Thursday, August 26, 2010

14 Pitch Entry #45: Angela

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy


Title: Where The Stones Speak

Iona, clan ruler on The Isle of Virgins, hears the weathered stele as they whisper ancient truths and foretellings. But fearful she will be bound as a sibyl and forced to proclaim prophecy to the multitudes, she tells no one about the oracles she receives.

However, when the Scrolls of Destiny are rebuked by King Tarquin of Rome and he learns of Iona’s existence, he pursues her and those she protects with his armored legions and a newly acquired weapon; Attius, a young augur with prophetic talents of his own. And the demon, Asmode, once bound by the ancient sibyl, Sheba, seeks revenge for his centuries of subdual forcing Iona to find her sacred ring of stones before she can be captured by those who seek to silence the last free sibyl.

But Iona is unsure if man is worthy of the divine prophecy and longs to see the noble truths in man before she will sacrifice her own desires and dreams bound behind the sacred standing stones that will both protect and entrap her.

14 comments:

  1. Iona, clan ruler on The Isle of Virgins, hears the weathered stele (what's that?) as they whisper ancient truths and foretellings. But fearful she will be bound as a sibyl and forced to proclaim prophecy to the multitudes, she tells no one about the oracles she receives. (Having studied sybils -- cool! I'd love to read about one.)

    However, when the Scrolls of Destiny are rebuked (how do you rebuke a scroll? legend has he refused them and they were destroyed, from nine down to three?) by King Tarquin of Rome and he learns of Iona’s existence, he pursues her and those she protects with his armored legions and a newly acquired weapon;(should this be a colon instead?) Attius, a young augur with prophetic talents of his own. (this needs to be broken into at least two sentences)

    And the demon, Asmode, once bound by the ancient sibyl, Sheba,(ok, you've got too many names in here I think) seeks revenge for his centuries of subdual(spellcheck-this isn't a word) forcing Iona to find her(Sheba's?) sacred ring of stones before she can be captured by those who seek to silence the last free sibyl.(Tarquin?)(why does she need the ring? what difference does it make?)

    But Iona is unsure if man is worthy of the divine prophecy and longs to see the noble truths in man before she will sacrifice her own desires and dreams bound behind the sacred standing stones that will both protect and entrap her.(Huh? who said anything about sacrifice? I thought she didn't want to be a sybil anyway?)

    Too much going on! This sounds awesome, I'd love to see historical fantasy about Tarquin and the sybil, but the pitch needs better focus.

    Good luck!

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  2. I think this is pretty clear. The only sentence that's a bit unclear is the first one. Although it's pretty, it's a bit confusing. Since it's a stele, I'd assume she' read it. Maybe just mentioned she received prophecies from the weathered steel. I'd be interested in reading this book.

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  3. Is this SS's entry? I do believe I've read an excerpt of this, which was AWESOME!

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  4. I don't want to feel left out just because I haven't read something along these lines before - and that's the way I feel as soon as I start reading. Like there's information I should already know in order to understand the query.

    Hope that helps!

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  5. Okay, so let me say that I know it's hard when there is a word limit. I don't think you need to go into tons of detail, a blurb would be fine, but I was confused by sentence one with some of the words. Also, what is Scrolls of Destiny? What is the one pitch line? I almost feel like, probably not, maybe I'm crazy, you have more than one main story line in the query...? I see conflict- she is hearing prophecies and doesn't want to spill them to humans because she wants them to figure it out on their own..right? No woman wants to be chained up by a Kind of Rome either. Sounds very cool when I got to the basics, if you will : )

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  6. Hi Angela,

    Thanks so much for sharing your query!

    This seems like a very unique world and I'm getting a "Greek mythology" feel, though clearly this is a different place.

    I mentioned this to a SF writer earlier. I think when we write queries we are so involved in our book's world that we need to take a step back (myself included). I had to read your query two times to fully understand it (but that might just be me). I do think you want to write your query as you wrote the book, but maybe change some of your word choices. Agents and editors tend to read very fast and if they're flying though queries, you don't want to risk rejection because they didn't fully understand upon a first read.

    Augur, a lot of people may not know what that is. Also, "weathered stele", I didn't quite understand that at first. I'm sure "stele" works great in your novel, but maybe for the query use "weathered stone slabs" or "ancient pillars", something that makes the reader "get it" right away.

    My last thought, I'd love to get a little more feel for who Iona is. From your query, she sounds very knowing (clearly, she's an oracle) and powerful, yet I don't have any idea what kind of person she is. I want to know more about her--some personality. I need a little something more in the query to make me care about her and want to know more about her story.

    Angela, this is a good query, but I think it can be great! My overall thoughts are positive, but I want agents to read this and say, "Wow, I gotta read this book!" instead of saying, "What did I just read?"

    I hoped I helped a little and can't wait to hear good news from you, so please keep me updated!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  7. Just wanted to give a big thanks to everyone for their helpful comments. My main problem is focus as Where The Stones Speaks has a lot going on with 2 protagonists and 2 antagonists. And it seems I just lacked the talent necessary to squeeze the overall plot with the historical references and world building into 175 words.

    And I def need to work on my pitch so that it's not so confusing.I don't want people to need an ancient history lesson before they understand it.

    So off I go to work on my pitch and synopsis. Again thanks to all who commented! This kind of feedback is invaluable! :)

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  8. Angela, I thought your pitch was good! You certainly do have the talent, so stop all that nonsense!

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  9. Thanks Hilary!! I just want to fix it so it's great and easy to understand. If only I could have 300 words ;)No worries though. I'll keep plugging away.

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  10. If you could only read my query...before I edited it about 7 million times, you die, just die! It was horrible! ;)

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  11. Wonderful idea. I was a little confused by some of the terms you used, but you used good sentence construction to sort of explain what it all meant. That's great. I felt my eyes skimming pretty quick and I think it was listing all of the people. I was trying to keep track of them and the story idea all in one and it was a bit confusing. I would love to see if she can free herself to choose her own life, of course. Awesome challenge. :)

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  12. Sorry so late to the comment sections. I've been away.
    So, first off, your help for my pitch (#19) was actually a stroke of genius. All I needed was one word "not" to make it clearer and more accurate with the story and you did that for me. Thank you. It's amazing how the author so easily overlooks things at times.
    Okay, on to your pitch. I love the feel of it. It's absorbing, fun, and dramatic all in one. Excellent. It does struggle a bit with its focus, as you stated earlier, and there is a lot of info to take in, which can cause the readers mind to stray as they read. My mind didn't as I read it, but I can understand where some of the other comments are coming from.
    As you know, sacrifice of info is always required for a well written query. We just have to take our main subject of the story, follow the MC through his/her journey with simplicity and focus, cutting all the fat, adding those hooks and consequences, and WA LA! (is that how you spell that)? you have a great query.
    You're definitely on the right track. Good job and keep up the awesome work.

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  13. Iona, clan ruler on The Isle of Virgins, hears the weathered stele as they whisper ancient truths and foretellings. But fearful she will be bound as a sibyl and forced to proclaim prophecy to the multitudes, she tells no one about the oracles she receives.
    --
    Very neat. We've got tension already because she's keeping her ability a secret (for good reason). I'm intrigued.

    --
    However, when the Scrolls of Destiny are rebuked by King Tarquin of Rome
    --
    This means nothing to me. I have no clue what the Scrolls of Destiny are, phrased this way, so they add nothing to my interest. I just skim past.

    --
    and he learns of Iona’s existence, he pursues her and those she protects with his armored legions and a newly acquired weapon; Attius, a young augur with prophetic talents of his own.
    --
    Colon, not semi-colon.

    --
    And the demon, Asmode, once bound by the ancient sibyl, Sheba, seeks revenge for his centuries of subdual
    --
    This seems like an afterthought that I can't connect to the rest. I need more significance. Also, subdual? Is there a simpler word you could use?

    --
    forcing Iona to find her sacred ring of stones before she can be captured by those who seek to silence the last free sibyl.

    But Iona is unsure if man is worthy of the divine prophecy and longs to see the noble truths in man before she will sacrifice her own desires and dreams bound behind the sacred standing stones that will both protect and entrap her.
    --
    Worthy of divine prophecy? I honestly don't get it. All of humanity needs to collectively prove themselves to her? Eh. Many people will always be less worthy than others treat them, and perhaps that's good. It makes the world go 'round, if you'll forgive the cliche.

    ------

    You seem to have two or three different plots. Can you explain in the query how they're connected to each other? Otherwise it's just, "here's a problem" and then "here's another problem" et cetera. I want to know I'm not going into a jumble of plots. I want something cohesive. I'm sure it all is in the manuscript; just a matter of communicating that here.

    All in all, I really enjoy the premise and based on this, I'd probably flip through it at a bookstore to see if I wanted to read it. Interesting idea. It just needs some more clarity. Simple is best, even when describing complex things.

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  14. First of all, I love the name Iona, and the Greco-Roman era as a setting. I mean, we have Percy Jackson now, but Greek mythology could never be over-utilized. My only real criticism is that some of the terminology would probably escape some readers right off the bat (as others have mentioned). Words like sibyl, stele, and augur are definitely going to escape the majority of the YA crowd without initial explanation. I also dig the connection to Tarquin--my fiance is a Tarquinio.

    - Jess Pettit

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