Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Hook review on Fangs, Fur and Fey is up...

It wasn't good. I don't care about the contest because the prize was for pages to be sent to Rachael Vater, and she's already rejected my book twice.

I entered to get feed back and that's just what I got. One of the published authors who frequent the site judged my hook on whether it could grab him or her. Some things held it back.
I really do appreciate the chance so don't think I'm whining. I'm just concerned because . . . well take a look.

Hook 61

What happens when you take two happy, optimistic kids, and turn them into vampires? Ten year old Annabelle loves animals and has a strong desire to learn. She would much rather read her favorite books than explore. Her brother Roland is twelve and thinks reading is boring. He’d be happier exploring. It is the late 1600s and their family had just moved from England to the New World . Annabelle and Roland’s lives are shattered when the evil vampire Dominic kills their parents and leaves the children to die. His wife does not agree with his actions but has always been too afraid to rebel. Seeing the children’s plight, she acts on impulse and rescues them the only way she knows how, by transforming them into what she is and teaching them how to become children of the night.

Annabelle and Roland learn how to turn into bats and wolves. They struggle to control their cravings while mastering their vampiric abilities. Annabelle and her brother befriend the Mohegan Indians, free a witch from the Salem jail, hide from a ruthless vampire hunter and struggle to keep their existence as vampires a secret in their colonial town. They grow from inexperienced young children to confident teenagers while facing Dominic’s wicked servants. Each vampire, witch and werewolf that tries to kill them is tougher than the last until finally, after years of apprehension mixed with fear, they confront the master vampire who slaughtered their parents. Future uncertain, the teen vampires must try and stop Dominic before he destroys everything they hold dear.

Notes—My first thought to your opening question was “Happy vampires?” This could be fun, though—you’ve put young adult vampires into a time we don’t read too much about. I was a little concerned Dominic turned the kids at such a young age, and wondered if it couldn't’t have happened to them when they older? Older kids might be better able to survive/blend in—just a thought. As for the description of the two kids—can you dig a little deeper than simply giving them the opposite interests? Also, their interests don’t come into play in your synopsis—perhaps they do in the text, but since you make a point of telling me Annabelle likes to read, I thought that might come up later on.
I also wondered about the available books in this time—not light reading for a ten year old. As for the rest, it seems episodic—attack after attack—each stronger than the last. Why is Dominic sending creatures to kill them? And I don’t get a sense of what they “hold dear”. Are their friends in peril? Again, my first thoughts were that this could be fun—the setting is unique, but I need to see a story arc.


OK, me again. I noticed that she/he didn't see that it was Eliza who turned the kids. At first I thought I didn't clarify that well, but there it is in the first paragraph.
I'm concerned though. She/he mentions that the kids should be older. Aprilynne said the same thing. Do I loose the happy little bats and children learning to be young vamps? The kids at the school loved those things. I really believe in my gut it should stay that way.
Also, in my query/hook I mentioned the ageing of the children at the middle of the book. The guys at Absolute Write told me that detracted from the hook. Now I see where it would help. It's a major part of the book, watching these young kids change into teens overnight. It relates with the same growing pain problems pre-teens go through all over the world. I want to mention it but how?

In the book I cover how Annabelle could have gotten a hold of books
during those days. Her father was a bookbinder. Maybe I should mention that?

Episodic. That's what Adam said after reading the book. Maybe it is. Maybe it wont sell because of that. How can I fix this? Should I throw the book away and rewrite?

Here's what someone else said in the responses...

lnhammer on April 25th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
I'm very intrigued by #61, but with reservations. It's that each opponent is tougher than the last thing -- like a sorting algorithm of evil. Rather than training them up, why wasn't a tough enough minion sent to take care of things first time through? It makes the plot sound very by-the-numbers.

Ouch! Very true.
Man, it feels like I almost have it. It's like my goal is just outside of my reach.

This, combined with my fear for Janeen's present physical health and mental welfare, has made my mood deeply concerned and very unrested.


Jennifer said...

I love it! I'm making the same rounds of sites that you are - snark, crapometer, evil editor, and there is soooo much boring, formulaic writing out there. This hook stands out.

I have four kids and am subjected to reading out loud every young adult novel there is. I like that this book is set in a different time period and that the kids are nice kids having to deal with a crappy situation. The fact that they are younger teens makes this way more interesting to me than if they were older.

I wonder what's tripping people up is that vampirism always seems to lead to outrageous sex in novels and they're worried you're heading in that direction. Maybe there is some way you can suggest that the novel isn't going to any twisted place a 12 year old shouldn't go.

The algorithm of evil comment - seems to me that's referring to an awkward sentence you can easily change. Of course your bad guys are going to get steadily badder - it wouldn't make sense if they didn't and it wouldn't be any fun if they met the ultra-bad guy first. Focus on listing the types of bad guys rather than giving their rankings.

The line about the kids' likes and dislikes is merely an awkward line as well. Again - list their likes, but don't compare them in such a pat manner and you'll be fine.

I can't imagine with a hook like this that you won't find someone to publish. Have you worked on your first five pages? (There's a book out there all about that). Another book I just read that's helping me reconsider some things is "My First Novel" by Rittenberg and Whitcomb. I know - it sounds totally hokey, but it's not. There is some great stuff in there.

Good Luck! Don't abandon it. Just give it time.

Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe said...

Thank you so much!
You give hope to a scared writer, that's for sure.
I'm going to rework those lines. Good advice about mentioning that this book doesnt ever go down the usual bad sex type path.
I hope it is fresh. The kids will (in the course of the series) see three hundred years of world history. Everything from Salem during the witch trials (book one) to WWII and on. They'll be all sorts of bad guys through out history for them to deal with, as well as the difficult time they have dealing with their vampiric cravings.
It was read to a class of 5th graders and they all went nuts. They loved it and were all excited with questions about the characters and series. They all wanted more. I did two read throughs to fix any errors afterward. One read through was to my kids who loved it as well.
I've had many beta readers, most were adults and most liked it. I've listened very carefully and changed everything I could. I'm sure there will be more changes. I just want it out there, into the world. Annabelle has to be in book stores, libraries, schools, helping kids and entertaining them. It's a passion I cant stop. It made me finish the book, rework and re-rework it.

Thank you for your advice. I think I'll pick up those books and see what I can learn. Whatever can help, you know?