Query Letter Blogfest (Midwinter Blogfest & Harry Potter Blogfest is posted below)

To day is the Query Letter Blogfest over at Jodi Henry’s blog Turning the Page: A Literary Ramble go (HERE) to read all the participants’ entries. We’re posting query letters for review on our WIP or finished manuscripts.

So here’s my entry. I worked late trying to pull something together, so this is kind of rough. Anyway, it’s a query for my NaNoWriMo project that is currently in revision. Thanks for Stopping by! 

 
 Dear Dream Agent:
When seventeen-year-old Graciela Zamora’s spring fling, drowns right before their date, she’s about to discover that there’s a fine line between the living and the dead, and if she doesn’t heed the warnings in the diary of a girl killed in 1904, she may very well cross over that line.
After a horrible summer of healing her shattered heart, Graciela hopes her first year at Bryn Mawr College for girls will distract her from the memory of the tragedy. But as a strange group of girls who wear black robes and hold rituals late at night start stalking her, demonic dogs attack her, and a flock of owls follow her at night, campus life proves to be dangerous. 

Together with her roommate, the brother of her deceased fling, and a mysterious fraternity guy, Graciela discovers she’s a descendent of an ancient witch coven, and it is up to her to stop the planned ritual to raise the Bane Lord, who will bring about the culling of all humans. As she struggles to learn her inherited powers from a diary she finds, two guys vie for her affections, and her mixed up feelings for them may just hurt both. And if that wasn’t bad enough, only Graciela’s blood will raise the demon lord.  
   
KNIGHT OWLS, a young adult paranormal, is complete at 70,000 words. 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

24 comments to Query Letter Blogfest (Midwinter Blogfest & Harry Potter Blogfest is posted below)

  • THis reads pretty well. I think it’s just enough to spark some interest without giving too much away. I’m no expert by any means… but I couldn’t find any areas for improvement and the story sounds really cool.Best of luck!

  • I’d definitely want to read that book. Now, just submit it to publishers! 🙂

  • Hi Brenda,

    This is a great start for the query and if not one that sounds very well polished. Your second paragraph really sold me. Stake on top of stake on top it. There’s almost zero vagueness to be read in the query, which is something I have trouble breaking out of.

    Great job here. I would love to see this manuscript make it to an agent.

    Talk to you later!

    JWP
    In My Write Mind

  • (My feeling is that you’d be better off cutting the log-line. I think the rest of the query is intriguing enough and provides enough stakes to allow the information at the beginning to appear there.)

    When seventeen-year-old Graciela Zamora’s spring fling, drowns right before their date, she’s about to discover that there’s a fine line between the living and the dead, and if she doesn’t heed the warnings in the diary of a girl killed in 1904, she may very well cross over that line.

    After a horrible summer of healing her shattered heart, Graciela hopes her first year at Bryn Mawr College for girls will distract her from the memory of the tragedy (so, if you were to cut the log-line, this would read something like: …FROM THE MEMORY OF HER BOYFRIEND’S DEATH). But as a strange group of girls who wear black robes and hold rituals late at night start stalking her, demonic dogs attack her, and a flock of owls follow her at night, campus life proves to be dangerous.

    Together with her roommate, the brother of her deceased fling, and a mysterious fraternity guy, Graciela discovers she’s a descendent of an ancient witch coven, and it is up to her to stop the planned ritual to raise the Bane Lord, who will bring about the culling of all humans. As she struggles to learn her inherited powers (I WOULD BE SPECIFIC HERE ABOUT WHAT THE POWERS ARE) from a diary she finds, two guys vie for her affections, and her mixed up feelings for them may just hurt both. And if that wasn’t bad enough, only Graciela’s blood will raise the demon lord. (LOVE THE ENDING HERE)

    KNIGHT OWLS, a young adult paranormal, is complete at 70,000 words.

    Nice job overall. I think you have little to tweak.

  • Thanks PK, Ketutar, and Justin for the kind words.

    Elena, I really appreciate your help with this. Queries are so difficult for me and all help is so welcomed. I see your points and love your suggestions. Thanks bunches!!

  • I agree with Elena (oo, deja vu. I think I just typed that on another blog today, way to go Elena!) about dropping your logline. It is really long and cumbersome and you have enough in the next two paragraphs to show the conflict.

    Other thoughts:
    You like really long sentences. If you break a few up you can create more tension.

    For instance:
    “But as a strange group of girls who wear black robes and hold rituals late at night start stalking her, demonic dogs attack her, and a flock of owls follow her at night, campus life proves to be dangerous.”

    Can become something like this.

    “Her life gets complicated when a group of robe wearing girls stalk her. (not sure how to work in the rituals) Campus life proves to be dangerous as demonic dogs attack her and a flock of owls follow her at night.”

    All in all, this is a great start for your query.

  • That’s a pretty tight query. My only comment would be to say “she discovers” vs. “she is about to discover.” … or even she’ll soon discover… I’d say this query ought to get some looks.

    Nice job.

  • Hi,

    I think on reading around the queries, it can be seen we could all do with honing individual letters. In queries to agents the plot and characters are vital and it’s hard to convey the whole within a one page letter, but in this case “more is better than less” – don’t be afraid to tell too much! This is supposed to be your marketing tool, your potential to sell your novel. 🙂

    best
    F

  • My only thought was that the information in the first paragraph was kind of repeated throughout the following two. You might be able to add the needed info to those two paragraphs and then you’ll have room to add more? IDK. Just a thought. It sounds really, really good:) Now if you can just get it on the shelves so I can read it, we’ll be all set!

  • I’m totally intrigued! Awesome query. I love the whole concept!

  • Elena has a point. The logline could be transformed into a hook such as “Dead isn’t what Graciela expected.”

    Switch perspectives : you’re not you. Oh, no. You’re the eye-weary, fatigued agent who’s been conditioned by the past 100 lousy queries to expect yet another one.

    Be kind to the eye. Keep the sentences short. Keep the paragraphs that way, too. Give as much life to each sentence as possible. Make the voice of your query match the voice of your novel. Try to entertain the agent with a tale as if you were telling it in an elevator just reaching the floor the agent is about to get out on.

    You did an excellent job. A few edits and it will be even better, Roland

  • I really like the title and the story sounds very interesting as well. Though, I’ll admit that I was a little confused at first between the first pitch type paragraph and the one that follows. I wondered if I already knew what the second one was saying because of how the first paragraph is written. But either way, you have my attention.

  • I think this read smoothly. Though when you mentioned the demon lord i had to go back and assmume it was the Bane lord. What may be missing is the stakes. What happens if she leaves everything alone? can she?

    Great job and thanks for sharing.

  • This is why I love our writing community. Where else can you get such wonderful feedback? I had no idea how to go about the query for my new project. You all are so kind and smart. I really appreciate the help! 😀

  • I agree that the logline kind of spoils the rest of the query. Drop that and the whole thing will be much stronger.

    J

  • I really liked this! Thought it had a good voice and structure. Like the others said, the logline could go 🙂

  • Great voice, setting, and plot concept. This is concise and seems to hit all the major points needed to get your query noticed.

    I’m not a YA reader/writer (and haven’t read any of the comments yet either). Some of this might be redundant and some or all not useable to you.

    – You probably don’t need to introduce her as “17 year old” b/c the first year of college setting puts this squarely in YA. And the “about to discover” is passive. You’ve written the novel, “she discovers” is active and moves her character and plot along.
    – “if she doesn’t heed the warnings . .” I’m not properly introduced to the character and her world and giving such a dire conflict is confusing. There’s no linkage between the diary and the death, or the diary and the MC.
    – “After a horrible summer of healing her shattered heart, Graciela hopes her first year . .” This is passive, and telling. I still have no idea of why a “fling” who dies before their first date is important. Can’t be a “fling” without a few dates to cement the relationship. And to my mature thinking “fling” implies a sexual relationship. And I need to know more of her usual world to know what “horrible” means to her.
    – “But as a strange group of girls who wear black robes and hold rituals late at night start stalking her, demonic dogs attack her, and a flock of owls follow her at night, campus life proves to be dangerous.” Lots of drama and potential story line here, but its without a connection to the diary or the tragic death of the Fling.
    – “Together with her roommate, the brother of her deceased fling, and a mysterious fraternity guy, Graciela discovers she’s a descendent of an ancient witch coven . .” I understand how the assistance of her roommate and the Fling’s Brother might assist her with whatever is happening with the “strange group of girls”, but the “mysterious fraternity guy” doesn’t fit in the plot scenario.
    – “and it is up to her to stop the planned ritual to raise the Bane Lord . .” be sure to add that his is the demon lord here; I’m thinking Demon Lord and Bane Lord are two separate entities.

    Might I suggest you rearrange so that the reader (Agent) gets a feel for the character first, the major conflict and challenges she’ll face, and then the consequences/rewards if she fails/succeeds?

    I think of the death as a catalyst for a change in Graciela; perhaps an awakening of her dormant Witch heritage. Did she perform some unexplained or forbidden magic for the first time to revive the boy? Or perhaps betray a promise to someone never to publicly use her powers?

    What consequences does Graciela and/or her family face after the death of the “fling” and why would things be different at college (ie: far enough away from her home town nobody knows her history). How does she encounter the “strange girls” and become interested/suspicious of them, and why do they try to harm her.

    And finally, when does she find the diary, and how will that help her allievate the threat of Lord Bane. What threat does he pose?

    As I mentioned before, all the elements are there for an excellent query, it is just a bit disorganized. This is clearly a well thought out, progressive novel. The query needs to follow a specific timeline and sequence of events, but maybe not all the subplots need mentioning in the query. Pick the major issues and characters and go with them.

  • Thanks everyone for the excellent ideas on how to get this mess in order. I didn’t have the time to spend on it as I had hoped before posting, but I’m glad I did. I’ve gotten some wonderful comments that will help when revising. Yay! You all are awesomesauce!!!!

  • I’d cut the entire first paragraph. It’s just not needed. Once you do that, you can go back in and add specifics through your query. I’ll show you.

    the memory of the tragedy.
    – Explain tragedy. Ex: the memory of her boyfriend’s death.

    But as a strange group of girls who wear black robes and hold rituals late at night start stalking her, demonic dogs attack her, and a flock of owls follow her at night, campus life proves to be dangerous.
    – This sentence needs broken up. Also, “dangerous” seems to be a bit lacking. I mean, demonic dogs are attacking you. Describing it as dangerous just lacks the punch.

    and it is up to her to stop the planned ritual to raise the Bane Lord, who will bring about the culling of all humans.
    – Where did this come from? Can you give me some more lead up, maybe an inciting incident?

    mixed up feelings for them may just hurt both.
    – Cut “for them”

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, only Graciela’s blood will raise the demon lord.
    – Cut “And”
    – Is the demon lord the same thing as the Bane guy?

    I really think you need more focus and streamline on your main plot, the bane lord thing. Right now I’m not 100% sure on what the conflict is. You’ve got the love triangle, her learning inherited powers from a book, and a demon lord. What’s the core story? The plot?

    Otherwise, the query’s not half bad. Just needs some paring down.

    I hope this helps you. Best of luck!

    Scribbler to Scribe

  • Scribbler to Scribe – I know, right? It’s all over the place – It sure did look good at 12am though. LOL Thanks for the feedback! 😀

  • Hello! New follower and fellow query blogfester here.

    P1 and P2 sound like two different stories at first glance. Maybe the change in font size.

    Your comma usage and drawn out thoughts are detracting from your query as a whole.

    In P1 I wouldn’t put a comma after spring fling. In P2, no comma after demonic dogs attack her.

    I would add a comma in P2 after strange group of girls, and again after holds rituals late at night.

    That whole section in P2 starting with BUT needs to be reworded because it’s too long and out of sorts. Also, think about starting that section with, “campus life proves dangerous.”

    P3 – Starts with a long drawn out thought process in regards to your story.

    Be more concise and streamlined. No need to mention every character in the book.

    Sounds like a great story though.

    Best of luck!

  • I agree with the others re: the first paragraph. Although there’s a hook in there, it’s just too long. Either cut it down or cut it completely. The rest of the query is really good. Great even. I would definitely read this story.

  • I got here way too late. You’ve gotten lots of feeback. I am impressed that you were able to write this so well in a pinch! Way to go! If I read Donna’s ideas correctly, I agree to perhaps start with para 2 since that seems to be where the most action is and perhaps holds the majority of the story’s plot? You did a super job writing a succinct query. Well done. christy

  • Oh, and I forgot to mention that I LOVE your blog design! It’s beautiful! christy (again)

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