Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My First RTW, and a Plea for Help!

I've read so many Road Trip Wednesday posts throughout my ten (TEN!) months in the blog universe, but I've never participated. That. Ends. Today!

This week, the lovelies at YA Highway have given me the chance to gush about the best book I read in October. SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi blew my cheetah mind, darlings! Juliette can't touch anyone without hurting, maybe killing them, until now. I can't do it a bit of justice by talking about it, so you must, YOU MUST, go pre-order it. I'll even give you the link. My first ARC (YAY!), and I'm obsessed with Warner, Mafi's sexy, psychotic villain. INCREDIBLE! I gobbled up this book in one day, and you will too. Cross my heart. 

Okay. Off topic, but so important!

I leave for the Backspace conference in a week, *breathes into bag, breathes into bag* so I desperately need your help today and on Friday. In this post, I'm giving you my pitch line and query. If you have time, comment to your heart's content. RipRipRip, because it needs to entice the agent-darlings at the conference to want my book like I want Warner.

To bribe persuade you, I'll enter anyone who comments today and/or Friday (2 entries if you comment both days) into a drawing for a copy of SHATTER ME. Kindle or physical copy, depending on winner's preference. I'll pre-order it for you this weekend.

Okay, here's my pitch line and query. Help!

Seventeen-year-old Kat Wake cuts a deal with the afterlife's gatekeeper to win her dead soulmate a new body, but it's not the body she expects, and holding up her end of the bargain may cost Kat her soul.

Dear Agent,

When seventeen-year-old Kat Wake learns her true love, Tate, is a soul without a body, she cuts a deal with the afterlife's gatekeeper to win him a new one. But his new body belongs to a girl in their tiny, Bible Belt town. Kat faces the anger and judgment of her family, her community, and even herself as she fights for her love.

But love doesn't slow the hands of the gatekeeper's clock. Kat must still hold up her end of the bargain and steal her tortured English teacher's memory of the afterlife. He somehow knows her plan, though, and has other, wicked ideas for his favorite student. If Kat doesn't succeed in her task, she'll lose everything. Her love. Her life. Even her soul.

My YA paranormal romance, SOULSCAPE, is Gayle Forman's If I Stay meets Inception, and is complete at 60,000 words. This story may stand alone, but has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

That's it! You're all delightful!



Sarah Enni said...

I loved SHATTER ME too! Can't wait for that to come out.

And I love the twist in your story! I'm not sure that I see based on the description how INCEPTION is a comp (dreams versus memories?), I definitely want to read it!

Juliana said...

Cant wait to read SHATTER ME!!
Jeez, I've got over 200 books on my TBR list lol I wonder when I'll be able to get to it ...
I agree with Sarah ... I didn't see the link with Inception. Perhaps you should add something on your query that shows how your story is similar (or has elements) of Inception.
But I'll be honest ... I'm wary of queries that says X meets Y, naming famous books or movies ... Idk why, I just never use it and never will. I also know of agents that dislike it too (and some that like it lol). I think it's up to you.
Other than that, I like you pitch and your query ;)

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, and welcome to RTW, Marie!

My thoughts on your pitch line:

"it's not the body she expects"--does this communicate what you mean it to? I presume she doesn't *want* her soulmate to have the body of a girl? If so, I think "not what she expects" is a little weak. After all, sometimes the unexpected can be a pleasant surprise. If I'm right in my presumption, perhaps "the chosen body is unacceptable" or something like that may better get across the conflict.

As for the query:
I felt a disjunction between lines 2 and 3. The first two lines set up the premise, but I'm not sure how her family and community factor in, partly because I don't get how Kat "fights for her love" in this situation. Is she fighting for him to stay in this body against the wishes of the community? Or is there some other fight? This may just need to be reworded a bit.

The second paragraph introduces Kat's side of the deal. I wonder if this should be part of the first paragraph? Use the first paragraph to present the deal, then the second to show the conflict, and a third to show the risk. In other words:

Para 1: Tate is a soul without a body. The afterlife's gatekeeper will give him a new one if Kat does X.

Para 2: BUT--the body belongs to a girl in their town, and she must steal her tortured English teacher's memory of the afterlife.

Para 3: Time running out. Faces judgement of family and community, and teacher knows of her plan and has other ideas.

This is of course just my impression. Everyone else (agents included) might see it as just fine as it is. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with the wording or the voice--it's the structure I think you need to tweak.

There's my 2-cents for what it's worth.

All the best at the conference!

Lori Ann Stephens said...

Great pitch--I'd want to read it. As for the Query, I was thrown off on the sentence about the English teacher's memory of the afterlife. Maybe it's the syntax, but I stumbled and when "wha--?" in my head. Good luck!

Shatter Me: on the list!

Christa said...

Your pitch is solid and I really like it. I'd look to the flow of paragraph two of your query. It seems slightly off, pacing-wise. Like it's too much of a jump from paragraph one.
It's a killer premise. Good luck!

Karla Nellenbach said...

SHATTER ME looks great and has been on my TBR list forever. cannot wait for it.

comments on pitch/query:

pitch: my opinion, but 'not what she expects' is kind of cliched phrase. can you switch it out for something more intriguing?

query: its kind of jarring, jumping from the paragraph about the new body for her soulmate to the tortured teacher.

all in all, the premise is very interesting.

Carrie said...

Shatter Me sounds like a good book.

Maybe use some of the first line from your query. It seems more immediate.
When Kate Wake's soulmate dies she cuts a deal to win him a new body, but it's not the body she expects, and holding up her end of the bargain may cost Kat her soul.

I like this
Questions- Is Tate dead? Did she know Tate before he died or is he just a random soul?
The second paragraph sort of got confusing to me. How does her English teacher know her plan? What is he?

Last paragraph- I might cut out the comparison to If I Stay and Inception. Some agents like comparing to other writers because it shows you know the market but others don't like it because you aren't that best selling author who you're comparing your work too.
Maybe say something like readers who enjoy If I Stay or Before I Fall would enjoy your book.

Have fun at your conference.

Georgia Summers said...

Oh my God, I've been wanting to read this book for FOREVER. Sadly, there is no bookstore close to where I go to uni, so I'm going to have to wait until I get home TO GET A CHANCE AT GRABBING BOOKS OM NOM NOM. *eats foot*

Okay, query time.

1) First sentence is a little clunky. Some agents don't like the 'when..' tagline because they see it so often.

2) I'm not really sure about the last two sentences here. Does that mean that souls without bodies are a normal occurrence? Does that mean that the boy she's in love with is in the body of a girl? What about relationship logistics? There are way too many questions.

3) The second paragraph is really clunky as well. The first sentence is pretty much redundant because we already know that she has a bargain to uphold. Can you steal memories? Is that a typical thing in this town? The third sentence is very vague and not only confuses me, but also makes me go, "Hmm, somehow knows? Is this a plot hole?" You've probably got a good reason for it, but I'm not going to think that.

4) You need to set the stakes at the very beginning. What is the punishment here, exactly? You're being too vague.

Overall, I think you need to go back and polish it. The writing style is very vague and I wasn't really aware that there was a consequence if she failed her task until the very end, and even then... I'm still not sure. Life, love, soul? It's kind of standard.

Hope this helps!

Kate Scott said...

I've heard nothing but great things about Shatter Me. I can't wait to read it.

Cara M. said...

Oh wow! I want to read your book! (Nothing hooked me about Shatter Me, but your pitch was like a delicious squirming worm to a fish.)

I'd tighten up the query a little more. Snap the first line.

"Kat Wake's true love is dead. Tate is lingering on the edge of the afterlife, a soul without a body. Desperate to bring him back, Kat cuts a deal with Charon. But his new body is not what she expected."

I would just do my best to make shorter tighter sentences. 8 words or less! Get the rhythm going.

Also, don't mention series potential. It sounds a bit amateurish.

Andrew Leon said...

Well, I was going to comment, but other people have been way more comprehensive with their feedback than I was going to be. I will say this, though:
The pitch does not grab me at all. It may just be that I'm no longer interested in "deal with the devil" stoies; I don't know.

However, the query does sound interesting. Enough interesting to make me want to know more.

Marie Rearden said...

Tons and tons of FANTASTIC feedback, darlings! I'll get to work on some changes, especially the ones that came out over and over.

Check back on Friday for my first two pages. Lots more to RIPRIPRIP! Plus, the SHATTER ME giveaway. You do NOT want to miss this chance. Such a gripping read!

Thanks again!


Escape Artist said...

Marie, I like Cara's suggestions!
Snap! I think that would work well!

Mrs. Silverstein said...

Ok, I don't have query experience, so please feel free to disregard or at least be aware that this is a layman's opinion.

1) The part that grabs me is the idea of your MC being thrust into a problem that other people really face in their everyday lives, but for a supernatural reason. To me, that's what makes it seem like something exciting. I want to know more about her struggle with her town's values, and I could live with less about her actual paranormal quest.

2) I agree with another commenter above that the word "somehow" seems clunky--do you mean that there's a mystery around how he knows it? Words like "mysteriously" or "much to her surprise" tell me that the MC doesn't know why he knows--"somehow" makes it seem like I, the reader, might not find out how he knows, which would be frustrating.

Good luck with this--it definitely sounds like something I'd read and stock in my classroom library!