Monday, July 23, 2018

Query Critique Winner

Hi, all!  This month's lucky number 8 was Mandy--congrats!!  Here is her original query:

Dear Carrie,

Aviana Greenwood’s secret ingredient is magic. She uses it to freshen old berries and bake bread to perfection while working in her family’s bakery. It’s kept secret to protect her. In the Kingdom of Falder, any woman with magic is a witch. And witches have no place in society. 
Aviana hates hiding her magic. So when she turns sixteen, she shortens her name to Avi, disguises as a boy, and enrolls at the University. If she gets caught, she’ll become an outcast. If she doesn’t, she’ll study under the best professors in the realm, fulfilling her dream of learning to use magic for more than just baking. 
As the term progresses, Avi stops worrying about getting caught and starts wondering if she should reveal her secret. Women are given a second–class status because it’s believed they can’t properly wield magic. Her friend’s sister is locked up because people think her powers are dangerous. And Avi doesn’t want to live as a man forever. 
If she reveals the truth, she risks her place at school and her place in society. But if she doesn’t, the people of Falder won’t understand that women can use magic as men do, witches will be forced to use their powers in secret, and Avi will always have to hide some part of herself.            
A WITCH AWAKENING is a 94,000 word YA fantasy for fans of the feminist themes in Tamora Pierce’s books and the leading women of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING and Jessica Cluess’ A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING. It is my first book. Thank you for your time and consideration.

And here is my critique:

Dear Carrie,

Aviana Greenwood’s secret ingredient is magic. She uses it to freshen old berries and bake bread to perfection while working in her family’s bakery. It’s kept secret to protect her. In the Kingdom of Falder, any woman with magic is a witch. And witches have no place in society. [These sentences are confusing and don't really add anything essential to the query--I changed to the following, but feel free to edit as makes sense.] She practices her craft early in the morning, when no one is around, for fear of being caught and branded as a witch. 
Aviana hates hiding her magic. But even though she knows being discreet is essential to her survival, hiding who she is chafes at her, especially since males with magical abilities aren't punished like girls are who are discovered.  So when she turns sixteen, she shortens her name to Avi, disguises herself as a boy, and enrolls at the Uuniversity. If she gets caught, she’ll become an outcast. If she doesn’t, she’ll study under the best professors in the realm, fulfilling her dream of learning to use magic for more than just baking. 
As the term progresses, Avi stops worrying about getting caught and starts wondering if she should reveal her secret. Women are given a second–class status because it’s believed everyone believes they can’t are incapable of properly wielding magic. Her friend’s sister is locked up because people think her powers are dangerous. [This sentence is too abrupt.  Let is breathe a little bit and expand on what is going on here.] And Avi doesn’t want to live as a man forever. 
However Iif she reveals the truth, she risks her place at school and her place in society. But if she doesn’t, the people of Falder won’t understand that women can use magic as men do, witches will be forced to use their powers in secret, and Avi will always have to hide some part of herself.            
A WITCH AWAKENING is a 94,000 word YA fantasy for fans of the feminist themes in Tamora Pierce’s books and the leading women of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING and Jessica Cluess’ A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING. It is my first book. Thank you for your time and consideration.

This query is in really great shape!  Mandy has a really intriguing, original premise and does a good job laying out the story for the reader--there were just a few areas where I wanted to fine-tune the wording and leave room for a bit more explanations here and there.

Mandy, I hope my edits are helpful to you and wish you the best of luck with this!  Everyone, if you have thoughts on my notes or her query you want to share, comment away!

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