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Author Topic: Lungful of Dust- post-apocalyptic YA sci-fi  (Read 422 times)
katherinebarka
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« on: November 29, 2017, 03:31:45 AM »

I would be grateful for your review and comments, it is truly appreciated!
English is not my first language and I'm sure I have a lot to learn. Please, if there are some grammar, or other mistakes, it would mean the world to me if you could point them out!  Smiley

Gerena was well aware that death was breathing down her neck.
If Father ever found her, his rage could easily become the cause of her doom. After all, she did steal his most important scientist.
Even some of Gray’s experiments could mark her end. He was half-mad and forgetful. A lot of things tended to explode in his lab.
Then, there was the matter of starvation. It was tremendously hard to find food in the desolated city.
Which lead to the most important thing and her worst fear- poisonous metal vapors.

When Gerena was eight, over a million sudden deaths were proclaimed on the Rarith, the main reason being suffocation. Until her ninth year, everyone started wearing masks.
There was only one thing responsible for all of that.
Raritherium. Gaseous metal and the newest discovered fuel bent on destroying everything.
Thanks to genetic engineering, a new sort of people was invented. Windmakers. Able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, capable of producing the best, pure oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing.

Gerena is one of them.
She is eighteen now, living with a senile scientist, in a basement of an abandoned shop, helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again.
When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them protection in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision - to risk their lives and accept his help or remain on the streets, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen.
Salamander, Tavorin’s most loyal and intimidating employee, or, how Gerena calls him, Slimy, is another ghost from her past.
Can she believe any of them? And, how will they react if they discover her greatest secret?

LUNGFUL OF DUST (88,000 words) is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA novel with a touch of romance. On my doctoral studies in the field of toxicology, I had the opportunity to learn more about the environmental pollution and the effects of various chemicals on the human body. Since I’m a great fan both of YA literature and science, I decided to combine the two and write a story about a girl who is struggling to survive on a polluted planet on the verge of destruction.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2017, 07:58:28 AM »

The only thing that seems out of place to me is your paragraph structure. Your sentences should normally follow right after each other with only a space. I also think it's a little long, so I made some suggestions you might be able to cut. This seems like a great Sci-fi premise!

Gerena was well aware that death was breathing down her neck. If Father ever found her, his rage could easily become the cause of her doom. After all, she did steal his most important scientist. (Great hook!) Even some of Gray’s experiments could mark her end. He was half-mad and forgetful. A lot of things tended to explode in his lab. Then, there was the matter of starvation. It was tremendously hard to find food in the desolated city. Which lead to the most important thing and her worst fear- poisonous metal vapors.

When Gerena was eight, over a million sudden deaths were proclaimed on the Rarith,Are the Rarith her people? It might be easier to just say her people to avoid the extra name since it's not mentioned later.) the main reason being suffocation. (Does this mean lack of oxygen?) Until her ninth year, everyone started wearing wore masks. There was only one thing responsible for all of that. Raritherium. Gaseous metal and the newest discovered fuel bent on destroying everything. Thanks to genetic engineering, a new sort of people was invented. Windmakers. Able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, capable of producing the best, pure oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing. (I added a suggestion below for this paragraph. It could probably use some work, but maybe gets in all of the details you need?)

When Gerena was eight, over a million of her people were suddenly executed in hopes a reduced population would be able to survive on the dwindling supply of oxygen. For the first time in her life, people could survive without masks. Raritharium, a gaseous metal produced from newly discovered fuel was responsible for the condition. The solution--genetic engineering,a new sort of people was invented. Windmakers. Able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, capable of producing the best, pure oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing.

Gerena is one of them. She is eighteen now, living with a senile scientist, in a basement of an abandoned shop, helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again. (What will the experiments achieve?) When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them protection in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision - to risk their lives and accept his help or remain on the streets, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen. Salamander, Tavorin’s most loyal and intimidating employee, or, how Gerena calls him, Slimy, is another ghost from her past. Can she believe any of them? And, how will they react if they discover her greatest secret?

LUNGFUL OF DUST (88,000 words) is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA novel with a touch of romance. On my doctoral studies in the field of toxicology, I had the opportunity to learn more about the environmental pollution and the effects of various chemicals on the human body. Since I’m a great fan both of YA literature and science, I decided to combine the two and write a story about a girl who is struggling to survive on a polluted planet on the verge of destruction.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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katherinebarka
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2017, 02:14:45 PM »

Thank you for your suggestions! You've helped me so much!  Smiley Smiley
I made a few corrections, I think it is better now.

Here is the new version:

Gerena was well aware that death was breathing down her neck. If Father ever found her, his rage could easily become the cause of her doom. After all, she did steal his most important scientist.

When Gerena was eight, over a million inhabitants of her planet died because of lack of oxygen. Until her ninth year, everyone wore masks. There was only one thing responsible for all of that. Raritherium. Gaseous metal used as a fuel, harmless at first glance, but bent on destroying everything. Windmakers, people made by genetic engineering, became the perfect solution. Able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, capable of producing the best, pure oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing. 

Gerena is one of them. She is eighteen now, living in a basement of an abandoned shop, with the only person capable of saving the planet- a senile scientist. She is helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again, although the scientist can’t remember what exactly he is trying to achieve. 
When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them protection in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision - to risk their lives and accept his help or remain on the streets, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen.

LUNGFUL OF DUST (88,000 words) is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA novel with a touch of romance. On my doctoral studies in the field of toxicology, I had the opportunity to learn more about the environmental pollution and the effects of various chemicals on the human body.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 02:20:08 PM by katherinebarka » Logged
newtothis22
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2017, 02:35:36 PM »

I like the changes you made but I would keep some of the details from the first paragraph because it shows her desperation and why she would trust someone she doesn't like to help her. Sounds like an interesting story. I would read it.  wink2
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2017, 09:29:48 AM »

I think the edits here are strong, but some condensing is still needed. An agent gave the advice on Twitter to cut any sentences that could go in someone else's query or make those sentences more specific. You have lines like "Gerena was well aware that death was breathing down her neck" which don't tell me anything unique about this character and this world. Try to make those three paragraphs at the beginning (before LUNGFUL OF DUST) into one paragraph if you can.
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gckatz
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2017, 05:55:15 PM »

Cool idea, and your conceit is original enough to find room in a very difficult to sell genre. Plus I love that you have a toxicology background. But I think this query isn't clear enough. (There may be some language barrier there, although your grammar is great.) Some questions I have:

-How can she be a windmaker if windmakers were invented when she was nine?
-What is the scientist trying to achieve, since the windmakers are already saving the planet?
-What is Isaac protecting them from?
-Why would accepting his help mean risking their lives?
-On the streets? I thought they were in a basement.
-Why would they run out of oxygen? Isn't she producing oxygen? Why would she even need oxygen?
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katherinebarka
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2017, 03:45:34 AM »

Thank you all for the suggestions! They helped me a lot.  Smiley
And, I'm glad you liked the idea! Grin

Cool idea, and your conceit is original enough to find room in a very difficult to sell genre. Plus I love that you have a toxicology background. But I think this query isn't clear enough. (There may be some language barrier there, although your grammar is great.) Some questions I have:

-How can she be a windmaker if windmakers were invented when she was nine?
-What is the scientist trying to achieve, since the windmakers are already saving the planet?
-What is Isaac protecting them from?
-Why would accepting his help mean risking their lives?
-On the streets? I thought they were in a basement.
-Why would they run out of oxygen? Isn't she producing oxygen? Why would she even need oxygen?

Thank you for all the questions! When I read them I realized how hard it is to write a clear query. Especially when, as the one who wrote the book, I am the one who knows all the answers :D. I realized that maybe not everything is clearly explained in the novel itself- I still have a lot of work to do!

Here is the new version:

Gerena was well aware that she was doomed if Father ever found her. After all, she did steal his most important scientist.
When Gerena was eight, lack of oxygen killed over a million inhabitants of her planet. By the time she was nine, everyone started wearing masks. A single thing was responsible for all of that. Raritherium. Gaseous metal used as a fuel, harmless at first glance, but bent on destroying everything. Brave volunteers who agreed to become resistant to raritherium helped improve the situation. Windmakers. People able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, producing oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing.
Alas, the solution was not perfect. Their resistance to the metal was not permanent. Without getting enough oxygen themselves, they dropped dead without any prior warning. And, their lungs were not nearly enough to purify the outside air. The remaining skyscrapers, well secured and connected with bridges, became the only safe place to live.
Gerena is a windmaker. She is eighteen now, hiding in a basement of an abandoned shop, with the only person capable of saving the planet- a senile scientist thought to be dead. She is helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again, hoping that they would eventually find a way to make things better. 
When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them a roof over their heads in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision - to accept his help or remain disguised, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen.

LUNGFUL OF DUST (88,000 words) is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA novel with a touch of romance. On my doctoral studies in the field of toxicology, I had the opportunity to learn more about the environmental pollution and the effects of various chemicals on the human body.
Thank you for your time and consideration.




« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 07:38:25 AM by katherinebarka » Logged
mgmystery
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2017, 07:50:04 AM »

Before adding any comments to the query, I'd like to warn you- If everything isn't explained clearly in the novel, do that first! Start from the beginning, and do a full revision before querying. You have a really good concept here and you don't want to waste your chances with potential agents. It's incredibly hard to get a second chance to make a first impression.

Gerena was iswell aware that she's was doomed if Father ever found findsher. (The query should be in present tense except for the backstory of when she was 8.) After all, she did steal his most important scientist.

When Gerena was eight, lack of oxygen killed over a million inhabitants of her planet. By the time she was nine, everyone started wearing masks. A single thing was responsible for all of that. Raritherium. Gaseous metal used as a fuel, harmless at first glance, but bent on destroying everything. Brave volunteers who agreed to be made resistant  (How? An operation? And how did Gerena agree if she was only 9?)to raritherium helped improve the situation. Windmakers. People able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, producing oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing.

Alas, the solution was not perfect. Their resistance to the metal was not permanent. Without getting enough oxygen themselves, they dropped dead without any prior warning. And, their lungs were not enough to purify the outside air. The remaining skyscrapers, well secured and connected with bridges, became the only safe place to live.

Gerena is a windmaker. She is eighteen now, hiding in a basement of an abandoned shop, with the only person capable of saving the planet- a senile scientist thought to be dead. She is helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again, hoping that they would eventually find a way to make things better. 

When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them a roof over their heads in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision - to accept his help (At what risk? What's the worst that could happen?) or remain disguised, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen.
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gckatz
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2017, 04:06:21 PM »

This bit:

Quote
Alas, the solution was not perfect. Their resistance to the metal was not permanent. Without getting enough oxygen themselves, they dropped dead without any prior warning. And, their lungs were not nearly enough to purify the outside air. The remaining skyscrapers, well secured and connected with bridges, became the only safe place to live.

Is a great addition! It really makes everything clearer. But there's still some stuff I don't understand. The new version says something about "remain disguised," but you never set up anything about her being disguised, and it's still not clear what's at risk if she gets help.
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MookyMcD
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2017, 07:07:01 PM »

I'd take a swipe at cutting extra words, which makes me think you may want to take a look at your MS with the same idea. For example:

Quote
Gerena was well aware that she was doomed if Father ever found her.

Could be, "If Gerena's father found her, she was dead," or "Gerena was dead if her father found her." You could even mix in the substance of the next sentence (because she stole his most important scientist) and compact both into your first sentence adding the substance of two in the space of one just by getting rid of the filtering and verbiage.

That said, this looks like a cool idea and you should prominently feature your background for sure. This is a tough space to be trying to publish in right now, but tbh I'd rather be in one of those than chasing a fad. 
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katherinebarka
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« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2017, 03:34:39 AM »

I added a few things to make everything clearer. It seems much better now. Thank you so much, guys!  Smiley
If there is anything else I could change/add, I'm open to any suggestions  Smiley

I gave the manuscript to some of my friends to read and I'm waiting to hear their comments. Meanwhile, I'm reading it again to see if everything in the story is explained well. I have to say that my expectations are quite low, but I'm still going to try querying when I do the final revision. Who knows? Maybe it works out :D

So, here is the 4th version:

Gerena is as good as dead if Father ever finds her- she stole his most important scientist.
When Gerena was eight, lack of oxygen killed over a million inhabitants of her planet. By the time she was nine, everyone started wearing masks. A single thing was responsible for all of that. Raritherium. Gaseous metal used as a fuel, harmless at first glance, but bent on destroying everything. Volunteers brave enough to receive the serum that would change the structure of their genes and make them raritherium-resistant helped improve the situation. Windmakers. People able to inhale the metal and purify the air. Real, walking plants, producing oxygen in the simplest possible way – by breathing.
Alas, the solution was not perfect. Their resistance to the metal was not permanent. Without getting enough oxygen themselves, they dropped dead without any prior warning. Furthermore, their lungs were not enough to purify the outside air. The remaining skyscrapers, well secured and connected with bridges, became the only safe place to live.
Gerena was forced into becoming a windmaker when she was fourteen, after which she decided to run away. She is eighteen now, hiding in a basement of an abandoned shop, with the only person capable of saving the planet- a senile scientist thought to be dead. She is helping him repeat the same experiments over and over again, hoping that they would eventually find a way to make things better. 
When Isaac Tavorin, one of the most powerful people in the city, offers them a roof over their heads in exchange for their services, Gerena will face a tough decision. One option would be to accept his help and expose themselves to the world, and her notorious father- her twin brother ended up in a wheelchair because of his rage. Or, remain hidden, aware that they will eventually starve and run out of oxygen.

LUNGFUL OF DUST (88,000 words) is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi YA novel with a touch of romance. On my doctoral studies in the field of toxicology, I had the opportunity to learn more about the environmental pollution and the effects of various chemicals on the human body.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 10:03:17 AM by katherinebarka » Logged
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