QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
gnf
Posts: 9
Joined: November 5th, 2010, 4:50 am
Contact:

QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by gnf » August 13th, 2012, 1:30 am

I'm a long time lurker and have watched the query struggle. Now it's my time.

Genies are supposed to live in bottles and grant wishes. Mermaids are supposed to have tails and shipwreck sailors. Maybe that's why Alassa has never told her children, Aimon and Leuca, her big secret.

When a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef ends with the disappearance of their mother, teens Aimon and Leuca are left stranded underwater, caught in a desperate war between the Nammu and the Mar’rdiin. The Nammu, finned humans, able to breathe underwater, read minds and manipulate molecules, are protectors of the ocean; the Mar’rdiin are primordial spirits with one goal: environmental collapse. The only person who can stop them, Aimon and Leuca’s mother, has been kidnapped.

To rescue her, Aimon and Leuca have just one choice: accept they aren't human and join Alassa's adopted Nammu Clan. For Aimon, this means discovering he can see the future - full of catastrophe and the vision of his own death - even as he becomes overwhelmingly but impossibly attracted to his beautiful Nammu cousin. For Leuca, it means watching the father she has never known die at the whim of the ageless Mar'rd who has captured Alassa.

As the planet teeters towards cataclysm, Aimon and Leuca must solve a vanishing puzzle and dodge the sea's deadliest creatures, while searching for the ancient talisman that belongs to Alassa. Without it, they cannot rescue her. Without Alassa, they have no hope against the environmental warfare being waged by the Mar'rdiin.

All comments welcome and gratefully received. If you have a query on which you would like feedback, please let me know.

Sleeping Beauty
Posts: 87
Joined: May 21st, 2010, 2:51 am
Contact:

Re: QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by Sleeping Beauty » August 13th, 2012, 7:42 am

Very pretty writing and beautiful names. This query's pretty much there, if a little dense. I only have minor quibbles, really - I wouldn't reference genies in the first line if that's not really here nor there. Saying it's 'no vampires/zombies/werewolves' when it's about mermaids sounds somewhat condescending, so I hope you don't reference that elsewhere in the query. I also had a little trouble with the siblings, because - and forgive me if it's the spelling - they're both unusual names and not particularly gendered, so I actually thought they were both boys. I was pronouncing them like 'Eamon' and 'Luka'.

Did you miss the title, genre and word count on purpose?

Great job overall!

gnf
Posts: 9
Joined: November 5th, 2010, 4:50 am
Contact:

Re: QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by gnf » August 13th, 2012, 8:37 am

Hi Sleeping Beauty

thank you for critiquing.

I'll start with your last point first - intentionally excluded - but thanks for making the effort to point it out, because you didn't know and it would be dreadful not to include those things.

You're pretty much well there with the names - Aimon [eye-mon] and Leuca [le-u-ca], that latter 'u' is very slurred into 'ca'. A boy and a girl (the names are contractions of mythological names - but that is a minor detail and revealed much later in the book).

I'm sorry I sounded condescending - I wasn't sure if everybody had had their fill of those UF creatures. You're right - vamps, w'wolves, and zombies have nothing to do with the plot.

Genies/Mermaids mentioned in the first line so that you know which myth - except that my two races aren't the traditional myth of either. The Nammu are fluked humans (but a friend who hasn't read the first chapter really stumbled over that so I changed it to 'finned)', and the Mar'rdiin are the equivalent of Arabian spirits (that's actually the pronunciation in Arabic - Mar-r-d-i-i-n.

I agonised long and hard over the first sentence this because I don't want the book put in the mermaid category - although it is fantasy, there is a lot of science in it, and a little bit of SF, as well. But the Nammu are based on humans and cetaceans (because of the science behind that), not humans and fish - which I've always found mind-boggling!

Sleeping Beauty
Posts: 87
Joined: May 21st, 2010, 2:51 am
Contact:

Re: QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by Sleeping Beauty » August 13th, 2012, 10:49 am

I completely missed the genies!

Okay, so. The antagonist spirits still seem to have aquatic themes, being associated with environmental issues, and since the siblings are underwater, I thought they were as well - I actually thought the were the 'deadly sea creatures'! I thought you were going for a more traditional mermaids vs sirens mythology. Can you see where I went wrong? I personally think that you mustn't be too clever in a query - 'genie' is shorthand, yes, but you don't want to lose the agent in your worldbuilding.

It's hard, when you're trying to take established tropes and reverse them, without calling them what they are. I think you actually only used the word 'mermaid' once, but the qualifyers - finned humans, breathing underwater, etc - kept that mythos firmly in my hand, so I know it's a creature representative of a mermaid, but I also know it's a different take. Now that you've said they're actually cetacean-people - like whales and dolphins, yes? - I find that angle really interesting.

You seem to be worrying too much about avoiding buzzwords. Maybe replace 'primordial' with 'genie-like'? ('Primordial' makes me think of that whole 'primordial soup' thing where evolutions began, anyway!)

gnf
Posts: 9
Joined: November 5th, 2010, 4:50 am
Contact:

Re: QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by gnf » August 13th, 2012, 11:07 am

Omigosh!

Your reply makes me think I should delete my previous one! You've moved even further from what I wanted to convey! Yikes.

The Mar'rdiin are primordial as in primordial soup, so at least that worked. They are not aquatic in any way shape or form. However, the original arabic myth is that the Mar'rdiin could be water spirits, or had an affinity with water, so I'm playing on this because the Mar'rd responsible for kidnapping Alassa can exist as water (this is where the SF/science starts to come in). But these 'genies' aren't found underwater. They are the bad guys, so that was right, too.

Erm...

:oops:

Thanks for persevering! Maybe I'll just drop the first two lines. Another friend said much the same as you in your first post - those two lines don't add much, since there is a description in teh subsequent paras. And you didn't connect Mar'rdiin with 'genie' (and why should you?), so it probably doesn't work. I guess you have to know that 'ginni' is the singular in arabic for 'ginn' which is from where we have 'genie' in english.

double :oops:

suef
Posts: 14
Joined: August 3rd, 2012, 8:35 pm
Contact:

Re: QUERY: MG/YA Urban Fantasy - no vampires/zombies/werewolves

Post by suef » August 13th, 2012, 2:40 pm

Thank you for your comments on my query. I hope to be as helpful :)

Let's take a look:

Genies are supposed to live in bottles and grant wishes. Mermaids are supposed to have tails and shipwreck sailors. Maybe that's why Alassa has never told her children, Aimon and Leuca, her big secret.This hook doesn't grab me much. What is the big secret? Is the mother half genie and half mermaid? Why does this information (about mermaids and genies) keep her from telling the kids?

When a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef ends with the disappearance of their mother, teens Aimon and Leuca are left stranded underwater, caught in a desperate war between the Nammu and the Mar’rdiin. The Nammu, finned humans, able to breathe underwater, read minds and manipulate molecules, are protectors of the ocean; the Mar’rdiin are primordial spirits with one goal: environmental collapse. The only person who can stop them, Aimon and Leuca’s mother, has been kidnapped. Now this is exciting-maybe get the hook for paragraph one from here? Why is the mother the only one who can stop them?

To rescue her, Aimon and Leuca have just one choice: accept they aren't human and join Alassa's adopted Nammu Clan. I know you are trying to establish your world but all the names from the kids, mother, and the strange spelling for the races, can be a bit much. It may turn off a potential reader. Mar'rdiin is a tough one-you might want to shorten it to something that sounds the same.For Aimon, this means discovering he can see the future - full of catastrophe and the vision of his own death - even as he becomes overwhelmingly but impossibly attracted to his beautiful Nammu cousin. For Leuca, it means watching the father she has never known die at the whim of the ageless Mar'rd who has captured Alassa.

As the planet teeters towards cataclysm, Aimon and Leuca must solve a vanishing puzzle and dodge the sea's deadliest creatures, while searching for the ancient talisman that belongs to Alassa. This is the first time you mention a talisman... Without it, they cannot rescue her. Why not? It wasn't mentioned above.Without Alassa, they have no hope against the environmental warfare being waged by the Mar'rdiin.

This story is certainly intriguing, but I got hung up in the names a little. You also might want to elaborate on what I questioned. Great start!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests