1/8/11

ABNA 2011 - Going for it

I have made up my mind. I'm going to submit Urban Mythos to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest next week (or the week thereafter). So now, I've got to tune up my pitch. I've queried it a few times, but the pitch is a little different - not much, but a bit. What do I have to lose, right?

Without further ado, I present to you the first iteration of the ABNA pitch for Urban Mythos. I would love to get your opinions, advice, critiques, comments, or jokes, so please, please, please, let me know what you think. What's the comment box for anyway?




Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill discovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. You wouldn’t think a city kid like Zydeco would care about their plight, except he’s one of them. Two years removed from his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending meetings of a clandestine support group for the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers that the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

As other mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands that Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their local support group. His initial resistance results in the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. Still trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco decides to rescue his friends and step-mom rather than betray Octavio. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio's help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

Urban Mythos, an 80,000 word young adult urban fantasy novel, blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and fitting in with mainstream society. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group.


6 comments:

Kate Larkindale said...

Looks good! But aren't you the 'that' guy? There's two in there you could lose...

Kristan said...

Initial thought: Great job!! I totally want to read this book (no, really, I do).

Deeper thoughts/nitpicks:

- "city kid" -- I don't get why "city" makes a difference. Is there a significance to that? Are country folk difference? Are you trying to imply that he's slick/worldly?

- Can you use "mythos" earlier? like "You wouldn't think a kid like Zydeco would care about the 'mythos'--except he's one of them."?

- "rather than betray Octavio" seems unnecessary, since you already gave a motivation earlier in the same sentence (not wanting his crush to know he's a mtyhos) (or maybe the reverse is true: you don't need the crush b/c you have the loyalty to Octavio)

- "clandestine" seems like an overly fancy (adult) way of saying "secret"

- The first sentence of the 3rd paragraph is a little complex. What about just a little rearranging? "At 80,000 words, URBAN MYTHOS is a Young Adult urban fantasy novel that blends action and romance..."?

Those are some pretty nitty nits, though. You did a GREAT job. Good luck!

(ABNA can be quite fun, as long as you have a thick skin. It can also be time-consuming though, if you are an obsessive webpage refresher like me...)

Laura said...

I think it's fabulous, Jay. Like me, I see you got great support from the YALitChat forum.

My only concern is the "Chimera-chow" comment. It's very funny, but it's not quite clear that the chimera lives in the "barren world filled with hungry beasts". Since a chimera is a mythos, too, you could be talking about some renegade mythos in the deputy mayor's group.

Best of luck with ABNA! :-D

M.A.Leslie said...

Howdy Jay,

I just wanted to say go for it and good luck (Maybe break a leg), which ever you perfer.

Secondly the only question that I have after reading the query is, why would the mayor want to bother a Mytho after they have been transformed? They are normal now right? Why would he bother them.

Well that's all I have to say about that. (Great quote Forest Gump.)

Great story and I really can't wait till it gets published so I can read it.

Jay said...

Kate - you got me!

Kristan - thank you so much! Those are some good nits. :-)

Laura - yes indeedy - YALITCHAT was a big help. Good point on the chimera.

M.A. - I've received that very question before. The tricky thing is that it IS a mystery and something I wouldn't reveal in the pitch. I think I need to do a better job conveying that fact - as in when Zydeco discovers why the Mayor is up to this.....

Alex Lidell said...

First, to be clear: this is a good, clean pitch. If you were to leave it and never touch it again, I think you would pass the first ABNA round. I'd give it a B+.

I am afraid of trying to fix what isn't broken, but luckily I just get to spew ideas and you decide whether to use or ignore them. Looking over my inline comments, i think my biggest concern is the "shape" of your progression. It reads like a series of hills - conflicts are mentioned, resolutions are implied, the next hill (conflict) is introduced. Like a good novel. But in a short pitch, i would rather feel a steady acceleration, one big cliff you lead me up on and then, when i have a glimpse of the landscape, leave me.


Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill discovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. You wouldn’t think a city kid like Zydeco would care about their plight, except he’s one of them. Two years removed from his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending meetings of a clandestine support group for the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers that the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

The middle two sentences use a lot of words to say "recovering mythological creature" (which i took from your novel and is AWESOME). I understand you are trying to not leave the reader too confused but it's not as smooth as it could be. You are in essence giving the hook (sentence 1, great), then dropping into back story (sentences 2 and 3 "let me explain the background of all this to you reader) and then jumping forward in the story in the last sentence. That's a lot of jumping.


As other mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands that Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their local support group.

Great insight of the plot, i like. Do you need to mention Octavio by name? In fact, do you need to tell the reader that the group is a support group? As opposed to leaving it in the air as to the nature of this clandestine group?

His initial resistance results in the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend,

The plot thickens. Great.

and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. Still trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores,

Another good plot element. I would chop the word "still". It makes me feel like you've already taken me into the middle of the story as opposed to given me the set up of the conflict.

Zydeco decides to rescue his friends and step-mom rather than betray Octavio.

Again, i like the info, but the way things are worded to this point i feel like you told me a conflict (kidnapping and demand) and then told me the resolution (Z made his decision) and have now moved on to the next conflict (how is he going to accomplish this), which makes everything an up and down and up motion instead of a steady acceleration. Would something like "Zydeco must rescue" as opposed to "Z decides to rescue" work better?

Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio's help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

Urban Mythos, an 80,000 word young adult urban fantasy novel, blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and fitting in with mainstream society. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group.