Thursday, 9 February 2012


Pitch Pitch week continues apace. You know the form by now - if not, please read the earlier posts this week and the comments.

Today's brave and hopeful writer is Deborah Jay with an urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES.  
Following one too many close encounters with modern plumbing, Scottish water sprite, Cassie, is trying to adapt to life as a human when she is captured by a magician. He intends using her power to fuel a potentially lethal experiment. 
Escape is just the first of Cassie’s challenges. She falls hopelessly in love with the magician’s other victim, Gloria, a fire elemental she can never touch. And, despite the impossibility of an elemental being a witch, she somehow gains a mischievous mink as a familiar and becomes a pawn in a power contest between rival covens. Add a vampire-junkie hedge witch and a powerful but vulnerable druid, and Cassie is swimming in problems. 
When she uncovers the magician’s true motive - to produce clean, free energy – Cassie realises she must thwart Gloria’s plan to murder him whilst not getting either of them killed. With kidnap and blackmail also in the picture, there are multiple lives – and loves – at stake.
I'm not at all an expert in this genre but I think it sounds like a well-crafted pitch. As with all the other ones this week, I need to know how the story ends (roughly) - "there are multiple lives – and loves – at stake" is too vague an ending. I think I'd like to see some darker elements to provide the necessary grit, but maybe that's my ignorance of the genre? 

I'd love to know your comments, people.


AudryT said...

I came here to be useful, but all I can think is, "Now I want to read it!"

catdownunder said...

What happens? Please tell us!

JO said...

I know absolutely nothing about urban fantasy - but my first thought on reading this was that the tone of your writing is such fun! I can't unpick how you do that (wish I could) but I loved the entertainingness (I know, not a word, you know what I mean) of this.

Anonymous said...

You say that she is trying to adapt to life as a human. For me, there's a step missing as to how she became human. There's also a contradiction between this and the second paragraph, where you refer to her as an elemental. She isn't human here. Has she just taken on a human shape instead? The second sentence of paragraph 2 is a bit confusing - this would be cleared up if you used her name instead of 'she'. Like Nicola, I would like to be given a clue about the ending. Its a really original idea. I too would want to take a look at the story after reading this.

Gooseghost said...

I like the pitch very much - good job!
I have reservations about the title. The pun seems a bit self-consciously clever. Also you'd sound Kiwi in a bookshop (I have nothing against Kiwis! I just think there's a danger booksellers might be unsure what you're asking for).

Deborah Jay said...

Thank you, people, this is very encouraging.
Being honest, I've had an agent before for a previous novel (high fantasy),but which failed to sell. That was a few years ago, and I've had 2 nonfiction books (un-agented) published in the interim. I'm now unsure whether to go back to my original agent with this book, or to try for a new one. Any opinions?
Re the pitch, thanks Helen, I take your points. I thought 'living as' a human would make it clear enough that she's an elemental pretending to be human, but maybe not.
The story is told from Cassie's rather fun-loving, if sometimes cynical VP with plenty of word plays, hence the pun in the title. People have either loved it or hated it, but I'm planning on a series with Book 2 already mapped out, title: Spriteful Lies.
As to the end: I can adjust that quite easily (I hope) and will do so later this evening and post it.
Yes, it does have its darker side, and I'll think about how to hint at that also.
Nicola, the best help I got was from reading your advice on 25 word pitches - that really focussed my mind!

E.Maree said...

Great pitch, Deborah. A few nitpicks about clarity:

"the impossibility of an elemental being a witch, she"

You called Cassie a sprite before, not an elemental, so I assumed this line was referring to Gloria. For clarity's sake I'd stick to using 'sprite' instead of elemental when referring to Cassie in the pitch.

"a vampire-junkie hedge witch"

The hyphenation here confused me. Are they a vampire, a junkie, and a hedge witch all at once? Or just someone with a vampire addiction?

There seems to be a lot of twists and breaking of genre conventions in this, as well as a brilliant LGBTQ element, and I absolutely LOVE it.

for the "multiple lives - and loves" at stake, I'd like to see this brought a bit closer to home - whose lives, and how do they relate to Cassie? I'm guessing Gloria's life is the main risk here and I think you can go ahead and spell that out.

Re: your agent question, did you enjoy working with your original agent and did they do a good job representing you? If so, it's worth retrying them, but you can also be contacting new agents at the same time.

Deborah Jay said...

Okay folks, so here is the revised ending:

When she uncovers the magician’s true motive - to produce clean, free energy – Cassie realises she must thwart Gloria’s plan to murder him whilst not getting anyone killed. Her sabotage has tragic results and uncovers the ghastly truth that the magician has deceived her. Choosing to destroy him after all, Cassie learns painfully what it means to be human.

Even that is going slightly over the requested word count, so I didn't feel I can add any more and be within Nicola's guidelines.

E.Maree, yes, I see your point. A sprite is a water elemental, but I can see how it might be clearer to use 'sprite' in the pitch.
And it's a hedge witch with a vampire addiction, written this way for brevity.

My agent was fine, she just didn't manage to produce a sale. Querying multiple agents as well? Yes, probably a good idea, thanks.

Tamlyn said...

On a minor note, I got confused about why after close encounters with modern plumbing she would therefore try to live closer to it. Wouldn't she run for the hills and ignore humans so she doesn't have to deal with it?

It may have just been me. After thinking it through, I decided you might mean when in sprite form in water it's dangerous for her, so she's had to leave the water. But that's just a guess on my part :)

I like the more info in your revised ending, but I'm not sure about the what it means to be human part. It's a little bit cliched and doesn't really mean anything.

Cameron Writes said...

The first sentence of this pitch had me hooked, but this is my genre. The title - I agree that the pun is too cute and it should be changed. Just seeing the title as it is would put me off, I might not even read this great pitch.

The fact that it is a bit jumbled is, for me, a good thing. Without getting into semantics about whether elementals are sprites or can become witches (there are several schools of thought on the subject), the buzz words used in the pitch would sell it to me.

Confused Druid? Know a lot of 'em. Junkie Vampire Hedgie - don't care what combination that really is, I want to know more.

All in all - sold it to me.

Kimberley said...

Delighted to see so many positive comments and useful suggestions to this, Debby. As a priviledged being who has actually seen the ms so far I can only add- People; you will so want to read this!
I was a bit muddled by the vampire hedge witch sentence myself. Its hard to get enough info into such a condensed form but it does the job. I like the title but then I love Piers Anthony and his puns.. Kudos my friend.

Lesley said...

I'm intrigued, but I can't figure out what age group it's aimed at. The "vampire-junkie" element makes me think YA, but other parts make me think it's aimed younger than that. I always think of fairies and the like being more for 13s-and-under, personally. That being said, I probably would read it.

Kirsty said...

The others have already commented on the slight tweaks that would help improve this. All I want to say is I'd love to read it - if you want any beta readers...
I loved the title.
Back to the pitch for me the original one works pretty well I'd have got rid of the last sentence and left it at that but I see why you may need to give us more. Think you may have written your back cover blurb though.

Julie Nilson said...

I love the idea and the pitch, but I'm not crazy about the title. I think it gives the impression that your story is going to be cutesy an comedic when it's not.

Best of luck to you!

Deborah Jay said...

Kirsty, I'd value another beta reader: you can find me on twitter at: @DeborahJay2
Anyone else, too.
Tamlyn, you're right: being run through sewage systems and household appliances is a hazard that can best be avoided by removing oneself from the water cycle.
Lesley, Urban Fantasy is explicitely adult, and fairies are usually the nastiest of the lot.
Thanks again, folks!

Whoosh said...