Some wild shoes for H.P. (Harry? Is that YOU?), who inaugurates our 2009 series of “About My Query” reviews. To refresh your memory of how this works, I’ll post below an author’s complete query, minus a few identifying details. Following the query, I’ll add my comments on the letter itself, along with a summation. Then, we turn things over to you, the readers! Please chime in with your own reactions to the query, and your own helpful suggestions for improvement. Ready?
Dear Ms. Agent,
I am seeking representation for my YA urban fantasy novel, CAMP WYLDE, where Faeries and monsters are real, and coming out the forest surrounding Wylde Lake summer camp.
17-year-old Drew Donovan had an absolutely perfect, not-at-all-dangerous plan for her last real summer vacation: library job, reality show marathons, rinse, repeat. Her plan did not include working at Wylde Lake (as Drew’s pretty sure the forest gives her hives), nor did it include getting caught in the boys’ bathroom on her very first day by the hot-camp-boy-perfection that is Liam Walsh. And in no way did her plan include being chased across camp by a giant black dog that can make people disappear.
…or kidnapped by a Kelpie intent on drowning her in the lake. And, really, by the time a goblin tries to off her in the communal bathroom just days after the moon disappears from the sky, she’s pretty much had enough.
Drew could deal with the fact that fairies and monsters are true. And that Liam was one of them? Well, it’s not like he blended into the crowd. But how in the world was she supposed to believe that dark and beautiful Liam could fall for her with Charlie’s Angels: Lifeguard Edition on duty? Of course, she isnt left to ponder that mystery for long. When Drew discovers that the camp’s waking creatures, monster attacks, and bizarre happenings are actually the omens that brought Liam’s family to Wylde Lake in the first place, Drew must follow the clues of an ancient prophecy to save Liam from succumbing to his darker self, even if, as the prophecy predicts, she’ll have to give her life for his.
I am an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I received an English degree with a writing emphasis and Journalism minor from X. I was also mentored by XXX, a young adult fantasy author and professor at X. For the past nine years, I have worked as a Technical Writer and Editor for X.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Ok, so what do I think? Well, it’s a little over-stuffed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with there being a lot of plot threads in a novel, of course, so long as they’re handled well and eventually come together somehow. But in a query, I think you need to focus on the most salient points for greatest emphasis. The author lists five events that each try to top each other in Drew’s list of “things she didn’t expect,” all of which are then topped by a sixth: that Liam is a fairie/monster himself. And speaking of “fairies” — the word is spelled differently the two times it appears in the query. Sure, there’s lots of different ways to spell the word, but you should be consistent without your work. Also, be consistent with capitalization of these terms — does Kelpie need a capital?
A few other minor points: there’s a word missing in the very first line, the all important “hook” of the story. I think the phrase “where Faeries and monsters are real, and coming out the forest surrounding Wylde Lake summer camp” needs an “of” after “coming out.” And the correct word in the phrase “Drew could deal with the fact that fairies and monsters are true” is “real”, not “true.” Or something more like “real” — as in, not make believe, as opposed to “true,” where the antonym is false, not fake. And you left out the apostrophe in “isn’t” in the penultimate paragraph.
So how does it read in general? Kinda generally. Another magical boy and normal girl story with a prophecy. There’s definite hints of some great humor in the voice. For instance, I love “Charlie’s Angels: Lifeguard Edition”, as well as the parenthetical “Drew’s pretty sure the forest gives her hives”, but I’d what to know more about what sets her to take the job in the first place then.
Ok, readers, what do you think?