Monday, May 16, 2016

Are You Hooked? Adult Genre Fiction #25

TITLE: His Soul Purpose
GENRE: Adult - Paranormal Romance

Bryon's vampiric life is changed the night he almost attacks a twentysomething wearing a cross necklace. Grace, a karate-practicing librarian, believes his conscience means he isn't damned after all. The quest for Byron's soul leads them to uncover an ancient conspiracy to keep vampires damned forever—and brings them far closer than either intended.

Byron curled back his upper lip. "You've displeased me for the last time."

"I'm… I'm sorry. Please." The man backed up, hands raised defensively. As if he could defend himself from Byron. "Please, give me another chance."

He circled around the pathetic man. Shadows from candles flickered against the white walls of his office. Byron never did care for artificial lighting. "Against my better judgment, I already did. Twice. A third chance to wrong me just wouldn't be prudent."

"But… my family…"

Byron held up the faux gemstone. "You think I wouldn't realize it was a fraud?"

"N-no… I never meant… My contact assured me—"

"Your whining grates me." The gemstone ground to red dust in his hand. He opened his fist, allowing the specks to filter to the hardwood floor.

"Please, I can find you—"

"You will do nothing for me."

Byron snatched the man's neck, lifting him a foot above the ground. His hold tightened, the man's eyes bulging, his attempts at fighting growing more pathetic with every passing second until he slumped over.

"You will do nothing for anyone."

He dropped the man onto the floor, on top of the ground stone. Clapping the remnants of red from his hand, Byron stepped over the body and left the office behind. He could have, and perhaps should have fed on the man. Even now, his thirst grew, a pulsating need that could not be denied much longer. Recovering the Ruby Heart could wait.


  1. I'm interested in Byron and I like the reference to the Ruby Heart at the end, so I'd likely turn the page to see where this is going.

    That said, from a purely practical POV, I wonder if an agent or editor would be intrigued, because vampire tales are such a tough sell these days. Word is they want a really unique twist, and I'm not sure that's coming through in the logline or first page, so just something to think about.

    From a craft perspective, I noticed a few bumps. I'd suggest making it clear from the first sentence whose POV we are in by giving some internal thought or reaction to Byron, e.g. "Byron curled back his upper lip, relishing the look of fear on the man's face" or whatever :) That would allow you to get rid of the "from Byron" in the next sentence, which is really a POV break since we are IN Byron's POV.

    The use of ellipses became a bit distracting for me. I think the dialog carries the man's fright pretty well without the ellipses, so you might be able to scale them back.

    Finally, a nitpick, but I wasn't sure how a man being held up by the neck "slumps." I think you mean that his head falls forward, but just FYI that particular description stopped me.

    Thanks for sharing your work, and I hope these few comments help. Good luck!

  2. Your premise is so firmly in my wheelhouse.

    There's a lot of tightening possible in the logline, which would give you more room to clarify major plot points and toss in a few juicy details relevant to the premise. When Byron "almost attacks" Grace, does he spare her, spot the cross at the last second, or does she fight her way free? In mentioning his conscience later, this detail is way more critical than her being a "karate-practicing librarian". The prose itself could stand a skosh of tightening up, as well. Like Byron's life changes vs is changed, adding necklace to cross, and fluffy words/phrases that don't add much, like "after all" and "far" with closer. With some paring and condensing, you can give a better clue as to how your couple gets together, why Grace decides to help Byron. He comes off like a pretty major tool in the opening, so laying some ground for the shift in attitude would help your believability cause.

    I must mention that you've built a somewhat particular set of expectations by naming your vampire Byron. He's going to have to be a charming, clever, deviously delicious cat or some folks will be disappointed in a way they wouldn't if he didn't carry a name loaded with literary, cultural, and vampire baggage. It's a bit of a gamble.

    You do some cool hooky things in your opening. The Ruby Heart, especially, is a lovely intrigue. Whether it's a real factor or a MacGuffin doesn't matter. It makes my brow rise and fingers itch to turn a page.

    The main critique I'd give is that Byron doesn't get to shine before that point. He starts with a line that's a bit too close to classic Darth Vader when he's about to choke a guy. Knowing he's the romantic lead, I want a reason to be intrigued by him. I don't need to like *him*, just like his style.

    You can do Byron (and the later beautifully juicy intrigue) a lot of favors by giving him some unique character quirks in this opening. His narration and action are fairly dry and a bit sterile. We know pretty much off the bat he's going to kill this guy without a hint of hesitation or remorse. You can let him do it in a way ONLY Byron would, with a few droll comments while having a grand old evil time killing with panache.

    Then, we'll be rooting for him, even when he's a tool.

    A few little nitpicks. You might want to check some of the word usage here and there. A couple of examples would be:
    -- "whining grates me" - might read smoother as grates *on* me/my nerves
    -- "allowing the specks to filter" - allowing and filter feel a bit off - maybe something like just using dust earlier and "scattering red flecks"?
    -- snatching the neck + use of slumped mentioned by the other commenter
    -- repeat of pathetic

    Also, you want to watch places where padding might be happening. Like: "The man backed up, hands raised defensively. As if he could defend himself from Byron." The echo of defensive isn't really needed. If he's backing up with hands raised, defensive is implied. And in the second sentence, Bryon is. Extra words here and there can really add up, plus act as possible red flags for skimming agents/publishers/readers.

    You have a REALLY cool premise that makes my vampire-loving heart beat faster. If you make readers fall equally in love with your wicked Byron, you'll hook them like crazy with your shiny ruby.

    Thanks for sharing it and good luck! I hope it gets picked up.

  3. I really liked the logline, my only caveat to that is that I wasn't 100% sure the twenty something he almost attacks is definitely Grace, the awesome lady you mention next. I wonder if you can just combine it to clarify:

    "Bryon's vampiric life is changed the night he almost attacks Grace, a karate-practicing librarian with a lucky taste in cross necklaces. She believes his conscience means he isn't damned after all, but the quest for Byron's soul leads them to uncover an ancient conspiracy to keep vampires damned forever—and brings them far closer than either intended."

    I enjoyed it the 250, and I don't even really like vampire books, but I would keep reading and give this a fair shot.

    And I quite like everything Mich Fisher said -- really insightful stuff that will make it even more solid / refined.

    I really hope you get an agent for this book, I really would read it.

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  5. The tone of this piece is spot-on--I totally dig it! Lots of lovely words and writing.

    Mostly, I'm seconding Mich's comments above, but I have a couple of additional thoughts...

    I don't know what the stakes are for Byron or Grace in the logline. Why can't they be together? What's the possible solution, and what happens if the solution fails? It's *so* hard to introduce characters and cover these beats in 50 words, but they are important in a romance.

    As for the first 250, I want to know what's at stake. Why is he seeking the Ruby Heart (great name, by the way). What happens if he doesn't find it? And, since this is a romance, the reader needs a reason to be attracted to Byron. Consider mentioning his grace, or his expertly tailored clothing, or how he was cursed to live forever in a twenty-eight year-old's body, etc. Something to ground us in what he looks like, without being too self-aware.

    (My first comment shows up as a delete because, ugh, typos.)

  6. This is very intriguing. Yes I'm hooked because of the 250. Your log line needs to be condensed. It needs to have me sold. I love romance and if the vive you're trying to give is 'Byron is so cold and later he's found/ saved by Grace,' then great work. If not I would tone down Byron. Something about him needs to be likeable, unless he's the villain!
    I would change your whining grates me- it doesn't sound like normal speech. Maybe that could be his internal monologue?
    Hope this helps you.