Wednesday, May 1, 2013

THE WRITERS VOICE CONTEST ENTRY



 

Thank you for this opportunity to present my 61,000-word YA fantasy Desiderata, a tale of true-versus-false love, the vicious expansion of an empire, and an abbey full of meddlesome, shape-shifting nuns.
 
Two sisters, Anna and Maria Leon, live in the quiet countryside, secretly working their enchanted garden to keep their family out of the poorhouse. All of this changes when the Prince of Desiderata comes to town, searching for a bride with the proper mystical bloodline to produce the perfect heir. When Anna is selected, she discovers that Prince Bane conceals his cruelty with a handsome face and charming words. With the assistance of the nuns from a nearby abbey, Anna fakes her own death to avoid the union.

As a consequence, Anna’s unsuspecting sister Maria is tricked into the doomed royal marriage instead, and bears the prince a son. Desperate to reunite with her family, Anna disobeys the abbey’s protective rules, and Prince Bane discovers she is still alive.  In the aftermath of his fury, Maria is forced to choose between freedom and her beloved son.

Inspired by Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata poem which warns “the world is full of trickery”, this fairy tale saga is filled with strong characters, each one demanding their own POV.  This cross between The Princess Bride and a twisted Cinderella should interest both young and old fantasy readers who enjoy shape-shifting nuns bent on revenge, enchanted gardens, and good old-fashioned sisterly love and rivalry.

 

THE FIRST 250 WORDS:

 
Wesley’s hands trembled as solutions in glass flasks percolated.  Yellow, orange, and green fluids coursed through tubing and collected in glass beakers. 

Please be a match.
 
The collected samples of hair from the prince and the maiden in question curled together in a small cauldron upon the tripod.  Wesley carefully added the distilled concoctions, turned up the flame underneath, then stepped back.

The cauldron steamed in the sweltering laboratory.  As the experiment rose to a boil, Wesley’s heart raced.  His unruly hair fell into his eyes.  He swiped the damp strands away before extinguishing the flame.  He watched the solution cool as sweat ran down his neck.

Please be red.  Put an end to this.      

The fluid continued to bubble for a long while, turning from purple to pink to...

 It’s going to be red!  She’s the one!  I am saved!

With a loud belch, the solution curdled and turned black.  And stayed that way.

Wesley dropped his head in his hands. 

I better warn that sweet girl before Duncan gets a hold of her.  
 
About the author:
For several years, I’ve written the monthly Pet Vet column for the Post Bulletin newspaper.  Last fall, I published an article in RunMinnesota magazine.  This spring, I have articles in both the DVM360 journal and The Wagazine.
 
- Thank you for your time and consideration - Ann M. (Anderson) Noser


55 comments:

  1. Trickery sounds awesome, and this sounds like a very rich story. Good luck!

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    1. I've always loved that Desiderata poem. It's written perfection.

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  2. I would read this on the Princess Bride comparison alone (and because it sounds awesome). Good luck!

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    1. Princess Bride is great, I mean it!
      Anybody want a peanut?

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  3. Love seeing you in the blogosphere. Best wishes for success in the contest :)

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    1. Thanks for all your help in getting here, my wonderful CP (who is always right, even when I don't want to hear it!...haha).

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  4. This books sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it. Good luck!!

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    1. Thanks! I can't wait to publish it! :.)

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  5. Like the new opening! Eager to see your other revisions too. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Mike! I'm excited to see my new revisions, too--haha. Being the newbie blogger, every day I try to improve the looks of the blog so someday I can be as cool as you! :.)

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  6. Shape-shifting nuns...how cool is that! Good luck. :)

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    1. Thank you! This is how it went down: Sister Margaretta started out as a very minor character and COMPLETELY took over my book. What a manipulative woman! :.)

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  7. I love fairy tale stories and I'm already loving this one!

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    1. Thank you! I just read your blog entry and want to read more of your book right now! Good luck with everything.

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  8. Shape-shifting nuns?! Yes!

    You snagged me with your 250. I'm deadly curious about why the prince is so intent on a "perfect" heir. Perfect how?! I must know! And while Anna and Maria have my sympathies, I suspect Margaretta might just be my favorite...

    Luck to you :)

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  9. Thank you! I suppose an author shouldn't have favorites (just like a mother shouldn't), but I'm willing to admit I love Margaretta and Wesley best. This doesn't mean I won't hurt them when I need to, of course. (insert evil laugh right HERE)

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  10. This feels like it has a load of potential to be both unique and rich with layers. :: imagines shape-shifting nuns bent on revenge :: G'luck!

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    1. Thank You! I do love my shape-shifting nuns! :.)

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  11. It's about TIME you are blogging, woman! Love everything about this... <3 Whoever jumps on publishing this will have a treasure!!

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    1. Yes, I know I dragged my feet on this blog-thing. Now that I've figured out how to do a few functions (like upload photos, etc), I realize that this could be super fun! (haha "super fun" - what a Elle Woods thing to say!)

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  12. I wasn't sure what to expect from the query but I really liked the first 250 and that won me over. I LOVE The Princess Bride (and Wesley) so can imagine, if this is similar in any way, it will be great! Good luck!

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  13. I don't pretend to be anywhere near as cool as William Goldman, but the million times I've read and watched The Princess Bride did help inspire me to write a fairy tale of my very own--with a few modern twists. However, ironically enough, the inspiration (and name) of Wesley's character came from somewhere else!

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  14. Can't wait to read this one!!! I also love your articles! You definitely have a fan in me :)

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    1. Do you want a "partial" or the "full"? :.) So glad to hear you are an "Ann-fan". The feeling is mutual--you are the best!

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  15. Fairytale like stories are awesome and your first 250 was interesting - I can't help but wonder why he needs a perfect heir so bad! Also, can't help but love that the Princess Bride is one of your influences :)

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    1. As a child, I read perhaps far too many fairy tale books. I couldn't get enough of them. Now that I'm an adult reading "modified" fairy tales to my own young kids, it is interesting how the original stories have all been twisted to provide a happy ending. That's not how I remember it! :.) Once they're old enough, I'll be sure they discover the original versions. Some are quite disturbing!

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  16. Intriguing premise! I'm loving the fantasy aspect. I want to know more about the spell he is doing and the girl he as to warn. Great way to set the stage!

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  17. Thank you! To potentially confuse you even more, this isn't the first girl he's had to warn (insert creepy music right HERE)

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  18. See?
    ~Just Jill
    (Hang in there! Good stuff!)

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    1. haha!
      We shall all "hang in there" together!
      You are a mighty funny twitterer.

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  19. Shape-shifting nuns? I'm in! Poor Wesley, he's got a job, huh?

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    1. Yes, poor long-suffering Wesley. How come I love him so much and yet torture him more than anyone else?

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  20. This sounds awesome! I'd love to read more, and also, I am a huge fan of Princess Bride and love that Wesley is a name in your book, although I did see the earlier comment that you didn't name your character for the Wesley in Princess Bride.

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    1. Ironic, but THIS Wesley was inspired by a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Crazy, I know.

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  21. You had me at "shape-shifting, meddlesome nuns." I'd read a whole series about them!

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  22. Lucky for you (if I ever get them published), this is meant to be the first book in a trilogy. Thanks for giving the nuns some love!

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  23. This is lovely. Lots of plot and and a big sinister villain. I hope you get picked. Good luck!

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  24. Another interesting story line. And your opening hooked me. Best of luck with this.

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    1. Thank you! Best of luck to you as well!

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  25. This sounds great. Best of luck to you!

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  26. Thank you! And good luck to you!

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  27. Love the fresh idea of your fairy tale. Princess Bride is THE BEST. Sending you good luck vibes.

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    1. thank you! good luck to you as well!

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  28. Hello Ann! I think you've got an interesting premise and the idea of a YA Princess Bride sounds great.

    My main critique is on your query--I found it a little confusing because I wasn't sure who the protagonist was (Anna, Maria, both?). You make mention of an enchanted garden, so I suspect there may be some magic involved, but then you don't elaborate so I'm not entirely sure what level of magic or enchantments is in your story. I was also a little confused by the "death do us part" bit--do you mean that the Prince intends to kill her? He wants an heir, so does that mean he plans to kill her after she has his son? I wasn't sure. Finally, I think you could improve your query by giving us a better sense of the stakes. You go into it a little when you say Maria has to choose between her son and her freedom, but then I was confused about who the protagonist was again (because a lot of the query focuses on Ana).

    As for your 250, I think it's well written, but I'd caution against using a prologue. Many agents don't like prologues and you don't want to give them any reason to pass on your pages. Just a thought.

    On another note, shape-shifting nuns looking for revenge sounds quite excellent.

    I hope this helps! I wish you the best of luck with your search for representation. :)

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    1. All good points! I best get to work utilizing them! Thanks!

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  29. I really like you concept, but I think your query is a little disjointed. There's a lot going on and the transitions of how you get from point A to point B to point C are really rough, especially at the end when you drop the line about choosing between her sister and her son. It threw me right out of the query because I honestly read right over the line where she bears the prince a son. I had to go back and look for it.

    The other thing I think that will help your query is getting in Anna and Maria's motivations. You do a good job with what Anna wants and her going into hiding, but until the very last line we dont get a good feel for maria's character. If they are both central to the story they should share equal time in the query and right now Anna is stealing the show.

    In addition, if this is a fantasy, it doesn't read like one from the query. If there is magic or some other fantastical element at work, you need to bring that into the query. The only hint of that we get is from the enchanted garden. I really like the idea of shapeshifting nuns, that is a unique aspect so I would bring that forward in your query. Show how their abilities helps move the story along. That's a unique detail that right now is being wasted at the bottom of the query.

    While I like the princess bride and would love to see a book that is comparable, I unfortunately did not get a princess bride vibe from your query.

    While I really enjoyed your first 250 and it has great voice, your making me fall for Wesley as a character who has no mention in the query at all. I think you need to start with Anna and Maria if this is their story. It's jarring for the reader to hear all about them in the query then have no mention of them in the beginning. I suspect this is a prologue and if that's the case I'd consider cutting or moving it to deeper in the story unless the whole story follows Maria and Anna and in which case, I'm not sure this scene although really lovely has a place in the book.

    I hope this helps, and as with any critique feel free to use what resonates with you and ignore the rest. I wish you luck moving forward with your manuscript :)

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    1. Back to the drawing/writing board I go! Someday I WILL get this right! Thanks for your ideas and good luck to you!

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  30. Oh, I really liked the first 250 words. Very intriguing. I want to know about this mysterious potion and what it means, and I also love the word percolated!

    As for the query, my only suggestion is to take out the stuff where you are telling the reader what the book has. (i.e. it has strong characters). You need to show the agents that (or hint at it), not tell them. I've read they don't like reading stuff like "this is a heartwarming tale" because ultimately they will decide if they think it is heartwarming.

    Hope this helps! And thanks so much for your feedback on mine! :)

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    1. Yes, that does sound silly (the strong characters bit) -- I'll remove it and do better. I promise! :.)

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  31. Hey Ann,

    My interest is piqued! (Brenda gave me the green light to ask for pages). Would you send me a pitch letter with a one page synopsis and the 1st 50 pages to pooja@kimberleycameron.com? Looking forward to it.

    Pooja Menon
    Kimberley Cameron & Associates

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  32. There's a little bit of a comma problem (which I have in abundance, so a little bit of one isn't anything to worry about :P). It is quite intriguing, though, and like I've already said--I'm hooked :)

    The first 250 is an excellent start, as well. Right away you can sense the danger, the precariousness of the situation. I feel like you could combine "His unruly hair fell into his eyes. He swiped the damp strands away before extinguishing the flame," into one sentence, but it works the way it is.

    Good luck with this :) It sounds really great!

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    1. Thanks for your input.
      There seems to be a battle between writers who like longer vs. shorter sentences. Don't you agree? I like it both ways, separate or together as you suggested, but I already know which writers I work with would prefer it which way. (Oh dear, I'm using more commas again! haha--you should see how I abuse exclamation marks when I twitter...)

      Good luck to you as well-

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  33. Oh oh oh! You got a request for a partial from KCA! Sweet!

    Ann, I'm so sorry I'm late. The last two weeks were overwhelming with the rest of my life. Thank you also for your critique on my query. I've taken the suggestions to heart and rewriting from scratch.

    I think everyone above touched on most of what I noticed. I'm especially interested in knowing more about the stakes for each of the sisters and if part of the stakes is that they are close. Also, what are the consequences of disobeying the nuns (love those!) beyond the Prince finding her? Did Maria know her sister faked her death? Is she happy Anna lives or resentful she was tricked?

    The only other suggestion I'd have (which may be unnecessary with Pooja requesting) is to split the sisters into their own paragraphs so we have a good idea that both PoVs are represented and what the stakes are for them individually.

    Best of luck. Can't wait to read this in print!

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    1. Yes, I spent a good chuck of time revising the query after this contest. Then I was very happy to see the request! Very exciting!

      Best of luck to you and thanks for your help,
      Ann

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