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Tomb of Moments (Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy)


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#1 hermitage

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 06:24 PM

NB: Much-revised pitch in post 14 below. 
 

Dear Agentface MacGillicuddy,

 

I hope you’ll consider representing my adult scifi/fantasy novel, Tomb of Moments.

 

Noa is a young sorceress who guards and governs a bright, futuristic city. She’s loved by the people she fiercely protects, and every last door is open to her. A strong, handsome warrior lies happily at her feet, devoted to her every whim.

 

One night she runs invisibly along the sides of tall buildings, following the trail of three criminal magicians who’ve been spiriting innocent people away to their deaths. She corners them on a high rooftop, and crushes them in a telekinetic duel. They burn themselves alive to escape capture, but she pieces together their dying memories and traces them back to a lost prince of the Vessan Empire: a dominion of advanced sorcerers who absorb nations and collect beautiful slaves.

 

With his spies discovered, the prince resurfaces, claims his throne, and declares war on the rest of the planet. Noa takes up arms alongside her obedient lover, her stalwart father, and the shy orphan boy she grew up with -- who returns on the eve of battle as a man with extraordinary power. To keep her city free, she’ll have to lead troops through brutal campaigns, outfight killers who can reshape reality at will, and outwit an ancient enemy that’s been laying traps in secret since the beginning of history.

 

Tomb of Moments is complete at 77,000 words. It has three main characters, and series potential. It might appeal to readers of Jacqueline Carey, Ann Leckie, and Patrick Rothfuss.

 

Please find _____. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

James 



#2 Jemi

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 08:18 PM

You've got an intriguing story line with some cool features going here, but there is a lot going on in the query. I think you could trim some of the details and hone in on Noa - she's the one who is going to sell your story for you. Let us in to her head and heart and show us how the plot is affecting her.

 

The 1st paragraph is pretty passive - I'd suggest dropping us right into that inciting event

 

Noa's realm is in danger, and her powers may not be enough to save...

As both leader and sorceress, Noa fights...

After winning a telekinetic duel, Noa finds evidence...

 

Those aren't in your style or voice, and probably don't even match the story, but they're just to give you an idea what I mean. Hope some of that helps. If it doesn't resonate, feel free to ignore - it's your story and you'll know what's best. good luck!



#3 lnloft

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 06:33 PM

(Posting on behalf of DT919)

 

Just to say that I agree with the positive and negative comments from the previous poster. I think I’d cut down the first paragraph to a much more spare outline of your heroine, and jump right into the action of the second paragraph – even as far as the bit where she’s piecing together dying memories. That’s the most intriguing and original element for me, and I guess you want to grab the agent as quickly as possible. Set up the dilemma, set up the stakes, and set out the ways your heroine can deal with it.

 

Also, most of the successful queries I have seen either jump straight into the pitch or begin with the name, genre and word count of the book.

 

It sounds like a really good story, so I’m looking forward to seeing more from it.

 

My query can be found here: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-by-dt919/


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#4 London C

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 11:58 AM

Dear _____,

 

I hope you’ll consider representing my adult scifi/fantasy novel, Tomb of Moments.

 

Noa is a young sorceress who guards and governs a bright, futuristic city. She’s loved by the people she fiercely protects, and every last door is open to her. A strong, handsome warrior lies happily at her feet, devoted to her every whim.

I'd cut all of this first  paragraph.

 

One night she runs invisibly along the sides of tall buildings, following the trail of three criminal magicians who’ve been spiriting innocent people away to their deaths. She corners them on a high rooftop, and crushes them in a telekinetic duel. They burn themselves alive to escape capture, but she pieces together their dying memories and traces them back to a lost prince of the Vessan Empire: a dominion of advanced sorcerers who absorb nations and collect beautiful slaves.This is a great hook and starting place.

 

With his spies discovered, the prince resurfaces, claims his throne, and declares war on the rest of the planet. Noa takes up arms alongside her obedient lover, her stalwart father, and the shy orphan boy she grew up with -- who returns on the eve of battle as a man with extraordinary power.  

When I got to the summary where you mention three main characters, I understood why this sentence exists, but I don't think it's the right way to introduce the  other two  main character (to start, there's three plus  Noa). Since you have three main characters, I think you need to add more to introduce them. Are all of them just agents in the fight against the prince, or do each of them have a distinct role. Also, "obedient" and "stalwart" sound less like character traits than stereotypes. You've given  us a good  sense of who Noa is. If you can do the same for the other two main characters, this should be  a great query.

 

To keep her city free, she’ll have to lead troops through brutal campaigns, outfight killers who can reshape reality at will, and outwit an ancient enemy that’s been laying traps in secret since the beginning of history.

 

Tomb of Moments is complete at 81,000 words. It has three main characters, and series potential. It might appeal to readers of Jacqueline Carey, Ann Leckie, and Patrick Rothfuss.

 

Please find _____. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

James 


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#5 CarterT

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 02:03 PM

One other thing you may want to think about is: Does the query need all 3 MCs? I've really struggled to put 2 in, and frankly it was too much information to fit into a tight query. Maybe consider focusing on just the one MC your first few chapters deals with, or the one who has the main plot line. You can mention at the end that it is a multi-POV book if you'd like, or not. 

 

All the other MC stuff (in my limited opinion) can wait for the synopsis. The Query is about getting somebody hooked enough to read more. It, alone, is not going to sell your book, do don't try to fit everything in. 



#6 hermitage

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 05:51 PM

Thanks for the notes, guys! Here's a new version (196 words).

 

 

Noa is a young sorceress who guards and governs a bright, futuristic city. Her citizens trust her and a handsome warrior lies happily at her feet, but fearful dreams keep her awake. 
 
One sleepless night she runs invisibly along the sides of apartment towers, following the trail of three criminal magicians who’ve been spiriting innocent victims away to their deaths. She corners them on a high rooftop, and crushes them in a telekinetic duel. They burn themselves alive to escape capture, but she pieces together their dying memories and traces them back to a lost prince of the vast western empire, where the strong rule the weak without limit. 
 
The prince resurfaces, claims his throne, and launches a merciless war against the rest of the planet. Noa takes up arms alongside her obedient lover, her stalwart father, and the shy orphan boy she grew up with — who returns on the eve of battle as a man with rare strength. To keep her city free, she’ll have to lead troops through brutal campaigns, outfight killers who can reshape reality at will, and outwit an ancient enemy that’s been laying traps in secret since the beginning of history.


#7 NicoleLeigh

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 11:22 AM

Noa is a young sorceress who guards and governs a bright, futuristic city. Her citizens trust her and a handsome warrior lies happily at her feet, but fearful dreams keep her awake. 
 
This is well-written, but I think you could probably find a better opening to hook the reader. Specifically, the first sentence is not exactly attention grabbing; it's a description of Noa, and not a particularly unique/exciting one at that. The second sentence is a little bit more interesting, but it's so vague. (What is she fearfully dreaming about?) Anyway, again, this opening isn't bad, and I doubt anyone would stop reading because of it, but I'd try to make it more "hook-y" and unique.
 
One sleepless night she runs invisibly along the sides of apartment towers, following the trail of three criminal magicians who’ve been spiriting innocent victims away to their deaths. She corners them on a high rooftop, and crushes them in a telekinetic duel. They burn themselves alive to escape capture, but she pieces together their dying memories and traces them back to a lost prince of the vast western empire, where the strong rule the weak without limit. 
 
I'd think about cutting this paragraph entirely. Again, it's not poorly written, but it comes off as more a synopsis than a blurb; it's a description of what happens, but the details of how Noa finds the prince don't seem super pertinent to the dilemma or stakes. After reading the third paragraph (below), it seems like you could trim this down and just tell us that Noa finds a lost prince.
 
The prince resurfaces, claims his throne, and launches a merciless war against the rest of the planet. Noa takes up arms alongside her obedient lover, her stalwart father, and the shy orphan boy she grew up with — who returns on the eve of battle as a man with rare strength. I'm not sure if you need to mention the lover, her father, and/or this boy, as it doesn't seem like they're important to the dilemma or stakes. If they are important, I'd think about showing why. To keep her city free, she’ll have to lead troops through brutal campaigns, outfight killers who can reshape reality at will, and outwit an ancient enemy that’s been laying traps in secret since the beginning of history. I think this is the part of the query you want to focus on--the stakes. What you have isn't bad, but it's a little too general to be super interesting. (Leading troops, outfighting killers, and outwitting enemies apply to a lot of stories.) If I were you, I'd specify the stakes a bit. I'd also try to work in some personal stakes for Noa, which will probably be more interesting than generally keeping the city free. Once you've done that, I'd work backward for the rest of the query by including details that set up the dilemma and lead the reader to the stakes.


#8 hermitage

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:57 PM

NicoleLeigh, I found your comments very helpful. Here's a revision:

 

 

 

Noa is a telekinetic grandmaster and the mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats fly among rainbow-glass towers. She shares a glamorous life with Gavriil, a handsome detective who’s devoted to her every wish; yet she still beds freely with other constituents like Daumiène her brain trust, and Yrene her chief of staff. 
 
Her peace is broken when across the world, Efis Kadha is reanimated. A generation ago he rose from a starving urchin to a feared island gangster, then seized the throne of Mount Vessa in a bloody coup. Now, backed by a memory-hacking sorceress and the hidden founder of a death-worshiping religion, he launches a boundless war. Leading a hundred battalions of time-and-space-bending soldiers, he digests whole nations to make thousands of beautiful slaves. 
 
Noa joins the resistance: the army of Mount Ossa. She tests into the rank of major general, with Gavriil commanding one of her three brigades. But she’s torn between Gavriil and Adrian: her shy foster brother who returns on the eve of battle after fifteen years away, impossibly strong and still in love with her. Together they’ll fight for millions of lives, against killers who can reshape reality at will. A devastating trap waits in a deep cavern ahead of them, and if they don’t discover it in time, Efis Kadha’s legions will overshadow their planet forever.


#9 Illumen

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:22 PM

This sounds like a cool story! My first impression is that you have a lot going on, and it may be useful to have more focus here. There are a lot of different names that pop up and in something this short it gets really difficult to remember who everyone is. I read somewhere that 2-3 names is a good maximum for a query, and that generally seems like good advice. It also feels like a lot of the more important information is missing, like why does she joins the resistance? I would be interested in more detail about her thoughts and actions instead of about everything going on around her. It seems like you're trying to fit the romance aspect in too, but to me it feels kinda forced, since the world getting taken over seems like a much more important issue. That's just my impression though. Hope this is helpful!

#10 hermitage

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:42 PM

Thanks, Illumen. Here's a revision at 215 words. 

 

 

 

Noa is a telekinetic grandmaster and the mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats fly among rainbow-glass towers. She shares a glamorous life with Gavriil, a handsome detective devoted to her every whim; yet she still beds freely with a wide variety of her other constituents.

 

Her peace is broken when across the world, Efis Kadha seizes the throne of Mount Vessa in a merciless coup. As a child he rose from starvation to become a feared island gangster; now, backed by a memory-hacking sorceress and the immortal founder of a death-worshiping religion, he launches a cataclysmic war. Leading a hundred battalions of time-bending soldiers, he digests whole nations to make thousands of beautiful slaves.

 

Facing annihilation, Noa joins the protective army of Mount Ossa as a major general, with Gavriil commanding one of her three brigades. But she’s torn between Gavriil and Adrian: her shy foster brother who returns on the eve of battle after fifteen years away, impossibly strong and impossibly in love with her.

 

Together they’ll fight for billions of innocent lives, against killers who can reshape reality at will. And unless they can pull off a desperate mission that bends the rules of death and time to the breaking point, Efis Kadha’s legions will subjugate their planet forever.



#11 hermitage

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 05:18 PM

P.S. Here's another version, after some more tweaks. (213 words.)

 

 

Noa is a telekinetic grandmaster and the mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats soar among rainbow-glass towers. She beds freely with a dozen men and women, but her favorite is Gavriil: a handsome detective who’s devoted to her every whim.

 

Her world is at peace, until Efis Kadha seizes the throne of Mount Vessa in a merciless coup. As a child he rose from starvation to become the kingpin of his barren island’s vice district; now, he launches a cataclysmic war. Leading battalions of time-bending soldiers, he transforms the nations he conquers into breeding grounds for beautiful slaves.

 

Facing annihilation, Noa joins the protective army of Mount Ossa as a major general, with Gavriil commanding one of her three brigades. But she’s torn between Gavriil and Adrian: her shy foster brother who returns on the eve of battle after a decade as an international spy. Impossibly strong and enduringly in love with her, he joins her father’s elite order of psionic knights.

 

Together they’ll fight for the freedom of billions, against killers who can reshape reality at will. And unless they can pull off a desperate mission that bends the rules of time and death to the breaking point, Efis Kadha’s legions will burn through their world like wildfire.



#12 Bibliophyl

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 06:50 PM

Noa is a telekinetic grandmaster [I don't really know what a "telekinetic grandmaster" is] and the mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats soar among rainbow-glass towers. She beds freely with a dozen [a dozen is oddly specific, which I don't think is what you're going for. maybe you could just say "she beds freely with men and women, but her favorite..."] men and women, but her favorite is Gavriil: a handsome detective who’s devoted to her every whim.

 

Her world is at peace, until Efis Kadha seizes the throne of Mount Vessa [I presume Mount Vessa is her city? It's slightly unclear because it hasn't been mentioned yet] in a merciless coup. As a child he rose from starvation to become the kingpin of his barren island’s vice district; now, he launches a cataclysmic war. Leading battalions of time-bending soldiers, he transforms the nations he conquers into breeding grounds for beautiful slaves.

 

Facing annihilation, Noa joins the protective army of Mount Ossa as a major general, with Gavriil commanding one of her three brigades. [I guess I'm wondering how a detective is qualified to lead a military command? I'm sure it's well supported in the novel, just pointing out questions that arise] But she’s torn between Gavriil and Adrian: her shy foster brother who returns on the eve of battle after a decade as an international spy. Impossibly strong and enduringly in love with her, he joins her father’s elite order of psionic knights. [the love triangle seems trite after you've set the stage for a major military conflict, and coming from me, a romance reader/writer, that's saying something, haha. Also I don't know what "psionic knights" are]

 

Together they’ll fight for the freedom of billions, against killers who can reshape reality at will. And unless they can pull off a desperate mission that bends the rules of time and death to the breaking point, Efis Kadha’s legions will burn through their world like wildfire. [I've heard that it's best for the stakes to be more personally focused to the protagonist. The world ending/everyone dying isn't as impactful as it could be, and it's also a pretty common set of stakes for a sci fi/fantasy story--basically everyone is fighting to save their world and stop people from dying. What does she personally stand to lose? Maybe something key to her city?]

 

This sounds super interesting and is overall well-written, I just think it needs a little more focus. That said, I'm not much of a sci-fi reader, so take my comments with a grain of salt. :) Good luck! 



#13 CarterT

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 09:14 AM

I think your query has gotten a lot better in that you're doing a MUCH better job at talking about the overall story, instead of scenes, which is how I felt some of your earlier versions ran. 

 

That said, there are too many proper names. I think I count six unique names in there (some places, some people). That many takes away from the focus on Noa. 

 

So, some questions:

 

1. Does it matter that Noa has a bi-harem? Like, really, does it matter to the plot? Or is Gavrill that's the important part? If that's the case, consider dropping the line and using the words for something that does matter to the story. 

2. Mounts Vessa and Ossa - I'm guessing they are rival states or something? But, it's not clear, so the names add confusion instead of clarity. This also comes back to the naming thing, but you could just leave out Efis's name and say something like 'a new tyrant comes to power in a neighbouring state...'

3. Efis - Do we need his history in the query? How is that important to Noa?

4. The father's elite order of psionic knights - Kind of comes out of nowhere that her dad is that important. I feel like this reveal falls in a weird spot of not sounding as important as it should be, or sounding more important than it is. I'm not sure where it actually falls in the book, but it's kind of glossed over in the query, which takes away any 'oomph' from it. 

5. The love triangle - I get why you put it in, but I think you need to either use it more or less. You talk about Adrian being in love with her, but no real reason why she has a thing for him, especially if he's been gone for 'decades'. How old are they? Anyway, you could use this triangle in the stakes. Will she have to make a choice down the road? Is there anything connected to the three of them around: a) 50-page mark b) point of no return or c) first 10 chapters? If there is, you might be able to use it to add some weight to the stakes. 

 

One other observation (and please, take this with a grain of salt as I am no expert on queries, mine have been torn to shreds on more than a few occasions), but how much of the story are you trying to fit into the query? I struggled with this for a LONG time, and i finally settled on aiming for trying to just talk about the first 50 pages or so in the query. Or, up to the point of no return. I don't always hit that mark, but it allows me to focus more in the query about what I'm talking about, and I don't feel like I need to get all the details covered. I mean, your book is almost 80k words - you can't be expected to sum up all the twists and turns in <250 words. 

 

Just as an example, you're talking about pulling off a desperate mission - is that the climax? Maybe, a Bibiophyl suggested, you can bring it back and make it more personal, and sooner in the book. 

 

Food for thought.



#14 hermitage

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 07:14 PM

Thank you, Bibliophyl and CarterT. All: please let me know if I've done better in this revision. (223 words.)

 

 

Noa is the telekinetically gifted mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats soar among rainbow-glass towers. She beds freely with a dozen men and women, and loves them all; and though nightmares keep her awake, the city’s spirit heals her tired soul.

 

On the other side of the world, the kingpin of an island vice haven seizes control of the western empire, and leads its time-bending legions to war against the free eastern states. A brutally damaged man, Efis Kadha collects beautiful slaves wherever he conquers.

 

Bound by oath and affection to defend her citizens from his chains, Noa joins the protective eastern army. Though she longs for the easy afternoons she spent smoking kaliope blossoms with pretty politicos in high-rise hotel rooms, her talent earns her an automatic promotion to the rank of major general. She commands three brigades across far-flung mountain and forest battlefields, fighting soldiers who can reshape reality at will. She fights well, and kills, and her side seems to be winning, but her dreams keep getting worse. So when she learns that Efis Kadha himself is cornered in an underground ruin within her striking range, it feels too good to be true. She wonders: Is she losing her mind, or is she on the edge of a trap set by someone playing a deeper game?



#15 lnloft

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 08:56 PM

Odd request, but can you not post your query in Courier? The font actually sets a certain tone, and I don't think it helps. I'm switching it over for my critique so I don't get unfairly biased by the font.

Thank you, Bibliophyl and CarterT. All: please let me know if I've done better in this revision. (223 words.)

 

 

Noa is the telekinetically gifted mayor of a city ten million strong, where wind boats soar among rainbow-glass towers. She beds freely with a dozen men and women, and loves them all; and though nightmares keep her awake, the city’s spirit heals her tired soul. I kinda want to know if the telekinesis is unique to her or not unusual in her city, but it's not necessarily a deal-breaker. I usually advise not just starting with setting the scene and offering some sense of the inciting incident in the hook, but this actually intrigues me as is. So while I have that one question, I don't know if I want to advise messing with what I think is working.

 

On the other side of the world, the kingpin of an island vice haven seizes control of the western empire, and leads its time-bending legions to war against the free eastern states. A brutally damaged man, Efis Kadha collects beautiful slaves wherever he conquers.

 

Bound by oath and affection to defend her citizens from his chains, Noa joins the protective eastern army. You've had nice turns of phrases so far, but this statement just feels very bland. Though she longs for the easy afternoons she spent smoking kaliope blossoms with pretty politicos in high-rise hotel rooms I think this phrase just clutters the sentence a bit too much, and cutting it to smooth things out doesn't change any of the message, her talent earns her an automatic promotion to the rank of major general Does Noa go join the army herself? Of does she bring the forces of her city, such as they are, and command those? The latter makes more sense to me, and it makes sense if she comes with forces to automatically be put in charge of them, but I get the impression that it is actually the former. She commands three brigades across far-flung mountain and forest battlefields, fighting soldiers who can reshape reality at will. She fights well, and kills, and her side seems to be winning This feels a little too much like telling, but her dreams keep getting worse. So when she learns that Efis Kadha himself is cornered in an underground ruin within her striking range, it feels too good to be true. She wonders: Is she losing her mind, or is she on the edge of a trap set by someone playing a deeper game? Avoid questions in the query.

This is coming along nicely. I think the last paragraph still needs some refining, give a few of the sentences a bit more pop and maybe elaborate on a few more details, lay out the stakes in a way that is clearer and not in the form of a question. But it's definitely coming along well. Good luck.


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#16 janeald

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 04:13 PM

Thank you, Bibliophyl and CarterT. All: please let me know if I've done better in this revision. (223 words.)

 

 

Noa is the telekinetically gifted mayor of an eastern? city ten million strong, where wind boats soar among rainbow-glass towers. She beds freely with a dozen men and women, and loves them all; and t Though nightmares keep her awake, the city’s spirit heals Noa's her tired soul.

 

On the other side of the world, the kingpin of an island vice haven seizes control of the western empire, and leads its time-bending legions to war against the free eastern states. A brutally damaged man, Efis Kadha collects beautiful slaves wherever he conquers.

 

Bound by oath and affection to defend her citizens from his chains, Noa joins the protective eastern army. Though she longs for the easy afternoons she spent smoking kaliope blossoms with pretty politicos in high-rise hotel rooms, her talent earns her an automatic promotion to the rank of major general. She commands three brigades across far-flung mountain and forest battlefields, fighting soldiers who can reshape reality at will. She fights well, and kills, and h Her side seems to be winning, but her dreams growkeep getting worse. So w When her dreams showshe learns that Efis Kadha himself is cornered in an underground ruin within her striking range, it feels too good to be true. She wonders: if should trust her dreams or if she losing her mind, or is she's on the edge of a trap set by someone who can use her telekinetic mind against her and her people. playing a deeper game?

 

 

Add a paragraph for word count, genre and comparison titles

 

This plot seems really interesting. A few things to note. It is unclear what Noa's lovers have to do with the plot. Try to tie this into the war. Also, it seems like the stakes are hinted to, but there needs to be a little more. Maybe something like the blue words added to the last sentence. I hope my suggestions are helpful!

 

Also, I'd love your feedback/advice on my query: http://agentquerycon...irls/?p=361490 






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