Monday, June 16, 2008

#46-two revisions

Two worlds collide in Wings of Desire, my completed 105,000 word fantasy romance. Readers will enjoy the spunky heroine's sassiness as well as her snarky sense of humor.

I hate spunk.
Me and Mr. Grant**, but mostly me.

Restless in a world where she doesn't quite fit, Rhiannon Kinsley becomes intrigued by Cerne Silverwing, a mysterious man who appears in her bedroom. Despite the instant attraction, she finds it impossible to believe him when he tells her she is a Faerie princess.

If someone appeared in your bedroom and told you that, you'd be calling for the guys with nets. This is an overused, cliched, and rather dull start. Have her shoot at him, taser him, or at least scream. Or better yet, start someplace else for the query. You don't have to start the query in the same place you start the book.

Twenty-five human years earlier, the White Faerie Elders chose Cerne to become the princess’s consort. During that time, he’s enjoyed his freedom, yet secretly yearns for his faerie-wings and the magical powers they will bring. When Rhiannon ignores his call, he enchants her with Faerie dust and brings her back to their magical world.

So, what is he now? A guy drinking beer and watching JackAss? Reading Tucker Max and secretly yearning for faerie wings? If you don't give me substance I start imaging all sorts of stupid things. You're lost in generalities here. One or two specifics will strengthen this immeasurably.

Forced into the role of White Faerie Princess, Rhiannon struggles to accept her destiny. Amidst the looming invasion of the Dark Faerie army, Rhiannon and Cerne discover exploding passion. However, despite their growing attraction, Cerne is afraid to voice his true feelings. Will Rhiannon accept her role as princess in her new world, and will Cerne learn to freely admit his love? Or will they lose each other forever?

Why is he afraid to voice his true feelings? Oh wait..he's been reading Tucker Max when he was back on hiatus from faerie land. And why is their passion exploding? Passion never simmers does it? I'm poking fun here cause this is SO overused that I literally can't read those words without making jokes. This is not the response you're looking for.

This manuscript has taken 1st place in the Valley of the Sun’s Hot Prospects contest and 2nd place in North Texas Romance Writers’ Great Expectations contest. In addition, Wings of Desire has recently finaled in SMRW’s Laurie and Passionate Ink’s Stroke of Midnight contests. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, two local RWA chapters, and several on-line special interest chapters. I am also an active member of two critique groups, where I have the opportunity to work with several published authors. I am currently at work on a Regency-Set Historical, which has also finaled in several RWA contests.

So, it's probably just me then cause right now this doesn't entice me to read it at all. And it could just be the query letter.

And "finaled" is writer shorthand. I'm not sure it's an actual word. "Was a finalist" is correct, but I'll yield to the local grammarians to correct me if I'm wrong here. And "finaled" isn't going to stop me from reading something.

I’ve included a synopsis and the first three chapters of Wings of Desire. I would be happy to send you the full manuscript if and when appropriate. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.
Thank you,

**here's the reference


Revision #1

Dear Query Shark:

I am currently seeking representation for WINGS OF DESIRE, a 105,000 word steamy fantasy romance.

Time to call the nice young men in white coats! Rhiannon Kinsley has finally fallen off the deep end of workaholism as she strives to succeed in a world where she doesn’t quite fit in.

Is it just me or does that second sentence make no sense? First, you don't fall off a deep end. Deep end is an allusion to the deep end of the pool. You'd fall IN. You can fall off an edge, but not off an end. Second, do you mean she's finally become a workaholic or stopped being a workaholic? I don't know from how this is phrased. Again, it may be just me.

Then a sexy stranger insists she is a faerie princess whose fate will also determine his own. What a crock!

The sexy stranger Cerne Silverwing, her kidnapper and would-be consort, is jaded where love is concerned. He needs this woman in order to gain his own wings and nothing more. However, d Despite their differences, the two are thrust together to defeat the wannabe dominatrix Dark Faerie Queen who covets their kingdom. Passion and peril aside, will "more" be their destiny after all?

What does gaining his wings have to do with the Dark Faerie Queens covetousness?

The sentences have to have a logical connection. You can leave out parts that a reader can intuit but you can't leave out the parts they won't. I don't get this.

WINGS OF DESIRE has won and placed in several RWA sponsored contests. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, two local RWA chapters, and several special interest chapters. I am also an active member of two critique groups where I have the opportunity to work with several published authors. I am currently at work on a Regency set historical which has also placed in several contests.

The first three chapters and synopsis are included for your review. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Dear Query Shark,

Rhiannon Kinsley’s life goes from boring to downright bizarre when a freak lightning bolt streaks through her window and strikes her laptop. To make matters even weirder, strange words and symbols start flashing across her computer screen and she starts hearing a mysterious voice in her head. Time to call the nice young men in the white coats! Then Cerne Silverwing, a strange yet sexy man, appears. He insists she is a faerie princess whose fate will determine his own. What a crock! Now she knows who really needs the white coats.

Cerne kidnaps her and brings her to Fey, a land where magic flows freely and unicorns flee the debauched. He’s performing a duty to his kingdom and nothing more — a duty that will bring him his wings and the strengthened magical powers that come with them. He needs to unite with the princess as her consort or he will never grow his wings. That would be the Faerie princess who grew up in the land of laptops and instant messages. The one he kidnapped. The one who's convinced they're both crazy.

Despite their differences, the two are thrust together to defeat the leather-clad, whip-wielding Dark Faerie Queen before she takes over their kingdom. Passion and peril aside, will "more" be their destiny after all?

Ok, here's where you lose me. Up till now it's been lighthearted and funny, and the plot seems to be that Cerne needs to ...err...snuggle with Rhiannon to get his wings. Suddenly here comes the Dark Faerie Queen and some sort of evil agenda...straight out of left field. And what do you mean by "more?"

WINGS OF DESIRE, a 105,000 word fantasy romance, has won and placed in several RWA sponsored contests. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, two local RWA chapters, and several special interest chapters. I am also an active member of two critique groups where I have the opportunity to work with several published authors. I am currently at work on a Regency set historical which has also placed in several contests.

I have included the first three chapters and a synopsis for your review. I appreciate your time and consideration.



EB said...

I daresay Tucker Max and "faerie wings" have never appeared in the same sentence before. Good show.

emeraldcite said...

I think I would love to see a novel where two worlds actually collide in the first few pages. That would be quite a hook.

Dear Agent:

Two worlds collide. Literally.

Then, stuff happens when characters do things outside their comfort zone. Facing off with their complete opposite, whose goals are diametrically opposed to their own, the main characters must act to stop the opposition, while in the process rectifying their nebulous feelings toward one another.

My 101,101 word novel, Sh*t Happens, takes place in this world and out of it. If you're interested in stuff, and according to your Publisher's Marketplace entry you are, then this explosive fantasy scifi mainstream time travel romance extravaganza is right up your alley.


Writer X


Liana Brooks said...

This plot sounds eeriely similar to a back cover copy I read at the store... isn't there already a couple of paranormal fairy princesses running around?

Why on Earth is the guy keeping his mouth shut if he likes her?

Some freak showed upin her room and she didn't hit him with a baseball bat and call the cops? I'd like that better.... the MC is in jail for assault and has to stop the antagonist before the world ends... but she has to wait for her trial.

Okay- I'm not a romance fan and this probably wouldn't grab my attention but if you want it to- say something new. I've seen these plots before, they aren't new and exciting, and your query said nothing about why THIS book is special.

Re: Two Worlds Collide
It's been done. R.A. Salvatore and one of the Star Wars books. Chewie gets squished.

Margaret Yang said...

This reminds me of Cheryl Sterling's novel, What Do You Say to a Naked Elf? (published by Kensington). Which, incidentally, has the best title ever. I dunno, maybe you want to pick that one up at the store and read the back cover copy? Can't hurt and might help.

The contest finalist thing means that you have the ability. Don't give up. Try the shark again. We've seen many queries improve in her jaws. I hope yours will be next!

Unknown said...

Maybe it's because I just finished Melissa Marr's book, and am starting a new series all about how a girl was really a faerie princess but OMG! she didn't know!! but this does sound a bit cliche to me. Maybe part of the query could show how different this story is from the cliches?

emeraldcite said...

@just_me: Not Chewie!

Liana Brooks said...

Yeah, Chewie... it was very sad.

Gabrielle said...

I agree with Beth: definitely sounds a LOT like Melissa's book. If you're writing in this genre, you need to be aware of the competition and how your book is different.

Continue with the Sharkiness, Janet. I love reading these critiques.

E.D. Walker said...

Yea, the FIRST thing I thought was "Wicked Lovely" redux as well. Unknown man in the bedroom has been don, number one. Number Two: It's pretty damn squicky. Really, just think about how you would feel, really feel if that happened. No matter how hot the guy is there would be some seriously screaming and freaking out going on.

Not just thatm though, even the heroine's name is unoriginal. In February agent Kristin Nelson remarked on her blog: "In the world of the Paranormal, there have been a lot of RHIANNONs lately."

As written I see nothing fresh or new in this query. Nothing that would make me want to pick it up and read it.

Also, I think you might want to rethink the hero "secretly yearns for his faerie-wings" because um, this just makes me think he can't wait to ditch ol'Rhiannon and take himself off to dollar beer night at the closest gay bar. It's a little too precious, you know? Especially when the rest of the query doesn't seem particularly tongue in cheek.

Look at your MS again, CHANGE YOUR HEROINE'S NAME and write another one of these where you show us how this book isn't a total rehash of everything that's come before. said...

I don't know about total rehash because I don't read genre romances or fairy books. I wish you good luck with it. What does bother me, though, is that you belong to so many organizations that have their pen in your writing. Be careful not to let it change your own voice. Did they help out with this query? And see where that got you.

Oh, and MOTH ... that eye really bothers me. Ew. It's hard to read your comments with that thing watching me. Ever thought about using a nice moth picture, maybe?

Anonymous said...

nobody likes spunk

E.D. Walker said...

I like my eye.

Unknown said...

And I like my heroine's name.

E.D. Walker said...

Southern Writer: Avert thine eyes because mine's a watchin' you!

Sindee: Fine. Use Rhiannon. But we're here to help you get this thing published, right? And everybody and their freaking brother is using Rhiannon for their paranormal. Agents, publishers. They want fresh and new. Your story already feels like a redux. Why compound the problem with a cliche name when that is so easy to change? Explain it to me.

Unknown said...

How can you judge whether or not a story is cliche by a poorly (yes, I said poorly) written query letter? I've never read Melissa Marr so I guarantee you it's not a redux. However, someone who has read her books and my manuscript, assures me they are nothing alike.

Unknown said...

That being said, I now know what needs to be fixed with my query. Thanks Janet!

E.D. Walker said...

Sindee: Like you said, I haven't read your book. My comments were based on conclusions drawn from the query, the very same things a reader might think if that was your back cover copy and they picked it up in the store. And your query is full of cliches and been there done that plot points.

I hope in your next draft of your query you will highlight what makes your book special and then throw it up here again.

EB said...

"How can you judge whether or not a story is cliche by a poorly (yes, I said poorly) written query letter?"

But that's EXACTLY what agents are going to do. You may not find it fair or nice or whatever, but that's the game.

I don't read in your genre so I can't really speak to the similarity between your work and somebody elses. But a few people have mentioned it here; again, an agent/editor may reach the same conclusion. It doesn't matter if you've read Melissa Whatsername or not if somebody THINKS it sounds similar.

Just tweak your query to bring out the original nature of your work.

Better to take your lumps here where you may get some constructive opposed to the form rejection letters that offer little more than papercuts.

Unknown said...

This being my first brave experience stepping into the query world, it has indeed been a learning experience. I've had some outside help since this disasterous yet amusing query and have reposted a revisions for Janet's Sharky enjoyment. Chomp at it :)

Sarah said...

I don't read much urban fantasy or romance, so take this with a grain of salt. Your queries left me with some questions that might help you continue to clarify your query. My guess is the answers are already in your story.

How doesn't Rhiannon fit in the world? A one-sentence example would go so far.

So she’s working too much, which makes her think she’s crazy when Cerne shows up?

Why would someone who hasn’t gained his wings be appointed to Rhiannon? Wouldn't someone more qualified get the job? A brief reference to why Cern doesn't have his wings and yet still has the job would tell us a lot about him.

Doesn’t the word consort imply the spouse/companion of royalty? I'd expect her to be romantically involved with her consort. (It's from the 1st query, but I'm a word geek, and it's been niggling me.)

Good luck as you continue to refine this! Anyone who braves the Shark should be commended.

Unknown said...

The faeries in my books don't get their wings until they've been "joined" with their soul mates. Otherwise, the heroine would have serious problems on Earth. Thanks for pointing that out oh_bother. My next revision will handle that issue. This gets even more fun with each revision. Now I know I'm demented.


Sarah said...

The wings make sense for Rhiannon, but I'm still puzzled about Cerne's wings. From what you've written, his goal seems to be getting his wings without getting involved with Rhiannon. Wouldn't joining with your soul mate require some sort of emotional investment? (I could see how joining might be just physical, but the "soul mate" part implies more.) His goal seems impossible, so it's hard for me to imagine why he'd contact R. in the first place.

I'm not trying to make you explain too much of the story, but I still don't completely understand what the stakes are for R. and C. and what they need to do to achieve their happy ending.

No signs of dementia yet. : )

talpianna said...

You can call your heroine Rhiannon if she has a lot of birds hanging around her.

(Rhiannon, Mistress of the Singing Birds, is a very specific character in Welsh myth and faerie lore.)

White and Dark Faerie--confusing classification. Usually it's Light-Elves(Ljósálfar) and the Dark-Elves (Svartálfar) or the Seelie (Holy) and Unseelie (Unholy) Courts.

EB said...

I found this revision a bit confusing. You have one paragraph which means to explain the plot, but I'm still unclear on what's driving your two characters. If Rhiannon is freaked out and Cerne is jaded, I'm left with the impression that Cerne's merely trying to bed her/romance her for his wings. (Is this what faeries use instead of notches on a bedpost?) The dark queen arrives out of nowhere, forcing R & C to defend "their kingdom." Rhiannon has a kingdom? I thought she was suffering from being overworked and underappreciated.

You include a great deal of personal bio; I wonder if trimming that a bit would allow you more space to discuss your plot. For example: "I am also an active member of two critique groups where I have the opportunity to work with several published authors." So are many authors. Not to take that away from you, but you might want to prioritize your space a bit, and lean on the story (particularly because it has won a few awards).

With the caveat that romance isn't my genre as a writer or a reader, I found the two exclamation points a bit off-putting. For some reason it made me wonder if this was YA. But that's a minor nit and maybe only on my end.

Keep it up, though. And thanks for allowing us to critique your efforts. Hopefully it's helpful all around.

Beth said...

To emeraldcite...


Sindee, keep trying. You'll get there.

Gail Dayton said...

Sindee--queries should be like good back cover copy. What does your heroine want? Really, really, really? What does your hero want? Sounds to me like the wings are only a symbol. They will show that he has, essentially, become a man. Someone to be respected? Am I right? In order to achieve this, he has to convince R. (I work with a Real newspaper reporter whose name is actually Rhiannon, BTW, so real life people have that name...) to fulfill her destiny.

Why doesn't she want to? What's the main conflict here? You have to boil your story down to its most basic elements--which is about the hardest thing ever. I personally totally suck at it. I'm sorta learning to write synopses, but I pretty much suck at that too. However, I've managed to sell a few books--romantic fantasy, FWIW--to some big publishers, so...

You're in RWA, so you should know about GMC. Figure that out and start your query from there. Then figure out what makes your story different. Read the back cover copy off a few best sellers and see if you can figure out what their hook is. This sounds like it could be an intriguing book, you've done well in contests, so you need to figure out Your Hook. Good luck!

Cynthia Bronco said...

I can't believe I didn't find this until just now!

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Well now, I knowed lots of folks what falled in the deep end... and begun diggin!'

Moth, I'm total blind in my right eye, (darker'an head up yer a$$ midnight time)... been that way since I's five. LOL, I'd like to stick up a close-up of that "wanderin' sucker" - scare y'all back into last tuesday's undiepants!

Haste yee back ;-)

EB said...

Has the shark stopped eating?

Bad Author said...

I thoroughly agree with Mr Grant- I hate spunk.

Unknown said...

Maybe she went on vacation? I posted another revision for her to chomp and haven't received a response. I'm assuming it's the holiday.

Angeli Casi said...

I think spunk is over rated, give me sarcastic any time.

talpianna said...

We need a little fresh blood in the water. Oh, KIERSTEN...could you come here a minute?

Bad Author said...

I've seen worse.

Gypsum said...

Hey, Bad Author! Your blog is hilarious