Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Haunted Writing Clinic (Take 2!)

Man, what a rush! I have so many wonderful people commenting on my query both from the Haunted Writing Clinic and just from other connections I've made. To say that I am grinning ear to ear is an understatement. You guys rock!

And I am listening to what you are saying! :) I've got a new draft cooked up and ready to go for you guys! Let me know what you think!

Zelene scoffs at the horoscopes in the back of Cosmo. Predictions about your love life are almost as ridiculous as the idea that she is part of an ancient prophecy that foretells five girls bringing about the end of a generations-long power struggle among the worlds. Almost.

When assassins use magic to try to kill her, she is forced to change her tone. She is taken to her homeworld of Estridia by Varrick, her “cool uncle” that is really a warrior blood bound to her for life. For every answer he gives her, she is only left with more questions. Like how did he hide the fact that she has a twin sister? And where is she? The answers leave her shaken. Her twin Ariana has been captured by the rebel Cahirans. They intend on killing the four girls and then sacrificing Ariana in a ritual meant to steal her power. Safe in Estridia, Zelene is told to focus on her training and let the elders worry about Ariana. But Zelene has never been the best at doing what she is told.

She finds herself torn between her need to save the sister she has never known and her longing to return to the simple life she never appreciated before now. But how is she supposed to go against an army of Cahirans when she finds that her ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her? And can she really trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

HEIRS OF WAR is an Adult (or New Adult depending on who I am submitting to) Epic Fantasy at 137k that will appeal to readers of the Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin and The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. With five main characters aged between 18-24, HEIRS OF WAR also has cross over appeal for young adult audiences and potential to be a five-book series.  


  1. Hi Mara! Your query looks good :) I'm not sure you need to mention GRR Martin and Terry Goodkind at the end, though. Your query has a great voice and "epic fantasy" kinda says it all. Just a thought.

  2. Hello! Very good query! I don't have anything to add. Loved the voice.

  3. All right. I am going to be hard on you because I know you can take it and I REALLY want to see this book on shelves so I can read it. Your first para, which I am assuming is your hook, is good. However, the others need some work. There are way too many proper nouns. I had this exact same problem in my query because I kept trying to shove more plot points in then I needed to. The part about her uncle is cool, but not necessary. I would take it out because it just slows down you query. The other distracting factor about this query is all the question marks. In every successful query I have ever seen, I've never seen this done. Typically you want the agent to be thinking this questions, not spell it out for them. I feel like it just drags down your query with what agents will see as an obvious ploy to garner interest. I would also cut the last two lines started with "With all that is at stake to she's getting her sister back" you just gave away the ending, so the stakes fall really flat. You want to only give your ending away in the synopsis.
    I think your personalization is good. Your comp titles are pretty good. I definately get the Sword of Truth series vibe(which I love). GoT reference is iffy. Since it is so popular, most agents will assume this reference as you not knowing what else is in the adult epic fantasy pool instead of a genuine comparison. I might think about changing it to the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan or (more recently and probably better comp) Warbreaker series by Brandon Sanderson.
    So now that I have left the second longest comment in existance and you are probably thinking I am a massive asshat to break down your query again, I am done.
    Good luck! I really do want to read this book some day and it has so much potential!

    1. Also, i understand how important Estridia is, so it is the only proper noun I would leave besides Zelene. As soon as most agents hit a word they can't pronounce, they either become lest interested or reject it. I would only ever refer to Ariana as the twin sister and I would try my hardest to get rid of Cahirans in favor of something simplier and easy to read. You have to remember, the shorter the better. Agents read a lot of queries and if yous has flow, is fast to read, AND interesting, you've pretty much got yourself a request.

    2. Haha I don't think you are an asshat Jessica! Now that I know you were looking at both, I can get a better idea of what you are saying. And I'm glad you are so excited about it! I'm a little iffy about referencing titles I haven't read yet (WoT is on my list but I got strong-armed into GoT first). I can take out the GoT reference though. It's mainly alike in how its written from multiple POV shifts from what I can tell so far.

      I can see how you would think I gave away the ending, but I really didn't. She decides to go after her, but whether she actually does it...That point is actually the climax of the story, when she decides to go after Ariana herself.

      I can definitely change the questions to her inner thoughts and worries, because those questions are sort of what she is up against right now.

      Hmm...too many proper nouns. When I've taken them out, there have been questions but I can certainly try again. I can definitely take out Estridia and Cahira but I have been told that Varrick and Ariana need to be named in the query since the book opens with Ariana's story from Varrick's POV.

      And you are absolutely right. I can definitely take it so be as hard on me as you think is necessary! =D

    3. Ah, now that I know it opens in her uncle's perspective, that makes more sense. Of chooses to go after Ariana is the climax, I still wouldn't give it away. Having that last line, though I love it dearly, makes you feel like 'eh, the stakes are that important'. Now, if she is all like ' I'm going to be totally badass and save my sister' and then halfway there be like 'woah, this is not a good idea' then I would change it to something like, 'zelena forsakes the elders and her uncles trust when she goes after her twin only to find being a hero isn't exactly as easy as movies make it seem'
      That's my two sense at least. :) glad to see I'm not on the shit list yet!!

  4. I have to say, the voice in this query is amazing! I find that it's hard to put voice into one of these things, but you've done it in spades! A couple small suggestions. The first sentence is FANTASTIC. But, the second is a bit long/rambly. I'm not quite sure how to shorten that, but there is probably some way :-) The other nitpicky thing: "uncle that" should be "uncle who." The grammar gnome in my brain refuses to stay silent for long :-P Sounds like an awesome story! Good luck.

  5. Minion here, I think the other comments have covered it, but I agree the voice is great and I too want to know how this one turns out! Good going, and thanks for stopping by my page.

  6. Thanks everyone! You guys are the best!

  7. Hello! Just making the rounds and had a few suggestions.

    1. I think you have a well-crafted premise here that has good appeal for a variety of ages, but since you already have a part of the query that discusses age(Adult or New Adult), I don't think you need the additional sentence about the characters' ages.

    2. In general, I've been told that questions are not as strong as statements in the short space you have with a query, and this is not to say you should EXTERMINATE all questions, but you have four in the first two paragraphs. Maybe consider rewording them slightly.

    3. I know it's hard, but consider cutting some stuff out of the query to keep it tight. For example, Varrick is obviously very important to the plot, but I think you could rewrite that paragraph without mentioning him, given that he only is mentioned by name once, and that he doesn't appear in the latter paragraphs.

    4. I like the opening, and I see the connection you're making, but I wonder if it could be a little stronger. What about: "Zelene has a hard enough time believing horoscopes in the back of Cosmo, so when she's told that she's part of an ancient prophecy, she doesn't exactly leap to embrace her destiny." Blargh, I'm not sure if I like how that turned out. Anyway, I think it might be worth trying to condense it down into one punchy sentence.

  8. This is such an improvement and cutting it down made it easier to follow and grasp! I think if you changed a few of the questions to statements, it would be pretty close to as perfect as can be:)
    I'm putting my revision up tonight. I started from scratch, in a totally new direction, so hopefully it will be awesome:)