Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #89


Title: LIES OF THE BALL
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 87,000

Query:

She’s a runaway slave.
The man she loves has the power to destroy her.

Southern beauty Mercedes Albright lives in the prettiest plantation house Mississippi has to offer. She hosts the most beautiful parties in the entire South, and dances as though she were the belle of the ball. Mercedes is the most eligible bachelorette in town. And she has a secret that if ever found out, it would ruin her for the rest of her life.

Careful laid plans put Mercedes in good standing with the wealthy socialites of Vicksburg. To her downfall, the man she falls desperately in love with is the man whose father sold her mother years before at the slave market. Mercedes was bought by another man and sent to live in another town.

Returning to the place of her birth, Mercedes has only one thing in mind: revenge on the family who stole her childhood and ripped her mother from her arms. She never intended to fall in love with her enemy. She never expected he would learn her true identity. Now, she’s on the run again, but this time, it’s for a different reason.

Lies Of The Ball is an 87,000 word historical fiction set during the Civil War era.

First 250:

Tangled undergrowth and briars scraped at Mercedes’s leg and snagged her dress. The woods closed in on her, twisting and turning the overhead branches into ghostly silhouettes. Climbing vines wrapped around the swamp dogwoods creating a canopy above her, blocking even the small slivers of moonlight. Something slimy brushed against her arm and she clamped her hand over her mouth to muffle a scream.

Wood smoke filled the damp air and squinting her eyes, Mercedes made out the flames of a small fire sputtering through the thick brush. She began to run away but tripped on a half-rotted log and fell into a clearing. The men on the other side stood in a circle, spewing filthy words.

“He won’t run no more,” one man said, throwing his head back in dark laughter.

Shadows danced across the ground and looking up, Mercedes froze in fright. A slave hung from a rope.

Sparks flew up as embers fell from his kicking feet. His piercing scream sliced through the smoky air and bounced off the overhanging, moss covered branches. No crickets. No rustling leaves. Nothing but screams. Agonizing, sad shrieks of pain mixed with cries for help.

Mercedes curled into a ball. She pinched her eyes closed and pressed her hands over her ears to shut out the horrible sounds.

Trembling.
Suffocating.
Retching.

When she finished, a twig snapped behind her. The night stood still for a moment. A cold hand squeezed down on her shoulder and jerked her off the ground.

6 comments:

  1. Cool concept, and WOW -- way to open with a bang. Love the imagery in your first 250. Beautifully written, and I fully believed the setting.

    I was a little confused by the dichotomy between Mercedes being both a runaway slave and this wealthy Southern belle. I know many people "hid" that they had slave parents if their skin was white enough -- is this her secret? If so, I think you might need a bit more to connect the lines. At least for me! In that case, this reminds me of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson.

    The other part of the query that confused me was this:

    "To her downfall, the man she falls desperately in love with is the man whose father sold her mother years before at the slave market. Mercedes was bought by another man and sent to live in another town."

    I wanted a little more detail on who the man is. Why does she fall desperately in love with him? What kind of person is he?

    Good luck!!

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  2. I definitely agree this is really gripping. But like the previous poster, I at first had trouble with the runaway slave and now the belle of Southern society combo. It occurred to me the character may be mixed. Although I am sure others (including agents) could figure that out pretty quick, it did take me a moment. Maybe make it clearer? I like your first 250 a WHOLE lot. Very moving and I wanted to keep reading. I like the query except the first two lines kind of threw me for how abrupt they felt, but that could just be me.

    I'm #91.

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  3. author of Lies Of The BallJanuary 28, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Well, it's part of the secret she holds...something that is a huge twist in the plot and do not want to reveal to the readers. BUT I will happily tell to agents.

    That being said, it will surprise many. The story is based on true events.

    She falls in love with "the man" as part of her carefully laid plans. She never know he was the one whose family sold her mother. Until she was already in love.

    There is betrayal. and it's brutal. but there is also redemption. and it is astounding.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I'll be around to visit yours as soon as I can!

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  4. I love your first 250. You did a marvelous job of intertwining description with the action. Can't wait to see how this one does.
    Laurie #98

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  5. You're in! I loved this premise.

    Other folks are saying above that they were confused about Mercedes' race and what she looks like. I was too. You say it's a secret. But you don't want to confuse people who are reading the description on the back of your book, which is basically what a query is. I was also confused about why someone would place her in high society rather than letting her hide in more common surroundings, where she'd be safer. Did Mercedes put down the carefully laid plans herself, all in the service of her revenge plot? If so, you should say so, because that's cool.

    You say this is based on true events. That's intriguing. Add that to the query?

    Finally...do NOT take my word for this because historical is not my genre, but would this have a better chance at selling as a YA? She seems YA age, and I think American settings are sometimes a hard sell in adult historical. DO NOT TAKE MY WORD FOR THIS. Just a sugg.

    Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. author of Lies Of The BallJanuary 29, 2013 at 8:17 PM

      I am ecstatic! Thank you!

      Yes, Mercedes made the plan herself. And she wasn't in "hiding", per say. There was a fire and Mercedes was thought to have died. She made her escape after the accident:)

      But, that is not her secret, and I think if (*when*):) my book is published, the secret will be the best kept secret ever! And it will be the best twist in my plot. Ever.

      And, while Mercedes is young in the opening scene, a few chapters into the story, she is grown.

      Thank you for voting mine in!

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