Thursday, August 26, 2010

15 Pitch Entry #16: Brenda Drake

Title: Library Jumpers


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys instead of kiss them. That is until an out-of-place rebel hottie in the pretentious Boston Athenaeum intrigues her. When he disappears in the space of a distracted glance, Gia's search for him leads to the book of world libraries he was reading before he vanished. While flipping through the pages, Gia speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into the National Library of France. The rebel, Arik, and his multicultural gang of magical Paladijns rescue the three from a demonic beast in the library.

Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn destined to protect humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books. The fact that she must train to be a Paladijn with her deadbeat father, a man she fears is an unstable individual, makes her uneasy. Now to prevent an exiled wizard from releasing an apocalyptic force, Gia must unleash her suppressed magic to stop him.

15 comments:

  1. The first two sentences really hooked me - great job! I especially loved your opening line. But then you lost me with the 'space of a distracted glance' sentence. I didn't understand that. I think something like, 'When he disappears before her eyes, Gia focuses on the book he was reading before he vanished. While flipping through the pages...'. I think it just needs to be clarified. Also why is the wizard bent on destroying the world? What's his connection to the Paladijns?

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  2. Hi! You’re off to a wonderful start, but I do have some suggestions. Also, I’m long winded so my suggestion will be in 2 comments.

    GENERAL COMMENTS: First I want to know why she’d rather spar with boys than kiss them. And is this important to the story? There’s no mention of this again.

    Is there a reason that you say the Boston Athenaeum is pretentious? I would be careful saying that. The agent you’re querying/pitching may not think so and then you’re already on their “bad side.”

    Paladijns—here you’re assuming I already know what this is. You should always pretend in a pitch that I don’t know ANYTHING of your world—which I probably don’t. I would give a brief description.

    Why is Arik a rebel? A rebel from whom? Is he the hero? Does this story have romantic elements at all? It sounds like it from the beginning, but there’s no mention of it after that.

    Why does she fear her father is unstable? Unstable financially or mentally?

    If Gia is supposed to be stopping things from crossing between the books, why is she stopping a wizard? I would like more lead up to this. And the consequences of her doing this? Think the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He was the only one who could save the world because he had Merlin’s blood. What’s the reason behind Gia saving the world?

    I’m also not sure why you use multi-cultural to describe Arik’s gang. If you’re trying to say this will appeal to multiple cultures, I would just state this when you’re saying your word length. There is no other mention of culture during your pitch and it stands out, like you’re trying too hard to fit into that market.

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  3. Here's how I would rewrite your pitch with the information I know. I've marked certain spots I needed more information and I don't know exactly what role Arik plays, so you'll have to add that in if you choose to use my suggestions.

    REVISED PITCH:

    Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is until an out-of-place rebel hottie, Arik, in the Boston Athenaeum intrigues (I think you can use a stronger verb here. Maybe enchants, mesmerizes, tempts, lures, entices. “Intrigues” doesn’t sound right, especially since I think this is your hook.) her.

    (I think it’s stronger to split this here. Unless of course, that isn’t your hook. Then you need to shorten this whole paragraph so your hook fits into 1 or 2 sentences.) When he disappears in the space of a distracted glance, Gia's search leads her to the book he was reading (How does she know this is the book he was reading?) before he vanished. While flipping through the pages, Gia speaks the key (what key?) that sucks her and her friends (what friends? I thought she was alone) into a photograph, WHICH transports them into the National Library of France, where they’re met by Arik and his gang of Paldijns—people charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway book—from the demon in the library.

    Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn and now that she’s been found, must train with her mentally unstable deadbeat of a father. Now, when an exiled wizard threatens to release an apoplyptic force, Gia must unleash her suppressed magic to stop him. (This doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. So she has to release it? What’s the consequences if she does? If she doesn’t? Or can she NOT release it? Why not? Where does Arik fit in this? Her father? Her friends?)

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  5. Thanks for commenting Dawn M and jasouders. And jasouders, I totally see your points and your suggestions, thank you for giving me such wonderful suggestions to work with. You guys rock!

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  6. Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys instead of kiss them. (Why?) That is until an out-of-place rebel hottie in the pretentious Boston Athenaeum intrigues her. (how does she know he's a rebel? from what? or do you just mean that the guy stands out? Why does he intrigue her?)

    When he disappears in the space of a distracted glance, Gia's search for him leads to the book of world libraries he was reading before he vanished. (she just looks around a library - this seems sort of overworded.)

    While flipping through the pages, Gia speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into the National Library of France. (How does she know the key? where do her friends come from? They wander over to this book with her?)

    The rebel, Arik, and his multicultural gang of magical Paladijns rescue the three from a demonic beast in the library. (again, what's he a rebel from? does it matter that his gang of multicultural? I love the idea of a demon beast in a library and jumping through books. cool.)

    Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn destined to protect humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books. (unclear - the beasts use the gateway books? why don't we hear more about random attacks in libraries, or something? and what about her friends? I would cut them from the query altogether.)

    The fact that she must train to be a Paladijn with her deadbeat father, a man she fears is an unstable individual, makes her uneasy. (Why with him? why is he unstable? is UNEASY really the best word here? I think you mean that her father abandoned her - deadbeat - but it seems like that's because he's tied in to this paladijn thing? and what's with the random j in that, by the way?)

    Now to prevent an exiled wizard from releasing an apocalyptic force, Gia must unleash her suppressed magic to stop him. (Huh? Non sequitur. We were fighting beasts and now there's a wizard and an apocalypse? this is unfocused. Also how is her magic still suppressed if she's been training?)

    I want more personal stakes, too.

    good luck!

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  7. I adore the idea of “library jumpers!” But I ended up being a bit disappointed, because I expected the rest of the book to be about this "library jumping" phenomenon. Instead, it seems as though it's just a way to get her to France, where the rest of the story takes place.

    One somewhat nitpicky point: we go from Boston to France, which is fine and cool, but the term “paladijn” is Dutch (I think?), and I kept waiting for the story to end up there. I like to know where I’m settling, but that might be something personal/weird about my own preferences.

    I think the point about it all making her uneasy is unnecessary, because obviously events are unsettling. I think you can just say “She must train to be a Paladijn…” and it’d be fine.

    I was taken aback by the introduction of the wizard in the last sentence. I think it’d be pretty easy to fix, though, if you just introduce him earlier. For example, something like “When she learns that an exiled wizard plans on releasing an apocalyptic force and that she is one of the Paladijns destined to stop him…” etc. etc. Mostly, I think the reason I was confused by his introduction was because it wasn’t presented as the reason she must train and so on.

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  8. Meagan, I think it's just my query that's disappointing. They do jump to other libraries around the world. France is just the first one. So, I guess I should be clearer on that. Great suggestions and thanks for helping! :D

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  9. Brenda, you're more than welcome! If you decide to rewrite it, feel free to post it in the comments and I'll take another look. :D I really like the premise!

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  10. Love the premise! As someone who's spent months of my life roaming libraries looking for gates to other places or ancient adventure (I used to thump all over the marble floors after seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) I'm a sucker for any sort of library based adventure! I also *heart* girls that like to pummel boys rather than smooch them. :)

    Most of my quibbles have been covered by others, but I'd suggest maybe changing the word 'spar' in the first sentence to something more modern. It's a word I've used before and gotten mixed reviews on because it's antiquated and most people immediately picture sword fighting when they read it.

    I'd also definitely get Arik's name in immediately because I was at first confused. I thought 'wait a minute, where'd the hottie go?'

    Good luck! :D

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  11. Thanks everyone! Here's my recent attempt at the dread query letter. :D

    Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum library, busts her staring at him while she's studying with her friends.

    When he disappears suddenly, Gia swipes the book of world libraries he abandoned. As she skims the pages, she unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his fellow Paladijns--magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-- rescue the three from a demonic hound.

    Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn and now that she's been found, must train with a father she never knew existed. Gia and Arik commence a heated relationship as they jump into some of the world's most beautiful libraries and travel to the Mistyk world hidden behind bookcases to stop an apocalyptic force from destroying both worlds. If fighting unfathomable creatures weren't bad enough, a French vixen is hell-bent on keeping Arik and Gia apart.

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  12. I LOVE this new version. This is practically perfect. I really can’t find anything I’d want to change. GREAT JOB!!!

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  13. Thanks, Jessica, for all your wonderful suggestions and guidance. I'm so glad you were my mentor. :D

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  14. Sorry for the lateness! Just got through the work week late last night, but I've been meaning to come by. :)

    --

    Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum library, busts her staring at him while she's studying with her friends.

    --

    Love it, especially the part where she's staring at him. Creates tension and shows without saying more that he's caught her interest and he noticed it. Much better than in first pitch; you say something specific that we can picture instead of just a reference about him intriguing her.

    Grammatically speaking, there should be a comma after 'that is.'

    I'm glad you put in 'library' after 'Boston Athenaeum,' because I didn't know what that was for sure until you did. Thought it could probably maybe be the library, but it was a speed bump in my reading process. Much smoother now!

    --

    When he disappears suddenly, Gia swipes the book of world libraries he abandoned. As she skims the pages, she unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his fellow Paladijns--magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-- rescue the three from a demonic hound.

    --

    Well, how's that for an afternoon at the library? How exciting! I definitely want to read more by this point. I'm a sucker for libraries in the first place (aren't we all?), so this book has that going for it without your saying another word.

    I'm staring at the phrase 'disappears suddenly' and trying to rework it. It's the 'suddenly' that's got me in a hangup. Honestly, it's fine; it's that little niggling feeling that it could be something different, you know?

    I like the term 'Paladijn.'

    Be sure to close the gap after the makeshift emdash before 'rescue.'

    --

    Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn and now that she's been found, must train with a father she never knew existed.

    --

    I wasn't sure 'deadbeat' was the right word before, but it still carried more tension than this. The 'never knew existed' is a sort of passive account; it's interesting but it doesn't amp things up. Maybe there's a middle ground between the two.

    --

    Gia and Arik commence a heated relationship as they jump into some of the world's most beautiful libraries and travel to the Mistyk world hidden behind bookcases to stop an apocalyptic force from destroying both worlds.

    --

    Fabulous. Every library girl's dream. Except, you know, the whole destroying of worlds. Pesky world destruction, getting in the way of my fantasy.

    --

    If fighting unfathomable creatures weren't bad enough, a French vixen is hell-bent on keeping Arik and Gia apart.

    --

    Ooh, interesting. But why is she hell-bent on this? It'd be good to have more info related to this plot point. I know it's hard to fit it all into 175 words, though!

    --

    In summary: I want to read this book. I think you've done a good job with the pitch, especially the second version.

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  15. Thank you jasouders, your input has totally helped me.

    And thank you, Suzie, all that makes sense. I too had a niggling feeling about "suddenly disappears" but just couldn't latch onto something better. I'll keep trying. I'm usually long winded so I was surprise I got it down to 175, so I'll have to see if one or two words could sum up the French vixen's motives.

    This has been such a great experience. I look at queries differently now and can see where I was going wrong with them in the past.

    Thanks everyone!

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