Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cupid&Co's Writer's Voice!

Title: Blood of the King
Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Query:

Arianna has lived in fear of her father, the king, since the day she saw him throw her mother to her death from the castle wall. The king despises her, convinced she is the product of the queen’s betrayal, and her future is grim: marriage to a man who will abuse her, if he does not get them both killed for treason first.

When she discovers an orc, beaten, chained, and trapped inside a magic mirror in the king’s tower, Arianna is struck not by horror, but hope. Her whole life, she has lived among her father’s nobles, men with pretty faces and cruel hearts. Even with his grey-green skin and curved tusks, Bolthorn is no monster. Beneath his heavy brow, his yellow eyes glow with warmth and kindness, and in his immense strength she cannot help but see her own freedom.

Bolthorn never imagined his prayers to the ancestors would be answered by this woman, whose strength of spirit rivals any orc's. He needs her help to warn his people before King Gunnar marches his army through the mountain to enslave the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is the love of a twisted creature, born to ice and darkness. No orc has ever been bound to a human, even if she can survive winter in the mountains. If she accepts his love, she will have no choice but to exile herself from everything she has ever known, for once they cross the mountain, there will be no return. And the bitter winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side.

With the blood of the king flowing in her veins, Arianna can open the magic mirror that imprisons Bolthorn and free them both. But if they are to escape to the orcs without bringing war with them, the king, her father, must die.

BLOOD OF THE KING is a 104,000 word romantic fantasy novel with a touch of Norse influence.

First 250:

The room was forbidden, but staring into the mirror hanging from the opposite wall, Arianna did not understand why. It was empty, but for the framed, silvered glass, the only light coming from the arrow slit windows, one on either side of the mirror. No tapestries hung on the rounded walls, no furnishings to speak of, and no hearth for a fire against the frozen north wind that bit at her nose and turned her cheeks red.

At first, Arianna only saw her own reflection in the glass, no more than a shadow of movement in the dim light. But when she moved away toward the arrow slits, something else stirred in the dark and a low growl filled the silence of the room, knotting her stomach. She froze, pressing back against the cold stone wall. Nothing stood behind her, to cast such a reflection, and nothing else moved in the room itself.

“Have you come to gloat?” a harsh voice called, thick and deep. “Is it not enough that you hold me hostage, you must taunt me as well?”

A breath of fear escaped her lungs, loud as thunder to her ears, and the too-tall shadow in the mirror shifted again, with a clank of chains and a flash of sickly grey skin behind the glass. Inside the glass?

“Who’s there?” the voice called.

She didn't dare answer. If whatever lived behind the mirrored glass told the king she had been in the tower, she’d be fortunate to escape with less than ten lashes. 

77 comments:

  1. Hi Amalia, I'm stopping by from the Writer's Voice Contest to wish you the best of luck! I'm following your blog now too, so: nice to meet you.

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    1. Thanks!! I think the best part about these contests is meeting new people! Best of luck to you, as well!

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  2. Fellow Writers Voice entrant checking in - howdy!

    Great entry - I love the orc-as-hero twist! Good luck in the contest!

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    1. Thanks so much!! Good luck to you, too!

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  3. YAAAAAAAYYYYY FOR BOLTHORN!! I'm so glad I convinced you to enter this ;) Good luck!!!

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    1. haha. Well, hopefully I will not disappoint your hopes for Bolthorn :)

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  4. When this is published, hit me up. I want to read it! Sounds really good!

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    1. wow! thank you :) I will remember :) Fingers crossed that it gets there someday!

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  5. What a fascinating idea - I love it! Stopped by from the contest to say good luck to you!

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    1. Thank you and good luck to you as well! I'm sorry to say this -- but I keep getting a malware warning when I try to go to your blog. Hopefully it will be resolved soon so I can repay the favor of your visit!

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  6. BLAST, Blast, blast!! Amalia, this sounds really good! Is it to later to go back and modify my pitch - with competition like you I'm already down of my high of actually getting into the contest :)

    Good Luck - you deserve it, very nice writing ~ Charles

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    1. Thank you so much, Charles! But don't despair! So much is a question of personal taste, and I'm sure romantic fantasy is not everyone's cuppa! Yours sounds much more easily categorized :)

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    2. Hi again Amalia, a second visit to your page for me, with the ulterior motive of checking to see how many of the four judges have already picked you. Don't sweat it, your submission is so outstanding that I think you will be one of the "lucky" ones over whom more than one judge fights.
      How on earth can you say romantic fantasy is not everyones thing? I've been having romatic fantasies since I was about fourteen (still do - but don't tell my wife that...) Oh, wait, you mean Fantasy with a romantic bent? :) well then I'm in trouble with you, since there is quite of bit of "that sort of thing" (all PG of course) in my submission.

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    3. Ahh! Thank you again! You are so kind -- and this comment made my night :)

      I think books like mine are maybe harder to place -- is it Romance or is it Fantasy? -- and that's why I kind of worry about it/why I say it isn't everyone's thing. From your query/first 250, it sounds like your book may have some romantic elements, but there's no question it belongs in the Fantasy section of the bookstore!

      I'll admit, also, there's nothing PG about the lovin' in Blood of the King ;)

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  7. Just a random comment- this reminds me a little of The Hollow Kindom, in which a girl is taken to be a goblin bride. Mostly because the main male character is seen as a monster but you end up loving him by the end. If you haven't read it I might suggest you take a look. If nothing else its a very good read (one of my favorites!)

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    1. Thanks for the Rec! I'll wishlist it post haste. :)

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    1. Thanks, Margaret!! Hopefully it sounds fun to agents and publishers too :)

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  9. OMG I seriously want to read this! (And I LOVE Norse mythology!) Good luck!

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    1. Norse Mythology is totally my THING (Classical too, but lately Norse has been king). The Norse influence in this book is subtle, but it was so much fun to include! Thanks for stopping in-- I hope you'll find reason to come back :) There's nothing I love more than talking Norse Myth with people!!

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  10. Great opening...somehow you've managed to make me care about both characters already. Fantastic stuff!

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    1. Thank you!! I've been paranoid from day one about this query, so I really appreciate it.

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  11. Stopping by to say good luck in the contest. Interesting concept and opening lines! Great entry!

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    1. Thanks!! Best of luck to you, as well!

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  12. Great book idea! I love to see a good twist on the typical human-nonhuman relations.

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  13. Love this idea! Congratulations on making the list, best of luck with your fantastic entry ^_^

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    1. Thank you! Good luck to you as well!!

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  14. This definitely sounds good. You've got two of my favorite things going, mixed-species romance and Norse influence, and I really want to know what will happen next. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! We are all things Norse Myth here on the blog, so it was only a matter of time until I wrote Norse-influenced Fantasy :) Good luck to you as well!

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  15. I don't know if this is what you're going for, but I like the idea of a twist on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Except with the orc, you get much more of an image of a monster than some sort of oppressed creature (or, you know, prince turned monster).
    Once again, good luck!

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    1. it definitely isn't NOT what I'm going for :) I've always loved beauty and the beast stories! But I never did understand why the beast had to become less beastly. What if he LIKED the strength of being a monster? And also: what exactly does redemption mean, and why does it have to equate with beauty?

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  16. Magic mirrors? Murderous King? ORC LOVIN???

    Yes, please. :)

    Seriously, sounds awesome. Also, love the sense of imminent danger in your first 250. Best of luck! <3

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    1. There is a reason I refer to this manuscript as my "Orc Romance" :)
      Thank you!! Good luck to you as well, though I hope you won't need it! ONE looks AWESOME.

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  17. WOW Stakes galore! Fantastic stuff. Good luck!

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  18. This is a really cool concept! I really like that the orc is someone worth loving. :) Good luck with this!

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    1. I always feel bad for the imaginary creatures who get typecast as evil because of their looks ;) Thanks! Good luck to you, also!

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  19. Oh, this sounds good! Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! Best of luck back at you!

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  20. A good orc! I love it. Good luck to you! - #117

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    1. Thank you!! Good luck to you, also!

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  21. Yayyyy! Bolthorn! I am so excite! CROSSING ALL THE THINGS FOR YOU!

    <3

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  22. Stopping by to say good luck one contestant to another!

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  23. The first line hooked me. I wanted to know why it was forbidden too. Good luck!!

    Entry #31

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    1. that's great to hear! thanks! Good luck to you, too!

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  24. I love the idea of a princess/ orc relationship!
    Lisa (#59)

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  25. Best of luck to a fellow contestant! I don't usually read adult, but this is intriguing!

    Nikki (Entry #160)

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  26. Fantasy isn't normally my thing, but I love your concept and the writing! I like how different it seems from a lot of other fantasy stories out there, and the idea of a good Orc.

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    1. Thank you! Fantasy isn't usually my thing, either -- at least not classic high fantasy :) But Bolthorn was too much fun to write!

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  27. Consider me hooked. :) Good luck!

    Carrie (#162)

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  28. Love it! Good luck!
    Ferris (#175)

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  29. Love the Norse influences! Good luck!

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  30. Wow. A princess and an orc? COOL! Good luck!!

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  31. YAY BOLTHORN!!! Fingers crossed for you, my dear :)

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  32. I thought I had commented on this before--oops! I love the idea of a princess and Orc, and the writing is very nicely done!! Good luck to you :)

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  33. Niiiiiiiiice. This sounds interesting. Best of luck from #52!

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  34. An Orc that isn't the enemy? Interesting. Middle Earth might be shocked. ;)

    Good luck.

    Tina (#194)

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  35. I want to read more!
    Best of luck!
    Carolyn, #157

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  36. Fascinating concept! Good luck!

    Brandi #199

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  37. I'd forgotten how well your writing flows - love your voice! Great concept and great opening! :)

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  38. Dude. This is SO cool. Orc in the mirror!! Norse mythology. Awesome. Good luck!!

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  39. Posting in-depth critique as was solicited on Twitter. I'll happily crit any other contest entrants in this manner, but only if they ask (unsolicited hard-hitting advice is nobody's friend). Take with a grain of salt, and apologies in advance for any snark -- I promise none of it is malicious. Comments in (())'s
    ----------------------------
    Arianna has lived in fear of her father, the king, since the day she saw him throw her mother to her death from the castle wall.((This feels a little over-long. Can you pare down to "Princess Arianna has lived in fear of her father since she witnessed her mother's death at his hands" or something similar?)) The king despises her, convinced she is the product of the queen’s betrayal,((we can't just say "bastard"? is there a word for female bastard?)) and her future is grim: marriage to a man who will abuse her, if he does not get them both killed for treason first. ((So far so good! Well, not for Arianna. But for us!))

    When she discovers an orc, beaten, chained, and trapped inside a magic mirror in the king’s tower, Arianna is struck not by horror, but hope. ((an orc! I am both skeptical and intrigued. I like the magic mirror, though)) Her whole life, she has lived among her father’s nobles, men with pretty faces and cruel hearts.((we sort of gathered that, seeing as she's doomed to abuse etc.)) Even with his grey-green skin and curved tusks, Bolthorn is no monster. Beneath his heavy brow, his yellow eyes glow with warmth and kindness, and in his immense strength she cannot help but see her own freedom. ((ehhhh I'm not sold on these sentences. They seem to be focusing on the wrong things. Why waste words on physical description? Surely she sees something else in him, something more personal and unique than "kind glowy eyes"? Tell us what *that* is so we can fall for him, too))

    Bolthorn never imagined his prayers to the ancestors would be answered by this woman, whose strength of spirit rivals any orc's. He needs her help to warn his people before King Gunnar marches his army through the mountain to enslave the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is the love of a twisted creature, born to ice and darkness. ((also the fact that he's trapped in a magic mirror is bound to cause some problems with their relationship, I'd imagine.)) No orc has ever been bound to a human, even if she can survive winter in the mountains. ((is the cold really the biggest obstacle? I'd imagine there's some anatomical and cultural differences that would be a bigger issue)) If she accepts his love, she will have no choice but to exile herself from everything she has ever known, for once they cross the mountain, there will be no return.((considering how crappy her life sounds up til this point, I can't imagine that's a bad thing.)) And the bitter winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. ((ahh, that's better. What is it?))

    With the blood of the king flowing in her veins, Arianna can open the magic mirror that imprisons Bolthorn and free them both. But if they are to escape to the orcs without bringing war with them, the king, her father, must die. ((1.) is that a problem? The king sounds like a jerk and we have no indication that Arianna has any feeling left for him besides fear. Is it really a huge struggle for her to let her new orc boyfriend kill mean ol' daddy? 2.) wouldn't killing the king lead to MORE war, not less, since I'm sure there'd be a bunch of revenge? Or does everybody else in the kingdom hate the guy too, in which case what exactly is stopping them?))

    BLOOD OF THE KING is a 104,000 word ((is this a bit long? It seems long by about 10k words)) romantic fantasy novel with a touch of Norse influence.

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  40. Thoughts on the query: I like the premise, but I'm not getting any feel for Arianna's character so her motivations seem muddled to me. Unless I can see that she has any sort of conflicted emotions about her dad, I can't buy that killing him would be a huge major struggle for her. I'm also not sure exactly what she sees in the orc, or exactly what the danger is in going back to the mountains with him. The choice all seems pretty straightforward to me: Kill the king, buy a sweater and gtfo.

    First 250:

    The room was forbidden, but staring into the mirror hanging from the opposite wall, Arianna did not understand why. ((There's an odd juxtaposition here between room and mirror, and I have a hard time understanding what I should be paying attention to. It's not immediately clear that the mirror is *in* the room or that it might be even remotely related to why it's forbidden)) It was empty,((the room or the mirror?)) but for the framed, silvered glass, the only light coming from the arrow slit windows,((I think those have a specific name, but I can't remember it))

    [snips the rest of the excerpt, which is quite good]



    Thoughts on the 250 words:
    OK, this is probably the advice you're not expecting to hear, but I think you're starting too *late*. I know when we enter these sorts of contests etc. that we want to get the action right there on the very first page to get the ball rolling, but the problem is that I have no idea who this girl is, or why I should care about her, so the fact that she's finding someone in a mirror is not as interesting as it should be.

    Stories need to start with conflict, but it doesn't have to be THE conflict. IMO, you have to start with showing the character in their NORMAL, real, every day life before you throw the inciting incident at them. Otherwise we have no idea what's actually at stake for them.

    Based on your query, I would be most interested in seeing her interact with her father here -- or, even better, with the guy who's supposed to be her husband. I would LOVE to see this open up with an interaction with her betrothed, showing both how terrible he is and how she feels about him (and maybe giving some insight into her backstory). Then, once we know how terrible her life is NOW, and how bad her betrothed is, we'll have something to compare the orc to.

    The writing is solid. That's not your problem. You're just starting in the wrong place.

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  41. Yours was one of the entries on my short short list. I really liked your premise and writing; in fact, if either of my adult projects had gone with one of the other coaches, I would have picked BLOOD OF THE KING to fill that open spot on my team.

    I think T.L. made some good suggestions, but on the whole, I wouldn't say there's anything strictly wrong with your query or first page. It just didn't catch my eye quite as much as two other adult entries did. But it did make my number three spot, so that's got to count for something:)

    Best of luck to you and BLOOD OF THE KING!

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    1. Thank you so much!!! This is so very encouraging to hear!

      I did take TL's suggestion and started a smidge earlier, and I think it makes Arianna much stronger, and connects us to her more completely. But thank you!!!!

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  42. I just adore authors who are willing to break through the stereotypes that "this being is evil and that being is good and never shall it differ." Plus, I'm also a huge fan of orcs being portrayed as more than the slathering monsters of Tolkien's work. When Blood of the King is published, I will definitely be picking up a copy for my personal library. :) Thank you for thinking outside the box.

    ~Amy

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