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Persephone's Waltz--Adult Fantasy (will return favor)


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#1 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 10:48 PM

LATEST VERSION HERE

 

Thanks for the feedback! Please leave a link to your query to make it easier to return the favor.

 

In her four months left to live, Holy Maiden Ysabel has three goals. Number one: improve women’s rights. Number two: help the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight. Number three: prevent anyone from finding out that her “virginal” image conceals a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Since her healing powers drain a day off her life every time she uses them, she feels entitled to make the most of the little time she has left.

 

Her goal is to take the first female team to the World Games, which replace war to determine the fate of nations. No mere entertainment, these death matches between Magiknights will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. Time is short since if she manages to live to age twenty-five, she’ll be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves Dark Lord Kaine from being outed as a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel.



#2 W.P.

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 02:10 AM

In her four months left to live, Holy Maiden Ysabel has three goals. Number one: improve women’s rights. Number two: help the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight. Number three: prevent anyone from finding out that her “virginal” image conceals a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Since her healing powers drain a day off her life every time she uses them, she feels entitled to make the most of the little time she has left.  ((So many good hooks here, but I feel like they are wasted, being all dumped in the same place. Now none really stands out because all of them are sticking out just the same. I also think that the explanation "since her healing powers..." should be connected to the first sentence. Telling us she has four months left to live is a good hook, telling us she has four months to live due to her healing powers draining her life... that's a great hook. And it shows us that she is a good person who would rather save others at the cost of her life, rather than protecting her own livelihood. That to me is the best way to start. Then you could introduce her goals. But right now it's all jumbled together.))

 

Her goal is to take the first female team to the World Games, which replace war to determine the fate of nations. No mere entertainment, these death matches between Magiknights will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. Time is short since if she manages to live to age twenty-five, she’ll be sacrificed in a magical ritual. ((I actually think the query would be a lot better if you skipped the goals in the first paragraph. Those goals are abstract and don't tell us anything about the world. Here, those goals are shown in a much more interesting way. Your first paragraph could easily be trimmed down to the very hook: Ysabel has only four months to live due to her healing abilities.))

 

Then she saves Dark Lord Kaine from being outed as a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his army off her doorstep. ((Now you lost me. The tension had been growing nd growing but now this paragraph has a totally different tone. lighter, cuter, and just feels odd. Is there a way to introduce the love interest in a way that is more intense and is consistent with the tone of the query?))Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel.

 

 

 

​Interesting premise! I think some parts of the query could be rearranged, and that the least paragraph should be consistent with the rest of the query, but overall I did enjoy it and it did grab my attention. :) Hope the feedback helps.

 

 

Link to my query:  http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=358070



#3 JoQwerty

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 02:13 AM

The query raises a number of issues that are not helpful.

 

1) If the "World Games" have replaced war to "determine the fate of nations", why does "Dark Lord Kaine" threaten to invade Ysabel's country? If he has an army and does not obey the "rules", then I would expect other leaders and other nations to do the same.

 

2) In the first two paragraphs we get the impression she does not want to die in the sacrificial ritual awaiting her when she turns 25, but in the last sentence we get the impression she does want to die in the ritual and not beforehand. If she wins the games, but dies in the ritual before she has a chance to make all the societal changes she wants to make (we remember she has only four months to do all this), is that not a bigger betrayal of the people she wants to save than if she lived and worked for their cause for years to make sure her changes could not be reversed?

 

3) How does alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, chain-smoking, and working as a dominatrix help her prepare for the "World Games"?

 

 

Your twitter pitch in another post calls the manuscript a "romantic comedy", but your last sentence calls the manuscript a "fantasy novel". To me, the query reads like a satire. The difference being that a romantic comedy should be light entertainment, but a satire uses comedic elements to criticize people or society. Terry Pratchett is Fantasy / Satire and is not going to appeal to people who want a Fantasy / Romantic Comedy.



#4 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:46 AM

Thanks for the feedback! I've returned all crits now, please leave a link to your query to make it easier. Here's my draft 2:

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. It shouldn’t be too hard to prevent anyone from finding out that her “virginal” image conceals a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the naïve do-gooder healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

War among the civilized nations has been eliminated, replaced by the World Games. Victory in these Magiknight death matches will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves Dark Lord Kaine from being outed as a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his illicit army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel.



#5 TeaTime

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 08:08 PM

Thanks for the feedback! I've returned all crits now, please leave a link to your query to make it easier. Here's my draft 2:

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. (This is a good opening line, but we don't get the reason why she's going to die until the end of the second paragraph, right? Switching to other topics feels a bit jarring) It shouldn’t be too hard to prevent anyone from finding out that her “virginal” image conceals a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the naïve do-gooder healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight. (So she's a "bad" good person? Or a "good" bad person?)

 

War among the civilized nations has been eliminated (What kind of world is this? Up until now the hints seem to be medieval-ish fantasy world, but all of these progressive ideals keep making it seem like more of a "now-ish" time/setting), replaced by the World Games. Victory in these Magiknight (Is this a stock fantasy term for a magic/melee combo type of fighting?) death matches will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team (Is she specifically dying just to have the first female team formed? Or is forming the first female team that wins the death matches what is required to rewrite the laws/get the land?), Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves Dark Lord Kaine from being outed as a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos (She shoos off an army?) his illicit (Illicit in what way?) army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct (About what? I assume not getting sacrificed, but that plot thread isn't in the clearest of sight with everything else going on) she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save. (Good stakes)

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel.

 

A couple things to clarify just a bit more--the setting, & the World Games details--but otherwise this is a really interesting concept & balancing of self-sacrifice & political goals. Good job  :smile: 


Feel Free to Check Out My Current Query Letter Here, Thank You


#6 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 10:04 AM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals that behind her “virginal” image is a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the naïve do-gooder healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

War among the civilized nations has been eliminated, replaced by the World Games. Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves the life of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.



#7 Tyokunbo

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 12:33 PM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals that behind her “virginal” image is a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. (I like these words : chain-smoking, alcohol- loving dominatrix. They stand out.) Acting the part of the naïve do-gooder healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

War among the civilized nations has been eliminated, replaced by the World Games. (Find a way to link the first paragraph to the second. The transition between the two paragraphs seems jarring) Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves the life of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans (Will agents connect with this word easily? man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos (Can a stronger word be found to replace this? It seems too weak to describe beating back an army) his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.

 

But your query doesn't answer the following questions.

What does this character want? I mean, her primary motivation: she seems to want too  many things.

What are the obstacles standing in front of her? We may not be able to find this because her motivations seem very many.

What sacrifices is she making to achieving her primary objective. This boils down to her primary objective.

Still, it's an interesting and original story. It different from others around. I think the voice needs to be heard.

 

 

I'll appreciate it if you can take a look at my query at the link below:

http://agentquerycon...pic/38912-kari/



#8 Bibliophyl

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 02:51 PM

This sounds super interesting!

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals that behind her “virginal” image is a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. [so from these 2 sentences I was thinking this was a modern-day story...it was a bit jarring to realize it's fantasy] Acting the part of the naïve do-gooder healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

War among the civilized nations has been eliminated, replaced by the World Games. [a little confused how this relates to the previous paragraph...maybe start with the connection to your character, e.g. "Ysabel strives for a ticket to the World Games, where she can..." Obviously you can write it better, but you get the idea] Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she saves the life of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs [this wording is very modern--maybe that's what you're going for but it's at odds with my view of a fantasy setting unless it's a contemporary fantasy] is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. [I would love more details on the setting--that's the main thing I'm missing here] The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.

 

Hope that is helpful!



#9 Caligulas

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 09:46 PM

Honestly think the query has too much going on. First paragraph makes it seem like a story about a woman looking to save other women. Second paragraph is like a magical Hunger Games. Third paragraph is a like a medieval romance. It's fine if the book has all these elements, but the query needs to focus on the central plot. As well, like mentioned, answer the questions what the character wants, what stands in their way, what do they have to do to get what they want, AND what bad thing might happen if they do and don't to show what's at stake.



#10 RegE

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 10:43 PM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals that behind her “virginal” ( would pure be a better word to use? Also I would lose the quotation marks) image is a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the naïve (naive) do-gooder (good girl healer. Other wise you have two many words joined by a hyphen) healer allows her to manipulate nobles and the priesthood. It's also helping to.... advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who flede into her country from the Blight. Can you add the information about the dominatrix here? Because right now the first few sentences conjure different images to sentence following. I go from modern story to fantasy in my head. It might be better to start To most peoples eyes Holy is the pure girl who helps the refugees and bla bbla bla. But secretly she's a chain smoking bla bla bla.  But the shock would be kinda cool if it followed the introduction of a fantasy setting. 

 

(Adding this would make the two paragraphs flow together better. When the annual world games are announced, Holy jumps at the chance to compete. Winning this would help her to advance her political goals. War among the civilized nations has been eliminated, replaced by the World Games. Victory in these wizarding death matches  (is she a wizard?) will allow her to re-write laws and win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

During the games she saves (again thinking of flow) Then she saves the life of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans(gender, sexual??) man, and (When she realises she is going to lose the games and die, he offers to save her from the grisly fate by invading her country and ending the games permanently. he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep (I don't know if this works). Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save (Oh, so she is supposed to die a martyr?). Overall this last para is a bit confusing. Would this guy really threaten the stability of the world just to save this one girl?  If so, then I think we need a better reason for it.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.

 

Thanks for your comments on my query. I hope my comments help you too :)



#11 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 05:45 PM

Thanks to everyone for your help! Please leave a link to your query to make it easy for me to return the favor.

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals from the Sun God’s priesthood her secret nightlife as a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the innocent, virginal healer allows her to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

Her aim is the World Games, which serve as a proxy for war among the civilized nations. Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she prevents the assassination of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.



#12 eric balson

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 12:12 PM

Thanks to everyone for your help! Please leave a link to your query to make it easy for me to return the favor.

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals from the Sun God’s priesthood her secret nightlife as a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the innocent, virginal healer This is a bit vague. Who/what is virginal healer?allows her to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

Her aim is the World Games, which serve as a proxy for war among the civilized nations. Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

I'm having a hard time understanding what the story is about. It starts out about a woman who has a short time to leave, then into something political and then a fantasy-esque Hunger Games. My suggestion would be to first set the scene about what we're dealing with. The descriptions about nightlife and her being a dominatrix are a bit jarring when you start mentioning all these fantasy elements. 

 

Then she prevents the assassination of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans man, and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. The previous paragraph doesn't naturally flow into this one. It doesn't seem connected to what you mentioned in earlier paragraphs. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving and the people she wants to save.

 

I'm sorry but I just haven't been able to grasp what your story is about. Maybe it's just me.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.

Hope I've been of some help. Kindly take a look at my query here (post #95):

http://agentquerycon...o-we-are/page-5



#13 Caligulas

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 04:48 PM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals from the Sun God’s priesthood her secret nightlife as a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the innocent, virginal healer allows her to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight. (I like this first paragraph)

 

Her aim is the World Games, which serve as a proxy for war among the civilized nations. Victory in these wizarding death matches will allow her to win the refugees land. In exchange for her ticket to form the first female team, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual. (I feel there’s a little too much information in this paragraph which makes it hard to follow. Could it simply be something like “First Ysabel aims to win refugees land by competing in the World Games—wizarding death matches. But in order to form the first female team, Ysabel agrees to be sacrificed in a magical ritual”? Though I’m confused why she would need to do that. Are female teams forbidden, and why? Or why they would want to do that. What’s the purpose of this ritual? Is it a big deal or just for show?)

 

Then she prevents the assassination of Dark Lord Kaine, a trans man (This does not seem relevant at all and reads odd. Like you’re defining him by gender which I’m sure you don’t want to do), and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. (I like this twist at the end of the sentence, good voice. But this whole thing comes out of nowhere. How did we get from building a World Game’s team to preventing assassination?) Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. (Her country? As in, she’s the ruler?) Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance (It took me too long to get this because you’re gave me so much info I forgot about the whole sacrifice thing). But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the goals she’s inches from achieving (to achieve?) and the people she wants to save. (I’m somewhat seeing how this all works together, but again, I feel like it’s all too much information. Though I like the first paragraph, you could probably par down and give me less info by just cutting that and starting with the MC wants to form a female team to fight in the games info)

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel. The main character’s experiences with face-blindness and anxiety attacks are based on my own personal experience.



#14 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 04:14 PM

Thanks to everyone for your help! Please leave a link to yours to make it easy to return the favor. Latest version is below.

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live life to the fullest, she conceals from the Sun God’s priesthood her secret nightlife as a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Acting the part of the innocent, virginal healer allows her to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

Her aim is a ticket to compete in the World Games, wizarding death matches which serve as a proxy for war among the civilized nations. In order to win the refugees land, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual.

 

Then she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000 word fantasy novel.



#15 smithgirl

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 08:16 PM

You need to start your query with a short, catchy hook right here.

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has only four months left to live. Determined to live that time life to the fullest, she conceals from the Sun God’s priesthood her secret nightlife as a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. This sounds like she just became a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix. Is that true? Because otherwise, she would have been concealing for a long time already, right? No recent decision required. Acting the part of the innocent, virginal healer allows her to advance her political agenda of improving women’s rights and helping the refugees who fled into her country from the Blight.

 

 

So this first part doesn't feel very catchy to me. You have the big bang that Ysabel is going to die and that she's secretly a chain-smoking, alcohol-loving dominatrix, but somehow it comes across as bland. Also, I thought the rest of the query would relate to Ysabel living it up, but that doesn't seem to happen.

 

Her aim is a ticket to compete in the World Games, wizarding death matches Is she a wizard? which serve as a proxy for war among the civilized nations. In order to win the refugees' land, Ysabel has agreed to be sacrificed in a magical ritual. Why does Ysable care about these refugees so much that she will die for them? How is that connected to her secret life as a boozing dominatrix?

 

Then she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine and he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. What? This is out of nowhere. Also, it seems irrelevant that Kaine is a trans man. I'm sure it's important for your book, but here it seems weird and superfluous. Fortunately he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs is coming back with a vengeance. This makes it sound again like she began boozing suddenly, but that seems strange. I also don't see how her double life is important to the story. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save. Who are these important refugees? We don't know anything about them.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 130,000-word fantasy novel. FYI, you've probably heard this, but 130K is going to cause you some resistance from agents.

 

Right now your story isn't making much sense to me. I think it's because you just have too much information, and the actual story is buried. You have some bit ticket items: Ysabel is a holy maiden who likes sex and alcohol, she will sacrifice herself, but those facts feel extraneous and don't seem to fit into the bigger picture. 

 

I agree with the other reviewers that your query has a very "modern" feel about it, rather than a fantasy feel. Especially the chain-smoking, alcohol-loving description, and then the reference to a trans man, which make it feel contemporary. 

 

​I would try to simplify your query, get it down to the very bare bones, decide what is the most essential information to convey. I get hints from your query that sex and sexual orientation are important (she is fighting for women's rights, she is a dominatrix, Kaine is a trans man). I think these must be important themes in your book, but in your query the information seems tossed in. My overall vibe is something like Harry Potter meets Hunger Games meets erotica. Be sure your query conveys the vibe of your book, that it conveys the essential story.

 

I know this is easy for me to say and so hard to do. I hope my feedback helps. When you can, please review my own long-suffering query attempts: http://agentquerycon...-post-59/page-3



#16 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 05:03 PM

Thanks to everyone for their help! Latest version is below:

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has four months left to live. Determined to make the most of her limited time, she acts the part of an innocent, virginal healer in public while concealing her nightlife as an alcohol-loving dominatrix.

 

Her goal is to win the World Games, wizarding death matches where kings wager the fate of nations. To enter a team, she needs her holy status, which is why she agreed to be sacrificed to the Sun God at age twenty-five. Victory means advancing women’s rights and winning land for the refugees from the Blight.

 

When she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine, he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately, he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs comes back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 134,000 word fantasy novel in the style of Terry Pratchett meets N.K. Jemisin. 



#17 Bibliophyl

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Posted 25 August 2018 - 12:33 PM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has four months left to live. Determined to make the most of her limited time, she acts the part of an innocent, virginal healer in public while concealing her nightlife as an alcohol-loving dominatrix. 

 

Her goal is to win the World Games, wizarding death matches where kings wager the fate of nations. To enter a team, she needs her holy status, which is why she agreed to be sacrificed to the Sun God at age twenty-five. Victory means advancing women’s rights and winning land for the refugees from the Blight. I don't understand how the games are connected to her sacrifice. Is the sacrifice part of the games? I get that she has to pretend to be a holy maiden in order to enter the games, but why does she have to be sacrificed?

 

When she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine,  [how is this assassination related to the games? does it happen there?] he takes it on himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately, he likes her enough to back off when she shoos his prohibited army [I don't understand the word choice of prohibited here] off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs comes back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save. [again, I'm not quite understanding what the sacrifice has to do with anything]

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 134,000 word fantasy novel in the style of Terry Pratchett meets N.K. Jemisin. 

 

I think this is strong overall; I just needed some more clarity in a few areas. You've got the sacrifice, the games, and the assassination. I was just looking to understand how they're all related.

 

I just posted a new version of my query in case you have time to take a look!



#18 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 25 August 2018 - 03:32 PM

I'm trying something completely different for the second paragraph. Thanks to everyone for their help!

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has four months left to live. Determined to make the most of her limited time, she acts the part of an innocent, virginal healer in public while concealing her nightlife as an alcohol-loving dominatrix.

 

It’s a race to see which will kill her first: her healing ability which subtracts a day off her life every time she uses it, or the Council of Cardinals who plan to sacrifice her to the Sun God to obtain immortality. If Ysabel tries to escape, the cardinals will slaughter the refugees camped outside her city.

 

When she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine, he takes it upon himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately, he likes her enough to back off when she kicks his army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs comes back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 131,000 word fantasy novel in the style of Terry Pratchett meets N.K. Jemisin. 



#19 Kimseal

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Posted 25 August 2018 - 04:56 PM

Holy Maiden Ysabel has four months left to live. Determined to make the most of her limited time, she acts the part of an innocent, virginal healer in public while concealing her nightlife as an alcohol-loving dominatrix. She sounds like a fantastic character who I would *love* to read about. 

 

It’s a race to see which will kill her first: her healing ability comma which subtracts a day off her life every time she uses it that's interesting, like that, or the Council of Cardinals who plan to sacrifice her to the Sun God to obtain immortality this confused me. who gets the immortality? not Ysabel, obviously. does the whole council get it? that seems like a lot of immortality from one person's death. If Ysabel tries to escape, the cardinals will slaughter the refugees camped outside her city. good stakes, I get it.

 

When she prevents the assassination of trans man Dark Lord Kaine, he takes it upon himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country I'm sure this is great in the book where you've got time for all the world-building, but in the query it's too hard to understand how this would work. why would invading her country rescue her?. Fortunately, he likes her enough to back off when she kicks his army off her doorstep a literal whole army on her doorstop? back home, I guess? not here in the city, because there wouldn't be room for an army on her doorstop. just got confused here. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and recreational drugs comes back with a vengeance. But to fail to die as a proper Holy Maiden would be to betray the people she wants to save. I get the stakes, that's good.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 131,000 word fantasy novel in the style of Terry Pratchett meets N.K. Jemisin

 

This sounds like something I'd enjoy. It also sounds like the kind of complicated not-our-world fantasy plus complicated politics that's fantastic in a book and so impossibly difficult to explain in 200 to 300 words. Is there any part of the plot with stakes that you can use for your query that doesn't involve things that are really, really hard to explain in such a short space? I've had some luck with focusing on something like that before, because of course you don't actually have to explain your whole world here. You just have to get them to want to read about it.

 

I mean, think about Dune. If you tried to accurately get even a bit of the real plot on the page, you'd have lost the agent somewhere between 'space nuns', 'Spice', and 'giant sand-worms'. Maybe more about the Dark Lord Kane? How did they meet? Is it something involving her night life? Sometimes focusing on the personal is easier because it doesn't involve politics you need to explain. I'd really recommend trying to get around having 'invade her country to save her' on the page if there's any way to do it, because that's going to need its own paragraph to make it clear. 

 

I like your voice and I love a not-so-virginal Vestal Virgin type. Good luck with this! It sounds great.



#20 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 02:08 AM

Latest version:

 

Holy Maiden Ysabel has four months left to live. It’s a race to see which will kill her first: her healing power, which subtracts a day off her life every time she uses it, or the Council of Cardinals who plan to extend their elderly lives by sacrificing her to the Sun God. Determined to make the most of her limited time, she acts the part of a virginal healer while concealing her nightlife as an alcohol-loving dominatrix.

 

Her goal is to enter the World Games—wizarding death matches where kings wager the fate of nations in place of war. Victory will allow her to win land for the refugees camped outside her city, who the cardinals have taken hostage to prevent her from escaping.

 

When she defies the cardinals to save the life of trans man Dark Lord Kaine, he takes it upon himself to rescue her from her grisly fate—by threatening to invade her country. Fortunately, he likes her enough to back off when she boots his army off her doorstep. Unfortunately, she likes him too, and the nagging survival instinct she thought she killed with booze and drugs comes back with a vengeance. But failing to die as a proper Holy Maiden would mean betraying the people she wants to save.

 

PERSEPHONE’S WALTZ is a 129,000 word fantasy novel in the style of Terry Pratchett meets N.K. Jemisin.






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