Query Critique Winner

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lee Kelsall is the winner for this month's query critique!  Yay for Lee!  Here is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Separated by one hundred and fifty years, tragedy will bring two young Australian women together, seeking to fulfil a promise which echoes across the centuries.

2016, and seventeen-year-old TAYLOR knows she’s completely normal. Actually, maybe a little better than normal; she’s hooked up with the hot lead singer of Stoned Drifters, there are only four weeks until graduation, and most days her thighs don’t resemble cottage cheese. Her parents’ impending divorce is sure as hell not her problem—until Mum drags her fifteen hundred kilometres across the country. And the haunting dreams start.

In 1876, seventeen-year-old ANNA rises at four each morning, milking the cow before fetching water from the creek and stoking the oven. Maybe if her parents stayed in Europe, instead of moving to the wilderness of South Australia, things would be different—civilized, as Mother likes to say. But if that happened, she never would have met handsome fellow settler, LUKE HARTMANN. Nor would she bury four siblings and face a raging bushfire, her reputation as blackened as the burnt-out scrub.
Taylor knows she is sliding into madness, the dreams of a life almost two centuries earlier so vivid she has trouble distinguishing them from reality. But Anna’s minimalistic, often harsh life seems appealing compared to the fraught drama of her life.  Yet, when tragedy tears apart Anna’s world, Taylor must discover if there is any truth behind the dreams, or her own heart—and possibly her mind—will remain broken.

Told in alternating chapters from Taylor’s 21st Century and Anna’s 19th Century perspective,  OUT OF TIME is a 80,000 word YA Contemporary/Historical Timeslip.

Best,

Lee

And here is my critique!

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
Separated by one hundred and fifty years, tragedy will bring two young Australian women together, seeking as they seek to fulfill a promise which that echoes across the centuries.
It is 2016, and seventeen-year-old TAYLOR knows she’s completely normal. Actually, maybe a little better than normal;--she’s hooked up with the hot lead singer of Stoned Drifters, to the envy of all her friends, there are only four weeks until graduation and freedom, and most days her thighs don’t resemble cottage cheese. [The part about her thighs usually not looking like cottage cheese doesn't quite work here.  I suggest saying something about her body/body image in a different way--maybe something like "...and she's just been voted one of the finalists for Miss Michigan State."]  Her parents’ impending divorce is sure as hell not her problem [Why not?  Does it really not affect her or does she pretend that it doesn't?  What is her relationship with her parents like?  From what we have before she, she sounds a little shallow.]—until Mum drags her fifteen hundred kilometres across the country. [Say something describing it country and how different it is.] And the haunting dreams start.
In 1876, seventeen-year-old ANNA rises at four each morning, milking the cow before fetching water from the creek and stoking the oven. Maybe if her parents stayed in Europe, instead of moving to the wilderness of South Australia, things would be different—civilized, as Mother likes to say. But if that happened, she never would have met handsome fellow settler, LUKE HARTMANN. Nor would she bury four siblings and face a raging bushfire, her reputation as blackened as the burnt-out scrub. [I'd like to see more detail here.  At first, it sounds like Anna is happy she is not in civilization because of Luke, but burying four siblings and facing a bushfire is definitely not a positive.  Why do burying her siblings and having to deal with a forest fire ruin her reputation?  Give a stronger hint here of what happens and what people think, while also making it clear that although living in wild South Australia has its charms for Anna, there are definite cons.]
Taylor knows she is sliding into madness must be going insane,. tThe dreams of a life almost two centuries earlier so vivid she has trouble distinguishing them from reality. But Anna’s minimalistic, often harsh life seems appealing compared to the fraught drama of her life drama going on in hers [It sounds here like Taylor isn't having any problems distinguishing Anna's life from her own based on their vast differences.  Where does the gray area of reality come into play?] Yet, when tragedy tears apart Anna’s world, Taylor must discover if there is any truth behind the dreams, or her own heart—and possibly her mind—will remain broken or risk losing her grasp on her mind and her heart forever.
Told in alternating chapters from Taylor’s 21st Ccentury- and Anna’s 19th Ccentury-perspective,  OUT OF TIME is a 80,000 word YA Contemporary/Historical Timeslip.
Best,
Lee


What do you guys think?  This sounds like a fantastic read to me, full of intrigue and tension that will keep the reader glued.  Once some of the ruffles in the writing are ironed out, this query should be good to go!  Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

4 comments:

  1. Sounds intriguing! This made me wonder if Anna has any insights into the future. Does she have dreams, too? And is there any way that Taylor can influence Anna's life?

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  2. I think it sounds pretty good overall. I'd suggest, though, instead of "She's completely normal" in the Taylor paragraph, you go with something like "Taylor's life is perfect" or "just about perfect" or something else, something voicey: "totally rad", "the bee's knees", "awesomely spectacular". "Completely normal" just falls a little flat for me. And I agree with Carrie about the whole reputation thing for Anna--something happened, we need more of a hint as to what it is.

    Nice job, good luck!

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  3. This sounds like a compelling story. I love your spot-on edits. The comment about cottage cheese thighs stopped me as well.

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  4. thanks Carrie, Gaijin and Jeff...I'm am embarrassed and red-faced by my inability to navigate blogs, and discovered this horribly late. However, as I've only just started querying this work, your input helps immensely!

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