Ask Daphne! About My Query LVIII

goldsequinsNothing says “treasure” to me quite like gold, so enjoy these gold sequined shoes while we look at today’s query! And read through to the end for an important announcement.

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

I’m seeking representation for my 35,000 word middle-grade adventure, “Chalk Cliff Treasure”, in which an overprotected city-girl challenges the dangerous forces of man and nature to hunt for a legendary treasure.

Kaitlin Donohue, twelve, arrives at summer camp craving a week of adventure and freedom from her dictatorial parents. When she discovers the legend of a treasure buried behind the camp, Kaitlin sees the answer to her parental problem. With money of her own, she can afford to stay at camp all summer. But Kaitlin is more familiar with malls than mountains.

Fellow camper Jenna Jordan impresses Kaitlin with her mountaineering skills and love of nature. Their friendship builds as they search for the treasure in between river rafting, climbing, and horse-back-riding. Then, they encounter a black-market treasure hunter willing to kill any competition. When a sprained ankle forces Jenna to remain at camp, Kaitlin continues the hunt alone. She risks lightning, treacherous heights, and predators, both wild and human, in her quest for the Chalk Cliff Treasure.

I live in the Upper Arkansas Valley, the setting for the story. During the summer, I manage the local history museum, working with visitors of all ages, camp groups and the local school children. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
W.O.

This is a good, if not quite compelling, query. The action is certainly interesting, but I know next to nothing about the characters, and that’s I think the missing piece you need to hook an agent. What can you tell me about Kaitlin? Is she truly disingenuous enough to think that finding a legendary treasure will do nothing more than let her stay at camp all summer? Why does she think that she and Jenna are going to find it, when — presumably — others have tried before? What makes her special?

A couple more specific points: I find a couple of your uses of hyphens slightly off. For instance “city-girl” and “horse-back-riding”, neither of which I think is grammatically correct. On their own, they don’t say much of your writing, but together, they cause an agent pause. I also don’t think “she discovers the legend of a treasure buried behind the camp” conveys exactly what you want to say. It could be taken to mean either she hears about the legend of the treasure, or that she discovers the legendary treasure. You’re better off being as clear as possible.

Finally, you talk about “the dangerous forces of man and nature” and “predators, both wild and human”. I’m afraid this comes off as cliched, especially when used twice in a short query. How else can you convey what you’re trying to say?

Readers, what do you think? Are you intrigued? And how many of you went to summer camp? I did, but there weren’t any horses or treasure, which I think is an abomination on the good name of summer camps everywhere!

Oh, and the announcement! I’m opening up for more About My Query posts, so if you’d like me to comment on and feature your query on this site on a coming Friday, please email it to me at daphne.unfeasible@gmail.com with “About My Query” and your book’s title in the subject line. I’ll only be open for a short time, until I get a good number of queries to take me through the next couple of months. I’ll confirm receipt and give a posting date for all queries I receive, and let anyone whose query comes in after I close to try again next time.

Cheers!

UPDATE: Closed to About My Queries! Keep reading for the next time we open!

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