Ask Daphne! About My Query LXVI

July 30th, 2010 • Kate

b&wPosting these shoes to go with Rissa’s query because they look sort of like the ones worn by Sasha Alexander in the promo for TNT’s new series Rizzoli & Isles (based on books by Tess Gerritsen), and I’m in serious lust over them. But no, they don’t have anything to do with this query, which follows:

Dear Daphne Unfeasible,

Eighteen-year-old Karie has every reason to pretend to be someone else. Surviving the suicide-cult that left her orphaned and wealthy also makes her prey to ruthless Paparazzi. Plus when your own mother poisons your drink, it gives you some serious trust issues. And they only got worse for Karie when her so-called boyfriend led her into a media ambush. Talk about feeling unloved. Her past sends her running toward a new town with a new identity, far away from the weirdness of her childhood and the heartbreak of her teens.

Yasir, the immortal stalker who orchestrated her parents’ deaths, isn’t fooled by her disguise. Karie has no idea he needs to corrupt her to fulfill a bargain he made with a devil, which will open the gates of Hell on an unsuspecting world. He sends one of his minions to retrieve her, but doesn’t count on the skanky witch stealing Karie’s body for herself. With no real friends to turn to, Karie enlists the help of demon-hunter Rafael to get her body back before the witch does something– or worse someone — bad with it. Getting her body back is hard enough, but dealing with Yasir may just kill her for good.

Come to think of it, maybe the Paparazzi weren’t so bad, after all.

DYING TO FIND YOU is a 90,000 word young adult urban fantasy novel. I am a reformed accountant who made the leap into freelance writing full time last year. I have two short stories published in anthologies by Indie publisher Twin Trinity Media. “Fly” was published in Elements of the Soul in 2009. “The Ring” was published in Elements of Time in March of 2010. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Rissa

Going to talk big picture about this query, since it’s tight, and already reads as something appealing, at least to this agent. There may be a little bit too much backstory however, since I’m guessing the story here really begins when Karie tries to make a go of things in “a new town with a new identity,” and once Yasir sends the witch to retrieve her.

My favorite part? The bit about Karie needing to get her “body back before the witch does something– or worse someone — bad with it.” Sex jokes for the win! Ok, no, not exactly, but I do like the sense of humor that that line contains, and I want more of that.

Ideally, though, I’d love a bit more about Karie and Rafael’s relationship.

I’m going to hijack the rest of this post, though, for a little rant about paranormals. Why are there SO MANY? No, don’t answer that. I know why there’s so many — it’s because they sell, and sell in bunches, because that’s what people want right now.

That being said, as an agent looking at hundreds of queries a week, seeing yet another story that includes a witch, werewolf, vampire, demon, fairy, or angel feels like another nail in the coffin of great contemporary fiction. And I LOVE contemporary fiction! Reviewers love it too — as do librarians and award committees.

Before you query yet another paranormal, take a good hard look and ask yourself WHY you included those elements. Are they necessary? Is it a story that can truly ONLY be told with otherworldly creatures, or is that an excuse?

You may find that your witches, vamps, etc. are 110% important to your story, and if so, fabulous! But I think many writers these days are writing only to the market, and not serving the story.

Just my two cents on a Friday afternoon when all the cool kids are in LA at the SCBWI conference, or in Orlando at RWA National. If you had your druthers, where would YOU be?

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6 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXVI”

  1. Krista V. Says:

    The first paragraph was all backstory, which was a turn-off, but it also turned out to be the most interesting part of the query for me, the part I wanted to know more about. How did she survive the suicide-cult, and how did it leave her wealthy?

    I suspect the suicide-cult has something to do with the paranormal elements in the later part of the book, but there's no direct connection. If there is, you might want to give us a clearer picture of that.

    Also, I had a hard time keeping track of all the action in the second paragraph. It felt more like a string of paranormal creatures doing whatever it is those paranormal creatures do than an inevitable chain of events building to the climax. Not quite sure how to fix that, though.

    It's too bad the market's so flooded right now, because I do enjoy reading, and writing, urban fantasy. And Daphne is right – this is a solid query. Best of luck.

    Question for Daphne: What about YA dystopian? Is it overdone as well? And when you think of paranormal/urban fantasy, does dystopian come up in the same thought?

  2. Rissa Watkins Says:

    Kate, Jess & Krista – thank you so much for your feedback. As soon as the hubby comes home to entertain the son, I plan on making changes to my query. So excited.

    The cult does have to do with the paranormal parts of the story, so I will have to integrate it better without giving too much backstory.

    As for Daphne's question. As a writer, I wish paranormal wasn't as popular right now- but as a reader I love it. I've always been a fan of fantasy/paranormal. Loved Tolkien, the Narnia books even the Wizard of Oz when I was a kid. After I saw my first Buffy, I fell in love with the paranormal side more and have been reading and writing it ever since.

  3. Elena Says:

    As the others said, I fell in love with the first paragraph. By the second paragraph I thought I'd missed my stop on the train, so yeah, I'd make sure you connect-the-dots with the cult and the paranormal stuff.

    Overall, I love it. I think despite what's selling and what's not, you've gotta write what you love, otherwise that voice will continue to hide in it's attic room humming to itself, leaving your fingers nothing to do but tapdance on the table.

    Nice job.

  4. Jess Says:

    It’s a tight query, great job! Though I’ll be honest – and not just because Daphne was ranting about it – but I loved it until the second para where we got into the paranormal stuff. How weird is it that the ‘real life’ stuff was awesome and distinct and then adding in paranormal stuff makes it feel bland? My two cents, though.

    I know for me I grew up reading fantasy and horror so I naturally wanted to write it. Yet growing up, I seemed to be the minority. So I’m kinda curious, too, where did all the other para writers come from?! Something in the water.

  5. Jess Says:

    Also? Love those shoes.

    (Rissa, I definitely think if you show how the fun para 1 stuff ties into the paranormal stuff from 2 you'd be set.)

  6. Jill Elizabeth Says:

    Query: I also thought there was a bit of a disconnect btwn the two paragraphs–I expected a completely different book given the set-up and the second half threw me for a loop.

    In response to KT's question: I write urban fantasy/paranormal b/c I enjoy reading it. I've always loved the idea of magic hiding right out in the open. BUT I disagree with your concern about contemporary getting swallowed up–I think there are plenty of contemporaries out there. Also don't forget the dystopians, which are just as hot as paranormal right now. 🙂