QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adult SF/F/H/Thriller/Romance Contest Winners!

Literary agent Weronika Janczuk of the D4EO Agency judged our last QueryTracker Blog contest on March 3, 2011. We had 99 adult science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller, and romance entries. We will contact the winners directly as well as posting them below.

Note from Weronika:

These contests are terribly hard to judge, as they are contests—competitive, and definitely comparative. I’m not sitting down to read queries: to skip what I don’t like; to ignore those two lines that I would cut out in a line edit if, potentially, I signed the client; to give what is okay a chance because there is an element that personally intrigues me; etc. I only have what is before me.

In the end, the greatest decision factor was entirely personal: a gut feeling. What made me want to read more? What pitches and/or excerpts am I still thinking about a few days later? I cut a few entries based on word count—some were incredibly high or incredibly short. I cut the most entries based on the pitches, which I judged based on quality of concept and quality of pitch (how the concept was conveyed). Then I looked at the writing. Did the writer, in a few hundred words, show me they can write, potentially very well—voice, rhythm, pacing, etc.? (On that note, many, many excerpts felt forced—as if the writer was trying to convey the hook in the word count; those were immediate passes, as it needs to be organic.)

The four winners grabbed me with their pitches and/or their excerpts—and if one has a poorer quality than the other, it means the other was just good enough to grab me and not let go.

* GRAND PRIZE WINNER *
full manuscript request (please send to weronika@d4eo.com)
query + first ten pages critique

UNDER A DEAD MOON
Adult Fantasy—110,000
Lindsay Smith

Pitch:
A cocky young sorceress turns to the same forbidden magic that threatens her kingdom in a dangerous attempt to save it.

Excerpt:
The day before I went to Merona to become a mage, another shadow welled in the study, on the spot where my father had died. Second one this month, my governess noted grimly, and went to summon the Justicars to clear it away. I braced myself against the cool marble fireplace and crouched down beside it; breathed in the stench of rotting pears. Its skin shimmered with my oily reflection. I wanted to scrub it out--sink my fingers into it, listen to its words--no. I pulled back the hand I didn't remember extending.

The shadow shifted, and whispers threaded through my mind.

* FIRST PLACE WINNER *
partial manuscript (first 50 pages) request (please send to weronika@d4eo.com)
query + first ten pages critique

AN EYE FOR DANGER
Romantic Suspense—128,000
Christine M. Fairchild

Pitch:
When former war photographer JULES LARSON braves a PTSD attack to jog beyond her five-block safety zone, she runs right into a murder scene, where she's taken hostage by SAM FIELDS, an undercover FBI agent desperate to avoid capture by his former mentor, NYPD Detective STONE MCCARTHY, who might be part of Sam's two-year investigation of dirty cops.

Excerpt:
We jogged into Central Park at dawn, my yellow mutt, Max, marching at my side, Johnny Cash pounding over my iPod, my ponytail lashing my back. In college a five-mile run didn't break a sweat on me, but now a casual stroll beyond Great Hill could drop me to my knees. So I'd pumped myself with enough caffeine to power Manhattan and rolled out before the food vendors. Now all I needed was courage to exceed my five-block safety zone without another damn panic attack.

Today was the day I broke free.

I aimed for the hill at a clip...

* SECOND PLACE WINNER *
partial manuscript (first 50 pages) request (please send to weronika@d4eo.com)
query critique

WHITE LIES
Psychological Thriller—117,000
Rachel Haimowitz

Pitch:
Waking injured and alone in an unknown country with a three-month hole where his memory used to be, KBC news anchor Fletcher Hannigan must fight shadowy external forces and the darkness in his own mind to reconstruct the story of the century.

Excerpt:
I have dreamed of many things these weeks, but never sunlight. So when I open my eyes to a sky streaked with pink, a sea of rolling hills and damp grass and snow-capped mountains in the distance, I am fairly certain it's real. There is hope in this, but also fear--where am I, and why have they released me? Did I escape? Are They coming to drag me back?

I need to hide, find help, but moving is agony. Just getting to my feet takes several tries, and for many moments after, I'm not sure which way is up.

* THIRD PLACE WINNER *
partial manuscript (first 30 pages) request (please send to weronika@d4eo.com)
query critique

THE GREAT FIREWALL
Thriller—75,000
Michael C. Boxall

Pitch:
Impoverished software genius risks his career, his marriage and his life itself when he is torn between following the best idea he's ever had and helping protesters fight a murderous Shanghai property developer.

Excerpt:
SHANGHAI, 1923, five years after Bolsheviks shot the czar and shot the empress and shot their children and their doctor and their servants and splashed the faces with acid. Nikolai follows the rickshaw and its passenger inland from the Bund, flapping along in his threadbare greatcoat as if blown by the wind. Ahead of him Chatwin's skull gleams pink through thinning sandy hair. The rickshaw's bamboo chassis creaks.

Potholes on Nanking Road are filled with scummy brown water. The barefoot puller stumbles, almost falls, slows down.

Chatwin aims a kick. "You one damn slow Chinaman! You makee chop-chop!"

* * *
If you didn’t win, please feel free to query me. Send your query and first five pages in the body of an e-mail to weronika@d4eo.com with QUERY in the subject line.

* * * 
A huge congratulations to all the winners, and thank you again to Ms. Janczuk!

3 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Congrats to the winners! And thank you, Ms. Janczuk, for the great contest.

Natasha Hanova said...

Congrats to the winners!

Weronika, I don't envy you. Those were all great entries.

Krista V. said...

Congratulations, Lindsay, Christine, Rachel, and Michael! Weronika's a great agent. Hope she offers representation to all of you!