Zorya (Writer’s Voice)

Query:

17-year-old Zorya lives on blood, is allergic to daylight, and can lift the front end of a car (well, a small car). But nobody in polite American society uses the “v” word—the PC term is “Nightwalker.”

Zorya’s ancestors called themselves the Oameni back in the old country. Not supernatural creatures, but an ancient race forced out of hiding fifty years ago. After a brief but bitter war, they made an uneasy peace and a place for themselves in the human “Daywalker” world.

Born long after the Wars, Zorya couldn’t care less about history. She’s a popular senior at her high school in the California Enclave, with good grades, the newest smartphone, and the latest clothes.

Now her easy life is about to drastically change. Her fascination with David, the only Daywalker in the school, results in her parents sending her away to her grandfather, an Oameni Elder living in a distant Idaho forest refuge.

There her grandfather teaches Zorya the secrets of her ancient heritage, skills she never needed in high school, and eventually the real reason for her exile.

When her new life at the refuge is threatened by a disturbed Oameni war veteran, Zorya decides her only option is to flee back to California on her own.

On the grueling trip, she deals with anti-Nightwalker terrorists, sunrises, the stalker on her trail, and her grandfather’s secret organization of peacekeepers that wants to recruit her to their cause. And then there’s David, turning up where she least expects him, to help her face a terrorist threat to the Enclave itself.

ZORYA is a YA SF novel, complete at 98,300 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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250 Words:

My name’s Zorya. Mother says I’m named after Zorya Vechernyaya, goddess of the Evening Star. That’s sort of cool.

There were fifteen of us in my classroom that fall—the entire high school senior class population of the Northern California Enclave. And then there was David. Named after David, I guess.

He wasn’t one of us. He was one of them.

I propped my arm on my desk and casually leaned my head on my hand, turning my face a bit to the right. That way, I could look at him without…looking like I was looking at him. Up at the front of the room Madame Stefonia was writing something on the whiteboard, so she probably wouldn’t notice right away that I wasn’t paying attention.

The moonlamps were turned up high so David could see well enough to read and write. Their eyes are really bad—I don’t think they can even see colors at night. On the other hand, I could see him just fine. Unlike me, he was watching the teacher and busily taking notes.

He was blonde, which in a room full of black hair made him stick out like a snowball on an asphalt road. He was almost a year older than me, almost a foot taller, and even skinnier. His eyes were dark brown, which was as weird around here as the blonde hair. His voice had a twinge of accent, Texas I think, and my God, the tan. It was only the third week of school and he hadn’t been here long enough to start losing it.

PitMad

Once in a while, there’s a “Twitter pitch” party online. I just went through my first one March 29th (details here.)

The basic rules: the pitch for your book has to be 140 characters or less, including the hashtag for the party (“#PitMad” in this case)

I pitched two books. I didn’t get any requests or “hits” from agents, but fortunately there are still a lot of other things you can take away from a pitch party.

You learn things. Not least is developing the skill of distilling your concepts down to minimum length while (hopefully) maintaining maximum punch.  Since I am a complete Twitter noob, I also learned a lot about how the system works.

You get exposure. Your name, your books, and your ideas get out there. Every re-tweet can get you into a wider universe. If you’re on Twitter, make sure your personal Twitter page has your website on it! Who knows who might come poking in there?

You discover new agents and publishers, and learn more about ones you knew. When agents or publishers popped into the feed, I pulled their individual Twitter pages off into browser tabs of their own, and then moved out into their websites. I found out more about what familiar agents think, and what they’re looking for. If an agent I don’t know shows up, they may be a potential target for a conventional query later. Remember, the feed goes by so fast, there’s little or no chance that your pitch was seen by every agent, so you really have nothing to lose and maybe something to gain by pitching them through normal channels later on.

A couple of days later, Carissa Taylor came out with a detailed list of pitches that got “hits.” This is useful information if you’re trying to get a broad idea of what’s attracting agents out there.

These contests and others pop up periodically. I have a pretty good record of discovering them by accident about two days after the entry deadline, but I lucked out on this one. To find things like this before they close, you could do worse than checking out Brenda Drake’s website now and then, and following up on links you find there. Kimberly Gabriel’s website also tracks contests. I’m sure there are others.