Saturday, December 4, 2010

#17 YA Steampunk Fantasy: The White Curse (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: The White Curse
GENRE: YA Steampunk Fantasy

Damned servant girl turned noble scion, Lissy's fortunes take a terrible fall when her social debut catches the attention of the demon who owns her soul. After witnessing Lissy's 'talents' at weaponry - she can't miss a target even when she doesn't try - the demon assigns her to kill God of Wilderness, He who keeps the delicate balance between nature and man. Rags-to-riches fairytales aren't supposed to end with an apocalyptic showdown between a God and a fifty-foot automaton, but Lissy's will, unless she finds a way to outwit the demon and reclaim her soul.

Dying sunlight filters through the draperies, pink and ethereal. An hour before the rise of the full moon, Lissy can already feel herself changing: the peculiar looseness of her skin, smoother than silk, thinner than the membrane of a boiled chicken's egg. She dares not touch her hair, lest it molt more than it has already. It won't do, for the oh-so-noble members of her family to find white hair in their beef bouillon.

Pushing aside the curtains, she sees Prince Xin's dirigible still stationed outside the castle courtyard, emitting gentle puffs of smoke. The Prince is inside Novva castle now, taking the grand tour. Which is why Lissy's locked in this antechamber, hidden away from the world. As always, her presence is kept a secret - officially, she does not exist.

Hiding here was Tess's idea. Lissy's twin sister thrived on whispered secrets and mystery. Lissy could have easily stayed in the dimmest corner of the kitchen, masquerading as a sack of flour, but no. "What if you get discovered?" Her excitable sister had demanded. "I'll never see you again!"

Lissy snuck into this chamber willing enough. She'd been able to see the Prince's grand arrival, the smooth touchdown of his dirigible, the moment he pulled away his flying cap and brass goggles, his hair strikingly black under the sun. She'd watched the entirety of Novva's household, nobles and servants numbering to the hundreds, all falling upon their knees, murmuring fervent obeisance. She couldn't have seen that from the kitchen.


  1. I think you can shorten the logline a little. For example, it's enough to say she is talented at weaponry--we don't need to know she can't miss a target. I'd also suggest you clarify the ending as it sounds like all she has to do to reclaim her soul and get out of killing the God is to be smarter than him.

    As for the excerpt, I like most of your language but I get a little lost right after "The Prince is inside the Novva castle now" because it suddenly makes me think the previous lines were past tense and not present as written. If "now" is her hiding in the chamber, write that as present and the other as past.

  2. I agree with Holly's comments. I also wanted to add that it's so important to get the grammar right. Agents will pick up on the misplaced modifiers in the your writing. The most glaring is in the logline; Lissy is the noble scion, not her fortunes. Also, boiled egg instead of boiled chicken's egg (because the chicken is not boiled). I hope you don't find these comments nit-picky. You always want to prove you've got the basics down or an agent will wonder how much work your entire manuscript needs. Good luck!

  3. Logline - I wonder about - When she catches the attention of the demon who owns her soul - Hadn't she already caught his attention when he stole/bought/ bargained for her soul?

    Excerpt - Lissy opens the curtains. That's all that happened. Forget the back story and show us what is happening now. What does she do after she sees the dirigible? Move on and get the story moving. If nothing happens, there's no need to read.

  4. The first paragraph caught my attention--clearly there's something very unusual about Lissy beyond what's mentioned in the logline.

    That interest faded over the last two paragraphs, though. To immediately look back at something that happened before the start of the story slowed the momentum for me. If the details of the prince's arrival are important, why not start with them in present tense? Just a thought.

    I'd definitely read on to find out what's "wrong" with Lissy, though.

  5. I agree with the comments of others (logline is too long, not enough happens in the excerpt), but I'm really interested in this character. This reminds me of Ladyhawke, which I love! I also like the twin. Could she be in the room with Lissy to maybe give the scene more action? Just a suggestion. Best of luck!

  6. Logline:
    -A tad long and convoluted; had to read some bits twice.

    I'm a tad confused. Is she imprisoned there, or did she elect for this? Why? Overall, I think you've got a great concept, but this needs another round of polishing for clarity and pace.

  7. Thanks for the helpful comments guys. :)

  8. This seems too long for a logline.

    I'm confused by her changing at the full moon--seems like this would've been part of the logline.

    I like the last sentence.

  9. This has got a very readable style. I'll bid 5 pages.

    Ammi-Joan Paquette

  10. I'm gonna have to go with 35 pages.

    Ammi-Joan Paquette


  12. Yes, darn you KOrtizzle! I've got the West Coast lag working against me here!

    Laura Bradford
    Bradford Literary Agency

  13. Gotta love when the agents jump on these excerpts. Congrats, author!

  14. *blows raspberries* nee ner nee ner nee ner

    ;-) <3

  15. Logline: Where'd the automaton come from? Is Lizzy an automaton?? (Avoid confusing your reader.)

    You've created a number of good questions here that make me want to find out more: why is she a secret, what's up with her molting, is she a shapeshifter?, etc. So that's good. The voice is nice, though a little clunky at times.

    I'm hooked enough to want to read more, but I'd probably be thinking it'd need work. But don't they all? :)

    Also, it's unclear what "scion" means in this world.