BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, Temporarily Retired

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Meredith
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by Meredith » June 22nd, 2010, 6:05 pm

suesan0814 wrote:
Is giving a personal web site a bit to pushy? I have no idea. Just asking because it's a great idea! I think your query is tight and very well written. I would request sample chapters after reading it.
Thanks. I finally feel like I may be getting close with this version. Need to send out a few more queries this week. And it's almost time to follow up on my one request for a partial.

Opinion seems to be divided on whether to include the blog here, or in the signature block. I like it here, so I'm keeping it for now. I have read that agents like to see that you have a blog or website.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by Heather B » June 22nd, 2010, 10:52 pm

Agents most definitely react well to a blog or website and it's fine as is. The only thing I would suggest is to leave out 'character sketches', just mention you have a website and leave it at that. If the agent goes to your blog, they will see the sketches; if not, it's the writing they're looking at anyway.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by Quill » June 22nd, 2010, 11:14 pm

If you are wondering about whether to mention the website in the body of the query or in the contact info you might consider asking Nathan directly in his questions thread.

I've never seen it mentioned in the body and would, for one, be curious to know his opinion.

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Re: Query for BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by OneChoice1 » June 23rd, 2010, 1:14 am

Meredith wrote:Newest version:

Dear Agent:

Valeriah is half werewolf, [Just to be clear, her other half is human?] unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. [You have my attention.] Her werewolf strength and instincts make her a formidable bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races. [How does she feel about this? Does she feel empowered because she isn't a...whole...werewolf, but she is still seen as worthy of being a bodyguard for important people/creatures? Do others try to tease and belittle her?]

When her cousin’s life is threatened, [Is her cousin one of the Council members? A wolf? A half wolf? A human?] Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. It’s nothing she hasn’t done before, but never for someone she cared about. [Okay, so one of my questions is answered. Crystal is not a Council member.] She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve. [:( Poor thing.]
When a third attempt [Third? When did the second happen? How about not specifying it--even if it is the third--and say "When another attempt..."] to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah hides her in a suburb of Los Angeles [Ah ha! So Crystal is human... Or maybe she just looks like one??] until she can unravel the conspiracy.

She has to decide who she can trust. [I feel like something else needs to start out this sentence, like "As the plot thickens." But something that is not as cliche.]

Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, but she knows he’s hiding something. [Why? And I think this stranger needs to be mentioned earlier.]

Her other choice is a man who has already turned his back on her once.[Maybe there's another way of presenting this sentence..]

One of them is the killer who murdered her family and is now after Crystal.[Whoa! This sentence pops out of no where. So far I was feeling like I was connecting with Valeriah--that your story was going to be in third person limited or first person. But this line really sounds like you, the author--an omniscient voice.]

The other may love Valeriah enough to break her curse. [What curse? You never mentioned a curse. Being half magical? I do not think you should include this sentence, but leave it for the agent/readers to discover in your book when they read it.]

Example for the third paragraph (keeping in mind that I don't know all of your story): When another attempt to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah has to rely on the help of a stranger to hide Crystal in a suburb of Los Angeles until she can unravel the conspiracy. She stops her denial and decides she does need help. Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger, but she knows he's hiding something. [<--still example why/how she knows.] On the other hand, there's always the man who already turned his back on her once. Valeriah settles for keeping them both close. She suspects one of them of being the one who murdered her family and is now after Crystal.


BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel. If you’re interested, you can find more information about the characters and their world on my blog, MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. [I agree, this is something I've never seen in a query. Very unique.] I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Your story sounds interesting. Hope I could help somehow
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OneChoice1
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by OneChoice1 » June 23rd, 2010, 2:58 am

I just noticed something. Since you identify where Crystal will be hidden away (Los Angeles), why not name the planet/realm/universe where there are magical creatures? Unless they are on Earth the whole time..
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by mfreivald » June 24th, 2010, 7:25 pm

Hi, Meredith.
Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. <--This seems to passive to me. Maybe try something like: ". . , the full moon doesn't make her wolf, but it drives her (crazy? manic? nerves? strength? to eat Poptarts? to aggression?)--<<< Her werewolf strength and instincts make her a formidable bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races. <--I would be more terse for a forceful effect. e.g.: "Her werewolf strength and instinct are perfect for guarding the Council of Magical Races."--<<<
This raises the question to me--Is this only when the full moon is driving her, or always? But I'm not sure it needs to be answered here.

I've formed some prejudices very early in my query education, so take this with a grain of salt. I have a strong bias toward cutting to the chase, and cutting every bit of fat that isn't essential to sell this manuscript. There seems to be some redundancy in this one.

I think you can be more effective by cutting down the Crystal threats and the murder mystery, and then clarifying the nature of the two men and the trust issues.

I don't think we need to know Crystal is hidden--something like that will be assumed. I also think it will be assumed that Valeriah is taking on danger that risks her life for her cousin, so that can go.

A more tangible understanding of the secret would add to its impact.

Also, I'm getting just a little of a ". . . so, what was that Council all about?" reaction. The query might be improved relating the plot back to it, unless it's not important, in which case I'd drop it or make it clear that it's only to emphasize the extent of her suitability to be a body guard.

Finally, the allusion to her curse needs clarity. I think you mean her curse from the effects of the full moon, but I'm not sure.

Here's my attempt (making gross assumptions that you will no doubt have to disabuse):
The full moon doesn't transform the half-werewolf, Valeriah, but it curses her with embarrassing and sometimes dangerous frenzies. Nevertheless, her wolfish strength and instinct make her a perfect bodyguard, even for clients in the Council of Magical Races.

Her job becomes very personal when a man attempts to kill her cousin, Crystal, thrusting Valeriah unexpectedly into the very plot that murdered her parents and brothers, a mystery she has pursued for eight years. Two men are the key to the mystery: a handsome stranger suspiciously hiding what led him to help save Crystal, and a man who already abandoned her once. One is the killer. The other offers a love deep enough to break her curse. But which one?

BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel that explores the extremes of trust when family is in mortal danger. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.
It's rough, but it's one approach you might consider. Hope it helps.

Thanks for the opportunity to learn from your query.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by Meredith » June 25th, 2010, 12:03 am

Last(?) Version:

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. However, her strength and instincts suit her perfectly as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.

When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve.

When another attempt to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah hides her in a suburb of Los Angeles until she can unravel the conspiracy. She has to decide who she can trust to help her keep Crystal safe. Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, but she knows he’s hiding something. Her other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer who murdered her family and is now after Crystal. The other may love Valeriah enough to break her curse.

BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel. If you’re interested, you can find more information about the characters and their world on my blog, MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by OneChoice1 » June 26th, 2010, 5:31 am

Meredith wrote:Last(?) Version:

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. [By this, you mean she gets a surge of power, strength, and energy? Driven to prowl? Hungry to eat raw meat? Madness?] Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. [Cute.] However, her strength and instincts suit her perfectly as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races. [While I am still wondering about her emotions, I do see the credibility this sentence gives for Valeriah.]

When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. [So the Council let her go from her duties? I bet it is a long process to find and become a bodyguard for such important creatures, so that is why I am wondering. What do the Council's care about Crystal's life? Or does Valeriah just leave? Or...quit? Could she even quit a job like that out of nowhere?] She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve.

When another attempt to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah hides her in a suburb (maybe: in the outskirts <--sounds more exciting.. ;D) of Los Angeles [How does Valeriah know about Earth? Why Los Angeles? Is a large chuck of the Earth now taken over by magical creatures?] until she can unravel the conspiracy. She has to decide who she can trust to help her keep Crystal safe. [I still think the beginning of that sentence can use some work. The flow into it is a little rough.] Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, but she knows he’s hiding something. [How?] Her other choice is a member of the Council [Ah, so this is where the Council tie in.] who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer who murdered her family and is now after Crystal. [Maybe you don't have to repeat, that is why I striked through it.] The other may love Valeriah enough to break her curse. [I still do not like this sentence, because after everything there is only one sentence about a curse. What curse? Go ahead and clarify this.]

BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel. If you’re interested, you can find more information about the characters and their world on my blog, MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

I think you still need to elaborate more on a few things before you have a finished and ready query. I also think mfreivald made some good points with her "rough" attempt.

Nevertheless, your story seems interesting, and your main character, too--which is a very good thing.

Good luck and God bless!!
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sarahdee
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, new version

Post by sarahdee » July 1st, 2010, 11:15 pm

Hi there

I'm still interested in why Crystal's life was threatened, how, and by who? Is she half werewolf too, or something else? I know its hard to keep the query short but I think an extra line about this would be an extra hook.

E.g.
Valeriah's human cousin, Crystal, is attacked by a pack of evil blue gnomes desperate to kill Crystal before she reveals their secrets. Valeriah risks her life to save her cousin but by doing so stumbles into the mystery surrounding the death of her own brother and parents eight years ago.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, new version

Post by Meredith » July 2nd, 2010, 12:02 am

sarahdee wrote:Hi there

I'm still interested in why Crystal's life was threatened, how, and by who? Is she half werewolf too, or something else? I know its hard to keep the query short but I think an extra line about this would be an extra hook.

E.g.
Valeriah's human cousin, Crystal, is attacked by a pack of evil blue gnomes desperate to kill Crystal before she reveals their secrets. Valeriah risks her life to save her cousin but by doing so stumbles into the mystery surrounding the death of her own brother and parents eight years ago.
I understand. The problem is, in my experience, that everytime I try to answer a question like this, I just end up with another one and on and on until the query starts looking more like the synopsis.

The antagonist wants to kill Crystal because of her inheritance. How does that help him? He's a distant cousin and he'll be the last remaining heir. But what about Valeriah? Isn't she also an heir? She's already been cut out of that part of the inheritance because she's half werewolf. But if the plot against Crystal is tied to the deaths of Valeriah's family (and Crystal's), how long has he been trying to get this inheritance? More than twenty years. Why is it that important? He wants to conquer the magical world in order to save it (he thinks). How will the inheritance help him do that? Now I have to info dump about a thousand words of world-building and "history".

Some things I just have to save for the synopsis.

In the latest version, which I haven't put up here, yet, that paragraph reads:

When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve. She really doesn’t expect to learn that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup.

That's about as close to an explanation as I think I can come, here.

BTW, Crystal is mostly human, and what remains is almost the opposite of werewolf. But that's another complexity that just won't fit, here.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, third version

Post by HillaryJ » July 11th, 2010, 6:04 pm

Meredith wrote:Last(?) Version:

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. However, her strength and instincts suit her perfectly as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.

When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve.

When another attempt to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah hides her in a suburb of Los Angeles until she can unravel the conspiracy. She has to decide who she can trust to help her keep Crystal safe. Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, even though she knows he’s hiding something. Her other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer who murdered her family and is now after Crystal. The other may love Valeriah enough to break her curse. *I'm not sure this is necessary. If feels thrown in, both the new plot thread and the mention of a curse. Of course it adds complexity to the plot, which is good, but it might be more appropriate in the synopsis.*

BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel. If you’re interested, you can find more information about the characters and their world on my blog, MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
I would recommend removing the "if you're interested...blog" from the body of the query. If an agent is more interested he/she will request a partial or full to see if the writing/story hold up, not take the time to go surf a website. I would recommend including your website at the bottom of your signature/information block, after your phone number and email addy. Some agents even ask for it there now.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, Still Newer Version

Post by Meredith » July 11th, 2010, 8:14 pm

Thanks everyone. Here's the latest version. Undecided at the moment about where to put the blog info. I have a little time to decide. The novel is down for a quick brush up after a bit of actual feedback from the one agent that asked for a partial. (The feedback did come with a rejection, though.)

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. However, her strength and instincts suit her perfectly as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.
When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve. She really doesn’t expect to learn that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup.

When another attempt to kill Crystal nearly succeeds, Valeriah hides her in a suburb of Los Angeles until she can unravel the conspiracy. If she’s going to protect Crystal, she has to decide who she can trust to help her. Her instincts tell her to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, even though she knows he’s hiding something. Her other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer.
    BLOOD WILL TELL is a 96,000-word urban fantasy novel. If you’re interested, you can find more information about the characters and their world on my blog, MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

    Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
    MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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    Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, New, New Version

    Post by Meredith » August 3rd, 2010, 3:26 pm

    Newest Version:

    Being a half-blood is inconvenient even on a good day, especially when the half you got from your mother is werewolf. Valeriah can’t take wolf form but she is still driven by the full moon. Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. She’s found her niche, though, using her enhanced strength and instincts as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.

    When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve. She really doesn’t expect to learn that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup against the Council.

    Valeriah hides Crystal in a suburb of Los Angeles while she tries to unravel the conspiracy, but she needs help to protect Crystal. She has to decide who she can trust. She wants to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, even though her instincts tell her that he’s hiding something. Her only other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer.

    BLOOD WILL TELL is a 94,000-word urban fantasy novel. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

    Thank you for your time.
    MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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    Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, New, New Version

    Post by notw » August 3rd, 2010, 3:54 pm

    Meredith wrote:Newest Version:

    Being a half-blood is inconvenient even on a good day, especially when the half you got from your mother is werewolf. I like this sentence. Valeriah can’t take wolf form but she is still driven by the full moon. Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. She’s found her niche, though, using her enhanced strength and instincts as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.

    When her cousin’s life is threatened, Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal. She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve. She really doesn’t expect to learn that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup against the Council.

    Valeriah hides Crystal in a suburb of Los Angeles while she tries to unravel the conspiracy, but she needs help to protect Crystal. She has to decide who she can trust. She wants to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life, even though her instincts tell her that he’s hiding something. Maybe consider mentioning the stranger in the paragraph above? Just a thought :) Her only other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer.

    BLOOD WILL TELL is a 94,000-word urban fantasy novel. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first chapter per the instructions on your website.

    Thank you for your time.
    Sounds like an interesting story!

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    Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, New, New Version

    Post by mfreivald » August 3rd, 2010, 7:27 pm

    I’m fighting a little “query fatigue” right now, but I’ll try to do you justice.
    Being a half-blood is inconvenient even on a good day, especially when the half you got from your mother is werewolf.<--A little awkward. I think “when your mother’s half is werewolf” would be an effective condensation without taking away from the voice.--<< Valeriah can’t take wolf form but she is still driven by the full moon.<--I think active voice here is better: “Valeriah can’t take wolf form, but the full moon still drives her.”--<< Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf. She’s found her niche, though, using her enhanced strength and instincts as a bodyguard for the members of the Council of Magical Races.<--When I’m cutting, “and” between adjectives is usually an indication of extra baggage. It’s not bad here, but I think you can improve it. Maybe with: She’s found her niche, though, using her advantages as a bodyguard. . . .” We know these are werewolf advantages, so certainly strength and instinct will be part of that.--<<

    When her cousin’s life is threatened,<--Passive again. Plus some particularity will bring that alive.--<< Valeriah expects to face danger and even risk her life to save Crystal.<--I think “prepares” or “is ready” would be better than “expects.” I know it is setting up for the next sentence, but the other two do just as well without the flatness of “expects.” (plus you repeat it below)--<< She doesn’t anticipate stumbling into the very plot that led to the murders of her parents and brothers, a mystery she has spent eight years trying to solve.<--I think “stumbling” gives the tacit message to the agent that your plot is weak. I would use a much more active and connected phrasing.--<< She really doesn’t expect to learn that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup against the Council.<--You have a series of three here, and I think we instinctually expect some real punch in the third of this kind of series. Instead of trying to make the sentence sound like the others, it might be good to do a change up and make it different. Something like: “The discovery that she and Crystal are the last obstacles to a coup against the Council outright shocks her.” I’d find better words than “outright shocks,” but it’s a start.--<<

    Valeriah hides Crystal in a suburb of Los Angeles while she tries to unravel<--Though it’s not technically wrong, I don’t like this usage of unravel. It’s probably a petty bias on my part, but I’ve seen it used this way in three queries in as many days, which makes me think it’s overused, too. I recommend a “fresher” word, like maybe “untangle,” “disentangle,” or something unusual like “unriddle.” It’s stronger if you drop “tries to”--<< the conspiracy, but she needs help to protect Crystal.<--Awkward sentence. Try reordering.--<< She has to decide who she can trust. She wants to believe the handsome stranger who has already helped to save Crystal’s life,<--awkward. If you mention him above, you can drop the explicatory awkwardness.--<< even though her instincts tell her that<--For the query, I think you should drop the wishy-washy language--<< he’s hiding something. Her only other choice is a member of the Council who has already turned his back on her once. What she doesn’t know is that one of them is the killer.
    I think the last paragraph could use some polish. It reads a little awkward throughout. You’ve fit a whole lot in three paragraphs. I think it would help to set up some of the trust issues earlier, and I think you could do it with little effect on your word count. For example, the sentence beginning with “When her cousin’s life is threatened. . . .” could say: “A handsome stranger thwarts her cousin Crystal’s murder, galvanizing Valeriah to defy danger and even death to save her.” (Same word count.) It can be better, of course, but I was obsessing over word count. "A handsome stranger takes a knife in the side protecting her cousin Crystal from a killer, . . ." would give some particularity.

    Here’s my reduced version of the last paragraph:

    Valeriah hides Crystal in a Los Angeles suburb, but she needs help protecting her while she disentangles the conspiracy. She wants to trust the handsome stranger, but he’s hiding something. A Council member offers, but he had abandoned them before. She agonizes without knowing that one of them is the killer.

    I hope that’s helpful.

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