An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jaunt in Jasper

Our last first page comes from Kristen Smith - Thank-you! - a contemporary romance tentatively called, JAUNT IN JASPER. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add yours :)




 Tara Stevens’ honey beige L’Oreal Paris foundation couldn’t hide the paleness (this suggests an omniscient narrator. If you are going for close third person, I wouldn't include details like this as people don't notice how pale they are unless they look in a mirror) that swept over her face when she realized the terminal to her plane was a staircase leading down to the tarmac. Thirty feet away was the smallest plane she had ever seen with two classic propellers on either wing screaming antique. Wasn’t there an advanced twenty-first century reason why every other plane she’d ever been on had jet engines? 
    As she climbed up the pull-down staircase and peered through the plane’s door, her jaw dropped. This plane was too small. Much too small. The tiny interior only large enough to house one row of seats, then an aisle, then two more rows of seats. Amazingly enough, she had an aisle AND a window seat. Which did not give her a good feeling.
    She hated to fly. As a local Richmond lawyer, she rarely flew for work, but each time she did, she hated it. She despised everything about it--taxiing down the runway, small talk with strangers, cramped quarters, nasty airline food she actually had to pay to eat.
     Then there was the one thing she hated the most about flying. The thing that set her nerves on edge and wrapped fear around her heart. Landing. Landing was the worst. She always pictured the plane spinning out of control as the wheels hit the tarmac. It’s giant belly sliding along the concrete until it burst into flames. It didn’t help her already delicate state when the brakes made a thunderous noise like the plane was about to explode at any second. No, that didn’t help her nerves at all.
    She sucked in air as she tried to calm those nerves. The pilot’s voice came on over the loudspeaker announcing their departure. Tara pictured him and his buddy hanging out in the front of the plane, sipping a latte, perfectly at ease, while she was about to have a coronary in the middle of the two-prop plane. She glanced out the window. Just her luck to be seated right beside the left propeller. As the blades started to move, picking up speed and slicing through the air, Tara’s hands gripped her arm rests until her knuckles turned white. (Here's another spot where you need to be clear about your pov. Do you want to say, Tara's hands gripped or Tara gripped? Do you see the difference?) She pictured tiny sparks flying off the propellers once they were four thousand feet in the sky. Why, oh why, did she have to get the seat next to the turbines?
    She thought back to the reason she was in this mess in the first place. Her husband Jack. Oh, he was a jack alright. A jack-off, jerk face, no good, good for nothin’, piece of shi-ite. There weren’t enough vile adjectives in the thesaurus to describe what he was. Detestable, abhorrent, disgusting, dishonorable, abominable, loathsome--those were a few that immediately came to mind. But the best one. Philandering snake.

My first question is, is Tara's fear of flying important? If so then this is all fine - although I might cut it shorter -  but if not then I'd just briefly show she doesn't like flying and move on to what's really happening, like where is she going? What sort of mess is she in? How did she get there? That's what I want to know. I don't care that she hates flying (unless there's going to be a plane crash...) but I do want to know what Tara's situation is and how she got there. What else is she feeling beneath the fear of flying? 

Those are my thoughts about this first page and I hope you' chime in with yours :)


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fade Into Me



Submission Number 2. comes from our own Charity Bradford. Here's the first page of her YA Contemporary Scifi, FADE INTO ME.



Kieran

The barrier that separated my world from the human reality was a fascinating bit of technology that I often took for granted. Appreciation flickered briefly as I touched the side of the archway to activate the portal. The runes’ familiar texture moved under my fingers before the fabric of space and time split and fluctuated within the confines of the door. All I had to do was set the destination. The coordinates floated behind my closed eyelids as my mind linked into the system. One step, a tugging sensation, and I stepped into Ireas. I wonder if a small explanation would be appropriate here, for example: "...I stepped into Ireas, the place of my birth/homeworld/whathaveyou." Does that make sense? That way you're making it crystal clear that Kieran is from somewhere else. Just my opinion though...
Strands of magic swirled around me revealing more vibrant colors and smells than on the human side of the barrier. The foyer and grand staircase were empty, the halls quiet. Even this week, the second busiest the palace staff would have this year, my world exuded peace. If only we could push this calmness into the human’s world.
I followed the corridor lined with tapestries and portraits of my ancestors to a set of double doors leading outside. The colors of the garden danced in the sunlight—shades of red, white, yellow and green jumped from plant to plant, mingling, changing. They wrapped themselves around the sound of buzzing insects and the humming of bird wings. This is what I missed the most when living among the humans—this symbiosis of sight and sound. The collective magical ignorance of the human race compelled the colors to remain motionless. Here they played like joyful children. I think you could combine this paragraph with the one preceding it. When you mention "strands of magic" I want to see it and the second paragraph offers this. 
Mother straightened from her spot by a rose bush bursting with flowers. Their soft peach coloring swirled around her arms in a gentle caress as she placed the cuttings in a basket. 
"Kieran? What’s wrong?" At almost four hundred years old,(do we need to know this now? Is it important? or mightn't it have greater impact later? Just asking...)  Mother's dark hair had started to streak with gray, but her skin remained flawless like her rose petals.
"I need more time."
“Sweetheart, you know that’s not possible.” She reached out for my hand. “Enjoy your sister’s wedding. Afterward we can decide who you should choose for your bride.”
 “What’s a few more months, or years for that matter? Can’t you ask them to give me more time?” For most of my kind, (hmm, and just what is his kind?)  the one hundred and twenty-fifth birthday wasn't a big deal, but for me, Prince of the Reparation, it signified the beginning, or the end. I wasn’t sure which yet.
She squeezed my fingers. "Why are you nervous now? You’ve been preparing for this your entire life."
"This whole thing is pointless. Humans aren’t ready and our people will have to wait another thousand years no matter who I choose. Why can’t I have more time to fall in love?"
"Kieran," She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, looking every bit like the queen she was. "You will do it because the High Council requires it. There is too much at stake for our family and our people."

Ha! Required to fall in love on schedule! Poor thing. 
Anyway...I like this beginning. We know right away that Kieran isn't human, that he's from somewhere else, and that he's supposed to fall in love as Prince of the Reparation - whatever that means. We can also sense his reluctance and his mother's calm that's-the-way-it-is attitude. What we don't know is the backstory (what's the Reparation?), what Kieran has been doing among the humans he doesn't think much of, and who is he going to fall in love with? That's enough to make me turn the page :)

What do you think? Would you read on?

 



Monday, January 27, 2014

THE FOLLOWING


 
As promised, today we have the first page of Scott Abel's THE FOLLOWING, a YA paranormal romance/suspense novel. My comments will be purple and as always, I hope you'll add yours. A big thanks to Scott for submitting and if you'd like your first page critiqued here, by yours truly, just send it along to: unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com.


Marie knew she shouldn’t appear, (the word 'appear' here, implies a suddenness to me, like a ghost might suddenly appear, which may very well be the appropriate word. But if Marie has arrived of her own volition then I might use a different word) and she’d probably get in trouble for it – she’d been warned more times than could be counted. However, the thrill of seeing Parker up close and in person proved far too strong. Besides, if she really were on thin ice with Markus, there was only one way to find out.
Heavy mist matted her clothes against her like a wet paper towel, and the sweet, crisp smell of approaching rain permeated the night air. She closed her eyes and took a slow, deep breath.
Cloaked in darkness, she moved in silence, camouflaging and timing every step with each gust of wind and rustle of leaves. Nothing - no sound, no shifting of shadows - hinted at her approach despite her physical presence.
Marie continued her stealthy advance toward Parker’s house. Her pulse quickened when it came into view.
Three large oak trees shaded the front yard, obscuring part of the house, but as she walked closer more could be seen. Except for the white brick, it was a carbon copy of the other ranch-style houses in the neighborhood - long, with a low roof and attached two-car garage on the side. Flowerbeds flanked the front door and overflowed with holly bushes and shrubs. Small lights illuminated a wooden sign carved in the shape of a football with “#12” and “Parker” painted on it. A basketball hoop stood to the side of the driveway, the tell-tale sign that youth inhabited the home. A thick row of trees bordered the driveway as an informal property divider. I like this description - I get a perfect picture - but I might shorten it just a tad.
Marie snuck across the front of the house, and the corners of her mouth turned up in a grin. 

Well! Lots of interesting and curious things happening here. First, why is Marie sneaking and why will seeing Parker give her a thrill? Who is Parker? And who is Markus? And why will she be on thin ice with him if she's discovered? These questions alone would be enough to make me turn the page to find out what's going on here but, in order to draw me in even further, I want to know something more about Marie. If she's on the first page she must be important, probably a main character. If I'm going to want to follow her I'll need to connect with her more. For example, why is she defying Markus? Does she want to test him? What sort of person is Marie? What's her situation? You don't have to give all of this away - in fact, I'd recommend you didn't! - but maybe just a little more to bond the reader with Marie.

So. That's my opinion of this first page. What's yours? Agree? Disagree? Do tell.

 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This week at Unicorn Bell

 Me again, offering first page (or what have you) critiques for anyone who wants to polish a page or two. I will do my best to tell you what's working, what's not, and how I might go about improving your submission. All you have to do is send me something, 500 word limit, and let me know what genre.

Send submissions to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com

Tomorrow I'll offer my thoughts on the first page of Scott Abel's YA paranormal romance/supernatural suspense novel: THE FOLLOWING.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Carrots and Blythe Grow Up Together


Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips this week, but more importantly...

THANK YOU 

to all who participated in our first blogfest of 2014.

There were all kinds of different love posts to enjoy. What was your favorite entry? Please tell us in the comments so we can give a shout out to those bloggers one more time. If you missed the list with all the blog participants, click HERE.

I have to end the week with Anne Shirley. She has been my kindred spirit since I was twelve years old. We are alike in so many ways that if she had lived in real life I'd know for a fact I was her reincarnated. One of the things I love about Anne and Gilbert is that they were childhood classmates who grew up to be more.

It sort of reminds me of me and my hubby who met when we were twelve. Friendship to love is always the best kind in my mind. The kind of love with real staying power.

Simply Irresistible!


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

Have you ever heard of the Sarah Michelle Gellar movie Simply Irresistible? I don't think it's well known, but it's a "cute" movie about food, magic and love. I couldn't find a YouTube clip of the scene I wanted to share, but here's the movie trailer for your enjoyment.

 What romantic movies float your boat? Please tell us in the comments!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You Can't Just Go Around Kissing People!


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

Chris Pine. Need I give any other reason for why I adore The Princess Diaries 2?


And another scene...

As You Wish


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

The Princess Bride is perhaps one of the most easily quoted movies in my repertoire. Even my kids know most of the movie by heart. The humor is priceless, and so is the sweetness of true love.




And you can't talk about Princess Bride without shouting, "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

All the Right Words, but the Wrong Guy


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

My daughters and I have watched a lot of chick flicks together. A LOT! Especially when we got to TN to visit my mom and sisters. Hey, don't judge, it's the thing to do! We've watched this one a hundred times, at least.

This scene breaks my heart each time. Masimo is such a sweet kind guy. He's doing everything right, and Mary tries here to go with it. However, he's just not the right guy.


Top 5 Doctor Who Kisses According to Someone


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

Yeah, I'd rearrange these a bit myself, but as a Doctor Who geek, I had to share. Move Amy to #5 because she always sort of bugged me (but I loved Rory!). I'd also move the kiss with Rose to #3. Why? Because I love the Doctor and River. Their story was one of the most bittersweet of the Whoverse in my opinion.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tension, Some People Got It


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

Those who follow my blog have learned that although I like to complain about the writers getting silly on the TV show Bones, I still love it. I watch because it's got two gorgeous people in it with great romantic tension.

Come on, David Boreanaz? Emily Deschanel?

Love Against His Will


For the rest of the week, I'll be providing romantic inspiration in the form of some of my favorites. Thanks to YouTube for providing the clips!

To find the linky with all the blog participants, click HERE.

Sometimes love is not only awkward but down right "catty". This is one of my all time favorite scenes from the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. The emotions simmer and boil and make everything that comes later all the more wonderful.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Love is in the Air Blogfest

Whoo hoo! It's time for our first blogfest of 2014...in honor of the quickly approaching Valentine's day...

It's a celebration of that little thing called love. Be it steamy or sweet, puppy, kitty, teen, aggravating, first kiss or final goodbye, let your scene tug at our heartstrings. Starting tomorrow, I'll share some of my favorite love scenes from books, TV and movies here.

Do you have a favorite love scene that you think I should mention? Tell us about it in the comments! 

Share your lovey dovey post on your blog today, make sure you're signed up in the linky below, and then visit and comment on the other blogs on the list.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Soul Cutter

Today, I'd like to welcome Lexa Cain to the blog. She has some advice on finding your very own agent!


Getting an Agent 

I got my agent through sheer determination and the refusal to give up. During that time, I learned a few things.

Most sites with agent lists only cover US agents, but there are lots of UK and even a few international agents to choose from. Find them by googling and searching every agent list, including Preditors & Editors. One of the good things about UK agents is they generally want you to submit the first three chapters rather than just five-to-ten pages. That gives your writing a better chance to impress them.

During months of requests (Yay!) and rejections (Boo!), keep checking the lists. New agents may be added. (That’s how I found my agent -- she had left an agency and started her own.)

Read agent tweets and blog posts for wish lists and special submission times. An agent closed to subs may open again when you least expect it.

Most importantly, don’t be discouraged. Some writers rack up 100 or 200 rejections before getting an offer. Keep believing your agent is out there and keep trying!


Lexa's book is Soul Cutter.

The Soul Cutter is hunting again.

Seventeen-year-old Élan spends her free time videoing psychic scams and outing them online. Skepticism makes life safe—all the ghosts Élan encounters are fakes. When her estranged mother disappears from a film shoot in Egypt, Élan puts her medium-busting activities on hold and joins the search.

In Egypt, the superstitious film crew sucks at finding her mom. When a hotel guest is killed, whispers start—the locals think their legendary Soul Cutter has come back from the dead. Élan's only ally is Ramsey, a film-crew intern, but he’s arrogant, stubborn—and hiding dangerous secrets.

When Élan discovers the Soul Cutter is no scam, she finds herself locked in a deadly battle against a supernatural killer with more than her mother’s life at stake.

Élan is fighting for her very soul.


Publisher's Link for Excerpt

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Kobo
MuseItUp Publishing

Author Bio:
Lexa Cain lives a stone’s throw (if you throw it really hard) from the beautiful beaches and turquoise waters of the Red Sea. Despite the scenic delights, she’s an indoor gal *cough* couch potato *cough* and can usually be found hunched over her computer, working on YA and NA projects, including a sequel to Soul Cutter.

Feel free to stalk her here:
Blog
FB
FB Author
GR-Profile

And you can win your very own copy of Soul Cutter...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DISCIPLE, PART I -- free!

Get Disciple, Part I free at Amazon and Smashwords!


Part II and Part III also available

   

Disciple, Part IV on sale March 1st!

Look for the Disciple Half-Omnibus
collecting the first three parts, on February 1st!


Get reminders -- join L's mailing list!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How Does This Thing Work?

So, I'm new to this blog tour hosting gig. Still learning the ropes. Still waiting for requests...

Still figuring out how this all works.

So, any advice you guys can give me? If you've hosted book tours, what should I know? Anything specific I should do?

What do you guys want to see in these posts? All thoughts and ideas appreciated.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Darkness Watching

For January 14th and 15th only, Darkness Watching by Emma L. Adams will be 99 cents at Amazon.



Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...

Links:
Goodreads
Read the first chapter
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Monday, January 13, 2014

Unicorn Bell Now Open for Book Tours

It's a new year, and we here at Unicorn Bell have been rolling out our new schedule. This week and my future weeks will be open for all of you to promote your book releases.

Are you doing a blog book tour? Do you have a new or upcoming book to promote? Need a promotional push? Let me know.

How do you contact me? Email me here. (The requests address: unicornbellsubmissions [at] gmail [dot] com.) Put the phrase "Book Tour" in the subject line. You can do this at any time.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Critting SHROUDED GODDESS: world-building

SHROUDED GODDESS is a YA Fantasy.

Chapter 1

I sneak into Aryeea’s bedroom as soon as the hallway empties. Harp notes and laughter drift in the air, from the night festivities downstairs. Eyes closed and ocher hands folded over her chest, my grandmother seems at peace. Her dark hair is still as black as mine. Tribal blood pumps strong in our veins, no matter what we do to hide our descent.

As she lies, resting on a bed brought from across the sea, I can almost believe Aryeea is dead. I've always known she wouldn't live forever, but the thought of not seeing her again isn't comforting. I'll even miss the snapped orders she gives me all day long. >>Four-syllable names pretty much always get shortened down to a nickname. Plus, this one is kinda rough on the tongue. Ar-y-ee-a. More on this to come.

"Sophie, stop viewing me and close the door. I’m not dead yet." Her bark wakes me from my reverie.

As always, I turn to do her bidding. "I thought you died without saying goodbye."

"I will, but not yet. And when I do, make sure they bury my wedding braid with me. Your grandfather might need a reminder when we meet on the other side. And your uncle won't even think of it when the time comes. Now come here, cunyataee." >>you don't even want to know what I thought she called Sophie, at first glance. This is a five-syllable word and even rougher than Gramma's name. 

Last month, on my seventeenth birthday, I decided to stop reminding her I wasn't a little girl anymore. That I should be married by now doesn't matter. I'll never be cunyan to Aryeea. >>finally, a word that makes sense.

I sit next to her fragile frame. She is only half the baroness I knew in my childhood.

"I'm sending you on an errand outside the castle," she says. "Take Gavin."

I bite my lip. "We're not friends anymore." Ever since my brother drowned.

"Nonsense. If you ask, he'll go."

I doubt it. He hasn't talked to me in the last two years. "I can go into the village by myself."

"If I needed something from the village, I'd send a maid. Gavin can swim. I need you to wake up the goddess Ig."

My mouth opens and shuts. No sound comes out. I glance at the door to make sure it’s closed.

"It's time to face the water, cunyataee."

"But Uncle Hector won't agree." He has forbidden anyone from even mentioning the old lore. Losing Petro to the river only made Hector more determined to punish those who brought up the tribal myths.

"Which is why I'm sending you, not him. It's time the Peetanguara had a say in this land again. I've lost two barons-to-be since my husband died. My husband was his father's son when it came to the water goddess and Hector was carved from the same stone. Your father was more my side. He understood. And so should you." >> :( 

Aryeea always had a rebellious nature. I don't know how she managed to convince my grandfather to a Peetanguara wedding. It went against everything he believed. Maybe he just catered to her whims to keep the tribes from revolting. The plantations need workmen who know the land, but the tribes only work with family. Not that the Carayba invaders have any trouble taking red wives to their bed. They left most of their women across the sea, so Peetangas will do just fine over here. >>None of this is relevant right now. What we need to know is why the water goddess needs waking and why it's dangerous/forbidden/whatever. 

"I don't want to upset Uncle Hector." I'm tired of his threats. When grandfather died, my father received the seat. But he died soon after. My brother was too young at the time and the tribes wanted nothing to do with Hector and his Carayba wife. The Peetanguara still considered Aryeea their ruler, which is why she stayed in power these last five years. >>Also not relevant

She pats my hand. "The only reason Hector hasn't married you to Victor is because I'm still alive. Who knows how many days I have left? I don't want to leave you to their mercy when I'm gone." >>How is this relevant to the water goddess?

"Do you even know how to wake up the water goddess?" I whisper. The last Peetanguara council was killed during the invasion, when Aryeea was a cunyataee.

"You've heard all the stories. You know all the songs. I'm sure you'll figure it out." >>Well, I guess waking Ig isn't all that important or difficult...

"I'll think about it."

"No. You leave tonight."

"You ask too much of me. I'll get in trouble with Uncle Hector."

She smacks me on the head, but not strong enough to topple me off the bed. "Fine. I'll tell Father Malta he can marry you to Victor tomorrow."

Tears sting my eyes, but crying will only make her follow through with the threat. "It's late and the gates are closed." >>whining doesn't make for a sympathetic main character

"You don't need the gate. What's the name of this hill?"

"Igjameh." >> :((( 

"And what does the name mean?" she asks in a condescending tone.

I take the word apart. "Ig means water." I struggle to remember my Peetanguara lessons from years ago. "Hidden water? Because the Angappi stream flows from inside it?"

She strikes me again, this time making me stand. "The goddess Ig will drown you if you don't wise up. The elders always said the Carayba invaders built this fortress where her temple used to be. Start at the river."

I straighten my dress, making sure the bows on the lacing are knotted twice. "You won't take no for an answer, will you?"

"Not unless I'm dead."

Attempting and failing will be easier than arguing. I kiss her cheek instead of smothering her with a pillow. She might as well have asked me for the moon. Climbing to the snowy peak of Mount Ybaca might have been a more reasonable request. >>Given that Sophie pretty much just pats Gramma on the head and goes about her business, it looks like nobody takes Gramma seriously despite what was said earlier about her. So why hasn't Sophie been married off, and why would that be a problem?

"Don't die before I get back," I say. >>Gramma seems to be in good health, so what's the worry?

"Then hurry. And don't forget Gavin."

I halt with my hand on the doorknob. Will he even talk to me? It will break my heart again if he shuns me. "I'm staying inside the great wall. Why do I need him?"

"You never know what hides in dark corners. A man comes in handy sometimes. It's better to have one who looks up to you than down."

I have no idea where she gets half the things she says. I was only taller than Gavin until he turned sixteen, three years before me. And he hasn't looked at me at all in these last two years. >>so he's already shunning her...?

"I'll ask him." I always do as she says. >>She keeps saying this, but her (lack of) actions speak louder.

"And I'll distract Hector."

I don't realize what she means until I open the door. Aryeea starts screaming his name. I slip into an alcove as people rush up the stairs to answer her cries.

"Where is my son? You're all keeping him from me. Can't a mother even say goodbye?"

Uncle Hector takes his time. When he finally enters her room, most of his cronies are already there--just in case he needs witnesses to support his claim to the Barony. Not that the word of any of these Carayba baronets will have much weight with the tribes. Hector made the mistake of marrying for the wrong alliances. >>Why is Sophie still here? More proof she isn't taking this seriously.

His voice betrays his impatience. "Lady Mother, you're not dying. It's indigestion. Either put your hair up and come downstairs, or quiet down and sleep off whatever ails you."

"So good to hear you're not desperate for my title," Aryeea scoffs.

Their bickering continues, but I’m out of earshot, on my way down the wood steps. I avoid eye contact with all the drunken guests in the dining hall, but an arm hooks my waist before I reach the kitchens.

The pale white skin gives Victor away before his voice does. "Where do you think you're going, cousin?"

His lips are the same height as my ears and his whispered words raise the hairs on the back of my neck. I hate it when he calls me cousin, which is probably why he does it so often. >>just wanted to note that this is a nicely creepy image of him whispering against her neck

"Grandmother asked for water," I say.

"You're not her maid, you know."

Sour wine exudes from his breath and turns my stomach. If he stays this close, I'll lose my dinner. But that’s the least of my worries when Victor is around.

"Let me go. She's sick. She could be dying."

He wraps another arm around me. "The old hag wouldn't die even if we asked her to live forever." His fingers climb up the lacing on the left side of my dress with the agility of a golden lion tamarin. I tug on his arms, but that just makes his grasp on my breast tighter. "If you don't want to be social, cousin, I can think of many other things we could do."

I don't want his hand under my skirt again. The long dresses worn by Carayba women offer more coverage than the feathers and leaves common in tribal garb, but it is still not enough to protect me from Victor. Aryeea is too busy to save me this time. I look wildly around the room. Twenty people, but no friendly face. The other half of the so-called nobility is still upstairs. Not that any of those baronets would help me either. Their loyalty lies with my uncle, which is why they keep their daughters away from Victor. I’m not so lucky.

>>First, let's talk about names. You have a fair number of Greek/Latin-esque names here -- Sophie, Hector, Victor -- and then you throw in some alphabet soup like Igjameh and Peetanguara. And Gavin, which is a perfectly good name but doesn't fit in either. These words come from different universes. They sound like a jumble and it's distracting to have to stop and figure out how to pronounce something.

>>Second, I think this needs less irrelevant world-building and more drama. The most interesting problem (IMO) you've laid out here is that the goddess needs to be awakened. There are lots of relevant things you could have told the readers: why she's asleep, what it will take to wake her, how dangerous this is, why she needs to wake up, what she'll do once awake... you didn't tell us any of those things. 

Are local politics and Sophie's marital status important to the goddess? Or is the goddess irrelevant? Is Gramma nuts? (that could be interesting) I have no idea, by the end of this. 

>>Third, an odd detail. If the Carayba are invaders, why are they lower-ranked than the natives? (Barons outrank baronets)

Monday, January 6, 2014

First long crits of 2014

OK, so things are a little mixed up because the format change is still new. The schedule's in the sidebar but I don't have any long crit submissions yet. Let me lay out the current rules:

  1. Submit full scenes, or up to 1,500 words, for red-penning by me and public comments. I mainly crit for larger-scale issues like character, world-building, logical flow, voice, etc.
  2. Any genre is welcome. Scenes involving explicit sex or violence are also welcome, but will be posted over at Shadow of the Unicorn (with a mention here.) 
  3. Submissions are anonymous. Feel free to explain a little if this scene is deep in your story and there's background info I need to understand. 
  4. Submit at any time! (new rule!) I will stockpile submissions for my next week at the helm. If you want your crit back sooner, let me know and I will send it. It'll still be posted during my next week. 

Email submissions to unicornbellsubmissions at gmail dot com with "Long Crit" in the subject line. Please include genre and your WIP's title.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A year of Blogfests and Contest, Starting with Love is In the Air

This year at Unicorn Bell, we are going to have more fun! Yep. We want to enjoy writing again for the sake of writing. Whether it be something serious or silly, we want to write something just to see if we can. No strings or expectations attached.

How are we going to do this you ask?

Blogfests and contests!


We will have several throughout the year and anyone and everyone is invited to play. Here are some of the ideas we're tossing around...

Blogfests
Love is in the Air
Twisted Fairy Tales--genre wars
Breathe More, Talk Less--dive into the senses, little to no dialogue
Critique Partner Pitches--you've got to sell yourself!
Facebook Blog Hop--no strings attached, just a list to browse and find new friends
Action vs. Suspense

Contests (with prizes!)
100 word Drabble--use specific words
1st Paragraphs or Pages
3 line Pitches
Every Which Way the Wind Blows--Themed topic
Dialogue Challenge--Dialogue between two people, no tags. Can you make it work?
QueryCon 2014--Our annual 3 week intensive workshop and agent/editor judged query workshops

We obviously won't get to do all of them, so which ones peak your interest? Anything else you'd love to see as a blogfest? Tell us down in the comments.

Now, for our first blogfest of 2014...in honor of the quickly approaching Valentine's day...

It's a celebration of that little thing called love. Be it steamy or sweet, puppy, kitty, teen, aggravating, first kiss or final goodbye, let your scene tug at our heartstrings.

Share your lovey dovey moment on January 20th and then visit and comment on the other blogs on the list.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Loglines and Queries - Legacy of the Eye w/Crit

THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is an adult science fiction of the softer kind, with a literary bent and romantic elements. Think Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.

oh, hey, I like this. And points to everyone who know what Plato’s Republic is (I do) and EXTRA points for those who own the book (I do *G*). I’d drop ‘literary bent and romantic elements’ though. You echo this in the next sentence.

Like all children born on Demia, David grew up at the Academy without a concept of marriage and family. At eighteen, his impatience toward graduation from the Governance Department overshadows his apprehension of learning his parents’ identity. Too much information to process. You want a hook, something that snags interest Right Now. But those worries are dismissed as teenage angst on the day he notices a hidden tattoo on the woman he loves.
David realizes Catrine is next in line for a hereditary government that shouldn't exist. on a planet we don’t need this since we know this is another planet Where merit trumps birthright. Definitely too much information.  It goes against everything he learned at the Academy where merit trumps birthright. But that is just the start of David’s loyalty struggles. His newfound parents are conspiring to crown him the first acknowledged king of Demia by wedding him to Catrine.

He flees across the galaxy to avoid exposing or joining a hypocritical government he cannot change from a throne. Not sure what this means. Probably needs cut though. But David cannot hide from the hasty decisions of his youth forever. Catrine thinks neither she nor Demia can prosper without him and she devises a plan to lure him home. However, David is convinced she is just the bait in someone else’s grand ploy.
In this last paragraph, I don’t feel the consequences to his actions. Was his decision to leave a ‘hasty decision’ then? As in wrong? Back at Demia, is there civil unrest or political upheavals that only his presence would curb? Why go back if there is no reason to do so? Stay out of Catrine’s head too.
The last sentence seems to just drop off. It left me hanging.

THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is complete at 91,000 words and narrated in dual-POV. It should don’t be wishy washy, lol appeals to fans of social science fiction like The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord and planetary romances such as Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. I also work with science fiction in test tubes. Um. So you work in test tubes??

Thank you for your time and consideration (and any comments you have to offer).


BLURB: On a planet where merit trumps birthright, David struggles with his loyalties after he discovers the woman he loves will rule--because of legacy. When he uncovers his parents' ploy to crown him the first king of Demia, David flees across the galaxy to avoid exposing or joining a hypocritical government he cannot change from a throne. Don’t understand these last three words. But he cannot hide from the hasty decisions of his youth forever. The woman he still loves thinks neither she nor Demia can prosper without him and she devises a plan to lure him home. However, David is convinced she is just the bait in someone else’s grand ploy.


TAGLINE: Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.


Final version:

THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is adult science fiction of the softer kind. Think Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.

Like all children born on Demia, David grew up without a concept of marriage and family. At eighteen, on the day of his graduation from the Academy, he learns his parent’s identity and their plans for him.  And notices a hidden tattoo on the woman he loves, proclaiming her royal.

David realizes Catrine is next in line for a crown that shouldn't exist. Where merit trumps birthright, it goes against everything he learned at the Academy. Shocked to his core, he learns of his parent’s intention to wed him to Catrine. And so become the first king of Demia.

He flees across the galaxy to avoid joining a government he cannot change and a policy of injustice he cannot condone (there is better conflict probably) When he learns that Catrine wants him to return, he believes she is only the bait in a game of politics.  Here is where you add the Big Consequence to his actions.


THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is complete at 91,000 words. It appeals to fans of social science fiction like The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord and planetary romances such as Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher.

BLURB: I'd make the blurb the same as the meat of the query:

Like all children born on Demia, David grew up without a concept of marriage and family. At eighteen, on the day of his graduation from the Academy, he learns his parent’s identity and their plans for him.  And notices a hidden tattoo on the woman he loves, proclaiming her royal.

David realizes Catrine is next in line for a crown that shouldn't exist. Where merit trumps birthright, it goes against everything he learned at the AcademyShocked to his core, he learns of his parent’s intention to wed him to Catrine. And so become the first king of Demia.

He flees across the galaxy to avoid joining a government he cannot change and a policy of injustice he cannot condone. When he learns that Catrine wants him to return, he believes she is only the bait in a game of politics.  Big Consequence Here.

TAGLINE: Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.



Loglines and Queries - Legacy of the Eye, Original

(sorry about the delay. I took a couple of sick days and am only now stumbling back to the computer. Again, I apologize for the delay)
Original:
Query:
THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is an adult science fiction of the softer kind, with a literary bent and romantic elements. Think Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.

Like all children born on Demia, David grew up at the Academy without concepts of marriage and family. At eighteen, his impatience toward graduation from the Governance Department overshadows his apprehension of learning his parents’ identity. But those worries are dismissed as teenage angst on the day he notices a hidden tattoo on the woman he loves.

David realizes Catrine is next in line for a hereditary government that shouldn't exist on a planet where merit trumps birthright. It goes against everything he learned at the Academy. But that is just the start of David’s loyalty struggles. His newfound parents are conspiring to crown him the first acknowledged king of Demia by wedding him to Catrine.

He flees across the galaxy to avoid exposing or joining a hypocritical government he cannot change from a throne. But David cannot hide from the hasty decisions of his youth forever. Catrine thinks neither she nor Demia can prosper without him and she devises a plan to lure him home. However, David is convinced she is just the bait in someone else’s grand ploy.

THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is complete at 91,000 words and narrated in dual-POV. It should appeal to fans of social science fiction like The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord and planetary romances such as Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. I also work with science fiction in test tubes.

Thank you for your time and consideration (and any comments you have to offer).


BLURB: On a planet where merit trumps birthright, David struggles with his loyalties after he discovers the woman he loves will rule--because of legacy. When he uncovers his parents' ploy to crown him the first king of Demia, David flees across the galaxy to avoid exposing or joining a hypocritical government he cannot change from a throne. But he cannot hide from the hasty decisions of his youth forever. The woman he still loves thinks neither she nor Demia can prosper without him and she devises a plan to lure him home. However, David is convinced she is just the bait in someone else’s grand ploy.


TAGLINE: Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic.