Thursday, August 7, 2014

Become an Agent #4

Title: Kiwaku
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 50,000


Dying is one thing, but soul transference is a whole other issue.

Seventeen year-old Max has decided this is the year he will ask his first love out. Two problems: she is his best friend, and a newcomer has stolen her attention. If that is not bad enough, the new guy is trying to steal her soul. Confronting his love only leads to anger and heartbreak. Rejection sucks when trying to save a girl who does not want to be saved.

A broken heart can make a person do stupid things. When Max wrecks his car, his soul is thrown from his body and transferred into the form of his spirit animal, a white fox. He is stuck as a fox until he can find a way back into his comatose body. Max must get his human skin back and save the love of his life from a certain soul-sucker. If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse, and he will be stuck as a fox forever.

Kiwaku is a 50,000 word YA Paranormal Romance loosely based around Pawnee mythology.


The engine revved, feeding my anger and hurt as I pressed on the gas. The car jerked to the right without warning, fishtailing. My heart slammed against my chest. The tires screeched as I tried to brake. I had barely gotten control when my headlights caught the glint of yellow-green eyes. I swerved. My last thought before the impact was I wouldn’t be able to save Rylee from him. Forever, by Papa Roach blared in the background as darkness engulfed me.

Three Months Earlier

A light breeze tickled my skin, sending chills down my arms, as I walked to my Mustang. My strides quickened at the prospect of seeing Rylee’s radiant face light up. The car was warm as I slid across the hood to the driver side and jumped in. She sauntered down the steps when I pulled up to her two-story Victorian-style house. She wore a low cut, white and green button up shirt with a matching skirt that barely covered anything.

My heart pounded like a bass drum as she walked towards me. Her shoulder length brown hair lightly bounced while her emerald green eyes pierced my heart. There was no calming my heart, as soon as she smiled it soared, taking me with it.

"Hi," she said as she opened the car door and slid in, "so I hear that you are going on a date with Kali."

I groaned to myself. It was another chink in my armor at the way she said it.

Title: Kiwaku
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Word count: 50.000


Dying is one thing, but soul transference is a whole other issue.

When seventeen-year-old Max wrecks his car after being rejected, his soul is thrown from his body. His essence is transferred into the form of his spirit animal, a white fox. It’s the same one from his dreams. He is stuck as a fox until he can find a way back into his comatose body. Max must get his human skin back and save the love of his life from a certain soul-sucking newcomer. Even if she was the one who broke his heart in the first place.

If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse that only the newcomer can control, and he will be stuck as a fox forever. Even if he can somehow get it back, there may be a higher price. To truly save his love, he must give his life freely, no hesitation.

Kiwaku is a 50,000 word YA Paranormal Romance loosely based around Pawnee mythology.

First 250:

The engine revved, feeding the flames as I pressed on the gas. Why didn’t she believe me? That kiss…it had been something. After everything we had been through, she couldn’t even trust me. Ugh, why did I have to pick that moment…that moment to tell her. Damn it! I punched the roof. Pain reverberated through my fist. I didn’t care. My foot smashed the pedal to the floorboard. The car jerked to the right without warning, fishtailing. I hissed; the seatbelt dug into my shoulder. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel. My heart thrashed against my chest. The world around me spun. Trees blurred and shifted in my vision. A wave of nausea crashed over me. My foot instinctively slammed on the brake. Tires screeched. I had barely gotten control when my headlights caught the glint of yellow-green eyes. I swerved. Forever, by Papa Roach blared in the background. Rylee…I love you…Darkness engulfed me.

Three Months Earlier

Today was going to be the day. I wasn’t going to hesitate like last time. Best friend or not I was going through with it, consequences be damned. She sauntered down the steps when I pulled up to her two-story Victorian-style house. My breath hitched. She wore a low cut, white and green button up shirt with a matching skirt that barely covered anything. Damn…

My heart pounded like a bass drum as she walked towards me. Her shoulder length brown hair lightly bounced while her emerald green eyes pierced my heart.


  1. I love your hook, But your query leaves me with questions. It's not clear why he must save this girl when she already broke his heart. And why is he doomed to stay a fox if her soul is taken? There is something about thse story that sounds interesting, but it needs a little work to polish it up.
    For the 250, the opening falls flat. You are telling me he's angry. Show, don't tell. You tell me what the girl looks like but not in a way that shows me what kind of girl she is. You tell me about the surroundings but not in a way that really convey who this guy is or the girl. Does he see her house as run-down and feel sorry for her? Does he see it as a step up from his own situation and feel jealous? These descriptions need to be more from inside his head, not like a reporter on the street telling me the scene. It didn't pull me in at all.

    No. (from #11)

  2. Query
    There’s a lot a like in this query. You have some great, short, sharp lines that tell me I’ll see the same in the MS. It also tells me you are not prone to wasting words to fill voids – bonus!
    The query did what it needed to do, that is, to read the page attached 

    1st 250
    I read your first 250 3 times. I actually set this aside to see what else was in my list of 7 as I could not make up my mind. In the end, I decided I didn’t really like the way you began it – that first bit reminded me of a mini prologue and I loathe them as I think most are not needed. Even so, it was short and the rest of the 250 did sway me to think I’d like to red more.
    I’m still not convinced I will ‘love’ this MS but I was drawn into it enough to, eventually, make this a YES 

    YES - #7

  3. I thought the query was interesting. Having your character turn into a fox part way through the book makes it stand out for sure. But if she rejected him why would he still want to save her? I feel like if you add that part in and make us feel for your main character. Also how does he feel becoming a fox? How does he react? I feel like this becoming a fox is a big part of your book but we only get a little snippit at the end.
    Your 250 is good. I liked the mini paragraph/prolouge thing. But after that I was like "why do I care that he is now sliding across the Mustang and now is driving to someone's house" You could just start with him already there to pick her up, and how he feels about her.
    Overall I liked the query and 250, just not enough to say yes.

  4. I had to reread the query a few times to get an understanding of the story, because many of the lines felt disconnected from one another. The tagline is okay, but feels as if it has no connection to the next paragraph, or at least not enough in the opening sentence. Like the tagline is there and - oh look a squirrel! (if that makes any sense). The query still doesn't quite explain to me why the MC would love his crush, other than that she's a girl and he's a boy, or why she might catch the eye of the evil villain. I'm also uncomfortable with the line about a girl not wanting to be saved. Why would she not want to be saved? Does being saved obligate her sexually towards the MC? Because most girls are kind of against that sort of thing. But most girls really do want to get rescued from something trying to literally eat them. So the second paragraph about confronting his love comes off like "i love you, this guy is evil, so be my girlfriend or this bad guy will kill you" or worse, "be my girlfriend or else".

    This is something I would love to see in a polished form but overall it feels like it is still in its rough draft stages. I would end up giving a no with a 'please feel free to query with more stuff'.

    No (#5)

  5. The hook doesn't tell me anything really, but I liked it. I'm sort of confused after finishing the query. I understand that the second paragraph is giving some back story or something, maybe? But it doesn't flow right.

    The opening paragraph isn't as exciting as it should be. Chop those sentences off. It will keep the reader moving, which is what you want in an action scene or during fits of anger. Also, instead of telling me what she wore, make me feel the MC's reaction to what she's wearing. That will help show instead of tell and it will also help me connect to your MC.

    I like that you told us your story was connected to Pawnee mythology. I think that's a valuable add-in that agents will like!

    I'm sorry but this was a no for me.

    No. (non-contestant)

  6. The query loses me pretty much when you say "Two problems," and then immediately give me three problems. Then I keep reading, and ok, could be interesting.... but then you give me this:
    "If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse, and he will be stuck as a fox forever."

    What others? You've got an entire BOOK OF ZOMBIES, and you didn't think to mention it until the last line? I want to see that earlier. Don't wait until the stakes to tell me what's interesting about the book. Also, it reads a little like, "If he can't find a way not to be stuck as a fox.... he'll be stuck as a fox." I'd look for a way to up the urgency in the stakes. And mention the walking corpses earlier.

    In the first 250, there are too many sentences "This happened, as something else happened." If you're using "as" the events should be somehow connected. Otherwise consider, When X, Y or While X, Y or even X happened and Y happened. But be careful with using "as" as a connector where it doesn't really belong.

    This is a no for me. I just don't feel like I have a good enough idea of the story.

  7. I like the concept -- especially the idea of the mc becoming a fox. I imagine the chapters written through his fox eyes will give the story an interesting perspective. That said, the query didn't quite grab me. After re-reading, I got what you meant in the 'He is stuck as a fox until he can find...' line, but think it needs reworking. As it currently reads, it first gave me the impression that his recovery hinged on saving her. The paragraph opening with 'A broken heart...' also raised questions -- since in that same paragraph he once again refers to his best friend as the love of his life. Perhaps stick with 'best friend' rather than 'love of his life' there? Also, does he want to save her -- his best friend -- or win a girl friend by saving her from the soul sucker?

    The first 250 - The opening paragraph felt rushed to me. I wondered at him noting a small detail like eye color as his car slides out of control. If this is the sort of moment where time feels like it's slowed, perhaps throw in a few more details? I would also have liked some gut reaction as he loses control of the car, to bring the moment closer.

    On a very minor note, you might want to reorder the following sentence to avoid to sentences in a row starting with 'She...': (She sauntered down the steps) When I pulled, she sauntered down the steps.

    This was a tough call for me, but I landed on NO (#9)

  8. We all know Paranormal Romance is a hard sell, but I'm going to pretend that I'm an agent looking for the next book for those paranormal romance fans.

    The phrase "If that's not bad enough," in the query letter was a throw-away phrase. But I wasn't going to hold that against you. If your 250 delivered, then I was going to give you a chance.

    And it did. Sort of.

    That first paragraph has to go. I know you are trying to show the car accident first, but it doesn't work. I know right away that I'll be coming back to that car accident eventually, but I don't know when and I'm not sure yet if I want to stick around to find out.

    That said, the rest of it was good. But I think it could be better. I think you can shorten the sentences and make it more gripping. I want to feel the anticipation of a young man getting ready to pick up his girl. But I don't. And I'm mildly curious why Rylee talks about Kali. Oh! I just re-read the query and Rylee is supposed to be his best friend. But I don't feel that relationship either.

    So my vote is
    NO (from the audience)

  9. Hello! So, before I get into this thing, I should warn you that I tend to write a lot on these things. Most of it is me babbling in the hope of giving you an idea or explaining something I said. So if it seems like an intimidating wall of text, it’s to help, not to hurt. :)

    I’m not feeling your hook. It doesn’t even make sense to me. I’d cut it altogether and start with the second paragraph (with the caveat that you should clean it up a little, as it is a little clunky as-is).

    That said, I LOVE the line about the new guy trying to steal her soul. If anything, I’d ditch the best friend bit and just have the sentence say something like: “The only problem: she’s dating a guy who’s trying to steal her soul” or however you’d write it in Maxwell’s voice. Just some advice to ease things along.

    You lost me in the last paragraph. :/ I don’t know who “the others” are, or why Max MUST go save this girl who’s apparently a jerk to him. You haven’t introduced the plot well enough for your stakes to make sense just yet.

    Also, where’s the voice? YA queries generally ooze voice. I’m not getting much of one from yours, which I’d highly advise rectifying. A strong voice can win an agent’s attention, even if your stakes aren’t totally clear. After all, at the end of the day, your writing is what gets a contract, not your ability to compose the most perfect query to ever exist.

    All that said, I’d be all the heck over a paranormal romance based on Native mythology. That’s a side of paranormal I’ve never encountered. I’m especially interested in this thing about him being a fox. Can people see him? Or is this an IF I STAY kind of thing? Anyway, super cool concept. Excited to start the 250 words based on it, and paranormal romance isn't even my usual pick for a genre. :D

    I really, really, REALLY do not like that opening paragraph. It feels like a cheap grab for my attention, and not a particularly effective one, at that. I don’t know the narrator, so I have no reason to care if he dies. That sounds heartless as heck, but that’s how my reader-side is feeling. My writer-side can’t help but think that the presentation itself is weak and predictable. I feel like I’ve read and watched similar lethal accidents thousands of times, and they feel like a gimmicky appeal to my feelers every time.

    I do like how you immediately show the narrator’s total twitterpation for Rylee. I just wish it was in a more dynamic scene. They’re not DOING anything. They’re just talking. This opening scene isn’t propelling the plot or revealing much about either character, except that Max has the hots for Rylee. But I knew that from the query.

    Regrettably, this is a no for me. The writing just isn’t there yet. I think if you chose a different, more interesting place to start, I’d be a lot more into it.

  10. I loved your concept. LOVED. I'm am very very intrigued.

    But I also feel like you could use some straightening out in your query. I got confused when I read it the first time. I love the idea behind it, but I feel like your sentences could be rearranged and trimmed so they are easier on the reader to follow. I hate hearing this on my own work, so I can feel your groan at this point.

    Your first 250 could also use some straightening. I don't feel like these are terrible flaws, but I do feel like they make your work not as competitive as some of the other entries. I'm going to say it again: I LOVE your concept. The problem is that I feel like there's a lot of polish you could give this manuscript on your own. Sometimes, the first page is stiff because you're just getting into the voice of the character, and that's my concern here. I feel like we're just meeting and they're as awkward to have me listening in as I am to be listening to them (wow, existential moment--feel free to disregard), so maybe try telling the story with more of a feel for how they would tell the story to a very best friends or a loved one. I really hope that makes sense. To sum up: look at your sentence and ask yourself what you are trying to say and compare that to what you are actually saying in words. It won't take long before you can identify where things can be smoothed (and also remember that it's just my opinion, and I'm just one lonely writer).

    A very sorry No, but I think you can probably make this really great with some elbow grease. (#20)

  11. Revision Crit -

    I think this revision is a step in the right direction! You added some great visceral details to the car crash scene, and did a fantastic job cutting the girlfriend description to just the right length. I think there are more things you can do to to continue to improve it:

    Query - I love the premise! I think you should go into a little more detail on the villain, though. Right now you kind of skim by and imply him. If you can go more into the risks of failure and the dangers they're in, it'll raise the stakes. If you can go more into the emotional stakes in the query as well, so much the better! Make us really feel the awful situation he's in.

    First 250 - I have a few suggestions here:

    I'd break up the car crash paragraph. I think this will have more impact if you break it up for dramatic effect.

    I wouldn't start with the car crash. I don't think you gain anything by putting it first -- we're not invested in him yet, and it's a short flash which would have way more impact told in chronological order. Also, car crashes are often on agents' shortlist of scenes not to start with.

    I'd also try to vary sentence length more and avoid cliche phrases like "pierced my heart."

    Overall, this is a No for me, but a step in the right direction!

    Good luck!


  12. i'm really not liking the opening paragraph. we jump into this car wreck before i've had a chance to know or care about the mc. still no for me.

  13. The query is better now. I like that you kept that first line. The words 'soul transference' make me want to keep reading. Did you realize you used 'even if' in both paragraphs? Changing one of those would help you.

    Wow...much better 250. I like the short, fast sentences you've flowed so much better than before. If I were you, I'd go ahead and break it up some though, make two or three paragraphs out of it. I like the 'Damn...' you threw in there, it just sounds so teenage boy when confronted with a good looking girl.

    Best of luck!

  14. I liked the revisions and thought the query was much stronger though I was a bit thrown by the 'she will become like the others' line. Perhaps add in something about this villain and his impact on Max's world. Love the soul transference idea.

    The first 250 feels much cleaner and the car crash scene is much more visceral. I'm not sold on the order of the story. I'm sure you have a reason for starting there rather than at the '3 months earlier' point, but I think I'd feel more invested in the crash scene if I'd already connected with the driver. That said, you've piqued my curiosity and I'd keep on reading. (#9).