Ellie’s Unofficial #gutgaa Small Press Query H0p Submission

To sign up for the hop go to Ellie Blogs, Hops & Writes 2, my blogger site. :-)

Okay, I’ve had a fellow writer help me totally rework my query for Warder. Let me say it needed it! But now I’m worried it’s too generic.

This draft is current as of 9:30 pm eastern time,  on Sunday, September 23.

PNR, 108k

Current query:
At twenty-eight, Mona Kubrek finally fits in when she’s chosen to be Warder, a job where she helps keep magic hidden from the human world and mortals safe from those who work it. The position highlights her skills, or lack there of, as only elves that can’t create their own spells but can manipulate others’ magic are picked for the task. Life is pretty good… until she accidently springs, then evades, a death trap. Now she’s dodging spellbound-shifters intent on finding her and dealing with her body’s reaction to the half-elf shifter investigating the destruction left in the wake of the shifters’ pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation, Mona dogs his steps. She’s reckless, especially when she puts herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety. But’s not her actions which get shifters killed, it’s the madman who sends them after her and spells them to get Mona or die.

Tacitly agreeing to ignore their mutual attraction, Mona and Cart band together to solve the case. The only information they have about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and thus decimating the local Were pack, are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, the two race to decipher the clues before they become the next victims.

Previous version:
At twenty-eight, Elfen Mona Kubrek is finally fitting in when she’s chosen to be Warder, a job committed to keeping magic hidden from the human world and mortals safe from those who work it. Only elves that can’t create their own spells but can manipulate others’ magic are chosen for the task. Life was perfect until she accidently sprung, then evaded, a death trap. Now she has spellbound-shifters intent on finding her and a very distracting half-elf Were investigating the destruction being left in the wake of the shifters’ pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation, Mona is dogging his steps. She’s reckless, especially when she’s putting herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety. But’s not her actions which are getting Weres killed, it’s the madman who’s sending them after her and spelling them to find her or die trying.

Against their better judgement, Mona and Cart band together to solve the case. The only information they have about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and decimating the local Were pack, are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, the two race to decipher the clues before the next victims are them.

Older version:
At twenty-eight Mona’s finally fitting in after she’s chosen to be a Warder. The job fulfills her need to protect and is something few people can do, only elves who cannot create their own spells but can manipulate others magic can take on the task. Life was perfect until spellbound shifters became intent on finding her and a very distracting half-elf Were showed up to investigate the destruction being left in the wake of the shifters pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation Mona is dogging his steps. She is a Warder, and he knows she is committed to keeping magic hidden, but her lack of skills and knowledge are a danger to herself and those around her. Especially when she’s putting herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety, never mind that no one gets hurt.

Their only information about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and decimating the local Were pack are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, they race to decipher the clues. Because next time the bodies might be theirs.

And the one before *that*:

Mona Kubrek couldn’t be more thrilled with her new job as a Warder – it fulfills her Elfen need to protect without exposing her embarrassing inability to create a spell of her own. She’d be having the time of her life if there weren’t shifters spellbound to capture her on her tail, and a very distracting half-elf Were investigating the destruction being left in the wake of her search for her pregnant best friend.

.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. At the center of his investigation he finds Mona. Her Warder status may be there, but her lack of skills and knowledge are a danger to herself and those around her.  Her kind of untutored help is the kind he doesn’t need, not when she’s putting herself and others lives in danger by jumping in feet first in without a thought to her safety.

.

Together they must decipher cryptic messages from a mythical being to stop the magic user that’s decimating the local Were pack and stalking Mona’s best friend.  With each successive attempt to kill the pair getting closer to succeeding it’s a race to find the being behind the magic before more people die. Because the next set of dead bodies might be theirs.

Paranormal vs Contemporary Fantasy: Sub-Genres Pt 2

I’m back at it and I think I may be more confused than ever trying to figure out what is what in the Romance sub-genres of Paranormal vs Contemporary Fantasy.

Last week I asked readers for input in helping with definitions  (Paranormal vs Contemporary Fantasy: What’s in a Genre ).

In hindsight, and not realizing how many new people would be stopping by the blog, I neglected to state two things.

  1. I am a romance writer. When I wrote my post I was looking at definitions of these genres as ‘sub-genres’ within a romance story.
  2. I was searching for a definitions to help me know what publishers and agents are looking for when ‘calls’ for submissions come out, as well as how to describe a story when submitting a pitch or query. Creating new categories will not, unfortunately, help me figure this out.

Commenter Barb Mazzuca made me realize I’d neglected to point out my lack of stating a main genre. She commented:

But let’s approach this in a different way, instead of looking at it as Contemporary vs. Paranormal. Have you considered main genre and sub-genres? Because Contemporary would be considered the “Main Genre” and after that, paranormal, romance, suspense/thrillers, sci-fi, urban fantasy and so on would all be considered sub-genres or sub-plots. And for obvious reason you would never have Historical and Contemporary together. Unless you were writing a story about time travel, in which case time travel would be the sub-genre, not historical.

Let me make clear that these sub-plots/genres are not independent of the main plot or themselves. But weave throughout the story to cause conflict and to deepen the emotional level.

Which made me think, but my main genre is romance! which led to the d’oh! moment when I realized I had not stated that in the original post. However, she has excellent points, including the very last line: genres are not merely labels but indicative of a crucial element of the plot.

Because I neglected to mention I was looking at the genre labels through the ‘glasses’ of romance (or, as noted above, with romance being my main genre) as well as not mentioning I was looking for a definition so I’d understand ‘industry lingo’, several of the more detailed comments unfortunately didn’t resonate with what I was searching for when defining genres (not characters).

For instance two people, GL Drummond herself and a follower, pointed to a blog post Drummond had done back in 2010 discussing a similar quandary over genre labels. While I like her breakdown of beings:

  • Paranormal – Ghosts, spirits and psychic phenomena.
  • Supernatural – Demons, angels, miracles, unexplainable by science religiously related stuff.
  • Preternatural – Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and other not human sort of critters.

I’m not sure that, for submissions and queries, this list is useful much as I like the elegance of these terms over ‘contemporary fantasy’ which casts a very wide net. And my purpose wasn’t to *create* new definitions, it was to figure out what the heck people were asking for when they said they wanted romances that were ‘contemporary fantasy’ and not ‘paranormal’.

The Romanceaholic raised an interesting point:

See, now I think it’s the SETTING not the types of characters that define the genre. Everything you mentioned, if in an alternate, contemporary “earth” is paranormal to me. Contemporary Fantasy to me is more stuff that has characters traveling through different realms or dimensions (think, Stephen King’s “Talisman”).

I’d never really considered it from the standpoint of different character species, though that definitely makes a lot of sense. My biggest problem with that, though, is that there’s often times a blending of those types of characters — Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series for example have shifters, vampires, AND fae.

Now, see, I’ve been looking at characters, while here the emphasis in on location. Hmm, so for this the definition would be Paranormal being an ‘alternate’ contemporary earth, while stories set in a contemporary earth, but one which contains magical or ‘fantastical’ elements would be Contemporary Fantasy. Although, I should email and ask if shifters are considered an alternate reality creature or a fantastical one. I’d lean toward alternate reality. Hmm….

As for the examples, again my bad that I neglected to say I was looking for Romance sub-genres, because Mercy Thompson doesn’t fit at all in the Romance genre (each book does not have a romantic story arc which is concluded in that book). The Alpha and Omega series, from what I recall, the first two books are romance, while the rest the become more urban fantasy as the previous characters continue their adventures.

But I digress. Let’s take Romanceaholic’s definition and see how some of the more popular romance books and series play out.

And here I need your help, because a) it’s been a while since I’ve read some of these series and b) there are several very popular series I have not read.

So, let’s pick few:

Black Dagger Brotherhood:

Romanceaholic: Paranormal Romance                           Me: Paranormal Romance

Shelly Laurenston Pack/Pride Series:

Romanceaholic: Paranormal Romance                            Me: Contemporary Fantasy Romance

Uh, I must be brain dead from the final edits on my manuscript because I can’t come up with something which we both might call Contemporary Fantasy Romance. Help?!

Plus, if you know an agent or publisher who might be willing to weigh in, I’d appreciate that too, since that’s whose mind I am trying to decipher. (Yes, I do know they are not one big amorphous brain! However, every little bit helps)

Thanks for all the comments!  I like both of these definitions, but I think my ‘contemporary fantasy’ may be too large, while Romanceaholic’s may be too narrow. Heck, I’m not even sure this is ‘one’ answer to this, I’m just trying to figure one a general guideline to work with going forward.

Entered a query / 250 word contest.

Cupid’s Literary Connection is holding a Surprise Agent Invasion, where they ask for your query and first 250 words.

I sent something in. GULP.

The contest goes live from the end of March to Mid-April, after the initial round of in house judging:

If you make it into one of the windows your entry enters AREA 51 and goes before the CIA. The CIA consists of myself and four of the YA Confidential operatives: Copil, Cambria, Cristin, and Karen. The 200 entries will be split up between the five of us randomly and we will each choose our strongest 10 entries to go up on the blog as “victims” of our “Surprise Agent Invasion” event. Of course, the CIA and AREA 51 are very secretive and confidential so this will all take place behind closed doors and you will NOT know which CIA judge received your entry. And as you’ll notice, that is only 50 entries from the 200, so make sure your work is at it’s best!!

Those who make it past the CIA and become “victims” will be notified by Cupid via email. The dates of these emails and when the entries will be posted on the blog for the agent invasion will be disclosed at a later date.

Which means I need to be working on these final edits double time in the *off chance* I get past the first round. Nothing like a deadline to help focus your work!

caroline tung richmond on rejection

Don’t Stop Believin’

About a year ago, I received a rejection from one of the top agents in the industry. The email itself was short and polite. Something along the lines of, “Although we liked X and Y about your book, we don’t feel like it’s right for our list at this time.”
Just a couple of sentences. I was crushed.
Read more about her reaction and ultimate decision here.

Yet another timely article on Social Networking

From Publishers Weekly:

It’s All About the Social Network.

Quote:

Nearly 80 publishing professionals tuned in to a BISG-sponsored webcast, “Marketing ‘Books’ in a Digital World,” on Wednesday. The hour-long discussion covered a range of tactics publishers are taking to get their books into readers’ hands, but the topic that loomed largest was social networking.

Click the link to read more!

 

Query: how not to write one.

Okay, I’ve discovered how not to write a query. Actually first attempt wasn’t *that* bad, but it wasn’t good either. On my fourth (?) draft and I think this is better. Shows a bit of character arc, where the plot goes and what makes my story unique. Thanks Cherise!

Here’s what I learned:

The middle paragraph should sound very back of book blurb-ish, not a dry recounting of the beginning story line.  Tell a little about the two main character’s conflict and what obstacles they are facing. Set up a little of the world they are in to show it is different and unique, particularly if it impacts their interaction.

Once I have it done, I may post that part here to get feed back, see if you would be interested in the book.

Right now, though, the current plan is to send everything off tomorrow. Hopefully my head cold will cooperate and I’ll be able to concentrate tonight on wrapping things up.