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Ask Daphne! About My Query LIII

musicalLove these shoes, from Flickr user sassyarts. I think they’re perfect for today’s query from A.P. Let it begin!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

If Junie Baltimore had listened to the old transistor radio in her parent’ restaurant, she would have heard the song and known that it was always meant for her.

Three years ago, Junie dared him to write a song with all perfect notes. In return, Rob Montgomery simply asked her out on a date. She ran. Now, Junie finds herself running again. This time she’s running from the memory of her ex—Caspian—who left her so heartbroken, German chocolate will never taste the same. Coping, she finds comfort in the only place she knows—the kitchen. But when her parents catch her baking two-hundred lemon tarts at 4am, and they unanimously decide that she needs a vacation—come heartbreak or high water!

That vacation lands her in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where childhood memories Black Bangle Pirates and Lollipop Princesses cling to the beaches like sticky cotton candy. Here, Junie comes face-to-face with the all-but-forgotten Rob Montgomery. But it’s been three years since they’d last met, and while she finds herself yearning for the greasy-haired boy she left behind, this new heartthrob might be everything she needs to forget the taste of Caspian Gardener. With help from her kooky parents, a misfit cast of beach natives, and some orgasmic Chocolate Murder Pancakes, can Junie finally stop running from the long-lost boy with electric eyes and a Cheshire smile, or will she possibly miss out on the best song in her life?

This is the story of Junie Baltimore as she races against a whirlwind of obstacles—including a reappearance from her ex and a category three hurricane—to finally hear that song with all perfect notes.

Combining the wit of Meg Cabot and the heart of Sarah Dessen, JUNEBUG is a 63,000-word YA romance about running away, and the courage it takes to face the consequences.

The full manuscript of JUNEBUG is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

This kinda feels like the plot of a Nicholas Sparks novel to me. And while that’s not necessarily bad — nor is it entirely accurate, since no one seems to have a wasting disease — it feels a little generic. Let me see if I can boil down the plot: girl scared of love re-meets cute with former flame turned hottie, with music and cooking.

I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but I feel like you’ve thrown a lot of details at the reader without showing me why they’re important. There’s a lot about food and cooking and eating — what does that tell me about Junie? (Aside from making me wonder just what parts of her ex-boyfriend she’s been “tasting”. Actually, no, I don’t wonder. In my dirty little mind, I know.)

As for the music, what does “all perfect notes” even mean?

Also, you tell me about “kooky parents” and “misfit” beach natives — what’s kooky and misfit about them? And how does Junie relate to them?

There’s a typo in the first sentence — you either mean “parent’s restaurant” or “parent’s restaurant”, depending on how many parents run the restaurant, but “parent’ restaurant” isn’t a thing. The next paragraph makes Junie seem certifiably crazy. Someone asks her out on a date and she ran? That’s… weird. The rest of the paragraph has three sentences in a row with clauses or words set off by dashes. I use them a lot myself, as you can see in my response, but one after the other feels awkward. And I really hate exclamation points in a query. Heartbreak or high water! Oh god, no! Also, she’s already heartbroken, according to that same paragraph, so the impact of another heartbreak is kind of lost.

In the next paragraph, there seems to be a word or two missing in the clause “where childhood memories Black Bangle Pirates and Lollipop Princesses cling to the beaches like sticky cotton candy.” Maybe “childhood memories of”? And are these food or people?

With all the running and racing Junie does, I have to wonder if this is a thriller, or a romance. It feels a bit schizophrenic.

I don’t know. I think this needs to be greatly simplified so an agent can see the heart of it, without having to plow through all the metaphors.

Readers, I’m going to ask you to help A.P. out in the comments. How would you rewrite this?

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