Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Critique my query! Please!

Here is a really rough rough-draft of my query letter. I wrote it just today. I still need to do some tweaking, but can you give me your opinions? I'm not sure what genre my book even is, (I know that sounds ridiculous, but hey.) And please be honest. I really want to get this great.

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year old Jessie Callahan believes suicide is her only option. But not even death can save her from her tortured past.

After her best friend, Natty, dies from brain cancer, Jessie can't shoulder their dark secret alone any longer. Desiring nothing more than to be free of her heartache, she rams her car into a tree and gets her wish. But resting on pink, fluffy clouds for eternity is not in the cards. She must pay back the debt of taking her life by becoming a guardian.

Jessie quickly learns that Guarding Brecken Shaefer is harder than it looks. He has an unusual ability to not only hear Jessie, but see her as well. If she can't save him from his sins, she'll dwell forever in Soul Prison. Facing her own demons is the only way to protect them both.

My book, GUARDIAN, addresses the heartache of suicide, the anguish of sexual abuse, and also the frustration of unattainable love. Readers who loved the yearning and mystery of BECOME, by Allie Cross, MATCHED, by Ally Condie, or SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater will find resonance with this story. I am a member of the League of Utah Writers and I write an opinion column, Writing Reality, for my local newspaper, The Leader.

GUARDIAN, is an 80,000 word young adult paranormal novel and is available upon request.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my query. I look forward to hearing from you.

14 comments:

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I don't know why that last sentence didn't format right. Oh well.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I've learned that your query should be in the same tone as your book. Does that mean tense too? My book is in past tense. Should my query reflect that? I normally write queries in present so it has been really hard to put it in past.

Kelley said...

Hi Melissa!

It sounds like a great story!

In my opinion I wouldn't put it in past tense...I'm not sure it really matters either way but I think it might read more dramatic in present tense... Here are my thoughts:

Sixteen year old Jessie Callahan believes suicide is her only option. But not even death can save her from her tortured past.

After her best friend dies from brain cancer, Jessie can't shoulder their dark secret alone. She rams her car into a tree and gets her wish. Death. But resting on pink, fluffy clouds for eternity is not in the cards. She must pay back the debt of taking her life by becoming a guardian.

Guarding Brecken Shaefer is harder than it looks. Not only can he hear her, but he can see her too and when feelings develop, everything spins out of control. If Jessie can't save him from his sins, she'll dwell forever in Soul Prison
and (say what will happen to Brecken here...)

That's my two sense. :)

Again, sounds like a great story!

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

LOVE it, Kelly. I'm going to use your suggestions!

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Oh, and after researching my question, queries should always be in present tense. Problem solved. I wrote in in present to begin with, then changed it to past, then went back to present. Good practice. LOL

Julie Daines said...

This is not bad. The concept is great, so you've already got that going for you.

Queries should be written in present tense, even if the book is written in past tense.

I think Kelley, above, fixed the 2nd paragraph nicely. The 3rd paragraph just doesn't flow.

"Jessie quickly learns that guarding Brecken Shaefer is harder than it looks. Brecken has an unusual ability to not only hear Jessie, but see her as well. When feelings develop between them, everything spins out of control."

You can stop there, or you can add a little more of what's at stake. "If Jesse can't save Brecken from his mistakes, she'll end up in Soul Prison forever." or something.

When comparing your book to other books, it's a good idea to say why those books are similar to yours. Just mentioning popular books and saying yours is as good as those is a little presumptuous and many agents are turned off by it. But if you say something like, "readers who enjoyed the literary aspects of Ally Condie's MATCHED may also enjoy GUARDIAN because...." or whatever applies to your manuscript.

Young adult paranormal sounds like the right genre.

Anyway, nice job and I think you'll get some good responses with this query!

Kelley said...

You're so welcome Melissa!

I hope it ropes you in some good ones :)

Jeri said...

I know nothing about query letter or what makes a good one - but I DO liek the changes suggested about by both kelly and julie. makes it more concise and flows better.

good luck!!!

Caledonia Lass said...

You already have some good suggestions. My only issue with it is the fact that you start off with "tortured past" and end up with addressing sexual abuse... how did you make that connection? Tortured past can mean a myriad of things, but if you are going to address certain points, might want to mention them first.

Old Kitty said...

Wow - I love this very dark and emotionally powerful story already!

My only suggestion is to remove the word "Death". It's contrived empahasis for me!

GOOD LUCK Melissa!! Take care
x

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Sounds like a great read, Melissa. present tense always, I think, for queries and synopses.

anthony stemke said...

When I read your query I thought of tweaking it a little.
The commenters all have some important suggestions and I can't add to that. Re-read what they all say and trust your gut.

Best Wishes Melissa, you're on your way.

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