Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday's Writing Update: Query Help Please


Happy Wednesday!

I reviewed Adrian McKinty's Deviant on my Surrounded by Books Reviews blog today. You can read the review here.

Next Wednesday, I'll be traveling to Richmond for the James River Writers Conference. I'll also see Wicked on next Wednesday evening. I can't believe it's about a week away. I am pitching The Phoenix Prophetess there and I've been working on my query letter. Here's where I need your help. You see I've only written one query letter before for Virtuoso, but since I stopped working on it, I didn't get a chance to try it out. So I need help. If you have a few moments, please read my query—it's just the basic part of it since I'm good with the extra stuff—and comment if you wish. I will be attending a query letter workshop next Thursday too, but I want my query to be the best I can make it before then. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you! [I did already tweak it a bit.]

Seventeen-year-old Yssa is the sixth Phoenix Prophetess in 2500 years, but she would do anything—except perhaps watch her city burn or her best friend die—to be herself.

On the day of Yssa's birth and death, the god Apenth chooses her as the Phoenix Prophetess. Prophetic visions, a phoenix-shaped birthmark, and becoming the advisor to the Queen of Amora on her eighteenth birthday may sound like great perks, but it's a real pain. She spends her days reading dry, dusty scrolls while attempting to catch the eye of some of the younger priests, if she can get the ferryman's son Liam to leave her alone for two grains of sand. Then, there are the visions.

When she foretells her parents' murder, she races against time and across an ocean certain she can stop the future. But she's too late and has had enough. If she can't change the future, then she wants no part of being the Phoenix Prophetess. She flees with Liam and vows never to return to Amora or utter another prophecy. Yet when she sees Amora in flames, she must make a choice to ignore the future or embrace being the Prophetess again. The city will burn if she doesn't warn them. She must find a way to change Fate.

Thanks for reading it. I'm still in the editing/polishing stages of the novel, but it should be all pretty by the time I go to the conference.

So what are you working on right now? Have you written query letters before? Do you like to write them or find them to be a pain?

10 comments:

Christine Rains said...

Only one week away! Woo-hoo! I'm excited for you.

As for queries, you know I hate doing them. Yet I know they're necessary and I constantly tweak mine.

As for your query, I suggest that you needn't make it sound so young. It's YA Fantasy and it sounds too contemporary with words like awesome, cool and cute. I like the last paragraph much better than the second one.

Aubrie said...

That's funny that Christine likes the last paragraph. I like the second one!

The last paragraph is a little long,
and "she's had enough" seems a weak reaction to her parents' death.

Just my gut reaction.

The rest of it rocks!!!

Angela Felsted said...

This is your first query letter? No way! It's about 100,000 better than my first query letter.

I love the details in the second paragraph. They really help me get the picture in my head. You might want to find a more character based description of the protagonist to start with, rather than stating her age as the first thing.

I also agree that the last few sentences need more tension. Otherwise, I thought it was great.

Diana said...

If you haven't, go to http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ and read all the archives. (There's also a link to her blog on my blog.) You won't have time to have the Query Shark review it for you, but if you read the archives and see what works and what doesn't it will give you a better idea of what to tweek.

I think that the first paragraph needs to go so that it starts with the second paragraph. The sentence at the end of the second paragraph, you might want to move to the beginning of the third paragraph.

Good luck with it.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Query letters bite like bleaching eyeballs ;)

How about:

On the day of Yssa's birth and death, the god Apenth chooses her as the Phoenix Prophetess. When the perks are dusty scrolls, prophetic visions and becoming the advisor to the Queen of Amora, Yassa feels xxxxxxxxx rather than blessed. ?

J.L. Campbell said...

Okay, see below the bits that made me sit up and pay attention.


On the day of Yssa's birth and death, the god Apenth chooses her as the Phoenix Prophetess. Prophetic visions, a phoenix-shaped birthmark, and becoming the advisor to the Queen of Amora on her eighteenth birthday may sound like great perks, but it's a real pain.

When she foretells her parents' murder, she races against time and across an ocean certain she can stop the future. But she's too late and if she can't change the future, then she wants no part of being the Phoenix Prophetess.

She flees and vows never to return to Amora or utter another prophecy. Yet when she sees Amora in flames, she must make a choice to ignore the future or embrace being the Prophetess.

For now, I'm in a never-ending cycle of editing. Hope you get the query tied down.

C D Meetens said...

I don't think the first paragraph adds much to it. Starting with the second paragraph gets straight to the story. It's even clear what she wants from that paragraph, as you've mentioned being the Prophetess is a pain, which implies she would rather be herself.

I would agree with what Aubrie said about "and has had enough". It doesn't seem a strong enough reaction. Also, I think the following line implies she's had enough, so it could probably be cut.

I thought it read really well. I'm useless at writing queries, but this captured me.

Ooh, and you're getting to see Wicked! Lucky you! I love that show.

Susan Fields said...

That was fantastic! My only comment would be that I would try to cut the second paragraph as much as possible and get straight to the conflict.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm envious of anyone going to a conference. I think your query sounds really interesting.
I hope you enjoy, Wicked. I really want to take my daughter to see it sometime.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I read the feedback above and don't have anything useful to add, but wanted to say that I hope the conference goes great for you. The book sounds fantastic! I loved "Wicked" and can safely say it is my favorite production, so far.