Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Writer's Voice

Dear Internet: I have been afforded the opportunity to take part in the glamorous competition known as The Writer's Voice. After absolutely no freaking out at all, because I am a cucumber of the cool variety (and also the most honest person you will ever meet) I set up this post as my audition. Please enjoy.

QUERY:

Dear Coaches,

She is nameless, she is ageless, and, like all sirens, she knows only the call: the means through which humans are drawn into her mother’s pond, and the means through which they are drowned. But after drifting through an existence with no knowledge or need of choice, something terrible has grown inside of her: sympathy. 

She does not know how or why, but she has lost the desire to claim human victims. Unwilling to fulfill her only purpose, she accepts a challenge set by the greatest power in her realm: if she can guide a troupe of lost humans through her forest home, she will have her own humanity restored to her.  But the forest breathes, preys, and wants the humans gone. If she cannot guide her wards to safety, the forest will strip them of their humanity and be done with it.

Her mortality is not all that is at stake. She finds herself charged with both nobility and rebellion: a torn royal family, and the banded rogues who oppose them. None of them are what they appear to be—the timid prince, the wild rebels—all carry within them the turbulent undertow that has led to revolution and warfare, far beyond the borders of her haunted home.  

She means to remain neutral to their squabbles, but even an unbeating heart may be led astray. One of the rebels names her, speaks to her as if she were one of them, and makes her feel as if she might already be living again. Her surprising affection for him proves more dangerous than the tides of war—to favor one group means to alienate the other.

Should she fail, two nations will be left floundering. But how can she guide two groups that have already chosen their paths?

Lorelei, Once is a YA Fantasy, complete at 98,000 words.

I have no published works notched in my belt, but I come from the generation that is prepared for the zombie apocalypse (whilst still being terrified of spiders). Except I’m not even terrified of spiders. I just think they’re rude. 

Thank you for your time and consideration, 

Jenni Brown (writing as J Larkin)

FIRST 250 WORDS:

I scarcely remember my final day of life. I do not recall how the weather was turning. I do not remember what I was wearing, or if I was running to or from something terrible. It was so long ago, it might as well have never happened. My last living moments are phantoms; faded against the dawn of now, they tease at my memory, only resurfacing when I have given up hope of ever fully recapturing them. 

This day, I could not stop the thoughts of that forgotten time from swimming around in my head.

I kicked away from the trunk of the tree that grew through the pond, pushing myself in a slow line through the stems of the blue lilies. My robes—gray and flowing, like those of my brothers and sisters who shared the pond—floated behind and around and above me. The scarlet strands of my hair, which should have fallen away and dissolved decades ago, drifted across my vision. I came to a stop, settling on the silt floor of the pond. Just above me lay the man who had arrived three months ago.

Tangled in the lily roots, his fingers remained frozen in a desperate, claw-like grasp. His skin was puffy. His clothes were starting to mold. Humans last a while once they’ve joined us, but he was nearing that ripe moment when our mother, Saictast, would emerge from the cavern beneath the pond and claim his corpse.

41 comments:

  1. color me intrigued! love the cast of humans she'll (hopefully!) guide through the forest!

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  2. Very intriguing premise. I want to read more! Good luck!

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  3. Yes, please! Keeping my fingers crossed for you, because this is good. You had me from the query alone.

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  4. These lines really jumped out at me: "something terrible has grown inside of her: sympathy" and "even an unbeating heart may be led astray."

    I also LOVE the idea of a sentient haunted forest out to ruin her plan's. It's very cool.

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  5. This is all so incredible, but I think what won me over on this entry overall is the writing itself. Mesmerizing - I want to read MORE. Good luck!

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  6. Oo, I love stories about mermaids/sirens. Especially ones that take a creepy angle like yours. I think the query could use *a little* tightening in spots, but if I opened this book in a bookstore, I'd definitely be sitting down to read more. Which is the main goal, right? :)

    Best of luck!

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    1. Right?? The lore of sirens the world round has such a fantastically creepy side! All fantasy creatures do, really.

      And thank you!

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  7. Everything Melissa said. Those lines were beautiful and intriguing. This is extremely unique and kinda flipping awesome.

    On a more critique-y note: The start of the third paragraph of the query threw me off a little. We already know her mortality is at stake, and that line makes it seems like there's some other big twist coming after like "Her mortality isn't all that's at stake, if she fails the whole world will be destroyed!" (okay, yes, a bit dramatic but you get the idea)but you're really just turning back to explain more about the group she has to lead so it's not really "new" I'd cut those first two sentences and just jump into "Royal family". Other than that I think this is pretty awesome.

    Good luck!

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    1. That is an excellent note (the kind I'd never think up on my own), and I am definitely adding it to my edit-list! Thank you :)

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  8. I love the premise, very intriguing, and the first 250 words were very good too. Good luck!

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  9. This is definitely intriguing! And also, possibly, my favorite bio paragraph yet ;) Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! A previous book I queried only got a (positive, personal) reaction when I chucked the formality into the wood chipper, so I decided to have a bit of fun with the bio. It's not going to work with everyone I realize...but there should be an element of fun to this profession, no?

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  10. Wow, that image of the victim was powerful. Best of luck in the contest.

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  11. Well I'm sold. I'd read more in a heartbeat! No pun intended... :D I'd buy this right off the shelf this moment.

    Any suggestions I would make have already been covered, so all I'll say is:

    GOOD LUCK!!!

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    1. I love puns and that one may have made me sit up in my chair and clap my hands like an excited toddler...

      Maybe.

      Thank you!

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  12. I wasn't sure, at first, about the aloofness of her being nameless for the query, but I was drawn in by the writing regardless - good job! (And good luck!)

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    1. Thank you! It was something I went back and forth on (the fluidity and importance (or lack thereof) of 'real' names is a major theme in the book, and the MC doesn't have a proper title until about a third of the way in) so I hoped this method would work. I guess we'll see, though :)

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  13. Your opening page is perfect. Good luck!

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  14. Love, love, love. Just so much love for this from your amazing title to the query letter to the first 250. I want to read MORE! Best of luck!

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  15. Sentient, creepy forest--awesome! Point of view of s siren seems very fresh and intriguing to me. Good luck!

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  16. This sounds SO good! I'm so intrigued by the premise! Good luck!

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  17. Very poetic writing. I love it! Great premise, and I know you'll have attract lots of interest. Good luck!

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  18. The excerpt has a quasi-literary feel, which is great. Between the query & the 250, I believe the 250 is much stronger. Damn queries! The awesome thing: that's what the Coaches in TWV are for. G'luck.

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    1. As it happens, I agree with you! I think the most frustrating thing about queries lies in their deceptive simplicity. After all, the author has been absorbed in the novel for the last however many years...summarizing it should be no big deal! If you wrote a book, of course you can write a couple hundred words about it!

      Logic is full of lies.

      And thank you :)

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  19. I have to admit, when I read your first paragraph, I had an initial "oh no not another siren/ mermaid story," ... but then I kept reading. WAY TO MAKE IT ORIGINAL AND COMPELLING. Seriously. I LOVE mermaids and sirens and this is the first book featuring them I've seen in a while that I really really want to read.

    Good luck :)

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    1. That turn-around is an acceptable reaction :)

      Thank you!

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  20. Fantastic premise and setting. I'd love to read it all! Best of luck to you. :)

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  21. Ooooh, nice way to start the query. You have me hooked. I want more!

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  22. Hey there!! I would love to read more of this before deciding... is that okay with you?
    Could you send me the first 5 pages and a synopsis (if you have one--if you don't, no worries) to moni.bwATgmailDOTcom?
    Thanks!! =D
    Talk soon.

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    1. That is very okay with me :)

      I've sent the pages, and hope you enjoy them!

      If you don't, then please enjoy this complimentary text chicken:
      \\
      (o>
      \\_//)
      \_/_)
      _|_
      Thanks!

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  23. *snort*
    That chicken was GENIUS! Thanks. LOVE IT!! :D

    Just finished reading the pages. Why oh why I didn't ask for the first 10 pages--or heck, 50 pages--instead??????

    Anyway. I LOVED the pages. Your writing is awesome. I love the cadence and the voice. I'm totally IN!!

    I do think we'd have a little work to do. Esp. on the query. That's why I would love it if you could finish that Frankenstein synopsis you were telling me about. *wink* It doesn't have to be polished at all. But I think it would help me familiarize more with your project in order to help you with the query.
    I also have a few nitpicks on the first page... like, I would suggest to open at a different point. But overall, what needs to be there is totally there!! So congrats!!

    So. PLEASE join #TeamMonicaFTW! Okay?
    PICK ME!!! =D I REALLY want you and Lorelei, Once on my team!!

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    1. After spending a morning wheezing and flapping my hands (in a very professional manner) my butt is back in the chair and I am Frankensteining that synopsis!

      Lorelei, Once is no longer a newborn. I'm ready to send it to school. Let's do this!

      ...or do I have to wait until the tenth before I am officially on the team? I have no idea how this part works, so for now I'm going to operate as if I am bedecked with TeamMonica colors, and full-force charging at the sunset.

      Thank you so much!

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  24. Wow, this is such an intriguing idea - I would love to read this book! Congrats on getting picked, and good luck in the agent round! Not that you'll need the luck, as your writing will do the job for you. ;)

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  25. Rock on! Awesome query and awesome first 250! But I'm jealous...I want to read more pages too :(

    Lol - congrats! you earned it!

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  26. This is one of my favorite entries. Not surprised you got picked. Congrats!!!

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