Friday, June 2, 2017

Query Kombat Round 1: BOUNTY AND THE BEAST vs. THE MARIZPAN PIZZA

Title: Dangerous Beasts
Entry nickname: Bounty and the Beast
Word count: 89,000
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance 

Query:
Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep shit. Wanted by the Charmers Council for selling rare and endangered creatures on the black market for profit, they’ve hired an assassin to kill her. With the realm’s most talented murderer for hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can’t refuse—a handful of rare beasts in exchange for her life.

Assassin Noc knows that murder comes easy when detachment and sarcasm are default settings. So when Leena’s life falls into his capable hands, he never imagined he’d falter. But only fools pass up the chance to own a beast—let alone one for each of his closest friends. Agreeing to her terms, Noc quietly keeps the bounty live on Leena’s head until the beasts are his. There’s honor among thieves, but she isn’t one of them. Two paychecks, one job, no sleep lost.

Securing the beasts means embarking on a hunt across the country. Grounds mapped and creatures tracked, Leena, Noc and his trusted band of assassins follow the trails. But traps capture more than beasts, and ensnared hearts are hard to untangle—no matter how badly Noc wishes to be free. Chained by a curse from his past, love is the last thing he can offer and the very thing Leena ignites. As she continues to bait his emotions, the ever-watchful eye of the Council calls for blood. And with Noc’s heart caged, no manner of beasts or money can protect Leena’s hide.

First 250:
By the time evening fell, three things were certain: the gelatinous cubes of gray meat masquerading as lamb were absolute shit, my beady-eyed client was hankering for more than the beasts in my pocket, and I was being watched.

Two out of the three were normal for my after-hours dealings.

Sliding my meat to the side, I propped my elbows against the heavy wood-plank table. My client lasted two seconds before his black gaze roved to the book-shaped locket dangling in my cleavage. Wedging his thick fingers between his shirt collar and neck, he tugged gently on the fabric.

“You have what I came for?” Nasally and high-pitched, his voice grated along my skin. A businessman. Rare in this neck of the woods. My pocket hummed with the possibility of money, and I fingered the copper key hidden in my jeans. Sinking further into the booth crammed against the shiplap wall, the cracking black cushions let out a soft oof

“Maybe.” I nudged the metal dinner plate farther away, and the meat jiggled with the motion. “How did you find me?”

Dez, the bartender, sourced most of my clients, but a businessman? Neckties and Midnight Jester didn’t mingle. Shady with a side of grime, the regulars were as dirty as the floors. The unseen pair of eyes lingering in a dark recess of the bar burrowed further into the back of my head. Earlier, faint movement from the shadows flickered into my awareness. Movement that should have gone unnoticed, but I’d learned to be prepared for such things.

~ VERSUS ~ 
Title: The Burnt State
Entry Nickname: The Marzipan Pizza
Word count: 113K
Genre: Adult Fantasy (Ownvoices) 

Query: 
Twenty-year-old Indira Ramsay has studied her entire life for the day she would be recruited to the Reverend Council—the elite corps that runs the Ever Empire. Instead, it is her grandfather, Eldritch, who is inexplicably chosen, leaving Indira broken and dejected.

The very next day, Eldritch has gone missing and the city is under attack. The exiled heroes of a hundred subjugated races have returned, and they will see the Empire burn. And Indira is among their first targets.


Marked for death as Eldritch's blood, she manages to survive her assailants and learn the truth of the enemy's schemes. They plan to have Eldritch use his newfound power and status to find the Empire's own hero, the man who defeated them centuries ago and disappeared after; they plan to have Eldritch kill him. And for some reason, Eldritch is willing.

The Empire. Above humanity. Above justice. Above all else. This is what Eldritch has taught her. She will live by it.


As the heroes incite riots in the city and stir the underclass to rebellion, Indira will prove herself worthy of the Empire and the validation she was denied. She will find and stop Eldritch from carrying out the enemy's plan, she will save the Empire at any cost.


Even if the cost be Eldritch himself.


First 250:
The Brothers weaved their way through the crowds pressing in on them, flowing through even the tightest of the festive shopping throngs.

An observer would have sworn there was no way anyone could pass between the plump old lady, clutching her swollen bags, and the svelte, tall woman in the fur coat packed tightly against her, only to see first Mr Ralby and then Mr Digby emerge from between them.

The Brothers wore long black overcoats, a staple in the chilly weather. Mr Ralby had a long aquiline nose, a full face, was fond of the good things in life as was evident in the modest straining of the overcoat in the middle, and even though one couldn't see it under the black bowler hat he was wearing, had straight black hair with just a few streaks of white. Mr Digby had long, wavy black hair flowing out at the back of his neck from under an identical bowler hat, a pale complexion on a tight, hard face—Mr Ralby appeared tanned in comparison—and he exuded perfection, the exact fit of his coat and the shine of his shoes scorning any who dared suggest otherwise, undoubtedly the elder and wiser of the two brothers.
The Brothers left the crowds behind, plunging into the maze of streets in the suburban neighborhood with brisk determination. Half an hour of walking brought them to the doorsteps of 29 Levington Road. The three-floored house was sandwiched between its two affluent neighbors, forced to grow vertically rather than horizontally.

16 comments:

  1. Judges, please post your votes and feedback as a reply to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dangerous Beasts:

      Query: This is really strong. It may just be me, but I wouldn’t curse in the query, just like you wouldn’t on a dust jacket or Amazon description.

      The first two paragraphs are pretty close to perfect. Although I don’t know how sarcasm helps you be an assassin. (or else I’d probably be wanted for several murders already).

      The third could be streamlined a little. I’d stick to one or two central conflicts. You have the romantic tension and the conflict about trying to save her. I’m not sure we need to know about the other assasins. Also, are you talking about an actual curse or just a checkered past? It’s a little vague.

      250:

      Great voice and set up. I love that we get a real sense of her job and how she’s had to protect herself. Some terrific imagery as well.


      Marzipan Pizza:
      Query: This is very clear in terms of the world building and stakes. I’d love a little more voice and an idea of what Indira is like. If you can do that, it will be even better.

      I got a little lost about who the Empire’s own hero is and why they want to have Eldritch kill him.

      250: Some great imagery, but I’d love the 250 to really start with something about Indira, something active that she is doing, rather than observing. I’d take a look at your first chapter and second chapter to see if there is anything that matches that description.


      This was a tough call. I’d absolutely read both of these.

      VICTORY TO DANGEROUS BEASTS

      Delete
    2. BOUNTY & THE BEAST

      Query: Very intriguing! I’m assuming this is dual POV? The last two paragraphs are more from Noc’s perspective, and I lose the thread of Leena’s story arc. Does she suspect he’s going to renege on the deal? Is flirting with him part of how she hopes to stay alive?

      “Chained by a curse from his past” – is this a literal curse or a burden of obligation? Is it possible to make it a little more clear why he can’t fall in love with Leena?

      250: I love how you incorporate all the senses in your descriptions! I might drop one of the adjectives from “gelatinous cubes of gray meat masquerading as lamb” (though hilarious, it’s a mouthful) – maybe just gelatinous meat? The only other thing that gave me pause was, “Earlier, faint movement from the shadows flickered into my awareness.” I’m guessing you’re trying to avoid using “had flickered,” but this is one place I would include the helping verb.


      MARZIPAN PIZZA

      Query: Good setup of the opening conflict in the first paragraph, but make the turn clearer in the second… maybe, “But the very next day, Eldritch is missing and the city is under attack.”

      In the third paragraph, can you reveal why Eldritch is willing? Vague reasons aren’t compelling, but something concrete that sets Indira and Eldritch against each other will make the conflict more personal for Indira.

      In the last paragraph I would say “must” instead of “will”. Will implies you’re giving away the ending, whereas “must” says those are the stakes.

      You say Eldritch’s name twice as many times as Indira’s, and it makes the grandfather loom a little larger than the protag (I had to re-read to remember her name at all).


      250: So this wasn’t at all what I would have expected from your query! It feels a little Dickensian (which I like!!), and I’m wondering if there’s a way to match the tone of the query to the story.

      It feels like you might have started just a little too early in the story. Descriptions of people we haven’t really met yet aren’t as engaging as once we’ve had our curiosity piqued (the line about how they could slip through crowds when they shouldn’t is good, but it’s almost too subtle). I would shuffle this around a bit to start with a more intriguing first line if it’s important we meet these characters first.

      You've both done an excellent job, but I'm going to say

      VICTORY TO BOUNTY AND THE BEAST

      Delete
    3. Dangerous Beasts

      Query: This query is pretty solid, great job! Here are a few thoughts for you: “they’ve hired an assassin to kill her” seems a bit abrupt and loses the flow of the sentence. Can you change that up a bit? The one main thing I think I’m missing here is WHY the beasts are so important. Why would he be willing (even though he’s lying) to let her live in exchange for these beasts? What makes them special? What’s their purpose? Second paragraph, I’d cut “assassin” before Noc. Just with the rest of that sentence we’ll know who he is. Then we get to the curse—can you be a little more specific about it? Is it actually a real curse? If this is dual POV, like the query is reading, I’d also recommend tying back into Leena’s stakes as well in the last paragraph.

      250: I enjoyed this opening, though your second paragraph, the 2 out of 3 comment, confused me a little. I think the being watched part is supposed to be new, but wouldn’t that be common in her line of work? I’d also try to streamline “gelatinous cubes of gray meat” since it’s a bit wordy. Maybe just “gelatinous gray meat”? The very last paragraph lost me a little. Consider just focusing on her being watched now than what happened in the past. Keep it active and moving forward.

      The Burnt State

      Query: While I feel like there’s a really cool story under here, to be honest this query left me very confused. The Reverend Council—can you say more on what this is? When you say “elite corps” that sounds more military-esque than anything else which seems in opposition with “reverend council” which hints at something more spiritual. You then mention “exiled heroes”, but who are these people? What happened to them? I feel like I need a bit of background to understand what’s happening here. Why does being related to Eldritch mean they want to kill her? Tell me more about this other hero. Why does it even matter if they kill him? I’m not sure I really understand the big picture here or the stakes. My last comment would just to be careful on how many times you use Eldritch’s name, especially since most of the focus seems to be on him rather than our protagonist.

      250: I’m assuming this is leading up to Eldritch getting chosen instead of Indira? While the writing is good, this seems too focused on descriptions and set-up. Again, I feel like we’re missing the protagonist here. Honestly this seems to be a case of not quite starting in the right place. Maybe consider opening with the brothers walking up to her house, but from Indira’s POV.

      VICTORY TO DANGEROUS BEASTS!!

      Delete
    4. From CatAttack (or AttackCat!)

      BOUNTY AND THE BEAST
      Query: Strong opening paragraph. I did want to know more about these beasts – does Noc want them for the money they’ll bring or do they provide status, some power, protection? If so, why is he willing to give some away to his friends? Just a bit of clarification here would help. The planned double-cross effectively raises the stakes and lets us know Noc has a code – of sorts. By the 3rd paragraph, this is sounding more Noc’s than Leena’s story. Is this told from dual POV? If so, I think including that fact would help. Also, Leena’s continuing ‘to bait his emotion’ makes me wonder if she’s working on her own double-cross – or if she’s sincere.

      250: Engaging opening. I like the humor and the prose. Nice details, but I wanted a better sense of where she was. We get the details of the table, then the booth, then learn she’s in a bar. The first sentence had me thinking she was outside (but maybe that’s because the query let me know she captured beasts). Perhaps give a bit more stage setting earlier?

      MARZIPAN PIZZA
      Query: There was much I liked here, but I was also a little confused. Indira’s our protagonist, but the references to the heroes leading people to rise up makes them sound like they’re the ones were likely to root for. I may be way off base, but this makes me think this will be a journey where Indira changes her beliefs about her country and the Reverend Council. If so, this needs to be included in the query. If not, perhaps a different word choice than ‘hero’?

      250: Great description of a house ‘forced to grow vertically rather than horizontally.’ I’m assuming the house they’re approaching is Indira’s. If so, you might consider bringing Indira more directly into this opening by having her be the one watching their approach from one of the windows. This would add a bit of tension as her expectations could then be folded in. I think there’s a typo – there’s one reference ‘…of the two brothers’ where the b in brother isn’t capitalized.

      Two more strong entries!

      VICTORY TO BOUNTY AND THE BEAST

      Delete
    5. DANGEROUS BEASTS
      Query: I would ONE CLICK SO FAST ON THIS! The hook, the stakes, the voice—holy pajamas. I, honestly, have no additional feedback for you. Fantasy isn't the genre I write, so I may be missing some things that other fantasy authors may notice that I don't. But as an outside, non-biased 3rd party, I think it was nicely done!

      First 250: Know what I love about this? You can feel the tension between Leena and the dude at the table. The way you showed it, without telling it, is awesome. She has got kick ass confidence and I got lost in your words so easily. I have no suggestions for you! Great job!


      THE BURNT STATE
      Query: Ohhh! I love a good family drama wrapped up into the conflict and stakes of a story! Here are my suggestions for your query: I’d rework the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs—the information is good, but a little wordy and a little “spoiler alert” knowing Indira escapes the attempt. I think it’s okay to delete that part because even if she escapes with a mark on her back, she’s still moving towards the goal of saving her grandfather. The statements that Eldritch tells his granddaughter are great, but they don’t fit in this query. They are, however, could be made into a GREAT tag line for your book!

      First 250: I like the set up--some mystery surrounding the two men! I’m going back and forth in my own mind right now about their physical descriptions. On one hand, we always want to know what characters look like--but it’s a delicate balance between giving us the whole enchilada or just a little bit here and there. What you’ve given us is fine, but it feels like THAT is the focus of your paragraph rather than your plot or what they’re doing or what they’re thinking. I’d like to know more about their motive than what they look like. BUT. I also know that sometimes those details are critical because they play a part late in the story. My suggestion is this--are the physical details necessary in this format? Or can they be sprinkled in? Like having one of the guys bush his dark hair out of his eyes….that kind of thing?


      VICTORY GOES TO DANGEROUS BEASTS (aka BOUNTY AND THE BEAST)

      Delete
    6. BOUNTY AND THE BEAST

      The Query:

      I’m going to give you extra kudos for managing a double POV query and linking the two characters to each other by the plot better than I usually see.

      I’d like to know Leena’s motivation. It seems like we know more about Noc than Leena, and to sell the stakes I think we should feel more invested in whether she lives or dies. I’m guessing a Charmer is tied to charming animals or beast, but it might be nice to know exactly what a Charmer is so we get why what Leena did was so bad.

      Consider not using “deep s***. I’ve used harsh words in queries in the past and every time I did, it was rejected. There may not be a strict correlation, but it might not be worth it.

      The line “But traps capture more than beasts’ is so wonderfully Romance. It’s great.

      The first 250:

      Nice voice. I’d say maybe give stronger indication where we are in this scene, but otherwise I like it. Leena’s business sounds…difficult.

      THE MARZIPAN PIZZA

      The Query:

      Trying to save an empire when your primary antagonist is your blood, all the while facing off against “exiled heroes of subjugated races” gives a lot to play with here, in a good way. You hooked me here.

      I’m a little confused why Indira would be marked as a target for sharing blood with the man that the “enemy” is essentially trying to recruit. Also, I’d like to know more about Indira and Eldritch’s relationship. I’m guessing it’s now strained, but it seems like the heart of the story is them pitted against each other, so that should be the focus. Familial bonds being broken by external conflict is always compelling and very relatable to almost any reader.

      The first 250:

      Is this a prologue? If you want to start with character descriptions as lovingly elaborate as this, I’d definitely start with the main character. World building and laying plot threads is very important in Fantasy, but more important is our entry by connecting instantly with a character. I like the language though, you write clearly and definitely have a knack for flow. There just isn’t here immediately to make me hooked unfortunately.
      Great job to both of you and congrats on making it into the contest, the more queries I read and judge, the more I recognize how hard it is.
      PS. I'm really curious about how you decided on your nickname

      VICTORY:
      BOUNTY AND THE BEAST

      -Outer Space Potato Man

      Delete
    7. Two great fantasy stories here!

      BOUNTY AND THE BEAST
      The first two paragraphs are strong. The third one loses me... I'm not sure if the caged heart is a metaphor or not, and who controls it. I like the partial, though: great voice for fantasy.

      THE BURNT STATE
      This sounds like an interesting premise! I think the missing piece for me is the relationship between your MC and her grandfather. If that's important -- and I think it is -- we may need the context to understand what it means to see him chosen.

      These are two strong stories. That said, in the query, I feel one must go forward. Victory to BOUNTY AND THE BEAST!

      Delete
  2. BOUNTY AND THE BEAST
    Query: Great voice in the query letter! This is hard to do and it matches the first 250 words as well. Fantastic job. Honestly, this query letter is spot on. The only thing I want to know, is what's so special about these beasts and why would one want to and risk everything to get one?

    First 250: The first sentence is great! This pulled me in and I want to read more. And your analogies are wonderful. It really paints a pictures of what's to come and showcases your MC's unique voice. Great job!

    THE MARZIPAN PIZZA
    Query: I like the premise of this story. There are just a couple places where I'd maybe tighten the prose or elaborate a bit more.

    Instead of: The very next day, Eldritch has gone missing and the city is under attack.

    Try: The next day, Eldritch goes missing and the city is under attack.

    The third paragraph could use some tightening as well. Is there any way to define why Eldritch is willing to help the enemy without giving too much away?

    The paragraph, The Empire…, I see what you are trying to do, but I don't know if it's there's another way to convey the importance without using such choppy sentences.

    The only other thing that confused me is why were the heroes exiled? And can you call them something else? It was a bit confusing the sentence about the heroes inciting riots, it seemed a bit odd they would do such a thing. This part pulled me out of the query.

    First 250: There's a lot of great imagery here. I would be careful of the paragraphs heavy with character descriptions. A better way to describe characters is to weave small details in dialogue and action scenes. Reader tend to skim heavy description in general. Conveying this type of information in an engaging way will keep your readers focused and immersed in the story! But this sounds like fun!

    Victory to: BOUNTY AND THE BEAST

    ReplyDelete
  3. Moonstone DragonJune 3, 2017 at 1:41 AM

    DANGEROUS BEASTS

    Query:

    Strong first paragraph with tons of voice and a clear sense of who your MC is, the stakes, and even the world we're in. I also enjoyed the dual POV approach, though I did find the last paragraph a little confusing: Is Noc going with Leena to find the beasts she promised them? Are his assassin buddies following them? Oh, and another little nitpick: as much as I felt like I got a good taster of your world in the first paragraph, I wouldn't mind getting a clearer understanding of what these beasts are and why they're so valuable.

    First 250:

    I actually found this opening very strong. I like the voice, the sense of who your MC is, and the rhythm of the narrative. I was only confused by what you meant in the second sentence of last paragraph: is Midnight Jester the name of the bar where they are? Also, I think you're missing "had" in "Earlier, faint movement from the shadows HAD flickered into my awareness."

    THE BURNT STATE

    Query:

    I found it intriguing and engaging enough, but I was definitely confused by the third paragraph: If Indira is "marked for death" because of who her grandfather is, how does she escape AND manage to learn what the attackers want? Also, if the Empire's hero is missing, why would the attackers want to find him to kill him? Why not let him remain missing? I mean, I'm sure this makes perfect sense in your MS, but in the query it's coming across a little confusing.

    First 250:

    I truly enjoyed this. The writing and imagery are lovely. My only quibble is that you don't mention any of the characters you've introduced in the query. Not that that's a deal-breaker or anything, but I do feel like at least mentioning a character from the query right away gives readers a sense of continuity--a reminder of why they decided to read the sample pages. Just a thought.

    Another tough choice!

    VICTORY GOES TO... BOUNTY AND THE BEAST!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bounty and the Beast:

    Query: I’m into it! You quickly pulled me into the story and the query flowed really well. The one time it was confusing though, was the sentence “There’s honor among thieves, but she isn’t one of them.” Do you mean Leena? For some reason I thought this sentence was supposed to refer to Noc, as it’s his honor he doesn’t care about (two paychecks, no sleep lost).

    First 250:

    Similar to the query, I really liked it.

    Only thing that stopped me a bit was the meat jiggling on the plate—I don’t feel like a nudge would be enough momentum to jiggle meat? I realize this is a super small detail to get hung up on though…
    Also, when you mention “Neckties and Midngith Jester” I’m a bit lost—clarify who you’re referring to.

    The Marzipan Pizza:

    Query: This is a lot of information all at once. It jumps around a bit to much to keep sense of what’s going on. For example, simplifying the fourth paragraph to one sentence might get your point across clearer than by stringing it out.

    First 250:

    I want the scene/world set a little bit more before I’m given such an extensive description of the characters. I want more context to what’s going on, but the imagery was great! Maybe just space it out a bit more with information about who is watching the brothers or something like that.

    Otherwise, great job to both!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beast
    Query: What is a Charmer? Could you include a brief description here? Why is having a beast so desirable? And why do they want to kill her for selling them and not just arrest her? I am confused as to why his heart is "caged" and how that affects her. Also, I have no idea what she wants, besides to not get killed.

    250: I love the imagery! I can picture the scene but not her. I hope that comes soon in your text. I think shes attractive and has a big chest but that's all I got from this. This page pulls me in and I want to know more, though! Great job!

    Burnt

    Query: The stakes are well defined but I have a few concerns with the way you describe Indira and the Empire. I'm confused as to why the rebels would want to kill her because she is "Eldritch's" blood if he is working to help them overtake the Empire. Also, the description of the Empire being "above humanity and justice" makes me root for the rebels and not Indira. And she is willing to kill her own grandfather for this empire? I would like to see a reason to root for her. Right now she feels like the enemy to me.
    250: I read this first and then when I read the query I thought there was a misprint. The writing is great with good (if long) descriptions of The Brothers, but it needs action. And your MC. I agree with looking at your chapter two or perhaps later in this chapter for a better starting spot.

    Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beasts

    Query
    Very creative, compelling premise. I did wonder what these rare and endangered creatures were going to be and how the reader might feel about Leena selling them for profit. All I could think about was the plight of rhinos and elephants and current endangered species although I'm guessing the creatures in your story are very different. Maybe it would be worth giving a hint about them to eliminate any potential negative associations?
    Also, I was a little confused about Noc keeping the bounty live on Leena's head until the beasts are his. Does this mean he's planning to kill her after he gets the creatures?

    250
    I love the tone both here and in the query. It feels very film noirish to me. Leena is a tough, savvy, capable female protagonist who seems very compelling. I like the way you've upped the stakes with Noc unable to love her. The whole story sounds very intriguing and action packed.

    Marzipan Pizza

    query
    Love the first paragraph. But by the second paragraph I was a little unsure about whom I should be rooting for. Indira is the protagonist and I feel empathy for her not getting assigned to the council but the rebels are described as exiled heroes of a hundred subjugated races and they sound like underdogs who already got a bad deal. So I can't really tell if their cause is worthy or not. I do love the central conflict of the story though, that she will be forced to choose between family and empire.

    250
    Your description is very vivid and detailed but I think it would work even better with some more action interspersed within it. Can you introduce Indira into this scene? Great world building though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bounty and the Beast:
    I really like your opening paragraph. I think you might want to change the first line around. I'm not sure how much you need to use a curse word in the very beginning. I worry that it might turn some people off, which isn't something you want to do before they really dig in. Overall, I love the sense of urgency of the first paragraph. I love the second paraggraph and description of Noc. He sounds like quite an interesting character. The only thing I would consider doing is just explaining a bit about the curse from Noc's past as I didn't get a sense of why he can't love from the query. But overall, I really like it!
    First 250: Love the opening and the writing. It's engaging while showing a lot about the characters and your MC's voice is humorous. Really, the only thing I would change is the "voice grates against my skin" since that line just didn't sit right with me. Overall, I loved it!

    The Marizpan Pizza:
    Query: While I like the idea of your story, I'm a little confused about the switch from how we go from the Elite Corps to the city being attacked and burning. I feel like there should be a sentence or two in there to connect the dots. Also, I'm not really getting a feeling for Indira either. The query seems a little macro-focused. Almost like we're looking at it from far away as opposed to up close. You also give away a lot of the story with showing that Indira will escape and figure out the enemy's true motives. I just think it needs be a little more detailed: who are the heroes? who are the enemies? etc. and not give away as much of the ending. Your states are very clear here.

    First 250: Your descriptions are beautifully written and I can picture everything that is happening. Your language is beautiful. But I think you might want to start with action. Give the reader something happening to pull them in. Then, dazzle them with your descriptions.

    Good luck to both of you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. BOUNTY AND THE BEAST:
    (ha, love the nickname, by the way)
    This sounds *really* fun and I'd absolutely enjoy reading more of this.
    Your query is great, it sets up the story really well and gives me a good sense of what to expect. I think you can cut phrases here and there, like "for profit" (anything you sell on the black market is going to be for profit, right?) and "to kill her" (why else would someone hire an assassin?)

    I'll admit I'm not a fan of your opening paragraph. I find lists of "I knew three things for certain" to always feel like an uninteresting way to describe things. You could start with her sliding the meat into her pocket and it would feel a lot stronger to me. Otherwise I really like your voice and you give great descriptive details.

    THE MARZIPAN PIZZA:
    I love your query. Very well-written, very enticing. My only thought is that I'd like a mention at the beginning of how much she cares about Eldritch. You can fold that into why she feels to betrayed when he's chosen over her. The reason I think it's necessary is because it'll heighten the stakes at the end of the query. At the moment I don't know what her emotional attachment is to him, so I don't know if having to hurt him is that big a deal or not.

    With your pages, my main impression is that they're a bt overly wordy. Your sentences run very long at times (one of the paragraphs is just one long sentence I think?), which led me to skim details a bit and slows down the pacing. Your query had really good variety in its sentence lengths--I think carrying that across to your pages would help me feel more excited to read further. At the moment too it means that while I love the voice in your query, the pages don't feel like they match. It's sort of two different voices, one thrilling, and one more melodramatic.

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  9. Bounty and the Beast: Not sure about using profanity in the first line of your query but I have a potty mouth so I love it. I like that it tells the reader right away that you aren’t holding back here, and if you can’t take it, don’t read it. I love the premise here, so many great opportunities for adorable and/or terrifying creatures. The stakes are clearly laid out for both of them, and the voice comes out clearly in the query. First 250: Ooh, more swearing. I like it. Love the description of grey cubes, sounds disgusting. Like the voice here, and how she was scoping out the client while she was watching around her for danger. I’m not sure what Midnight Jester is, and I was confused. A person? Slang? Overall, great entry. I’d read this.

    The Marzipan Pizza: Just a comment that the character’s age may be an issue. 20 is really right in-between YA and adult. Adults may not relate to such a young heroine, and I am assuming that the content in the story is not really YA either. If well written, it may not be a problem at all, but keep in mind. There’s a lot of information in a short query, I think you can safely spell some things out with more detail. I don’t read high fantasy, and after reading the query I felt I knew more about the world you’ve created than the character, but I realise that world-building is important for fantasy. First 250: I like the descriptions of the brothers. I would have liked a little more scene-setting description about the suburban streets. Also, I was confused, because the query made me think this was high fantasy, but the bowler hats and description of the house made me think otherwise. Loved the last line, the house forced to grow vertically instead of horizontally. Well done overall.

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