Jul 16, 2011

Query for blogfest

This query has a good track record but would love your input prior to seriously submitting in September.

I'm looking forward to reading all your Qs. Beginner queriers: be sure to check out Agent Query, Query Tracker and Pitch University for additional resources or critiques. Good luck everyone!!

Dear awesome agent:

blahblahpersonalizedflattery, I'm seeking representation for Saving Andromeda, a 75,000-word YA mystery.

When Emma Hudson turns 18, her parents share three devastating revelations: Emma was adopted from Nova Scotia. Her biological father is internationally famous folk rocker Michael Fletcher. And her birth mother is a convicted killer called Andromeda Bain.

For a girl with her future mapped out, this knowledge blows Emma's plans apart. She ditches her summer job to embark on a cross-continental quest and track down her roots. Traveling from her home in southeast Alaska to California and Nova Scotia, Emma learns her family tree includes unknown relatives, hidden relationships and simmering feuds stretching back three generations. As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance, she also realizes Andromeda did not commit the 19 year-old crime. But with a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen rug, finding the truth is as elusive as filling a jar with fog. And the real killer is watching Emma's every move.

bio blurb here. Saving Andromeda is based on a true story.

Thanks for your time and consideration,
Me

19 comments:

Michelle Fayard said...

Hi,

I've added my suggestions in parenthesis/all caps:

(blahblahpersonalizedflattery=CONSIDER LETTING YOUR QUERY SHOW YOUR BOOK IS WHAT THE AGENT/EDITOR IS LOOKING FOR.), (I'm seeking representation=DELETE=IS SELF-EXPLANATORY) (for Saving Andromeda, a 75,000-word YA mystery.=MOVE THIS TO LATER IN YOUR QUERY.)

When Emma Hudson turns (18=SPELL OUT), her parents share three devastating revelations: Emma was adopted from Nova Scotia (DOESN'T SEEM DEVASTATING TO ME TO COME FROM NOVA SCOTIA. FINDING OUT AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME THAT I'M ADOPTED WOULD BE THOUGH.). Her biological father is internationally famous folk rocker Michael Fletcher. (DOESN'T SEEM DEVASTATING.) And her birth mother is a convicted killer called Andromeda Bain. (NOW THAT IS SHOCKING. MAYBE "SHOCKING" IS THE WORD YOU SHOULD USE.)

For a girl with her future mapped out, this knowledge blows Emma's plans apart. She ditches her summer job to embark on a cross-continental quest and track down her roots. Traveling from her home in southeast Alaska to California and Nova Scotia (YOU DON'T NEED NOVA SCOTIA IN THE PREVIOUS GRAPH, NOW THAT YOU HAVE IT HERE :), Emma learns her family tree includes unknown relatives, hidden relationships and simmering feuds stretching back three generations. As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance, she also realizes Andromeda did not commit the 19(HYPHEN)year-old crime. But with a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen rug, finding the truth is as elusive as filling a jar with fog. And the real killer is watching Emma's every move. (WHOA, WHAT AN INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS SURPRISE IN THIS LAST SENTENCE.)

(MOVE FIRST GRAPH TO HERE.)

bio blurb here. Saving Andromeda is based on a true story. (THIS LAST SENTENCE ALSO IS HIGHLY COMPELLING. BUT I'D ADD IT AT THE END OF THE FIRST GRAPH, WHICH I SUGGESTED THAT YOU MOVE TO THE GRAPH ABOVE.)

(I SO WANT TO READ THIS BOOK!)

Michelle

P.S. I'm a new follower. :)

Freya Morris said...

Hi Melodie,

Also a new follower here. I agree alot of what Michelle has said above.

The end part is amazing and up until that point I thought it was just going to be a story of "self -discover" and nothing else. I would think about trying to put a hook in at the very beginning that would hint at this end bit better.

Good luck! Great stuff.

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Eep, I want to read this one!

My only suggestion: after I read that first sentence, I couldn't help but ask why her parents revealed this to her. Was it a mistake? Did she find it out by accident? The word reveal makes it seem as if they sat her down and told her these secrets in the front living room with a glass of lemonade in hand- totally nonchalant.

Nancy Thompson said...

Hiya Melodie...old follower here (hehe). Overall, this is a remarkably good query. You seem to have boiled it all down quite nicely. (God, I wish I was better at that.) So I have only a few remarks, but here they are, for whatever they're worth (My comments per paragraph are in parentheses):

blahblahpersonalizedflattery, I'm seeking representation for Saving Andromeda, a 75,000-word YA mystery. (I put my intro at the beginning of my query, as well, but I'm hearing that is not the fashion these days.)

When Emma Hudson turns 18 (spell out eighteen), her parents share three devastating revelations: Emma was adopted from Nova Scotia. Her biological father is internationally famous folk rocker Michael Fletcher. And her birth mother is a convicted killer called (why do use "called" instead of "named"? Is this a media moniker? If so, refer to that, if not, say "named" instead) Andromeda Bain.

For a girl with her future mapped out, this knowledge blows Emma's plans apart. She ditches her summer job to embark on a cross-continental quest and ("to" instead of "and") track down her roots. ("track down her roots" doesn't feel quite right - you track down relatives or unearth or discover your roots.) Traveling from her home in southeast Alaska to California and Nova Scotia, Emma learns her family tree includes unknown relatives, hidden relationships and simmering feuds stretching back three generations. As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance, she also realizes Andromeda did not commit the 19 (spell out nineteen) year-old crime. But with a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen (delete "hooked kitchen" - it means nothing in the query) rug, finding the truth is as elusive as filling a jar with fog. (Love that line!) And the real killer is watching Emma's every move. (Okay, this is big turn you only graze over. You might consider a little more about this part since it seems like a major plot point.)

You can see, I hardly changed anything at all. Just some subtle changes here and there. Overall, it's a damn fine query, but I do wonder if lightly grazing over the "real killer" issue isn't a mistake. Good job!

Angie Cothran said...

I think this is a very cool premise for a story. I also love that it is based on a true story. Until the end I thought this was more of a literary fiction character driven self discovery story. If a killer is after her it sounds more like a plot driven story.

I would pare down and focus on the conflict. Emma finds out her birth mother is a convicted killer. When she sets off to uncover her roots she discovers her mother’s innocence. And the real killer is watching Emma’s every move.

Obviously that is too pared down but you get the idea—focus on the conflict. Leave all backstory out of queries.

Author Elana Johnson—founder of querytraker—has a great blog about writing queries that helped me tons: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html
She has great tips on how focus a query. Good Luck. I’m rooting for you. We are story chain buddies after all :)

mooderino said...

Hi, I’m a new follower through Deana’s Blogfest.

'future mapped out' was a bit vague. What were her plans?

I think it reads a bit like a fairly ordinary memoir of self-discovery (simmering feuds doesn't sound all that exciting) until the murder and real murderer are mentioned. I would be concerned the book would be a lot of meeting cooky new relatives with the murder element tacked on toward the end (not saying that's the case just how the structure of the query makes it feel).

I think most agens would read the whole thing and find the murder part interesting, but you could possibly make the query stronger by focusing a little more on that part earlier.

Mood
My query is at: Moody Writing
@mooderino

Pk Hrezo said...

So I think you can make the end a little more powerful. It seems to be what sets this story apart from the norm. If she's being tracked and possibly become prey, find a way to get that in a little earlier and really catch the agent's attention. That's a thriller aspect that a lot of agents are looking for right now.
Sounds like a great story! Best of luck with it! :)

Deana said...

Awesome! The est part for me is that it is based on a true story. I would read it on that alone:)

If you are planning on submitting the final for the contest, please have it emailed to me by 12PM ET Tuesday.

Good luck!
D

amber said...

WOW. I loved it. I think you nailed it. I would totally request more of this book. It has enough intrigue to make me interested, and I like how short it is while still being informative! NICE!

Stephsco said...

New follower here (I was compelled to follow your blog after I read a posted comment with query advice on another blog!) I love the idea of this book; it sounds unique from other pitch ideas I've seen recently. I personally love books with a distinct sense of setting.

I'm not actually part of the blogfest, but if you want my 2cents here it is: I would reshape anything that seems cliche or doesn't add much: Take out:As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance,
Emma is determined to uncover whether Andromeda commited the 19 year-old crime. (Or something like this that shows Emma actively seeking truth rather than telling us it's not true; that way we know there's potential for it to not be true w/out giving it away)

I also agree the word Devastating at the top might not be the right word choice; world-altering for sure.

Looking forward to reading your blog. I really like thie diea of yoru story!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I really enjoyed this query and would definitely read the story. The only thing that I would add is to mention briefly what her plans had been before she learned about her heritage.

Laura Barnes said...

This book sounds great! I would move your hook to the beginning and the flattery, etc., to after your blurb, but that's it.

Great job and good luck with your future querying!

Emily Rittel-King said...

Melodie,
The first paragraph was your stronger one. By the end of the second, I wasn't really caring so much about the murderer.

For a girl with her future mapped out, this knowledge blows Emma's plans apart (WOULDN'T THIS BLOW ANYONE'S LIFE APART?). She ditches her summer job (THIS DOESN'T ADD ANYTHING) to embark on a cross-continental quest and track down her roots. Traveling from her home in southeast Alaska to California and Nova Scotia (YOU SHOULD COMBINE THIS WITH THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE), Emma learns her family tree includes unknown relatives, hidden relationships(I WOULD ADD COMMA) and simmering feuds stretching back three generations. As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance (THIS IS THE THIRD SENTENCE IN A ROW YOU'VE STARTED WITH A PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE), she also realizes Andromeda did not commit the 19 year-old crime. But with a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen rug (ANOTHER PREP), finding the truth is as elusive as filling a jar with fog (I LIKE THIS). And (REMOVE "AND" FOR A LESS PASSIVE SENTENCE) the real killer is watching Emma's every move.

I think you have a great story here. Good luck!

Melodie said...

Thanks for your comments all! I love how so many of them are contradictory. :) Definitely underlines the subjectiveness of this business.

LisaAnn said...

Hi Melodie, and thanks so much for visiting my blog! My husband and I actually just moved down to Denver from Anchorage this past December, and you are totally right. The pic on my blog header was taken on the beach near Homer Spit. I also worked as a zookeeper at the Alaska Zoo, so most of my sidebar pics were taken there. Nice eye!

Moving on to your query: I LOVE the fact that your story takes place in Alaska and Nova Scotia... For so many people, the North truly represents the last frontier, so it's a great setting for introspective, self-discovery. Your concept sounds very compelling, and I would definitely request more pages if I were an agent!

Just a few things that stuck out to me. Is Andromeda Bain her mother's real name or a media-dubbed nickname? If it's her real name, I would probably say "a convicted killed NAMED Andromeda Bain." (I dunno... "Called" throws me off for some reason.)

I notice a lot of people have corrected your use of 18 instead of eighteen. I would probably personally spell it out, but you are technically correct (according to the APA Style Guidelines, at least), so I think it's really up to your discretion.

My last point is super minor, but I'm not exactly sure what a "hooked rug" is. It caused me to pause for a moment. so there's a chance an agent might pause as well.

Overall, though, these points are SUPER minor, and it sounds like you really have a winner! Best of luck to you!

jamieayres said...

Loved it! And based on a true story? Now I really want to read the whole thing:) Best of luck to you!

Lori M. Lee said...

Very interesting. I'm afraid I don't have anything constructive to add to the comments here, but I'd definitely want to see more of this!

Nicole M. White- said...

Since I'm getting to this late all I can really do is ditto the other comments. Love the story concept. Good luck. (new follower too)

alexia said...

Cool story! Your query has nice voice, so not much for me to critique! I would just move the intro paragraph to the last paragraph and start with your hook.