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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On Joining NaNoWriMo While Knowing the Odds are Stacked Against Me

Once again, I've managed to get the week right before one of the NaNoWriMo months.

I've actually decided to do NaNo yesterday. It was a serious debate for me. I actually wasn't going to write at all for the rest of the year. But you know what my muse does when I say I'm not going to write?

She makes me want to write.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Write.

While editing three books for publishing.

While importing and selling 5000 pairs of shoes.

And while moving house.

Why, one might ask, would I be so insane as to take all this on my plate? Well, the simple answer is that I want to publish three books, preferably before the end of this year. Secondly, I want to write, because writing makes me happy. The shoes, while they make me happy (come on. SHOES. ARE. MY. DAY JOB.), I don't really have a choice about. Same about moving house. (I'm not going to go into that, because explaining why we have to move house will take up a whole week.)

But anyway, the big thing is that made me decide to NaNo after all was that writing makes me happy. It's one of the few activities in my life that fulfills me as a person.

That's really why I'm doing it. Not because I want to write 50k words before December. Not because I like the prestige of winning NaNo.

Which is good, because I've won twice out of seven attempts. Okay I should mention that I would have won in July if not for the shoe business taking off in such a huge way that I had zero time to write. As in, I slept when I wasn't working and worked when I wasn't sleeping.

Technically, this shouldn't be the case now. Although it could be. So for now, my goal isn't so much to write 50k as to write a bit every day and see how far I get.

But that's okay. Because that's what NaNo's really about. Getting words down. Even if I only hit 10k, it's still 10k more than what I would have if I kept to my decision not to write again until January. And given the sheer amount of stuff I have to get done, it'll still be an achievement.

More than that, I'm hoping that it'll be 10k of sheer happiness and escapism. Right now, I really need it.

What about you? Doing NaNo? Please feel free to buddy up with me. User name is iceangel.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Agent and Writer Sara Nego Says...

Hello, writers and thanks, Beth, for having me on today. For those that don't know me I'm a literary agent with Corvisiero Agency and recently announced I'll be self-publishing my debut novel in December. Exciting times for sure, but it also opens up a lot of questions. Namely, why would an agent self-publish.

I shared my path to publication on Wednesday, but here's a brief recap: I queried the book, no one wanted a dystopian, decided to self-publish, boss lady asked to represent it, got an offer from a small press, politely declined offer, still self-publishing.

So yes, I did get an offer from a very lovely publishing house. They've put out some great books and I would have considered myself in excellent hands if I had decided to sign with them. But I didn't. Because it wasn't the right decision for me. But how will you know if an offer is right for you?

Know your strengths
For me, I know marketing. It's something I've done a lot of and I continue to stay on top of marketing trends and read the latest marketing books. It's a bit of a passion of mine. I'm also a spreadsheet ninja, making me a rare creative type who also likes excel. Combining these two skills means I can handle the marketing/PR aspect of a book release. Knowing this allowed me to consider offers from houses that don't have a strong marketing presence.

Know your weaknesses
I'm bad at making decisions for myself. I can dish out advice to authors all day long, in fact, I do. But deciding on a final cover design or picking a proofreader for myself is the type of decision that freezes me in panic. What if I make the wrong decision? So knowing a publisher would make these decisions for me was a relief. Also, as marketing savvy as I am, I know that getting my book into physical stores is not in my skill set. So it was important to me to find a publisher that had a good distribution plan and network, with a track record of store placement.

Know your budget
Self publishing a book the right way is not a cheap endeavor. Yes, I know there are ways to do it for almost nothing, but I don't understand making that decision. After spending so much time carefully crafting every word, why would you doom your book by skimping on editing and cover design? Publishers, of course, cover all of this. But don't be fooled into thinking a publisher covers everything. You'll still may need to fork over some expenses such as travel costs, swag and other incidentals. Before you sign, know exactly what the publisher will cover and what will be left to you.

Know your plans
What does this book look like to you? How do you see it? What's in store for these characters and this world. If you are planning to write an 11-book series based around these characters, make sure you find a publisher that supports those types of projects, even if they don't want to sign all 11 books right now. Kelsie Macke is in a band with her husband and she wanted to release a soundtrack with her book. She found a publisher that would help make that happen and tie the two together. Not all publishers would have done that. Knowing your plans keeps you from ending up with a publisher who can't get you there.

Know yourself
Now is the time to be truly honest with yourself. What end result is going fulfill you as a writer? If you know that you aren't going to feel like a real author until you can find your book at a Barnes & Noble, then make sure that's what you're getting from your publisher. If you want professional reviews, a booth at BEA, a high profile blog tour, or whatever else, get it in the contract. Now, we all want lots of things. This isn't about trivial want. This is about what you need as a writer. Will you have regrets if x, y, and z don't happen? Then make sure you find a publisher who can make those happen.

There is no right answer
What's right for me may be awful for you and vice versa. If there's anything I've learned since leaping into this industry it's that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of 'right answers' out there. It's your responsibility as an author to figure out what yours is.

http://www.sarahnegovetich.com/p/author.html

Sarah Negovetich knows you don't know how to pronounce her name and she's okay with that.

Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.

Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.

Her debut novel, Rite of Rejection, a YA Dystopian, releases December 4th, 2014. You can learn more about Sarah and her books at www.SarahNegovetich.com.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Roche Hotel

     The Roche Hotel
Season One
A serial romantic comedy by Mysti Parker
            After her husband ditches her for a blonde actress wannabe, Jane Seymour needs a job that pays the rent. The struggling Roche Hotel needs a miracle. With the former owner’s wife butting her nose into the renovations and new owners who are in way over their heads, Jane may be the answer to their prayers. Sure, she can handle The Roche Hotel’s quirky staff. But, can this skittish divorcee keep it all together when handsome Henry the Donut Guy makes his first delivery? This collection of serial fiction stories is a Tudorific romantic comedy that will leave you laughing out loud and hungry for more.

****
THEY say a lot of things, don’t they? Like don’t wear white after Labor Day or don’t fry bacon with your shirt off (that’s probably good advice, come to think of it). Most of what THEY say goes right in one ear and out the other. But, in terms of writing, when THEY say “write what you know”, it makes a lot of sense. So, that’s where The Roche Hotel got its start—from my own experience working in a hotel way back in the ‘90s.
Many of these first 10 episodes are based on some very real incidents that happened during my days as a front desk clerk in a little mid-priced hotel. Sure, a lot of stuff’s made up purely from my crazy imagination, but there were 5:00 AM donuts—delicious being fresh from the bakery. Henry the Donut Guy—not real, but I wouldn’t have argued one bit if he had been! Among the many other true-to-life items that appear at the Roche Hotel are a popcorn machine, a Muzak (think elevator music) that never played at the right volume, at least one “lady of the night”, and a dead body.

To discover all those things for yourself, from now until release day on October 15, you can pre-order your copy of The Roche Hotel, Season One for just $0.99 on Amazon Kindle! After that, the price goes up to $1.99, so make your reservation now and save a buck!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Into The Fire Excerpt


Blurb:
In one month, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die. But until then, she plans to enjoy every look, touch and kiss with her boyfriend Logan, the new boy in Ashlan Falls. Cara is a descendant of the mythical Phoenix bird, and her rebirth is nearing. But first, she must die and forget all that she knew before, including Logan's face, his laugh, and the way he says her name. With precious little time left for the two of them, Cara does all she can to savor every moment, unwittingly drawing a Phoenix hunter to her doorstep with every move.

Excerpt:
In one month, I’m going to die and be reborn from my own ashes. I’ll forget everything and nearly everyone I know. But I can’t worry about that right now. Jeremy needs me, and I need him to remember. Please remember me.
The fire alarm screeches, making me jump, and thick smoke wafts up from the basement. This is more than Jeremy setting his pillow on fire again. It’s time. He’s going to be reborn. Mom and I exchange a look, and the panic that washes over her face sends my heart racing. “He’ll be fine,” she says, but I’m not sure if she’s trying to convince me or herself. We rush downstairs to find Jeremy standing next to his bed, staring at his arms, already beginning to ripple with the first signs of fire. I don’t know which of us is more freaked out right now.
Mom grabs the broom we’ve kept by the stairs for just this occasion, and she smashes it against the blaring fire alarm, sending it crashing to the floor. “Remove the batteries, and hurry. The last thing we need is the fire department showing up,” she says as she picks up the alarm and shoves it into my hands.
I scramble to get the battery compartment to open, but my hands are shaking so much I can’t get the panel off. Mom shoots me a look. The screeching must be making her nerves worse, just like it’s doing to me. I scream, putting all my fear and frustration into that stupid alarm. The compartment finally opens, and I yank the batteries out, tossing them and the alarm to the ground. I’m already breathing heavily and the worst is still to come. I can smell Jeremy’s flesh burning, reminding me that my baby brother is dying.
“We have to get him to the bathtub before he burns the whole room down.” Mom’s voice is calm, and she’s already leading Jeremy to the bathroom. I follow, not having a clue what to do or how to help. He steps into the tub and stares at Mom. The expression on his face reminds me of when he was four years old and he’d crawl into bed with me after having a bad dream. If only I knew how to comfort him now.
“Relax, Jeremy. The flames won’t harm you. Keep telling yourself that. There’s no pain during a rebirth, and your body will know what to do on its own. Don’t fight it.” Even though her voice is steady and reassuring, Mom’s eyes fill with tears. She’s scared for Jeremy.
“Remember,” he chokes out. The word is followed by a puff of smoke.
“I promise you’ll remember us.” Mom forces a smile, the strain of her sorrow evident in the lines of her face.
The only people he’ll remember when he’s reborn will be our kind, the Phoenixes. Everyone else will be a stranger to him, no matter how close they once were. Jeremy won’t even remember me as anything other than his sister. He’ll know we’re related, but all those memories...they’ll be gone. I’ll mean virtually nothing to the one person who should know me best in this world. My insides lurch as Jeremy studies my face like he’s trying to take in every detail. I try to tell him I love him, but the words get caught in my throat.
Mom reaches for his hand, but flames rise from his fingers and palm. She grabs the shower curtain, yanking it down before it catches fire.
I bite my tongue to hold back my tears as the flames spread up Jeremy’s arms and across his chest. They dance and flicker until only his head is visible. I step closer, wanting the fire to consume me too. It has to be better than the agony of knowing I’m going to lose everything, starting with Jeremy.
“I’m so proud of you, Jeremy.” Mom’s eyes are puffy and red as she forces herself to coach him through this.
I’m terrified for Jeremy but jealous at the same time. He’s my little brother, but in a way, going through the rebirthing process makes him the older one now. I shudder as flames shoot from where Jeremy’s eyes used to be. It’s like something straight out of a horror movie. My eyes close, unable to watch anymore. When I force them open again, Jeremy is gone. Nothing but a pile of ashes remains.
I can barely breathe thanks to the hollow feeling in my chest, but I force myself to ask, “What’s going to happen?” I never stopped to think about the whole rising out of the ashes part. I kind of assumed that was a metaphorical thing, that the flames would die out and he’d still be standing there—only different somehow. But Jeremy is gone, and it feels like he took a part of me with him.
Mom squeezes my hand. “It will be okay. Give him time.” She bites her lower lip, probably to stop it from shaking.
My heart hammers with each passing second. Why is this taking so long? I count in my head. Forty-five seconds. Fifty. Fifty-five. The tension in the air is strangling me, and if I have to wait much longer, my heart is going to burst from my chest. “Jer,” I choke out. The ashes stir and begin to take shape. “Jeremy?” Steaming hot tears burn my eyes as I stare at the ashes and silently pray that my brother is all right. My nails dig into my palms, and I don’t breathe until Jeremy’s lying in the bathtub in the same pajamas he was wearing when this began. I swallow the lump in my throat, but I can’t speak. I’m frozen, wondering what he’ll remember and if he’s really okay. I’m afraid to touch him. Afraid he’s not real.
Mom breathes out long and hard and relief washes over her features. She reaches for Jeremy’s hand, but he backs away. A vague recognition flashes across his face, but there’s nothing behind it—no feeling. He knows who we are, but it’s clear he doesn’t remember much else, like the fact that he loves us and we love him. I knew this would happen, but my God, it’s killing me.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Birth-Phoenix-Ashelyn-Drake-ebook/dp/B00L77YTS4
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/into-the-fire-ashelyn-drake/1119917462?ean=9781939765017
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17452685-into-the-fire

Ashelyn Drake:
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. Drake also writes speculative fiction as Kelly Hashway.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AshelynDrake

Friday, October 17, 2014

30 Seconds

Today Chrys Fey is joining us to tell us a bit about her newest release, 30 Seconds, and her newest favorite TV show. And of course a bit about her writing process and publishing experience...

1. Where did the initial idea for 30 Seconds come from?

I had a dream that I was sitting cross-legged on a swivel chair, spinning wildly to pounding rock music with my eyes closed. Suddenly, my fast rotation stopped and lips touched mine. I opened my eyes to see a hot cop in full uniform. “I shouldn't have done that,” he said and left. I immediately woke up and pondered a story idea about a woman who falls in love with a cop even though she knows she shouldn't. That’s when Dani and Blake sauntered into my imagination. My dream even made it as a scene in 30 Seconds.

2. Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

How difficult it is to get an agent. I have been approaching agents for the first book in a series off and on for seven years and I still don't have one. It’s a good thing I didn't need one to submit to The Wild Rose Press or else I wouldn't be published at all.

3. If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

I was twelve when I started writing with the goal of one day being published, so I would tell myself to be patient. If I could have, I would've been published at the age of twelve and that might've been a disaster. I now believe things happen when they do for a reason, so...for all the aspiring writers out there...be patient!

4. Plotter or pantster?

I'm a little of both. I always write a complete outline whenever I get a new story idea. I even include conversations so I won't forget dialogue. When I'm writing though, I allow myself to change things up if I get a better idea, or if my characters tell me to do something different. If my characters speak, I do as they say! After all, I'm writing their story.

5. Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

Headphones are usually snug over my ears no matter how noisy or quiet the room is around me.

6. Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you'd never find a thing?

I tend to get a little OCD when it comes to my desk and my papers. I like things to be in order so I can find them quickly and easily. But I do love to decorate it for every holiday. Right now I have a pumpkin perched on the corner of my desk.

7. What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

How to Get Away with Murder, the TV show, is my current obsession. I love Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, and the twists are exciting!

30 Seconds

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?







Chrys Fey

Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she's writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses--especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.

30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.






Links:

The Wild Rose Press
NOOK
KOBO
Amazon 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#BAD: Inequality

In case you did not know, today is Blog Action Day.

Download me and add me to your Blog Action Day post. Please make sure you link back to Blog Action Day www.blogactionday.org

Blog Action Day has been around since 2007. This year's topic is inequality.

As writers, we know from inequality. It's a great engine for conflict in any sort of narrative. But fiction is different than real life.

We can also shine light on such things, so as to make our readers more aware of the inequalities in the world. If we do it right, our readers won't even know that we're "teaching" them. Because great literature tells stories, it doesn't preach.

If you have not already joined in, there's still time. You have all day to join the conversation.

What does inequality mean to you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spaceship Earth

So, my week kind of snuck up on me. Oops.

(My next week is December 8-12. If anyone has a book they'd like to promote then, shoot me an email at the addy listed on the sidebar.)

So, to get the writerly juices flowing (NaNo is less than a month away!), I'm offering up some questions. Let them take you where they will, and if they lead to a story, they've done their job.

Right, so...

What if the Earth (and the entire solar system for that matter) is just one giant spaceship taking humanity... someplace...?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Soulless

Today we welcome Crystal Collier to Unicorn Bell. Her follow up to Moonless is out now. She was game to answer my questions, and there's also a giveaway...

Where did the initial idea for Soulless come from?

This is the second book in the Maiden of Time series (Moonless, Soulless, Timeless), a series that started as a sweet little stand alone (romance) book in 2002. It was the tail end of a dream and a whirlwind writing experience spurred on by the first two words: Blue eyes. Suddenly there were tragic creatures under the moonless sky who ached to consume their counterparts, the Passionate, and whose only hope of escape from their eternal hunger was being vanquished by a mysterious, blue-eyed man.

Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

How little cheese publishers are throwing at me. Kidding. Sort of. You always believe once you’ve been published, you’ve made it. The truth is, it’s a zen process that takes decades even after that first, world-stopping moment of “Oh my gosh! I’m published!” You have to stock your own cheese. For a long time.

If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

If I could speak to that 3 year old girl who was telling stories through her pictures, I’d say, “Keep the creativity alive. Read. Write. Study. Practice.”

Plotter or panster?

Every time someone asks this question I get a mental image of a large floral planter. (Merge the words and you’ll get my meaning.) I’m an in-betweener. I plot the story arc, character arc and major turning points. I know the characters before I start the novel, then I set them free…but only within the fences I’ve established. (Characters can be so willful.)

Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

I'll take whatever I can get. I write well to silence. I write well to noise. I write well to music…unless it’s rap or heavy metal.

Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you'd never find a thing?

I wish you could see the dozens of notes scattered out in front of me, scrawled across napkins, receipts, wrappers… They're in my periphery, reminding me of the hundreds of creative thoughts that still need to be documented.

What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

Doctor Who, but only when he’s played by Matt Smith. Oh my goodness! Best. Doctor. Ever! He makes me laugh, and smile, and revel in my own geekdom.



Soulless

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.






Monday, October 13, 2014

Kickstarter for Authors

Did you know that there's a Kickstarter just for authors?

I was perusing my usual blogs one day when one of the posts was about an author who was using the site. And I thought that perhaps the rest of you might be interested to know that such a thing exists.

It's called Pubslush. There's some info about it here.

Pubslush logo

So, if you're looking for funding, there's a place for you. And perhaps we should take a look ourselves to help some up and coming authors get their novels out there. Because we need to help each other, and this is another way to do that.

What do you think? Ever heard of Pubslush before? Think you'll try them out now that you have?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

This week: long crits return

It's my turn to host here at Unicorn Bell, so that means long form crits! If you have a scene or two -- up to 1,500 words -- that you'd like critiqued, send it on in to unicornbellsubmissions at Gmail. Open to any genre, YA/NA/adult, and it does not have to be the opening scene.

Please include your WIP's title, genre, and any info the readers need to know if this scene comes late in the story. Specific questions welcome.

I am currently out of town so crits will be posted starting Wednesday.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Query #3 - Grave Beginings

Oh WELLLL. Maybe I’ll send this querier MY blurb for crittering next time. In fact....

Original -

Thirteen...
As far as numbers go, it isn't a great one. Hell, it's not even a good one and Vincent Graves is going to find out just how unlucky of a number it can be. 

Because someone, or something, is killing people in the Empire state, and whatever it is, it gives people everything they ever desired and more. And it's the more that's the problem! 

Well...it's one of the problems. 

Vincent's investigation also seems to have drawn the attention of a relentless FBI agent and then there's the little bit where he has only thirteen hours to solve the case, or he dies. 

Talk about your literal deadlines... 

...No pressure. 

By the end of this case Vincent will come to understand the meaning of an age old proverb: Be careful what you wish for - because you just might get it!

My Critique – (not much to crit here but I’ll give it a whirl)

Thirteen...
As far as numbers go, it isn't a great one. Hell, it's not even a good one
, and Vincent Graves is going to find out just how unlucky of a number thirteen is. can be

Because someone, or something,
Because someone—or something—is killing people My preference (okay, my editor’s preference) is to knock out the commas and insert em dashes in the Empire state, and whatever it is , it gives grants people everything they ever desired and more. And it's the more that's the problem! 

Well.... It's one of the problems. 

Vincent's investigation also seems to have drawns the attention of a relentless FBI agent. aAnd then there's the little bit where he has only thirteen hours to solve the case, delete comma or he dies. 

Talk about your literal deadlines... My opinion: use periods not ellipses here.

...cut ellipses No pressure. 

By the end of this case, Vincent will come to understand the meaning of an age-old proverb: Be careful what you wish for - because you just might get it
! use periods. Let your words express the exclamation point.

The last line...darn, if only you could find a way to twist it. People expect and are familiar with the cliché/trope.  It’d really pop if you could weave it into something unexpected. Start out with “Be careful what you wish for.” Then add the kicker. 

Below are my poor examples:

Unless death is your desire.
Because death isn’t usually on that list.
Because even death has its limits.

Meh. You know what I mean.


If you haven’t read this self-published author’s book, Grave Beginnings, WTH are you waiting for? I compare it to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and even go so far to say it’s better than his last book, Skin Game. Go. Find. Try sample. Buy. Yessssss.













Followers?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Query - Shrouded Goddess, Part II

Original, Part II - 

Seventeen-year-old Sophie spends her days hiding her tribal heritage and fending off her baron-to-be cousin's groping attentions. She yearns for the freedom the tribes enjoyed before the Easterners invaded from across the sea.

According to her grandmother, the only way to save the tribes from Sophie’s ravaging uncle is by awakening the Water Goddess, whom no one has seen since the invasion. All Sophie has to guide her are the old stories and songs her grandmother taught her. And Gavin, of course. Sophie used to think he would save her from a forced wedding to her cousin, but her uncle rewarded Gavin's marriage aspirations to Sophie with a public flogging and his baronet father executed for treason.

Finding the Water Goddess is the easy part; getting help isn't. Not only is the goddess powerless, she is more interested in fashion than politics. Her advice is for Sophie to seek help elsewhere, and that’s not a reply anyone wants to hear. Sophie's only hope to save the tribes and herself is to use her unexpected water-controlling powers to find another Goddess, one nobody knew existed, in a land with more scars than her uncle can lash out onto those who oppose him.


My Critique, Part II:

Seventeen-year-old Sophie spends her days hiding her tribal heritage and fending off her baron-to-be cousin's groping attentions. She yearns for the freedom the tribes enjoyed before the Easterners invaded from across the sea.

According to her grandmother, Nice touch the only way to save the tribes from Sophie’s ravaging uncle is by to awakening the Water Goddess, who no one’s seen since vanished after the invasion. All Sophie has to guide her are the old stories and songs her grandmother taught her. And Gavin, of course. Sophie used to think thought he wcould save her from a forced wedding to her cousin,. But her uncle rewarded Gavin's marriage aspirations to Sophie with a public flogging and had his baronet father executed for treason.


Finding the Water Goddess is the easy part; getting help isn't. Excellent. Not only is the goddess powerless, she is more interested in fashion than politics. Her advice is for Sophie to seek help elsewhere, and that’s not a reply anyone wants to hear. Instead of a small dose of snark here, heap it on. Suggestion: She shrugs and tells Sophie to find another Goddess to help. She’s busy checking out [insert something like: sequined high heels. Or skin-tight jeans, etc] Sophie's only hope to save the tribes and herself is to use her unexpected water-controlling powers to find another Goddess, one nobody knew existed, in a land with more scars than her uncle can lash out onto those who oppose him. 
This phrase is a little bit clunky.


I see more Voice, more personality in this version. 

Looking for opinions. Got any?

Query #2 - Shrouded Goddess

Original:
Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula sings like the rainforest bird she was named after and yearns for the family-based communities the local tribes enjoyed before the blond Easterners invaded from across the sea. But Sophie is part of the so-called Easterner nobility, who marry red wives to recruit native laborers for the sugarcane fields. So she spends her days hiding her tribal heritage and fending off her cousin's groping.

Sophie thinks her best friend Gavin can save her from a forced wedding to her cousin, even though her uncle rewarded Gavin's marriage aspirations to Sophie by publicly flogging him and executing his father for treason. But before Gavin can help Sophie flee her family, she awakens the Water Goddess who disappeared after the Easterner invasion--the tribes’ only hope for peace.

Except, this Goddess turns out to be more interested in Easterner fashion than what Sophie’s uncle is doing to the rainforest and the tribes. Apart from bestowing water-controlling powers on Sophie, the deity’s advice is to seek help elsewhere. Now Sophie can’t just hide from her family and live a peaceful life with Gavin.

Either Sophie uses her new powers to confront the Easterners or she seeks another Goddess, one nobody knew existed, and convinces her to bring peace to a land with more scars than Sophie’s uncle can lash out onto those who oppose him.

SHROUDED GODDESS is a 67,000 word YA fantasy set in a world that mirrors South America during the Portuguese colonization of the 16th century. With Avatar waterbending in the rainforest, this story will appeal to fans of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.


My Critique:

Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula sings like the a rainforest bird she was named after and yearns for the family-based communities the local tribes enjoyed what did the local tribes do that she enjoyed? Dancing? Gardening? Worship a deity? At this point, I don’t know. There is nothing to nail me to the story, no familiarity. before the blond Easterners invaded from across the sea. But Sophie is part of the so-called Easterner nobility, She is Easterner but laments their invasion? I am confused. who marry red wives what is a red wife? to recruit native laborers for the sugarcane fields. Again, very confused. The Easterners marry red wives to “recruit” workers for the cane fields? So she spends her days hiding her tribal heritage so she is a half-breed? Part Easterner and tribe? Why? Because she is part of both worlds? and fending off her cousin's groping.

This is the important information boiled down:
Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula sings like a rainforest bird as she walks through her beloved trees. If only she had more time and help to keep them safe. Instead, she fends off her cousin’s marriage proposal and worries that her rainforest will give way to abhorrent sugarcane fields.

Sophie thinks her best friend Gavin can save her from a forced wedding to marriage to her cousin, even though her uncle rewarded Gavin's marriage aspirations to Sophie by publicly flogging him and executing his father for treason. I’d simplify this sentence. “Sophie hopes Gavin can save her from a forced marriage to her cousin. But not if her uncle has anything to say about it. He had Gavin flogged and executed his father for treason. But before Gavin can help Sophie flee her family, she awakens the Water Goddess who disappeared after the Easterner invasion--the tribes’ only hope for peace. Okay, where did the Water Goddess come from?

Boiled down:
She hopes Gavin, her best friend, can save her from a forced marriage. But not if her uncle has anything to say about it. By his order, Gavin is flogged and he had his father executed for treason. Sophie’s spirits die like a guttering candle.Then, she awakens the Water Goddess with/by [fill in here]

Except, this Goddess turns out to be more interested in Easterner fashion than what Sophie’s uncle is doing to the rainforest and the tribes. An interesting premise but I think you can express differently. Apart from bestowing water-controlling powers on Sophie, the deity’s advice is to seek help elsewhere. Now Sophie can’t just hide from her family and live a peaceful life with Gavin. Again, confusing.

Boiled down:
But the Goddess is more interested in fashion than the rainforest and the people who live there. She can’t be bothered with helping directly. The most the Goddess does is give Sophie power over water. But that complicates her plan to run away and live in peace.

Either Sophie uses her new powers to confront the Easterners or she seeks another Goddess, one nobody knew existed, and convinces her to bring peace to a land with more scars than Sophie’s uncle can lash out onto those who oppose him. A very long sentence.

Boiled down:

Sophie can use her new powers to confront her uncle but that might lead to a confrontation she can’t control. If only another Goddess existed, one no one knows about.

SHROUDED GODDESS is a 67,000 word YA fantasy set in a world that mirrors South America during the Portuguese colonization of the 16th century. With Avatar waterbending in the rainforest, this story will appeal to fans of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Good images and similarities.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Summary: I'm not sure you should get into the weeds about Easterners, red wives,  and tribes. Keep it simple.

Readers? Any advice?