#PitchWars has been extra helpful this year with the addition of a ProBoards forum. I found this helpful for improving my query, not so much by the posting and critting of it, but by seeing what everyone else was posting.
I was able to see lots of people making lots of mistakes. For some reason, the more queries I saw, the easier it was to see the mistakes.
When I went back to my own query, I was able to see the mistakes I'd been making. Oops. Once corrected, I feel I got a much stronger query.
Think this is enough to win over a mentor?
Adrastea, a simple country healer, is surprised to receive a marriage proposal from the Dark God Mor-Lath. As a devotee of a rival god, of course she turns him down. She was raised on chilling tales of this chthonic being who drags the souls of the unrepentant to the underworld. Adrastea loves her simple country life of brewing medicines and saving lives. Marriage to Mor-Lath would greatly complicate things. Besides, why would the Dark God propose to her?
Undaunted by her refusal, Mor-Lath insists on courting her. Sometimes he is charming, winning over the other villagers. Other times, he is ruthless in his actions, refusing to let anyone stand in his way of his pursuit of Adrastesa.
She sees him the dark god he truly is. While he makes it clear he’ll only have her willingly, he’s making it very difficult for her to say no.
Adrastea faces a quandary: her continued refusals puts not only her village under threat of destruction, but possibly the entire land. If she accepts the Dark God's marriage proposal, her soul will never ascend to the Light. Mor-Lath's plaintive desperation hints that even more might be at stake. But what? What is he really after?
Either way, the price is too high.
OF THE DARK is a 125,000-word Fantasy novel, loosely based on several Greek myths (especially the Adrasteia and Jupiter stories) and is the first of a completed trilogy.
I'm an Australian author of moderate repute. I've had dozens of short stories and non-fiction articles published and have had several novellas published with The Wild Rose Press. I've been a member of the Online Writing Workshop since its inception. I'm a member of Romance Writers of Australia. By day I work part-time in IT Support. By night I'm an astronomer and citizen scientist, because that's when the stars are out.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
And here's my first five hundred words.
Adrastea descended into the dark. As her feet touched the cellar's stone floor, the scent of brandy enveloped her. It was stronger here, redolent of peaches and hot summer days and possibly forbidden kisses. Something had broken. Oh dear.
Up in the stillroom Ari Healer peered into the cellar, her anxiety palpable. Her skinny hands gripped the top of the ladder and she sniffled. "Was it my barrel? Please tell me it wasn't my barrel."
"I don't know." Something shimmered at the edge of Adrastea's vision. The auras? She pushed away Ari's worry and squinted into the darkness. Was it a bottle of new brandy that broke, or the barrel of old brandy? Please, not the new brandy. Adrastea had worked so hard distilling enough. Her heart ached at the thought of losing even one drop.
But if it had been Ari's barrel, the one that had sat in this cellar for twenty-five years, its precious contents aging to perfection, that would be a greater loss.
Adrastea drew a breath and coughed. The alcohol stung her lungs too much to tell which one had spilled.
A warm light wavered above the cellar door. "Here. Take the lantern."
"No. Too risky." It would do Adrastea no good if the flame of the lamp ignited the brandy fumes.
Ari's voice shuddered. "It is my barrel, isn't it?"
Again, something shimmered out of the corner of her eye, flaring then fading. Now that was interesting. "Could be the barrel."
Ari let out a whimper.
There! The glimmer brightened at the far end of the cellar. How fascinating. Ari's grief sent pulses along the threads that connected her aura to the barrel. That was new. Even without daylight, Adrastea knew exactly where the barrel was.
Mira Priestess once told her everything in Creation was bound by the Lines of Deeper Power. Everything and everyone was connected, whether they knew it or not. Her mother described them as the warp and weft of the world, present, even if most of the time they could not be seen. Adrastea had never given it much thought until now. They'd just been... there.
They reminded her of shafts of sunlight through a window, when motes of dust sparkled in the beams. As a child, Adrastea had always tried to catch those motes. They always evaded her grasp. She had always presumed these Lines were the same.
Out in the daylight, she could barely tell auras were there, just gossamer webs out of the corner of her eye. Down here in the cellar, they came to her much stronger.
Adrastea relaxed and focused inward, drawing a deep breath. Lines from dried herbs and potions she'd prepared lit up and connected to her. She'd made all this. It belonged to her and brought her deep satisfaction. How comforting to know that something she created with her own two hands did some good in the world.
I'm especially proud of this opening, as it passes the Bechdel Test.
So here I sit and forget about #PitchWars until 25 August, when mentees will be announced.
If I get in, YAY!
If not, I have a Plan B. Sooner or later, this book will be published.
Her Grace hopes her first chapter is voicy enough. That's what mentors are looking for.