First, Josiphine Noire would like our help with her pitch for Captive of the Sea. It is a YA historical novel set during the decline of the Viking age. Josiphine says, "Right now I feel like my pitch is...stale. I can't think of a different word for it. If I saw it on the shelf the chances that I would read it are slim at best."
My comments: love the title. Several powerful elements: Vikings, slaves, Spain, raiding. But what happens? The last para is hopelessly vague. There is no room for vagueness in a pitch. How old is Caciana, btw? Is she gorgeous? Is she cruelly treated? Brave? I want a strong image of Caciana. What does the story consist of other than the actual capture, vague love and personal journeys? What is the special element of this story, its hook, the thing that's going to make us think MUST READ? So, Josiphine, I think you're right: it sounds weak, but I think that comes down to the words you've chosen. I'm sure you've got a story full of drama and emotion but you just haven't managed to convey it.Caciana was stolen from her homeland, Spain, when she was too young to even remember it. Now she spends her days mostly forgotten with the sheep in the field, which is why she is the only one who survives when the Vikings come raiding. She tries to convince herself that being a slave in Norway won’t be any different than being a slave in Ireland. But she hadn’t counted on…
…Ivor, the handsome young Viking who spared her life, but doesn’t quite know why.
Each has their own journey. When the journeys undeniably become one, neither expects the outcome, or the lessons learned on the way.
My suggestion: brainstorm some words and phrases that your book consists of or conjures up, everything you can think of. Then identify the 15 most compelling words or images. And weave as many of them as possible into your pitch.
Second, Elpi Pamiadaki sent me this, which she used in a query letter for her Paranormal Romance novella, Queen of Souls. Elpi says, "Queen of Souls is a 25,000 word story and is aimed at the Nocturne Cravings imprint of Harlequin. The writing guidelines request a very sexy and sensual read, so the readership would be young women over 18."
Hades, the god of the aetherworld, was forced to betray his wife, Persephone, to save his kingdom. Wracked by guilt and misery, and in the guise of Aiden Black, he has waited two thousand years to find her again.
Stripped of all her powers and dragged to the future, Persephone remembers nothing of her past as a powerful goddess and Queen of Souls, nor of the dark stranger to whom she is desperately and mysteriously attracted.
Knowing that only Persephone can save his kingdom, Aiden must re-awaken her powers, not realising that this will begin a chain of events, orchestrated perfectly to destroy them and the aetherworld.
Can Persephone learn to love and to trust again? And can her feelings save Aiden from a plot hatched eons ago of truly Olympian depth and cunning?
But I'd say it doesn't sound very sexy or sensual - since that's required, can you add it to the pitch?
Now, dear blog readers: over to you. Comment away, constructively, please.