I've been waiting for this book since the release news hit book Twitter. The title stemming from my favorite line of all Shakespeare's masterpieces immediately gained my attention, while the blurb and plot kept it for over a year.
When I finally got my hands on it, I couldn't wait to get started. From page one, Gong's lyrical and whimsical prose was captivating and proof of how 'show dont tell' can draw you deep into a long ago world. Using aspects of Romeo & Juliet, without walking within the borders of the original tale, you are transported back to 1920s Shanghai, to a world of gangsters, rivalries and mystery.
For a little more information, check out the blurb: (courtesy of GOODREADS):
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
Name play stemming from the original characters, new twists to staple features of the tale have you scanning the pages for how this new take will tie in to the story we know, in intriguing and original ways.
Weaving a mythical thread through with the use of a madness and monsters sounded like the perfect rewrite of the world's most iconic love story. And while I love Gong's writing, her characters and the world she created, I couldn't seem to fall in with the monster aspect. It seemed...misplaced. The case of the madness was intriguing, but again...just didn't feel organic to the story when its placed around mysterious insects.
With the follow up, Our Violent Ends, in line for release to close out where the cliffhanger ending left off, I suppose we will see how it all comes together, and intend to get my copy on release day.
Overall, fabulously written and wonderful worldbuilding, but it fell off course with amphibian monsters and rogue insects.
Querying can be a scary adventure to step in to. Taking something you put your heart and soul in to, and share it with the world. Even when you feel like you're ready, you might second guess yourself and that is totally normal.
If you aren't sure if you're ready to start the querying spreadsheets and rejection fears, try Twitter pitch parties. There are plenty available depending on your genre, and once you get the hang of it, they are a blast to take part in.
The general premise of these events is to pitch your story to industry editors and agents in a 280 character blurb. This forces you to get to the point, clear out the extras, and show your talent.
These events are open to COMPLETE, POLISHED and QUERY READY manuscripts. If you haven't finished your book, or haven't sent it through at least 2 rounds of beta and critique partners, I don't recommend jumping into the pitch party pool just yet. They allow you to get in front of agents, but those agents will want to see your best work possible. So make it shine before you pitch!
Things to remember during these events is that 'likes' are for industry peeps online. Editors and agents. Please DO NOT like a pitch unless you are an industry pro. If you want to show support to other pitchers, RT your favs to help them gain traction and attention. But be prepared for some people, such as your own followers and readers, to not know the rules and like your pitches. You will get a little flutter of excitement and hope, then sigh when you find it isn't from a pro. It is all part of the experience!
Here are a few pitch events to consider if you're ready! Check out their websites for more info, or their hashtags on Twitter to peruse some polished pitches.
Launched by author Brenda Drake, happens four times a year and is one of (if not THE) biggest online pitch event on Twitter
Launched by agent Beth Phelan, this event is for diverse authors to showcase their talent.
For science fiction and fantasy manuscripts only.
Romance manuscripts only, pitched on February 14th (Valentines Day)
Horror, Thriller, 'dark' manuscripts only.
Pitch event hosted by agency Curtis Brown, directly to them only. All manuscripts welcome.
Other events you may consider include #pitchwars, #revpit and more, where agented and published authors pair with new writers to polish their manuscripts over several months in preparation for the 'agent round'. Great experience from people who have been through it!
SavvyAuthors blog also features pitch events through the year on their website, where you can pitch directly to select agents and editors in a 3 sentence pitch.
Pass or Pages by Operation Awesome lets you pitch to agents and editors, and they will either ask for pages or pass on the pitch.