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Query Review / Re: Water Scroll MG Fantasy-Updated
« Last post by elparkerio on Today at 08:58:47 PM »
Thank you everyone for the feedback. Here's the third revision:

Dear Agent,

Twelve-year-olds Danvis and Danvis O’Bryen, aka The Twins, have an unfortunate curse. good start Forced to share one identity, they speak, think, and do everything in unison.  :up:

Thanks to their curse, their own family didn’t doesn't want them, the villagers taunt them, and don’t even ask if they have any friends I'd say: and nobody asks if the have friends or not (they don’t). When the villagers force The Twins to leave the village maybe: drive the twins out of the village during a holiday celebration, they encounter a mysterious girl and an abandoned cave. There, The Twins uncover a family secret: they’re descendants of twin legendary heroes who had the power to control the element of water.

The mysterious girl turns out to be Princess Salina, and she is happy to find the descendants of legendary heroes. Her father’s advisor is plotting to take over the throne, and she needs The Twins to take their ancestors’ places to stop him. With this chance to break free from their outcast lives and be something more than cursed freaks, The Twins agree to help.

Salina gives them a key that unlocks the resting place of the Water Scroll—the source that gave their ancestors their powers. However, they need three more keys scattered across the kingdom. originally, I wrote "why?" here, and now I know why. Earlier you say Salina gives them "a key" rather than "one of several keys" suggesting they only need the one. Hope I'm making sense here Journeying across the kingdom is hard enough, but when the advisor finds out about Salina’s plan, he begins to hunt them down. Then The Twins learn he’s actually an immortal who attempted to take over the throne centuries ago, but their ancestors had stopped him. this feels like a spoiler.... He is more than determined to make sure The Twins not only fail but die trying.50 Cent callback? Kinda cheesy, but probs just me. Now The Twins know they must succeed not only for Salina but to save their own lives as well.

WATER SCROLL is a completed 58,000-word MG fantasy novel for kids who love adventure stories such as J.C. Cervantes’ Storm Runner and Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor.

Hope my opinion helps! Good luck
Query Review / Re: Crystal Palace Academy - YA historical adventure
« Last post by elparkerio on Today at 08:48:51 PM »

Left an orphan following "after". Following reads awkwardly to me the Bosnian war, eight-year-old Amela digs through dumpsters to survive. Good start When a representative from the Crystal Palace Academy offers her an education in America, she seizes the chance to be off the streets.  She and other orphans from around the world receive training in becoming the next generation of spies, hackers, and assassins for U.S. Intelligence Agencies. so far so good

Through the years, Amela and four of her classmates become an inseparable team as their training and studies intensify.  For her, their friendships fill the void of the family she lost.

At sixteen-years-old, Amela and her friends are ready for their first mission.  They receive orders from the Academy to assist help the C.I.A.  They are to infiltrate infiltrate a radicalized group of Muslim youths in a Paris suburb who might be planning a terrorist attack.  However, one of Amela’s friends begins sympathizing with the youths and disappears.  Their effort to find him and bring him back into the fold tests all of their skills as well as her loyalty to her close friend, the Academy, and America.

CRYSTAL PALACE ACADEMY is a 69,000 word young adult historical adventure with series potential.  It will appeal to fans of the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore and the ALEX RIDER series by Anthony Horowitz.   In addition to a brief career as a professional baseball player, my background is in hiring, training, and managing a diverse workforce from all over the world.  I strive to emphasize the strength of diversity in my writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


feels a bit too fast, but I'm sure that's just me. Much better than before. Well done. :)

As for your question....I have no idea, lol
First Five Pages / A METHOD TO MADNESS - 1920s MYSTERY
« Last post by jessikalindst on Today at 08:47:24 PM »
Earlier I had posted this but I realized that, being completely honest, this story at its core is more of a mystery mixed with some historical and crime. It's in part inspired by some themes of my favorite Shakespeare play Hamlet, hence the title which is a line from the play.
This a very rough concept right now and I have just a few chapters written but I am rather pleased with how easily this character's voice comes to me which makes writing it all the more fun. I'm still researching and outlining for it too, so there are a good few holes in terms of being historically accurate of the era but I plan to fix that when the time comes. (Also, if there's any grammatical errors, I'll fix those later too)

So, again, with a much clearer explanation of what this story is, I would just like to know other's thoughts--no real critics since again, this is barely even a first draft yet. I mainly want to know if the voice is engaging enough to keep reading. With all that said, I am going to give a warning here that there is a jarring scene fairly earlier in so I just want to give those people who may not like this sort of stuff a heads up.

Anyway, thanks to all and anyone who takes the time to read, I appreciate your time!  :)



Never as a young girl would I have ever considered being a detective, yet that was what I became. It almost seemed to choose me, coax me into its world and hold me tight—I found myself reading all the crime stories in the paper in my late teens, being intrigued how the investigation process went about, how the crimes were solved. I had to hide my reading from my mother who did not approve much of her only daughter being interested in such a ‘dark subject’.  My father and brothers, however, had no qualms with my fascination and would encourage it, unbeknownst to my mother; even her own mother, Grandma K, would collect news clippings of crime stories and hand them off to me under our dining table.
Then in the spring of 1917 the United States entered the war in Europe. The government needed anyone willing and able to enlist, especially anyone who had some medical background although some exceptions were made. I hadn’t the slightest inkling on how to be a nurse but I learned quick and soon enough I found myself in France, tending to the wounded and dying. It was a long year, one filled with screams and crimson, but in the end it was finished. All anyone could do was return home and attempt normalcy. My mother, someone who hardly ever sheds tears, did so the moment I walked up the drive to the front door where she and father stood waiting. When I drew close enough, she pulled me into her arms and crushed me to her, begging me never to leave again; that promise, unfortunately, I broke a year later.

After my twenty-fifth birthday when I had finally moved out from my parents house in Cicero to downtown Chicago, I applied for police training. It had been a rough couple years, dealing with the backlash of not just being a woman but being superior in accomplishing our tasks and graduated with much higher marks than most of my class.
Upon telling my mother of the news when I got the job, she turned to my father, her expression deadly.
“How could you allow this to happen?”
My father blinked. “I have done nothing. Andromeda wanted to do this, why not let her?”
“She could get hurt, or worse!” My mother hissed. “And this is not a profession for a woman, it is too gruesome!”
“Mama—” I began.
“No.” She turned her back towards us, her posture becoming rigid. It was the sign that nothing would change her mind.
“Nadya,” my father said, a firmness in his voice that we would only hear when he was serious about something. “We cannot keep her from doing this, she has already gotten accepted. The best you can do now is support Andie’s decision, let her live her own life.”
My mother searched his gaze, then threw up her hands. “Fine. But if she ends up—ends up—” she stopped, clamped her lips together and stormed out of the room, muttering to herself in Lithuanian.  I knew she was remembering my time in France, constantly worried that she would get a letter of  her only daughter dead. In time I knew she would eventually understand why I decided to take on this profession—it wasn’t to prove anything, it has been a dream of mine for so long and I had finally made it a reality.


I sit at my desk, the window beside it slightly ajar, the humid air swirling in and sticking to my exposed skin of my arm and my face. I lifted my hand to wipe away the tiny beads of perspiration clustered above my upper lip when one of my colleagues, Freeman, came up to me.
“Rinne,” he said, his tone boarding on a bit too official sounding. “The chief wants you and Jennings in his office, now.”
“All right,” I said, scooting my chair back and standing. Milo Jennings, my partner and best friend, rose from his chair, coming into step beside me as we strode down the short hallway to the chief’s office. We both glanced at each other before I reached out and swung the door inward.
 The police chief, Kennedy Bode, sat straight-backed behind his desk with a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering around his head like the haze above Lake Michigan.
 As we entered, he beckoned us to take seats in the two chairs set before him. The silence remained until Bode cleared his throat loudly.
“I have called you two in today because I want you to take a case that just came in.”
Milo visibly perked up at these words as I felt my own pulse quicken; we had been waiting for a new case to come our way for weeks now after the last which had been fairly straightforward but in the dullest way.
Bode shuffled around various papers on his desk then extracted the sheet he was searching for. He adjusted his glasses so they perched directly at the tip of his nose.
“There was an apparent suicide discovered in Dunning this morning,” he said, holding out the sheet for either of to take. I reached out and took it, my eyes skimming the report; a young woman by the name of Madge ‘Mae’ Prinz was admitted to the hospital where she had been under lock and key—apparently she had been a danger to herself and those around her. The saddest aspect was, and one that made my heart go out to her, that she had some involvement in the war herself, a combat nurse like I was.
“When do you want us at the scene?” I asked when I finished reading, now handing the report to Milo.
“As soon as possible,” Bode replied. “I also want you to get that autopsy report once it’s ready. Dismissed.”
“Yessir, we’ll get right on it,” Milo stood and I followed him out the office. Once we were a safe distance away, he turned, a huge grin on his face. “About time we get something new, eh, Andie?”
“I’ve been waiting something to keep me awake through the nights for weeks.” I replied, the corners of my lips quirking then said with more seriousness, “Did you see that she had been in the war too?”
Milo’s grin vanished as soon as it come, his eyes darkening. “Yes…they were right, about even with it being over there’s no escape…”
I had met Milo during my time in France. He had repaired vehicles during that time, even on the frontlines which was where he had sustained an injury to his left arm—gunshot, and he was brought to me. Immediately we became friends, joking and even comforting each other that one day we would leave that hellhole of a place. I thanked my stars many times that we had each other to help keep one another sane throughout the whole experience.
I nodded in agreement. “Well, we had better get our tails to the scene.”
The two of us hurried off down the hall, passed a few faces that glanced up as we went by and out into the sticky, hot air that was Chicago in summer.

The drive lasted only about twenty-five minutes and soon Milo was parking the car and the two of us got out, looking up at the building we were to enter. Various paths criss-crossed before it, lines of oaks swaying in the breeze stood to hide part of its face. The visible front of the building peeked over the trees, three stories in height, looking out across the property. We walked forward, our steps tapping in unison and the very moment Milo reached to open the door, we were met by three doctors awaiting us beside the front desk which was manned by a woman whose expression was pinched, her glasses perched on the bridge of her nose. She eyed us as we addressed the doctors, then lowered her gaze back to her papers.
“Detectives, thank you for coming.” The doctor closest held out his hand to Milo who shook it. “I am Doctor Grahame and these are my colleagues, Doctors Markus Polzin and Elizabeth Goddard.” The two, one a young man of stocky build and the other a woman who was a wisp by comparison, nodded with solemn expressions.
“Well, we may as well take a look, where is the body?” I asked.
Doctor Grahame made a face. “I do not feel that it is a scene for a woman to—”
“I was a combat nurse during the war,” I interrupted tersely. “I believe that gives me just as much a right to examine a body as yourselves.”
Grahame flushed a light shade of puce, while the younger of the three both lowered their gazes, the static feeling of embarrassment emanating from them; it appeared that Grahame would do these things often given their reactions.
Milo gave a stiff nod toward the doctors. “Now, lead the way.”
“I will leave that task to my colleagues,” Doctor Grahame said, slicking his fingers tips across the front of his hair. “Goddard, Polzin, if you would show the detectives to Miss Prinz’s room…I have much to do…” At that, he turned on his heel and walked stiffly away. The young woman, Goddard, gestured for us to follow her directly ahead. We were led down the hall, the floor glossy from a previous wax. My heart hammered in my chest with every step toward the room and the moment the door was swung open, I sucked in a breath.
The walls were off-white and dingy looking, with no window on either sides. Situated in the center of the room was a small metal four poster bed with a fan directly above. My eyes followed a line of twisted salmon colored sheets to the figure being held up in a slumped position. The cream skin around the neck was an angry red, mixed with the blue and black of a bruise. The body was draped in a sheer gown that hung off the smallest frame I have ever seen, her eyes blunging from her skull, brown in color but mottled with red. I turned away from the scene just as Milo asked, “When did you discover the body?”
“This morning, early. Around five-thirty AM,” replied Polzin. “Her main doctor—Miss Prinz’s, found her.”
“And what was the doctor’s reaction?”
“Completely horrified. Doctor Lerner seemed to have been making some progress with her too, he had gotten her screaming stopped even but…” Polzin grimaced, his features contorting. “Of the course we began to question if something could’ve triggered it though no one can form a good enough reason…”
“Where is this Doctor Lerner?” I asked, extracting my notepad and pen from my bag as Milo stepped closer to the body, his eyes roving over the details. “We will of course need to ask him some questions.”
“He’s very business today but I could get you an appointment tomorrow, or the next at the latest.”
I nodded once. “Thank you,” Then addressing Milo, “What do you see?” I came to his side as he was examining the neck.
“This definitely appears to be a suicide,” he said but faced the two doctors. “However I must ask, who was the last person to see her?”
Both glanced at each other, Goddard flushing pink. I made a mental note of this reaction. “Are you implying that we—?”
Milo held up a hand. “I am in no way accusing, I have to ask, it’s procedure.”
“I was,” Goddard finally said, her jawline rigid as she spoke. “But I only came in to check her as it’s mandatory being in a closed ward. Every hour someone would.”
I scribbled this note down. “And how did she seem?”
“The same as usual,” she said. “Vacant eyed, quiet. She never spoke and if she did it was only a few words, such as ‘yes m’am/sir’ or ‘no m’am/sir’.”
“Did she speak more to Doctor Lerner?”
Goddard glanced at Polzin, who shrugged. “We don’t know, but I would assume since that he was the one who could calm her.”
I tucked my notepad and pen back into my bag then indicated to Milo. “Thank you both. We’ll be taking our leave now but I will return for that appointment with Doctor Lerner, I am very curious to hear his side.”
Milo gave me a look but I shot one back as to say, ‘later’ then we both turned and left the scene, the doctors not far behind us. Once we exited the building, I said, “I knew you wouldn’t like to hear any medical talk so I figured it would be better if I just met with Lerner.”
“Ah, I thought so,” he gave a tiny smirk. “That sort of talk is dull, ’specially if you have no clue what half the terms are.”
I rolled my eyes. “Well at least someone will appreciate it. But that aside, did you notice how upset the Goddard woman got when you asked who last saw the victim?”
“Indeed I did…ve-ery interesting…” Milo dug into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, pulling one out and placing it between his teeth as he found his lighter. “I want to know what the coroner report is going say, that will determine a lot.”
“So you feel that those doctors had some hand in this?”
Milo narrowed his eyes as we paused beside the car, tapping his fingertips on the hood. “I think they’re definitely keeping their secrets close. But the thing about secrets is, they always come out, as we well know.”
 “Maybe I can wrangle a few out of this Doctor Lerner,” I said opening the car door on my side. Milo followed suit and we both got in. “But we should get back to the station, I need to compile my notes.”
“Always one step ahead,” Milo grinned and turn the key, the engine roaring to life and backed out, gliding us forward into the mist.
« Last post by elparkerio on Today at 08:39:19 PM »
Any and all feedback welcome. Thank you eternally.


As Chipo yelled louder and louder, arms draped over her lifeless companion, I couldn’t help but frown. Wasn’t there an art to this stuff? Wasn’t I supposed to, quote unquote, “connect emotionally,” catapulting out of this reality into one of awe, our beings threading together in shared grief? Instead, I was marveling at how powerful her lungs were.

But maybe I was being silly. It was only a play—Zim’s rendition of Romeo & Juliet, retitled Chipo na Dumisani. I mean, the appeal of tragedy is an enigmatic thing, isn’t it? Why else was every eye in that auditorium glued to the little stage? Even my friends, Gabby and Maka, seated on either side of me. They’d sniggered about the awful stage makeup and store-bought nembe through the opening minutes, but now they were wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Maybe that was the mark of a good actress and I didn’t know anything. This show just wasn’t my bag.

So why, you might ask, was I watching it on a perfectly good Tuesday evening? First term of Upper Six had ended that morning and this was our holiday starter. A Three Amigas tradition—something weird to start the good times. Blame Gabby.

Really, I think my annoyance had less to do with the actors and the fake boulders and the plastic grass, and more to do with feeling “other.” Something I’d been struggling with for as long as I could remember. That thing that happens when you’re in class and the teacher asks if anyone knows Tiriparwendo, and everyone raises their hand except you. Queue gigantic, pulsing arrow, singling you out for the weirdo you are.

Masalad, they call us.

But how much did the slur even apply to me, when Gabby and Maka, my closest salad-eating friends, had none of my flaws? They spoke with lah-di accents while mine was ethnically ambiguous. They used British spellings while I constantly fumbled over myself, used to American. They listened to local music and ate sadza with their hands and could tell you about the recent riots in Harare over the Bond Notes crisis, because they used the local currency and had actually been to town.

Maybe I was actually Zambian. Straight-up foreigner.

One who, presently, was burning under a baggy gray sweater, feet pinched into oblivion. Brand new heels. In my defense, we were headed to an end-of-school party after this, and it had been chilly when I’d left the house.

“Oh, lord,” I grumbled as Chipo bellowed harder, scrabbling around for the poisonous leaf Dumisani had ingested.

Gabby nudged my shoe with hers and someone shushed me from the row behind us. Because I felt like a sell-out for not liking the show anyway, that’s exactly what I did.


“Nine out of ten,” said Gabby as we stepped through the theater doors into the sultry, evening air. Attendees flowed out all around us, jazzed about the show as the Second Street shopping complex hummed with life, twinkling lights in the fast-food windows, parking lot packed with trolleys and gleaming cars and voices. Deep purple danced across the sky, pale green on the edges.

A successful night. Standing ovation and everything.

“Ah.” Maka frowned at Gabby. “Sisi, that was ten out of ten.” She pulled her phone out and stepped off the crowded sidewalk, caressing her butt-long braids as she raised it. “Friendfie!” She smirked at me.

I rolled my eyes, weary. “I said it one time, sha!”

“And we’re never letting you live it down!” Gabby joked, grinning into the camera lens.

I pulled my tongue out at them but squeezed into the frame on Maka’s other side.

Sexy-pout. Peace sign. Everything seemed to slow as I looked into the camera. And for a moment, we were just three girls on a night out, seventeen and free. Gabby’s face was slightly pink and her head was tilted, sky-blue eyes sparkling, pale blonde hair piled on top of her head in a bun. Maka was all chubby cheeks and smooth brown skin, smoky eyes steady in that way that said, “Dangerous woman.” And I was Rutendo Mambo, slanted eyes, light brown skin. A laugh hidden under my tight smile. Bushy eyebrows and a mole on my left earlobe. Youngest of two, stellar grades, liked by all.

Then the second passed and the girl in the camera was a stranger. She wasn’t respectable or beautiful or free. She was running, bursting with dread. She was lost; she was losing. Under all the good genes and good grades was a blank canvas. A girl made of nothing at all.

“Okay!” Maka took one more pic and lowered her phone.

Abruptly, I felt nauseated. I wrapped my arms around my middle and looked down, breathing through my mouth. The feeling was so strong I missed when they started walking until Gabby tugged my arm. “Ru?”

I looked up.

“Let’s go,” she said.

It took me a moment to snap out of it. The feeling had passed. “Okay.”

Maka frowned at me. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” said Gabby. “You look…shook.”

I opened my mouth to say I’m fine, but instead told the truth. “Something weird just happened.”


“Like—” But how could I explain? They were giving me The Look, a thing I’d become accustomed to. Y’know, being me. Maka often said there was no look, but we all knew there was, and we all knew why. I could just imagine where their minds had gone. “Never mind,” I said, then added, “I think I left something in my car.”

Gabby snapped out of it first. “Um, okay cool. We’ll be ku KFC.”


Turning on my heel, I shouldered a path through the crowd. Kids were recounting their favorite moments of the play and women were discussing the implications of the show on their young, gents hanging on the margins, unlocking car doors and mumbling to each other. I wished I could feel as ordinary. At least, I wished I understood my own uncertainty. No one shared my angst. 

Until I reached the edge of the crowd and walked right into a short, bushy-haired girl, staring furiously at her phone.


She looked up. “Hey, Ru,” she said halfheartedly.

I pointed at the theater. “Where you at the show?”

“Yeah. You?”

“Mm-hmm. Gabby and Maka came with.”


“What do you mean?”

She smiled wryly. “I came with my brother.”

Phone clutched tightly in her fist, lip twisted, said sibling nowhere in sight. I could put it together easily enough. “And he ditched you,” I said.

She looked back at her phone and started typing. “Yup.”

“You can ride with us if you want. The others went to KFC.”

She smiled with her whole face, letting relief shine through. “That would be great. Thanks.”

I shrugged and told her I was on my way to my car then started walking again. My car was parked at the entrance of this sports place across the road from the strip mall, because we hadn’t been able to find decent parking when we’d arrived. Absently, I wondered how long I could sit in it before I calmed down and returned to my friends, only to realize I wasn’t alone.

“I like the fresh air, if you don’t mind,” Nadia said before I could ask, breathing deeply. She pulled her jacket closer.

“Show too much?”

“Nah, it was ridiculous.”

I actually smiled. “Wasn’t it?”

She rolled her eyes. “Especially that whole thing with the chief? Nxa. Did anyone even read Shakespeare before they started that mess?”

“You know I actually thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t like it.”

She pouted like something smelt bad. “Never going back there.”

Silence. Arms swinging, breeze blowing through our hair. Stepping over potholes, my heels clicking against the tar, her sneakers making soft padding sounds. It didn’t really matter where we were going. My feet didn’t hurt so bad.

“But something is bothering you?” I asked. Other people’s worries are always easier to deal with than your own, I suppose.

Nadia shrugged her tiny shoulders. “Just been feeling out of place, you know? For a while now, actually.”

“Is it your results? Were they bad?”

“No, that’s not it. I just…” She squinted as a car cruised by, flashing its headlights at us, and shrugged.

I didn’t need her to go on. “Yeah,” I sighed, pulling my sleeves over my knuckles. “Me too.”

We eyed the murky distance.

Maybe it was a curse of the Zimbabwean teenager. And not so much because I felt discriminated against because of the cultural things I didn’t get, although that was maybe eighty percent of the reason. Maybe it was because we’d been raised to focus on our education and respect our elders and not much else. Passions were for the wayward. Absent fathers were normal. Teenage worries were mediocre, especially the ones you couldn’t name, like what I thought was going on with me. I had nothing to complain about—I’d passed at the top of my class, I had my own car, and there weren’t many rules I had to follow at home. In almost every sense of the word, I was free. 

Or maybe that was the problem. My life was kind of a spec sheet. All our lives were. Predetermined. Zimbabwean swagger, if you will. It was the life most adults aspired to, and their kids were just space-takers in that portrait. Culture, or color, be damned.

Nadia and I walked on in silence. She tied her bushy curls up. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. Her sandy skin was paler than usual and red rimmed her eyes.

None of my business, I told myself before my lips could produce the question. We were friends, sure, but school friends. The protocol was different.

Which is when I felt it.

A sting like fire. It cut into my shoulder blades and made me gasp. I stopped walking and Nadia, wrapped up in her own thoughts, looked up quizzically.

“What—?” She didn’t finish. I collapsed to the ground before she could and screamed. It felt like someone was tearing my back open with a butcher knife.

“RU!” She collapsed to her knees and grabbed my shoulder. “What is it? What’s—?”

I cried out as another cut tore into me. I pressed my forehead against the warm tar. My fingers scrabbled uselessly, just like Chipo’s, but of their own accord. At least, I felt removed from myself, body trying to pull the pain away. Who was doing it? Couldn’t she stop them?

“My back! My back!” I kept screaming. I didn’t know any other words.

Nadia was breathing hard. I felt my sweater tug up and a cool hand touched my skin. The cutting stopped. Abruptly. Completely.
I looked up. Dimly, I could see Nadia standing back from me, staring at her hand. Her eyes were huge. Everything seemed darker, like a veil was pulled over my eyes.

“Nadia?” I croaked. 

She opened her mouth. Nothing came out. She just looked at her hand, then me, and back again.

Panic wrapped my heart.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what—” I tried to explain, tottering to my feet. Eyes streaming, I looked around. How had the road turned so dark? Almost black, kind of endless. No cars or light for years.

Then came a clicking sound. Fast, inescapable. There was a presence too, something that drifted through the darkness. I watched, horrified, as the thing coated Nadia. A tense second passed. Her eyes glazed over. Then she leaped forward and struck me.

I tried to dodge but she got me and I crashed to the ground again.

Pounding behind my right ear. Clutching it, I twisted around to stare at her.

Nadia was on top of me before I could move. Her hand was covered in blood and she wiped it around mine. I screamed again but no one seemed to hear and I tried to throw her off, but it was as easy as lifting a bus. Her groaning swelled into words, ones I had never heard before. They didn’t seem to belong to a real language. I tried to call for help, but her knee pressed against my stomach….

I nudged her forward with my knee so I could push her away. She toppled over. I scrambled to my feet. Nadia grabbed my leg as I ran and pulled me down with surprising force. I fell again, this time on my hand. Despite how vague the sound, I was positive something snapped inside my wrist.

Pain. Too much. Everywhere. It was broken. My hand was broken. 

Before I could assess the damage, Nadia leaped off me. Spread her arms wide. Blood snaked freely off her hand. Her eyes rolled in their sockets.

And I know I should have run. But my instinct was to fight, so before I could realize what I was doing, I shoved her against a wall.

Crunch—she crumpled to the ground at my feet. The presence disappeared like it had never existed. Light seemed to blink back into existence.

I cowered away. Gasped hard enough for each breath to hurt. Tears poured out of me. I couldn’t look away from her body. 

Then I was running, screaming louder than I ever thought possible.

Oh, shucks. South Asia? Sorry for that. Anyway, you're most welcome! Glad I could give helpful feedback.
Query Review / Re: YA contemporary REWRITE!!! 2.0
« Last post by elparkerio on Today at 07:57:18 PM »
New version! I feel like the plot summary might be a tad too long. Lemme know what y'all think. :)

Dear (agent's name),

Apparently, the world is ending tomorrow. Massive meteor showers ahead, NASA claims. Extinction-level calamity anticipated.

Yeah, right. Seventeen-year-old Zara Minett has seen way too many apocalypse movies and heard too much fake news to buy into the hype. Mankind’s demise sits pretty high on her Ridic-O-Meter. Like having friends to joke with about the hysteria that otherwise captivates her ridiculously inconsequential hometown, or getting the chance to make up with PJ Smith-Davis, her ex-neighbor-turned-crush-turned-pop-star.

But fate has other ideas. Zara’s former friends Paisleigh Adams and Ranjan Mallick agree the news is a hoax and invite her on an epic, city-wide adventure. If everyone else is going to act crazy, they might as well enjoy themselves. To top it off, PJ rocks back into town and joins the crew. Like Zara, he wants to make up for the sloppy way they left things. Maybe happiness isn’t so unrealistic after all.

If only they didn’t get in their own way. PJ’s still frustratingly closed-off, there’s still too much bad blood between Zara and her old crew, and suddenly they seem further apart than ever. It takes a kidnapping attempt by a gang of hooligans to bring things into perspective. Even if they believe the world isn’t ending, they need to do something meaningful with their day. Zara suggests they confront their biggest issues. Ranjan needs to visit his grandpa in the home. Paisleigh needs to confront her abusive dad. PJ needs to make amends with his ex-friend and band member. And Zara needs to visit her parents’ grave. Because their only way back to each other is through the chaos, not by avoiding it.

AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST is a 74, 000-word YA contemporary romance novel that features a diverse cast and elements of humor as well as some language. It may appeal to fans of LET’S CALL IT A DOOMSDAY by Katie Henry and I HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE by Farah Naz Rishi. You’ll find the first (writing sample) below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Query Review / Re: Updated Ashes of a new Dawn, query 4.2
« Last post by paddler on Today at 06:04:15 PM »
Thanks JayS, mflores, though it was a week or two late, 007fan, karma all.

Yes, I am casting spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, again

Dear Mr. Fantasy,

Wormhole transportation, Justin Thomas hopes, will be key to a sustainable Earth. The grand opening of the first two transfer points of his planned network is a success. The virtually instantaneous travel has almost no carbon footprint, no delays of any kind. Then Amanda Frost, his brightest young employee, claims she is receiving messages through it. The first message is a plea for help, possibly from an alien civilization.

Justin worries about those messages and their basis in reality.  Amanda attributes the plans for Version 2.0 of the wormhole to the aliens. Some of the physics involved are beyond Earthly knowledge. Version 2.0 doesn’t need to be anchored at both ends. It can be projected, accurately, from just one end. Some of the physics involved are beyond Earthly knowledge. It is a very powerful tool that could deliver anything from disaster relief to bombs or assassins.

Then a terrorist attack releases a cloud of 15-million-degree plasma from a fusion energy facility. That plasma threatens southern France. Justin’s team uses V2.0 to vent it into space. They are proclaimed heroes while becoming targets for both terrorists and militaries vying for possession of the powerful weapon. Removing the tech from their reach will only work if he can remove his employees from danger also. Justin could pull both things off if there really are aliens out there that need help, unless the help they needed was the use of V2.0 adding to the instability to the world.

ASHES OF A NEW DAWN is a science fiction novel complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration
Fiction Writing / Re: Advice on how to proceed from here
« Last post by Cobalt_Caster on Today at 05:27:16 PM »

I think at the root of it all is I don't trust my own judgment. This isn't my first time querying a manuscript, but this is the first one I think could really go the distance. I have more confidence in this story than any other I've written or devised, and frankly I think it's my best, or one of my best. This, however, has made me utterly paranoid of failure of process rather than the story itself faltering. I'm not kidding when I say I stay up at night dwelling on it. I've written a whole other novel and a half in the meantime and I still can't get the anxiety away.

My point is, I consider this story to be my best chance at achieving my lifelong goal of traditional publication, everyone who's read it is bombarding me about the sequel, the whole story is ludicrous and insane in the best possible way, and I have every confidence in my ability to cripple it.

All that said, I really have to thank you for your posts. Very practical and in-depth, neither too cruel nor too kind. My greatest concern with coming to this forum is actually that it may be too nice, and I think you've proven that concern unfounded.
Query Review / Re: Updated Ashes of a new Dawn, query 4.2
« Last post by 007 fan on Today at 04:45:00 PM »

Dear Mr. Fantasy,

Wormhole transportation, Justin Thomas hopes, will be key to a sustainable Earth. The grand opening of the first two transfer points of his planned network is a success. The virtually instantaneous travel has almost no carbon footprint, no delays of any kind. Then Amanda Frost, his brightest young employee, claims she is receiving messages through it, the first one is a plea for help, possibly from an alien civilization.

Justin worries about those messages (why?) At some point in this thread, there was talk of a trojan horse, and maybe this could be a spot to relay Justin's specific worry? That the message is actually from someone who might be trying to do something bad or something? As you have your two sentences now, the previous one and the next, there is no smooth flow in material b/c Justin worrying and Amanda saying the tech is from aliens don't go together., but Amanda attributes the plans for Version 2.0of the wormhole to the aliens. Version 2.0, doesn’t need to be anchored at both ends. It can be projected, accurately, from just one end. Some of the physics involved are beyond the scope of Earthly physics. It is a very powerful tool that could deliver bombs or assasins as readily as disaster relief.

Then a terrorist attack releases a cloud of 15-million-degree plasma from a fusion energy facility that plasma threatens southern France. Justin’s team uses V2.0 to vent it into space. They are proclaimed heroes while terrorists and militaries target make Justin and his team into targets as they vie for possession of the weapon. Removing the tech from their reach will only work if he Justin can remove his employees from that reach also as well. The aliens, if they are out there, could do that. There is a reason they contacted Amanda and the war V2.0 might start can’t be it. The balance seems a bit muddy. What could the aliens do? It doesn't make sense in how you've led up to them. I think it could be better if you go to another version for your end that has Justin hoping the address is an actual address. I think it could be intriguing to end query with Justin trying to keep the tech away from bad actors and giving readers to query (agents) a taste of the fact that Justin and his people could be traveling to another world/readers wondering what they might find there. 

ASHES OF A NEW DAWN is a science fiction novel complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration(.)
Query Review / Re: YA Crossover Urban Fantasy EMPATHY FOR THE VAMPIRE
« Last post by 007 fan on Today at 04:12:52 PM »
I think I'm going to go back to my 1st explanation for the first paragraph, the version from my first post, as it took me a year and a half to write.

Are you meaning this one?

Fourteen year old empath Liz only hosts people's emotions normally, but this time a physical experience - bone tired exhaustion - is trapped inside her body as well. The recently awoken Victorian vampire, Nat Tillack, says Liz's empathy for him is killing her. Her biggest problem is believing him, until he disappears.

Just because something took so long doesn't mean it is the clearest or bestest.  ;D

I've been trying to follow along with your thread (it's so big! :)), and I thought I read here somewhere that in your novel you don't even have Liz experiencing empathy from others, just Nat, that her harboring the emotions of others happens BEFORE where you open the story. So why give space to that in your query? She doesn't even know she's an empath until Nat tells her, so again, why open with stating something in a way as if Liz knows this, and why open with something that happens prior to where you begin your story?

Also, I think it might be good to explore an opening that doesn't state Nat is a vampire when Liz first meets him. Because he doesn't tell her that when they first meet, right? I think that fact could be revealed when Liz is seeking help for her issue.

Also, also, I keep meaning to say, and maybe I said this long ago, in another thread, but I keep picturing this story as being set in the past. The "set in the 90's" at the bottom is the only indication that this is a modern story. From my recollection, I'm the only one who has felt that way, so maybe don't worry about that.  ;D

Hugs on working on queries. :hug: Working our own can be such an experience.  ;D

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