Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI (YA fantasy)


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 lauraharris

lauraharris

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 22 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 14 May 2019 - 03:10 PM

*Latest version in post #8*


Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include 15-year-old irascible thieves on the staff—but bound to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. In the capital Izrita, blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the sand and shisha smoke, taunting Jaz about her own magical inabilities.

Her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders. Between dodging poison daggers and flirting with a pretty pastry chef, Jaz begins to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations. But when rumours of a magic-draining disease engulf the empire, it gets personal. With mobs in the zigzagged alleys of the souk tearing apart anyone born without magic, Jaz must race into the desert to prevent the Sultan’s assassination and save everyone she loves.

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series Rebel of the Sands and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales.



#2 Ajax

Ajax

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 504 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationEurope

Posted 14 May 2019 - 11:32 PM

Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include 15-year-old irascible thieves on the staff—but bound to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. [I'm hooked.] In the capital Izrita, blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the sand and shisha smoke, taunting Jaz about her own magical inabilities.[This sentence doesn't flow well with the one before it. There's hardly any connection. Keep the hook focused. As she's a spy, you can expand on that front instead of talking about her magical inability which comes out of nowhere and is jarring. Jaz's magical inabilities aren't mentioned again in the query which leads me to believe they aren't that important.]

Her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders. Between dodging poison daggers [But who is throwing them at her and why?] and flirting with a pretty pastry chef, Jaz begins to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations. But when rumours of a magic-draining disease engulf the empire, it gets personal. [Why exactly does it get personal?] With mobs in the zigzagged alleys of the souk tearing apart anyone born without magic, [Why? And what mobs? Who are these people?] Jaz must race into the desert to prevent the Sultan’s assassination and save everyone she loves. [This makes no sense to me. How are these things connected in the grand scheme of things? How will saving the Sultan "save" everyone Jaz loves? Why is the Sultan in the desert? Why is Jaz in a hurry? You've left a bit too many questions unanswered. The stakes are vague.]

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series Rebel of the Sands and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales. [If you are of Arabic descent and/or identify as a queer, it'd be appropriate to mention that this is an ownvoices book as I've seen agents and editors being increasingly concerned about proper representation. Alternatively, if you are writing about real-world communities that you don't belong to, it'd be in your interest to mention the steps you've taken to make sure your work isn't problematic (if you've hired sensitivity and alpha readers, state that). The YA scene is very reactive to things like representation and for good reasons.]

 

I absolutely love the hook! There are layers within the layers which I find fascinating. 

It's the blanks that need to be filled. There are sentences that sound random. You might be overloading the query with too many plot lines. Consider simplifying by focusing only on Jaz's task of spying and protecting the treaty. 

There's room to flesh out Jaz's character a bit more. You can add a detail about her parents' homeland or how it's significant to her on a personal level. You can show her queerness in the query as it seems to be a vital part of her character given your companion titles. How she got bound to a sorceress in the first place would provide a strong motive in the query. 

Good luck! 

 



#3 mwsinclair

mwsinclair

    Elephant with a trunk full of novels

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,893 posts
  • Literary Status:published, unagented, media
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Journalist covering U.S. nonprofits, foundations, and life in general. President and Chief Elephant Officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC. Since establishing the company in 2012, we have published more than a dozen books, including several short story anthologies and debut novels by several AQC authors including "ScubaSteve" Carman and R.S. Mellette. Midway through 2018, we've already published our first nonfiction title, "Which the Days Never Know," and are putting together an omnibus collection of the Seasons Series of anthologies, with launch expected by the Christmas season. And in 2019, there will be much more, with news to come soon!

Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:46 AM

I agree with Ajax that this idea has a lot of merit. I'm a bit concerned about the length, but I don't think that would be a killer right away if agents are as impressed by the hook.



#4 lauraharris

lauraharris

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 22 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 16 May 2019 - 02:35 PM

Thanks both! I’ve redrafted it - might still have the issue of too many plot points but I think the structure is clearer.

Re. the mention of self publishing below, I know there’s a lot of debate for and against. Before submitting to agents I’ll check if they’ve voiced any opinions on this.


Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include 15-year-old irascible thieves on the staff, but after a short stint in jail Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. Indentured to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders.

The empire’s capital Izrita is everything her mother promised; blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the sand and shisha smoke. Despite the distractingly pretty pastry chef in the palace kitchens, Jaz starts to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations and the Sultan’s life.

But soon she has more than deadly politics to worry about. When rumours of a magic-depleting disease engulf the empire, mobs light up the zigzagged alleys of the souk hunting those they blame for this curse—the rohkai, people born without magic. People like Jaz, though she’s terrified to admit it to anyone. In forging her new life in the empire, Jaz must learn the sacrifices that come with keeping secrets… and sharing them.

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series REBEL OF THE SANDS and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales.

I won Lulu.com’s Wrimo Accelerator competition in 2014 and consequently self-published the YA fantasy FIRESOULS duology. Originally from the UK, I am on a multi-year round-the-world trip and am currently resident in New Zealand. I am a queer woman, making this an #OwnVoices novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#5 lnloft

lnloft

    LNLOFT

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 576 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:04 PM

Thanks both! I’ve redrafted it - might still have the issue of too many plot points but I think the structure is clearer.

Re. the mention of self publishing below, I know there’s a lot of debate for and against. Before submitting to agents I’ll check if they’ve voiced any opinions on this. So, what I've heard is this: if you've had some moderate success, go ahead and mention it. But if most of your sales were based off your mom buying copies to give to all her friends, you're better off without. Some people also say you're screwed if you've self-published and failed to get anything out of it. This is not correct. What you might have to be willing to do is "rebrand" yourself, aka publish under some different name, so maybe if you self-published under Laura Harris, you then get published with the help of an agent as L. K. Harris, or whatever. But that's already jumping further ahead than you need right now. I think you're smart to also be willing to play it by ear by what agents might have said.


Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include 15fifteen-year-old irascible thieves on the staff, but after a short stint in jail Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland Overall, good concept for the hook. The only thing that threw me was that she's part of an embassy going back to where her parents are from? I mean, I think I understand what is meant here. It's like, just literally picking two random real-world countries as an example, her parents moved from Croatia to Indonesia, and Jaz was born an Indonesian. And then she joins the Indonesian embassy that goes to Croatia. But what this sounds somewhat like, and how I first read it, was that she's a Croatian moving to Croatia so she can work for the Indonesian embassy there. And that threw me off. I don't think it will necessarily be beneficial to have to explain all of that properly for purposes of the query, though, because that gets too nitty-gritty and brings everything to a grinding halt. So I guess play around with things to see if you can cut away that confusion. One suggestion is to just cut out the bit about it being her parents' homeland, but that might not work for you, so just do a little bit of plug and play. Indentured to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders.

The empire’s capital Izrita I advise only using proper nouns unless absolutely critical, as otherwise they can clutter up the query. As I don't see the name again, I'm assuming it's not critical. is everything her mother promised; blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the sand and shisha smoke. Despite the distractingly pretty pastry chef in the palace kitchens, Jaz starts to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations and the Sultan’s life. Can you be a bit more specific on this? Some detail on how she uncovers the secrets and/or a specific secret she uncovers? It's the details that make queries pop.

But soon she has more than deadly politics to worry about. When rumours of a magic-depleting disease engulf the empire, mobs light up the zigzagged alleys of the souk hunting those they blame for this curse—the rohkai, people born without magic. People like Jaz, though she’s terrified to admit it to anyone. In forging her new life in the empire, Jaz must learn the sacrifices that come with keeping secrets… and sharing them. This is a bit too vague still to hit home as the stakes. Remember, what does your MC want? Just to get out alive? To make sure the treaty is successful? To save the sultan's life? And once that is established, what happens if she doesn't get it? Obviously, if she just wants to get out alive and fails, then she's dead. But if her goal is the treaty, then what happens if she fails? Is it just that she goes back to her old country feeling dejected? Eh, sad, but not overall compelling. But maybe if the treaty fails she goes back to jail. Or her old country collapses in financial ruin. Then we have real reason to care about her success. So nail down those stakes.

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series REBEL OF THE SANDS and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales.

I won Lulu.com’s Wrimo Accelerator competition in 2014 and consequently self-published the YA fantasy FIRESOULS duology. Originally from the UK, I am on a multi-year round-the-world trip and am currently resident in New Zealand. I am a queer woman, making this an #OwnVoices novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

For a second draft, you're in a solid spot. I understand what you're concerned with about too many plot points, but I don't think that's too much of an issue. If you can do a little more to weave together the spying she does with the hunting down of the rohkai, show how those two plot points relate to each other, then you should be doing quite well. Then you just have to nail down the stakes.

 

Good luck.


Please note I'm also posting on behalf of people who can't sign up, so if I provide a link in the main body of the post, make sure to reciprocate on that thread.


#6 lauraharris

lauraharris

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 22 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 19 May 2019 - 07:46 PM

Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include fifteen-year-old irascible thieves on the staff, but after a short stint in jail Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. Indentured to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders and rescue the freefalling economies of both countries. With a family separated by the border, it matters to Jaz more than most.

 

The empire’s capital is everything her mother promised; blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the dust and shisha smoke. Between befriending a distractingly pretty pastry chef in the palace kitchens, and figuring out how to stay in the empire permanently, Jaz starts to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations. The unstable Emira Imane is desperate to stop the treaty… and she’s buying poison.

 

But eavesdropping on the emira leads to more worries than deadly politics. When Imane leaks news of a magic-depleting disease, mobs light up the zigzagged alleys of the souk hunting those they blame for this curse—the rohkai, people born without magic. People like Jaz, though she’s terrified to admit it to anyone, even herself. As the city threatens to implode, taking the treaty and all the rohkai with it, Jaz must learn that sometimes sharing secrets is worth the sacrifice.

 

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series REBEL OF THE SANDS and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales.

 

I won Lulu.com’s Wrimo Accelerator competition in 2014 and consequently self-published the YA fantasy FIRESOULS duology. Originally from the UK, I am on a multi-year round-the-world trip and am currently resident in New Zealand. I am a queer woman, making this an #OwnVoices novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#7 Anna.k

Anna.k

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 78 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:Working on it!

Posted 20 May 2019 - 01:11 PM

Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include fifteen-year-old irascible thieves on the staff, but after a short stint in jail, Jazilah Mokrani is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. I actually really like this hook, but is the surname necessary? Why not just Jaz? Indentured to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the borders and rescue the free-falling economies of both countries. With a family separated by the border, it matters to Jaz more than most.

 

The empire’s capital is everything her mother promised; blue sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the dust and shisha smoke. What kind of magic?Between befriending a distractingly pretty pastry chef in the palace kitchens, and figuring out how to stay in the empire permanently, Jaz starts to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations. The unstable Emira Imane is desperate to stop the treaty… and she’s buying poison. Woah, this just got more interesting. But who is Emira? part of the imperial family?

 

But eavesdropping on the emira leads to more worries than deadly politics. When Imane leaks news of a magic-depleting disease, mobs light up the zigzagged alleys of the souk I wonder if this is too flowery to not be a distraction hunting those they blame for this curse—the rohkai, people born without magic. People like Jaz, though she’s terrified to admit it to anyone, even herself. Hmm, confusing... did she start the curse? How does her lack of magic have anything to do with the magic-depleting disease?  As the city threatens to implode, taking the treaty and all the rohkai with it, Jaz must learn that sometimes sharing secrets is worth the sacrifice. What sacrifice? What are her choices? What must she do? Maybe a more dramatic closing line here, more life/death stakes...

 

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series REBEL OF THE SANDS and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales. 

 

I won Lulu.com’s Wrimo Accelerator competition in 2014 and consequently self-published the YA fantasy FIRESOULS duology. Originally from the UK, I am on a multi-year round-the-world trip and am currently resident in New Zealand. I am a queer woman, making this an #OwnVoices novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Yaas girl would definitely read this! Despite what I've been hearing people say on here, tho, YA Fantasy word count allowance is generally higher than contemporary or thriller or other YAs, for example. Caraval, Red Queen, Divergent etc, are all debuts that run a little over 100k. 



#8 lauraharris

lauraharris

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 22 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 21 May 2019 - 09:22 PM

Thanks everyone for the feedback so far! So many drafts (far more than shown here), but it feels like I'm close:

 

 

Most diplomatic missions to foreign empires don’t include fifteen-year-old irascible thieves on the staff, but after a short stint in jail Jazilah is at last en route to her parents’ homeland. Indentured to a sorceress who wants to turn her street smarts to spying, her mission is simple: protect the treaty that will reopen the border and rescue the economy. With a family separated by the border, it matters to Jaz more than most.

 

The empire’s capital is everything her mother promised; sapphire sparks of magic glitter on every corner amidst the dust and shisha smoke. Between befriending a distractingly pretty pastry chef, and searching for a way to stay in the empire permanently, Jaz starts to uncover the secrets of the imperial family that threaten negotiations. The unstable Emira Imane is desperate to stop the treaty… and she’s buying poison.

 

But eavesdropping on the emira leads to more worries than whether she’s targeting diplomats or the Sultan. When Imane leaks news of a magic-depleting disease, mobs light up the zigzagged alleys of the souk hunting for someone to blame. The rohkai, born without magic, have long been persecuted in the empire. They’re the obvious scapegoatsand Jaz is one of them, though she won’t admit it to anyone. As her web of lies spirals apart, turning everyone against her, Jaz must uncover proof of Imane’s plans before the treaty and rohkai go up in smoke.

 

THE CURSE OF THE ROHKAI is a 95,000-word YA fantasy, featuring a queer romance and a setting inspired by medieval Morocco. It will appeal to fans of Alwyn Hamilton’s Arabian fantasy series REBEL OF THE SANDS and Malinda Lo’s queer fairytales.

 

I won Lulu.com’s Wrimo Accelerator competition in 2014, and consequently self-published the YA fantasy FIRESOULS duology. Originally from the UK, I embarked on a round-the-world trip last year and am currently a resident of New Zealand. I am a queer woman, making this an #OwnVoices novel.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users