Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Writer's Voice Entry--2015

Welcome to my brand new blog, frantically created this morning to participate in the awesome Writer's Voice Blogfest. Thank you, Brenda, Monica, Krista, and Elizabeth, for organizing this contest!



Query:

Dear Judges,

Every night, seventeen-year-old Arun climbs above the mud and grime of the streets into the Grand Hotels to steal the foreigners’ gold. Her gang is her family, and she follows the old philosophies that say serving one’s family is more important than any laws.

When her cousin, Jaruk, is one of several boys kidnapped by a Grand Duke as part of a plot to put a fake prince on the throne, her loyalties are torn. Although gang rules forbid her from meddling with nobility or politics, she can’t abandon him to the duke’s schemes. Arun loves him like a little brother, and the duke is torturing the boys in his attempts to recreate the long dead royal family’s magic. But what the gang doesn’t know, they can’t punish. Sneaking behind their backs, she steals and trades for information she needs to break Jaruk out of the duke’s guarded mansion.

Taking Jaruk back isn’t enough to keep him safe. He knows too much for the duke to let him go, and there will be nowhere to hide when the duke’s “prince” controls the country. To protect Jaruk, Arun must outwit the duke and discredit his prince. That means creating her own more convincing fake heir, a con too high-profile to hide. Saving Jaruk will not only bring dishonor to her family, but it will be the end of her place in the gang.

THE FIRST LAW OF LOYALTY is a YA fantasy set in a world inspired East Asia in the late 1800s, complete at 99,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Marie Lu's The Young Elites and Alison Goodman's Eona.

I am a former ESL teacher, who spent two years teaching English in South Korea to elementary school children, and avid traveler. I currently live in my hometown, Boston, until my wanderlust strikes again.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




First 250:

I would've rather been with my brothers, slinking through darkened hallways and snatching treasures from empty rooms. Instead, I sat at the back bar of a dockside inn. The stench of booze and sweat strangled me, the pressing heat like chains. Through the smoky haze, I stole glances at the unfortunate pair of foreign sailors beside me, their misfortune being they were idiots about to lose a bunch of money. At least, that was the plan.

They watched my accomplice, Petch, move three cards in circles on the bar top. Their thick, hairy arms folded across their chests gave them an intimidating edge, but the ignorance plastered on their pale faces indicated they'd make fine marks.

Petch stopped shuffling the cards. "Which one is the queen?" he shouted. The din of the off-key piano and the men bellowing along nearly swallowed his words. I placed a silver coin on the middle card. He flipped it, showing me the face of our country's first queen. Black smudged the edge of her gold headdress. I sent a silent apology her way for Petch shoving her face into the bar’s grime like that.

Petch pushed me two silver coins. Now came the part where I persuaded these sailors to throw money at the game, and therefore convinced Boss Suttirat I wasn't a completely incompetent con artist.

"You look intrigued." I turned to the sailors, tried to make my voice feathery and cute—not so easy with all the noise.

36 comments:

  1. I love this! The setting is great and the first 250 really draw me in.

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  2. Hi Ellie,

    I totally understand the throwing the blog together quickly. Been there and did that. The sailors aren't the only ones intrigued. Good luck in the contest.
    Mia

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    2. Thanks, Mia! Good luck to you, too.

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  3. Ah! Another Ellie! And in Boston too? YA-Fantasy-Boston-Ellie's UNITE! :D
    This sounds like so much fun, I love rag tag groups and Schemes!
    Good luck! :)

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    1. Wow--so crazy!

      Thank you and good luck to you, too, Ellie :)

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  4. Your query and first 250 sound really interesting! I think you've got a great premise. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you, Kim! Good luck to you, too :)

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  5. This setting sounds great! Best of luck :)

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  6. This sounds great, and I love the line about making her voice feathery and cute. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks, Laura. Good luck to you, too!

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  7. Good luck in the competition! (Are you on Twitter, btw?)

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    1. You, too!

      I am on Twitter. Or rather, I have an account but don't tweet that much. I'm @EllieLuken.

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    2. A lot of us entrants are hanging out at #TheWVoice over there – come and join in the fun! :o)

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  8. All these awesome YA fantasies are trying to convert me! Good luck. I'm #41.

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    1. Thanks! I'll check out your entry shortly. :)

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  9. I was transported to the dingy inn! Very fun and good luck!

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  10. Strong writing, I would definitely keep reading. Loved the line -- "I sent a silent apology her way for Petch shoving her face into the bar’s grime like that."

    Thanks for sharing and good luck in the competition!

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    1. Thank you--and good luck to you, too!

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  11. love the concept and opening. good luck moving forward!

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    1. Thanks, and good luck to you as well!

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  12. Wow, GREAT premise. Really love the thought of her having to lie and steal and trade and pull off the ultimate con!

    A few clarification points:
    "plot to put a fake prince on the throne" -- made me think that he's kidnapping boys to put on the throne. I think the "recreate the long dead royal family’s magic" detail is dropped too casually too -- it should be explained a little more or cut out, since I'm not sure what he's using the boys for (or if I really need to know more besides he's torturing them for [reason connected to the fake prince plot]).

    Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks, Karrie!

      I'll see what I can come up with to clarify those points. Thanks for letting me know they're confusing! I've been trying to find a quick way to explain things without derailing the query and taking the focus off Arun, but maybe this way isn't it, haha.

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  13. Hey, Ellie! I really love your premise! A big con to create a fake heir, and then there’s torn loyalties and kidnapping and it all sounds so exciting!
    I also thought the writing was nice, and Stephanie, my lovely guest coach, agreed about everything with me. We both really liked you entry and we would love to have you on our team!

    Stephanie and I talked a lot about your entry, and I think we’ll both have a few comments if you decide to go with us. Your entry is strong and we have a few ideas to make it even stronger.

    Feel free to poke around my blog, read success stories, and there are a lot of testimonials about the kind of edits I do here: http://monibw.blogspot.com/p/editorial-services.html
    Let me know if you have any question. :)

    We really want you on our team, Ellie! (Okay, this is so weird--the MC in my book FROSH is named Ellie, too. Maybe you had me at your name!)

    Pick us, PLEASE! =)

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  14. Hey, Ellie! I know Monica already expressed some of our love for this awesome entry, but I wanted to chime in and say hi, too! Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genre's and this sounds like such a fun read! I'm always up for a good con, and I love that your world is inspired by 19th century East Asia.

    This just sounds like all kinds of fun! I really hope you choose Monica and me--we've both talked about this entry a lot, and we would absolutely love to have you on our team (we're also super fun to work with)!

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  15. Yayyyy thank you guys so much for picking me for your team and seeing potential in my little entry here! I am so SO excited to hear your suggestions for how to make it better and am super eager to revise!

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  16. I want you on my team!

    I hate fighting with Monica, but I love this entry! I think the premise is so cool and fun, and I loved your opening 250 words. I think we can tweak your query a but so the hook and stakes are more clear, but I think you will go far with this one.

    Why should you pick me? I write and read YA, along with NA romance, so I definitely know the category - and my YA time travel thriller comes out next year from Albert Whitman. Both Rachel and I read a ton of YA and adult fantasy, so I think the two of us can get your entry in the best shape possible!

    Last year, I won The Writer’s Voice with the most number of requests, and every single person on my team got at least one request. Many members of my team from last year have agents now, and some also have book deals. I’ve also had great success as a Pitch Wars mentor: all three of my mentees have gotten agents and two of them have book deals. My guest coach also got a 6 figure deal at auction, so she knows her stuff. Oh, and I used to be an intern for agent Jill Corcoran, an intern for Entangled, and an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

    I really hope you will pick me and join #TeamTRex!

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  17. So, this might not be helping me and Monica's case--Monica and Liz are two of my critique partners, so I can vouch for how awesome both of them are!

    So the awesome news is, you're not going to wrong, no matter which team you pick. :)

    Of course, I desperately hope you pick us!

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  18. Aaaaahhh!! Liz, you always do that on me. Re: bring up your interning with Jill and Entangled. (That's how I lost one entry I loved last year, remember???? Which got so many agent votes, btw!). Ahem. Well, I can't compete with the interning, but luckily I can with the success stories!! YAY!! But, erhm, I haven't updated them yet... I need to add another Hyperion book deal somewhere! Oh, and a TWV peep from last year has a book deal, too! Now!!! :) At auction, I think... But I think it's not official yet? I need to check. Okay, it's really early today and I think I'm kinda babbling. I need coffee. :P THE POINT IS, ELLIE, Stephanie and I reeeeeallyyyy want you! Please pick us!! But I agree--you can't go wrong! Liz has also betaed for me and she's amazing. :) XOXO

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  19. To be fair, both Stephanie and Monica critiqued my last book too, so yeah - you can't go wrong here! Haha.

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  20. Okay, so this took me forever because this decision is not an easy one! The good news may be that I can't go wrong, but that also means that no matter who I choose, I'm rejecting a fantastic coach. I'd be so excited to work with either of you! And I'm so flattered (and shocked and thrilled) that you both wanted me on your team.

    Of course, I HAVE to choose. And as sad as it makes me to turn you guys down, Monica and Stephanie, because you are so awesomely sweet and enthusiastic and I know you guys are going to have a great team (I love so many of the entries you chose!), I'm going to choose Liz and #TeamTRex.

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  21. Woohoo! Welcome to Team TRex! We are so happy to have you with us!

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  22. Rawr! Welcome to #TeamTRex! Please send your first chapter, query, and synopsis to both me and Rachel (email: elizabethbriggsbooks@gmail.com and rachel.searles@gmail.com). We're excited to work with you!

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