Monday, March 21, 2016

Query Critique Winner

Lee Kelsall's lucky number must be 8, too, because she has won the query critique again!  I'm also reading a partial of this manuscript after doing a ninja attack on Pitch Madness, so yay for Lee!!

Here is her original query:

A deaf Aboriginal teen’s determination to break the cycle of welfare dependence and poverty is derailed by love. Yet it’s her Muslim boyfriend’s secret that may ultimately destroy her future.

Seventeen-year-old Natasha figures if she doesn’t flee her small Australian country town after graduation, she’ll wind up just like Mum; hitting the pub for half price schooners on pension night, and too wasted to find her way home. The welfare money will run dry, and this week’s inbred, toothless boyfriend will boot her out. There’s only one way to escape the crap hole she calls her life: win a scholarship to study teaching at Sydney University. Then they’ll see. She’s better than her Mum. And Natasha’s determined to prove it.

But when Turkish immigrant, Tarik, moves to town, his exotic differences challenge Natasha’s place as the local oddity. Tarik’s attention makes it clear he doesn’t consider Natasha the stupid, deaf, half-caste of her mother’s accusations. Teasing her with his lip-reading ability—and his lips—he encourages her to bend her rigid rules about study and life, and expand the safe little universe she’s created.

Against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim sentiment, their relationship intensifies. But when the fantasy wears off and reality sets in, Natasha discovers Tarik has secrets. In an act of petty revenge, Natasha makes a shortsighted mistake that leaves her pregnant, alone and trapped. If she can’t find a way to make it to uni, she’ll be a failure; just like Mum.

THINGS BETTER NOT HEARD may appeal to readers of OUT OF DARKNESS and STORY OF  GIRL. I'd love the opportunity to send you a partial or full.
Thanks for your time,

Lee Kelsall

And here is my critique:

dDeaf, Aboriginal teen’s Natasha is determinationed to break the cycle of welfare dependence and poverty that her family has been stuck in for so long. is derailed by love. Yet it’s her Muslim boyfriend’s secret that may ultimately destroy her future.  Seventeen-year-old Natasha She figures if she doesn’t flee her small Australian country town after graduation, she’ll wind up just like Mum; hitting the pub for half price schooners on pension night, and too wasted to find her way home. The welfare money will run dry, and this week’s inbred, toothless boyfriend will boot her out. There’s only one way to escape the crap hole she calls her life: win a scholarship to study teaching at Sydney University. Then they’ll see. She’s better than her Mum. And Natasha’s determined to prove it.

But when Turkish immigrant, Tarik, moves to town, his exotic differences challenge Natasha’s place as the local oddity getting out right away doesn't seem like such an immediate need anymore. Tarik’s attention makes it clear he doesn’t consider Natasha the stupid, deaf, half-caste of her mother’s accusations her mother screams she'll always be. Teasing her with his lip-reading ability—and his lips—he encourages her to bend her rigid rules about study and life, and expand the safe little universe she’s created.

Against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim sentiment, their relationship intensifies. But when the fantasy wears off and reality sets in, Natasha discovers Tarik has secrets. In an act of petty revenge, Natasha makes a shortsighted mistake that leaves her pregnant, alone and trapped. If she can’t find a way to make it to uni and forget Tarik, she’ll be a failure; just like Mum.

THINGS BETTER NOT HEARD is a deeply compelling, diverse YA that may will appeal to readers of OUT OF DARKNESS and STORY OF  GIRL. I'd love the opportunity to send you a partial or full.

Thanks for your time,
Lee Kelsall

This sounds like a really exciting story (I'm really glad I ninja'd it for Pitch Madness!) and the query is off to a great start.  I ended up rearranging and cutting some areas to highlight the focus of the story more and prevent some confusing wording.  Other than that, though, this is a solid submission in my book!  Use the comment section below to chime in with your thoughts or questions about any of the critique.

11 comments:

  1. I'd read this book in a heartbeat. Love the Australian backdrop and that last paragraph--ah, so much drama. Good luck, Lee!

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  2. Yes, this sounds great and love the changes Carrie suggested. The only other thing is to possibly mention the total word count in the last paragraph. I believe most agents want to see that:) Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Katherine....yes I usually include the wordcount in a bio paragraph, but had omitted it this time (I'd like to pretend I did it with good reason, but...um....let's fade out on that....)

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  3. Ditto! I would love to read this!

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  4. My gut reaction as I read this was "YES!" Really nice sense of character in the opening couple of paragraphs. For me, however, I think the fourth paragraph ("Against a backdrop...") kind of drops the ball a little. Considering Natasha is "pregnant, alone, and trapped", it seems her problem is a bit bigger than just getting to uni. Maybe it would work better to say something like "unless Natasha can [whatever it is she needs to do], she'll end up repeating her mother's life/failure/whatever." That way, you can tie it in a little more strongly with your opening tag line and the first main paragraph.

    Still, I think if I were an agent, I'd read the attached pages. Nice job!

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    1. Thanks Jeff, I shall suck on a pen and ponder that, with much frowning and squinting.

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  5. Amazing improvement!! Query was great to start with and really shines now!

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  6. Agh, sorry for silence...South Australia is joining the current Century, and getting Broadband access-but apparently that means pretty woeful access for a few weeks, so can't check the net much! Thanks Carrie....I'll definitely be using ALL of that to shiny up for #DVPIT next week.

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  7. What a great query. And what an amazing sounding story!! Good luck Lee.

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