Thursday, January 23, 2014

SVS 12: TWIST OF FATE, NA Historical Fantasy

Genre: New Adult Historical Fantasy
Word Count: 81,000

My Main Character is most uncomfortable with: 

As a 21st century goddess, a little thing like weather never stands in my way. If I perspire in the sun, one text to Apollo, and he tones it down. If heavy rain dampens my day at the beach, I’ve got the Goddess Eudora on speed dial. And if I’m ready to bust out my ski bunny attire, and the slopes aren’t quite up to par, a quick tweet to Chione, and fresh powder drifts from the sky. 


Dear God-like Agent:

Twenty-two-year-old Pandia’s in so much trouble she’s shaking in her Jimmy Choo’s. After the goddess-born, NYC socialite travels through time and parties with Julius Caesar, she convinces him to ditch politics and become a gardener. Pandia’s father, Zeus, summons her to 21st century Olympus and chews her out for messing with an important human’s destiny. To teach Pandia a lesson, he strips her power and sentences her to a stint of mortality in Italy.

Pandia refuses to let her punishment get her down. She’ll prove to her father she can follow his rules and plans to be home before the next sale at Saks Fifth Avenue. But instead of modern-day Italy, Zeus dumps her in ancient Pompeii. Pandia’s mistaken for a prostitute and hauled before a local official. When she can’t pay her tax, and refuses to give the official free samples in trade, she’s sent to work in Pompeii’s Gladiator School. There she’s assigned to Caladus, a brooding gladiator who makes her reconsider her vow to remain uninvolved.

To escape Pompeii, Pandia must show Zeus she’s changed, but staying out of trouble is harder than she thought. And her time’s running out: Mt. Vesuvius is rumbling.

First 250 words:

If I hadn’t traveled back in time to attend that party with Aphrodite, I wouldn’t have met Julius Caesar. Jules wouldn’t have taken my advice to ditch politics for gardening, and I wouldn’t be in deep shit with my father, Zeus.

I yanked down my red crop top, sucked in a fortifying breath, and swept into the Great Hall. My father and step-mother sat in gilded thrones at the end of the room, wearing tropical clothing and matching scowls on their tanned faces.

As I strode through the pillared aisle leading to the receiving area, the click-click-click of my heels echoed in the stillness surrounding me. Normally, gods packed the aisle and the alcoves between the pillars, chatting as they waited for a word with my father. The fact that it was just me, Dad, and Hera was ominous.

I halted before the dais and tried not to squirm under Dad’s white-hot gaze. His silver hair stuck up in all directions, as if he’d raked his hands through it. A frown deepened the lines on his face. “Pandia,” he said without his usual greeting. “You’ve done it again.”

Hera smirked and clutched the arms of her throne with fingers like talons.

Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows, creating colorful patterns on the marble tiles. I traced an outline with my peep-toe Louboutin and avoided his eyes. “Could you be more specific?”

“Julius.” He sighed like the weight of a planet rested on his shoulders. “When will you stop fooling around with notorious mortals?”


  1. This query is pretty clean and honestly, I can't think of anything to say to help it. Same thing for the first 250 words. Clearly, you have already done a lot of polishing and I'm assuming have had other sets of eyes on your work. I'm hoping that some of the other mentors can give you some specific feedback but I'm going to have to step aside on this one.

    Historical Fantasy is not really my thing, so perhaps I'm overlooking something because of that, but your book sounds fun and I think agents who are into mythology and fantasy and also want something new for NA will want to read more.

    Good luck!

  2. Mentor Sarah Marsh here! And I have to say, this query and opening are looking great!

    Here are some nitpicks on your query: Since you have so many apostrophes in your first sentence, I suggest writing out 'Pandia is' instead of 'Pandia's'. Next, nix the comma between goddess-born and NYC. At the end of paragraph two, you mentioned a vow that Pandia is reconsidering, but this isn't mentioned before. My suggestion to fix this is: "She’ll prove to her father she can follow his rules [about not getting involved with mortals] and plans to be home before the next sale at Saks Fifth Avenue."

    Great stakes at the end! :)

    In your first 250, my only suggestion is that this opening might benefit from a few more details about the setting to help ground us in the scene. Those details could also add to the tension (though that's already very well established!). For example: you mention Zeus and Hera having tans. Is it hot in the hall? The heat could be another indicator of tension... or maybe it's freezing in there, and it's making Pandia just as uncomfortable as her father's angry stare? Those are just a few examples of what I mean.

    Otherwise, this looks great. Love the dialogue... Best of luck with TWIST OF FATE!

  3. Your answer to the question: I loved it and I couldn't wait to read on, but I would love to hear what she's uncomfortable with. Even if it's just a broken nail.

    I love your first sentence in the query. There's so much good info up front and it's hi-la-ri-ous. Actually, a lot of it was hilarious. I feel like it's really solid, and I was looking for something to improve it, but I felt it was really clear, voicey, and funny. Bravo.

    I would totally read this and the first 250 have you jumping right in. And the idea of Caesar being called Jules and taking up gardening is hilarious. Best of luck!

  4. Great story! The voice is super strong and I love all the humor that sneaks in.

    Like the other mentors, I don't have much to add because I think your first 250 are top notch and your query is really solid. My only small issue was with your second sentence. It felt like something was wrong with the chronology (which is funny to say about a time travel book).

    Twenty-two-year-old Pandia’s in so much trouble she’s shaking in her Jimmy Choo’s. (FABULOUS FIRST LINE) The goddess-born, NYC socialite's father, Zeus, has summoned her to 21st century Olympus to chew her out for messing with an important human’s destiny. Apparently traveling through time and convincing Julius Casaer to ditch politics and become a gardener during a party is a no-no.

    I'm not sure. There's just something about the second sentence's placement that didn't work for me. But all in all, fabulous! Can't wait to read it as a book!

  5. Mentor of Team Snow, Copernicus Nerd here! It's all subjective in this grand 'ol writing world of ours, but I hope whatever I have to say helps out at least a little!

    First things first. The query. I can't really say much here, the query works just the way it is. I like how the story is familiar but has a nice twist to it. I can just imagine the sort of hilarity that is ensuing throughout your novel. It's funny because you've done such an excellent job of putting together the humor and still giving a clear cut story sum up in your query without carrying away with it.

    You've been practicing haven't you!

    On to your first 250, I think you just need a little bit more set up rather than jumping into it too quickly. The story starts a bit abrupt. I feel like just a tad bit more development or details could bring this story to life even more.

    No worries about your voice though, you've got that spot on.

    All in all great work. Sorry I didn't have too much to say, you've got some really great material going on here! Good luck with the changes you may make, and great job!

  6. Hi, Snow mentor Kate Brauning here, of Month9Books!


    What a home-run of a query. I grinned the whole time I was reading, and I absolutely want to read this when it comes out. It’s concise, punchy, hilarious, and it has great character development. It shows the conflict and stakes very clearly, too. Plus, it’s great to see some non-contemp NA! Brilliantly done.


    The writing here is clean and concise—awesome! I love your first lines because they ground us in the voice and situation immediately. Great hooks there.
    I couldn’t get a clear picture of the Great Hall. Could we get some striking visual images, a few specifics, to help us see her dad’s wealth and power? Anything to give it a little more atmosphere would be great. Otherwise, I think this page is in good shape, and I’d keep reading!

  7. Hello, I'm Vicki Lemp Weavil, a mentor for TEAM SNOW --

    Great query and 250! As others have noted, it is very polished already. A few minor things:

    I would also suggest saying "Pandia is" in the first sentence, just to avoid so many apostrophes.

    This line -- "...her vow to remain uninvolved." Maybe add a little more of that great voice here? Could be something like -- "...her vow to keep her hands off of humans." Or something like that.

    The first 250 words:

    Great voice and characterization. I also would like a bit more about the setting -- it doesn't have to be much, but something that creates the scene a little more distinctly.

    I stumbled over this line -- Hera smirked and clutched the arms of her throne with fingers like talons." I think this could be switched around -- something like: "Hera smirked as her talon-like fingers clutched the arms of her throne."

    Otherwise -- lovely and fun. Can't wait to see the final result (and have agents take a look at it too!)

  8. Team Snow mentor Kat here!

    Query: Strong query, and if you pick up on those punctuation fixes Sarah highlighted it will really shine. The stakes are spelled out strongly at the end, and I love that 'Vesuvius is rumbling' at the end - great voice and a threat in one!

    First 250: Again, the voice is really strong. The only stumbling point for me was the opening paragraph - having that retrospective chunk of back story as the opener is too passive, and isn't as strong as having it open in the present moment. Can you rework this to make it feel more immediate, and draw the reader into what is happening at that moment?

    Good luck!

  9. Team Snow mentor here!


    Brilliant. I have literally no complaints. Sure, the punctuation can be cleaned up, but I was so enraptured that I didn't even notice it the first time I read it. LOVED the last line.


    I liked it. I get a sense of who Pandia is. The voice is strong. Some of the phrasing could be stronger, however. Like this: "...wearing tropical clothing and matching scowls on their tanned faces." It feels like a shortcut description. I don't really know what "tropical" clothing is (there are plenty of cultures located in tropical regions with varied types of clothing, so be specific with your descriptions).

    I feel like the query is painting a better picture for me than the first 250. There's so much energy there, I want to see it translated in the opening of the book. Be vivid!

  10. Thank you mentors (some I couldn't find on Twitter to personally thank). I can't tell you how much your comments and suggestions mean to me. I'm humbled. I'll do anything to make my entry glisten brighter than new snowfall on a sunny day, and with your ideas, it will.

  11. This sounds like loads of fun!!! All I could think of was "Pandia in Pradas". What a riot!!! Good luck to you! This one is priceless:)

  12. Hello, Katie, author of #9 here!
    I absolutely love your answer to the snow vs sun question. Your MC's attitude comes right through, and it made me laugh.

    Query: AMAZING! I can't find anything to change!

    First 250: Again, amazing! I wanted to give you great tips after all the advice you left on Running with Needles, but I think what you have is already perfect! You are going to do great, and I can't wait to read it.


  13. Hi!

    Mentor here. The query is very strong. Clean. Easy. To the point. Really liken the inclusion of a rumbling Mt. Vesuvius. Amps things up nicely!

    The actual excerpt threw me slightly: I was expecting to begin with the party where Jules takes up gardening. I don't know why. I think because you have such a rich mythology within the narrative, you really need to set the scene more: immersion is key. Let us live the scene through Pania. Think of her as a conduit through which we experience this world you've created. Nail that, and you're on your way to glory. :D

  14. Hi, TeamSnow #15 here to make a few suggestions.

    Your answer to the question: Brilliant!

    Query: If the mentors think it’s great, then I don’t feel too bad I have no real suggestions here.

    First 250: This is pretty sparkly already, but I do agree that the backstory at the beginning could be tweaked. I don’t know if this is the only explanation you’ll have of the Julius Caesar incident, but especially if you will revisit this in a more showing way later, save most of it. You could start with a condensation of those two sentences: “If I hadn’t traveled back in time to attend that party with Aophrodite, I wouldn’t be in deep shit with my father, Zeus.” If your opening is all we get about Julius, then you can sprinkle that in toward the end of this excerpt. Overall, though, just send me the MS, I’m already sold!

    Tweet me (handle is my name, no spaces) if you need someone to look at a revision, not that you need it, before Wednesday. Good luck to you in the agent rounds!

  15. Hi, fellow Team Snow member here. Following are my suggestions, for what they are worth.

    I had to read the first sentence of your query twice because it confused me. I suggest changing "Pandia's" to "Pandia is."

    Love the closing paragraph of your query.

    Good luck in the agent round!

  16. Just a reminder to take the feedback that works for you when revising for the agent round. It’s a lot to take in, but you’re the expert on your story and know best. If you have any questions about the next round you may ask here or on twitter.

    Thought you’d like to know why you were picked. Voice! Voice! And more voice! Here is a character that makes me want to find a place in her entourage. I'm sure she'd have an entourage. You also load the query with specific details that makes me care and leave me curious for more.

  17. I am swooping in from #TeamSun to offer my congrats to one of my CP's and to say I think your book ROCKS! I love the query and the premise. I'm hoping agents will feel the same.

  18. OMG! Your query and first 250 are TIGHT! Talk about VOICE. Wow, who are your CPs? They must be A-MAZE-BALLS!

    Okay, okay, even though you're on Team Snow, I won't hold it against you. You will ROCK this agent round. LOVE Pandia, love this book....and the author is pretty special too ;-)


  19. Hi fellow Team snow member. I am the PB writer in the contest so this is way out of my comfort zone.

    You have a great voice here and I love the time travel.

    Best of luck in the agent round!

  20. Great work, Marty! Since everyone here made almost the exact same comment (the punctuation in the query and more setting details in the first 250), I think you know exactly what you have to fix :)

    Your book is amazing and I hope you get a load of requests.

  21. Incredible sense of voice and character in your query and first page. Really well done!

    Best of luck in the agent round.

    #TeamSun Leader Amy

  22. Teammate #6 here, stopping by to wish you luck with revisions and the agent round! I'd love to connect on Twitter, so I can keep up with you after the contest! @kranky_crow

    Let's blow Team Sun away!

  23. Hi! I'm following you: @mbelec123

  24. Snow mentor Matt Sinclair of Elephant's Bookshelf Press here, and I'm really enjoying the concept behind this. It's a strong idea with strong research behind it and enough sense of play to let me know that your first 250 are probably worth keeping up with the next 80,750. I know I'd be curious to see how strong your world-building skills are here, and setting a 21st century young woman in pre-apocalyptic Pompeii is a stroke of brilliance. Best of luck with this!