Friday, June 1, 2018

QK1 Match 2: Trapped in My Worst Day Ever vs. Love in the Time of Prosciutto

Title: Love Locked
Entry Nickname: Trapped in My Worst Day Ever
Word count: 43K
Genre: upper MG, magical realism
Query:

Anxiety-ridden 8th grader Eve Hollis is trapped in a time loop, reliving the worst day of her life. She never thought her wish for courage would be overheard by a mysterious fortune teller who grants that wishin the most ulcer-inducing way possible.

Eve’s original plan seemed perfect:  tell her secret crush she likes him at the top of the Eiffel Tower, letting the romance of the scene give her the boldness she’s always lacked.  But her happy-go-lucky best friend kisses him first, turning the City of Love into the City of Misery. Even worse, a strange fortune teller sells the new couple a love lock, a symbol that their love will last forever. In a fit of jealousy, Eve secretly steals the lock and hurls it in the River Seine.
The following morning is incredibly familiar. Too familiar. In fact, the day repeats itself right down to the back-stabbing best friend and stupid love lock. As the same day continues on repeat, getting the boy becomes far less important than getting back home. But unless Eve can figure out what’s keeping her trapped in the time loop and find the courage to make a change, she’s destined to experience the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever.
Love Locked could be considered a mashup of 11 BIRTHDAYS and Rachel Vail’s WELL, THAT WAS AWKWARD.  Fans of Suzanne Nelson’s CAKE POP CRUSH might also enjoy LOVE LOCKED.

First 250, up to 255

The girl’s wish floated on the early summer air, more delicious than the aroma of the fresh-baked bread of the nearby bakery. The fortune teller breathed it in, letting the wish permeate her very bones, inviting it to whisper its secrets and direct her like a compass needle.

A prickling along her skin sharpened into goose bumps as she observed the young teen across the street, the Eiffel Tower behind her. This was the one.

From this distance, the shine in the girl’s eyes could be dismissed as the sun’s reflection, but the woman recognized regret and sadness when she saw it. The other students in the tour group laughed and talked together as they waited, but the girl stood silently, shoulders rigid, and wished for courage.

The fortune teller smiled, wrinkles crinkling. Finally. She reached into her worn bag and curled her hand around an ornate bronze lock, heavy with time and promise. A very special lock, one that would have a new owner before the sun set on this day.

EVE

I never realized before how much the Eiffel Tower looked like a giant middle finger. How very French of it. I wanted to return the salute, but A) I’d never have the guts and B) it might upset Reggie, who was completely fangirling it up over every aspect of Paris.

“Can you believe it, Eve?” Reggie said, staring up at the Eiffel Tower. “It’s so beautiful!” She sighed, clasping her hand to her chest. Unlike me, she actually had a chest.

VERSUS

Title: Time Passages
Entry Nickname: Love in the Time of Prosciutto
Word count: 79K
Genre: YA Fantasy
Query:

Sixteen-year-old Gemma DiMarco found her forever love in Ben Hartwell. A few magical weeks, and in a flash, they went from “the friend zone” to deliriously in love. When Gemma’s unbalanced ex-boyfriend murders Ben then kills himself, Gemma is left reliving the awful moment day after day, blaming herself. With support from her best friend and her close-knit Italian family, Gemma must come to terms with the guilt and accept what happenedWhat’s done can’t be undone. Death is forever. But what if she could stop the tragedy from happening in the first place?

When a boy claiming to be her guardian angel comes into the family deli and says he can do just that, Gemma is beyond skeptical. But with a touch, the boy subverts the laws of time and space, and sends Gemma back to the pivotal moment leading to Ben's murder, allowing her to change the outcome.

Back in the present, Ben is alive. But in this altered reality,
 Gemma’s ex is, too. To protect Ben, Gemma must find and dispose of the original murder weapon before her ex can use it again. Meanwhile, because of Gemma’s time traveling, the family deli is going under and her parents’ once-happy marriage is headed off a cliff. With memories from her new life rapidly replacing the old ones, Gemma soon won’t remember the murder, the angel or changing the past at all. She has only a few days to thwart her ex, get back with Ben, and save her family, before the old memories fade completely and her chance for a happy ending vanishes too.

TIME PASSAGES features the romance of ABOUT TIME meets the whimsy of THE GOOD PLACE. It will appeal to readers of THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig or THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles. 
 
First 250:

Exiting the Bart station, I book it three blocks to the deli, late for work again. A breeze too cold for August blows in my face, making me hunch into my jacket. The low-hanging clouds, floating overhead like clumps of dirty cotton balls, do nothing to lighten my mood.

This early, the taquerias and fruit markets along Mission Street are still dark, but light glows from Poulsen’s Bakery. The delicious aroma drifting into the street reminds my stomach I skipped breakfast this morning. Baking bread and spices. Cinnamon.

A memory. Ben and me and a bag of cinnamon rolls. “Still warm, Gemma.” Buttery and sweet, we cut first period to eat them in the park. A cop car drives by and we duck behind the picnic table, fingers entwined, choking back the laughter. It’s so vivid, I’m back there, feeling Ben’s cinnamon-scented breath on my cheek, tasting the sugar on his lips. Remembering feels like a stab to the gut now, raw and fresh, since Ben died last spring.

“Good morning,”

The voice comes out of nowhere, jarring me back to the present. A boy pads along beside me. Tall and dark, a ring of keys jingles on his belt loop.

We’re alone on the street, with the deli still several doors down. I have zero interest in talking to him, so I smile, nod and walk faster. Take the hint, dude.

Nope. He quickens his pace to keep up. Why do boys think they can invade a girl’s space anytime they feel like it?

23 comments:

  1. Judges, please respond with your feedback and vote here! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love and SqualorJune 1, 2018 at 12:41 PM

      Ooh, a time travel match-up! There's a lot to like in both of these entries, and both sound like great books!

      The query for TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER is really strong. The only real nitpick I have is to establish as early as possible that Eve and her friends are in France: I got a little thrown by her reference to kissing on top of the Eiffel Tower and I'm still not clear whether they're there on a class trip or these are French kids. For the 250, I was also a little confused whether this is going to be alternating perspectives (Eve and the fortuneteller?). Consider cutting the fortuneteller's perspective: the writing is good, but I think you should immerse the reader into Eve's world and voice (which is strong) right away.

      For LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO query, I would cut the second sentence of the first paragraph. The term 'friend zone' took me out of my reading, and it's not important to the query how Gemma and Ben originally got together, just that they were really in love and Ben's death impacted Gemma greatly. I was also a little thrown by the comp to The Good Place, since nothing about this query or first 250 reads whimsical to me. If the tone of the book is more humorous/less dramatic than it seems from this sample, I'd make sure that's reflected in the query and first page. Otherwise, I'd suggest taking out this comp. The writing in the first 250 is very strong. I think BART should be all-caps. I also don't think you need to be explicit that Ben died: the narrator is in her own head, and she wouldn't be that blatant. You could say something like, 'remembering feels like a stab to the cut now, raw and fresh, since Ben should be walking beside me now. And he isn't.' Something like that, that leaves the reader wondering just a little longer why Ben isn't around.

      Overall, both strong entries with cool premises. VICTORY to TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER!

      Delete
    2. Trapped in My Worst Day Ever: At first, I was concerned that your time loop premise sounded too familiar, but when you brought in the love lock, I perked up. I’d encourage you to include that in the query sooner to show how unique your premise is from other time loop stories. Also, as I was reading the query, I couldn’t figure out why she was in Paris. Does she live there? School trip? Family vacation? Overall, a tight, concise query letter. I was surprised that you start with the POV of the fortune teller. It does add some mystery to the story. (Made me as a reader perk up when she said “This is the one” like she was expecting her.) I’m still undecided if I like that you started with the fortune teller, especially since Eve’s perspective has so much more voice. Her voice is what drew me in and made me start to enjoy the story. Comparing the Eiffel tower to a middle finger and putting country prejudice in there was fantastic. Also, the chest reference, since that is exactly the kind of thought a young teen would have. I’m very sure the #QueryKombat hosts chose this entry based on the voice of the first 250 words.

      Love in the Time of Prosciutto: This premise not only deals with some news relevant issues, but also some classic issues like grief and guilt. I almost wish it had a different, more unique title that portrays this. The query’s first paragraph is long, so I’d encourage you to tighten it up if you can. I thought the words would start amid the romance, and since it doesn't, you might rewrite the beginning of the story with that in mind. I like that you made the time travel plot line more complex with the deli and parents issues and memory loss in her new reality. It really made me want to read it, which means agents will feel the same way. While the first two paragraphs of your 250 words do set a tone for the book and offer a lot of sensory details, they don’t get me right into the story. I don’t know what “Bart Station” is or if its relevant. If you can shorten them and get to the memory quicker, I think that would pull the reader in faster. I really appreciate the way you portray your main character, and how well you show her emotions rather than tell us what she's feeling.

      VICTORY TO LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO!
      ~Red Ink Slinger

      Delete
    3. Ooops, need to make a quick edit. " I thought the words would start amid the romance, and since it doesn't, you might rewrite the beginning of the QUERY with that in mind." ~Red Ink Slinger

      Delete
    4. Thaddeus SpinsterJune 1, 2018 at 2:24 PM

      Trapped In My Worst Day Ever: The first paragraph in the query hooks me right away. It gives me the vibe of the movie Groundhog Day. I like how it’s set in a setting outside of the United States. I can’t add much value to the query because it is well written, and straightforward. It is logical and gets the point across. The stakes are clear-cut. The first 250 were awkward for me to read, you change POV from which I assume from the fortuneteller to the Eve. Reggie is talking to Eve, I assume and then you talk about her sighing and holding her hands to her chest. I’m guessing it’s the boyfriend stealing best friend, but I would like it to be clearer. In my opinion the query is rock solid, if you were to clear up the first 250 in future rounds, I think you could go very far in this competition. Good Job.

      Love in the Time of Prosciutto: The first paragraph of the query does its job by hooking me. The idea of being able to change the past to save your love is intriguing to me. I really like the changing history aspect of it, as when she stops the murder, it alters the future. It reminds me vaguely of the television show Timeless. One little nitpick, just because she finds and disposes of the murder weapon, would not automatically stop the Ex from wanting to murder Ben. Wouldn’t the Ex find another way or method? I would be curious to see how the relationship between Gemma and Ben changes once the whirlwind romance starts to fade a little. In the first 250, I know what Bart is and Mission Street because I’m from Northern California but a reader from Oklahoma or Illinois might not know about Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit). My quick fix is to mention it by saying Train or referencing San Francisco as your location. I like how she wants to blow off the guardian angel as just another creep hitting on her and wished I could read further to see their interaction.

      I thought this would be like comparing apples to oranges but it’s not. Trapped In My Worst Day Ever is an upper middle grade, while Love in the Time of Prosciutto is YA so I thought it would be difficult, but the time traveling premises are similar enough to make it a fair fight. I liked both of these a lot and either one has the potential to win the entire contest. I have to say I give a slight edge to one over another (a very slight edge.) VICTORY TO LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO.

      Delete
    5. Anxiety-ridden 8th grader Eve Hollis is trapped in a time loop, reliving the worst day of her life.

      Eve’s original plan seemed perfect: tell her secret crush she likes him at the top of the Eiffel Tower, letting the romance of the scene give her the boldness she’s always lacked. But her happy-go-lucky best friend kisses him first, turning the City of Love into the City of Misery. Even worse, a strange fortune teller sells the new couple a love lock, a symbol that their love will last forever. In a fit of jealousy, Eve secretly steals the lock and hurls it in the River Seine.

      The following morning is incredibly familiar. Too familiar. In fact, the day repeats itself right down to the back-stabbing best friend and stupid love lock. As the day continues on repeat, getting the boy becomes far less important than getting back home. But unless Eve can figure out what’s keeping her trapped in the time loop and find the courage to make a change, she’s destined to experience the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever.

      TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER – Your query is solid. I took out a few things, see if you can spot them. The stakes are plain, and I feel sorry for Eve all while rolling my eyes at her jealousy. Fantastic.

      Your fist 250 are evocative. I had a long think over the fortune teller being first off, but I believe she can stay. We need to get the magical lock in there immediately, and it works. I really love Eve's attitude – she made me laugh. I think with just a little tweaking you might make the sudden POV shift clearer.

      EX: UNTIL WE STEPPED OFF THE TOURIST BUS IN PARIS, I never realized before how much the Eiffel Tower looked like a giant middle finger. How very French of it. I wanted to return the salute, but A) I’d never have the guts and B) it might upset MY BEST FRIEND Reggie, who was completely fangirling it up over every aspect of OUR TRIP.

      Otherwise, I was sorry I didn't get to read on. I really wanted to get to the kiss scene and see how Eve handled it. :)

      ***

      Sixteen-year-old Gemma DiMarco KNOWS SHE'S found her forever love in Ben Hartwell. THEY WERE BEST FRIENDS, NOW THEY'RE DELERIOUSLY IN LOVE. BUT THEY HAVE ONLY A FEW MAGICAL WEEKS TOGETHER BEFORE IT'S OVER FOREVER.

      Gemma’s unbalanced ex-boyfriend murders Ben AND kills himself. Gemma is left reliving the awful moment day after day, blaming herself. What’s done can’t be undone. Death is forever. But what if she could stop the tragedy from happening in the first place? …

      LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCUITTO – Two of my favorite things: prosciutto and angels! The last two paragraphs of your query are great. I switched up the beginning a little. See if you like it. I took out mention of family and friends early on – I think you cover that nicely later. Well done.

      Your 250 are marvelous. I was immediately transported onto Mission Street, and also immediately hungry. Gemma's relatable from the beginning, and as soon as the angel appeared I wanted to know if we'd see more of him later. Seriously, I need to read this book now. I'm curious to see how you handle the murder/shooting -–a delicate subject and one that is too much in the headlines lately.

      VICTORY TO LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCUITTO. For both of you, after the contest, if you want more hands-on advice, hit me up. I'll make time.







      Delete
    6. Trapped in My Worst Day Ever:
      Query: I love how you’ve taken something that sounds familiar (time loop, reliving the same day) but added a new twist: Paris & the love lock. But I do think you could be clearer in your stakes. “finding the courage to make change” doesn’t really tell us anything. What must she do and what happens if she doesn’t do it (other than reliving the same day over and over)?
      Your 250: I think Eve’s voice (your writing voice) is fantastic. I was drawn right in and the humor kept me smiling. I think you should cut the fortune teller’s start, however. The query is about Eve, and I’d rather jump right into her pov. While beautifully written, you’re using first page real estate to show us a character we won’t follow throughout the story. You need to hook us and keep us reading, and Eve’s voice does this for you tenfold. Perhaps you can incorporate the fortune teller later the first chapter (maybe via a meet up where the fortune teller uses cryptic language to give the reader the same information). Assuming you really need to show the fortune teller’s pov. My only other concerns are word count (43K feels short for upper MG) and Eve’s voice sounds older, more like YA.


      Love in the Time of Prosciutto:
      Query: With the popularity of emotionally heavy YA today, this book should do well in the query trenches. I believe you give an older premise (time loop/reliving a day over and over) a fresh perspective with the family issues/deli and her loss of memory.
      First 250: I’m a reader who prefers to get to know a character well before jumping to a flashback. Consider grounding us in Gemma’s pov before adding description of her surroundings. And hold off the flashback for a few pages until we feel solidly in the present. There are ways of showing loss without taking the reader back in time. I’d prefer she smells the cinnamon bun and realizes she’ll never taste cinnamon again on Ben’s lips. Let us feel the emotion of her loss while still creating questions about what happened to Ben.

      Another tough decision, but I’m going to have to award
      Victory to TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER!

      Delete
    7. TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER
      How is this not comped to Groundhog Day? Great setting, and nice touch on the "love locks" that do in fact litter the bridges of the Seine. If the day-on-repeat is the only speculative element, I'm not sure this is magical realism (though I'm not an expert). My main comment here is that the prologue from the fortune teller's POV has lovely writing, but needs to go. Start with the MC's POV and let the reader get invested in her.

      LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO
      Ha, great nickname. This is a very compelling premise with some dark edges that I enjoy. The writing is solid. The query feels a bit disjointed: the first paragraph tells one story of a girl recovering from a tragedy, and then the second takes it in a different direction. I'd cut the first and work its details into an expansion of the second, so that the query matches the apparent order of the story. Great stuff here, though. I'm intrigued.

      Congratulations to both entrants on their excellent writing. Victory to LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO!

      Delete
    8. TRAPPED IN THE WORST DAY EVER FEEDBACK:
      QUERY:
      Oh my goodness—poor Eve! What an event to relive over and over again—it’s like the movie GROUNDHOG’S DAY (which now makes me feel really, really old)! I do love the premise of this story though. Very fun! Here are a few things I noticed with your query. First…is the classification correct? MG is more than age, but if Eve is an 8th grader and because of the content, doesn’t it fall more into YA? Loved the “ulcer inducing” line! Second paragraph, first sentence should be reworked as it slows down the query and interrupts your “voice”. My suggestion is to call it what it is: With Eve’s wish granted she wants to ask out her secret crush. The next sentence talks about her BFF getting to the guy and “kissing him first”….which gives the impression that Eve is after a first kiss, not telling a boy she has a crush on him. The next sentence mentions a “strange fortune teller”—is this the same one who granted Eve’s wish for confidence? I also don’t think you need the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph.


      FIRST 250:
      Ohhhhhh….mystery around the lock and a fortune teller who is seeking a victim! Love it! Eve’s first line is SPOT ON. Ha! And your voice is killer! A nicely done first 250.

      Soooo….here’s where I fall into the “unpopular opinion” camp. I think those opening sentences from the fortune tellers POV are a spoiler alert. It’s SUPER cool and it’s going to make an incredible set up for the story (seriously…I’m already wondering what is going to happen next!!), but I don’t think that needs to be your opening. That should be told to use from EVE. From the opening, it’s clear this is a multiple POV book (hence the labeling EVE and the opening paragraphs from the fortune teller’s perspective). If so, then that also needs to be included in your query.


      LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO FEEDBACK:
      QUERY:
      Wowza! I feel bad for Gemma—poor thing. Losing her boyfriend at the hands of her ex? I can’t imagine! Here are some things to think about: First paragraph, first two sentences: in my opinion? Not needed. Get us right into the heart of what’s happening and that happens with sentence three. You could clean it up a bit (including Gemma’s full name and how Ben is her current boyfriend). The last few sentences of the first paragraph definitely add to the voice of your entry, but I’m not sure that they’re needed. And as a general rule of thumb—no ‘questions’ in a query. Give us straight forward/absolutes. I would move the content of that “question” sentence, though, to the start of the next paragraph. Third paragraph, make the third sentence your starting point. The first sentence is repetitive (we already know he’s alive in this alternative time line, right?) and the second sentence is also not needed. Also in that third paragraph, how important is it for us to know that her parent’s marriage and deli are on the brink of disaster in relation to your story? Or is a more general sentence (“…traveling back in time has it’s consequences…”) appropriate?

      FIRST 250 FEEDBACK:
      I love the visuals you’ve painted here! Great balance between describing the setting and narrative. One thing I’d love to experience is what Gemma is feeling. In the first paragraph it says she’s late and she’s in a mood. Give us an emotional beat to help us feel what she’s feeling. The memory of Ben is sweet and nicely written. The opening of that paragraph though (“A memory.”) makes for a choppy transition from smelling the cinnamon to jumping into her memory. I’d also move the “we’re alone on the street” sentence to the paragraph before, and here’s another place to insert that emotional cue so we can feel her annoyance with the guy breaking her out of her daydream of Ben. I’d also start a new line with “Take a hint, dude.” (and leave it as a stand alone for emphasis as an internal thought).


      VERDICT:
      Two well matched entries with some similar themes of repeating the past! When it comes down to it, I think TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER is the stronger entry.

      Delete
    9. Trapped in my worst day Ever

      Query:
      This is a great query. The problem is clear, and so are the stakes. My only comment is that the second paragraph re-tells a lot of the same information that’s already in the first paragraph. The info that’s presented in the first paragraph is good, and it’s presented in a concise, catchy way, but then the second paragraph seems to re-wind a bit. I would actually split that first paragraph up into two sentences. Keep the first sentence where it is, as your opening (it’s a good opening line), then go into the info presented in the second paragraph. I’d then take the second sentence from the current first paragraph and see if you can find a way to work that info in near the end of your current third paragraph. You might have to shuffle the words and sentences around a bit, but I think that’s generally where the ideas need to be.

      250:
      I’m not sure how I feel about opening the book this way—with the third person POV from the fortune teller’s perspective. It feels sort-of like a prologue and that you’re giving away a lot of your story before the book begins. It also feels detached.

      But once you move to first person with Eve, things really picked up for me. I love your opening lines in that section. The voice is spot-on and really pulls you in, as compared to the detached tone of the opening with the fortune teller. I suggest you consider cutting that intro with the fortune teller and just starting the story with Eve. Let the reader piece together the mystery along with Eve rather than alerting the reader ahead of time that there’s this creepy fortune teller they need to watch out for. You can introduce the fortune teller early on, through Eve’s perspective, and have her note some odd/suspicious things about her that gets the reader thinking there is something off about this woman. That way, when the day starts over again for Eve and she has to figure out why, the reader is having to figure out why at the same time.


      Love in the Time of Prosciutto

      Query:
      This is a fantastic query. Really sets the story up nicely and the stakes are off the charts. The only change I would suggest is in the first line of your comp titles: “features the romance of …” and “meets the whimsy of…” don’t really go together. I would play around with the wording a bit so the two ideas go together better. Maybe “features the romance of… mixed with the whimsy of.” Or TIME PASSAGES takes the romance of… and mashes it up with the whimsy of..” “or in TIME PASSAGES, romance meets whimsy, similar to…” Something along those lines.

      250:
      Wow, great 250! You’ve got some really good imagery, especially with the dirty cotton ball clouds. I’m assuming this guy she meets is the angel—if so, good job jumping right into the inciting incident.

      Okay, this is a tough one to vote on because I really enjoyed both of these. But I’m going to award …

      Victory to LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO

      Delete
  2. Love Locked
    It’s a Middle Grade Groundhog Day! Love it! And I love the title.
    I have to say that your first lines as Eve suck me into the story more than the “prologue.” I’m curious to see what others say, but as a reader, I want to start from Eve’s perspective. And that being said, Eve’s voice is fantastic. I will follow that girl day after day until she figures it all out. Good work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Time Passages
    I love the unique conundrum presented, with the altering time and fading memories. In the query, I’m not convinced you need the second sentence of the first paragraph—it made me think the story would start with the blossoming romance, rather than the love interest dead already. Because of where your pages begin, that sentence seems like exposition. Maybe cut that one, or replace it with something that doesn’t read like a summation of past events? The first sentence basically says the same thing, but because of the way it’s worded it doesn’t suggest we’ll read that actually happening on the page. Make every word count in a query! Personally, I love your pages. Wouldn’t change anything there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Time Passages
    I love the last line of your first page. Love. It.
    To be honest, when I read your query, I was a little concerned that this would not be something I would want to read, however, your first page hooked me. I like where this story starts and I like the sensory details.
    The bf and the ex bf are dead when the story begins, right? I wonder if there is some way you can make that clear in your query. For me, it makes me more interested in the story. But I’m hooked. I’d read this book for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Trapped in My Worst Day Ever

    Query:

    Suggest starting with "Eve Hollis is trapped in a time loop" for more punch – you could work in "Anxiety-ridden 8th grader" later. I'm not clear in the first paragraph how a wish for courage translates into being stuck in the time loop.

    Can you give us more specific hint as to what Eve will have to overcome to break the loop? It's clear her arc will be about learning to be brave, and I'm guessing this will be more than telling her crush how she feels (i.e. a "what you need instead of what you want" type of arc), but a hint of something even harder for Eve will give us a better sense of what's at stake.


    First 250:

    Great sensory details here, and I love the lyrical voice in the beginning with the fortune teller. Nice voice too in the first paragraph with Eve.

    Personally, I think starting with Eve's section would be stronger (the bit with the fortune teller felt too much like a prologue to me).




    Love in the Time of Prosciutto

    Query:

    Why does Gemma feel guilty about her boyfriend's death?

    "Back in the present" – Has Gemma already stopped the murder and returned to the present? Your first two paragraphs made me think trying to prevent this would be the main focus of the story.

    The third paragraph makes me wonder how far back she went to if so many other aspects of her life have changed so drastically. Could you clarify a little how preventing her boyfriend's murder has changed these (seemingly unrelated) parts of her life?

    I love a good time travel story, so your premise definitely intrigued me.


    First 250:

    I like how you weave in the memory of Ben's death – very nice. Overall, your opening leaves me wanting to read on.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love Locked
    Query: I’m wondering where the fortune teller granting Eve courage comes into play. Does this set up the plot, or does the courage wish come in after she tosses the lock and is trying to escape the loop? It’s unclear to me is because later Eve doesn’t know what trapped her in the time loop, but I thought she’d know it had to do with the fortune teller and the lock. Other than that, the query felt very well balanced and to-the-point.
    First 250: I suggest actually going right into Eve’s POV. This would leave more mystery surrounding the time loop. Eve’s opening lines had great voice.

    Time Passages
    Query: I wonder if there are ways you could shorten the first paragraph to get to the angel time-problem faster. The query did a nice job of showing that Gemma’s actions are unraveling the past and may lead to a worse outcome than she’s already dealt with.
    First 250: The scene had good descriptions to set the tone of the story, as well as make readers feel Gemma’s mood. One nitpick: Some readers won’t know what a Bart station is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fake Invisibility T-ShirtJune 1, 2018 at 8:53 PM

    Love Locked:

    Fun query, and it made me smile. Made me want to jump into the story. I liked how the MC's need for courage tallied nicely with her brief appearance in the first 250.

    The first 250 threw me a little, thanks to the multiple POV. I'm guessing the fortune teller's perspective doesn't make frequent appearances in the story, but if it does, you should probably mention it in the query. As it was, the opening read a bit like a prologue. As soon as Eve's perspective kicked in, my interest spiked. The description was engaging and the dialog was fun. My .02: consider opening in Eve's voice.

    Time Passages
    I thought your query was engaging, and enjoyed the unique twist on time travel: consequences for her family, the fading window in which to act. You might be able to tighten it up a bit by cutting some words and phrases here and there.

    In the first 250, loved how you immediately wove in a vivid memory (and made it work well). I wasn't sure where the story would begin, based on the query, so maybe that's something you can clarify (in the query) by adding a word or phrase to denote time past. Nice sensory details, too. Quickly escalating plot. Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hiii! So I find it easier to make my feedback inline, so all of my suggested edits and comments [will be written in brackets like this] :D

    TRAPPED

    QUERY

    Anxiety-ridden 8th grader Eve Hollis is trapped in a time loop, reliving the worst day of her life [love this opening sentence, immediately hooks me]. She never thought her wish for courage would be overheard by a mysterious fortune teller who grants [it/that desire][suuuper nitpick, but feels nice to avoid repeating the same word in the same sentence]―in the most ulcer-inducing way possible.[hahaha got me curious to read on]

    Eve’s original plan seemed perfect: [Tell][I thinkkkkk AFAIK since it’s a complete sentence, you capitalize this] her secret crush she likes him at the top of the Eiffel Tower, letting the romance of the scene give her the boldness she’s always lacked. But her happy-go-lucky best friend kisses him first, turning the City of Love into the City of Misery. Even worse, [the same] [unless it’s a different fortune teller? Feels important to clarify whether it’s the same guy or not] strange fortune teller sells the new couple a love lock, a symbol that their love will last forever. In a fit of jealousy, Eve secretly steals the lock and hurls it in the River Seine.

    The following morning is incredibly familiar. Too familiar. In fact, the day repeats itself right down to the back-stabbing best friend and stupid love lock. As the same day continues on repeat, getting the boy becomes far less important than getting back home. But unless Eve can figure out what’s keeping her trapped in the time loop and find the courage to make a change, she’s destined to experience the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever. [nice, clear ending para with well defined stakes!]

    Love Locked could be considered a mashup of 11 BIRTHDAYS and Rachel Vail’s WELL, THAT WAS AWKWARD. Fans of Suzanne Nelson’s CAKE POP CRUSH might also enjoy LOVE LOCKED.

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    I thought this query was very clean! Honestly, not much I would change, and my only suggestions are small nitpicks.


    FIRST 250

    For the prologue: I’m suuuure you’re gonna receive a LOT of opinions on the prologue haha (because prologues are the Yanny-Laurels of the writing world I guess). The writing itself is gorgeous and elegant, and you definitely create a mystique-aura with the setting.

    However, after reading on to the first chapter, I have to admit your opening for the actual chapter grabs much attention MUCH more strongly. I love the immediate humor and snark, and Eve’s voice leaps off the page!! I wish I got more of her!!

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  9. LOVE IN THE TIME

    Same thing as before, I’ll make all my suggested changes and comments [in brackets like this] directly inline the query!

    QUERY

    Sixteen-year-old Gemma DiMarco found her forever love in Ben Hartwell. A few magical weeks, and in a flash, they went from “the friend zone” to deliriously in love. [But when][just reads more smooth/natural imo] Gemma’s unbalanced ex-boyfriend murders Ben then kills himself, Gemma is left reliving the awful moment day after day, blaming herself. [oh man this took a dark turn fast! Like how you quickly pull us into the main plot] With support from her best friend and [deleted word] close-knit Italian family, Gemma must come to terms with the guilt and accept what happened. What’s done can’t be undone. Death is forever. But what if she could stop the tragedy from happening in the first place? [Quick note: I’m left wondering WHY does Gemma blame herself? I think clearly stating the reason why Gemma feels responsible for the murder-suicide is important, as this brings us more into the mindset of her character]

    When a boy claiming to be her guardian angel comes into the family deli and says he can do just that, Gemma is beyond skeptical. But with a touch, the boy subverts the laws of time and space, and sends Gemma back to the pivotal moment leading to Ben's murder, allowing her to change the outcome.[clean para, nice!]

    Back in the present, Ben is alive. But in this altered reality, Gemma’s ex is, too. To protect Ben, Gemma must find and dispose of the original murder weapon before her ex can use it again. Meanwhile, because of Gemma’s time traveling, the family deli is going under and her parents’ once-happy marriage is headed off a cliff. With memories from her new life rapidly replacing the old ones [ooh I love this twist!], Gemma soon won’t remember the murder, the angel or changing the past at all. She has only a few days to thwart her ex, get back with Ben, and save her family, before the old memories fade completely and her chance for a happy ending vanishes too. [love this too]

    TIME PASSAGES features the romance of ABOUT TIME meets the whimsy of THE GOOD PLACE. It will appeal to readers of THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig or THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles.

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Overall, I thought this query was well written and effectively conveys the plot of a complicated timeline/situation in a concise manner, so kudos! I really liked the aspect of Gemma losing her old memories—I think this really sets your story apart from other time travel books.


    FIRST 250

    I liked how you quickly established the scene and smoothly connect it to a memory. Flashbacks are tricky to do subtly, I thought you did an excellent job!

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  10. Love Locked:

    Anxiety-ridden 8th grader [not sure how old this makes her, with all the differences in education systems around the world. I was 14/15, and that would make this more YA than MG] Eve Hollis is trapped in a time loop, reliving the worst day of her life [I'd like more specifics here]. She never thought her wish for courage would be overheard by a mysterious fortune teller who grants that wish―in the most ulcer-inducing way possible. [looking forward to seeing what this means]

    Eve’s original plan seemed perfect [Wait... Okay. If you're going to do this, IMO, cut the opening paragraph. I got excited because the opening laid down the problem and the MC's situation clearly and concisely, and I wanted to know what the complication of the wish-granting is and what the MC does next—but instead this is backtracking!]: tell her secret crush she likes him at the top of the Eiffel Tower [are they French kids, or visiting?], letting the romance of the scene give her the boldness she’s always lacked. But her happy-go-lucky best friend kisses him first, turning the City of Love into the City of Misery. Even worse, a strange fortune teller sells the new couple a love lock, a symbol that their love will last forever. In a fit of jealousy, Eve secretly steals the lock and hurls it in the River Seine.
    The following morning is incredibly familiar. Too familiar. In fact, the day repeats itself right down to the back-stabbing best friend and stupid love lock. As the same day continues on repeat [can she do anything about it? Or is she just observing it happen, and knows it happened already but can't affect it?], getting the boy [has she been trying to change the past and do it?] becomes far less important than getting back home [getting back home feels like an odd phrase to use. Back to the rest of her life, maybe?]. But unless Eve can figure out what’s keeping her trapped in the time loop and find the courage to make a change [why would she not? If she doesn't act because her anxiety is telling her it'll just make things worse, and she's picturing all kinds of terrible scenarios, I want to see that. If she IS trying, I want to see that.], she’s destined to experience the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever.
    [My biggest problem here is still the backtracking. Aside for the specifics on what "worst day of her life" means, there's nothing I learned from the rest of the query that the opening para didn't tell me already. The query ends with the MC having to find courage to act, and first I thought that was the same "wishing for courage" from the first para. I assume now it was really about wishing for courage to tell the boy how she feels, and the fortuneteller went "here you go, you'll have another chance every day forever" (if so, though, the fortuneteller needs to be presented as doing that, because right now they just kind of do a thing for the MC's friends and the MC happens to do the rest herself)—and the MC now has to find courage to actually do it without help. And along the way, she's finding there are more important things. I like the message and the problems there. But with the backtracking and the wording it's trickier to figure out than I think it should be.]


    Oh, the 250... I'm a fan of prologues and the like, but I still think they're unnecessary 99% of the time, and I think so here too. It's lovely prose, and I like the feeling there, and I'm assuming the fortuneteller gets more POV snippets throughout—but I *really* like the MC's voice in her opening, and I think it loses some impact by coming after the other stuff.

    So, I must say the query doesn't quite do it for me, mainly because I think I just discovered backtracking is a major pet peeve. But the premise seems interesting, the voice is strong, and I'm definitely curious what the MC does and where the story goes, and those are all great boxes to check.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Time Passages:
    [I actually like your nick more than this title, by the way]

    Sixteen-year-old Gemma DiMarco found her forever love in Ben Hartwell. A few magical weeks, and in a flash, they went from “the friend zone” [aside from "the friend zone" being a term I really don't like, it's pretty specific to someone who *tried* to get together with a person but got rejected as a romantic interest because they're seen more as a friend... this reads more like a friends-to-romance thing without that step, though] to deliriously in love. When Gemma’s unbalanced ex-boyfriend murders Ben then kills himself [oh wow this got dark fast], Gemma is left reliving the awful moment day after day, blaming herself [why? Survivor's guilt, or something specific?]. With support from her best friend and her close-knit Italian family, Gemma must come to terms with the guilt and accept what happened. What’s done can’t be undone. Death is forever. But what if she could stop the tragedy from happening in the first place? [Axe the question, it contradicts the rest and takes me out of her head]

    When a boy claiming to be her guardian angel comes into the family deli and says he can do just that, Gemma is beyond skeptical [not strong enough, IMO. She's gone through big trauma, she's worked on surviving since, she's accepted it as something in the past and unchangeable—and then bam. This is a shock, one I'm betting would affect her way past "skeptical"]. But with a touch, the boy subverts the laws of time and space, and sends Gemma back to the pivotal moment [which is?] leading to Ben's murder, allowing her to change the outcome.

    Back in the present [Back? Does that mean we get a dual timeline, and see what's happening in the present WHILE also seeing stuff in the alternate past leading up to it?], Ben is alive. But in this altered reality, Gemma’s ex is, too. To protect Ben, Gemma must find and dispose of the original murder weapon before her ex can use it again [I'm not really buying this. Find proof, report him, stop him, trick him, lure him away, kill him first, something—sure. But dispose of the weapon? This guy killed her boyfriend and then himself—he's gonna find a way to do it with or without the specific weapon he used the first time]. Meanwhile, because of Gemma’s time traveling, the family deli is going under and her parents’ once-happy marriage is headed off a cliff [why?]. With memories from her new life rapidly replacing the old ones, Gemma soon won’t remember the murder, the angel or changing the past at all [oh I like this, and it also makes me wonder if she's already done it all before and forgot about it]. She has only a few days to thwart her ex, get back [huh?] with Ben, and save her family, before the old memories fade completely and her chance for a happy ending vanishes too.

    Okay, I actually quite like this. The stakes are clear, the twists are interesting, and the MC has some difficult stuff to deal with. There's a couple of things I stumbled over in the query, and the 250 could benefit from a little tightening to cut some telly bits, but overall it sounds like an interesting complicated story. The bit with her losing memories is pretty fresh, so I really like that bit.

    Good luck~!

    ReplyDelete
  12. (I’m a fellow Kombatant leaving feedback.)

    TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER

    Query:
    Ooh, I like this concept! But is “ulcer-inducing” really how Eve would describe it? For a few reasons, that doesn’t make me think of an eighth-grader’s voice, but it still could be Eve’s voice. You would know best with that, so it’s completely your call.

    As I said, this is a great concept, and there’s voice in the query, so I’d love to read this story. I just hope it doesn’t take long for Eve to consider the tossed-out lock might be problem. Keyword, might. And if it is, finding it from the river will be anything but easy!
    GREAT JOB.



    First 250:
    The prologue with the fortune teller is interesting, but it’s not as attention-grabbing as Eve’s part (great voice and tension!). Also, having Eve stand apart from the group could be conveyed in her chapter as she describes how enthusiastic everyone else is being. Then later on, readers can meet the fortune teller.

    It might’ve been a short sample of Eve’s story, but it was very strong. Again, great job!

    Oh, and btw, I really like the nickname for your book. I’m not sure if other commenters have suggested this, but consider replacing the real name with the nickname. But if you don’t want that, just know, Love Locked conveys your story too. I can picture the book cover and everything.

    **On a side note, your comp titles (themselves) spell out why you’re using them, so good!


    =====



    LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO

    Query:
    Birds were singing for the first two sentences, then WHAM! A murder-suicide. *nearly spitting out my drink* Good job with this opening paragraph, and really, the entire query. You hooked my attention, and I want to read the book!

    Now, for the first paragraph, consider omitting the words “the guilt and accept” from the query. You have space to show what you mean in the book, but not so much in the query, and it doesn’t seem necessary.

    For the last body paragraph, here are my suggestions and questions in brackets:
    “With memories from her new life rapidly replacing the old ones, Gemma soon won’t remember the murder, the angel[COMMA] or changing the past at all. She has only a few days to thwart her ex, get back with Ben [GET BACK WITH? BUT THEY WERE TOGETHER AND YOU NEVER MENTIONED OTHERWISE, UNTIL NOW. CONSIDER REPHRASING THIS], and save her family, before the old memories fade completely and her chance for a happy ending vanishes too.”

    For the comp titles, is there a way to narrow them down to two or three? Maybe one movie and one book? I didn’t get a whimsy, playful feel from the query, so consider not using “The Good Place” as one of your comps. Your story sounds more serious and action-y than whimsy. And, yes, Gemma’s memories being replaced is very interesting and unique!



    First 250:
    Yep, I want this book too. You did an amazing job with this first 250. My only real critique is changing “Bart station” to “train station.” And maybe change “since Ben died last spring” to something less matter-of-fact, like “since Ben should still be here beside me.” Then again, what you have is blunt, and if that fits Gemma more, then stay true to your character and her voice.

    Either way, excellent job. I really wish I could read more!

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  13. LOVE LOCKED: Query – Cool premise! I really like the opening line of your query, but I find the next sentence kind of clunky. I can’t really imagine the situation without a tad more info, like where she is, or why a fortune teller happens to overhear her. I’d consider giving a bit more info on the how and why she gets stuck in the time loop.
    250 – This is great! Very descriptive and leaves me wanting to read more. Is it multi-pov? If so I would put that in the query. Cool opening, and neat premise. GOOD JOB!

    TIME PASSAGES: Query – This is great! Your query is concise and the stakes are very clear. I think this sounds like a very cool story. I wouldn’t really change anything about your query.
    250 – Great opening. In only 250 words I feel like I know your main character, setting, and it seems as though she’s just met her guardian angel. That is a lot to accomplish in such a small sample. Really, really good. I’d love to read this book. GOOD JOB!

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  14. TRAPPED IN MY WORST DAY EVER
    Query:
    It’s very clear what Eve’s objective is and what the stakes are. I’m a little confused as to exactly what wish the fortune teller granted her. And if it’s the same fortune teller who sells the love lock, that should be made clear. I was glad to see the line ”getting the boy becomes less important”—it would be great if this turned into a story about Eve discovering her own strengths and self-confidence.

    First 250:
    Intriguing opening, but I wonder if it would be better to start with Eve’s experience, and have her notice the fortune teller, and discover later what happened. Because we don’t have any idea what the fortune teller’s been waiting for or why. And it seems a stretch that only on person in Paris was looking sad and regretful. Also I don’t think she could know Eve was wishing for courage.

    Good luck!

    LOVE IN THE TIME OF PROSCIUTTO
    Query:
    Clear and intriguing concept. It does seem, though, that just finding the murder weapon shouldn’t be enough to thwart the ex-boyfriend. Wouldn’t he just find another way? Might be stronger for her to actually neutralize/take away his motive or somehow get him to have a change of heart. (Of course, that does raise the question of why the guardian angel didn’t send her back further so she could avoid getting with the ex altogether.) The angel coming along does seem pretty random, in general, so hopefully there is some context that explains why/how that happens.

    First 250:
    Great voice – fast-paced, engaging. Very nice use of the setting to reflect and reinforce her mood. I’d keep reading!

    Good luck!

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