Ask Daphne! About My Query XXI

September 24th, 2009 • Kate

light shoesLight-up shoes (for adults!) for KDR, who is today’s About My Query participant. Full disclosure on this one: I saw an earlier version of this letter that was strong enough to pique my interest and have me request a partial, which lead to my asking for the full manuscript. So I may know more about the rest of the story than what’s told here. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best to be impartial. But I may depend on your fresh eyes to give the author more feedback. Ready?

Dear Ms Unfeasible,

I am seeking representation for my 77,000 word urban fantasy, LIGHT BRINGERS, where having the ability to heal others is a doubled-edged sword, killing just as easily as curing.

Best friends Ryan and Kalie work hard to keep Kalie’s rare healing power a secret. When a new Light Bringer emerges, brazenly using her healing gift out in the open, she attracts the attention of a vicious shape-shifter, inadvertently exposing Kalie. Fortunately, Ryan is a part of a special-ops group of soldiers designed to police the gifted society, and he brings his elite crew into the battle to keep the Light Bringers safe. As they dodge attacks from a motley crew of mercenaries, all signs begin to point to a deadly foe from Kalie’s past. Is the shape-shifter working with the woman responsible for murdering Kalie’s family thirteen years ago—a woman who sought to rip the healing essence from Light Bringers and harness it for her own needs? Ryan and Kalie must unravel the shape-shifter’s motives and stop her before they meet the same wicked end as Kalie’s family.

I majored in English at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where I studied creative writing and media arts. Light Bringers is targeted to the young adult audience, and is the first installment of three. It is told primarily from Ryan and Kalie’s viewpoints, with heavy romantic tension. While there are no vampires, faeries or demons in Light Bringers, I believe fans of Richelle Mead, Melissa Marr, and Cassandra Clare will enjoy my novel. The entire manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
KDR

Well, I think you can see why I wanted to read more! There’s just a couple of things I might suggest. Besides the title, the first time you mention “Light Bringers” is in referring to the new one. You might want to consider letting Kalie’s gift be named first — something like “Best friends Ryan and Kalie work hard to keep Kalie’s rare healing power a secret, a power that marks her as a Light Bringer.” The second Light Bringer also isn’t just being brazen — she’s also clueless about her gifts, and that might be something you could mention, how between everything else that’s going on, Kalie also has to train this new Light Bringer in the proper use of her talent.

I’d also love to see more made of the romantic tension between Ryan and Kalie, rather than just having it relegated to the final paragraph. As for it being the first installment in a series of three, my advice is always to get the first book represented, then get into the details of a series with your agent. In other words, focus on just this one book for now.

Finally, I really like how you’ve brought in the comparisons to other YA titles — “While there are no vampires, faeries or demons in Light Bringers, I believe fans of Richelle Mead, Melissa Marr, and Cassandra Clare will enjoy my novel.” — but would use “may” instead of “will.”

My one remaining question is about the hook line. I liked it at first, but on further reflection I wonder if it makes more of the Light Bringers’ ability to kill than you want to focus on. It seems like the death comes more frequently because they’re Light Bringers, not because of something they DO as Light Bringers. Does that makes sense? Maybe you want something like “where having the ability to heal others is a doubled-edged sword, putting them in danger of death as easily as they cure life-threatening wounds.”

So now to my readers — looking at this fresh, how does it read to you? What would you change?

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5 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XXI”

  1. Jamie Harrington Says:

    um, can I just say O-M-G I want to read this?

  2. Jenny Says:

    I am also not going to be as objective about this one, but here it goes. First I must say that I agree with Kate on all of her points. One small technicality is that the sentence "Ryan and Kalie must unravel the shape-shifter’s motives and stop HER before they meet the same wicked end as Kalie’s family" suggests that the shape-shifter is the same person as the woman who killed Kalie's family, which is not the case, right? Also, Ryan and Kalie's relationship could be better defined in the query because it is a huge part of the story (and one of the strongest parts I think). There I go not being objective, but I believe that their relationship is why you can safely say that Melissa Marr fans may like your book, despite a lack of faeries.

  3. Beth Says:

    It's a great query to begin with, and the previous comments will just make it more so.

    Also – I also have a novel about super-powered people with a healer as the main character. The other plot points are different, but I did a triple-take as I started reading. I wish you all the best in obtaining representation!

  4. Kaitlyn Says:

    Maybe if we had an idea of how old the characters are? I'm used to YA and middle-grade, so when I saw "best friends", I automatically assumed they were children. It was only when I saw Ryan's profession did I realise they were older.

  5. Karen Says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks Daphne for offering this query help and for your awesome comments! I appreciate everyone's feedback and I've already made some changes to bring in the romance and tweak the hook.

    Jamie–thanks! I want you to read it…and millions of other people too!

    Jenny–I was racking my brain trying to figure out who you were and how you could have read my book. I was thinking, "Has it happened, have I given my book to so many people that I've forgotten who has read it?" Then I remembered…Jenny the intern…Duh!

    Beth–that's happened to me before. I've seen a query that has a healer and similar things and was like, NOOOOOO! I think stories with healers are popular but haven't reached the saturation level as vamps and faeries etc. So we're still good!

    Kaitlyn–I initially started the query with, "Seventeen-year-old Kalie…" but it was clunky in the beginning of the sentence. While age is important in YA, I just couldn't work their ages into the query without it sounding like I was just trying to work it in. Maybe I'll give it another shot with fresh eyes and see what I come up with. 🙂

    Thanks again, guys. I hope your input will ultimately help land me an agent!

    Karen