Saturday, December 4, 2010


GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Seventeen year old Kahlua finds her normal life overshadowed by a new paranormal one when she discovers that she's a nephilim - the bastard offspring of a fallen angel and a mortal woman. The taint of mixed blood runs in Kahlua's veins, and a recently unleashed demon is bent on spilling it.

I knew at a young age it wasn't normal for Mom to keep a suitcase by the front door, with stern instructions never to look inside. Her unexplained travels always ended with an attempt at normalcy when she came back. I'm adaptable, so I put all the odd information about Mom in the I'll-think-about-that-later file, which I managed to keep closed until I was seventeen. Still, I should've been prepared when I got the instant message that changed my life.

I was in my bedroom, surfing Facebook on Mom's borrowed Macbook. There was chemistry homework spread around me, but we'd been successfully ignoring each other for an hour. Dad was too busy stressing over Mom's absence to worry about my chem grade. I could tell from the volume of the downstairs TV that he was doing his calm version of panicking.

I coveted my time alone with the Mac, even if it did include the background static of worrying about Mom. A week had passed since the night she'd snuck into my room to watch me for a moment. It was part of her ritual before leaving, and the sound of my bedroom door shutting behind her the prelude to days of anxious waiting. I hadn't jumped to horrific conclusions yet. I wanted to believe that if something were wrong, I'd know somehow.


spirecorporation said...

Like the tag-line. That kind of story is super popular now. I bet you get a bid! Way to go!

Nora Coon said...

I hope there's a really good reason for this girl to be named Kahlua.

The setup is definitely intriguing, and I like the voice. I might cut some of the brand names - would it lose anything if she were surfing the internet on her mom's borrowed laptop?

Holly Bodger said...

The logline is missing a lot of major elements. We have an inciting incident and an antagonist but no goal or consequences.

The first line is saying that she keeps stern instructions in or next to the suitcase. I don't think this is what you mean!

I'm not sure what I think about the first paragraph otherwise. It's acting like both a mini-prologue and backstory at the same time. I personally prefer this kind of thing to come with the action, rather than at the beginning but others might like it this way.

Barbara said...

The logline doesn't tell me much. Who is the demon and why does he want to kill her?

The excerpt was all explanation and no story. Nothing happened, so there's nothing to pull me in or draw me along. Perhaps start somewhere else?

And I wonder why she's named Kahlua. It makes it hard for me to take her seriously.

macaronipants said...

The writing is fantastic! I am totally hooked. I'm with the others in that I would revise the logline if needed during the query process.

Tsiamon said...

I second the motion to avoid bringing brand names into a story. You date yourself that way. Besides, 'facebook' and 'macbook' are close together and the fact that they both end in 'book' bothers me. I personally don't like reusing the same word in the same sentence, if at all avoidable.

At the end of your first paragraph, you mention an instant message that changes her life, but haven't even gotten to that by the end of the third. People have suggestion including some action in this section, so why not have her receive the text right away, and then incorporate the rest of this exposition later on?

Vicki Schultz said...

I know the logline is missing elements, but it sounds like a really fun story. Your excerpt didn't hook me, though. I agree with Tsiamon that you should start with the IM. Otherwise it's a lot of back story. I was thrown by the first sentence that said it wasn't normal for her mom to leave her suitcase by the door, but then went on to talk about how she left all the time. Did you mean she knew it wasn't normal since none of her friends' parents did it, but her mom was different? I loved how she and her homework had been successfully ignoring each other. Nice voice. Best of luck!

bigblackcat97 said...

Thanks guys - good points about dating the ms with brand names. And I had caught the "book" echo with "face" and "mac" before and didn't quite like it, so it's good to know that someone else got tripped up on that as well, it'll take a beating on the next round of edits.

And yes, there's a good reason to be named Kahlua - she's the offspring of a mortal woman and a fallen angel (demon)... so I'm sure you can put two and two together on that one.

As far as no action right off - the very next line after "... I'd know it somehow" is "And that's when the IM popped up, and proved in a nasty way that I'm not psychic." But that put me over the word limit, so I had to cut it in order to get by the ultra vigilant Authoress Email Bot.

Thanks for the compliment macaronipants! Much appreciated :)

Anonymous said...

Just a comment -- there is no such thing as "a neplilim". Nephilim is plural. The singular would be nephil. The "im" ending in Hebrew is equivalent to an "s" ending in English.

Other than that, I have nothing to add to prior commenters, except that I don't see what the name Kahlua has to do with fallen angels. When I see Kahlua, I think alcohol.

Cat said...

I like the voice in the excerpt but think it could be tightened a bit more. I'd read on for a while to see where this leads because I like the premise of the logline. When you plan to submit, you need to rewrite the logline though. There is nothing in it about her goals and what's at stake (beside getting killed that is)

bigblackcat97 said...

Clearly I need to brush up on my Hebrew. While I'm sure you're right, I don't think I'll call her a nephil - it makes her sound like a sore inside your nostril.

As far as being named Kahlua - I imagine it would take a bit of alcoholic lubrication to entice a woman to sleep with a demon, so to commemorate that night, Mamma named her child after the drink of choice.

Cat - the logline I have here isn't the "hook" of my query. It's more of tagline that I used for the purposes of this contest. You're right though, I don't think it would work in a query.

Thanks for commenting!

R.C. Lewis said...

I like the subtle notes of how the family deals with a very strange sort of dysfunction--dad's "calm version of panicking" and Kahlua's "background static of worrying." And you definitely succeeded at making me want to know what Mom's been up to all this time.

beth said...


Line comments:
I like the "successfully ignoring each other" line :)

The opening feels a tad slow, but overall it's well written and interesting.

Girl Friday said...

Your logline isn't specific enough for me, it makes it sound like any other paranormal novel. I like the info on the first page and it makes me want to read on, but I think it could be tightened and rearranged a bit to flow better and cut to the chase quicker, you repeat things a bit.

bigblackcat97 said...

So I just now read Authoress' comment on last week's Fri. blog entry saying she preferred we didn't comment on our own stuff! Sorry about that!

In any case - I am getting good feedback here, so thanks! Overall feel is that I need to get moving faster, and from what I'm seeing in the other entries here, that's a good point.

KLM said...

I bid to read the first 25 pages.
Kate McKean
Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

Sarah said...

Intrigued by the writing - I bid 50 pages.
- Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Tina said...

I bid 65 pages.

--Tina Wexler, ICM

KLM said...

I bid 75.
Kate McKean
Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

B.Lois said...

The logline left me wondering what she was going to do with her newfound knowledge. The excerpt definitely hooked me though.

Authoress said...


Stacy Whitman said...

The voice was quite nice, and the feeling of anxiety in Kahlua's house is nicely told--the pacing of exposition interspersed with in-scene "calm panicking" works well.

The thing about angels and their derivation, though, is to keep in mind that you want to avoid jumping on bandwagons that have already gotten big. Angels, fallen angels, people who are half angel half vampire--they're all kind of a growing subgenre *right* now. Even if it's contracted right away, it wouldn't be published until at least 2012, which would probably be after the trend is over.

But you can, of course, only do so much trend-watching. And if you put a new spin on a popular subgenre, you might stand out in a crowd. Right now I'm not really seeing much different here, and the logline doesn't tell me much about what Kahlua wants, what her goal in the story is (other than stay alive) or why the demon wants to spill her blood. Be specific. Several vampire-related books are doing well right now for just that reason, differentiating themselves from other books in the same genre.

So, that said, I'm afraid I'm not hooked, and here's my biggest reason: I'm prejudiced against winged people. I just find them annoying on a personal level that I can't describe. Angels and fairies w/ wings annoy me, which means I'd be the wrong editor for such a thing, no matter how well written. (Funny: I love books about fairies that *don't* have wings. Don't ask me what that's about. No idea.) Now, if nephilim don't have wings, perhaps there's a chance I'd be hooked, I'd suppose. But everything I've ever read has them wearing wings, so...

Good luck! There are people out there who are completely opposite from me in tastes re: angels.

bigblackcat97 said...

Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated - and no, my nephilim and the few fallen angels that appear in the book (and them only briefly) lack wings. I personally find the image rather silly :)