Saturday, June 21, 2014

QK Round 3: Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper vs. Love is Hell

Entry Nickname: Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper
Title: Stealing Fire
Word count: 75,000
Genre: Paranormal Romance


Ella’s life for her father’s. It’s the easiest decision she ever made.

When Ella traces her missing father to a decaying mansion, she's shocked to find him being held captive by a beautiful man. He offers to let her father go free, but only if Ella stays behind.

Lucian isn't just a crazy kidnapper wrapped in eye candy. He's the head of a group of shape shifters who live as humans by day and monsters by night. Desperate to discover why none of his kind have been born in centuries, Lucian stole Ella's father, a scientist who’d worked with Lucian’s species on the fertility crisis before abruptly quitting decades ago. When Ella shows up and is immune to Lucian's powers, he sees a chance to get answers, certain the scientist hid them in Ella’s DNA.

Ella willingly trades places with her father and becomes Lucian’s prisoner. He gives her everything she could possibly want except her freedom. The more time she spends with Lucian, the harder it is to deny he’s a ruthless monster. Even so, with every sideways glance and accidental touch, she becomes more confused and Lucian comes closer to forgetting she’s not his.

But their days together are limited. Lucian has enemies, and they’ll do anything to keep his species from expanding. As they close in, Lucian realizes the safest place for Ella is far away from him, and Ella must decide if her old, normal life is really where she belongs. But a true beast would never give up so easily.

First 250 words:
Ella shoved open the door to the sheriff’s office, slamming it against the wall. So what if all the deputies were staring. Let them know she was angry.

Tyler glanced up from the paperwork scattered across his desk, a lazy grin planted on his face. “Ella, if you really want to see me, all you have to do is call,” he said with his signature drawl that had all the women in the small Maine town of Pine Springs drooling.

All the women except Ella.

“Have you found him?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

Tyler stood up from behind the desk, towering over her five-four frame. “We were able to track your father’s car down, but couldn’t find any sign of him. Like we told you before, he’s probably with someone at that conference you mentioned.”

“He wouldn’t run off without telling me, and I haven’t talked to him in over a week. Besides, you said he never checked in at the Lexington Hotel.”

Tyler nodded like he was listening, but she recognized the glazed-over look in his eyes. He’d already written her off. “Normally, that would be troubling, but you can’t exactly call Dr. Murray ‘normal’.”

What the hell? Tyler might be arrogant, but he was good at his job. Now it seemed like he didn’t even care. “Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”

Tyler moved around the desk and set a hand on her shoulder. “Why don’t you take a walk to collect yourself? I’ll swing by your place after my shift ends and we can discuss this over dinner.”


Entry Nickname: Love is Hell
Title: Daughter of Lilith
Word Count: 71,000
Genre: YA Paranormal


As a half-demon, sixteen-year-old Ariel rips souls from the living as casually as mortals order coffee.

Raised by her abusive headmistress, Batal, Ariel blindly accepts all humans as a blight on the world. But when a car accident leaves her stranded, a minister’s son, Mike Flannery, goes beyond the call of duty to help. His genuine concern forces Ariel to question her education.

Mike’s kindness and sincerity suggests he’s not the filthy slime her teacher claims him to be. She soon realizes he brings out something in her she didn’t know she had - humanity. Feeling deceived, Ariel runs away and vows to never again let Batal or anyone else manipulate her. However, Batal is not about to let one of her pawns escape without a fight.

Now the renegade demon realizes letting Mike into her life endangers them both. Ariel is faced with a choice as cruel as the punishments she endured from her teacher. She can deny her new feelings and walk away to protect Mike from the creatures of Hell, or confront her sadistic headmistress, risking an eternity of suffering for a chance at love.

First 250:

I stand over the young woman asleep on her side, next to a male. An elongated pillow rests between her knees and under her enlarged belly.

Searching the bedroom – as I must – I look for any signs that would prevent me from fulfilling my duty. As usual, there are none. No one from today remembers the ancient agreement.

I return to the bed. Glaring down at her mate, the corners of my mouth tighten into a scowl. How can any self-respecting female allow a son of Adam to defile her? The bile in my stomach churns creating a bitter taste in my mouth, making me want to spit. Control, Ariel. Stay in control.

I’m not here for him. He is not my purpose. I must serve the Mother the way I’m expected. Taking a deep breath, I return to my task.

Holding out my hand, palm facing down I listen to the expectant mother’s breathing. Her heartbeat comes into focus, slow and rhythmic. Moving my hand so it hovers over her belly, another heartbeat emerges, faster but still harmonious – the child’s.

Directing all my attention on the mother’s womb, a gentle, soft glow made from thousands of faintly illuminated sand-like particles rise from the woman’s stomach. It grows in intensity as I gradually lift my hand. The crystals follow, collecting below my open palm forming into a baseball size orb.

It always fascinates me, what the soul looks like outside of the body, maybe because I don’t have one myself, none of us half-breeds do.


  1. Allusion AssassinJune 21, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    I think I've said all I can on both of these entries already and neither one changed much.


  2. Princess PrimroseJune 21, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Two great entries, and again, I must go with a personal preference.


  3. Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper: Not a fan of 'beautiful man' in the query, it's cheesy and a lazy description. First page is good, we get Ella's strong character straight away and we also dive into the story of her father being missing which makes me want to read on.

    Love is Hell: Your query is very good, and gets across the story well. Am less of a fan of the opening page. The tone doesn't feel YA to me, but adult. I think because it's so serious and creepy. There are also too many sentences beginning with 'I', and the voice sounds too formal. Also I don't know what's happening here by the end of the first 250, and I think it'd be much more hooky if I had more info. But what I'm guessing is she's killing the baby or stealing it's soul, which is just way too grim for me (and for a YA protagonist imo).

    I think the second entry has a better query, but I'll always weigh the first page more heavily, so VICTORY TO BEAUTY AND THE CRAZY KIDNAPPER.

  4. This late in the game, I'm basing my picks solely on which book I'd be most likely to dig into first if both were on my shelf.

    Not much to add for either of these that I didn't metnion in the last rounds. Both are very clear queries and have interested premises. I think here it's going to come down to a matter of personal tastes.


  5. I think these entries are both so polished, which means I'll be picking based on personal preference. The premise for one book appealed to me slightly more than the other (I'm afraid I have shape shifter fatigue!).

    Victory to LOVE IS HELL!

  6. Love is Hell. I agree that the first page reads a little mature, it seems like its probably fitting for what this character IS but do be careful you don't go too far past YA. I love this concept and this is one that really comes down to pure subjectivity. I love Beauty and The Kidnapper but i find myself really wanting to know more about Love Is Hell (in a good way)

    Victory to Love Is Hell

  7. BEAUTY & THE CRAZY KIDNAPPER: I've seen this entry and what stands out to me as far as changes is the 250! Kudos for tightening up your 250...I'm impressed. : )

    LOVE IS HELL: This one loses me a bit in the query and pages because it's YA but, for me, it doesn't read as YA. I would love a little more of a YA voice and feel in the query and pages---but that's just my opinion. I do love that you've found a way to showcase the uniqueness of your story. You've done well in showcasing your premise and having it standout. So high-five on that!

    xoxoSally Draper

  8. Both of these entries are really strong, so I had to read them each a few times. I love the premise for BEAUTY, because I'm a sucker for fairy-tale retellings, but the writing in LOVE really drew me in.


  9. BEAUTY & THE CRAZY KIDNAPPER: My biggest question after reading the query, is how does Dad not get the police to come save her? Does he agree to all of this. At this point, that looms as a large plot hole, though I'm sure you've addressed it somehow. The voice seems to make up for it though. Small thing: first sentence reads a bit like a question. Just a thought. I do feel like the query could be tighter in places. "Ella willingly..." is a long-winded repeat of stuff we already know.

    First 250 has a lot of dialog. Not a bad thing, but you do just tell us Ella isn't into Tyler. Maybe SHOW us instead how his charms aren't working. Everyone is into him, but it just makes Ella roll her eyes internally. I don't know. But some kind of flavor of Ella would be lovely.

    Strong first hook. Do love that. Technically speaking, I couldn't find much wrong with your query. It his enough voice to get what the character feels. It is fairly tight and reads smoothly. But I feel like I've read this before. The premise, the character voice. I really, really want to see something new. Of course strong writing will make up for that so let's move on to the 250...

    ...which also flowed well. Had great descriptions. It is strong writing, but I felt like it still lacked that uniqueness in her character. She's so "as expected" already. Doesn't need to be funny, mind you. I know, I'm being nitpicky here. Please take it as such. But at this point in the competition and in querying, you'll get a lot of that. Could just be not for me because I can't connect emotionally or because it felt too familiar. Still, a great job overall.


    In the query, I would get rid of the last line “But a true beast would never give up so easily.” You don’t need it. It isn’t clear what exactly you mean. Is Lucian not a true beast? Are there some of his kind who aren’t true beasts? I think the line just raises unnecessary questions. Besides “Ella must decide if her old, normal life is really where she belongs,” tells me all I need to know. Great query!

    The first 250: I found this opening stilted. For example: “he’s probably with someone at that conference you mentioned.” This is just for the reader’s benefit. This doesn’t feel like the conversation these 2 people would have. Here is another example: “Besides, you said he never checked in at the Lexington Hotel.” If they’ve already had this conversation, she would just say “the hotel,” not the whole name.
    I love the concept and the query is excellent, but the 250 didn’t quite work for me.

    LOVE IS HELL: I’ve commented on this one twice before, and it hasn’t changed from the last time.


  11. Victory to Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper

  12. I have to agree with OmarComin here--from the first 250 of Love is Hell, I have to assume she's taking the soul of the unborn baby, and that's way too dark for me personally and I think on the grim side for YA in general (though that is certainly more subjective). I also am not seeing anything in the query that really leaps out for me as being hooky or really unique compared to other YA paranormal plots, and this genre is such a hard sell right now that you really need a little something extra. As for Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper, I've already commented on that one; the premise sounds fabulous, and Beauty-and-the-beast plots are my weak spot... but I worry that the characters feel one-dimensional (and, to me, somewhat annoyingly so) right now. That being said, VICTORY TO BEAUTY AND THE CRAZY KIDNAPPER.

  13. This is rough because these both sound amazing. I really like LOVE IS HELL because I think it is a fun spin on demons. But I have to attempt that BEAUTY AND THE CRAZY KIDNAPPER sounds really good! Because I love retellings and I think it's a great twist on Beauty and the Beast...


  14. I love both of these entries. They're both really solid. It's hard to choose, but since I have to I'm voting for the one I really wish I could read RIGHT NOW.
    Victory to LOVE IS HELL

  15. Mrs. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 23, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    I agree that both of these entries are solid and I think they've both made amazing tweaks from the last round. That being said, I have to go with the one that feels the most original and the one that I want to hear more from ---


  16. BEAUTY: Great query, but I wanted more voice out of the first 250. I didn't connect with the character, and the conflict didn't feel immediate enough.

    LOVE IS HELL: Solid query, nice sample. A few punctuation issues, but lots of voice.


  17. So sorry but the last 3 votes don't count because they passed the time deadline to submit votes!