Friday, May 25, 2012

Wilde's Fire Editor-Judged Contest

Curiosity Quills Press  + Krystal Wade + Sharon Bayliss =

Sharon Bayliss is hosting a contest with Krystal Wade from Curiosity Quills. Each entrant posts their query and first 500 words on 5/25, then we go around giving helpful suggestions to other brave contestants. On 5/28 we email our revised entries to Sharon for Krystal's consideration. Click HERE to find out more about how to enter. 

So... here goes it...

My Query:
Fourteen-year-old Eri sprints into the night seeking a beast that wants nothing more than to feast on her flesh. She knows this is suicide, but she can't deny the pull. The Calling is too strong. As the beast’s claws reach for her throat, a Protector slices off its head, saving Eri from a bloody death.

The Protectors are River Island’s only defense against the monsters roaming the darkness. The clandestine guardians use the Calling—the internal link to the man-eating beasts—to watch over the village. Being a Protector is an honorable, secretive position, and one only fit for men.

While the link grows within Eri, she finds herself repeatedly drawn beyond the safety borders, hoping to satiate the rage flooding her veins. But without proper training, the beasts will destroy her. And as a girl, Eri’s not allowed the education to become one of the Protectors.

Beast encounters increase. Villager deaths rise. Eri must secretly learn the skills to fight before there's nothing left to fight for.

MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING is a young adult post apocalyptic novel complete at 65,000 words. Readers of Kimberly Derting's THE BODY FINDER and Maggie Stiefvater's THE SCORPIO RACES will connect with Eri’s journey—a girl shunned from the only trade that can give her the tools to control her inexplicable connection to seek evil.

My First 500:
Going to the river was forbidden.
I knew this, yet I stepped of the gravel path and walked into the field. With teeth clenched, I sucked in rapid breaths, enough to nearly taste the crisp grass beneath my feet.
The thudding inside my ribcage screamed at me to turn around. Stop, Eri!
Early moonlight sparkled off the few remaining patches of snow. I should have paid attention to nature’s signal. Even the winter knew better than to dwell this close to the safety border.
A gong sang out across the village, ringing through my insides. The warning bell.
I glanced over my shoulder at the hazy silhouettes of people fleeing for refuge, their shouts dying in the distance. I should have turned back. But the charcoal sky and inky river pulled me forward.
Adrenaline flooded my veins, propelling my legs faster. My brain searched for one sane thought to stop my muscles from carrying me out there.
Suicide. This is suicide!
Conflicting thoughts swirled through my head. I squeezed my eyes shut against the confusion and pressed my hands over my ears, begging the pounding inside to leave me alone. “Please stop, please stop, please stop, please stop, please stop—”
Something broke through the tree line, blurry with speed, eerily dark, features impossible to decipher.
Logic told me to turn and run for my life, but my feet rooted to the frosty ground. From somewhere deep inside the fibers of my being, I knew I belonged there. Waiting for it.
A blanket of anger draped over my world, muffling sound, wrapping me in rage. I crouched into an aggressive stance, primed and eager to spring forward. Ready.
The nightmare sped toward me, moving more like water than animal, swift and fluid in the gloom. Seconds separated us.
As if descending from flight, the beast crashed into the ground like a meteorite falling to Earth, digging an elongated hole as it slid to a halt inches from where I stood. The creature’s head no longer connected to its body, rolled past my dirt covered feet, coming to rest somewhere behind me. 
The it that only moments ago bore down on me with the sole intent of feeding on my flesh, lie dead before me.
How am I still alive?
My eyes devoured every feature of the evil at my feet, relishing each detail: its enormity, the dark sheen of its hide, the absence of fur, four powerful legs, thin tail, no wings though it seemed to fly a second ago.
I turned away from its body in search of the head and found the inside of its skull facing me. Blood and gore held together by a ring of thick, leathery skin. Its grisly expression fixed, eyes staring toward the village. I stepped over the beast’s crater to get a better look at the atrocity when I caught the whisper of movement.
Dread fluttered through me for the first time. 

What do you think? I am looking forward to any and ALL suggestions :) 

Congratulations to Krystal Wade on her May release of Wilde's Fire! And congratulations to Sharon Bayliss for signing a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills! Thank you both for putting this contest together!

Good luck to those of you who entered and I'll be stopping by your blog soon!


  1. Being the first person to comment is kind of intimidating! But here goes:) From your query, I love the conflict introduced. A girl fighting for a place that belongs only to men instantly attracts my attention.
    From your first 500 words, I love the setting.It sets the stage perfectly and I feel like I could reach out and touch the river. Nice job!

  2. Hope, I LIKE this premise. The opening draws me right in! I think your query letter covers all the saliant points of the story, giving me a clear picture of what it's about. Nice suspensful bent and overall description of everything. Only, the "eyes devouring" every feature seemed a little too intense, unless that's what you were going for. Then, it's great :)

  3. Ooh. Creepy factor is way up on this one! *Shudders*

  4. Very descriptive Hope! I love the " moves like water" line. It gives me a very clear image and I felt right there in the moment with your heroine with her emotional descriptions. Very nice :)

  5. Yup. Every time I read this I get goosebumps. Love it Hope!

  6. Yay, Girl Power! Loved it. Everything was well written and full of tension. The only thing I saw was a typo: 2nd line of the first 500, should be "off" instead of "of."

  7. A girl fighting in a world where only men are allowed to fight, sounds awesome! I love your beginning. Very tense!

  8. I love the tiny tweaks you've done to this, Hope. It flows so beautifully. I'm dying to get stuck into your MS again :) x

  9. Great tension in both the query and the opening scene! Great overall premise. Excellent last line of your query. Also, excellent opening line of your first 500! Drew me right in. I also liked the image of the nightmare moving like water...well done! My only fix for you was your typo - that's an easy one. Best of luck to you! I just joined your blog - nice to "meet" you! ;)

  10. Hi Hope! I'm glad you entered this work, I know I've seen it in a few contests before and each time it seems stronger. I thought the query was solid. Well done! And I don't have much to say about the first 500 either, it's quite engaging. You have a typo in this line, "I knew this, yet I stepped of the gravel path and walked into the field." I think you mean to say, I stepped off.

    Good luck!

  11. Loved the first line of your excerpt. We've all felt like doing something forbidden at one time or another.

  12. Very strong over all. I think you could tighten the query a bit. For example:
    "but she can't deny the pull. The Calling is too strong". Both the clause and the following sentence say the same thing. You only need one.

    The excerpt was gripping and I think you started in exactly the right place. One nitpick: It should be the beast lay at her feet, not lie at her feet.

  13. Hi Hope!

    I, too, have seen this in contests before, and it intrigues me every time. I'm not sure your query completely grabs me as much as it could, but I'm afraid I can't really put my finger on why. :( It's possibly that there isn't enough about Eri's emotional journey (it seems to be more set up/this happens stuff and not what Eri's going through) and/or that Eri is the only person directly referenced in the query. I know from reading the ending on J.L. Spelbring's blog that there is a Protector who helps/connects with her, right? Perhaps he should be in the query?

    I loved the excerpt, and only had two minor nitpicks. They are in the section quoted below, and I've [BRACKETED AND ALL CAPPED] my changes.

    "The creature’s head[,] no longer connected to its body, rolled past my dirt covered feet, coming to rest somewhere behind me.
    The it that only moments ago bore down on me with the sole intent of feeding on my flesh, [lie LAY] dead before me."

    Well done, and GOOD LUCK!

  14. So great, Hope! Love the conflict in the query, and how creepy the first words are! Very. very intriguing!
    Good job =)

  15. I really like the premise, and although the query could be a little tighter, it's pretty good as it stands. One thing I'd suggest, though, is not have Erin analyse every detail of the beast quite to the point that she is now. It would probably be more realistic for her to freak out a bit more, especially if she's not supposed to be waiting for the beast in the first place. I also think that when it comes to the beast standing before her, you could use shorter sentences, since they're great for action scenes!

  16. I really liked both your query and the 500 words, Hope. I picked up the typo of / off as well, but overall this is a good entry! Well done!

  17. Excellent premise. I really like the theme of needing to do something, but being denied. The opening descriptions are lovely, though I do agree that you don't need to be quite so "in her head" describing the beast, it slows down the scene and pulls it from being fast paced action. Good luck with the contest! :)

  18. Your query alone gave me chills - I LOVE the concept of a girl in a man's world/role. She'll have so much to overcome.

    I have NO critique for your first 500. I thought your description of such a terrifying moment was wonderful. I was on the edge of my seat.

    Good luck in the contest!

  19. Your query is great - nice and tight without any extra words. Nice work :D

    The only suggestion I have is to make the stakes at the very end also a bit personal. The last line sounds like the consequence of her not learning will be the whole village being killed - that's just a little too large-scale for me to connect to as a reader and also makes me wonder why she would make the difference between the village being destroyed by beasts or not. There are plenty of experienced protectors already on it and if there are just too many beasts for them to handle then 1) why would they not accept any help they can get and 2) why would the MC (as a complete novice) be able to turn the tide of this war?

    In terms of making the stakes more personal (other than just - she will die, just like everyone else) I'd want to know if the draw to these beasts is getting stronger or harder for the MC to fight (can she fight it at all?)? And what would it mean to her personally to be able to perform this duty that only men are allowed to perform? What would it mean if she fails (other than her eventual death)?

    Best of luck in the contest!

  20. This is great. I would change her age in the query because it leads the reader to think she is 14 through the story, when really she is only fourteen in one chapter, right? I would go ahead and say the age she is through most of the story so the reader knows they will be reading about a girl who is 16. (Fourteen is awfully close to mg). Everything else is great, but I do agree with the previous posters as to how to tighten the story :)

  21. Ooo, sooooo good! I'm dying to know what the heck is pulling her to near death! Really want to read this:)

  22. Oooh, sounds intriguing!

    Clarify at the end of the query though - is she seeking evil (because she wants to become like it), or seeking OUT evil (to destroy it)?

    I hope I get to read more one day!

  23. This is so interesting and mysterious! Your first 500 words are definitely a great hook! :) I hope that I can sometime read more!

  24. Great first 500 words. Strong start, Hope!