in this plot from the current information I have.
Ernie's comments:
[EC3] I got to the end of the 250-word excerpt and found I wanted to keep reading. That's always a good sign.  

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

Michelle - Pass
Ernie - Please submit the query and first 20 pages to with PassOrPages in the referral box. Thank you.

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