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Welcome to Son of a Pitch! The eleventh entry… Please save comment area for the participating authors’ feedback. I will put my thoughts at the bottom of the post. Because I can. If you don’t want to know what I think, close your eyes. If you read my opinions and agree, want to add, or completely disagree… GO FOR IT!

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Title: The Sword & the Shield

Age and Genre: YA Fantasy

Word count: 70,000 words

 

Query:

Orphaned at a young age and raised by a traveling clan of performers, sixteen-year-old Joss Frederichi has been snickered at in every tavern in Baltor. But who can blame them for disbelieving that she can arm-wrestle grown men…and win? After all, they don’t know the truth about her ability—an invisible force that gives the impression of her strength and shields her from harm. Trade secrets like that—and others—stay in her family.

Then Joss arm wrestles the wrong man—a centauri soldier, who reports directly to Baltor’s Sword. The same Sword who murdered his Shield and exiled Baltor’s king fifteen years earlier. And who’s using his centauris and bat-like nightflyers to collect talented girls like Joss.

The accidental abduction of her older sister by nightflyers brings a new face into Joss’s life—her sword-wielding, force-to-be-reckoned-with birth grandmother. Joss’s grandmother reveals her true identity. Joss is the Shield’s surviving heir and the sole threat to the Sword’s death grip over the country. But Joss is also her sister’s best hope.

With the help of her grandmother and her adoptive cousin Rowan, Joss sets out to rescue her sister. But she quickly discovers that everything is not as it first seemed. When Joss finds herself farther from her sister than ever, she forges some uncomfortable alliances, including with the Sword’s son, Damon. Can Joss save her sister’s life without losing who she is—and everyone she loves?

 

First 250 Words:

We file into the Gripp Inn and Tavern, pretending not to mind the stench of man sweat and burnt toast. The innkeep greets us first. He flaps his soiled apron in our direction, as if shooing hens from the coop.

“Out, out! No degas allowed!”

I swallow a sigh. Just once I’d like to walk into a town and find someone happy to see us.

But Father’s smile never falters. “Good day, sir! My name is Jacobi Frederichi. These are my daughters—”

Natayla sinks into a perfectly executed bow. Her dark hair swings back to reveal a coy smile as she rises.

I give a curt nod. I don’t need to be charming.

“—and my nephew.”

Rowan stares back at the patrons with a hand on his short sword. A warning to troublemakers. A heavy moment passes before he nods. Father continues.

“We’ve come to entice you to our family’s performance tomorrow evening. Take my eldest for example—”

Natayla sweeps forward. The low lamplight picks up amber highlights in her dark hair while concealing the stains on her floral-patterned skirt. The innkeep stares at her a moment, then opens his mouth in protest. Father earns his silence with a few coins. Then he presses a wood flute to his lips.

On cue, Natayla unfurls a pair of black fans from her long sleeves. Then, she dances. Her hands and feet weave through every note, as if she and the music are partners.

 

My thoughts comin’ at you. DUCK!

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Query:

Orphaned at a young age and raised by a traveling clan of performers, sixteen-year-old Joss Frederichi has been snickered at in every tavern in Baltor. But who can blame them for disbelieving that she can arm-wrestle grown men…and win? After all, they don’t know the truth about her ability—an invisible force that gives the impression of her strength and shields her from harm. Trade secrets like that—and others—stay in her family.

Then Joss arm wrestles the wrong man—a centauri soldier, who reports directly to Baltor’s Sword. (Sword? Like a guard?) The same Sword who murdered his (who his?) Shield (what is a Shield?) and exiled Baltor’s king fifteen years earlier. And who’s using his centauris and bat-like nightflyers to collect talented girls like Joss.

The accidental (accidental? Because they meant to get Joss? But Joss is an orphan? Her sister is with her?) abduction of her older sister by nightflyers brings a new face into Joss’s life—her sword-wielding, force-to-be-reckoned-with birth grandmother. (she comes because of the abduction? Did she not know of the girls before?) Joss’s grandmother reveals her true identity (maybe cut “her true identity” and link to next sentence…get right to it!) Joss is the Shield’s surviving heir and the sole threat to the Sword’s death grip over the country. (How? How can she defeat the Sword? And why defeat him? What death grip…what is he doing to the country? He has her sister, so Joss wants to free her and punish the Sword?) But Joss is also her sister’s best hope. (So either rescue sister or get the Sword? Or first get sister?)

With the help of her grandmother and her adoptive cousin Rowan, Joss sets out to rescue her sister. But she quickly discovers that everything is not as it first seemed (vague sentence, give me details). When Joss finds herself farther from her sister than ever (What does this mean? How is she far away?), she forges some uncomfortable alliances, including with the Sword’s son, Damon. Can Joss save her sister’s life without losing who she is—and everyone she loves? (The consensus is to not use questions in queries…Finishing with the stakes will be stronger than using a question…if she doesn’t save her sister or stop the Sword… (you fill in the blank-Something terrible!) will happen. Make us afraid. Up the tension. Why is she fighting? What is she fighting for? How does she feel about being the Shield?

Overall…Using terms like the Sword and the Shield that are unique to your world, but the reader isn’t sure what it is, is tricky…defining them is boring…At first, I was confused by the words, but I got used to them by the end. I don’t know If you need to bring in the characters of Rowan and Damon to the query, it’s just more names and with all the words and names, it can get confusing. How does Joss react to losing her sister? How does she feel about being this special person? How does she change through the ms? Make sure Joss’ personality shines through.

 

First 250 Words:

We file into the Gripp Inn and Tavern, pretending not to mind the stench of man sweat and burnt toast. (gross! But way to set the scene. Any sights? Sounds?) The innkeep greets us first. He flaps his soiled apron in our direction, as if shooing hens from the coop.

“Out, out! No degas allowed!”

I swallow a sigh. Just once I’d like to walk into a town and find someone happy to see us. (MC’s voice here…nice! How long have they been doing this? What time of day is it? Weather…did they come in from the snow or rain? Is MC at least happy to be inside or wants to run away?)

But Father’s smile never falters. “Good day, sir! My name is Jacobi Frederichi. These are my daughters—” (Why not give us mc’s name here?)

Natayla sinks into a perfectly executed bow. Her dark hair swings back to reveal a coy smile as she rises. (and mc feels how about this? Wants to punch her?)

I give a curt nod. I don’t need to be charming. (why?)

“—and my nephew.”

Rowan stares back at the patrons with a hand on his short sword. A warning to troublemakers. A heavy moment passes before he nods. Father continues. (MC thinks what of him?)

“We’ve come to entice you to our family’s performance tomorrow evening. Take my eldest for example—”

Natayla sweeps forward. The low lamplight picks up amber highlights in her dark hair while concealing the stains on her floral-patterned skirt. (Nice tidbit about her skirt!) The innkeep stares at her a moment, then opens his mouth in protest. Father earns his silence with a few coins. Then he presses a wood flute to his lips.

On cue, Natayla unfurls a pair of black fans from her long sleeves. Then, she dances. Her hands and feet weave through every note, as if she and the music are partners. (Keep us in MC’s head…what does she think?)

Overall…I’d like a bit more of mc’s voice, thoughts and feelings, maybe a hint at what she wants. I want to know her. Where are they from? Has this been her life for a long time? I want to know about the world, where are they? 

Thanks for participating! If my comments don’t help, ignore them.

Writers unite!

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