Friday, February 13, 2015

Critique Blog Hop!

So as I recently finished up novel 7, I've been getting into the exciting/nerve-wracking stage of submitting it! Oh, the joys of querying. Anyway, I've had zero success in two contests now and so far no positive responses from the first batch of queries. It's enough to make a writer want to crawl into a hole and say "Sorry for bothering." But that's not me! So instead I am joining the Critique Blog Hop hosted as a follow-on to the Sun vs. Snow contest. If you would like to participate, follow the link--you submit your entry and crit 10 other entries. Or if you would just like to offer any feedback to me here, I am always looking for ways to improve! And with no further ado, I present to you my novel 7!
Short pitch:
A jaded god has to beat his ennui in order to save his family, his people, and his home from a roving gang of displaced gods.
Being a god is a decent gig, but Vassyr can only spend so many centuries seducing mortal women and antagonizing his older sister. So when he discovers a way off their world, he doesn't stop for half a second to listen to her objections. Sure, she says he owes the mortals something and should be doing more, but Vassyr knows she loves doing it all herself. He simply can't listen to one more prayer from some farmer's son dying to become a hero.

In the face of an alluring array of new worlds to explore, it's easy to forget about the tedious responsibilities and family he abandoned. But although Vassyr is four thousand years old, he's no better than a naïve mortal out in the wider universe. When he carelessly insults a roving gang of displaced gods, he becomes a casualty of their desperate search for a new home. Worse, he reveals the location of his world.

Vassyr's home may have seemed stifling to him, but to these gods, it is a target ripe for annexation—and they don't care who is killed in the process. As his world is ravaged in the battle between his family and the interlopers, Vassyr realizes that being a god comes with some real responsibilities after all. He has to find a way to protect the mortals, convince his sister to trust him again, and send the trespassers packing while there is still a home left to save.
First 250 words:
Vassyr hit the mortal with a thick chunk of air. Not hard—he was just after a bit of fun, not punishment. The mortal rubbed the back of his head and looked around the common room, frowning. Vassyr had to bite on the knuckles of his left hand to stifle a giggle. He could almost hear his sister's scolding that giggles weren't godlike, but he didn't give a shit about that. But if the mortals heard laughter from an apparently empty chair, they'd probably declare the place haunted and take to their heels. Idiots. Not that it wouldn't be amusing, but that wasn't his plan. He used his free hand to send another swat of air sailing through the tavern.

"Who was that?" roared a big beast of a man. He pushed his chair back, spilling his ale in an amber pool.

No one answered, or even dared to meet the man's eye. Trying to save their skins, no doubt—cowards, the lot of them. What else could one expect of mortals? Vassyr bit his lip and made another flick. A man sitting two tables away sprang to his feet, one hand clasping the back of his neck. A dagger was already unsheathed in his other hand.

"What do you mean by that?"

Vassyr flicked again, and now he was able to let his laughter loose. There was more than enough noise to mask it. The big man had picked up an entire bench and was waving it around rather indiscriminately, and the brawl was inevitable from there.


  1. Wow, wow, wow! I love the sound of this!

    I think your query is very strong, but I'll try to be as nitpicky as possible.

    LOVE the first sentence. In the second sentence, I was confused as to what is meant by "their" world. Do you mean the mortals' world or the gods' world? The third sentence could be a bit more tightly written. I think you could afford to strike the "and should be doing more" and then change the verb in the next part of hte sentence from "doing" to something more specific so we're clear what you mean ... like "running things" or something like that.

    In the second paragraph of the query, I am not sure I know what you mean by "he becomes a casualty of their desperate search for a new home" ... I'm not sure that part of the sentence is necessary. In the next sentence we get the impression that other gods finding out about his homeworld is not a good idea and in my opinion that's all we need probably.

    I like the last para, but I'm a little unsure who the mortals are that need to be saved. I didn't realize that there were mortals in danger.

    In terms of your first 250, I LOVE the voice here, and such a fun scene. I did get a little tripped up when he mentions at the end of the first paragraph that making the mortals flee is "not his plan." It made me think he had a more elaborate plan than simply messing with mortals, and then I'm not sure what that is.

    Overall, love this!!

  2. this is outstanding. i can't really think of anything to add that Carissa didn't say already. and like she said, it would just be nitpicky stuff. you should be confident sending this out. no doubt we'll be seeing it on shelves soon.

  3. This sounds hilarious. And it's solid. I just have a couple questions. Is he a god of a fictional religion and world? I'm picking up the answer is yes, but you might want to specify this. Also, why are the mortals so important to him?? What makes him finally pick up his responsibilities? Otherwise, awesome.

  4. Short pitch: Assuming this is your 35-word pitch for other contests, I would highly recommend jamming some more info in there. You've only used 26 of your 35 words, and that's tons of room for more. Ennui is boredom/discontent--so tell me why I want to read a story about a bored character. Get some of that voice in there. And I would change "beat" to "defeat," if you keep the same phrasing.

    Query: This is quite strong. You have stakes, voice, and interesting details. I see how it supports the 35 word pitch, so my only critique is going back to the 35 words. To be honest (since we're all friend here, right?), your 35 words feel a bit "blah." I didn't get excited when I read them like I did with the query. Here's a thought to revise: Start with the query and start cutting/replacing phasing to whittle it down. That's what I did to get my 35 word query, and although I'm not an expert, I feel like it worked. It's a lot of work to go from 200 words to 35 words, but you might get some gold out of it.

    250 words: Love it, too. I could be nitpicky and take out some extraneous words ("But if the mortals..." could become "If the mortals..."), but it's really strong as it is.

    If you sparkle up your 35 word pitch, then I think this is an extremely strong package. Just keep your head up and keep querying. I know that most people who are entering contests (and you're on your seventh book--good for you!) are extremely savvy at the process, but I'll leave you with a reminder. It takes a lot of agents to find the right one. Just because no one is responding doesn't mean that it's not GOOD. It just means that it's not RIGHT for them. If you haven't queried 100 agents, then you've barely begun.

    Good luck with your pitch!

  5. Hi, popping over from Michelle and Amy's critique blog hop.
    You query is just the way I like it - short, snappy. Awesome voice. It made me want to read the book. But I wasn't very clear on the stakes. Here it feels like he just chanced upon three gods, who happened to be looking for new lands. But why would they seek his place specifically? Has been rivalry between these gods, or are they just on the lookout for new places to conquer? Also, not sure how 'protecting the mortals' factor into this. I haven't seen any in danger. Now this is just my opinion.
    As for the 250, it delivered on the voice promised in the query, and I loved it.
    thanks for the read :)

  6. Critique time. this isn't normally my cup of tea but you have me intrigued and I want to read more!
    I love your short pitch! very concise.
    The first paragraph of your query leaves me a bit confused though. Is it the mortal world or the world of the gods that Vassyr leaves? Maybe it is the mention of both mortals and his sister in the first sentence that throws me off.
    Your first 250 is full of action and it reads very well. I wish mine did! I think its interesting that Vassyr is antagonizing the mortals and then later wants to protect them. Why is that? How does it come about?

  7. This is a fun story.

    Try to ground the reader about where we are and who's there. Also give us a hint what the MC's goal, obstacles, and stakes.

    I like it, though.

  8. I don't have a lot to add either! I really liked the first line of the query, and every other line pulled me through to the end. I wasn't confused, and the conflict and consequence were all there. I do wonder, though, HOW he found he way off the world. I mean, if he's been there for 4000 years, what's changed? I'm not saying it needs to be in the query, but it was something I wondered about.

    I'd also like to know why he suddenly cares about the mortals at the end of the book. If his sister is there, why can't she take care of them -- the way she always has? Has something happened to her?

    The first 250 were equally compelling. It's good writing, with each sentence moving into the next easily. Great job!

  9. Ennui as an antagonist? This could be interesting…

    And your query has me hooked. I like the idea of telling a story from the gods’ perspective; I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

    “Trying to save their skins, no doubt—cowards, the lot of them.” I think this would be stronger as two sentences. It’s shorter and punchier that way, and when I read it, I read it with the extra pause of a full stop.

    Vassyr’s voice really comes through in this, and right now, he seems rather unlikable. This can still work, but an unlikable protagonist has to work a bit harder to make me root for him. Good luck with this!

  10. I liked this, although I agree that Vassyr seems less than likeable right now. This could make for compelling character development. Is the home planet where he lives with the mortals? What are his stakes in the story? Just beating ennui does not seem enough, as another has said.
    That said, it sounds like a fun read, good luck!