Ask Daphne! About My Query LXX

August 27th, 2010 • Kate

sandyflipflopsGuys, I’m going to ask you to do the first part of the work on this query, too, in my continued attempt (as evidenced by all the great guest posts this week) to get others to do my work for me. When I’m back in the office next week, I’ll add my thoughts. For now, it’s up to you. Are you up for the challenge? Of course you are! You’re AWESOME!

Dear Daphne Unfeasible:

Rachel Goode has found her soulmate; it’s just too bad he has two souls.

After her father’s death, sixteen-year-old Rachel is sent with her brother to live at the boarding school where their uncle is Headmaster. It’s a place where dark figures watch her around campus and personal items appear and disappear in unexplained ways. She immediately falls for her brother’s roommate, a mysterious boy with a secret connection to Rachel’s family and a world where she has been chosen for a purpose larger than her tragic circumstances reveal.

Talan confesses not only to a growing love for Rachel, but that he is possessed by a keeper, a spirit with a mission to guard her for a supernatural purpose. When keeping her safe requires that Talan deny his feelings for her, Rachel must decide if she should convince Talan to renounce his life’s purpose, or come to terms with her own.

I am seeking representation for my first novel, a 93,000 word YA paranormal romance titled Secret Keeper. You’ve indicated in several interviews that you are actively seeking paranormal romances involving a “mermaid/selkie/angel/or some other not overused magical creature.” I would be happy to send sample pages at your request.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Lynn

I’ll see YOU in the comments.

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8 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXX”

  1. Lorelie Brown Says:

    I like the hook and *really* like the idea. There's a lot of potential here.

    But unfortunately from there it descends into vagueness. I know the author is trying to build suspense, but personally it leaves too much open to interpretation. I don't think you really want me to play fill-in-the-blanks. Bad things happen. 😉

    It's also got a certain level of wordiness that could be sliced. For instance:

    "a spirit with a mission to guard her for a supernatural purpose."

    could easily become:

    "a spirit with a mission to guard her."

    because it's a spirit. One would assume its purposes are supernatural.

    Wordiness in the query leads me to wonder about that 93k word count.

    Finally, the crux of Rachel's decision, that she must "come to terms" with her own purpose, hold no tension because we don't know what that purpose is. We've only been told that it's "larger than her tragic circumstances."

    I think there's a really good story in here. The author just needs to stop pulling punches.

  2. Shannon Says:

    I'll take a stab at it. I'm no farther in this process than you are. So take it for what it is worth.

    As I read your query I found myself wanting to challenge you to prove to me that it is different from J.K. Rowlings set of novels. The letter sounds SO similar which might be ok – I really don't know. So I find myself again asking how your MS is different.

    "She immediately falls for her brother’s roommate, a mysterious boy with a secret connection to Rachel’s family and a world where she has been chosen for a purpose larger than her tragic circumstances reveal." – This sentence is piled full of information that needs to be explained better. I think you could safely add a few more sentences that might help this sentence.

    I feel like I'm missing something. So, is she just going to school for the entire book? Is she on an adventure? One or two sentences about what she is doing at the boarding school would be nice.

    Overall the query is well written. But, it feels a little flat to me.

    Good luck.

  3. Olivia Says:

    That hook is awesome.

    The last sentence about the sample pages is unnecessary.

    Also: you mention that she wants mermaid/selkie/angels. Which one is Talon?

  4. Genny Wilson Says:

    What I love about this query is that it's so short. 93K words condensed into two short paragraphs? Kudos!

    I love the hook, and I love the concept. Stories with "not overused magical creatures" get bonus points from me!

    I don't think you need to say it's your first novel. I'm going to disagree just a little with the previous comments that it's too vague (I'm guessing by the title: Secret Keeper that that's the point), but I can see where a few more specifics would be helpful.

    I do agree that it sounds like a good story. Good luck!

  5. Mel J. Says:

    I agree with the other comments that the hook is great. In fact, if I read that on the back of a book, I'd probably skip the rest of the blurb and open the book immediately.

    I also agree that the query becomes vague at that point. I think the main reason I got lost was the deluge of people who are suddenly introduced in the next paragraph. There was a dead father, a brother, an uncle, random dark figures, and a roommate. It's a lot to process. Do we need to know about all those people right now?

    And 93K is a very long book. An agent told me once that she shies away from books that are that long because it usually means lots of editing/cutting will be involved before the book is ready to sell.

    Great work, though! Your story sounds compelling!

  6. Jess Says:

    Again I'm the odd one out here… I don't think the hook works. It's supposed to by pithy and intriguing, but I find it sort of doesn't fit together. My first reaction is, so which one of them is really her soulmate? you mean the guy being inhabited by them, but because of the play on the word soulmate I don't find it working, it seems too literal. Just me, though.

    Rachel Goode has found her soulmate; it’s just too bad he has two souls.

    After her father’s death, sixteen-year-old Rachel is sent with her brother to live at the boarding school where their uncle is Headmaster. [you have four people in that sentence. take some of them out. does it matter to the query that her uncle's the headmaster?] It’s a place where dark figures watch her around campus and personal items appear and disappear in unexplained ways.[never start a sentence with it's, there are, etc, if you can help it – use a stronger construction. Dark figures watch her. Better!] She immediately falls for her brother’s roommate, a mysterious boy with a secret connection to Rachel’s family [what is it?] and a world where she has been chosen for a purpose larger than her tragic circumstances reveal.[what is it? also this second part of the sentence reads like a movie trailer, vague and sound byte-y.]

    Talan confesses not only to a growing love for Rachel, but that he is possessed by a keeper, a spirit with a mission to guard her for a supernatural purpose.[which is?] When keeping her safe requires that Talan deny his feelings for her, Rachel must decide if she should convince Talan to renounce his life’s purpose, or come to terms with her own. [I like this para. the last line is worded for a great punch at the end.]

    I am seeking representation for my first novel, a 93,000 word YA paranormal romance titled Secret Keeper. You’ve indicated in several interviews that you are actively seeking paranormal romances involving a “mermaid/selkie/angel/or some other not overused magical creature.”[I don't know what Talan is, but unless he is a mermaid, selkie, or angel, I don't know that I'd include the quote. Just seems sort of random if Talan isn't one of those things, trying too hard to show you did your research. Saying you know she's interested in YA pararom might be enough?] I would be happy to send sample pages at your request.

    I know since it's a pararom the focus is on the romance and you do a great job highlighting that in the second para, but I need more about the paranormal part of the paranormal romance. what's her life purpose/secret magic thing? who's the antagonist that Talan is trying to keep her safe from? I mean, without that aspect of the plot fleshed out, my reaction is, doesn't seem like anything's stopping them from being together if she isn't in any actual danger.

    And back to the hook for a minute: It doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the query. Talan has his own soul and the soul of the keeper bound to protect her, but she's in love with Talan. the other soul doesn't matter to the soulmate equation, and it's not the heart of the book, and I always though a hook should zero in on that, not just be pithy. I don't know. I'm sure it's me. It just didn't work for me.

    Overall, it sounds good, though, definitely sounds like you have a solid book. I'd just add in a bit more about the non-romance plot and I think you're set.

  7. Meghan Says:

    After reading this query, I am interested in reading the rest of the book!

    I feel like maybe this sentence could be tweaked a little: "It’s a place where dark figures watch her around campus and personal items appear and disappear in unexplained ways." I can't quite figure out why, but it seems a little awkward to me. Maybe it's the vague dark figures?

    I like the hook. It makes me wonder which soul is actually her soulmate, but I like that you don't reveal it here. I want to read the book to find out.

    I see a few people here have expressed an interest in hearing a couple more specifics about Rachel's purpose, and the paranormal aspects, and I agree with that. I have absolutely no idea what her purpose is, and a clue would be intriguing.

    I think someone else pointed it out, but the line about sending sample pages is unnecessary. It's obvious that you'll send more if someone requests it, or you wouldn't be querying!

    I know this has been said, but since I agree, I may as well reinforce it – if Talan is a mermaid or selkie or angel, you should specify, or else cut that sentence if he isn't one of those.

    Great query, though – I hope I can read the book someday! Good luck!

  8. Kate Says:

    Again, thanks to my readers for your comments on Lynn's query! And Lynn, thanks for sharing it with you.

    I'm going to go against the grain here, and say this query doesn't do too much for me. Maybe it's too vague, maybe it's the idea of yet another love triangle, even if the triangle involves two souls in one body — although, as others have said, I need to know more about the Keeper as a separate entity from Talan to really feel that the two souls Rachel may be in love with are in competition for her affection, and not just a catchy hook line.

    But as an agent who sees hundreds of queries a week, there's just not enough here to convince me that it's worth more of my time. A lot of the commenters say you would read on — I'd turn the tables back on you and ask if that's because you're already hooked, or if it's because you have unanswered questions.

    This doesn't feel very Harry Potter-esque to me. Let's face it — boarding school novels have had a long history in YA lit, even before JK Rowling created Hogwarts. But without the details that a lot of you have already asked for, it just doesn't stand out for me.

    Lynn, good luck with your revisions, and I hope this helped!