Monday, September 18, 2017

Son Of A Pitch #4: FLESH AND INK

Son Of A Pitch #4:

Title: FLESH AND INK
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 87,600

Query:
When the blue stains growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh. Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains.The church’s soldiers will kill her for her marks and sentence her family, even her favored sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude.

On the run from the church, Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, she learns the church lied. Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of non-church magic. The church uses earth magic and seeks to eradicate all who possess magic they can’t control.

Protected in her new home, a nightmarish vision awakens Lilivan—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining her earth magic and her very life. If Lilivan wants to save her sister, she must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. But first, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave.


First 250 Words:
The window above the sink lit the half-subterranean kitchen a little too well. When I raised my arms after dinner to put a plate away, my ill-fitting shirt exposed more than just my light-brown stomach.

I’d grown careless since the blue stains first appeared on my stomach two years ago. The dark-brown dye I used to conceal the marks was currently faded and patchy. I should have permanently inked over them.

“Oh, Holy Goddess!” Papa's face paled as a mug slid from his fingers and splashed into the sink. “Demon-stains, Liligirl?”

I shoved the plate onto the shelf and yanked my hem down.

“Papa, I didn't do anything,” I said, breaking into a cold-sweat, “I swear, by Domina Earth, the Goddess Nelopai Herself!”

Papa had to believe me. No matter what the church said, the stains had arrived like acne right after my fifteenth birthday. They weren't heralding some imaginary deal I’d made with demons. Despite my prayers, the angular cobalt-blue stains spiraling out from my navel had spread. They now brushed my sides, contrasting against my rounded belly when I neglected to cover them in nut dye. Maybe the myths were true, the Goddess couldn’t hear the prayers of the soulless.

My dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh had seemed a chance at redemption for whatever I’d done to deserve the stains. How could a soulless one have been allowed to perform such a sacred task? For over a year I’d been doing dye prep and touch-ups on the faithful.

18 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.
    Query:

    The query gets the job done. I’m concerned about a couple of things, she has a vision, are visions something that’s common? Or is this a vision to drive the plot? If they’re given by the goddess, doesn’t it behoove the goddess to keep this person who can wield her powers safe? This is the problem with visions, there are so many questions to be answered. I do like that you’ve built the thing that she wants (to protect her sister) and shown us how her adversaries are going to use it against her. All in all, I think this is a strong query

    First 250:

    I feel a little disconnect between her emotions and her father’s reactions. It seems like he’s reacting more strongly than she is. He’s panicked and I want to feel her panic or at least startle at his reaction. I also don’t feel like she would be thinking those thoughts if she had indeed grown careless. If she was really careless, then she wouldn’t be thinking about it yet. Maybe give this scene a once over for what people would be feeling and thinking in that moment rather than what the writer is trying to convey to the audience. Be patient with the opening.
    We start to get some of the feel of her emotions and reactions with the “Papa had to believe me” but I felt like it was missing from earlier.

    This story starts very similarly to Inked, by Eric Smith, so I recommend you check that out to be sure you aren’t too similar to those books.
    I do love this premise of a goddess marking a people. I would absolutely read on.

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for you thoughts and feedback, they're very helpful.

      To reassure your concern: after several drafts of Flesh And Ink, I read Inked, by Eric Smith. We both have magic, tattoos, YA main characters, and a fantasy world. Other than that, the plots and characters are divergent.

      Delete
    2. I'm glad you've heard of it and read it since a bunch of agents will know about that book (written by an agent).

      Delete
  2. Hi! Kathy from #TeamRarity popping by! My comments are my opinions only. Please take what inspires you and forget the rest. It's your show!

    When the blue stains growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh. Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains.The church’s soldiers will kill her for her marks and sentence her family, even her favored sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude. (Whoa. Character set up and conflict!)

    On the run from the church, Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, she learns the church lied. (Who tells her? Who does she find there?) Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of non-church magic. The church uses earth magic and seeks to eradicate all who possess magic they can’t control. (This final line, feels...off. Like it doesn't fit...like a line from a textbook and not from mc's POV. ...non-church magic. Not earth magic. Magic the church can't control, so they will eradicate her and all like her.)

    Protected in her new home, a nightmarish vision awakens Lilivan—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining her earth magic and her very life. (A vision? Is that normal? Kind of convenient...) If Lilivan wants to save her sister, she must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. (THAT SOUNDS SO COOL!) But first, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave. (Ah. Your training isn't complete, young padawan...you must stay. She needs to save her sister! Good motivation. So she faces a choice of leaving without the support of her new "friends" to go find her sister, are they locking her up to keep her from leaving or just telling her not to. If she leaves, what does she risk? Not being powerful enough to save her sister? Will her "friends" help her? Or are they too scared to face the church?)
    This is darn good! Sounds like fun to me.


    First 250 Words:

    The window above the sink lit the half-subterranean kitchen a little too well. When I raised my arms after dinner to put a plate away, my ill-fitting shirt exposed more than just my light-brown stomach.

    ***(I’d grown careless since the blue stains first appeared on my stomach two years ago. The dark-brown dye I used to conceal the marks was currently faded and patchy. I should have permanently inked over them.)***<I suggest moving this until after her dad sees the stains and she tugs her shirt back down...it feels like we just get going and I am waiting for what is going to happen after her stomach is exposed...then this slows it down.

    “Oh, Holy Goddess!” Papa's face paled as a mug slid from his fingers and splashed into the sink. “Demon-stains, Liligirl?”

    I shoved the plate onto the shelf and yanked my hem down. (How does she feel about her dad's reaction? ***Move para two here?***)

    “Papa, I didn't do anything,” I said, breaking into a cold-sweat, “I swear, by Domina Earth, the Goddess Nelopai Herself!”

    Papa had to believe me. No matter what the church said, the stains had arrived like acne right after my fifteenth birthday. They weren't heralding some imaginary deal I’d made with demons. Despite my prayers, the angular cobalt-blue stains spiraling out from my navel had spread. They now brushed my sides, contrasting against my rounded belly when I neglected to cover them in nut dye. Maybe the myths were true, the Goddess couldn’t hear the prayers of the soulless. (And self-doubt chimes in...)

    My dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh had seemed a chance at redemption for whatever I’d done to deserve the stains. How could a soulless one have been allowed to perform such a sacred task? For over a year I’d been doing dye prep and touch-ups on the faithful.
    And it's done and I am sad. I LOVE THIS! I don't have a lot to say.
    Thanks for sharing your words!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks to the great feedback so far, here's the latest and (hopefully) greatest:

    Title: FLESH AND INK
    Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 87,600

    Query:
    When the blue stains growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh. Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains.The church’s soldiers will kill her for her marks and sentence her family, even her favored sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude.

    On the run from the church, Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, the stained rebels reveal the church's lies. Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of both air magic and earth magic. The church uses earth magic, recruiting the women who wield that power only and hunting down all others with magic.

    Protected in her new home, Lilivan's growing air magic connects her to Naoma in her dreams. No longer a pampered student—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining both her earth magic and her very life. To save her sister and confront the soldiers she fears, Lilivan must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. But first, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave.


    First 250 Words:
    The window above the sink lit the half-subterranean kitchen a little too well. When I raised my arms after dinner to put a plate away, my ill-fitting shirt exposed more than just my light-brown stomach.

    “Oh, Holy Goddess!” Papa's face paled as a mug slid from his fingers and splashed into the sink. “Demon-stains, Liligirl?”

    I shoved the plate onto the shelf and yanked my hem down. Demonspiss! He was never supposed to know. I’d grown careless since the blue stains first appeared on my stomach two years ago. The dark-brown dye I used to conceal the marks was currently faded and patchy. I should have found a way to permanently ink over them.


    “Papa, I didn't do anything,” I said, breaking into a cold-sweat, “I swear, by Domina Earth, the Goddess Nelopai Herself!”

    Papa had to believe me. No matter what the church said, the stains had arrived like acne right after my fifteenth birthday. They weren't heralding some imaginary deal I’d made with demons. Despite my prayers, the angular cobalt-blue stains spiraling out from my navel had spread. They now brushed my sides, contrasting against my rounded belly when I neglected to cover them in nut dye. Maybe the myths were true, the Goddess couldn’t hear the prayers of the soulless.

    My dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh had seemed a chance at redemption for whatever I’d done to deserve the stains. How could a soulless one have been allowed to perform such a sacred task? For over a year I’d been doing dye prep and touch-ups on the faithful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh! NICE!

    With the query...end of para 2...One line tripped me up.
    The church uses earth magic, recruiting the women who wield that power only and hunting down all others with magic.
    Maybe simplify it?
    The church recruits women who wield earth magic and hunt down any with air magic.
    And air magic connects her to her sister...nice.

    Your first page! Cool! I like the language you added!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's magic for all the elements! I just didn't want to list them all. :-) But can definitely simplify that line. Maybe:

      The church recruits women who wield earth magic, hunting down all who possess other forms of elemental magic.

      Delete
  5. Dropping by to proclaim:

    I really like your concept and your writing. I would like to suggest you give us more context before her father discovers her stains. Introduce us to the world and the characters, so that we care and are horrified when her father finds out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I'll definitely look over my first few pages again.

      I've been working on trying not to overwhelm the reader with too much info-dumps on the first page and slowly sprinkling the world building in. But maybe I paired it back too far!

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. When the blue stains growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh. Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains. The church’s soldiers will kill her for her marks and sentence her family, even her gifted sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude.

    On the run from the church, Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, the outcast rebels reveal the church's lies. Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of both air magic and earth magic. The church recruits women who wield earth magic, while hunting down all who possess the other types of elemental magic.

    Protected in her new home, Lilivan's growing air magic connects her to Naoma via their dreams. Lilivan's sister is no longer a pampered student—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining both her earth magic and her very life. To save her sister, Lilivan must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. But before she can confront the church, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am VOTE VOTE VOTING for this entry!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Crit from Cari:

    Title: FLESH AND INK
    Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 87,600

    Query:
    When the blue stains (blue stains feels a bit vague. Can you really ground us in the world by using a different description? Maybe blue, swirling ink? Or, When the tendrils of blue ink…) growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh (Not only does that not really mean anything to me, because I don’t know this world yet, I don’t think that’s really what’s at stake. Or the most important thing. I think it’s her life. Losing her family. Etc… I’d play that up). Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains. (If the church finds out, they’ll kill her, and sentence her family to a life of servitude.) The church’s soldiers will kill her for her marks and sentence her family, even her favored sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude.

    On the run from the church, (Wait. Hold up. If she’s on the run from the church, then that means they know, and that her family is in danger, and she just abandoned them. That’s what this line makes me think, so if that’s not true, change it.) Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, she learns the church lied. Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of (insert name of type of magic here, then explain it’s non-church magic) non-church magic. The church uses earth magic and seeks to eradicate all who possess magic they can’t control.

    Protected in her new home, a nightmarish vision awakens Lilivan—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining her earth magic and her very life. If Lilivan wants to save her sister, she must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. (Yes! Love this. Give me ALL THE STAKES!) But first, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave.


    First 250 Words:
    The window above the sink lit the half-subterranean kitchen a little too well. When I raised my arms after dinner to put a plate away, my ill-fitting shirt exposed more than just my light-brown stomach.

    I’d grown careless since the blue stains first appeared [on my stomach--you can delete this] two years ago. The dark-brown dye I used to conceal the marks was currently faded and patchy. I should have permanently inked over them.(so why didn’t she? You need to give some sort of reason why not)

    “Oh, Holy Goddess!” Papa's face paled as a mug slid from his fingers and splashed into the sink. “Demon-stains, Liligirl?”

    I shoved the plate onto the shelf and yanked my hem down.

    “Papa, I didn't do anything,” I said, breaking into a cold-sweat(put a period here.) (also, how else does she react? What does she feel?), “I swear, by Domina Earth, the Goddess Nelopai Herself!”

    Papa had to believe me. No matter what the church said, the stains had arrived like acne right after my fifteenth birthday. They weren't heralding some imaginary deal I’d made with demons. Despite my prayers, the angular cobalt-blue stains spiraling out from my navel had spread. They now brushed my sides, contrasting against my rounded belly when I neglected to cover them in nut dye. Maybe the myths were true, the Goddess couldn’t hear the prayers of the soulless.

    My dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh had seemed a chance at redemption for whatever I’d done to deserve the stains. How could a soulless one have been allowed to perform such a sacred task? For over a year I’d been doing dye prep and touch-ups on the faithful.( I hope here you get into explaining what an inker does/is.

    Love this concept so much, and you have a strong start. Best of luck!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's some query updates:

      When the blue stains growing on her stomach are exposed, 17 year-old Lilivan knows she must abandon her dream apprenticeship as a holy inker-of-flesh. Only enemies of the Goddess bear these stains. If the church finds out, they’ll kill her, and sentence her family, even her gifted sister, Naoma, to a life of servitude.

      On the run before the church can find out, Lilivan tracks down a hidden sanctuary for those who bear stains like hers. There, the outcast rebels reveal the church's lies. Her stains are a blessing, marking her as a wielder of both air magic and earth magic. The church recruits women who wield earth magic, while hunting down all who possess the other types of elemental magic.

      Protected in her new home, Lilivan's growing air magic connects her to Naoma via their dreams. Lilivan's sister is no longer a pampered student—the church has trapped Naoma and is draining her earth magic and imperiling her life. To save her sister, Lilivan must embrace her new powers and the elemental beings she once shunned as evil spirits. But before she can confront the church, she must win her freedom from a sanctuary that doesn’t think she’s ready to leave.

      Delete
  10. Voty McVOTE-face! (That's a Vote from me)

    ReplyDelete

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