Friday, June 1, 2018

QK1 Match 9: I'll Stand Bayou vs. Neurotic Aliens in Manhattan

Title: Warden of the Lost
Entry Nickname: I'll Stand Bayou
Word Count: 99K
Genre: Adult Southern Gothic Fantasy

Query:
  
Thaddeus Fortier is a Warden of New Orleans, guardian and peacekeeper to all things that go bump in the bayou. The job’s got terrible benefits: zero sick days, no dental, and it comes with a sort of compulsive conscience to keep Wardens walking the straight and narrow. Murder, mayhem, even little white lies—all off the table for the City’s chosen guardians. Which is downright problematic for a man like Thad, who’s hell-bent on avenging the murders of his mother and brother. He’s got the whodunit down; all signs point to the City’s resident racketeer, a bougie backwater baron named Papa Ru. The trick is convincing Mama Nola that there’s more to Thad’s mission than a good old-fashioned revenge plot—preferably before Papa Ru makes good on his promise to turn Thad into gator bait.

Thad’s got a plan. Wardens and supernaturals are going missing in New Orleans, and turning up dead if they turn up at all. It stinks of Papa Ru and his one-man war on all things otherworldly, and if Thad can connect the dots back to him, it might be just what he needs to convince the City to let him have his vengeance. But with Papa Ru’s threat hanging over his head, and more pissed-off supernaturals than he can stir with a stick, it might just be Thad who’s next on the list of the lost.

WARDEN OF THE LOST is a mash-up of Elmore Leonard’s whackjob crime novels and Neil Gaiman’s darkly bizarre supernatural stories, and would appeal to fans of fantasy, horror, and magical realism alike.


First 250

The taxi driver blinked at me in the rearview with glazed-over eyes. “Where to?” he asked. His voice had the dull monotone of somebody who’d said the same two words so many times they’d stopped sounding like words. Just reflex, now. The bless you after a sneeze that just wouldn’t quit.
Three pine tree fresheners dangled from the mirror, and I still smelled something rancid-sweet wafting up from the upholstery.
“Belle Knoll cemetery,” I said.
The driver’s eyebrows ticked up toward his hairline. “Funeral?”
“Yeah.” Not exactly tough math to do: black suit, dark tie, headed to a graveyard. It was the kind of no-shit question that begged for a sarcastic answer, but I’d lost my sense of humor with my luggage at the last layover.
I looked away from the rearview to watch the airport traffic give way to good old New Orleans highway. Flat land, green grass, that unlikely mix of palm trees and crepe myrtles growing side-by-side—I’d figured I wouldn’t ever see it again, but the City had her own ideas. And Lord, she could be a real bitch about getting her way.
“Friend or relative?” the driver asked. The question fell on the wrong side of personal, but neither of us batted an eye. Taxi drivers are the bartenders of the road: you sit in their seats, you tell them your woes, and you walk away with a lighter heart—and a lighter wallet. It’s a pine-scented taste of everyday magic, and it’s true what they say: all magic has a price.

VERSUS

Title: Going Native
Entry Nickname: Neurotic Aliens in NYC
Wordcount: 94k
Genre: Adult Sci-fi

Query

Lance has a good life in New York City . . . until he learns his home planet is planning to colonize and has to decide whose side he’s on. In a panic over losing everything he’s come to love about Earth––including his human girlfriend––Lance tells a lie to put off the colony, saying the planet has been ravaged by earthquakes and using the movie San Andreas as “evidence.”

Just one little lie, but it has consequences. Lance’s planet, Xaclan, is in political turmoil.  Without the distraction of a new colony, the government is taken over by a power-hungry general with a fondness for beheadings. Lance’s sister and her wife, a high-up-official in the former government, flee to Manhattan with their children and take up residence in the Ritz-Carlton––a situation made trickier by the fact that Lance’s sister-in-law, unlike the rest of them, refuses to transfer into a human body.

When Lance and his fellow scouts, Katy and Matt, are notified that additional, unknown fugitives are roaming the city and a retrieval team has been sent after them, it seems unlikely that Lance’s lie will remain unnoticed. If the new government learns the truth, they’ll send a colony to raze the planet and round up all the humans, pausing just long enough to arrest Lance and take him back to Xaclan to be executed.

Lance always knew his time on Earth could be cut short at any moment. With the end looming ever closer, the life he’s built––and the humans he’s come to love––feel more important than ever. If he does nothing, then sooner or later he’ll lose everything. But if he tries to take action, he may just lose what little time he has left.

First 250 Words

“You're supposed to try and look normal.”

Katy turned to discover Lance had come up behind her while she was sorting through mail in the lobby of her apartment. “Running downstairs to get the mail in your pajamas is normal.” She looked him up and down. “Spending an hour on your hair and wearing $300 jeans on a Tuesday? Not so much.”

“Hey, I’m just playing the part. I gotta be Lance. And Lance––” he flicked an imaginary fleck of dust off one sleeve and straightened his immaculately-pressed cuffs “––knows how to dress.”

Looking up, he discovered she’d thrown her mail in the recycling and was heading towards the elevator. He hurried after her, turning to face forward as the door slid shut.

They were both average-looking humans, the kind you wouldn’t look at twice. Lance was a twenty-something black guy with fashionable clothes and carefully styled curls. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn he told people he was “in fashion“ but really worked part-time at an upscale clothing store in Tribeca––though you might wonder how he could afford all those clothes on an hourly wage.

Beside him, Katy was about the same age, with pale skin and messy brown hair. She wore fluffy pink slippers, pajamas with tiny hearts on them, and a short bathrobe over top. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn she was a blogger––though you might wonder how she could afford such a nice apartment.

You might also wonder what they were doing together in an elevator at ten a.m. on a weekday.

19 comments:

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love and SqualorJune 2, 2018 at 2:37 PM

      I'LL STAND BAYOU: First of all, terrific nickname. I was instantly intrigued by this query. One element that gave me pause: Is Mama Nola an actual person or a metaphor for the city of New Orleans? You've got clear stakes and a great setting, with a fun main character who seems very approachable. Great job! I also enjoyed the first 250, though I wonder if you're starting just a smidge too early. What about starting when Thad reaches the funeral, which would give the reader an idea of whose funeral it is, and how this world is different from ours? Other than that, it's well-written, and you've got great style.

      NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC: In the first sentence of the query, I think you omitted the word 'Earth' after 'colonize.' If so, this makes the first sentence a lot more clear. It's a super premise, and it makes me want to read more. I do think you introduce a few too many characters in the query. I'd keep it to Lance, his girlfriend, and maybe the general bent on destruction. Everyone else can be referred to generically (his scouts don't need to be named, for example), just to keep the query from becoming character soup. The first 250 is very readable, and again, makes me want to read on to see what's happening. I'm not sure about the use of second-person narrative in parts of this sample, though. It's a little jarring, since the rest is third-person (I assume). I'd suggest deleting these second-person lines and seeing if it affects the tone of the rest of the book. I'm also not sure whose perspective we're following. From the query, it feels like it's Lance's story, but the first part of the sample centers around Katy's perspective, so I got a little confused. This is all fixable, and I think you've got a great premise to work with!

      VICTORY to I'LL STAND BAYOU!

      Delete
    2. Thaddeus SpinsterJune 3, 2018 at 12:29 AM

      I’ll Stand Bayou: Let’s start off by addressing your choice for a name for your protagonist, Thaddeus is a great choice but it will not influence my decision. This query has so much voice, SO MUCH. I chuckled at the benefits package or lack of. I think your comps might just be spot on. Good job, I really like what I’ve read. In the 250, I’m so glad that the first 250 have the same voice (and snark) of the query. I really can’t say anything to improve on what you have. My only complaint is that it had to stop. I could have read on well into the night and early morning.

      Neurotic Aliens in NYC: In the Query, I like how you set up the story, especially the part about using the movie San Andreas. I’m not clear on the stakes. You mention that he may be returned to his home planet to be executed but I’m not really sure it’s spelled out to make the stakes seem strong enough because you go on to mention he might lose what time he really has left, which seems like the real stakes but not very strong ones. One more nitpick, what about Katy and Matt are they in on the deception or would they snitch him off? In the first 250, I know the experts say to use dialog tags sparingly but at the beginning of the first 250, I don’t know who is going to get mail in pajamas or who is spending an hour on their hair in $300 jeans. I do enjoy the humor, it would be nice to have some of the humor in the query also. I really like the way this entry is narrated.

      I can only imagine that Michelle put these two entries with great voices up against each other to drive the judges crazy. It sucks that I have to pick one of these over the other. I hate to do it but they are paying me to pick on….What they aren’t paying me? Anywho, I must say VICTORY TO I STAND BAYOU.

      Delete
    3. I’ll stand bayou: You’re voice in both the query and the first 250 words is fantastic. I was immediately drawn in even though a few things were confusing in the query. I don’t think city needs capitalized unless it’s an organization or something, in which case I’d encourage you to somehow show in the query. Also, I don’t know who Mama Nola is, so the line mentioning her leaves me unsure why her opinion is relevant. You’re stakes line at the end of the entry are fine, but the last bit makes me wonder if maybe there’s more to this. Is Papa Ru going to disappear from the work of Thad (as he mentioned for his vengeance) or from the angry super naturals? Has Thad changed his mind and decided to actually do his job and save Papa Ru? Give us a bit more specifics on the stakes if you can. I really appreciate both the voice and active prose in your first 250 words. I especially love the line: “The bless you after a sneeze that just wouldn’t quit.” Also, “It was the kind of no-shit question that begged for a sarcastic answer, but I’d lost my sense of humor with my luggage at the last layover.” Brilliant! I would encourage you to write OUT the second “word” in this sentence to make it stronger: “who’d said the same two words so many times they’d stopped sounding like words.” Overall, I really appreciated reading this!


      Neurotic Aliens in NYC: I really love the set up you do in this query. We see Lance’s predicament growing, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the stakes line is a bit of a letdown. If you can be more specific in the stakes, I think you’ll get editors/agents eager to read. The first line of your words are a great hook. I immediately want to know what’s normal, why this person is trying, and why they are failing to do so. You do have quite a few passive verbs in the non-dialog, so I’d encourage you to rewrite with more active verbs. Also, be careful about repeating words in so short an opening, in this case “mail,” “elevator,” and “turning.” I’m not sure if I like the “You might wonder” repeat you have going on in this opening. Is it relevant to your set up? I’d encourage you to write the story and let the reader keep their own thoughts about it as they get lost in the story.

      VICTORY to I’LL STAND BAYOU!
      ~Red Ink Slinger

      Delete
    4. Thaddeus Fortier is a Warden of New Orleans, guardian and peacekeeper to all things that go bump in the bayou.

      The job’s got terrible benefits: zero sick days, no dental, and it comes with a sort of compulsive conscience to keep Wardens walking the straight and narrow, which is downright problematic for Thad, who is hell-bent on avenging the murders of his mother and brother.

      Murder, mayhem, even little white lies—all off the table for the City’s chosen guardians. BUT THAD'S got the whodunit down - all signs point to the City’s resident racketeer, a bougie backwater baron named Papa Ru – AND HE'S GOT A PLAN. The trick is convincing Mama Nola that there’s more to Thad’s mission than REVENGE—preferably before Papa Ru makes good on his promise to turn Thad into gator bait.

      Wardens and supernaturals are going missing in New Orleans, and turning up dead if they turn up at all. It stinks of Papa Ru and his one-man war on all things otherworldly, and if Thad can connect the dots back to him, it might be just what he needs to convince the City to let him have his vengeance. But with Papa Ru’s threat hanging over his head, and more pissed-off supernaturals than he can stir with a stick, THAD MIGHT BE THE NEXT NAME ON THE LIST OF THE LOST.

      I'LL STAND BAYOU – Really snappy query. I love a Southern Gothic Fantasy, and this hits all my buttons. Your voice is solid from the beginning, the stakes are clear, and your first line is a keeper. I switched a few things up – see if you like it.

      Your 250 are fantastic. Thad's voice continues throughout, and I can practically smell New Orleans (and corpse-rot). There's really nothing I want to red-ink. Good job. I want this one on my TBR list ASAP.

      ***
      Lance has a good life in New York City . . . until he learns his home planet, XACLAN, is planning to colonize EARTH. In a panic over losing everything he’s come to love about Earth––including his human girlfriend––Lance tells a lie to put off the colony, saying the planet has been ravaged by earthquakes and using the movie San Andreas as “evidence.” (Bahahahaha! Okay. Sorry. I love this!)


      IT'S JUST one little lie, but it has consequences. XACLAN is in political turmoil. Without the distraction of a new PLANET TO COLONIZE, the government is taken over by a power-hungry general with a fondness for beheadings. Lance’s sister and her wife, a high-up-official in the former government, flee to Manhattan with their children and take up residence in the Ritz-Carlton––a situation made trickier by the fact that Lance’s sister-in-law, unlike the rest of them, refuses to transfer into a human body.


      When Lance and his fellow scouts, Katy and Matt, are notified that additional, unknown fugitives are roaming the city and a retrieval team has been sent after them, it seems unlikely that Lance’s lie will remain unnoticed. If the new government learns the truth, they’ll send a colony to raze the planet and round up all the humans, pausing just long enough to arrest Lance and take him back to Xaclan to be executed.

      Lance always knew his time on Earth could be cut short at any moment. If he does nothing, then sooner or later he’ll lose everything. But if he tries to take action, he may just lose what little time he has left.


      NEUROTIC ALIENS – Mostly fantastic, but you've left me hanging. How is Lance going to his problem? What action will he take? Give us a little hint, make us worry whether or not he'll get it done.

      Your 250 is strong, too. Love that Katy's a blogger and Lance enjoys his clothes. Careful of word repetition: discover/discovered, looking/looked. A good CP can help pick out words your eyes might skip over. Otherwise, nicely done.

      VICTORY TO I'LL STAND BAYOU. For both of you, if you'd like more eyes-on, hit me up after the contest. I'll make time.




      Delete
    5. I”LL STAND BAYOU
      QUERY:
      Umm. Yeah. I need this book and I need it right now. This query has it all: great voice, great character set up, clear understanding of what they’re up against, and what it is they need to do. Other thank clarifying Mama Nola, I don’t have a thing to give you for tweaking/fixing!

      First 250:
      Your voice is FANTASTIC!! Holy pajamas. I honestly don’t have any feedback for you other than you don’t need to capitalize “city” (at least from what I could tell in my internet research—this one is always tricky…).



      NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC
      Query:
      Well this is an interesting story! Very intriguing! Here are a few things I saw: You’ve got a lot of people in this query! I’m sure they’re very important to the story, but I’d keep it to the Lance, his girlfriend and the general. I also question if the lines about his family showing up and staying at the Ritz are needed. I also agree with the other judges that the stakes aren’t as clear as they could be. Thaddeus Spinster took the words right out of my mouth!


      First 250:
      Unpopular opinion: there is belief that you should NOT start your first chapter with dialogue. I think the argument is that it’s unclear as to who is speaking, not yet getting introduced to the main character, etc etc. With that said….I personally like it. Granted, I’m not an agent, but I think it can work well and be a great way to bring us right into the action/moment—which I feel your opening did.

      One thing I noticed was the lack of emotion. Maybe because Lance is an alien, he doesn’t have emotion (sort of like Dr. Spock from Star Trek?). In this 250 Kate doesn’t show any emotion to him. Sure, she gives him the once over and makes a comment about how he’s dressed, but is she fed up? Does she find it sweet? What kind of emotion can she put out there that Lance can pick up on and react to?

      Another possible issue is talking to the reader with the use of “you”. “You wouldn’t know she was a blogger.” “You also wouldn’t know…” This is also as controversial as the starting with dialogue. My editor always made me change it, yet I don’t have issue with it. My encouragement for you is to be aware of it and be prepared that you may be asked to change it from editors/agents.

      VERDICT: My vote is my I'LL STAND BAYOU

      Delete
    6. I”LL STAND BAYOU
      Query: Great job. This is concise and incredibly voicey. I don’t have suggestions that others haven't already mentioned.
      First 250: More great voice. And again, no suggestions. Well done.

      NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC
      Query: This is an interesting premise, and I do love sci-fi. Consider tightening to cut some of the secondary characters so you can focus on Lance. And, like others have said, consider reworking your stakes to show better what he wants and what happens if he doesn’t get it.
      First 250: Consider deepening your pov to show more what the MC is thinking. I couldn’t get a full sense of character, not like I did in the query. But I enjoyed the interaction between Katy and Lance, and would definitely read more.

      Now, to vote. This is a dilemma, because both of these entries are great in their own way. But, we have to choose, so…

      Victory to NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC!

      Delete
    7. I’LL STAND BAYOU
      Query:
      I really like the opening lines of this query. The line “compulsive conscience” threw me off—I’m not sure what it means in this context—but I love how that sentence starts. Find a more concise and clear way to include that third ‘terrible benefit’, because the intent of the sentence and the set up for whatever you put third is awesome. I’d also consider breaking that first paragraph up into two smaller ones.
      The voice in this query is well-done, and you have a lot of zinger lines that roll off the tongue nicely. Also—LOVE the nickname. Good job!
      250:
      Oh, man, I love this 250! Especially the final paragraph!! This is the perfect blend of scene setting, sass, and introducing the character while hinting that there’s more to find out about him. This is really well done.
      Because I have no other feedback to offer you, I’ll be nit-picky. I’d rewrite the following line into something like this: Three pine tree fresheners dangled from the mirror, yet some rancid-sweet scent still wafted up from the upholstery. I suggest doing this in order to cut the filter phrase of “I smelled”. That phrase reminds the reader that he/she isn’t the main character. If you note the smell without saying “I smelled…” that puts the reader closer inside the mc’s experience.

      NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC
      Query:
      Love the end of the first paragraph and the mc using the movie as hard evidence. Very clever. I also enjoyed the fact that the sister-in-law refuses to take on a human body. Since nothing else is mentioned about this, is then becomes very intriguing to learn what these aliens actually look like and why she’s refusing to take a human form like the rest of them.
      Paragraph three is the first mention we get of Lance being a “scout” and it’s jarring. This should be mentioned at the beginning when we first meet Lance, or introduced here as something new. As it currently stands, the fact that he’s a scout is mentioned in passing (Lance and his fellow scouts), implying that the reader already knows he’s a scout, but that hasn’t been established yet, which makes it jarring.
      The last paragraph does a good job of setting the stakes without giving too much away.
      250:
      I enjoyed this opening. I’m wondering, though, if we need the play-by-play physical descriptions. Usually this is a big no-no, but I’m guessing you’re leading up to the fact that they look like normal humans but they’re actually aliens. If this info comes very soon after the physical descriptions (like in the next paragraph or so after what we have here) then I’d say the detailed physical descriptions are okay to keep. Otherwise, I’d trim them a bit so the reader doesn’t start glazing over.
      I do, however, really like the mention that their jobs clearly don’t support their expensive lifestyles, and the hint that there’s something more than meets the eye going on. If you do trim down the descriptions, keep these parts.

      These are both excellent entries and I hate that I have to pick one, but …
      Victory to I’LL STAND BAYOU

      Delete
  2. I'll Stand Bayou: In your query, the second sentence could use a bit of shortening. It lost its steam right as it got to the good bit. Not sure why '"City" is capatalized every time. Not sure who Mama Nola is, or if she's necessary to the query. At the third pargraph, when you start talking about supernatural stuff, I wasn't sure if this was a new element, or if I should have already known this. I'm assuming a Warden deals with supernatural stuff, but it wasn't entirely clear to me in the first paragraph. For all I know, Warden could mean he works in some sort of law enforcement. I think if you shifted the focus of the supernatural up to the first paragraph, there would be more of a sense of the world. However, the query had a great tone of voice
    Your first 250 also had a great tone. The sarcasm of the narrator shows through right away. I love how you get a little description of New Orleans in for people like me who have never been there. And I love, love, love the "The bless you after a sneeze that just wouldn’t quit" line.

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  3. Neurotic Aliens in NYC: (first off, love the nickname) I would mention the name of his home planet right off the bat in the sentence "until he learns his home planet is planning to colonize..." because it threw me for a second. Laughed really hard about that San Andreas bit, because I remember how horrid that movie was. I don't think Katy and Matt need to be mentioned, you could just say "scouts" because there's a lot of characters already. Also, if you could somehow squeeze it in, I would like to hear about how Lance has to transfer in a human body a bit earlier on just to set up your world better. Is it normal for people on his planet to go live on other planets? Why did he choose Earth? For all my questions, I really liked your premise. Could just use a bit of clarification on how these aliens work.
    First 250 I have nothing to offer critque-wise. After reading the query, I got a very "3rd Rock From the Sun" vibe, and that we are about to learn more about how these aliens are trying to integrate into society with some amusing lines thrown in here and there.

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  4. Warden of the Lost

    In the query you spend a lot of time characterizing Thad. I like that. I couldn't figure out who Mama Nola is or how she relates to the plot exactly. Papa Ru is a little too much of a "big bad" for me. He's clearly a straight up villain, but I don't get a clear sense of why he has it out for Thad, other than Thad is a warden and has to die. He's shadowy to me. Your voice absolutely shines in your query though.

    The first 250 are very voicey. I though the pine-scented car was evocative. Made me gag thinking about it. I get the hint that the funeral is important to the plot. Thad kind of has a hard-boiled detective feel to him. I felt as if his emotions were too wrapped up in secrecy for me to get a good feel for his true feelings about the funeral. That might be the first person POV. It distances me from the character every time. Others may feel very differently.

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  5. I'll Stand Bayou
    Never read a Southern Gothic Fantasy before, but I find the idea intriguing. I love the nickname too. Who doesn’t like a good pun? I’m assuming this Warden job is supernatural, from the description, but I was a little confused by “compulsive conscience to keep Wardens walking the straight and narrow.” It could be read as a compulsive conscience to keep other Wardens on the straight and narrow, or a compulsive conscience that keeps Wardens on the straight and narrow. Slight wording difference, but it changes the meaning of the sentence. You present an interesting conundrum for the MC, who wants to avenge murders, but it gets a bit confusing from there. ‘City” is capitalized throughout, for some reason, and I have no idea who Mama Nola is or why she’s important. Generally, in a query, the less characters you name, the better. I think I’d leave off the sentence that begins with “the trick is” altogether. Doesn’t add anything particularly specific to the query, and the stakes are set well enough in paragraph two without that sentence. I like the way you comp the book, though I didn’t get a sense of “whacky” from the query.

    In the pages, the first person past tense kind of throws me off, but that’s a personal preference thing. The voice certainly comes through. I love the MC’s snark. City is capitalized again in the pages, and I don’t think that’s right, and I’d use colons really, really sparingly. Even so, the voice in the pages really won me over. I’d keep reading just to follow Thad.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Neurotic Aliens in NYC
    I was a little confused by the first line. Is Lance a human or an alien? It becomes clear as you read on, but I’d make it clear right away. Is Lance some sort of alien spy? Otherwise, why would his government do anything on his say so? I do like the lie he tells. Funny. I’m a sucker for queer inclusion, so that was nice to see. When you get to the part about the scouts, there’s no need to name the other two characters, as they’re not mentioned again and don’t seem particularly important. Good to know that Lance is a scout, but that should have been said earlier. And, now that I read the part about the fellow scouts, I’m wondering how Lance got away with the lie in the first place. Were they all complicit? Did the others not know he lied? If it’s too complicated to explain in the query, don’t mention the fellow scouts at all. It just raises too many questions. The stakes are set up so clearly in paragraph four that I’m not convinced you need the final paragraph—the last paragraph lapses into generalities and say nothing specific about your story. I’d consider taking this paragraph out and adding something (something specific) to round off the fourth paragraph and end with that one—it’s much stronger. I have to say, I like the nickname better than the actual title.

    The POV in the pages confused me at first. The very first sentence reads like Katy’s POV, rather than Lance’s. Then the rest reads like Lance’s POV. I’m not sure why wearing expensive jeans on a Tuesday is worse than wearing them any other day. The use of “discover,” twice, is distracting. Rather than saying “told people he was in fashion,” maybe say he told people he “worked in fashion,” or something more specific. I had to read the sentence twice to understand it. The hints of abnormality among normality was interesting—they look like typical people, who can easily be judged by their appearances, but there’s something a little off. I wanted a little more personality in the pages, but 250 isn’t a lot of words. I could see how the narrative was heading that way, with the descriptions. There was a nice, casual tone to everything that suggests the story would be a fun read.

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  7. Can't the title be Neurotic Aliens in NYC? Because that's terrific! I also like the stance of this kind of being MIB as told from one of the freaky hidden aliens, if I'm getting this right. The voice is strong and distinctive. I can't tell, though, if this is a fantasy happening in the current world, or something that's supposed to be set in a future wherein colonization of other planets is an accepted milieu. If it is some future vision of Earth, then use of current phrasing like "Not so much" feels a little contemporary-glib. If I'm just making an assumption that Sci-Fi means future, then apologies.

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  8. On "Bayou," I'm a fan of Gaiman and anything that calls itself "Whack-job." We need more of that in literature! (I'm serious.) I'd love to see a little more of that irreverence in the actual query language, which I'm betting can be done by digging a little deeper. One other thing: I'm also a fan of RuPaul, who tends to be called "Momma Ru," so hearing the whole Papa Ru business has a bit of a gender bending feel for me. Just mentioning it in case that might distract from the story you're trying to immerse us in.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'LL STAND BAYOU:

    Your voice really shines through and Thad's story sounds pretty kickass! I also totally got some Neil Gaiman in the page!

    I only have a couple of comments:

    - I would add "mirror" after rearview in your page
    - I would also say what City Thad is in
    - Like above, I would also suggest for you to just go through and make sure an agent/editor can tell who everyone is in the query




    NEUROTIC ALIENS IN NYC:

    Such a fun story here! And using San Andreas as evidence, hilarious!!! I love it!

    I just had a couple of comment on your query:
    - I would remove Katy and Matt's name's. And just say Lance and his fellow scouts.
    - In the last line, I would suggest changing it to say : "what little time he may have left with the people he loves" or "humans he loves" since that's really what's at stake



    Both of these are awesome and fun story ideas! G'luck with querying!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I’ll Stand Bayou
    I love the voice in this—both the query and the first 250. You do a good job of replacing what could be clichéd phrases with original ones like “all things that go bump in the bayou.” The tone is like a noir detective novel . I can almost smell the heavy cigarette smoke in the air. Although I almost didn’t comment on this because I’m not crazy about most Fantasy, your query drew me in and the first 250 hooked me. Great job!

    Neurotic Aliens in NYC
    Nice concept and a sci fi I might actually enjoy reading. I have one small comment: In the queriy, could you maybe elaborate on the ramifications of Earth being “colonized” in the first paragraph instead of later on? As it reads now, it sound like colonization could be bad, good, or indifferent for the people of Earth’ at the end it sounds devastating. I think it would be much more of an impact if you spell out the dire situation right away.

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  11. This pairing is tougher choice than the last bracket I commented on. I'm voting for Stand Bayou because the voice voice voice...wonderful! As others have said,the excellent first page matches the humorous voice of the query. I have few revisions to suggest for this one. A bit of a stumble to get that Thad must be on the straight and narrow, thus I suggest tweaking first paragraph: "and it comes with [OR as well as] a compulsion to walk the straight and narrow. Murder, mayhem, even little white lies—all off the table for the City’s chosen guardians." [<<I'd also be careful about the word "chosen" so you don't imply the chosen one trope] I took Mama Nola to be a character rather than the city, so clarify. If you're implying Voudou practitioners with Mama and Papa, assure you get a sensitivity read.

    Neurotic Aliens holds much promise, though the query and page need revision. In query, I'd change the 2nd sentence of 2nd paragraph to immediately state the consequence: "Without the distraction of a new colony, Lance's planet, Xaclan, is taken over by a power-hungry general..." Not sure you need to tell us about Lance's sister and family. Instead, you might just mention lesbian characters in your metas. The "refuses to transfer to human body" bit has some believability issues (how different do they look and don't Earth people notice?)--I don't think you want to take query space to show us what this looks like. So I'd delete those few sentences and combine 2nd and 3rd paragaphs. If you don't want to delete, relate those characters to the stakes and choices in rest of query.

    As others have said, no need to name the fellow scouts. Strengthen this sentence to: "it's unlikely Lance’s lie will remain unnoticed." Then give us more detail in last paragraph to remove vague or cliched phrasing and stakes.

    The first page doesn't pull me in, given the promise I found in the query. I suggest taking another Suzanne M's suggestion, above, and change title to Neurotic Aliens in NYC. Otherwise you run into sensitivity issues. Native denotes indigenous people and the "going native" expression might be considered racist, especially in your context--aliens coming to Earth living as wealthy New Yorkers!?!

    The 2nd person doesn't work for me. No, I wouldn't be surprised at the things you say I might be surprised about (expensive clothes, upscale apt). Manhattan really has been invaded by the uber-wealthy! Perhaps you're writing a satire, but you don't want to lose agents/readers right away. I hope my comments help you (author) rewrite the opening as your story idea is good and your promise of humor (the San Andreas movie as evidence!) grabs me.

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  12. I'll Stand Bayou -- The query and first page both have SO much voice, I was captivated and transported to another world. I seriously cannot wait to read this book when it comes out, and I do mean *when*. With so little to "critique," I will only say that in your comps sentence, you should say "WILL appeal" instead of would appeal. Be confident! You've earned it!

    Neurotic Aliens: Such an interesting premise! This sounds really promising. I feel like you need to work on the clarity of your sentences in the query, though -- there are some missing pronouns and awkward sentences that make it hard to figure out exactly what's going on. Also, in the first 250, it's unclear whose POV we're in. If it's Lance, which is what I assumed from the query, then we wouldn't have Katy notice Lance coming up behind her -- that would only happen if we were in Katy's head. I like the promise of humor in the tone here, and an interesting place to start the story!

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