#PitchSlam: Revenge of the Entrants

Hey PitchSlam friends (and everyone else)!

Here’s the deal. The PitchSlam entrants have been so collectively AWESOME in taking feedback that I figured they deserve a little revenge. So I’m presenting you with two of my own pitches/first 250 for you to comment on, and so are some of the other judges! Confession: I wrote my pitches superfast and they aren’t that great. 😀 Here we go.

This first one is  from the story that got me a PitchWars mentor, landed me an agent, and ultimately got a publishing contract. It’s the first in a trilogy and THEY’RE ALL COMING OUT THIS YEAR (in July, September, and November)! That’s right. So if you love romance, fantasy, and trilogies but hate waiting, you should check it out. 😉

Name: Caitlyn McFarland

Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy/Romance

Title: SOUL OF SMOKE

Word Count: 95,000

Pitch: Kai Monahan’s hike in the Rockies ends with her kidnapped by dragons. When one bonds to her, she must complete the bond or risk unleashing dragons on humanity in a war that will decimate both.

First 250:

Kai stood at the brink of the precipice, the toes of her worn hiking boots hanging over the edge. One wrong move would plunge her down the sheer cliff face to the rock-strewn valley two hundred feet below. A shiver of adrenaline thrilled from the bottom of her feet to the base of her neck.

She threw out her arms and inhaled the pine-spiked autumn air. It was late September, and the higher elevations of the Rockies were a motley mix of yellow, orange and deep, dusty green. Snow capped the high peaks in the distance. Not far off, a stream laughed in its rocky bed.

Freedom.

Grinning, Kai stepped back from the view and sauntered to a boulder ten feet from the drop-off. She shed her pack and leaned against the sun-warmed surface of the stone. Haphazard flyaways the color of soot had escaped her messy bun, and she smoothed them down with callused fingers.

Gravel crunched behind her. Kai turned. “About time.”

Juli emerged from behind the tall, tumbled boulders that hid the path, looking cool and composed. Her pink jacket, which precisely matched the accents on her black pants, was worn but obviously cared-for. She eyed the cliff, then Kai, brushing an escaped strand of short, white-blond hair behind one ear. “We’ve talked about this.”

Kai shrugged away a buzz of annoyance. “I promised, didn’t I? No more almost falling off cliffs.” And she hadn’t. She’d been careful. “Where’s Charlotte?”

That’s it! You can find more info on the trilogy here and check out the Goodreads page for Soul of Smoke here. The book releases online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on the Carina Press website on July 27th, 2015.

And now for the second one. This one is drafted, but I haven’t revised yet, and it needs a new title. It’s going to be my next project after the Dragonsworn trilogy is finished… if my agent likes it. Like I said on Twitter, guys, even when you’re published, you never stop pitching.

Name: Caitlyn McFarland

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Romance

Title: TRAVELER

Word Count: 103,000 (will be lower after revisions)

Pitch: Dani “fell” from our world into another and gained healing magic. When allies abuse her power and a malicious king seeks her, Dani must rely on Hadrian–the king’s assassin son–or lose her life.

First 250:

Dani leaned over the platform’s edge and yanked the rope of the warning bell. The resulting bong reverberated through her skull and echoed among the vast trunks of the giant, oak-like trees of the Greening. She stumbled to the wooden rail of the glorified tree house and looked down, searching for evidence that the bell had done its job. It was nearly a two-hundred foot drop; her view of the village blocked by the deep, saturated green of the giant leaves, each the size of two open palms.

Air whooshed, and Dani spun toward the quiet sound. Natsume stood in the center of the previously empty platform, her round, high-cheekboned face concerned.

Dani pointed to the sky. “It’s there, right? I’m not seeing things?”

Natsume squinted tilted black eyes at the canopy, thin here in the heights of the ancient trees. The pale light of the aurora spread wavering fingers across the star-studded black of the sky; glimmering streamers of green, blue, and pink.

Natsume let out a low whistle. “You aren’t seeing things. Some poor idiot just woke up to the worst night of their life.”

Dani winced. The gut-twisting feeling of hurtling through a void. Waking dizzier than a kid spinning and spinning just to make the world turn upside down. “We’d better go. We’ve got to get to them first.”

Natsume snorted. “The king’s ‘porters couldn’t jump a small pond in one go. We’ll get there first.”

Dani crossed to her friend. “We can’t lose another one.”

And now you’ve seen my writing naked, ha ha. If you’d like to crit/comment/ask a question, do so in the comments! Thank you all again for being so great! Here are the links to the other judges’ posts!

Diana

Jamie

Kim

Laura

Mary Ann

Michelle

About Caitlyn McFarland

Mom of three girls, writer of fantasy novels.
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13 Responses to #PitchSlam: Revenge of the Entrants

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  6. Jules says:

    I really like it! I love the details. I’m the kind of person who likes to feel in the midst of the setting. My only actual critique? Is not even really a *critique*, but that I will defend with my last breath that the word “decimate,” means “to destroy one-tenth of a thing.” 🙂

    • Thank you so much for stopping by to read! And I actually had that thought as I put “decimate” in the pitch. I was being lazy. *shame face* BUT, as someone who studied linguistics, I might argue that definition of the word has shifted to mean “destroy a large part” and that the one-in-ten meaning is more archaic. Still, it’s hard to see that deci- in there and feel like I’m being accurate, isn’t it? Ha ha. Thank you again! I really appreciate hearing from you!

  7. Heather says:

    Soul of Smoke: One thing I noticed, that stopped me, in the fourth paragraph she “saunters” to the boulder. Which didn’t make sense until I read the next sentence mentioning the pack. To lead the reader, I would recommend mentioning the ‘heavy’ pack first before saying she saunters. Otherwise it sounds like she is a lumbering bear–which she clearly is not.
    Otherwise, I love it. I’m all about hiking boots, breathtaking views, the smell of the pines . . . 🙂

    • Hi Heather! Thank you so much for stopping by, and thanks for the crit! I’ll definitely double-check the definition of sauntered to make sure it says what I want it to. 😀

  8. Giora says:

    Thanks, Caitlyn, for the feedback you and the other judges gave to many authors. I was very useful in my case, and in appreciation here are my comments. I like the pitch of novel 1 where dragons kidnap Kai in the Rockies. Original. The stakes are obvious and drastic. Kai is usually a Korean name so I’m surprised by her last name. Great writing in the first page with so many little details to make it complete, like “pine spiked autumn air” and “a stream laughed in its rocky bed.” Really, can’t suggest any improvement except that I would like to know Kai better at least in the first 2 pages. What is her age? Her looks. The picture is clear. Three women climbing in the Rockies. Something is going to happen soon.
    Now, because my first novel is set in China and it’s about a girl falling in love with a humanoid dragon, although he stays in human form, during the story .. I’m curious about the dragons in your novel. Usually they are in China. Why they came to the Rockies? I’m curious about the mechanics of transformation of Ryhs from a dragon to a man. Once he’s a man, can they make love? I understand that you write a trilogy. If you didn’t write yet the third one, you might want to have part of the story of all of them moving to China where dragons are part of the culture and maybe this third book can be marketed in China. Talk with Carina Press and your agent about it.

    • Hi Giora!

      Thank you so much for the feedback! “Kai” in this case, is a Hawaiian name, and Monahan is Irish. You make a good point about China! The Chinese do have a very rich history of dragon mythology, but there are dragon legends from all over the world, so the Dragonsworn trilogy includes dragons from everywhere.

      As to whether Rhys and Kai can make love… I guess you’ll have to read to find out. 😀

      Thanks again!

  9. Giora says:

    The pitch for novel 2 and the stakes are clear. Here in the first page I don’t understand clearly what is going on. I had to read it again. You have great style of writing with many details, but here it distracts me as a reader to understand what is going on. I like this page to be simpler. For example, makes line 15-16 simpler like ..Dani winced. “We’d better go …”. Writing is very subjective, but I rather have more dialogues between Dani and Natsume in the first 250 explaining what is going and will be going on. Good luck with all your novels.

    • Thanks for the feedback on this one, too! I’ve had a lot of trouble with the beginning, so it’s definitely good to hear how it’s going over with people. I’ll keep your comments in mind when I revise!

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