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lavagrl
January 2nd, 2009, 04:50 PM
Here is my general query letter that I'm going to be sending out to publishers. If anyone just glancing over it sees something wrong or has a suggestion, I'd appreciate it. And if anyone thinks they would like to be my critique partner, I'd really appreciate it.

My 250,000-word novel, Parata’s Shadows, is a politically charged, character focused urban fantasy that mixes elements of Harry Potter with the Anita Blake series.

Sandry, Izzy, Eric, Michelle, and Cameron are first year students at the university in the pocket reality of Parata where witches repeat every week. Only the best in the university go on to become agents, the police force for Parata, and the Sphinx Order already know that’s what they want to do. When it looks like a rogue vampire is killing people in their city in the real world and the agency is convinced it’s a normal human killer, they set out to investigate.

When it turns out the serial killer isn’t working alone, the Sphinx start to look deeper. Sandry seeks advice from the mercenary vampire-witch James while flirting with idea of dating him even though he’s on Parata’s top ten most wanted list. After he is hired by the Shadow Organization, a secret group within the Agency itself, to help in kidnapings on Halloween and they pin the entire plot on him, he knows there is a greater plot and uses Sandry to get information to the Agency even while trying to keep her protected and out of the crossfire.

Sandry badgers the Agency for weeks, telling them there is a greater plot, but they ignore her since there’s no evidence to support her claim. When the greatest tragedy in Parata’s history follows, Sandry and her order know they have to do something to stop the Shadows before they kill more and take over Parata.

The students infiltrate the Shadow’s meeting with the help of James, leading Sandry to see the darker side of him she’d only heard about.

When the students go back to Parata, the government says everyone needs to join forces and focus on stopping vampires since they are becoming a nuisance and were working with the Shadows even though there is no proof. Vampires are to be rounded up upon sighting for ‘questioning,’ and the Sphinx start to understand that even their government can not always be trusted. They go on with their studies, vowing to always think for themselves and not fall under the spell of fear.

Nearly a month later, the Sphinx’s end of semester party is crashed by more then one blood-sucker, leading to the battle Sandry always feared, and the ultimate betrayal.

Rife with betrayal and haphazard adventures and flavored with a romance subplot, this novel follows the Sphinx through their first semester at Parata University. As the five struggle to balance Parata and the real world, work and play, and right and wrong, they find that evil really is defined by perceptions, the lines between all things blur, and all they can do is try to stay in the area that at the end of the day makes them the least sick to their stomachs.

This novel is the first in the Order of the Sphinx series, which chronicles the students’ journey through school, love, life, and adventures in alternate realities. I have written the next one and a half books in the series and have general plots for four more.

I've been writing for about two and a half years, I've taken creative writing classes at school and done workshops in those. I'm not shy about telling what needs to be fixed, but I don't tear stories apart.

I would like a partner who likes to trade a few chapters at a time, mostly because I like to double (triple or more, whatever) check my work before I send it out and because mine is so long. I've done a lot of editing so I don't think I'll (or at least I hope I won't) need my partner to fix too much, mostly I'm looking for a soundingboard, someone to tell me if it makes sense, moves too slow, needs more detail in an area, needs a paragraph changed because it just doesn't make sense.

The semester is starting soon so I won't be fast at getting things back, maybe about thirty pages every two weeks or so, I'm honestly not sure how much time my classes will take, and I won't expect my partner to look over more of my stuff then I do of their's.

I'd like someone who likes to read fantasies with romance since that's what mine is. It's rated R for language, violence, and sexual situations. If they also write those kinds of books then all the better, but I'm happy just as long as they enjoy reading them.

If you're interested I can send my prolog and first chapter for you to look at, it's a really long chapter, about forty pages, so you can get a taste of my writing, and then you can say if you want to take the plung and try for the entire thing or not.

Kim Smith
January 2nd, 2009, 07:08 PM
Hi, it's me again. Looking at your query. First let me say that 250,000 is a big no no. I would recommend that if you just cannot cut that down to 100,000 or less, then make it into two books. It costs a fortune to print a book and today publishers are looking to see who will make them money. It is a money thing with everyone. If your book is so big that it is gonna cost them more than they can afford, it is going to be summarily rejected. Just my two cents, FWIW.

Second, make your query fast, fun, and flavorful. Never more than about three paragraphs, and get to the goods as soon as possible.

Be careful of this :Rife with betrayal and haphazard adventures and flavored with a romance subplot because it sounds like you do not know what genre you are writing in. Where will this book be shelved? YA? Romance? Suspense? Gotta pick the shelf.

Sandry, Izzy, Eric, Michelle, and Cameron are first year students at the university in the pocket reality of Parata where witches repeat every week. Only the best in the university go on to become agents, the police force for Parata, and the Sphinx Order already know that’s what they want to do. When it looks like a rogue vampire is killing people in their city in the real world and the agency is convinced it’s a normal human killer, they set out to investigate.
This is good but could be better, such as : In Parata, the Sphinx Order knows a rogue vampire is killing people. But they are just university kids, albeit agent quality.

Meet Sandra, Izzy, Eric, Michelle, and Cameron, aka the Sphinx Order.

The agency in Parata, the police force, believes the murders are by a normal human. The SO sets out to show them how wrong they are.

Then, put a bit about you and the book : This novel is the first in the Order of the Sphinx series, which chronicles the students’ journey through school, love, life, and adventures in alternate realities. I would love to present it to you at your leisure. thank you for your time, your name

That's it. Hook 'em and inform 'em and leave it at that. I know you can do better than I have done here, but I hope this helps you.

hollie
January 3rd, 2009, 03:05 PM
This is brillient ladies just what we wanted Cheerleader

lavagrl
January 4th, 2009, 01:37 PM
Thanks for the tips, Kim. I really don't think I can cut it much more down, but it could possibly go into two books. If I do that do I pitch it to publishers as a two part book, like it's this long but split into the two parts?

What does FWIW mean?

It's mainly fantasy so those are the publishers I'm querrying. Is the mixed genre a big problem, or do I just have to make it very clear it's a fantasy first?

Thanks for answering my questions.

Angel Martinez
January 4th, 2009, 08:43 PM
All righty - let's see... FWIW would be "For what it's worth'

As far as the length, yes, Kim's right, you won't get a second hearing with a novel that length. Yes, J.K. gets away with it but you have to be a best-seller first before they'll take the risk. I think if you position it as the first in a series rather than a two-part book you'll be better received.

The thing a submissions editor would ask right off the bat is "is this author unable to self-edit?"

The genre angle - this relates more to the publisher. Know who you're submitting to and what they want. If you submit to a romance house, for instance, they may very well want to know that it's a fantasy romance and so on.

The sub letter itself, as it stands, is a bit long as well. Put it in Word. If the whole thing, with your intro, story info, author info and thank you is more than a page, it needs to be cut down. It's not a synopsis, just a nice, tasty teaser blurb.

You mentioned Wrter's Digest. They usually have examples of successful query letters in their publications. There are lost of otehrs available online, too. (I even have a sample up on my own blog, Writer's Habitat ;) http://www.freewebs.com/sandrastixrude/apps/blog )

Kim Smith
January 5th, 2009, 06:55 PM
I would think if you have a 250 thou book that you are breaking into two parts, you would have to tell them that up front, as it will simply end at a point "to be continued" so to speak. It would be better for you to be able to offer them one book, stand alone, and then once they get it and read it and ask you to sign on the dotted line, let them know, oh by the way, this is a series :) and they will be happy. But each book should be able to stand alone as a book unto itself, if I am remembering right. Best luck!

lavagrl
January 5th, 2009, 10:57 PM
Thanks guys. This book is the first in a series. Do I say that in the querry letter? Because I thought you were supposed to. And do they like that because they know they'll get more out of you, or do they not like that because they don't want to commit until they see how well a book sales?

:leo:

Catherine Bybee
January 6th, 2009, 01:55 AM
Angel and Kim are sooooo right. I actually had to look twice at your first line. 250K.. If you're Steven King... maybe. Or Diana Gabaldon. I don't think it is possible to 'shave' 150k out. You'll go nuts trying. Putting this into two books is a must!
The multi-genre thing is something many of us struggle with but before you spend too much time on that start working on trimming your ms.

Angel's tips on her blog are beyond amazing so be sure and check them out.

Ohhh and here is a site I love. Jenna spent a lot of time getting this together. Everything you ever wanted to know... or at least a link to it is there.

http://www.passionatepen.com/articles.htm

Best of luck.

Angel Martinez
January 6th, 2009, 08:00 AM
This can be publisher specific. Some pubs are series-happy, they like to have the next thing and the next provided the first book is even mildly successful. It's usually info they'll tuck away, though, interesting but not vital to the decision process, so it's something you might mention near the end of the letter.

What you don't want to do is start off the letter saying something like "This is the first in a completed seven part series"

Angel Martinez
January 6th, 2009, 08:04 AM
Thank you, Catherine :D Just FYI - Yahoo has tagged my email account as exhibiting "suspicious activity" so it might be a bit before I can send again.

Catherine Bybee
January 6th, 2009, 01:19 PM
Suspicious? As in what? You'd think the tech world would have better things to do.

lavagrl
January 7th, 2009, 04:27 PM
How do you have 'suspicious activity' on an e-mail account? What, you're dealing e-drugs? I don't get it.

Anyway, thanks for the tips, guys. I seriously didn't mean for the book to get that long, it just did, and now I'm trying to trim, but you're right, Catherine, shaving over half isn't possible.

Does anyone know a good place to print? I've been looking around because the publishers I've been looking at want some chapters printed and mailed. All the printing places I've looked at are at least eight cents a page. Maybe I should just get a printer.

Daw wants the entire manuscript mailed, no querry or anything first. Is that usual? Because it seems a little stupid to print the whole thing and just send it out. But they specifically say on their page that long books aren't a problem so they may be my best bet. I just don't know.

:leo:

lavagrl
January 16th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Thanks, Catherine, for putting down that link to the articles. I've been reading them and they've actually been helpful.