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WINTER'S QUEEN - (YA fantasy)


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#41 aehearn

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 02:53 PM

Thanks for reading and commenting, Ashley! <<You're welcome

 

<<Nice stakes and voice! Only question, is Ariel's belief in the Fae what got her kidnapped? Why does she believe in them then? Yes it is. She believes because she has concrete proof that they exist, in the form of prior encounters with them, and it's kinda hard to fully disbelieve something like that. <<Ooh. I like the prior encounters bit. I think adding something about this could add a nice layer.

 

<<Close, but she's not on earth, so this doesn't seem too bad. Unless her real goal's to get home. Or it means being wed to a monster forever. It's both. <<Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

 

<<Still want to know why this guys such a bad dude Well, the kidnapping is a pretty big clue. Also the whipping and the dungeon in the next sentence. <<Did not know she was trapped in his dungeon and he was the one doing the whipping. Clarify! Also, why does he want her as his wife so bad. Because she's human?

 

The sakes are close, but not quite there for me. I get that Ariel wants to stay human—that's her goal. What happens if she doesn't achieve that goal? She becomes a Fae and ___? ...will never see her home or loved ones again. I think more characterization of Fiachra might help here. Agreed. <<Sweet on both accounts! 

 



#42 Ireth

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 03:39 PM

<<Ooh. I like the prior encounters bit. I think adding something about this could add a nice layer. Well, I tried hinting at it in previous drafts, but I'm not sure it worked.

 

<<Did not know she was trapped in his dungeon and he was the one doing the whipping. Clarify! Will do. Also, why does he want her as his wife so bad. Because she's human? Yes, and that's mainly because no Fae woman will have him. Plus, interbreeding with humans helps mitigate the low fertility rate of Fae, though that's not something that comes up at all in the text.

 

I'll keep tinkering with this. :D We'll see how the next draft goes! Also, if you're interested, please check out the synopsis for this book. Third link in my signature. ^^


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#43 Ireth

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 06:20 PM

Dear Agent:

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk wishes she didn't believe in the Fae. Maybe then Prince Fiachra wouldn't have kidnapped her from twenty-first-century England to who-knows-what-century Faerie. Now she's stuck there, with Fiachra's ring on her finger and their wedding date looming on Midwinter Eve.

 

Ariel has her hands full juggling her safety, sanity and hope. Making Fiachra happy keeps her safe, but not hopeful; trying to escape lifts her hope but drops her safety. Her sanity hangs in the balance, and that's not all. If she marries whom she hates, she'll give up everything she loves; if she gains immortality, she'll lose her humanity. [Still a little iffy on this bit. I feel like it loses some of the voice.]

 

Fiachra woos her with everything from silken gowns with unicorn-hair embroidery to enchanted banquets and balls. Ariel rebuffs his every effort, and his true, cruel nature shows past his outer beauty. When she dodges his magic and spurns his false kindness, Fiachra has Ariel whipped; when she flees the castle itself, he throws her in a dungeon.

 

Ariel refuses to be tamed, and redoubles her efforts to escape. Getting out of the cell is her first priority: getting out of Faerie itself will come later. Sure, she might need help, but there's nothing wrong with that. She's only human, after all, and she intends to stay that way.

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's THE CHRONICLES OF FAERIE and Garry Kilworth's KNIGHTS OF LIÖFWENDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#44 Carrie M

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 01:46 PM

Your second paragraph sounds clunky to me, and is pretty vague. What I really want to know is why Fiachra wants to marry her so badly, and why Ariel is in danger. You say she'll lose her humanity, but that's not descriptive enough. Also, does believing in the fae actually make a difference? Why would not believing make him less likely to kidnap her? I'm just not sure wanting to stay human is high enough stakes...is there a deeper reason why she's determined to stay human?



#45 Ireth

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 01:55 PM

Your second paragraph sounds clunky to me, and is pretty vague. What I really want to know is why Fiachra wants to marry her so badly, and why Ariel is in danger. You say she'll lose her humanity, but that's not descriptive enough. Also, does believing in the fae actually make a difference? Why would not believing make him less likely to kidnap her? I'm just not sure wanting to stay human is high enough stakes...is there a deeper reason why she's determined to stay human?

 

1 - He wants to marry her because he's intent on usurping his father, and he (initially) feels he must be married in order to do so. It's not until the climax that this ever comes to light, though, and that's when he decides he doesn't need a bride just yet after all. To quote him, "My father ruled us for centuries before taking my mother to wife. I see no reason why I cannot do likewise." I'm not sure I should include all of Fiachra's motivation in the query, since it's a bit of a spoiler for the climax.

 

2 - Her belief in Fae makes ALL the difference. Fiachra only pays attention to her when he finds her arguing with her friends over the existene of Fae; she insists they do exist, while her friends deny it. That's the moment Fiachra thinks "aha, that's the girl for me!" Far better, in his opinion, to take a girl who already believes in his kind rather than struggling with someone who will continually doubt his very existence.

 

3 - Ariel has much more to lose than just her humanity, but I'm having trouble getting that across in the query without it being clunky. If she marries Fiachra, not only will she lose her humanity, but also her home, friends and family -- basically everything and everyone she cares about. Also, at the climax when Fiachra changes his mind, Ariel's very life goes on the line as well. But that's a spoiler, so it doesn't work in the query. Previous drafts have proved that.

 

Hope that helps clear things up a bit. ^^;


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#46 MelissaC

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:09 PM

Hi!  I really love your premise here, and I think your query has strong, clear writing that will catch attention.

 

I haven't read all the comments and skimmed some of the earlier versions, so forgive me if any of this is redundant!

 

I think I liked the part of an earlier version where you mentioned that she discovered the prince's true plan and her own life and King Madoc's were at stake better than the current vague "the stakes climb higher and higher."  Vagueness is the enemy, and the specifics are compelling!

 

I like it when you emphasize Ariel's resourcefulness and the things she's actively doing to try to escape, and the fact that she's not willing to wait around for her dad to rescue her.  I think you want to avoid any phrasing that sounds like her dad rescuing her is the only hope of a positive resolution, since it takes away her agency. Thus, I don't think the last line of this version is the strongest possible closing.

 

I also think that you could cut "Ariel can't afford to give up or lose hope. Every setback she encounters is another chance to try." and pull the 3rd paragraph up into the second, going right from "won't hold her for long" to "But time grows short."

 

I think instead of "out of Prince F's notice" in the first line (uh, not going to try to spell that) you could make the stakes higher from the first sentence by saying "from being kidnapped" or "out of a faerie dungeon" or something that will grab attention and make it clear what's at stake.  Might also allow you to compact things a little.

 

I think if you can tweak this to include the feeling of steadily climbing stakes and increasingly impossible odds, and keep the emphasis on Ariel's resourcefulness strong, you have a strong query here! Sounds like something I'd like to read.

 

If you're up for a return crit, mine is JANUARY IN SHADOW.

 

Hope that helps!

 

- Melissa

 

 

Dear Agent:

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk believes in the Fae, but wishes she didn't; it might have kept her out of Prince Fiachra's notice. He's the second Fae to try to kidnap her, and the first to succeed. Now she's trapped in an icy castle deep in Faerie, with his ring on her finger and his promise they'll marry on Midwinter Eve. If she doesn't escape before then, she'll lose her family and friends, her home, and her humanity.

 

Luckily for Ariel, Midwinter Eve is still seven weeks off. Her dad might be able to save her like he did last time, but she won't sit around waiting for him. She's too busy dodging enchanted feasts and dances, mainly by self-inflicted injury -- a necessary evil, in her opinion. Fleeing the castle gets her thrown into a dungeon, but its walls and bars won't hold her in for long.

 

Ariel can't afford to give up or lose hope. Every setback she encounters is another chance to try. But time grows short, and so does Fiachra's patience. Ariel's stubbornness turns to desperation as the stakes climb higher and higher. If her dad's going to save her, it had better be soon, before there's just a corpse left to bring home.

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's The Chronicles of Faerie and Garry Kilworth's Knights of Liöfwende. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#47 Ireth

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:37 PM

I appreciate your comments, but you seem to have missed the most recent revision (see post #43!). Some of the things you mentioned have already been addressed. :) I'll work on the other stuff, though. Thanks for your advice!

 

Hi!  I really love your premise here, and I think your query has strong, clear writing that will catch attention.

 

I haven't read all the comments and skimmed some of the earlier versions, so forgive me if any of this is redundant!

 

I think I liked the part of an earlier version where you mentioned that she discovered the prince's true plan and her own life and King Madoc's were at stake better than the current vague "the stakes climb higher and higher."  Vagueness is the enemy, and the specifics are compelling!

 

I like it when you emphasize Ariel's resourcefulness and the things she's actively doing to try to escape, and the fact that she's not willing to wait around for her dad to rescue her.  I think you want to avoid any phrasing that sounds like her dad rescuing her is the only hope of a positive resolution, since it takes away her agency. Thus, I don't think the last line of this version is the strongest possible closing.

 

I also think that you could cut "Ariel can't afford to give up or lose hope. Every setback she encounters is another chance to try." and pull the 3rd paragraph up into the second, going right from "won't hold her for long" to "But time grows short."

 

I think instead of "out of Prince F's notice" in the first line (uh, not going to try to spell that) you could make the stakes higher from the first sentence by saying "from being kidnapped" or "out of a faerie dungeon" or something that will grab attention and make it clear what's at stake.  Might also allow you to compact things a little.

 

I think if you can tweak this to include the feeling of steadily climbing stakes and increasingly impossible odds, and keep the emphasis on Ariel's resourcefulness strong, you have a strong query here! Sounds like something I'd like to read.

 

If you're up for a return crit, mine is JANUARY IN SHADOW.

 

Hope that helps!

 

- Melissa


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#48 KL Sanchez

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 11:05 PM

A'ight... I slogged through all the previous versions and commentary, and I'm now prepared to take this on head-first.

 

First, though, I'd like to share my observations on queries.

 

Queries are for - as it's been said - showing the plot and not simply telling it.  It's also, however, not for being vague; you're not writing a cover blurb, you're writing a query.  The agent needs to know the facts of the book so they can make an informed opinion on why they should read it or why they might think there's a market for it.  Ergo, the facts need to be stated clearly; the stakes and the reasoning, the who, the why, and the how.  You'll notice the where isn't always that important, nor the what.  The agent needs to know what's going on in the book and why that matters; what is driving the plot, the story, and the characters.  A clearly stated query, too, can make a point more efficiently and become more engaging.  So far, you've been cleaning it up and it's getting clearer by stating more of the facts; by extension, it's becoming more engaging.

 

But you're not quite there yet... a lot of things are still left unsaid and open to questioning.  The most important thing you can do during a query is - after writing a line - look at it from the perspective of someone who doesn't know the story; they're going to have questions.  What might those questions be?  Try to ask yourself every little question you can imagine, and try to answer it; is the answer important to the plot and setting something up for later on?  If so, include it.  If not including it adds nothing, then don't worry about it.

 

While it's not possible to include everything in a query, as much detail as is needed to understand the plot needs to go in.

 

And then there's the hook.

 

The hook may be the most important line in your entire query, because it's the one thing agents glance at in deciding if they should read the rest.  They get hundreds, if not thousands of these per day, and can't possibly read every letter of every one.  So, they read the hook, and if it grabs their attention, they keep reading.  You've got at the maximum five seconds to get their attention, and if you go longer than that, they move on.  No reading the next sentences, no synopsis, they just move to the next query letter.  And it's not personal, it's just a matter of time: they don't have it.  Many of the best hooks are one-liners; over and done in five seconds or less and in thirty words or less... about half that, however, should be the target.

 

There are three things I find that show up in the best hooks; three questions that are answered:

 

* Who is the main character?

* What's the primary conflict?

* How is it going to be resolved?

 

Not every hook can answer all three; in fact, most of the time, it's not even necessary to answer the third.  But the first two should be answered: who's the main character, and why is the world against them in this book?  If you name the stakes, the rest falls into line.  If you can manage to answer all three, you've got the makings of a great hook, especially if you can keep it to twenty words and less.

 

But remember always the time limit: if it's a paragraph, it's too long.  It needs to be one or two lines, where one is preferable, and the entire thing readable in an absolute hurry and with punch.  The hook might be the hardest part of a query, so I know your pain there.  Right now, it's much too long; you need a real hook, a one-liner, a tagline that grabs the agent's interest by stating the main character and what predicament she's in.

 

Now, to jump into the query itself... (to a soundtrack of Metallica)

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk wishes she didn't believe in the Fae. Maybe then Prince Fiachra wouldn't have kidnapped her from twenty-first-century England to who-knows-what-century Faerie. Now she's stuck there, with Fiachra's ring on her finger and their wedding date looming on Midwinter Eve.

 

The first line doesn't honestly add anything to the query.  We'll know soon enough that she wishes she was never in this predicament, so it does nothing other than state a character trait.  Axe it.  Harsh, but I don't see where it's adding much other than a few words that could be spent on the plot.

 

Right now, it leads into the second sentence, but without the explanation of her belief in his existence, these two sentences are vague next to each other.  The agent is now already asking questions, and you don't want the agent asking questions; this is why rhetoricals in a query are a bad idea.  The agent isn't here to think, they're here to read.  Don't let the agent think.

 

In the third sentence, this statement can be made in a different manner that states the conflict itself.

 

I'm getting tired now, so I don't know how clearly I'm coming across, but this entire paragraph can be broken down into one sentence.  You've been having trouble getting the entire plot established off the bat.  What we need to know about this story - why he kidnaps her and why her belief matters - is where you need to start.  In the end - at its most basic element - the prince kidnaps her because her belief in the Fae catches his interest.  He then intends to use her to usurp his father and take his throne.

 

State this; this is what's driving the plot.  This is why Fiachra's a bad man; he's willing to overthrow his father and is willing to use kidnap and brute force to achieve that goal.  This is where the book gets its inherent conflict from.  Right now, the benefit of the book's structure is that we know who the villain is immediately, and can see what he plans to do.  Don't be afraid to tell the agent what's going on; spoilers don't matter if they don't read the manuscript.  Tell them what's going on, tell them why things matter and why they could get worse.

 

The prince's plot forms the basis, then, for what drives the events to follow.  Now, the stakes can be stated: if she marries him, she becomes Fae herself, and will never be able to return to the world that she truly loves.  Go with that.  State that she will be disconnected from her family.  It sounds like readers of the book will be able to figure out this fact fairly early on, and therefore know that her humanity is at stake here.  Don't be afraid to mention it.  The agent, in fact, actually needs to know this, or it is otherwise omitted and vague, leaving the agent with questions.  Don't let the agent ask questions... unless the question is, "Where's the manuscript?" :tongue:

 

I don't want to write out a sample for this paragraph for you; you need to let your own voice do the talking in your query.  I always recommend that you not use other writers' words in your query; you should let your own voice talk, or your query will begin to sound artificial.  Let your words flow.

 

But this first paragraph is where we need to know these things; why does the prince take interest in her?  Why does she believe in the Fae?  Why will she not be able to retain her humanity once she marries him?  Why will she never be able to return?  Why is Fiachra such a boorish man?  What is Fiachra planning?

 

This line, in fact, is something you can work with:

 

"Why a human, you may ask? Because he's such a douchebag no Fae woman will have him."

 

Let us know that he has no options among the Fae, and must turn to a human in order to fulfill his plan: usurping the throne.  Otherwise, information is being omitted that clearly states both Fiachra's goal, and the implications of both the kidnapping, and wedding.  This is what sets up your conflict, and where the book takes off.

 

 

Ariel has her hands full juggling her safety, sanity and hope. Making Fiachra happy keeps her safe, but not hopeful; trying to escape lifts her hope but drops her safety. Her sanity hangs in the balance, and that's not all. If she marries whom she hates, she'll give up everything she loves; if she gains immortality, she'll lose her humanity. [Still a little iffy on this bit. I feel like it loses some of the voice.]

 

This is going to be a struggle for you, but it's clear that much of the book revolves around her attempts to escape.  However, you need not go into every detail; all we need to know is that she initially tries to keep him happy (for her own safety), but then eventually rejects him outright and grows increasingly petulant.  That then turns his opinion against her, and eventually has him change his mind.  What we can discern is that he's trying to convince her to stay, and to try and trick her into falling into a trap; don't be afraid to state that.  This is the meat of your story.  Just be careful not to assemble a list of details; instead, tell us how the story's progressing in general terms.

 

Again, I don't want to write an example; let your own voice do the talking.  What - in general - is he doing to try and trick her into accepting the marriage?  Why is she resisting him?  Why is she not wooed by the charms?  How can she tell he's a boor?  Don't mention that there are seven weeks until the marriage (which you've already cut out); it lessens the sense of imminent danger.

 

Going sentence to sentence now in a breakdown:

 

1: Doesn't actually add anything to the query, aside from state vagarities.  The sentence, by itself, is adding nothing without describing why her sanity is being challenged, why her safety is in doubt, and why she has to juggle hope among them.  The Oxford comma also raises its ugly head (or doesn't), by pointing out that all items in such a list need a comma after them.  Otherwise, "sanity and hope" are somehow one object.  There's a great example about toast and orange juice on the web that describes it very well.

 

2: Safety isn't something that's ever dropped, and the clause could use a comma before "but".  The sentence is otherwise awkward and introduces vagarities by not stating the facts behind them; they're specific mentions of actions that omit some details important to the picture being painted.  How is she making him happy?  Why does it sap her hopes?  How does escape lift her hope without giving her freedom?  It's also a bit redundant; escape is generally never a safe procedure, and running from a captor generally is hazardous.

 

3: Why is her sanity suddenly in question?  She seemed perfectly normal up until now, and suddenly she's questioning it?  We're asking questions again.

 

4: A vague set of statements that has been addressed throughout the thread.  I think it can be solved via stating these facts early on when setting up the plot and the story, as this all really happens almost immediately.   Again, don't be afraid to state the conflict early; if, for example, a book were to open with a terrorist organization stealing a bomb, and the heroes were to spend all book chasing them, the conflict is quite immediately known: we've got a Broken Arrow, and the book will be about chasing them down.  This isn't a bad thing; if that's the way your story flows, then that's simply the way it flows.

 

The bottom line, tell the story as it moves along, front to back; don't jump around, and don't hold things back that are important details.  The agent needs to know these things, or they'll be left with questions; the bad kinds of questions.

 

 

Fiachra woos her with everything from silken gowns with unicorn-hair embroidery to enchanted banquets and balls. Ariel rebuffs his every effort, and his true, cruel nature shows past his outer beauty. When she dodges his magic and spurns his false kindness, Fiachra has Ariel whipped; when she flees the castle itself, he throws her in a dungeon.

 

This is better than in previous versions, but again, reads off as a list of facts; condense this into the previous paragraph and simplify the entire thing; honestly, the "meat" of your story is probably only three or four sentences in the query: Ariel spurning his efforts, and Fiachra eventually turning on her.  That's really it.  Very simple, which isn't in itself a bad thing.  In fact, the shorter your query is, the better; the agent reads it faster, and if executed properly, doesn't leave much doubt as to the interplay of relationships, conflicts, and characters.  Keep it about the plot, and not the details...

 

* Why is Fiachra wooing her?

* How is he doing it, in general terms?

* Why is she rebuffing him?

* What is the end result?

 

All that then sets up your climax...

 

 

Ariel refuses to be tamed, and redoubles her efforts to escape. Getting out of the cell is her first priority: getting out of Faerie itself will come later. Sure, she might need help, but there's nothing wrong with that. She's only human, after all, and she intends to stay that way.

 

This is a really good ending paragraph.  It sums up the endgame without revealing the appearance of her dad or the come-about by Fiachra towards his own father.

 

My only note is that I might eliminate italics, bolds, and other formatting niceties in the query; I don't actually know, but I worry that it might make you look like you're trying too hard to stand out.  Let the words speak for themselves, and try not to resort to tricks to get attention.

 

That is, in fact, one trap to avoid in a query: trying to stand out.  Just stick with the basics and the formula and you'll be fine; the story will speak for itself.  But, aside from italics, you've done that, so I'll not go into detail. :smile:

 

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's THE CHRONICLES OF FAERIE and Garry Kilworth's KNIGHTS OF LIÖFWENDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Does nothing to detract from the query.  Well done.

 

My only other notes concern Ariel's father and Madoc.  They can be added back into the query, if done properly.  Right now, I'm thinking that a mention of her dad following her into the world of Faerie early on once she's kidnapped, and then returning at the end gives the impression that she's not alone.  This isn't a bad thing, and introduces another thread that will eventually come back to be resolved at the end.  Say, for instance, that he immediately goes in after her, and at the end is close to reaching her.  It would be the truth, and adds a bit of tension; will her father reach her in time?  That question doesn't need to be answered, but at the very end of the query it can set up that a clash could be coming, whether it factually does or doesn't.  Again, not a deception, because it would be truth: he is on his way, it's just a question of whether he'll get there in time (a question that doesn't need to be asked nor answered).

 

The question of Madoc could also be relevant; although stating that Fiachra is about to kill both her and Madoc happens right at the climax... the agent doesn't know what the end result is.  Does Ariel die?  Does Madoc?  Do they both get popped?  Will her father be too late?  Or does he arrive in time and save both their lives?  That's the denouement, and it's not known even if you state that the ultimate price could be paid right at the end.  At that point, it all comes together in one massive "Oh Shit" moment... but we don't know the ending, and that should leave the agent wanting more.  Just because it's the climax doesn't mean the ending is being given away; far from it, in fact.  We don't know the end result; they could all die, for all we know, and Fiachra could win.

 

Don't be afraid to explore the idea, and don't be afraid to avoid mystery and be direct.

 

P.S. I believe this is my longest query critique ever (2700+ words), but I hope I was able to address all the problems of the query and provide solutions.  There's good stuff here, but it needs the rock chipped away to expose the diamond.  Some tweaking, and you should get there.  The book actually sounds fine to me from a structural standpoint; there's the mystery of whether a normal human can survive this ploy of the Fae, and that's what gives it its appeal.  I believe that.


~ It may look like I know what I'm doing, but by no means do I know what the hell I'm talking about. ~

 

~ The only Operations Director Furry Fiesta has ever known (since 2014) ~

~ ACFI Ops, Theme & Narrative Development, and Performance lead since 2017 ~

 

WIP Stories:

Michelle (WIP - Chapter 10 as of June 2017)


#49 Ireth

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 11:15 PM

Thank you so much, KL Sanchez! I'm pretty sure a breakdown like this will be invaluable to me. I'll definitely refer back to this when I'm revising.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#50 KL Sanchez

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 11:33 PM

No problem.  Now if I can be excused, I think I'll die now...

 

(dies)


~ It may look like I know what I'm doing, but by no means do I know what the hell I'm talking about. ~

 

~ The only Operations Director Furry Fiesta has ever known (since 2014) ~

~ ACFI Ops, Theme & Narrative Development, and Performance lead since 2017 ~

 

WIP Stories:

Michelle (WIP - Chapter 10 as of June 2017)


#51 continuum9

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 11:36 PM

No problem.  Now if I can be excused, I think I'll die now...

 

(dies)

 

You gave very well thought out and helpful advice. You should be proud. 



#52 KL Sanchez

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 11:37 PM

Oh, pride is one thing, but sleep... ah, that is another.  (zombie moan)


~ It may look like I know what I'm doing, but by no means do I know what the hell I'm talking about. ~

 

~ The only Operations Director Furry Fiesta has ever known (since 2014) ~

~ ACFI Ops, Theme & Narrative Development, and Performance lead since 2017 ~

 

WIP Stories:

Michelle (WIP - Chapter 10 as of June 2017)


#53 Ireth

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 11:09 AM

Dear Agent:

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk never wanted a fairytale wedding, especially not to a real Fae prince. But Fiachra intends to give her one, whether she likes it or not. He kidnaps her to Faerie and sets their wedding date for Midwinter Eve without even asking Ariel's opinion. Luckily, her dad wastes no time in finding his own way into Faerie, the better to track Fiachra down.

 

Selfish, smug and sinister, Fiachra is everything Ariel loathes about the Fae in one deceptively beautiful package. As far as he's concerned, Ariel is his ticket to seizing kingship of the Winter Court from his father. He woos her with everything from silken gowns with unicorn-hair embroidery to enchanted feasts and balls.

 

Ariel isn't taken in for a moment. Her belief in Fae is what caught Fiachra's attention in the first place, and she takes full advantage of it. Drawing on her dad's teachings, she dodges Fiachra's magic and spurns his false kindness, even though doing so earns her a whipping and a stint in a dungeon. She can't afford to give up -- marrying Fiachra will cost her not just her home, friends and family, but her very humanity.

 

Time grows short, and so does Fiachra's patience. But Ariel's determination only grows. Getting out of the castle is first priority; getting out of Faerie itself will come later. No harm in hoping her dad will show up to help, either. She's only human, after all, and she intends to stay that way.

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's THE CHRONICLES OF FAERIE and Garry Kilworth's KNIGHTS OF LIÖFWENDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#54 CheG

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 12:15 PM

Dear Agent:

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk never wanted a fairytale wedding, especially not to a real Fae prince. But Fiachra intends to give her one, whether she likes it or not. He kidnaps her to Faerie and sets their wedding date for Midwinter Eve without even asking Ariel's opinion. Luckily, her dad wastes no time in finding his own way into Faerie, the better to track Fiachra down. Does her father rescue her? This isn't something usually done in YA in which the teen's own resourcefulness is showcased. It might ring some alarm bells with agents.

 

Selfish, smug and sinister, Fiachra is everything Ariel loathes about the Fae in one deceptively beautiful package. As far as he's concerned, Ariel is his ticket to seizing kingship of the Winter Court from his fatherand he woos her with everything from silken gowns with unicorn-hair embroidered gownsry to enchanted feasts and balls.

 

Ariel isn't taken in for a moment. Her belief  knowledge (it sounds stronger than belief and implies the teaching you talk about in the next sentence)in Fae is what caught Fiachra's attention in the first place, and she takes full advantage of it. Drawing on her dad's teachings, she dodges Fiachra's magic and spurns his false kindness, even though doing so earns her a whipping and a stint in a dungeon. She can't afford to give up -- marrying Fiachra will cost her not just her home, friends and family, but her very humanity.

 

Time grows short, and so does Fiachra's patience. But Ariel's determination only grows. Getting out of the castle is first priority; getting out of Faerie itself will come later. No harm in hoping her dad will show up to help, either. She's only human, after all, and she intends to stay that way. I've heard it said that the last paragraph should talk about the stakes of the plot- what are the consequences for marrying this guy? Why stay human? (Sounds like a sweet deal to me LOL!) Up the stakes, and make it obvious WHY this is such a horrible situation. For some reason the stint in the dungeon and whipping come off as bland to me. It seems obvious the Prince won't kill her, so I don't know...)

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's THE CHRONICLES OF FAERIE and Garry Kilworth's KNIGHTS OF LIÖFWENDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Arg! I hope this helps a little! I haven't read the earlier versions! But then, neither will the agent you query... So um, yeah. Sorry I'm not better at this!


DogFightcoversigsize_zpsfe772a9d.jpg

Please check out my MG query here 


#55 Aightball

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 12:52 PM

Dear Agent:

 

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk never wanted a fairytale wedding, especially not to a real Fae prince. But Fiachra intends to give her one, whether she likes it or not. He kidnaps her to Faerie and sets their wedding date for Midwinter Eve without even asking Ariel's opinion. Luckily, her dad wastes no time in finding his own way into Faerie, the better to track Fiachra down.  Not hooked. So far, it sounds like many other books of this type that are already on the shelf. Try to get a killer hook, on that is guaranteed to draw me in and not let me go.

 

Selfish, smug and sinister, Fiachra is everything Ariel loathes about the Fae in one deceptively beautiful package. As far as he's concerned, Ariel is his ticket to seizing kingship of the Winter Court from his father. He woos her with everything from silken gowns with unicorn-hair embroidery to enchanted feasts and balls. This is good. It gives us an idea of the character, although he is very much like all other fantasy characters. How is he different? I like this, but I really want him to be different than your usual fantasy villain.

 

Ariel isn't taken in for a moment. Her belief in Fae is what caught Fiachra's attention in the first place, and she takes full advantage of it. Drawing on her dad's teachings, she dodges Fiachra's magic and spurns his false kindness, even though doing so earns her a whipping and a stint in a dungeon. She can't afford to give up -- marrying Fiachra will cost her not just her home, friends and family, but her very humanity.  I'm confused here...this is the first you've mentioned her belief (unless I missed it before)...how is Ariel different from other fantasy victims? Right now, I don't see how she differs from anyone else. And the stakes, while clear, also don't stand out to me as being unique...you want your book to stand apart in a crowded genre.

 

Time grows short, and so does Fiachra's patience. But Ariel's determination only grows. Getting out of the castle is first priority; getting out of Faerie itself will come later. No harm in hoping her dad will show up to help, either. She's only human, after all, and she intends to stay that way.  Again, this doesn't set you apart from the others. Is your victim really going to rely on the 'save me' trope? Or does she do something different?

 

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. It will appeal to fans of O.R. Melling's THE CHRONICLES OF FAERIE and Garry Kilworth's KNIGHTS OF LIÖFWENDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Not bad, but I really want to see how your story is different from the others on the shelf now. What makes your characters different? Why should I read your book instead of another?


Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...rescue-me-lgbt/

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...rescue-me-lgbt/

Twitter Hook(s): http://agentquerycon...rescue-me-lgbt/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#56 Ireth

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 12:56 PM

Thanks for your comments, CheG!

 

Does her father rescue her? This isn't something usually done in YA in which the teen's own resourcefulness is showcased. It might ring some alarm bells with agents. Her father doesn't find her until the climax, so he doesn't exactly rescue her, per se. I didn't want to give the impression that he's nonexistent, incompetent or uncaring, though.

 

I've heard it said that the last paragraph should talk about the stakes of the plot- what are the consequences for marrying this guy? They're stated in the previous paragraph. If she marries him, she'll lose her home, family and friends as well as her humanity. Why stay human? (Sounds like a sweet deal to me LOL!) Up the stakes, and make it obvious WHY this is such a horrible situation. For some reason the stint in the dungeon and whipping come off as bland to me. It seems obvious the Prince won't kill her, so I don't know...) He DOES try to kill her, but only after he's fed up with her escape attempts, mid-climax. I'm still iffy about revealing that much in the query, though.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#57 Ireth

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:37 PM

Thanks for weighing in on this, Aightball. I agree with most of your points, so I'm going to save time and just comment on the one I don't agree with. You said this: Is your victim really going to rely on the 'save me' trope? Or does she do something different?

 

Not to sound dismissive, but I think you may have missed the point of the rest of the query. Ariel's whole arc is defined by her readiness to save herself, trying again and again despite failing. Hoping for help is nothing to be ashamed of, IMO. I see her as kind of like Jane in Disney's Tarzan -- she's smart and capable in her own right, but unfortunately she's currently out of her element. It's to be expected that she needs help sometimes.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#58 sharpegirl

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:38 PM

 

The hook may be the most important line in your entire query, because it's the one thing agents glance at in deciding if they should read the rest.  They get hundreds, if not thousands of these per day, and can't possibly read every letter of every one.  So, they read the hook, and if it grabs their attention, they keep reading.  You've got at the maximum five seconds to get their attention, and if you go longer than that, they move on.  No reading the next sentences, no synopsis, they just move to the next query letter.  And it's not personal, it's just a matter of time: they don't have it.  Many of the best hooks are one-liners; over and done in five seconds or less and in thirty words or less... about half that, however, should be the target.

 

 

 

 

KL, once again you're making statements that are just not accurate. Agents read their queries. Or they have assistants or interns who read them for them and pass them along the ones that they know the agent will be interested in. Sure, if it's a genre they don't represent or totally illegible, they're going to either stop or just skim, but they read the slush that has been submitted correctly to them, following their guidelines. Otherwise they would be closed to submissions. 

 

Many agents don't start with the query. Some will just glance at it and then go to the sample pages. Some read the query first. Some read the synopsis first/last/in between the query and the sample pages. You cannot predict an agent's habits. 

 

The query as an engaging whole is the most important part of a query. Amazing sample pages, IMO, are even more important than an amazing query letter. 

 

Ireth, some things to keep in mind: This is much improved, but generally if a bunch of people are asking you questions about the book from your query, it means simply that the information is unclear and should be somehow addressed in the query, rather than having you answer them within the thread. An agent is not going to let you respond to a rejection with a ton of explanation, so questions being asked just mean you need to make the query clearer. 

 

I'd focus on revising (you are still revising this, correct?) and take a week break from the query, so you have space, instead of tweaking it over and over. Sometimes we get too close to things and end up in a endless revision cycle. 



#59 Ireth

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:42 PM

Ireth, some things to keep in mind: This is much improved, but generally if a bunch of people are asking you questions about the book from your query, it means simply that the information is unclear and should be somehow addressed in the query, rather than having you answer them within the thread. An agent is not going to let you respond to a rejection with a ton of explanation, so questions being asked just mean you need to make the query clearer. 

 

I'd focus on revising (you are still revising this, correct?) and take a week break from the query, so you have space, instead of tweaking it over and over. Sometimes we get too close to things and end up in a endless revision cycle. 

 

I appreciate your feedback, sharpegirl. I agree that a break will probably do me and the query a lot of good. It's resisting the temptation to keep tweaking that's the hard part.


There's too much blood in my tea system. Time to put the kettle on.

 

~~~

 

All projects except WINTER'S QUEEN are currently on hiatus until further notice. Thank you!

 

Queries:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...e-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...sea-ya-fantasy/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing On Edges: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Bellringer: http://agentquerycon...ringer-fantasy/

 

Hooks:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...tasy-hook-help/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...k-epic-fantasy/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

Moonhunter: http://agentquerycon...ya-xenofiction/

Song of the Sea: http://agentquerycon...ong-of-the-sea/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/

Dancing on Edges: http://agentquerycon...asy-query-hook/

 

Synopses:

Winter's Queen: http://agentquerycon...een-ya-fantasy/

Tenth Realm: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-synopsis/

Low Road: http://agentquerycon...fantasyvampire/

My Soul to Keep: http://agentquerycon...porary-fantasy/


#60 sharpegirl

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:49 PM

I appreciate your feedback, sharpegirl. I agree that a break will probably do me and the query a lot of good. It's resisting the temptation to keep tweaking that's the hard part.

 

It's so hard to resist, I know! But sometimes space gives you a new perspective/way of approaching things.Resist :D :D  (PS: I like that you've put the focus on your MC and ditched the Dad, it makes it more accessible, YA-wise). 

 

Good luck! 






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