QUERY CORRAL BLOG HOP

by D. D. Falvo on June 25, 2012 | @ddfalvo

Hello fellow blog-hoppers! Welcome to my website. :)

I have two queries for your consideration. One for my series, StarDust, and one for the first book, Lumen. Your feedback is much appreciated, so thanks for coming by. I’m really looking forward to returning the favor, and learning more about what you’ve been up to as well. Thank you to Heather Webb for creating yet another fun contest! For those of you not participating in the hop, be sure to check out Heather’s writer blog, Between The Sheets There’s lots of good stuff inside.

Query for Lumen (first novel)   FINAL CONTEST UPDATE  SUBMITTED: 06-29-12

Copper Erikson is a national pariah, subjected to a court-ordered procedure that leaves her barren. Dan Keller is the heir who turned his back on the Noble community, for the love of  her. Desperate for a child of their own, the couple accepts a baby from a mysterious stranger, but the child, Arianne, is no ordinary little girl. That’s a problem in a country like Edo, where the wrong birthright is a capitol offense—and now her hair is glowing.

The mercenary, Rhys Anders, is framed for murder and saddled with a toddler. The rugged tracker wants to foist his unwanted charge, Michael, on anyone else, but that changes when the wolf packs bow obeisance to the boy. Realizing that Michael is the true target of the danger following them, Rhys has a decision to make—give up everything he loves to keep Michael safe, or hand him over to an uncertain fate.

Neither the Kellers, or Rhys Anders, have any idea their world is on the brink of a supernatural war, or that the best hope for survival is in their guiding hands.

The two orphaned children, Michael and Arianne, are Lumens—celestial beings reborn in human form, and all that stands between dark reaper and his conquest of life on Earth. From the moment of their birth, they are hunted for the power they hold inside. Too young for their destiny, fate has placed them with the guardians best suited to protect them. It’s a quick learning curve for the Kellers, and Rhys. Their troubled lives are further upturned as they dodge daemons, outwit lemmings, and defy national rule all for the love of a child, not their own. And it nearly falls apart as each has to face their deepest fears to keep the children alive, because sometimes the daemon within is more deadly than the one without.

 

Query for StarDust (epic) (Not certain, but since this my over-arching premise, I believe this would be presented in a follow-up to the query– right?)

They are star-born soul mates from another realm. She came to save us. He came for her, pulled by a love that defies space and time.

Since the beginning of time, Lumens have battled Daemons in the celestial realm—the light and the dark wrestling for territory and the future of mankind. In a final bid for victory, the ancient warmonger and Master of Death, Zed, has brought the eternal battle to Earth, and with that, power so great it changes natural order. The rules of engagement are clear: to preserve the balance, each challenger must bind himself to the earthly realm. The winner-take-all fight is high stakes for the contending Lumens, for if Zed triumphs, Earth and all that it holds will become his, and the only thing he wants more than human annihilation is the power gained by devouring a living star.

To walk among us, the immortal couple must live as one of us—enduring a rebirth that subdues their unchecked power, locking all memory, purpose, and ability deep within, leaving them vulnerable. They must rely on their Earthly guardians for survival, a difficult feat for the humans raising them, who have no idea what evil stalks their every move. To defeat the dark conqueror, the Lumens must survive long enough to mine the waking power within, remember who and what they are, and then find each other—all before Zed finds them first—and in the epic battle between salvation and eternal death . . . Death cheats.

If they fail, prepare for hell on Earth.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Lara Schiffbauer June 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I’m just going to start the comment, and hopefully not lose it before I’m through. (And thanks, btw, for the helpful comments on mine!)

First, I think the query for Star Dust sounds fascinating. I’d totally read the book! I really like your hook line. It’s very compelling. Same for your ending line. I do think the last line in the paragraph above is really good to end on, too. The body was pretty clear, but I found my mind wandering a little, which I think shorter sentences would fix.

Disclaimer – I’m just throwing it out, totally ignore anything that doesn’t sound right to you!

Since the beginning of ages, Lumens have battled Daemons in the celestial realm over territory and the future of mankind. In a final bid for victory, the ancient warmonger and Master of Death, Zed, has brought the eternal battle to Earth. The rules of engagement are clear: to preserve the balance, each challenger must bind himself to the earthly realm. The winner-take-all fight is high stakes for the contending Lumens. If Zed triumphs, Earth and all that it holds will become his. The immense power gained by devouring a living star would be within is his grasp.

The next paragraph is pretty darn good. I spent half an hour trying to figure out how to break up the sentences, messed it all up, and decided maybe it doesn’t need changed :) I did think if you could change the last sentence to this it might have some punch.

My suggestions are only suggestions, and I do feel like with the changes some of the drama is lost. I wanted to give some–hopefully helpful– feedback though! :)

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D. D. Falvo June 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Thank you so much, my friend, for the wonderful feedback! Your suggestions for StarDust (this is the overall premise for the series; Lumen is the first book) are great! My number one goal is a blurb that’s easy to read and your streamlined edits make a good dent in the process. Re: the final para. I know, I have tried so many times to sort that out, but it’s hard– I want to say so much! lol.

About the lost comment– it’s so weird how that happens. I labored over feedback for another blogger this AM and it “got ate up,” too. I could have cried! Now I “copy” b4 I submit. uh-huh. yup. :) Thanks again!

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Lara Schiffbauer June 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm

It took out a sentence – I had the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph Unfortunately, in the epic battle between salvation and eternal death – Death cheats.

Don’t know where it went in the comment!

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D. D. Falvo June 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for resending it. :)

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Heather Webb June 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Nice, D. You’re definitely on the right track. My big question is–who is the protag? Make that clear immediately. Give us someone to latch on to. Also, you have some very interesting elements. Tie them all together. I hope this helps! See what I’ve trimmed and suggested below–

All that stands between dark reaper, Zed, and his conquest of Earth are two children—celestial beings reborn in human form, who are too young for their destiny.

The little girl that Copper and Dan Keller harbor is no ordinary child, a serious infraction in Edo where the wrong birthright is a capitol offense—and now her hair is glowing.

Rhys Anders, a mercenary framed for murder, is saddled with a toddling boy he would love to foist on someone else, but after the wolf packs bow obeisance to the boy, Rhys realizes the child is the true target of the danger following him and may yet need his help.

You need two or three lines that tie all of these characters together. What are they all vying for? What is the giant showdown conflict? Is Zed the protag? If he isn’t, don’t lead the query with him.

LUMEN is an adult science fiction/fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words. It is a stand alone novel with series potential. (maybe throw in a novel that is similar in flavor a writer with a similar style…My style can be compared to…OR my novel is similar to X and X)

I am a member of the writer groups Writer Unboxed and She Writes. (mention your blog, your degrees, or your life experience if they relate to your novel in some way, otherwise leave it as is. It may seem short, but agents don’t care as long as the query/novel is well-written)

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D. D. Falvo June 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks, Heather! Zed is definitely my antagonist so I will reword that sentence using your input. I’m wondering if I can just switch it around (reverse the wording) to do that. Hmm.

I’m going to rework this with your feedback in mind and what I can do to improve it. :)

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Jenn Soehnlin June 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thanks for the awesome feedback on my query!

As I was reading yours, I just have two suggestions. 1) There were so many character names thrown out in the first paragraph that I got a little confused. Who is this story really about? And I would recommend you break it up into several paragraphs like Heather demonstrates, to keep key pieces of info together.

2) Sentence variety. All your sentences seem longer, some even run-on. Add some sentence variety and I think it’ll make the read much more interesting.

Overall, a very intriguing premise! Best of luck!

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D. D. Falvo June 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Thanks so much, Jenn! I appreciate the help. :)

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Donna Barker June 26, 2012 at 1:44 am

Hey DD – first, thanks for the helpful comments on my query letter.

My top-of-mind comments (I comment as I read so bear with me. I start with minutia and end generally once I’ve read the whole thing!):

I want names for the two, presumably, main characters you introduce in the first sentence. “They,” “he,” and “she” leave me feeling disconnected. I think knowing the soul-mates’ names will engage me more quickly.

Para 2: ‘Since the beginning of time’ instead of ‘ages,’ maybe? Or, ‘Since the beginning of THE ages’? ‘Since the beginning of ages’ just doesn’t sound right.

The rest of the para gives me great info but I was confused by the very last words about Zed wanting to devour a living star. Is Earth a living star? Or is our Sun? I’m not clear on the connection – but then I don’t read sci-fi so maybe this is obvious to your target audience.

Para 3: Again, the main characters don’t have names, being called ‘the immortal couple.’ I guess you don’t want to name them since their names are not important; their roles are. But I feel like I’d connect better if the good guys, not just the bad guy, had names.

Last sentence: So, if you don’t want to name the saviour couple, then maybe, “If the Lumens fail, prepare for hell on Earth.”

Now my overall comment. When I overlay the query for the novel on top of the query for the series, I’m stoked to read it. The two kids promise to provide great fodder for stories – glowing hair, capital offense birthright, a boy who the parent wants to foist! What I’d love to see in your series query is some of the energy you have in the novel query. It sounds more fun and engaging.

Actually, I just read Heather’s comment and feel inclined to delete mine! She captured it! I absolutely want to read the book/series that Heather describes.

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 3:35 am

Hi Donna! Thanks so much for helping with my query. Your insightful comments are so appreciated. I prefer to comment as I read, too– my first impressions usually provide the best footings for giving solid advice. :)

I have struggled with whether to name my principles, or not, in the series blurb. I know that having names creates a connection, but there is a mystery element in the story regarding one of their identities– I would hate to ruin that. This is a quandary for me.

You know, I totally agree with you about the word ages. I did that because I already used “time” in another sentence very close to it. When I edited that other sentence out, I forgot I could revert back. Yay! I’m changing it right now. Thanks for noticing. lol.

Ah, the celestial beings, my immortal couple are the living stars. That’s why I call them Lumens. Hmm . . . how do I make that clear?

Oh, help! Your last advice– “She captured it! I absolutely want to read the book/series that Heather describes.” I am so confused now. The only changes Heather made to my original draft was adding a break between sentences (I had them all in one paragraph) and cutting the word “surround” from the bit with the wolves in it. Does this mean that you preferred the longer sentences of my first draft? I changed them b/c my other feedback said they were run-ons– although, Heather did not say that. Feeling lost here.

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Heather Webb June 26, 2012 at 2:38 am

Hey D,
Looks good. Now what you can do with that third paragraph is write one or two sentences to tie them together & bring in Zed and show how he’s trying to destroy whatever their main goal is. That way we have conflict. :)

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 3:38 am

You always give the best edits and advice, Heather. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and providing this wonderful opportunity. I’m going to keep working at it.

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Amelia Loken June 26, 2012 at 5:22 am

There are a LOT of comments here. And I won’t get into minutia.

My understanding is that the children are the stars born into mortality and as they are still helpless, the parents of the girl and the guardian of the boy must be the protags. If they fail, then the Lumen’s cannot actually become the protags of their own stories (book 2?). Who is facing the choice and on whom does the responsibility lie? That would be the protag. I think you have it pretty well spelled out that the parents/guardians will be tempted by Zed (or his underlings) and they must face the darkness within themselves. Easy choice or the right choice.

I would like to know if the children are brought together at any time during this book, or do they meet when they are older? I hope the first one. That meeting between the parents/guardian could be a major point in the story and you may want to mention it (Just an idea, shelve if you want.)

I also felt that there was more energy in the story query and much more broad stakes (the earth will be annihilated). Keep it personal while reminding us that millions of other lives are at stake. If you are watching some blockbuster movie you are not worried about the crowd on the streets of NYC, you worry about the hero and his girlfriend. In LOTR, all of Middle Earth will fall, but we’re only worried about Frodo and Sam (and Pippin and Merry, Eowyn, Gandolf and Aragorn). So give us a little more about the Lumens there. Perhaps reveal a little more of what happens in book2 : romance, betrayal, kidnapping, revenge? What makes our heroes vulnerable and what makes them heroic?

I think you’ve got some good stuff going on here. But I would tweak a bit and make the series query more hero-centered. Though I loved the ending with “Death cheats”. I would even skip the “hell on earth”. “Death cheats” was the zinger line that made me smile and stayed in my memory after I first read it.

Whatever you decide to do with the queries, the best of luck to you!
Cheers!

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 6:11 am

Lol! Yes, the guardians have to be the protags in this first book. I loved that you asked if the children have their moment and meet, but I can’t tell you . . . :) I agree about the broad strokes– it’s really hard to sum up a series. I have a lot of great characters but the Lumens are the main ones after book 1, well, if they survive . . . :) You have great ideas! I really like your advice about making the series query more personal– that hits home for me and I’ll work on my hero crafting. Thank you for the great feedback and your compliments made me smile. Cheers right back to you.

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Heather Webb June 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

You’re so dang sweet for saying so! ((HUGS))

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Right back at you. <3

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Rubianna Masa June 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Dear D. D.,
In the first query, I want to know who the protagonists are – like others have said. Highlight them more so it is clear.

On the second one, I love your opening!

They are star-born soul mates from another realm. She came to save us. He came for her, pulled by a love that defies space and time.

For me this promises a love story, so therefore the ending line of this query must focus on their love even more than it does. I would SO use the Death cheats as the last line. Nice zinger! I would absolutely read this.

I didn’t do a rewrite because it looks like there’s been lots of great ideas. Good luck.

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Rubianna. I do like your suggestion for focusing on the love angle in end– thanks for that direction. The wheels in my head are already humming with new thoughts. :)

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Lisa Ard, Author of the Dream Seeker Adventures June 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Hi!
I think the first is great as it is – this sounds like a terrific series. The first query tells me the important characters and conflict, the action and leaves me wanting more.

I’m not sure how you handle (or if you need to) selling the series. But if you do use the 2nd query, I also wanted names for the two.

Best wishes

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D. D. Falvo June 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Thanks, Lisa (love your pen name by the way) I appreciate the positive comments very much. :) Naming the protagonists in the second query will give away a mystery I want to keep to myself in the earlier books. I just don’t know how to sort that out. Hopefully I won’t ever need to use that query. lol.

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E.B.Pike June 27, 2012 at 12:14 am

Hey there. You’ve got a great start here. I just tightened up and shortened a few things to make it more clear. Here goes:

Desperate for a child of their own, Copper and Dan Keller accept a baby from a mysterious stranger, but the little girl, Arianne, is no ordinary child. In a country like Edo, where unsanctioned births are a capitol offense, this presents quite a problem. To make matters worse, her hair is now glowing.

Rhys Anders (from the planet XXX) is a mercenary saddled with a toddling boy, Michael. He’s ready to pawn the baby off on the first dimwitted traveller to cross his path. That is, until the wolf packs of the region come and swear fealty to the boy. Rhys is torn between protecting the special child, and his desire to be rid of the dark foes that track him.

Told from the contrasting perspectives of Arianne and Michael, LUMEN is the story of two children, hunted for their power from the time of their birth. These two small children—celestial beings reborn in human form, are all that stands between a dark reaper and his his plans to rule the planet Earth. The lives of their protectors are upturned, as they must dodge daemons, outwit lemmings, and defy Edoian law for the love of these orphans. But things begin to fall apart when the most terrible foe of all threatens to overcome them: themselves.

LUMEN is a 100,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. The sequel, Without, is nearly complete.

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D. D. Falvo June 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Thanks, EB! I’m a bit rushed this morning and will come back later to leave a reply. :)

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Rubianna Masa June 28, 2012 at 2:11 am

Hey D. D.! Thanks for your vote on mine – Rubianna. ;o) I was thinking about this last night. Do you know there is a 2007 movie called Stardust with a fallen star? It may not be a problem, but I wanted to make sure you knew about that movie title. My daughters and I often watch it together. I think yours looks right up my alley – my kind of a read.

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D. D. Falvo June 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

Thanks, Rubianna! I do! I love that movie, but I’m okay with having the same name. Our premises are so different–for me, Star represents the Lumens (my young children in book one), and Dust represents my antagonist (he’s a Master of Death–mwahaha). That why I capitalize the two letters: StarDust.
Thanks for leaving the positive thoughts. It’s sooo appreciated. :)

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