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House of Lachesis Query


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#1 Kevin Zabbo

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:01 PM

Word count approximately 110,000; completed. Manuscript available on request.

Dear AgentName:

“House of Lachesis” is a horror - alternate-present, science fiction novel about a homeless woman who befriends an alien vampire after discovering him in an abandoned house in Providence, Rhode Island.

After running away from her abusive parents, Anna seeks shelter one stormy night in an abandoned house in Providence. She soon discovers she's not alone. Living in the house is a creature she'd never dreamed possible – a shape-shifting alien vampire whose native form resembles something out of a Lovecraft story. She discovers quickly that he is a kind and compassionate being. She names him Lachesis.

Anna opens the house to a Swan Point University sorority, and with Lachesis' help, the Sisters quickly go from a C average and occasional honor roll to high honors and Dean's List. It doesn't take long before they discover what he is. They accept him, though a few Sisters take a little longer to realize that regardless of what he is, he's still the wonderful Lachesis he always was, despite his diet.

Anna's peace is interrupted when she has to confront her parents after years of separation. Her mother, Gertrude, beat her severely with a Bible and kept her sedated, tied to a chair in the basement. Her father, Johnathan, preached at a hellfire-and-brimstone church that children should be severely punished for any misbehavior, and practiced the same on Anna. This time, they are in court and she has to testify against them and hopes the judge is as merciful with them as they were with her.

Lachesis needs to return to his wrecked starship to recover a food synthesizer. Anna organizes an expedition to Mount Jefferson in Oregon to assist the alien astronaut. When they get there they discover, the hard way, that Mount Jefferson became very active and is close to erupting. They need to get the food synthesizer out of the wreck and avoid the aggressive and cannibalistic version of Lachesis' people. They need to haul as many of Lachesis' eggs as possible out of the hulk, and get away from the mountain before it explodes.

I have no prior publishing experience. I wrote this book to appeal to those who appreciate Lovecraftian creatures, and put such a creature in a science fiction light in House of Lachesis. I am originally from Providence, RI, and have written and explored the Lovecraftian heritage of scary stories. There is a touch of horror in all of my writing, though my style is an eclectic mix of literary science fiction, horror, erotica, and experimental in nature. I can best be contacted by email or telephone. Call any time.

Sincerely,


Kevin Zabbo / Trixie Glendale

#2 Kevin Zabbo

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:02 PM

Please critique my query, I will try to get a few minutes to critique yours. I'm really new at query letters, this one probably needs a load of work.

#3 Dan Haring

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:04 PM

Hi Kevin,

Sounds like a pretty interesting story. Your query needs a fair amount of work though.

First off, the way you've arranged your information should be changed. There are different methods, but more or less you want to pitch your story first, then give the details, such as genre and word count afterward. You also need to pick a genre. You need to figure out what section your book would go in if it were at a book store. Horror - alternate-present, science fiction isn't a genre. I don't know if there's a science fiction equivalent of urban/contemporary fantasy, so you'd probably be better off just calling it science fiction. Or maybe science fiction with horror elements. But even that might be frowned upon.

As far as the story goes, there's a lot of information and skipping around and it's a bit confusing at times. Hopefully it's just in the query and not in your story. First, You say it's about a homeless woman. It might be semantics, but based off her situation at home and the fact that she runs away, Anna sounds like she's maybe a teenager. You might want to clear that up.

You'll want to say Providence, Rhode Island, when you mention where she lives, since I don't think you should mention it below in talking about yourself. In fact, pretty much all of that section should go. But I'll address that later.

Is there a reason she names him Lachesis? I googled it and it's one of the three fates in Greek mythology. I don't know if that was intentional or not. But just to have her name him a rather odd and hard to pronounce name for no reason doesn't work for me.

You go from her taking shelter one stormy night in an abandoned house to her opening it up to sorority sisters. This is a really strange jump for me and offers no explanation why she was able to do that. You also don't explain why the girls are able to get better grades. Is Lachesis really smart? Does he have alien/vampire technology that helps teach them? More importantly, is this a major plot point? If not, it needs to go. You also mention that he's a vampire. What/who does he eat? And why are the sisters ok with this, presuming that he still must feed on humans to survive?

The next thing we know, it's years later, and her parents are on trial. Are they on trial for what they did to Anna? Someone else? How were they able to track her down in order to testify? Is this a major plot point?

Just as quickly as you jumped back to her parents, you jump back to Lachesis' need to return to his wrecked starship. You either need to get rid of the part about her parents, or give it more explanation. My vote would be to excise it from the query completely.

If Lachesis' starship crashed in Oregon, what's he doing 5000 miles across the country without his food synthesizer? How is Anna able to organize an expedition? All we know about her is that she is a runaway with parents who used to beat her. You need to get rid of some of the extraneous stuff like the sisters' grades, and focus on what the core of the story is and developing Anna.

Only mention publishing experience if you have some. Also, agents for the most part don't want to hear about the author unless you're telling them something like, "I you have a degree in Lovecraftian literature". Telling them you're a fan of something you're writing about isn't a way to win them over.

I know this is a lot. I hope you don't think I was harsh. You need to really study query letters and understand how they work, what to put in them, etc. It's not a fun process at all. I'm stuck in it right now as well. But you can do it.

Best of luck!

#4 DC Rich

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:23 PM

Kevin,

I agree with Dan. I don't know what happened but my post eneded up in cyberspace somewhere after I started. So here goes again.

Word count approximately 110,000; completed. Manuscript available on request.

This needs to be in the final paragraph. It is undertood that the manuscript is available on request, you hope the agent will be sending you a reply requesting sample chapters

Dear AgentName:

“House of Lachesis” is a horror - alternate-present, science fiction novel about a homeless woman who befriends an alien vampire after discovering him in an abandoned house in Providence, Rhode Island.

Space is a premium, you repeat this in the next paragraph, and you do much better at it in the next paragraph.

After running away from her abusive parents, Anna seeks shelter one stormy night in an abandoned house in Providence. She soon discovers she's not alone. Living in the house is a creature she'd never dreamed possible – a shape-shifting alien vampire whose native form resembles something out of a Lovecraft story. Describe what this alien looks like. She discovers quickly that he is a kind and compassionate being. She names him Lachesis. Why does she name him Lachesis? Doesn't he have his own name?

Anna opens the house to a Swan Point University sorority, and with Lachesis' help, the Sisters quickly go from a C average and occasional honor roll to high honors and Dean's List. It doesn't take long before they discover what he is. They accept him, though a few Sisters take a little longer to realize that regardless of what he is, he's still the wonderful Lachesis he always was, despite his diet. You lost me on he is still the wonderful Lachesis he always was.

The next two paragraphs need to be put into the second, and not that much info. Focus on one point or the other. This is a taste of what you have, If the agent wants more have your synopsis ready, or the first fifty pages.

Anna's peace is interrupted when she has to confront her parents after years of separation. Her mother, Gertrude, beat her severely with a Bible and kept her sedated, tied to a chair in the basement. Her father, Johnathan, preached at a hellfire-and-brimstone church that children should be severely punished for any misbehavior, and practiced the same on Anna. This time, they are in court and she has to testify against them and hopes the judge is as merciful with them as they were with her.

Lachesis needs to return to his wrecked starship to recover a food synthesizer. Anna organizes an expedition to Mount Jefferson in Oregon to assist the alien astronaut. When they get there they discover, the hard way, that Mount Jefferson became very active and is close to erupting. They need to get the food synthesizer out of the wreck and avoid the aggressive and cannibalistic version of Lachesis' people. They need to haul as many of Lachesis' eggs as possible out of the hulk, and get away from the mountain before it explodes.

I have no prior publishing experience. I wrote this book to appeal to those who appreciate Lovecraftian creatures, and put such a creature in a science fiction light in House of Lachesis. I am originally from Providence, RI, and have written and explored the Lovecraftian heritage of scary stories. There is a touch of horror in all of my writing, though my style is an eclectic mix of literary science fiction, horror, erotica, and experimental in nature. I can best be contacted by email or telephone. Call any time.

Just say House of Lachesis is a 110,000 word horror/Science Fiction story set in Providence, RI where I am from. Others can give you a better idea on the closing remarks but I think citing something about the agency and matching other books they represented are similar to yours would be a good idea. Then close with thank you for your consideration of House of Lachesis.

Sincerely,


I agree with Dan's remarks on the other items he pointed out.

If Lachesis' starship crashed in Oregon, what's he doing 5000 miles across the country without his food synthesizer? How is Anna able to organize an expedition? All we know about her is that she is a runaway with parents who used to beat her. You need to get rid of some of the extraneous stuff like the sisters' grades, and focus on what the core of the story is and developing Anna.


That was also a point that knocked me out of your narrative, why is the alien in RI if his ship is on the other side of the continent?

I’m also working on my own query letter, but the feedback I’ve been getting for mine is this: make it short, don’t repeat yourself. Give them just enough to want to see more. Pique the agent’s curiosity.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!

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#5 Amy

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 11:52 AM

Hi Kevin! Sounds intriguing. I agree with what has been said above. I would definitely try to shorten it a bit keeping the key elements in tact and maybe work her personal history with her parents into the beginning. Just a thought! Best of luck!

Amy

#6 Juls Duncan

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 01:56 PM

Hi, Kevin and Trixie

There is a lot here that needs to be rearranged… Here we go… You need a HOOK, the one or two lines that makes me want to read your query. Also you need to cut this way back. What you have here is a ready good start for a synopsis. Your query should be…

HOOK –
Mini-synopsis-
Bio – only if you are published.
Book (TITLE CAPITALIZED) is complete at (word count)
Salutation

Name
Address
Phone
email

Make it as simple as possible, and you are only allowed one page (about 200 to 250 words).

If you haven’t done so, read other queries posted here. They will give you an idea on how it needs to look.

I hope this helps you a little... Juls

#7 Kevin Zabbo

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:57 AM

To everyone who replied to my Query, I thank you very much for your time and effort taken. While I am not usually keen on taking advice, what I'm doing isn't working, and I shall take the advice given and distill it into a better query letter and post it soon. I am certain with the help you have given me, I will be able to get the attention of an agent and get this thing published.

Thank you kindly,
Kevin Zabbo

#8 Darke

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 07:10 AM

Hi, Kevin and Trixie

There is a lot here that needs to be rearranged… Here we go… You need a HOOK, the one or two lines that makes me want to read your query. Also you need to cut this way back. What you have here is a ready good start for a synopsis. Your query should be…

HOOK –
Mini-synopsis-
Bio – only if you are published.
Book (TITLE CAPITALIZED) is complete at (word count)
Salutation

Name
Address
Phone
email

Make it as simple as possible, and you are only allowed one page (about 200 to 250 words).

If you haven’t done so, read other queries posted here. They will give you an idea on how it needs to look.

I hope this helps you a little... Juls


This is a good formula. I would follow this.

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#9 bkeats

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 12:11 PM

I'm ready and willing to take a peek at your revised query, Kevin. Being a Lovecraft fan myself, I can't help but be curious. :blink:

Happy Writing, and Cthulhu Fhtagn.




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