Monday, May 2, 2016

Query Critique Winner

Angela is the winner of this month's query critique!  See her original query below:

Dear Carrie:

Yesterday Eve was a high school student with a major case of senioritis. Today? A suicide mission flying the friendly skies.  

Eight years ago her Grandfather disappeared over the Atlantic, leaving behind a scribbled message about family business and a locket Eve swore to keep secret. With no family or reason to stay, a mysterious job offer takes her to Rome, back to familia origins and her grandfather’s missed destination. 

One moment she is making a new friend on a crowded train. The next, an explosion turns the underground Metro to ash. She wakes up unscathed, surging with sentient power and in the middle of an otherworldly family feud. Both sides want the energy now crackling through her.  

Day 1: Rome not a holiday. 

Imbued with stolen alien power, Eve needs to figure out how it works before the ancient race hunts her down. With no one to turn to, she is forced to trust Tre, a supernatural warrior with suspect Babylonian descent. They both want to free the energy pulsing through her, but keeping her alive might be the toughest job he’s had in a thousand years. 

Eve’s soul-searing gift is her salvation and the final link to her missing grandfather, but using it could burn her from the inside out.  

LOGOS is a 80,000 word YA novel that blends fantasy elements like Beautiful Creatures with the international thriller of The Conspiracy of Us. Per your instructions I'm including sample pages below. 

My short stories have been featured in Go Read Your Lunch, The Urban Liaison, and The Idaho Magazine. I am also a contributing member of Treasure Valley Critiquers.  

I look forward to hearing from you. 
Thanks!

And here is my critique!

Dear Carrie:

Yesterday Eve was a high school student with a major case of senioritis. Today? A suicide mission flying the friendly skies. [This sentence confuses me a little bit. Instead of say Eve is a suicide mission, would we be able to change to something like "kamikaze"?] 

Eight years ago, her Grandfather disappeared over the Atlantic, leaving Eve behind a scribbled message about family business and a locket Eve swore to keep secret that she has never shown anyone. With no other family or reason to stay, she jumps to accept a mysterious job offer that takes her to Rome, back to familia origins and her grandfather’s missed destination. [What about this mission makes it suicidal? Connect this back to the opening paragraph and hint at what is going on. It seems from the opening that Eve knows she is doing something with a high amount of risk/danger and that she may hurt not only herself, but other people.]

One moment she is making a new friend on a crowded train. The next, an explosion turns the underground Metro [Should metro be capitalized here? Is the Italian metro called the Metro or something else?] to ash. She wakes up unscathed, surging with sentient power [So the power thinks for itself??] and in the middle of an otherworldly family feud. Both sides want the energy now crackling through her.

Day 1: Rome not a holiday. [This abrupt bit doesn't quite fit here. I would cut.]

Imbued with stolen alien power, Eve needs to figure out how it works before the ancient race hunts her down. With no one to turn to, she is forced to trust Tre [Where did she meet Tre? Is he the friend she was making on the train?], a supernatural warrior with suspect [Why suspect?] Babylonian descent. They both want to free the energy pulsing through her, but keeping her alive might be the toughest job he’s had in a thousand years.

Eve’s soul-searing [Soul-searing? Explain! We haven't heard anything about this power damaging souls before.] gift is her salvation [How it is her salvation? I thought possessing it meant that aliens are trying to kill her!] and the final link to her missing grandfather, but using it could burn her from the inside out. 

LOGOS is a 80,000 word YA novel that blends fantasy elements like Beautiful Creatures with the international thriller of The Conspiracy of Us. Per your instructions I'm including sample pages below.

My short stories have been featured in Go Read Your Lunch, The Urban Liaison, and The Idaho Magazine. I am also a contributing member of Treasure Valley Critiquers.  

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks!

Overall, I think this is a tight query that explains the gist of the story well and draws readers in.  I did have a few questions for clarification, and areas to both expand and cut.  With highly saturated genres like sci-fi/fantasy, I think it's also always a good idea to show an agent how your book will stand out in the market while also appeal to a wide readership, which Angela did well via her comps!  

Chime in with your thoughts and questions below 

17 comments:

  1. I beta read this novel and enjoyed the writing and plot very much. The changes to the query letter seem to tighten up an already tight letter. I hope this goes all the way to publication!

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    1. Thanks, Kelley! I <3 beta readers. <== I need this t-shirt. :)

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  2. Congratulations Angela!
    Carrie, I agree with most of your comments, but I noticed when I read the first paragraph I thought the character's name was "Yesterday Eve". Probably could use a comma there. Unless Angela would like to rename her character ��. Good query letter, constructive comments.

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  3. Congratulations, Angela! I enjoyed the critique and look forward to seeing the book on sale! I took a lot from your comments and applied them to my own queries. Good stuff!

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  4. The first sentence actually pulled me in. I loved the juxtaposition of the senioritis and suicide mission. Was ready to one-click it!

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  5. I really like the suggestions to tighten up your already good query letter. Carrie brought up several good points, especially regarding Eve's soul-searing gifts. I felt that paragraph needed some clarification. Can't wait to read the revisions!

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  6. I really like the suggestions to tighten up your already good query letter. Carrie brought up several good points, especially regarding Eve's soul-searing gifts. I felt that paragraph needed some clarification. Can't wait to read the revisions!

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  7. Nice job, Angela! The previous observations were good, and does make me curious about what her power actually does, even if she doesn’t know exactly how it works. One small detail, in the second paragraph “her Grandfather” the word grandfather should be lowercase.

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  8. I was going to ask about the need for Day 1: Rome not a Holiday, but I see Carrie already caught it - - great minds et al. :) And yes, Kamikaze seems to be a better word choice. However, should you answer all the questions Carrie suggested? Wouldn't that be done more in the summary? Maybe I am wrong. I really am excited when all is said (written) and done.

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  9. Whoo, 8 comments! Angela, has won the 100-page critique!

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  10. Congrats, Angela!

    I agree with striking the Day 1 line. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of it. I liked the flow of the query after "One moment". Before it seemed a bit choppy and jumpy to me. I can understand the appeal of wanting to tie the plane to Grandpa disappearing over the Atlantic, but it doesn't seem to connect properly. You could reference her grandfather disappearing on a plane, but that might get bulky. Or you could change it to something that would bring the query full circle, like her being at the combustion point for soul-searing alien power.

    I do like the ring of the suicide mission flying the friendly skies, but it might give the wrong impression, like she's intending to bomb a building and kill a bunch of innocent people. (That might just be my twisted outlook, though.)

    It might be fun to tie the grandfather to the family feud. Something like she went to unravel the mystery around her grandfather's disappearance and found herself in the center of an otherworldly family feud.

    Anyways, it's sounding good! I'm looking forward to seeing how you revise it.

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  11. I'm going to be honest, I stopped reading at "Day One: Rome Not A Holiday." In my opinion, the query needs to be much more to the point--it feels like it meanders all over the place and doesn't give me much of a sense of what the actual story is about.

    I think you also have to be careful about shifting tone. The opening of the query gives a sense of maybe something that has tongue-in-cheek kind of humor ("suicide mission flying the friendly skies" but the rest of the query seems far more serious. I think you also need to be more up front about what her powers are, and why she's in danger (that's not really clear here).

    Sorry if that sounds overly harsh, Angela. I wish you luck with your query!

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    1. Thanks for the feedback, JeffO! No worries about being direct. I appreciate it! I'll revise making her powers more clear.

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  12. Thanks for sharing!Good luck :)

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