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CHILD GOD ( Suspense)


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#1 bkeats

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 12:08 PM

Dear Agent:

I found your submission guidelines online and am seeking representation for my 80,000-word YA novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about “pointless endeavors” like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming professional competitions.

When Roy is coerced to tutor Angela in math, neither is a fan of the other, but Angela has to admit Roy is at least “different.” After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy helps her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral dangerously out of control. Angela’s efforts to help Roy lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Wiley’s enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him?

Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story.

Although not yet a published author, I have taken fiction writing workshops in both New York City and Rochester, and have posted several short stories (and one novella) online. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely...

#2 ravage

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 12:19 PM

Yeah! I'm first.
I found your submission guidelines online and am seeking representation for my 80,000-word YA novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God. Tailor each of these to the specific agent, mention the work they have represented or authors they worked with that can reflect your own work.

couldn’t this should be could. Master Plan is not capitalized.

Coerced into tutoring...

Don't start a sentence with But...

Ok, I like this. I think you need to go through and eliminate all the unnecesarry words like lead only and, as well but you're on to something fun and cool here.
The aim of any fiction writer is the same as the satirist. Without satire, we are stuck with the bland truth.

#3 RileyRedgate

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 12:44 PM

Hey. I like it overall, really, but a couple quick things -

"Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story."

I'd suggest cutting your opening line at the top and blending it with this at the end by saying "ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD is an 80,000-word YA suspense novel. Despite the age of its protagonists, the psychological and at-times graphic nature of the story place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older market, much like Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card."
(The way you stated it immediately reminded me of Ender's Game, and imo it couldn't hurt to remind them that there ARE intensely successful books about younger protagonists for older readers.)

"and have posted several short stories (and one novella) online."
No need for this.

'“pointless endeavors” '
This doesn't need quotes. Neither does 'different' in the next paragraph

The sudden referral to Roy as Wiley in para 2 is understandable - i see his name quite a bit around it - but it's also jarring. I'd keep 'roy.'

I agree with ravage's comments, except for the bit about 'couldn't care less,' which is correct as is, and the capitalization of 'Master Plan,' which I believe is a stylistic decision on your part, yes? (I'm biased - I love capitalizing things that don't necessarily need capitalization. One of my MCs frequently refers to 'Big Important Things', which is always capitalized for sarcastic emphasis.)

i really like the transition you've got here from relatively comic to seriocomic to serious. it flows very nicely. best of luck and keep up the good work!

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#4 Dan Haring

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 01:09 PM

I started writing my response, but then had to step away and now there are some comments that cover things I was going to, but I figured I'd just post what I had. I agree with Anticipa's commments.

This story sounds very interesting.

I've seen query sites that say to put the title and word count at the top, but I tend to see more that say to put it at the bottom. Query Shark is one of the ones that tells you to put it at the bottom. Just something to think about.

Anticipa's right. The use of Roy's last name is jarring. Maybe it's because you don't want to say "Roy" twice in the same sentence, but it just seems weird to me. I had to re-read it before I realized that Wiley was Roy's last name, and not another character.

I think you need to provide a little more information about Roy's Master Plan. You say that it's to "save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse." But then you say that Angela might be the world's only hope for stopping him. I think you might want to tell a bit more about what the plan is, or at least why it's bad for humanity.

Overall there are just some things that are kind of vague. "But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral dangerously out of control." How does he overreact? What events, and how are they dangerously out of control?

Hope this helps some. Good luck!

#5 bkeats

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 01:28 PM

Holy tamole!

Less than an hour and three incredible responses already!

Thank all of you for your comments. A few comments...

Don't start a sentence with But...

Ok, I like this. I think you need to go through and eliminate all the unnecesarry words like lead only and, as well but you're on to something fun and cool here.


I break the "And" and "But" rule frequently. It's a deliberate style choice. However, you are right about those words that should be cut. Thanks, ravage :smile:

I'd suggest cutting your opening line at the top and blending it with this at the end by saying "ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD is an 80,000-word YA suspense novel. Despite the age of its protagonists, the psychological and at-times graphic nature of the story place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older market, much like Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card."

I like that, anticpa, although I'm hesitant to even mention my work in the same paragraph as ENDER'S GAME, one of the best friggin' books ever. Yes, serious books can have very young protaganists (ROOM or THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, anyone?), but it's an uphill battle to convince anyone of that.

"and have posted several short stories (and one novella) online."
No need for this.


Not being a published author, I never know what to do. I probably should just drop that like you suggest.

'“pointless endeavors” '
This doesn't need quotes. Neither does 'different' in the next paragraph


"Pointless endeavors" is an actual quote from Roy in the book. Thus the quote marks. Those around 'different' should go, though. I'll also change "Wiley" back to "Roy."

And yes, "Master Plan" is indeed capitalized in the best serial drama, old-fashioned tradition.

i really like the transition you've got here from relatively comic to seriocomic to serious.

Thank you, anticipa. That's the exact tone of the novel! It starts as MG, goes through YA and ends up pretty close to an adult thriller. Which is probably why no agent on Earth will touch it. :sad:

You say that it's to "save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse." But then you say that Angela might be the world's only hope for stopping him. I think you might want to tell a bit more about what the plan is, or at least why it's bad for humanity.

My intent about leaving the Plan vague in the query (as opposed to the synopsis) was to ( hopefully) create a sense of curiousity in the reader/agent. How could such a plan be bad? Of course, maybe I'm wrong about this. I don't know.

"But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral dangerously out of control." How does he overreact? What events, and how are they dangerously out of control?

I'd love to put this in Dan, but my query seems overlong as it is. Am I wrong?

Again, thank each and every one of you. You guys (girls) are the best! I'll post the revised version soon.

#6 Dan Haring

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 01:49 PM

You might be right about the sense of curiosity. That's definitely not a bad thing. But lots of agents don't ask for synopses and some don't even want pages, they only want your query to start with. So it might help to give them a tiny bit more information. I could totally be wrong though. That's what's aggravating about the whole query process.

The query posted above is 307 words. From what I've read, it seems between 250 and 350 is the sweet spot, so you wouldn't want to add much more. But it looks like you might be taking some things out about what you've posted online and whatnot, so maybe you could add a bit more meat instead of just generalities. I don't know though. Sorry that this isn't more helpful.

#7 Auralius

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 07:01 PM

Echo the suggestion to change "Wiley" to "Roy." Had to do a double-take. I do think you have room to include even just a sentence or two expanding on the Master Plan. The disconnect between feeding hungry children and Angela needing to stop him might be a bit much for mere curiosity to overcome.

All in all, though, nice job.

#8 kzeller

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 09:51 PM

When Roy is coerced to tutor Angela in math, neither is a fan of the other, but Angela has to admit Roy is at least “different.” - This sentence doesn't really work for me. "When" usually makes a person ask "what", but there's no "what" here. The sentence ends up being a little clunky and confusing. Maybe reword?

#9 RileyRedgate

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 11:14 PM

I'd suggest cutting your opening line at the top and blending it with this at the end by saying "ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD is an 80,000-word YA suspense novel. Despite the age of its protagonists, the psychological and at-times graphic nature of the story place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older market, much like Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card."

I like that, anticpa, although I'm hesitant to even mention my work in the same paragraph as ENDER'S GAME, one of the best friggin' books ever. Yes, serious books can have very young protaganists (ROOM or THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, anyone?), but it's an uphill battle to convince anyone of that.


Hehe, yeah, I guess. That book is something of an obsession for me... =]

'“pointless endeavors” '
This doesn't need quotes. Neither does 'different' in the next paragraph


"Pointless endeavors" is an actual quote from Roy in the book. Thus the quote marks. Those around 'different' should go, though. I'll also change "Wiley" back to "Roy."


Yeah, I figured as much on the quote usage for 'pointless endeavors' - but the thing is, if you don't have it quoted, then it gives your query more of a sense of voice. It feels like you're getting right into your arrogant intellectual character's head, rather than stepping back and showing us what he's saying.
(Also, it's sort of a scary prospect to even have quote marks in your query at all. :unsure: Every website is always like, FIRST THINGS FIRST DO NOT QUOTE YOUR BOOK so I'd be leery of this particular punctuation even though it's only a couple words.)

That's the exact tone of the novel! It starts as MG, goes through YA and ends up pretty close to an adult thriller. Which is probably why no agent on Earth will touch it. :sad:


Psh! So it's a story that grows up as it goes along. What could be wrong with that? :happy:

author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#10 rcolonel

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:57 AM

I would read this story. I'm very interested in your characters and believe that you summed it up nicely.

#11 bkeats

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:45 AM

Thank you, everyone, for your feedback. I know I'm not incorporating every suggestion, but this query is still a WIP. (Since my original has been rejected nearly 30 times, I figure I'd better get it right this time around.)

And yes, I will personalize my opening to the agent in question. I do my homework... :cool:


Dear Mr. XXX:

I found your submission guidelines online and am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspence novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming professional competitions.

When Roy is coerced to tutor Angela in math, neither is a fan of the other, but Angela has to admit Roy is different. After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy helps her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral out of control. Attacks and counter-attacks intensify in violence. Angela’s efforts to help Roy find a solution lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy's enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him?

Thank you for your consideration.


I'm still trying to think of a way to elaborate a bit about the Master Plan, but I can't seem to do it in a way that doesn't give the whole thing away. *sigh* Still trying. Does it read any better so far?

#12 jwmstudio

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 11:03 AM

I don't think I need to know more about the Master Plan. This is enough info to make me want to read the book. The only thing that still catches me is the "neither is a fan of the other." :smile:
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#13 RileyRedgate

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 07:11 PM

I agree. I think this Master Plan is at the perfect amount of vagueness. The kid sounds like a bit of a psychopath, and I wouldn't have it any other way, especially if it's YA. :D

I'd cut 'professional' out of Angela's competition part. It removes realism. In the story it probably fits in, but here it stands out and draws attention to something that doesn't really need attention.

Also, I'd agree with a prior poster in their edit of "Roy is coerced INTO TUTORING Angela." It's not necessarily grammatically incorrect as is - it just reads less smoothly than it could.

Also, careful - you misspelled 'suspense' in your opener. :wink:

Looks dandy to me. I can't see why this story would ever get 30 rejections, but hey... but yeah, anyway, I wouldn't change too much from here. Don't lose the heart that this query has by overelaborating or oversnipping.

Nice rewrite, and best of luck! Shoot me a message when I can find this one on the shelf; I want to read the heck out of it!

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#14 bkeats

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 01:08 PM

All right. Query letter, take three. Action!


Dear Mr. XXX:

I found your submission guidelines online and am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspense novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming competitions.

Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents convince the Boy Genius to tutor Angela in math, but she has to admit that Roy is nothing if not different. After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy helps her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral out of control. Angela’s efforts to help Roy find a solution lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy's enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him?

Thank you for your consideration.


So, whaddya tink? Gettin' any better?

#15 Jean Smith

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 01:58 PM

Hey there !

I hope you don't mind that I did a re-write. At this point, it's more comfortable to me. Maybe you'll see something useful here. Good luck !!

Jean

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent, eleven-year-old Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. On the other hand, his classmate Angela Dawn is only concerned with perfecting her baton-twirling skills.

When Roy begins tutoring her in math, Angela has to admit that Roy is different -- most kids don’t own nine hundred and ninety-nine radio-controlled helicopters, carry a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry ripe for the picking!” Angela begins to see the whole world in a brand-new light, but when Roy reacts to a bullying incident, emotions and events get complicated. Angela’s efforts to help Roy lead to the disintegration of her own life as friends disappear and Roy's enemies become hers. When Roy reveals the full nature of his plan, Angela has to make a decision. Will she help make Roy’s dreams a reality or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him?

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#16 jwmstudio

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:34 PM

Like it the way it is. Be careful not to polish the life out of it.
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#17 Krystle

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:44 PM

All right. Haha. I can always tell when someone's a writer because they actually know how to spell "all right." ;)Query letter, take three. Action!


Dear Mr. XXX:

I found your submission guidelines online and Either stick with this (because provided you followed their guidelines to a tee, it should be obvious you found them :p), or like you said, plug a personal note to show you know the market.am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspense novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God.I've both read in credible resources and seen it in several succeeding queries that you should completely place the title in all caps the first time you mention it. Makes it stand out more. But you certainly don't have to do this. ;)

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming competitions.

Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents convince the Boy Genius to tutor Angela in math, but she has to admit that Roy is nothing if not different. After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy helps her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral out of control. Angela’s efforts to help Roy find a solution lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy's enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide;I could be mistaken, but perhaps a colon would work better here? is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him? Very nice hook.

Thank you for your consideration.


So, whaddya tink? Gettin' any better?


I like it. It does what it's supposed to; lays out the characters and conflict in a tight, neat package. I'd say you're 95% there. Good luck!

#18 bkeats

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:43 PM

You know, I just realized my query letter doesn't have a hook.

AARGHH! How could I have missed that? How come you guys didn't tell me? How could this have happened? Why is the price of gas so high? Why is...

Okay. I'm back. Calmer but no less flustered. I have no credentials, so I have no "Cook." I need a "Hook" to go along with my "Book." Any ideas? Do I really need one?

#19 jwmstudio

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 03:29 PM

"But a Nook can't read and a Nook can't cook so what good to a Nook is a hook cook book?"
Relax,I think you have exactly what you need. imho :happy:
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#20 RileyRedgate

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 04:52 PM

Hmm. I read your first paragraph as a hook already, hehe. The fact that the characters are interesting hooks me more than some cheesy line about good or evil or somethin'.

But if you really feel you've got to have one, I think a pretty decent hook could be crafted from Angela's POV, so that the query isn't starting off with Roy and then switching perspectives halfway through to remain with Angela. If I were to suggest some sort of hook, it'd be something like:

"Twelve-year-old Angela Dawn can't quite define the word 'enigma,' but her classmate and new math tutor - hyper-intelligent, arrogant Roy Wiley - seems to hit the mark pretty well."

The thing is, since it'd start the query in Angela's point of view, some things would need subsequent switching. The rest would go something like,

Angela is concerned only with perfecting her baton-twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming competitions. Roy, on the other hand, tells Angela he couldn’t care less about so-called 'pointless endeavors' like twirling - he’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse.

Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents finally convince the Boy Genius to tutor her in math, but she has to admit that Roy is nothing if not different...

and the rest would read the same.

Just something to chew on. I wouldn't overthink it, tbh - jwm has a great point, over-revising is an awful thing.

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