Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pitch Critiques Round 8

Yes, it seems that I’ve decided to critique all of these. I’m insane, I know, but there were some good pitches in there, I’m enjoying myself, and I think you all deserve something. So I’ll keep going until I can go no more. Note that you can continue adding pitches in the original post, Perfecting Your Pitch, until I let you know you should stop (I’ll place a comment to tell you that as well as try to do a post). Pitches placed in the comments of critiques will not be critiqued.

43. heather b. moore
QUEEN (thriller)
An ancient legend reborn.
For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba is only a seductive legend. When OMAR ZAGOURI, an undercover Israeli agent, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem, he unknowingly finds the final clue that could overthrow governments, pit wealthy collectors against one another, and send ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. Can Omar prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly, or will he himself be buried with the very mummies he unearthed?

Mmmm. Interesting. I like this. I think it sounds very interesting and I’m close to asking to see more. My only thought is why is this the greatest discovery and how will it become deadly? And why will Omar be buried? In other words, don’t leave us hanging quite like that. Give it to us! Keep the first up until, “that could overthrow governments.” Why not say something like, “he finds the final clue of the Queen’s life. A discovery that has the power to overthrow governments (why?). Now Omar’s greatest discovery might also be his last. With ruthless collectors tracking him down it’s up to Omar to put all of his work ethics aside and hide the one thing he has spent his life seeking...”? Okay, that’s still too vague. You know, it’s hard to rewrite your pitches without having you here to tell me more. What you need to do is be more specific.

44. anon 1:08
When Anne realizes the world’s emotions are reined by another, darker set of beings and that she is part of it, she has to do a lot more than overcome selfishness…or put up with children with a certain knack for mischief, to stay alive.

Trying to fit too much in without giving us anything. I’m intrigued by the fact that “the world’s emotions are reined (controlled a better word?) by another...,” but I need a better idea of what that means. I also suspect that your last line about putting up with children is a hint to the fact that Anne is probably a mom or teacher? That doesn’t seem important to your pitch. If it is, you’ll need to be more specific since it really threw me. What you need to focus on is the emotions aspect, the darker beings and why Anne is involved and why she needs to do something about it.

45. josephine damian
Everyone believes criminal profiler Caroline Armstrong is a European woman with the quintessential American name. She’s afraid that her ex-lover, forensic psychologist Rhys Garrison, will find out she’s really Nina Gorić, a Bosnian war crimes victim turned assassin who killed so her unborn child could survive. When the two profilers reunite to uncover a sadistic serial killer’s identity, old flames rekindle along with new fears when Rhys suspects Caroline’s violent past and secret identity.

Inside scoop here. Anything doing with a criminal profiler or other such things always gets my attention personally. LOVE THIS! Really, really love this. You tell me who she is and how she is haunted. You tell me what she’s up against now and you grab my attention with a very unique twist on an old but always successful story. I would definitely ask to see this (and of course hope you’d send it).

46. jduncan
Just a thought here. Why not pick a 'winner' here, when all is said and done, amongst the pitches that are within the purview of genres you rep, and let them get to send a partial? Just a thought of course.

Well, this seems like a silly pitch ;) Good question. I think instead of asking to see a winner I'm going to say that all of you are of course welcome to later query BookEnds if you think I'd be the right agent for your work. I chose not to do a contest because I really hate judging contests. Instead I want to give feedback to everyone, if possible, to help improve pitches. Those I remark on that I love and would ask for, I mean it. If you aren't already agented I'd love to see a partial based on your pitch. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to see any of the other works, it just means you should work on your pitch first.

47. zany mom
Ethan Burke has it all--Adonis good looks, a promising career as a veterinary surgeon, a beautiful girlfriend, and a cocky arrogance that lands him a mistress--until a freak mountain biking accident shatters it all. Ethan must now come to terms with his physical limitations. His perspective on life gradually shifts when, in the hospital, he is befriended by an unlikely hero: a five-year-old boy with leukemia.

It sounds too internal to me, and not different enough. I like your first sentence a lot, but now we need to know more about the conflict besides his physical limitations. I also think we need to make sure we get a sense for Ethan. I would assume based on the first sentence that he’s a jerk, but what happens next? Does everything leave him (girlfriend included)? What is the real conflict in this story that makes it stand out from other similar tales (because there are other similar tales)? And what is the tone? Your opening makes it sound light and very genre or commercial, but the plot doesn’t seem to fit that. The plot sounds more serious. More like women’s fiction. I should get a sense of the tone through your pitch. Not easy, I know, but if your opening is great but doesn’t match the tone of the book, it’s not effective.

48. mrs. Revis
There is a perfect good reason for sixteen year old Chloe to be in the middle of the street, crying, and naked. You would be to if you (but not your clothes) were plopped into a world where monsters are real and indoor plumbing isn't.

The knight in shining armor Chloe thought would save her turns out to be a berserker who tends to go mad with bloodlust at the most inconvenient times. The knight, Heath, is on a quest to save a kidnapped princess and defeat an evil tyrant. After Chloe joins Heath, she learns that the enemy Heath is fighting is linked to her own brother. In THE RED THREAD, Chloe must figure out how she can save her brother, even if he doesn't want to be saved, and how far she is willing to go for the knight she's falling in love with...even if he doesn't love her back.

Too long and a little messy. It’s definitely a case of trying to be too clever and give too much information all at the same time. I’m not a big fan of pitches (or books) that talk to the reader. In other words, I don’t like the phrasing “there is a perfect(ly?) good reason . . .” I think I would like it better if it was something more along the lines of, "Sixteen-year-old Chloe felt no shame about standing in the middle of the street crying. Wouldn’t anyone who was plopped naked into a world where monsters are real and indoor plumbing isn’t? On the search to save a brother who doesn’t want to be saved, Chloe meets with a berserker who tends to go mad with bloodlust at the most inconvenient times and finds herself falling in love with a knight who is more focused on saving a kidnapped princess . . ." (you need one final closer here). And then I think you’ve got it. This one is close, very close, and I suspect any good YA agent would request at least a partial.

I feel like I’m winding down already and I hope it’s not showing in my critiques. Good work, as always. I’ll leave it here for the rest of the readers to give their two cents.



Anonymous said...

I would stop reading the second pitch at the clumsy word "reined" given the word the author wanted is "reigned". Unless emotions come on sleds.

I liked the pitch with Omar in it.

Stuart Neville said...

Well done, Josephine D!

jjdebenedictis said...

Congratulations, Josephine Damien!

Merry Monteleone said...

Yay, Josephine!!!!!

La, la, la, I'm doing a little happy dance for you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why not just break down...and send an equery?

I already posted a "gossamer-thin" pitch - i.e., lacking any sense of what the conflict in the novel was.

So it occurs to me, why not just send in an email query, based on what (I think) I've's good practice...even though I think my novel might be a bit my friend's friend puts it: "too too."

How can an Arctic ice palace be in the same novel as the '67 Detroit riots? But, but...they've got all those downtown lofts now! And the Santa Parade goes right by them! My characters could be IN the Santa Parade! Tossing candy to the crowds, printed with a link to the novel's webpage!

Oh well...pie in the and learn

Anonymous said...

I also liked the Omar story. But then, that type of thriller/adventure Indiana Jones thing appeals to me.

Kate Douglas said...

Actually, Jess, "reined" is correct--it's referring to "reined in" as with a horse's reins, to control, which is what the author is trying to say. "...the world's emotions are reined (read "controlled") by another."

Reign means to hold power or occupy a throne, as a king reigns over his country. I agree with Jessica that reined is not a particularly good choice of words, but it IS the proper word.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Jessica.

Except from the benefit of your spot-on thoughts I got the chance to make a small, strange observation.

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, so your ‘voice’ is quite familiar to me, but when I read your reply, I sort of felt like as if I was in some conference, face-to-face with you talking to me.

Strange and yet maybe proof for the communication power of this medium…

Josephine Damian said...

OMG! I'm BURIED under a mountain of end-of-term college projects and am only now just seeing this!

Thanks, JJ, Merry and Conduit!

Conduit, maybe there is something in the ozone. Good news abounds.

Jessica, your positive comments are much appreciated! I have a referral from one of Jacky's client's, Nadja Bernitt, but frankly had no idea this type of thriller would interest either one of you. Good to know come query time.

Julie Weathers said...

I enjoyed both Queen and A Study in Fear, personally.

Congratulations to Josephine.

Jessica, thanks for continuing this. It's been a definite learning experience for me.


Diana said...

I want to read your book, Josephine!

Josephine Damian said...

Diana and Julie, much thanks! And good luck with your own projects.

Anonymous said...

You would be to (SHOULD BE TOO) if you (but not your clothes) were plopped into a world where monsters are real and indoor plumbing isn't.

Heather Moore said...

Thanks, Jessica! I have no problem adding more ;)

Precie said...

Josephine!!!! Woo hoo!!! Now it's my turn to shaky my booty for you! Finish that puppy and query, query, query! I look forward to reading that novel in print!

Josephine Damian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josephine Damian said...

Precie!! I've been wondering where you were. Thanks for the shout out!

Right now, my goal is to make my university professors shake their booties over my term papers, finals and projects. Can't wait till the-semester-from-hell is over and I can make ASIF a priority. Eight more days!