Saturday, June 21, 2014

QK Round 3: WEEL vs. Tag, You're Dead

Entry Nickname: WEEL
Title: Who's Eating Eric Lynch?
Word count: 116,000
Genre: Adult Horror Comedy


Misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, Eric Lynch’s hallucinations are actually precognition. Enter a demon who absorbs supernatural powers, and Eric’s about to become demon chow—unless he can convince a group of rogue angels that his deadbeat ass is worth protecting.

Working for minimum wage at a retail store, trying his best not to end up back in the asylum for a third time…it’s not like Eric is next in line for winning the Nobel Prize. So why are demons always so drawn to him, particularly this one nasty manticore who’s been hiding in his closet since he was thirteen?

Well, okay. Maybe it’s because not only can Eric see the future, but he can manipulate time too. Prophet is what the angels call him. The precognition, the time manipulation—that’s exactly why Eric is so appetizing. The only reason the manticore hasn’t eaten Eric yet is because it’s waiting for Eric’s powers to ripen. And let’s face it, a demon able to manipulate time means trouble for everyone.

After tracking a group of angels to their hideout, it doesn't take much convincing to get them on Eric’s side. Maybe too much on his side. Eric soon discovers once the manticore has been dealt with, these angels are likely to lock him up so they can use his Prophetic powers to fulfill their own demon-hunting agenda.

Angelic weapon or prime rib? Either way, Eric might be screwed.

First 250 words:

They say the human brain can survive for three seconds after decapitation. I’m talking full-blown cognizant thought, where you can move your mouth and blink your eyes. It makes you wonder what kind of expletives might shoot through your head, especially when you see your body lying on the floor beside you. And hopefully it’s not one of those embarrassing situations where your head goes rolling across the carpet, because then your final moments are nothing but dizziness, trying to puke from a stomach no longer attached to your mouth.

This subject came up a few months ago when one of my psychiatrists asked me what I think about when I have nothing else on my mind, most notably while trying to fall asleep or taking a shower. According to her, low brain activity is a subconscious beehive ready to burst. She believed my inner musings might be to blame for my tipping sanity—at the very least my insomnia—and it was only a matter of time before I was stung by another violent impulse.

“Maybe now we’ll get to the bottom of all your…issues, Eric,” she said at the end of our last meeting while patting me on the knee, laughing.

She was such a bi—…nice lady.

That night they found her bloody corpse sprawled across her living room floor. The reports said her body looked like it was mauled by a giant cat, head ripped off and missing. Two days after the investigation, her husband found her stolen head inside their microwave.


Entry Nickname:
Tag, You’re Dead
Title: Tag, You’re Dead (originally The Game)
Word count: 80K
Genre: YA Thriller


When six teenagers play Tag in present-day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: surgically-enhanced Brandy is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; untalented Robin desires his target's position on the school basketball team; and brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal.

Three hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; superstar athlete William; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. These three want only one thing…to survive.

As soon as the Runners receive the “Go” on smart watches locked onto their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its, which diminishes the Runners’ chances of ever reaching Home Base alive.

The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?

TAG, YOU’RE DEAD alternates among the POVs of all six players in the Game – who will live to see it end?

First 250 words:


Friday, 8:00 PM

“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all.”

“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”

Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?”

A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”

“I don’t care. I can do it.”

Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”

“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”

“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”

Silence sizzled over the speaker.

“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”

“Did so,” Brandy said.

“Bran, honey, please.”

The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.


  1. Allusion AssassinJune 21, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    This was one of the two rounds I was dreading judging the most. I love both of these entries.

    TAG - Loved the small changes in the query and the opening 250. I think that one line in the query, combined with the new headings in the 250 really clears up the POV issue. Also, I think going back to the original softer query language was a good move. Sometimes you don't need to tweak a good thing.

    My vote is purely a personal choice on premise I like most.


  2. Princess PrimroseJune 21, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    WEEL, while your premise was funny and intriguing, I felt the query itself to be a bit too rambling. I also found the first 250 lacked focus and I didn't really connect with Eric's voice.

    TAG YOU'RE IT, the only suggestion I'd make is to this line: "The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?"

    I think it could be greatly enhanced if you got rid of the third option ("or find a way to use..."). Just giving the reader the first two options makes us go, "Oh my gosh. That's terrible. How are they going to get out of this mess?" But as soon as I read option 3, I thought, "Oh, right. This isn't going to be as edge-of-the-seat as I thought." Though you could definitely use option 3 in the course of your novel as events play out naturally, putting it right there in the query feels like an "out" and diminishes the urgency of your plot.

    That said, I did really love your premise and your first 250.


  3. Both of these are the same as when I saw them before - except I see Tag, You're Dead is now the official title (I like it much better!) and we also now know that we'll get all six POVs, which is great info to have.

    Weel is very good, but I think the first page could read more smoothly (for example, after having a lengthy opening para, it would be nice to balance that with a short one afterwards, not another long one on a different topic) and I'd like the humour to come across more clearly right from the start if it's supposed to be a comedy.

    Tag, on the other hand - well, I wouldn't change a word. I am DYING to read this book!


  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.

    WEEL vs TAG
    Both of these have strong premises and interesting voice in the writing sample. The queries are also both clear and concise. I've heard that angels/demons are a VERY hard sell right now, and personally, I'm in the mood for something new, too, so for this match-up...

    Victory to TAG, YOU'RE DEAD.

  5. WEEL and TAG, I've seen both these entries before and LOVE how you've revised! Great job, both of you!

    WEEL, I wonder if you really need the first paragraph of your 250; it didn't hook me immediately the way I was hoping it would.

    TAG, really nice work on changing up your opening page!

    Based on which of these novels I'd start reading right now if I could...

    Victory to TAG, YOU'RE DEAD!

  6. So I'm really angry that these two were put against each other. I DON'T WANT TO CHOOSE! *pouts* These are my favorite two in the bunch.

    Who's Eating Eric Finch, when I fist read this I thought no one could beat it. I LOVE the voice so hard. But I also love Tag, You're Dead and I could justify voting either way but I'm going to vote based on the story that stuck with me longer. The one that had me thinking about it days later.

    Victory to Tag, You're Dead.

    *weeps* sorry Weel!!

  7. WEEL: I remember reading this. It's sick and twisted and I love the changes that have been made. And yes, we all know angel demon stories are a tough sell right now but what you've done really gives it a fresher and more unique feel, so congrats on that--WOW! It feels like there is nothing more you can do to sell this to the right agent or pub. (IMO)

    TAG: This premise is pretty amazing! The problem I have though, is that the query is reading like an instruction manual on how to play the game. I wanted more story and overall, to be pulled into this awesome and creepy premise. The 250 were really great though and almost makeup for the query. I do think that the last line needs work--I'm sure you elaborate after but from a 250 sample standpoint--that last line could be better. I want this book!

    I'm going to be honest here, I would read TAG in a heartbeat and WEEL is not something I'd pick up BUT I feel the query for TAG needs more work than WEEL. I think based on premise and first pages, TAG will get tons of requests and I can't wait to see read about this author getting an agent and book deal! But...based on the name of the game QUERY KOMBAT, I'm giving this VICTORY TO: WEEL
    xoxoSally Draper

  8. WEEL – Horror Comedy, huh? Well, I’ll admit you got me in both! I laughed AND I cringed, all in just a short query and 250 words. That takes loads of talent. Love the concept and the writing. Way to go.

    TAG – I still like the concept. Very unique. I like that we get more personal in the first 250 this time. I did have a bit a hard time following, though, given that the world has its own rules.
    These two are excellent! At this point, I’m afraid I have to go with personal favorite.


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  10. WEEL- This sounds a lot like Supernatural and I love Supernatural so this is right up my alley. Horror comedy isn't something I've seen before but judging by the voice in the first 250, I think the label captures this story perfectly! The only thing I noticed in the query that made me wonder is the hook mentions that Eric is going to have to convince the angels to save him and then we find out that there isn't much convincing needed which makes me wonder why it was there in the beginning. However, since no one else noticed or mentioned this, I'm not sure it needs to be changed. I love the concept of demons eating humans for their superpowers and I think the info in the query and first 250 is presented really well!

    TAG- I love the concept for this! I wasn't sure I was going to get the game but I think the query lays it out nicely. I also wasn't sure I wanted to be in Brandy's head until I was put there in the first 250 and found myself addicted to her brattiness! I'd love to keep reading and find out where this is going.

    This is tough because both entries are really strong.


  11. Ms. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 23, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Oh my gosh this is a hard one.

    Weel - This was so funny. Your query captured the tone and set the story, and you first 250 read seamlessly.

    Tag - I really think your query could have used a little more voice - it seemed like a lot of telling. I know it's hard with six different perspectives but after reading your first 250 I totally believe you can do it. Awesome opening... totally took me in to the world -- a world I didn't really see in the query! Do it justice!!!

    I've been saying this all night but I'll say it again --- tough! I'm going to go with the entry that seemed more seamless and made me laugh... VICTORY TO WEEL!

  12. WEEL: The query felt a little rambly to me, like each paragraph was starting anew, instead of picking up where the last left off. The first 250 was solid, though, and I loved the last image.

    TAG: Solid query, though it was difficult to connect to any of the characters. Great voice in the sample, but I'd like to see a paragraph setting the scene before we launch into dialogue. I'm also not sure we need four separate people in that short span--Brandy, the referee, and her father would probably be enough.


  13. Girl with the Golden PenJune 23, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    UGH, NO! I don't WANT to pick between these two! They have such fun voice and concept. I don't know what to do!

    WEEL: First time seeing this one but it has SUCH good voice. I love angels and demons too even though they are a hard sell. They have a special place in my heart. Good job.

    TAG: I loved this one from the beginning and I love how you changed the intro this time. All of this potential for psychological thrills is really peaking my interest.

    I don't want to choose, but going with my gut... I choose TAG. BUT I LOVE YOU WEEL!

  14. Victory to Tag, You're Dead. (which I think should be your title.)