Young Adult paranormal romance

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CMO
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Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by CMO » September 8th, 2010, 10:01 am

I sent a query out recently and got rejections only. I then revised it but am still unsure so I would absolutely love some feedback. Thanks so much. Invasion of the Heart is the title and it is 70,000 complete.


All Catriona O’neil wants is to fit in, but she lives the life of a nomad. By the time Cat attends her seventeenth school, she is convinced she has seen it all. Cafeterias with bad food, snooty cliques, cute guys with supermodel girlfriends, and teachers who enjoy torturing their students. Disenchanted with life in general, she starts her senior year at a small school in the mountains of Colorado expecting nothing to change.

But in her first week she meets a gorgeous guy who has definite boyfriend potential… Jayce Mackenzie. She starts to think maybe things are changing for the better. Instead, fate laughs in her face. Jayce has a beautiful girlfriend, he hates ice cream and doesn't like cats. And if all that wasn't enough of a deal breaker for Cat, she finds out that Jayce is a descendant of aliens

Now she is entrusted with a secret too hot to handle. Her life has become a minefield filled with alien powers, and seemingly unattainable love. Ill prepared to deal with this new deadly danger, Cat is forced to make a choice. Rely on what she has always known, or trust Jayce and take a chance on alien love.

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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by Krista G. » September 8th, 2010, 10:24 am

CMO wrote:All Catriona O’neil wants is to fit in, but she lives the life of a nomad. First off, I don't think the two halves of this sentence flow naturally out of one another. Being a nomad doesn't automatically equal not fitting in, at least to me. Also, I think you can come up with a better hook than this. This first sentence could describe a lot of books. What makes your book unique? By the time Cat attends her seventeenth school, she is convinced she has seen it all. Cafeterias with bad food, snooty cliques, cute guys with supermodel girlfriends, and teachers who enjoy torturing their students. Disenchanted with life in general, she starts her senior year at a small school in the mountains of Colorado expecting nothing to change. This paragraph isn't bad, but it isn't super good, either. I realize you're setting the scene with this paragraph, but all of your images and character description kind of have that been-there, done-that feel. Again, what makes your book different? What makes Catriona a fresh and interesting MC?

But in her first week she meets a gorgeous guy who has definite boyfriend potential… Jayce Mackenzie. I'm not digging the ellipsis here. A comma would work just as well - or a period, if you want to give it emphasis. She starts to think Maybe things are changing for the better. Instead, fate laughs in her face. Jayce has a beautiful girlfriend, and he hates ice cream and doesn't like cats. And if all that wasn't enough of a deal breaker for Cat, she finds out that Jayce is also a descendant of aliens<--You missed the period here.

Now she is entrusted with a secret too hot to handle. I don't like this sentence for a few reasons. First, the phrase "too hot to handle" smacks of cliche and doesn't really fit the context of the story, anyway. I also wonder at her being entrusted with this secret. Does Jayce actually tell her this? Why would he tell her if he's not interested in her? There's a jump in the storyline between this paragraph and the last that you should probably fill in. Her life has become a minefield filled with alien powers, and seemingly unattainable love. Again, I don't like the minefield reference because it's cliche and doesn't fit the context. Ill prepared to deal with this new deadly danger, Cat is forced to make a choice. Rely on what she has always known, or trust Jayce and take a chance on alien love. Again, the last I knew, Jayce had a girlfriend, so I'm wondering how they're suddenly in love.
If you give this query more voice and show how INVASION OF THE HEART is unique, I think you'll be well on your way. Right now, this just sounds like TWILIGHT with an alien instead of a vampire. (Which I don't mean as an insult, since I actually loved TWILIGHT. The rest of the series spiraled downward, but I still enjoy the original.)

Good luck!
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 8th, 2010, 3:31 pm

CMO wrote:I sent a query out recently and got rejections only. I then revised it but am still unsure so I would absolutely love some feedback. Thanks so much. Invasion of the Heart is the title and it is 70,000 complete.


All Catriona O’neil wants is to fit in, but she lives the life of a nomad. By the time Cat attends her seventeenth school, she is convinced she has seen it all. Cafeterias with bad food, snooty cliques, cute guys with supermodel girlfriends, and teachers who enjoy torturing their students. Disenchanted with life in general, she starts her senior year at a small school in the mountains of Colorado expecting nothing to change. I actually like this paragraph. It makes me recall the angst of high school. I will agree with the previous comment regarding the first sentence. Maybe: "Catriona O'neil lives the life of a nomad. By the time...

But in her first week she meets a gorgeous guy who has definite boyfriend potential… Jayce Mackenzie. She starts to think maybe things are changing for the better. Instead, fate laughs in her face. Jayce has a beautiful girlfriend, he hates ice cream and doesn't like cats. And if all that wasn't enough of a deal breaker for Cat, she finds out that Jayce is a descendant of aliens And this is where you lose me...and the agents I imagine. Maybe: "Cat's life starts to change for the better when she meets a gorgeous guy with definite boyfriend potential. But Jayve Mackenzie has a beautiful girlfriend and [insert appropriate problem]." Leave out the cat and ice cream hatred, it just doesn't connect. Instead elaborate on the alien descendent thing. You mention it and just leave it without explaining anything.

Now she is entrusted with a secret too hot to handle. Why has Jayce decided to trust her? Her life has become a minefield filled with alien powers, and seemingly unattainable I would use "unrequited" instead of "seemingly unattainable"love. Ill prepared to deal with this new deadly danger, What danger? All we know if that her crush is a descendent of aliens.Cat is forced to make a choice: rely on what she has always known, or trust Jayce and take a chance on alien love.
I think this has potential, but I don't think you are properly conveying the plot. Don't get so hung up on enticing the agent that you forget to tell them the plot. Nice try and good luck to you!

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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by lachrymal » September 8th, 2010, 6:53 pm

I immediately got the Twilight vibe here, and then, when you revealed he was an alien, I thought, "Oh, Twilight with aliens!"

Unfortunately, you're fighting against this in your query. Perhaps your story bears no resemblance to Twilight, apart from the slightly-misfit-girl-is-brand-new-at-a-school-in-a -somewhat-remote-town-and-meets-a-cute-boy-who-turns-out-to-be-non-human. Unfortunately, that's all I know from your query.

Many agents have blogged about how many Twilight knock-offs they get, and I think they're sensitized to anything that even remotely reminds them of *that book*--which may get you rejected when you don't deserve to be.

So. I suggest you rewrite the query with a focus on plot and on making it clear how your book is in no way a Twilight knock-off. What's unique? What kind of alien? What kind of person is Cat? What's the complication (apart from the girlfriend)?

Best of luck to you!

CMO
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by CMO » September 8th, 2010, 9:39 pm

I can really get where you all get the Twilight knockoff from. Kristen Nelson said to write a query from the first 30 pages of your book. Mine has similarities to Twilight. I think i am going to have to rework the entire thing. Thank you all so much for your honest critiques. This is exactly what I needed to hear and I so appreciate it.

Write2Me
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by Write2Me » September 9th, 2010, 1:39 am

be careful...dont necessarily change your vision because of the success of a major book. A newbie got a sick deal to basically combine twilight with the ancient chronicles of percy jackson, and for better or worse, imitation is inevitable because publishers tend to want what is 'hot'. I mean how different is twilight or the notebook or any other romance from the standard romeo & juliet? The story itself is almost as basic as the human condition- star-crossed lovers. Its more about the content of the book. If the book is too similar to twilight, then sure, that might be something to consider, but I'd rather have an agent reject my idea and explain why they dont think its ready, or a beta reader.

As a previous poster mentioned, stick with what makes the book unique. I'd just emphasize the struggle with him being an alien, what makes him strange/scary. Does he have weird powers, any weird habits, etc that make him slightly repulsive or make her attraction to him seem somehow wrong and vile.

JadePhoenix
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by JadePhoenix » September 9th, 2010, 11:39 pm

I don't think it's so much that 'Oh, your book is Twilight with aliens", it's more that your query makes it SOUND like it is. I don't know if that makes sense, but it does to me! :) Anyway, you just need to make sure that your query shows what YOUR book is about, not the similarities it has with Twilight. That way an agent will read it and think "this is an original story I'd like to read". Then, later, when they're reading the partial they can maybe think "hmmm, some similarities to Twilight" as you said, but they're not going into it thinking that, they're going in thinking it's your story and it just so happens to have these similarities. Lots of books have things like that, there's a TON of vampire/teenage girl romances out there right now and they didn't get rejected because they're like Twilight, heck, Twilight didn't get rejected because it was like Vampire Diaries (and by that I mean the books that came out in the early 90s, not the tv show). SO, it's fine that your book has similarities to Twilight because many, many books have similarities to many other books, that's why we have market trends. You just want to make sure you set your book apart - not "this is Twilight with aliens" but "this is my book and while it has a few similarities to Twilight it is an original story that can stand on its own".

Soooooo, to make a LONG explanation short cause I'm an English Major and why write two words when you can write a billion - it's not your book, it's how your query makes your book sound. All you need to do is work on your query - you don't have to rewrite your book, at least I don't think you do. :)

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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by thewhipslip » September 10th, 2010, 4:29 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Jade. I cannot tell you how many new-girl-meets-paranormal-hottie books that I've read in the past two years. They're out there, but they all have their unique touches - that's why they were published in the first place. Just make your query different.
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CMO
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by CMO » September 10th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Thanks Whip Slip, Jade, and Write 2 Me. I wrote my Query on the first few pages of my book but I think I am going to switch some stuff around anyways and start the book with an action scene. I will write my Query after I tweak the book a little. Thanks for the encouragement my favorite books are where the girl falls for the guy she never thinks she can have and then miraculously he loves her too. Now I need to find a way to show the difference between my book and every other book out there and make a Query interesting enough so an agent will read it. Thanks again.

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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by theWallflower » September 10th, 2010, 5:00 pm

All Catriona O’neil wants is to fit in that's all any girl wants to do, it's cliche, isn't there anything else she wants out of life? Does she want to win the spelling bee? Does she want to go to college? Does she want to make a really neat manga?, but she lives the life of a nomad. By the time Cat attends her seventeenth school, she is convinced she has seen it all. Cafeterias with bad food, snooty cliques, cute guys with supermodel girlfriends, and teachers who enjoy torturing their students. Disenchanted with life in general, she starts her senior year at a small school in the mountains of Colorado expecting nothing to change.
-somebody's bitter about high school
-why does she move around so much?
-your character is not unique at all. She fits every stereotype--a bag of hormones, daddy issues, self-centeredness, and an obsession with social status. Make her different, please, for the sake of my daughters.
-this paragraph is more about high school cliches than about your character or story. What makes your story special?
But in her first week she meets a gorgeous guy who has definite boyfriend potential… Jayce Mackenzie. She starts to think maybe things are changing for the better. Instead, fate laughs in her face. Jayce has a beautiful girlfriend, he hates ice cream and doesn't like cats. And if all that wasn't enough of a deal breaker for Cat, she finds out that Jayce is a descendant of aliens
-why would she even think about a boyfriend if she's constantly moving around everywhere. Surely she's had her heart broken enough times to stop wanting a boy altogether
-just because she meets a guy she thinks things are changing for the better? Nothing else has happened in her life?
-if he's a descendant of aliens, does that make him an alien himself? Or is he a native American-alien? Immigration laws are fuzzy on this. I think you still have to be human to vote. Doesnt' necessarily say that, but it's implied in the constitution, since only humans are the sentient beings.
-what does not liking ice cream or cats have to do with anything? lots of people are lactose intolerant and allergic
Now she is entrusted with a secret too hot to handle. Her life has become a minefield filled with alien powers, and seemingly unattainable love. Ill prepared to deal with this new deadly danger, Cat is forced to make a choice. Rely on what she has always known, or trust Jayce and take a chance on alien love.
-how does she get entrusted with this secret
-a minefield? How?
-what danger is there to her? You need to illustrate it.
-What choice is there? What is she relying on? What is she trusting Jayce with?

Not only is this a Twilight rip-off, it's also a rip-off of every YA science fiction book out there. In love with an alien is one of the most trite cliches in the book. I'm sure there'll be plenty of commenting on the peculiar habits of humans for comedic effect (see #16 here http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelin ... mmon.shtml)

Style-wise, you leave too many questions open. Make it a little longer, and focus less on the little things like ice cream and snooty cliques. Content-wise, you haven't given me anything to make me interested in this book. I don't know what the catalyst is for starting the story, what the character decides to do about that catalyst, and what the stakes are.

Finally, you need to stop with the stereotypes. Read http://www.gailgiles.com/stereotypes.html and http://inwhichagirl.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... in-ya.html. You have to.
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lisa01
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by lisa01 » September 10th, 2010, 7:52 pm

Open up with a strong hook. Nathan has some blog posts (or at least one) about effective hooks or premises. A premise should appear at the opening of your story and should emcompass the central conflict. I'm sure I'm butchering this, so go look under the FAQ's on the blog. Once you have that, hopefully everything will follow and just fall into place. Keep refining, you'll get there.

CMO
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Re: Young Adult paranormal romance

Post by CMO » September 10th, 2010, 8:20 pm

Wallflower I do thank you for your critique. My book is actually about aliens living secretly amongst us for the last 300 yrs so your alien thing about laughter of humans really doesn't apply. My characters are trying to live on earth without anyone knowing. Thanks for the cliche stuff that was great.

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