Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Query Blogfest

Okay. Despite searching for blogfests on a few different occasions, I almost missed this one. Jodi Henry at is the hostess of this great sounding blog and is kind enough to have it last for a few days so everyone can enter on comment on other people's entries. The query should be less than 300 words for this blogfest. It's best to do a completed novel but I'm going to post one that I'm working on the draft right now because the YA novel is the first I'm going to send out after it does the beta reader and edits route. Why post a draft of a query when the novel isn't ready? Why not? Have to start somewhere and it takes a few tries to get the query down. I did have the query started already, which helps. Be glad I'm not posting the synopsis I wrote for novel writing class on this book because trust me, it's awful.

Posts will go up between Dec. 12th and 18th. My apologies for not making it the first couple of days as this task has been much harder than I expected.

The host has a few links for those that need help in the blog announcement post. Aside from that, I have a post from the workshop I went to with Kristin Nelson over at my other blog. Here is the link to that, which discusses the pitch paragraph of the query:

Posting to a dream agent is an awesome idea, except for the fact that I don't have one picked out yet. Well, I sort of had one I put as number one until she got an awesome offer elsewhere in publishing and is no longer an agent. So, my query has an imaginary agent for now. And if it's awful, it's okay to let me know. I promise. :-) Okay, I've rambled enough. Time to actually post the query.

*-Are subject to change.

The Query

Dear Superstar Dream Agent:

Based upon the superstar presence you have on both your well-written blog and the educating, as well as amusing, posts on twitter I have been a fan. Based on the works you currently represent, I think you would enjoy my Young Adult novel, Tattle Tell.*

Life as a teenager hasn’t been easy for Ephram Gram. A time meant for having friends and going to school instead has the cloud of secrets and a home life often met with solitude. Hiding a genetic mutation, marked by a metal identification band clamped to one wrist is bad enough, but having to report to a government agency that monitors mutants just makes life difficult.

Over the years, reporting about random strangers that show signs of mutation was never a problem. When one of Ephram’s friends, one of the two that he ever had, must be told on and learning what happens afterwards, he begins to regret his role as a tattle to the government agency. Stuck with limited options, he must decide between avoiding outside contact whenever possible or to attempt to be normal and face the consequences that come with life as a tattletale.

Tattle Tell is a 53,000 work of a YA science fiction.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Dawn Embers


Elena Solodow said...

For your first paragraph, I would recommend skipping the first sentence of flattery and going right into the books they represent, and the details on your book.

The first sentence of the actual query isn't specific enough, imo. YOu should say something like:

Ephram's not just a spy for the government - he's also a genetic freak.

Go right into who Ephram is and what he's doing when the book starts.

Also be specific about who his friend is and what he has to report - as well as what happens to him. Those are all important details that will entice a reader.

The end of the query drops off. Does his friend die? Is he not able to rescue him?

He just leaves it be? What is he fighting? Is there an antagonist? What does he intend to do about his current life situation?

Be specific.

Hope this helps!

Loralie Hall said...

Yay! My feed found it ^_^

My one big comment, it sounds like this is covering more background than actual novel. But I may not be reading this right.

But it still sounds like a fascinating story. When you first started talking about mutants in high school, all I could think was X-men, but this doesn't read like that at all. Nice change of pace.

Chris Phillips said...

I like the concept.

Agree with Elana to ditch the flattery, and also you should start with the pitch.

After the pitch you can give the reason you are querying, but again do not over flatter and be specific about what works of theirs you have enjoyed. I would put this after your genre word count sentence possibly in the same paragraph.

I like the conflict, between friendship and normalcy, but you could make it more exciting by letting me know what consequences are in store for the friend. What did Ephram report? is he in the know about the consequences or does he discover them suddenly?

Also "tattletale" seems odd here maybe use snitch the first time and spying the second?

Jodi Henry said...

Okay, so I am sure I have read a snippette from this before: cliffhanger blogfest or hook, line and sinker.

I remember loving the voice of that and I'm not feeling the voice here. I also have a couple of line change suggestions, feel free to ignore them if they don't fit or use them if they do.

Life as a teenager isn’t easy for Ephram Gram. A time meant for friends and going to school is a cloud of secrets and a life of seclusion. Hiding a genetic mutation, marked by a metal identification band clamped to one wrist is bad enough, but reporting to a government agency that monitors mutants just makes life difficult.

Reporting random strangers who show signs of mutation was never a problem, until one of Ephram’s only two friends must be told on. Knowing what will happen to his friend if he reports him makes Ephram regret his role as a tattle. Stuck with limited options, he must decide between avoiding outside contact whenever possible or to attempt to be normal and face the consequences that come with life as a tattletale.

**The last sentence here, his choice feels like it isn't the 'plot' of the book. The plot feels more like Ephram deciding to betray his friend or the agency. If I am wrong ignore my musings.

Good luck,


Dawn Embers said...

First off, thank you everyone for commenting on my little, very rough draft of a query letter.

Elena - First line varies on agent. There are some who like to have something that shows the writer did their research. So, I just put it in but there will be others where it will just start with the pitch paragraphs. While I'm not a fan of the wording, I can totally agree with the issue with the first pitch paragraph. What is missing is the voice and hopefully I'll figure it out cause after changing it 15 times I got tired and wanted to have it done. It's hard to pick what to be specific about so that's something else I'll have to figure out. Thanks for the comments.

Loralie! - *waves hi* I could explain more in email but for the most part it's not background, though I left a few topics off for that reason. According to the agent I was in a workshop with the start of the pitch should include an inciting incident that is found in the first 30 or so pages of the novel. The inciting incident is when he has to tell on his friend, Levi. I do need to add voice and probably fix the structure overall because the next ones can discuss other parts of the novel. Man this was hard to do. I get the X-men reference often, can't avoid it.

Chris - Indeed, for some the "flattery" needs to be skipped, but others will want a personalized first paragraph (or last depending) that shows the writer did research about them. Thus the asterisk because it's not going to always be there and it definitely won't look like that once I actually pick out agents. I wasn't sure on the word count cause some have it in the first paragraph and some in the last, plus not having a bio because I have nothing relevant yet made it difficult. Good thing it's a first draft.

Jodi - Correct! I posted the first pages of this before and in a few other blogfests but that's all I've posted from this. And you're totally right about the voice. I might have to write it in first person and then switch it to third in order to get the voice down because it isn't there at all yet. The inciting incident is the telling on the one friend, but I do need to fix it to add more about the rest of the story. Thanks for your suggestions. :-)

Charity Bradford said...

Hey Dawn, sorry it took me so long to get over here. I figure we know each other well enough that I'm going to be brutal, ok?

First, I love the idea and you have some good things here to work with. The following are just suggestions for how to tighten it a bit. (and they are crappy suggestions, but maybe it will spark your own thoughts.)

P2-The first 2 lines have a lot of "so what" in it for me. Most teens think their life sucks. The third line starts to get interesting.
Suggestion: Instead of the carefree life of the kids at school, Ephraim is surrounded by a cloud of secrets and a solitary home life to conceal his genetic mutation. He thought the metal identification band clamped to his wrist was bad, but having to report to the government agency monitoring mutants is about to make life difficult.

Over the years, reporting strangers that show signs of mutations was never a problem. (question how old is he, how many years has he been doing this?) However, when he has to turn in one of his two friends, the consequence makes him regret his role as tattle tale.

Then the last line--I don't understand the stakes. He hides at home or continues to turn people in?

I know you and the stakes is probably a lot more than this, so show me. Give me a glimpse and make me think I HAVE to read this.

I know you're not finished so that may be easier to write later. All in all I am interested because I can imagine all kinds of emotional dilemmas that Ephraim will have to face.

J.C. Martin said...

I've always been interested in this story, based on what you have previously posted on it.

I suggest moving the first paragrpah of flattery to the end. Start with your pitch.

P1 - Both sentences start with "Based". Consider an alternative word, or pare down the flattery.

I agree with Jodi's suggested re-write of paragraph 3 and her suggestions for paring down the word count.

You also need a stronger opening hook, maybe something like: "Teenage life isn't easy for Ephram Gram. For one, he is a government informant. For another, he is a mutant."

Hope this helps, and that I'm not just repeating what everyone else has been saying!

Dawn Embers said...

Charity - Thank you so much for the comment. I think yours is one of my favorites even, hehe. And yes, I'm open to suggestions as it's just a first draft. I need to figure out how to do the query still. The first part of the pitch does need fixing but after the 10th or so rewrite it just had to be left alone for this. Thanks for your suggestions on how to tighten the pitch up. I need to fix it so that the first part is the inciting incident and the rest has to do with the rest of the novel. I just struggle to figure out what all to add because I didn't even mention the new kid, the girl that flirts with him, or his troubles at home. hmmm Again thanks. :-D

JC - *waves hi* Thank you for commenting. I was happy to see your thoughts on the query. While some don't mind the agent personalization at the end, I was basing this off of queries posted by an agent that worked for her. So, I may move it for some but it may be on top for others. I do need to make things stronger, especially the start of the pitch. Thanks for looking it over and the suggestions.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I agree with the others, you need a stronger hook, something more than the hard life of a teenager. This story sounds really intriguing but the hook is a little hidden right now.

The closing also needs to stop at a cliffhanger, one where the stakes are clearly defined. Maybe you could mention how Ephram realizes his friend is a mutant.

This sounds like an awesome story. Good luck!

Dawn Embers said...

Nicole - Thank you for commenting. Very right about the start and finish of the query. The thing is that the friend mentioned is the inciting incident while there is more to the rest of the story that probably should be in the query. Thanks and glad you like the idea.

Patricia A. Timms said...

I already see in the comments that they've mentioned moving the flattery to the end; I agree. The Query Shark calls this housekeeping. It will just detract from your really great book proposal.

No really, I really like what you have here.

Besides moving the first paragraph, the only other comment I have is to remember that book titles are supposed to be in all caps. Make sure TATTLE TELL is in all caps.

Great idea. Hope you start querying early next year.

Dawn Embers said...

Patricia - Right! I so forgot about that caps thing. Thanks for the reminder. I just hope I can start querying before 2012 but appreciate the comment. :-D


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