PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
sarramaria
Posts: 9
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 12:31 pm
Contact:

PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sarramaria » July 19th, 2010, 3:42 pm

**Hi everyone. I have been spending some time lately reading through some great queries here, and I think I finally have a starting point for my pitch. I have a huge pitch appointment next week, and I am planning to start sending out agent queries soon, so if anyone has any feedback, I would sincerely appreciate your help. Thanks!!!** Sarra

Parrish Sorrows couldn’t care less about going to Europe. Just because her younger sister is some kind of violin genius who gets to headline with orchestras all over the world while Parrish gets shipped off to boarding school, doesn’t mean that Parrish isn’t special. It’s just that no one knows it yet. All that is about to change.

A terrible virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions within weeks of the first infection. To make matters worse, some of the dead – don’t stay dead. Parrish is soon forced to come to grips with the loss of her parents, strange new magical abilities she isn’t sure how to control, oh, and flesh-eating zombies. As if that isn’t enough for a sixteen-year-old girl to handle, a witch from another dimension is tracking her and possibly wants her dead.

Despite all this, Parrish must travel to New York City, the most dangerous post-zombie-apocalypse city in the nation, to rescue her sister. Along the way, she’ll meet up with four other teens whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus.

PANDEMIC is a completed 90,000 word young adult urban fantasy manuscript about a group of teen heroes who must come to terms with their new magical abilities while trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.

They are about to find out that zombies are the least of their problems.

User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sbs_mjc1 » July 19th, 2010, 4:28 pm

Parrish Sorrows couldn’t care less about going to Europe. Just because her younger sister is some kind of violin genius who gets to headline with orchestras all over the world while Parrish gets shipped off to boarding school, doesn’t mean that Parrish isn’t special. It’s just that no one knows it yet. All that is about to change.
This paragraph doesn't tell us anything about the plot, and only a little about the characters.

Parrish Sorrows lives a boring life in the shadow of her younger sister, a famous musical prodigy, until A a terrible virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions within weeks of the first infection. To make matters worse, some of the deaddon’t stay dead. Parrish is soon forced to come to grips with the loss of her parents, strange new magical abilities she isn’t sure how to control, oh, and flesh-eating zombies. As if that isn’t enough for a sixteen-year-old girl to handle, a witch from another dimension is tracking her and possibly wants her dead.

Despite all this Now Parrish must travel to New York City, the most dangerous post-zombie-apocalypse city in the nation, to rescue her sister. Along the way, she’ll meet up with she meets four other teens whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus. But these remarkable teenagers Theyare about to find out that zombies are the least of their problems. [<moved from the end of the letter]

PANDEMIC, is a young adult urban fantasy manuscript novel, is complete at 90,000 words. about a group of teen heroes who must come to terms with their new magical abilities while trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Don't include redundant information-- shorter is better in queries!
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by wilderness » July 19th, 2010, 4:38 pm

I agree with sbs_mjc1 that the first paragraph needs to go. I get you're trying to introduce the character, but it is too jarring when we get to zombies. And going to Europe doesn't turn out to be the conflict at all.

I would cut the first paragraph, and then add another paragraph that expands on what happens next. Expand on "Along the way, she’ll meet up with four other teens whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus." Why are their destinies connected to the mysterious virus? Also, not sure it makes sense to mention 4 teens without further description.

Also, as written the magical powers don't seem to mesh with the zombies; the reference "strange new magical abilities" seems kind of thrown in there. Perhaps it makes more sense to first introduce the magical abilities, then the zombies, and then how she uses the magical abilities to fight the zombies (just to make it seem more cohesive). I think when you mesh genres, you have to be very careful that it seems natural, logical, and not that you were just reaching for ideas willy-nilly. But I'm sure with some tweaking you can do it!

Good luck!

EvelynEhrlich
Posts: 79
Joined: February 13th, 2010, 12:41 am
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 19th, 2010, 4:49 pm

Hi Sarra,
I think there are good ideas here, but they need to be organized more coherently. I understand you know the book so well that it's sometimes hard to see where your thoughts jump and might not make sense to another reader. Some comments below, hope they don't come across as too harsh and are helpful.
sarramaria wrote:
Parrish Sorrows need to know her age so the agent understands right off the bat that you're pitching YA couldn’t care less about going to Europe.The opening makes me think she's going to Europe, and that the story will be set in Europe. But it's not. It throws me off a bit. Just because her younger sister is some kind of violin genius who gets to headline with orchestras all over the world you get so little space to talk about your MC in a query, so don't focus on her sister. This snarky opening also makes Parrish seem bratty. Even if she's got a hilarious, sarcastic wit, be careful not to let her come across as unlikeable while Parrish gets shipped off to boarding school, Boarding school doesn't come up again in the query, so you might be able to delete it if it's irrelevant to the pitch doesn’t mean that Parrish isn’t special. It’s just that no one knows it yet. All that is about to change. The opening has potential, but it's also a standard set-up that an MC is special but just doesn't know it yet. You can probably condense the concept into one sentence, focusing on Parrish, not her sister (see comment below about magical abilities).

A terrible instead of telling us it's terrible, can you show us by briefly describing it? Not gross details, but at least something that grounds us: is it SARS? Bubonic plague? Mutant strain of leprosy? virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions within weeks of the first infection. The voice in the preceding sentence is different from the opening paragraph, and the sudden change is jarring. To make matters worse, some of the dead –delete the dash don’t stay dead. Parrish is soon forced to come to grips with the loss of her parents, do they die from the disease or the zombies? You can say it outright strange new magical abilities she isn’t sure how to control,this ties in to the opening paragraph (Parrish = special) but you don't explain it enough. Since it sounds like a main plotline (Parrish discovering her specialness and finding her place in the world), you should spend more time on fleshing it out (no pun intended!) oh, and flesh-eating zombies. I think the zombie part is already clear from the middle of the paragraph, so you might leave it off here. Otherwise, you end up with a walloping list of catastrophes, and it feels overwhelming. As if that isn’t enough for a sixteen-year-old girl to handle, a witch from another dimension is tracking her and possibly wants her dead. Is this the main plotline? Because if it's not, I'd leave it out of the query. Parrish already has plenty going on!

Despite all this,Need a different transition. Something like, "Once she's discovered her magical ability to kill zombies for good," (what I just wrote is terrible, and probably inaccurate for your story, but I'm sure you can make it lovely) Parrish must travel to New York City, the most dangerous post-zombie-apocalypse city in the nation, to rescue her sister. Thought her sister was in Europe? Why is she in NYC? Kidnapped by zombies? Along the way, she’ll meet up with four other teens whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus.

They are about to find out that zombies are the least of their problems.

PANDEMIC is a completed 90,000 insert dash word young adult urban fantasy manuscript about a group of teen heroes who must come to terms with their new magical abilities while trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Don't need this last bit, as it's well established by now. Also, you say it's about a group of teen heroes, but the query focuses on Parrish. Is it about Parrish, or an ensemble cast? If the latter, you'll want to talk about the other teens, too. If they're not the MCs, though, leave them out (as you currently have it).

They are about to find out that zombies are the least of their problems. This is in the wrong place. It should be with the rest of the stuff describing your story.

sarramaria
Posts: 9
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 12:31 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sarramaria » July 19th, 2010, 6:10 pm

Thanks for all of the feedback so far, it's really eye-opening. I feel like I've written and rewritten the query a thousand times, lol... and it still needs so much work! The story focuses on Parrish in large part, but it is told in multiple third person POV including the four other teens and the witch. I am not sure how to bring this into the query, though, without creating a laundry-list of characters or without making the query way too long. Back to the drawing board with this one then. Thanks for the comments!

Sarra

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by wilderness » July 19th, 2010, 6:18 pm

As for the multiple POV, I think your current approach works. Concentrate on one character (Parrish) and then mention she meets a group of teens that she presumably teams up with. Since you don't want to mention all the names, I would refer to them as a group (the fact that there are four of them isn't important).

User avatar
Heather B
Posts: 234
Joined: May 23rd, 2010, 7:56 pm
Location: Newcastle - the Australian one.
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by Heather B » July 19th, 2010, 7:38 pm

Just something to keep in mind, the first half of your query reminds me strongly of Resident Evil, especially the line "the dead - don't stay dead." I'm sure the story is completely different but this is how it comes across at first.

My suggestion is to focus on her abilities and her journey to save her sister. Add the zombies in for conflict but don't focus on them. It can be hard when what you want to write about has been done before, at such a popular level, but at least it proves to be marketable - you just need it to be unique at the same time.

And trust me, I know how frustrating it is going over queries again and again and again...
Journey to the Cuckoo's Nest

http://heathermbryant.blogspot.com.au/

sarramaria
Posts: 9
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 12:31 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sarramaria » July 20th, 2010, 12:17 am

Okay, so I've been playing around with a totally new direction here. What if I do something more like:

Science can't begin to explain the mysterious plague sweeping the globe, killing millions within weeks of the first infection. The fate of humanity rests in the hands of five remarkable teens whose dormant magical powers awaken just as the dead begin to rise. In a world overrun by zombies, these teens team up and embark on a journey across the chaotic countryside to escape an evil witch who wants their powers for herself. Together, they must uncover the link between the deadly virus and their new-found supernatural abilities before an even greater evil is unleashed on the world's remaining survivors.

Is this any more clear? Rather than focusing on Parrish and her troubles, I could switch to more of the group focus. The novel is really about all of them, after all. This is a super short attempt at a query blurb, but is it any better than the previous try? What should I work on fleshing out or clarifying? Thanks again for some really great comments!! Any other ideas or critiques are extremely welcome.

Sarra

Krista G.
Posts: 192
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:47 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by Krista G. » July 20th, 2010, 2:26 am

Just wanted to say that I thought your original query was pretty good, sbs_mjc1's critique spot-on, and that I didn't like your second pitch nearly as much. Story concepts are interesting, but the characters are the people we care about. Without characters to grab hold of, it's easy to see this - or any story - and think, "Zombie pandemic [or school for wizards, or vampire-werewolf-human love triangle]? Meh. I've seen that before."

Also, like wilderness, I think it's a good idea to focus on just Parrish (love that name, by the way, and how it's a homophone of "perish"). Hook agents with the main story arc of your book (anything else, and you run the risk of overcomplicating things), and then let them discover its layers and nuances after they request pages.

Best of luck.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

thewhipslip
Posts: 179
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 2:18 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by thewhipslip » July 20th, 2010, 3:48 pm

sarramaria wrote:
**I've read your re-do too and agree with the others that you need a character focus.

Parrish Sorrows couldn’t care less about going to Europe. Just because her younger sister is some kind of violin genius who gets to headline with orchestras all over the world while Parrish gets shipped off to boarding school, doesn’t mean that Parrish isn’t special This sentence is a bit long. Maybe try something that evokes more of Parrish's personality, such as: She could play violin with international orchestras too - if she wasn't shipped off to boarding school. This is just a framework.... It’s just that no one knows it yet. All that is about to change.

A terrible virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions within weeks of the first infection. To make matters worse, some of the dead – don’t stay dead. Parrish is soon forced to come to grips with the loss of her parents, strange new magical abilities she isn’t sure how to control Too vague. What abilities?, oh, and flesh-eating zombies. As if that isn’t enough for a sixteen-year-old girl to handle, a witch from another dimension is tracking her and possibly wants her dead That "possibly'" in there should be removed. Does she want her dead or not? Be specific..

Despite all this, Parrish must travel to New York City, the most dangerous post-zombie-apocalypse city in the nation, to rescue her sister I thought her sister was playing in Europe? Why is she in NYC? Or is Parrish's boarding school in Europe.... Along the way, she’ll meet up with four other teens whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus. I want to hear more about this. How are they connected with the virus? Through having the powers? This part is what would make me read the book. As others have said, we've seen zombie apocalypse before - it's your job to make this one different. I like the idea, just explain the powers. That's your real hook.

PANDEMIC is a completed 90,000 word young adult urban fantasy manuscript about a group of teen heroes who must come to terms with their new magical abilities while trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.

They are about to find out that zombies are the least of their problems Leave this out. Doesn't add anything..
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

sarramaria
Posts: 9
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 12:31 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sarramaria » July 21st, 2010, 5:10 pm

Big thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to look over my pitch and give such great comments and feedback. I am going to keep experimenting with formats. I definitely don't want to rush this, because I know how important the query letter is in this business. I appreciate everyone who has commented, so thank you very much!

My most recent version is taking more of a focus on the first thirty pages / inciting incident in the book. I think the "life is a nightmare" at the beginning needs to be changed to something less generic, but right now, it's a place holder until I come up with something better.

For sixteen-year-old Parrish Sorrows, life is a nightmare. Two weeks ago, her biggest worry was that she would never crawl out of the shadow of her younger sister, the violin prodigy, or get up the nerve to talk to the cute boy that lives across the street. Everything changes when Parrish is awakened at three in the morning to find her mother afflicted with a strange virus and burning with fever. She can’t get through to her father and sister in New York, 9-1-1 keeps giving her a busy signal, and there’s a line of cars at the hospital a mile long. When soldiers take her mother to a quarantine zone, a frightened Parrish is left to fend for herself.

The mysterious virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions. Soon, Parrish is forced to come to grips with the death of her parents and the fact that nothing will ever be the same again. Just when things can’t get worse, the dead begin to rise, feasting on the flesh of survivors.

In order to be reunited with her sister, who was trapped in New York when flights were grounded, Parrish must embark on a perilous journey. Along the way, she meets four others whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus. Because unlike the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu, this virus has a supernatural source, and Parrish and her friends slowly discover that they alone have the power to rid the earth of this great evil.


I'm open to any other comments if anyone has any. Thanks again all!

Sarra
http://www.sarracannon.com

thewhipslip
Posts: 179
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 2:18 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by thewhipslip » July 21st, 2010, 9:32 pm

sarramaria wrote: For sixteen-year-old Parrish Sorrows, life is a nightmare Yeah, I agree that this could be changed.. Two weeks ago, her biggest worry was that she would never crawl out of the shadow of her younger sister, the violin prodigy, or get up the nerve to talk to the cute boy that lives across the street. Everything changes when Parrish is awakened at three in the morning to find her mother afflicted with a strange virus and burning with fever Nice.. She can’t get through to her father and sister in New York, 9-1-1 keeps giving her a busy signal, and there’s a line of cars at the hospital a mile long How does she know there's a line of cars at the hospital? Just picking nits here.. When soldiers take her mother to a quarantine zone, a frightened Parrish is left to fend for herself. I think you can remove the 'frightened'. It's pretty much a given.

The mysterious virus spreads across the globe like wildfire This is a good spot to use a unique simile. "wildfire' is generic., killing billions. Soon, Parrish is forced to come to grips with the death of her parents and the fact that nothing will ever be the same again This can be cut. All of this is implied.. Just when things can’t get worse, the dead begin to rise, feasting on the flesh of survivors.

In order to be reunited with her sister, who was trapped in New York when flights were grounded, Parrish must embark on a perilous journey Clunky sentence here. Go for the punch: Parrish's only family is her sister, trapped in New York. Seeing [insert sister's name here, so we know her] is all she has to live for. (or something like that. pull our heart strings a bit). Along the way, she meets four others whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus Urgh, destinies. We've all got 'em. And it sounds like the whole world is affected, so isn't everyone's destiny tied into the virus? Or is there something greater at work? Be specific.. Because unlike the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu, this virus has a supernatural source, and Parrish and her friends slowly discover that they alone have the power to rid the earth of this great evil. Okay, here we go. Cut the destiny - this is what I want to read. But be a little more specific. How are they special? Make me want to read about these guys. [/b]

I'm open to any other comments if anyone has any. Thanks again all!

Sarra
http://www.sarracannon.com


"life can be ordinary. blogs don't have to be."

check it out:
elenasolodow.blogspot.com
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by wilderness » July 22nd, 2010, 4:38 pm

sarramaria wrote:
For sixteen-year-old Parrish Sorrows, life is a nightmare. Two weeks ago, her biggest worry was that she would never crawl out of the shadow of her younger sister, the violin prodigy, or get up the nerve to talk to the cute boy that lives across the street. Everything changes when Parrish is awakened at three in the morning to find her mother afflicted with a strange virus and burning with fever. She can’t get through to her father and sister in New York, 9-1-1 keeps giving her a busy signal, and there’s a line of cars at the hospital a mile long. When soldiers take her mother to a quarantine zone, a frightened Parrish is left to fend for herself. This is really good, nice and descriptive.


The mysterious virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions. Soon, Parrish is forced to come to grips with the death of her parents and the fact that nothing will ever be the same again. Just when things can’t get worse, the dead begin to rise, feasting on the flesh of survivors. Seems like you're being overly wordy. How about:
"The mysterious virus spreads across the globe like wildfire, killing billions. Parrish is left an orphan when the dead begin to rise, feasting on the flesh of survivors."


In order to be reunited with her sister, who was trapped in New York when flights were grounded, Parrish must embark on a perilous journey. This sentence reads a little awkwardly; consider rearranging. Along the way, she meets four others whose destinies, like hers, are connected to the mysterious virus. Because unlike the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu, this virus has a supernatural source, and Parrish and her friends slowly discover that they alone have the power to rid the earth of this great evil. I think you're being too vague here. What is their power?
I like this a lot better than the previous versions, but you could still tell us a little more about what we're getting into. If this is about people with super-powers, make it plain and give some explanation of how they got they got these powers. I think "destinies...connected to the mysterious virus" is just too vague. Specificity is your friend. Really liked the descriptiveness of the first paragraph though -- but can you match it in the later part of the query?

sarramaria
Posts: 9
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 12:31 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by sarramaria » July 23rd, 2010, 12:34 pm

Thanks Wilderness and Elena, also Whip-slip! You have all been so helpful. I appreciate all of the comments and suggestions, and am going to work hard to get this revised one more time before my pitch appointment next week.

Sarra

suz
Posts: 8
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 10:36 pm
Contact:

Re: PANDEMIC - YA Urban Fantasy

Post by suz » July 23rd, 2010, 2:44 pm

Hi Sarra,

I've been following the thread and I agree that the character based query approach is much more compelling. I found your first query minus the first paragraph with the suggestions suggested by sbs_mjc1 really drew me into the story. This is something I wanted to read and it was short and to the point. Good luck with your pitch and querying.

Suz

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests