Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writer's Voice Contest Entry

I'm so excited to have landed a spot in The Writer's Voice contest! “The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). It is based on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice.


For my entry, I'm submitting my Adult Fantasy manuscript AMORTAL.

Plot Summary:

a·mor·tal noun /āmôrtl/ Someone who lives outside of the bounds of mortality, but can, with a single choice, be mortal once more.

When his mortal girlfriend is kidnapped and held for ransom, 360-year-old amortal Marcus Brandon has from sunrise to sunset to save her and his dreams for a normal life.

As long as he’s born his talisman, an ancient amulet and source of his amortality, Marcus has struggled to maintain his grasp on his humanity and himself. The talisman is one of five that imprisons fractures of a primal spirit, and as such, the magic has a will of its own. It seeks to reunite itself with its missing pieces into one. It is Marcus’s sworn duty to see this never happens. Being the guardian of such a force is not without drawbacks. Its inherent darkness has driven Marcus to blackout bouts of depravity over the course of his tumultuous amortal existence.

On the day Marcus plans to ask Nicola for her hand in marriage, she is abducted by Marcus’s dangerous underworld associates. The cost of her freedom is nothing less than the talisman Marcus holds, a price he can’t pay. Though he would sacrifice his amortality for Nicola’s life in an instant, and planned to do so once their life together began, the nature of the talisman will not allow him to relinquish it under duress. He must freely will it to another.

Teaming up with new acquaintance and fellow amortal, Ana Sofia, Marcus embarks on a rescue mission while internally battling the force of the magic that threatens to consume him. As Marcus and Ana unravel a plot to usurp the five talismans, they’re faced with betrayal, murder, and the consequences of choice.

First 250:

He sat with his head bowed, as if in prayer, but those who knew him understood he prayed to no one. The bloodstone in the center of his talisman emitted an eerie glow in the early morning light. In the pre-dawn moments of the quiet morning, only a week before his 360th birthday, Marcus was finally ready to resume the life he paused so many years ago.

His head raised to watch the sun crest over the San Francisco skyline from his favorite bench in the park near his apartment. This was his final sunrise as a true amortal. By sunset, his life would begin anew with the only love he had ever found in his lifetimes wandering this world. Her heart was his home and he was grateful his talisman, for all its destructive forces, had given him the centuries it took to meet her. He would relive every achingly lonely year again if it would end with her in his arms.

Lingering in his mind was not the talisman he was about to eschew, but another stone, one more recently procured. The small blue box adorned with its dainty white ribbon was easily concealed in his grasp. Its weight was feather light compared to the heft of the promise that came with it. Forever. Some might think he was rushing headlong into his proposal. After all, he was only 20 years old. His time after tonight would no longer be endless, but he’d give her every moment nonetheless.

35 comments:

  1. This sounds very intriguing. Love the concept of amortality. Good luck!

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  2. Amortal... what a cool concept! Endless young adulthood. And all that pressure to pick the right person to take the talisman. Wow. Awesome idea!

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  3. Have I got this right, being amortal is kinda like a vampire but without the whole dark violence/blood lust? You may just have invented a whole new genre!
    Marcus sounds like someone I'd like to meet - good guy with a bad-boy past.
    Good luck
    Jacky (#130)
    xxx

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    1. Thanks Jacky! Amortality is a different brand of supernatural for sure. There is no blood lust like with vampires, but an amortal does face some unique challenges.

      GL to you too!

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  4. Hi Katie, I'm stopping by from the Writer's Voice Contest to wish you the best of luck! I'm following your blog now too, so: nice to meet you.

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  5. I'm very into this, it sounds wonderful. Good luck!

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  6. Thanks for stopping by and good luck! I love your first sentence. I don't really read fantasy but this has me intrigued with the amortal concept.

    -Zoe (#176)

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  7. Great entry - the story sounds interesting! Good luck in the contest!

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  8. What a great opening! Good luck in the contest!

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  9. Love the part where she is abducted right when he proposes. Way to pull at our heart strings! Nice job, and good luck!

    SC (#159)

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  10. Love this concept. Good luck!

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  11. Stopping by to say good luck in the contest! I love your first paragraph! Great concept too! WVC #28

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  12. Enjoyed reading your entry! Love the whole amortal thing--very cool. Best of luck in the contest :-)

    Ashley #78

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  13. Good work, and good luck in the competition.

    Krystalyn #87

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    1. Thank you! I really appreciate it! GL to you too!

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  14. Good luck, Katie!

    ~Nicole, entry 68

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  15. Amortal is something new to me. Very interesting.
    Best of luck!
    Carolyn, #157

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    1. Thanks so much! GL to you too!

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  16. Might I suggest a change? "a·mor·tal noun /āmôrtl/ Someone who lives outside of the bounds of mortality, but can, with an irrevocable choice, be mortal once more."
    Interesting premise, I like it. Good luck

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    1. Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback!

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  17. Posting crits as solicited on Twitter. Please, take with a grain of salt and please forgive any snark - it's not personal. ((I will happily do in-depth crits for anyone who asks, but I never leave unsolicited feedback as it can be quite unwelcome.)) This will be a bit long, so I'll divide into separate posts as necessary. Comments in (())s
    ----------------

    a·mor·tal noun /āmôrtl/ Someone who lives outside of the bounds of mortality, but can, with a single choice, be mortal once more. ((I like this, although I'm not exactly sure what "outside the bounds of mortality" means and how that's different from immortal))

    When his mortal girlfriend is kidnapped and held for ransom, 360-year-old amortal Marcus Brandon has from sunrise to sunset to save her and his dreams for a normal life. ((so far so good! Well, not for him. but for us!))

    As long as he’s born his talisman, an ancient amulet and source of his amortality, Marcus has struggled to maintain his grasp on his humanity and himself.((Can he not just take it off?)) The talisman is one of five that imprisons fractures of a primal spirit,((wtf does that mean)) and as such, the magic has a will of its own. It seeks to reunite itself with its missing pieces into one. It is Marcus’s sworn duty to see this never happens. Being the guardian of such a force is not without drawbacks. Its inherent darkness has driven Marcus to blackout bouts of depravity over the course of his tumultuous amortal existence. ((I feel that none of this needs to be in your query. It's good - it's interesting - but it's not precisely relevant to the conflict at hand. ergo, snip snip))

    On the day Marcus plans to ask Nicola for her hand in marriage, she is abducted by Marcus’s dangerous underworld associates.((here's where your story starts)) The cost of her freedom is nothing less than the talisman Marcus holds, a price he can’t pay. Though he would sacrifice his amortality for Nicola’s life in an instant, and planned to do so once their life together began, the nature of the talisman will not allow him to relinquish it under duress. He must freely will it to another. ((I don't quite get this. If he wanted to get rid of it anyway, what difference does it make if he's under duress now? If I want to give you $5, and then you hold a gun to my head, I'll still want to give you $5. [well, maybe not, because I'd think you were kind of a jerk, but I'd do it anyway]))

    Teaming up with new acquaintance and fellow amortal, Ana Sofia, Marcus embarks on a rescue mission while internally battling the force of the magic that threatens to consume him. As Marcus and Ana unravel a plot to usurp the five talismans, they’re faced with betrayal, murder, and the consequences of choice. ((not sold on this last sentence either. I think it can be snipped.))

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    1. Thank you for reviewing! I've had to grow a thick skin through the editing process, so I usually don't get upset at critiques (unless they pertain to my mama!). I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback. GL with the competition!

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    2. First 250:

      He sat with his head bowed, as if in prayer, but those who knew him understood he prayed to no one. ((I like this a lot)) The bloodstone in the center of his talisman emitted an eerie glow in the early morning light. In the pre-dawn moments of the quiet morning, only a week before his 360th birthday, Marcus was finally ready to resume the life he paused so many years ago. ((I like this, too.))

      His head raised to watch the sun crest over the San Francisco skyline from his favorite bench in the park near his apartment. ((awkwardly phrased. I think you mean he lifted his head. and I'm not sure how I feel about "crest" as a verb.)) This was his final sunrise as a true amortal. By sunset, his life would begin anew with the only love he had ever found in his lifetimes wandering this world. ((and by now we're straying dangerously into backstory/telling)) Her heart was his home and he was grateful his talisman, for all its destructive forces, had given him the centuries it took to meet her. He would relive every achingly lonely year again if it would end with her in his arms. ((we can cut all this. We'll see soon enough how he feels about her. right now, we want to get on with it!))

      Lingering in his mind was not the talisman he was about to eschew, but another stone, one more recently procured. ((also awkwardly phrased - it comes across as a little over-written)) The small blue box adorned with its dainty white ribbon was easily concealed in his grasp. Its weight was feather light compared to the heft of the promise that came with it. Forever. ((ok, now you're just being coy. It's an engagement ring. Call a spade a spade and get on with the story.)) Some might think he was rushing headlong into his proposal. After all, he was only 20 years old. ((except he's 300-and-whatever)) His time after tonight would no longer be endless, but he’d give her every moment nonetheless.

      Thoughts:
      I love books that open in a quiet, introspective way -- but only if the introspection has some kind of conflict. This feels too much like watching a happy couple gushing on Facebook. It's sweet, and you're happy for them, but it's kind of nauseating and makes you feel like you shouldn't really be watching it.

      Also your writing attempts to obfuscate meaning in places, and I'd rather it was to the point. There's a time and place for teasing your readers, but sometimes it just makes more sense to give them the info they need and (as Monty python would say) Get on with it!

      Best of luck to you!

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    3. Thanks for critiquing my first 250 too. You've made some points that I really like. You'll find no hard feelings here. This is a warm fuzzies only kind of blog. GL moving forward to you too!

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  18. Hi Katie!

    Popped over to give you some feedback, but your query looks pretty clean, honestly! I liked the device of defining the title word, which served a dual purpose of establishing story background and immediately, subtly clarifying that you're not misspelling the word immortal.

    A lot of the things that stood out to me were really only line edits and personal style issues, so that's tricky territory to try to critique.

    Things like "sunrise to susnset" could easily be "until sunset."

    The level of detail in the 3rd paragraph seems a bit heavy, but again, that's only personal preference. Agents might like to see all that detail and know that your story world is well thought out. Me, though, I would prefer something like this:

    "The source of Marcus' power is his talisman: one of five ancient amulets with a will of their own. Shards of a shattered soul, the amulets seek to reunite. It is Marcus’s sworn duty to see this never happens."

    Or something like that.

    Also at the end of that same paragraph, "tumultuous amortal existence" may be one amortal too many for this query. Besides, we know Marcus is amortal already, let it just be a "tumultuous existence."

    Again, minor stuff. All in all this is a solid query. Just remember less is sometimes more, so never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice. Best luck!

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    1. Thanks for the critique. I always love to hear what people think of my work. I really appreciate your feedback. You made some excellent points. GL to you also!

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  19. Just wanted to circle back around here and let you know that yours was one of the entries on my short short list. I thought your premise was fascinating and got a great feel for Marcus's character and his sense of honor.

    On the flip side, I thought the first two paragraphs of your query weren't doing you many favors. You could easily define amortal within the query itself, and I've never been a big fan of starting a query off with a logline. Why sum the whole plot up in a sentence when you're going to spend the next two or three paragraphs summing it up again? (But that's mostly a personal thing...) Also, I thought you could end the query on a stronger note if you focused on the choices Marcus has to make. Does it come down to love or duty for him? If so, that's a powerful conflict to highlight.

    Best of luck to you and AMORTAL!

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