Monday, September 18, 2017

Son Of A Pitch #1: FROM SMOKELESS FIRE

Son Of A Pitch Entry #1:

Title: FROM SMOKELESS FIRE
Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000


Query:
When Zahara floats up from a lamp in Daniel Goldstein's NYC apartment, she's a jinn with her own wish: fulfill an easy request from a modern-day sorcerer and trick him into eternal servitude.

Zahara's never been able to live up to her infamous mother's demonic expectations, and a binding magical contract that guarantees her a human thrall would be just the thing to impress her family. But newbie magician Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—to the tune of stopping two fallen angels bent on revenge against humanity. Daniel and Zahara end up on the run in Morocco, dodging paranormal mercenaries and bumbling terrorists, while trying to foil a massacre that will rip open the barrier between the jinn and human worlds and plunge the two sides into a devastating war. As Zahara and Daniel try to keep their friends close, they end up discovering their enemies are even closer.


First 250 Words:
Coming out of the lamp was such a rush. One minute Zahara was nothing but vapor, swirling in the icy storms of the last level of hell. The next, she streamed out into the mundane air of the human sphere. Her flesh solidified into a floating upper torso, while her lower body remained only a tail of black flames licking up around the brass vessel used for the summoning.

And what flesh it was.

Zahara pinched back her shoulder blades and posed with her hands on her hips to better accentuate her breasts. They were huge, because she liked her first impression to be a lasting one.

The resounding crack of thunder that marked the transition into the world of man faded away. With a fanged smile, she faced the sorcerer who had dared to call her, the most notorious jinnayah this side of Baghdad.

"Behold. It is I, Zahara, Dread Spirit of the Endless Desert." She’d made that up on the spot, and it sounded great. "I have journeyed, O Child of Mud and Dirt, from the land of smokeless fire to your dreary realm. What do you call yourself, and what is it you demand of me?"

She had decided to put as much formality into her speech as possible, to further impress upon him how fortunate he was to have summoned such a powerful jinn to do his evil bidding. Not too traditional, of course, since she was speaking in flawless English, not classical Arabic.

8 comments:

  1. Before I get started, I’d like to preface my feedback with the disclaimer that what you do with your query and first page is totally up to you. Take what’s useful from my suggestions, and ditch the rest as you see fit.

    In the first line of the query, I’m a little lost as to who is who, and that diminishes from the punch of this as a logline. The thing that confused me was the length and the ambiguous wording. For instance, float doesn’t seem like the extent of what happens, maybe released. With float, it makes it sound like she wasn’t a jinn before she did the floating. Consider some other verb like summoned or released or freed.
    I like the first line of the next paragraph, but I feel like that sentence is working too hard. In general, it’s best to contain each thought to a single sentence, though there’s nothing wrong with the way it is now.
    Beginning with Newbie magician Daniel, things seem to lose some of their clarity, and I feel like details would be useful to keep us on track. First, what’s at stake? It sounds like the only thing at risk is the ire of someone’s departed grandma, and yet they are taking some really extreme risks. This causes me to think that the motivation isn’t very strong which makes me wonder about the rest of it. I’m concerned because we have paranormal mercenaries, and I want to know who they are and why they are there? Why do they care? I know it’s hard to get all of it into a query, but without that we lack the conflict that could really propel this query to the next level.
    The last sentence of the query is too vague to be useful. I know it sounds cool, but it doesn’t actually say anything about the story, and you don’t have time for anything that doesn’t develop your story (and this is the first time you’ve mentioned either of them have friends). Use this last moment to give us a real detail. Are the bad guys going to start a nuclear war? Are the bad guys really Zahara’s mother’s lackey’s trying to destroy Zahara’s soul forever?
    The reason the stakes need to be really clear is because this query follows the format for a romance query and it’s very light on plot details, conflict. This format coupled with the first 250 that seems to spend a lot of time describing the MC’s body gives me the impression that the book being pitched is a paranormal romance. If it is a paranormal romance, then you should state that upfront in the genre, and if it’s not, you should pull out more of the tension, conflict and stakes in the query letter.

    First 250:
    The whole first paragraph is telling. It keeps us at arm’s length from the MC. We want to feel what it’s like to get pulled between the realms. I’m not a huge fan of spending so much of the first page describing a character, but I do love that she’s messing with the person who summoned her. The only concern is that her aside voice really feels like someone talking to the camera with thought bubbles. And I’m not sure I believe all of it. She was floating in the nothingness and didn’t spend any of that time thinking about how she was going to make an impression when she arrived?
    I was also curious about why she was speaking English rather than Arabic (though, I wouldn’t have questioned it if it hadn’t been mentioned).

    I know I picked on a lot, and you might be wondering if I liked any of it, and I do! I absolutely love the setting and the idea is spot on. I love how she’s messing with him, and this part is just an act. I love it and would totally read more.

    If you have any questions, or want any clarification about my statements here, feel free to drop me a line.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi! It's me! Kathy from #TeamRarity. My comments are my opinions. Please take anything that helps and forget the rest. It's your show.


    When Zahara floats up from a lamp in Daniel Goldstein's NYC apartment, she's a jinn with her own wish: fulfill an easy request from a modern-day sorcerer and trick him into eternal servitude. (This isn't quite a hook and a bit awkward to read. Something about the overall ms...A jinn wishes for a servant, but must work with a magician to stop a war between humans and jinn. That one is terrible, but yeah...)

    (Now intro Zahara... A jinn who can't live up to expectations...how old? Who is she, what does she want?)Zahara's never been able to live up to her infamous mother's demonic expectations (What does this mean...demonic expectations?), and a binding magical contract that guarantees her a human thrall would be just the thing to impress her family. (well, they seem nice.)
    (Is this dual POV? If so make this a new para and intro Daniel. Who he is and what he wants.) But newbie magician Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—to the tune of stopping two fallen angels bent on revenge against humanity. (I love this so much! But maybe split it, for what does one have to do with the other? Newbie magician Daniel wants to do good...stopping angels...humanity, but his Morrocan Grandmother has reached out from...a jinn. But why does she want him to do this? Not that I mind, I THINK THAT IS AWESOME!)
    Now bring them together...With her rising out of the lamp in his apartment...and what happens to get them to this next part, because this whole on the run together thing threw me.) Daniel and Zahara end up on the run in Morocco, dodging paranormal mercenaries and bumbling terrorists (Why? Why are these people after them?), while trying to foil a massacre (Like a super sacrifice? Yikes.) that will rip open the barrier between the jinn and human worlds and plunge the two sides into a devastating war. (AS AWESOME AS THAT SOUNDS PERHAPS WE SHOULD JUST LET THAT HAPPEN.) As Zahara and Daniel try to keep their friends close, they end up discovering their enemies are even closer. (I don't get this last part...What friends are they keeping close? What enemies are closer? What do the enemies want? What do Zahara and Daniel want? But this rip...how can they stop it? Can they stop it? What do they have to do, what challenges do they face to save the world? And stakes? What are they risking, if anything? What is the big moment?)
    I am a little confused as to how we get to the running from terrorists part, and I want to know the stakes, but overall I THINK THIS IDEA IS FABULOUS AND FUN AND YES!!!!!


    ReplyDelete
  3. First 250 Words:
    Coming out of the lamp was such a rush. One minute Zahara was nothing but vapor, swirling in the icy storms of the last level of hell. The next, she streamed out into the mundane air of the human sphere. Her flesh solidified into a floating upper torso, while her lower body remained only a tail of black flames licking up around the brass vessel used for the summoning.

    And what flesh it was. (This stopped me...we had just been talking about the tail of black and brass vessel and suddenly back to flesh.)

    Zahara pinched back her shoulder blades and posed with her hands on her hips to better accentuate her breasts. They were huge, because she liked her first impression to be a lasting one. (HAHA!)

    The resounding crack of thunder that marked the transition into the world of man faded away. (There was a crack of thunder? When?) With a fanged smile (Oh nice!), she faced the sorcerer who had dared to call her, the most notorious jinnayah this side of Baghdad. (When she look at him, what does she see? What does he look like to her? Is she impressed at all? Is she wondering if she can trick him?)

    "Behold. It is I, Zahara, Dread Spirit of the Endless Desert." She’d made that up on the spot, and it sounded great. (Haha!) "I have journeyed, O Child of Mud and Dirt, from the land of smokeless fire to your dreary realm. What do you call yourself, and what is it you demand of me?"

    She had decided to put as much formality into her speech as possible, to further impress upon him how fortunate he was to have summoned such a powerful jinn to do his evil bidding. Not too traditional, of course, since she was speaking in flawless English, not classical Arabic.

    Okay...I just tried to keep scrolling, BUT IT WOULDN'T...*sigh* This is totally fun! I love the premise. Though, someone summoned her and there is no mention of him really...and no mention of where she is, what she sees...though really I didn't care much.
    Thank you for sharing your words!

    ReplyDelete







  4. Title: FROM SMOKELESS FIRE
    Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
    Word Count: 90,000

    (Here are my opinions. Do with them as you will. Thanks for contributing!)


    (Thank you for contributing! I’m looking forward to this. My second book has Djinn in it!)

    Query:

    When Zahara floats up from a lamp in Daniel Goldstein's NYC apartment, she's a jinn with her own wish: fulfill an easy request from a modern-day sorcerer and trick him into eternal servitude. (What could possibly go wrong? Tell me more.)

    Zahara's never been able to live up to her infamous mother's demonic expectations, (mommy issues. LOVE it.) and a binding magical contract that guarantees her a human thrall would be just the thing to impress her family. But newbie magician Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—to the tune of stopping two fallen angels bent on revenge against humanity. (What does this-especially grandma-have to do with jinn?)

    Daniel and Zahara end up on the run in Morocco, dodging paranormal mercenaries and bumbling terrorists, while trying to foil a massacre that will rip open the barrier between the jinn and human worlds and plunge the two sides into a devastating war. As Zahara and Daniel try to keep their friends close, they end up discovering their enemies are even closer. (Ditch the last sentence. Or at least re-write it. It’s a cliché. Clichés are bad.)


    First 250 Words:

    Coming out of the lamp was such a rush. One minute Zahara was nothing but vapor, swirling in the icy storms of the last level of hell. The next, she streamed out into the mundane air of the human sphere. Her flesh solidified into a floating upper torso, while her lower body remained only a tail of black flames licking up around the brass vessel used for the summoning.

    And what flesh it was.

    Zahara pinched back her shoulder blades and posed with her hands on her hips to better accentuate her breasts. They were huge, because she liked her first impression to be a lasting one. (I’d rather this be shown and not told. Have the guy make a comment. It sounds a little…goofy-porny.)

    The resounding crack of thunder that marked the transition into the world of man faded away. With a fanged smile, she faced the sorcerer who had dared to call her, the most notorious jinnayah this side of Baghdad. (wouldn’t her mom be the most notorious?)

    "Behold. It is I, Zahara, Dread Spirit of the Endless Desert." She’d made that up on the spot, and it sounded great. "I have journeyed, O Child of Mud and Dirt, from the land of smokeless fire to your dreary realm. What do you call yourself, and what is it you demand of me?"

    She had decided to put as much formality into her speech as possible, to further impress upon him how fortunate he was to have summoned such a powerful jinn to do his evil bidding. Not too traditional, of course, since she was speaking in flawless English, not classical Arabic.

    (Just those couple of nitpicky things but I really liked it so far. Good luck!!)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Crit from Cari:

    Title: FROM SMOKELESS FIRE
    Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
    Word Count: 90,000


    Query:
    When Zahara floats up from a lamp in Daniel Goldstein's NYC apartment, she's a jinn with her own wish: fulfill an easy request from a modern-day sorcerer and trick him into eternal servitude.
    So I’m really confused as to what’s going on with this opening. It seems like you’re trying to cram too much information, and it just gets jumbled. I’d focus on one person for the opening. Either Daniel, or Zahara.

    Zahara's never been able to live up to her infamous mother's demonic expectations, and a binding magical contract that guarantees her a human thrall would be just the thing to impress her family. But newbie magician Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—to the tune of stopping two fallen angels bent on revenge against humanity. (Okay, so at this point, I’m lost. There’s a lot happening with Jinn, magicians, ghosts, and now angels. I think maybe introducing the two characters separately will be the best here. You can talk about Daniel, who he is, what he wants, and the conflicts and stakes driving him. Then you can do the same thing for Zahara. Then maybe bring it together in the third paragraph if you need to) Daniel and Zahara end up on the run in Morocco, dodging paranormal mercenaries and bumbling terrorists, while trying to foil a massacre that will rip open the barrier between the jinn and human worlds and plunge the two sides into a devastating war. As Zahara and Daniel try to keep their friends close, they end up discovering their enemies are even closer.


    First 250 Words:
    Coming out of the lamp was such a rush. One minute Zahara was nothing but vapor, swirling in the icy storms of the last level of hell. The next, she streamed out into the mundane air of the human sphere. Her flesh solidified into a floating upper torso, while her lower body remained only a tail of black flames licking up around the brass vessel used for the summoning. (I feel like you could really pack more of a sensory punch here. You start to describe things, but fall short. A DEMON from Hell is being made manifest. What does it smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Sound like? This is your chance to really immerse and connect the reader into your world, with Zahara.)

    And what flesh it was. (This seems to come out of nowhere. I’d connect this somehow, or rearrange what you have happening above.)

    Zahara pinched back her shoulder blades and posed with her hands on her hips to better accentuate her breasts. They were huge, because she liked her first impression to be a lasting one. (Ha!)

    The resounding crack of thunder that marked the transition into the world of man faded away. With a fanged smile, she faced the sorcerer who had dared to call her, the most notorious jinnayah this side of Baghdad. (this makes it seem like the sorcerer is the jinnayah, not the actual jinn. I’d reword)

    "Behold. It is I, Zahara, Dread Spirit of the Endless Desert." She’d made that up on the spot, and it sounded great. "I have journeyed, O Child of Mud and Dirt, from the land of smokeless fire to your dreary realm. What do you call yourself, and what is it you demand of me?"

    She had decided to put as much formality into her speech as possible, to further impress upon him how fortunate he was to have summoned such a powerful jinn to do his evil bidding. Not too traditional, of course, since she was speaking in flawless English, not classical Arabic. (How does she feel about being summoned? Is she forced? Does she choose? What does she think about a human powerful enough to actually summon her? Is she resentful? Vengeful? Relieved?)

    (Overall, this is a fun idea and concept. I think the query needs to be cleaned up, and add some more punch to your opening, and you’re on your way! Best of luck!)

    ReplyDelete

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