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The Queen of Gosnter (Fantasy)

Fantasy Multi-Cultural Science Fiction

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#1 MonaLon

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 01:12 PM

New revision at Reply #40!

 

I've been working on this query letter for a while and I've gotten a lot of feedback, but I want to make sure that it's in the best form it can possibly be. I feel like a few aspects of it aren't as efficient as they could be, but I'll let you guys tell me what you think.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. This does not stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace.

 

As the youngest living member of her family, Tingra can never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite if she wishes for the stability of the empire to continue. She knows of the atrocities and corruption stained across her bloodline, when her people had held the court. Before Howling Night and her family’s exile. So Tingra returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty. She intends to destroy it.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman Tingra knows capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. A foreign soldier named William Auber runs from his defective military unit into Tingra’s blood feud, and the Queen herself fights for her life against a royal house resurrected from history. The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can.

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel tackling the concepts of responsibility, determinism, and the lethal depths that a family can sink to. The story is chronicled through the eyes of four protagonists: William as the outsider, Ilgi as the mediator, the Queen as the victim, and Tingra as the catalyst.

 

Some of the inspiration for this book came from my West African heritage. I hope that this book will join the conversation that Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin have continued about Afrofuturism and non-Western fantasy. I have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my short story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Q4 2016 contest. I am also an associate member of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#2 annabella

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 01:54 PM

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. This (that?) does not stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace. (Great hook!)

 

As the youngest living member of her family, Tingra can never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite if she wishes for the stability of the empire to continue. (Could condense this. Is it important she’s the youngest family member? Could you just say: To protect empire’s stability, Tingra can never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite.) She knows of the atrocities and corruption stained across her bloodline, when her people had held the court. Before Howling Night and her family’s exile. (Howling Night is world specific. Do you need it in the query? Could you condense to: Atrocities and corruption stain her bloodline.) So Tingra returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty. She intends to destroy it. (Could condense this last line too. Overall suggestion:

 

Atrocities and corruption stain Tingra’s bloodline. To protect the empire’s stability, she can never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite. So she returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty, intending to destroy it.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman Tingra knows capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. A foreign soldier named William Auber runs from his defective military unit into Tingra’s blood feud, and the Queen herself fights for her life against a royal house resurrected from history. The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can. (From the mention of William on, the query gets a it choppy and loses its train of tension and plot. How does William impact the main plot? Does he need to be named here? The less character names the better. Instead of mentioning William, I’d suggest continuing with Ilgi and Tingra and outlining what prevents the two of them from easily and simply destroying the book, then end with a line about stakes. What will be lost if Tingra doesn’t succeed?)

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel tackling the concepts of responsibility, determinism, and the lethal depths that a family can sink to. The story is chronicled through the eyes of four protagonists: William as the outsider, Ilgi as the mediator, the Queen as the victim, and Tingra as the catalyst. (Per my suggestion above, I’d remove this bit too. You could say ‘….science-fantasy novel told through multiple view points that tackles the concepts of…)

 

Hope this helps! :)



#3 Ajax

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 02:47 PM

I've been working on this query letter for a while and I've gotten a lot of feedback, but I want to make sure that it's in the best form it can possibly be. I feel like a few aspects of it aren't as efficient as they could be, but I'll let you guys tell me what you think.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. Why? This does not stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace. How and why did they descend from grace? Why were they exiled? Who had the power to exile them? This is too vague.

 

As the youngest living member of her family, Tingra can never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite Just like the hook, this is vague and kind of repetitive. Use the space in your query judiciously. I still don't know why her family deserves to be in a terrible predicament. if she wishes for the stability of the empire How is her family a threat to the stability of the empire? to continue. She knows of the atrocities and corruption stained across her bloodline, when her people had held the court. This sentence needs to appear early. Before Howling Night Who/what is this? and her family’s exile. So Tingra returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty. She intends to destroy it. Why? Why not claim it for herself? It's her family that has been convicted with corruption, not her (ostensibly because she cares about the Empire).

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman Tingra knows capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. A foreign soldier named William Auber runs from his defective military unit into Tingra’s blood feud, How? Also, he appears literally out of nowhere. This is jarring. and the Queen herself fights for her life against a royal house resurrected from history. This all feels very random. I cannot see any connection between the characters mentioned in the paragraph whatsoever. And who is this Queen? Is she Tingra's mother? And what do you mean by the "house resurrected from history"? Zombies à la The Mummy? The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can.

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel tackling the concepts of responsibility, determinism, and the lethal depths that a family can sink to. As a general rule, you shouldn't state the concepts of your story in the query. Leave that for the actual manuscript. And frankly, many agents find this to be unprofessional. I cannot actually see the aforementioned concepts unless I read your whole manuscript.The story is chronicled through the eyes of four protagonists: William as the outsider, Ilgi as the mediator, the Queen as the victim, and Tingra as the catalyst. You can mention this, but I'd rather like to see this applied in the cook section of your query. In other words, make it apparent that you have four protagonists by giving them equal space in your query.

 

Some of the inspiration for this book came from my West African heritage. I hope that this book will join the conversation Just say that it will appeal to the readers of so and so. that Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin have continued about Afrofuturism and non-Western fantasy. I have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my short story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Q4 2016 contest. I am also an associate member of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

 

This query lacks motives. I have no idea why Tingra is against her own family. Sure, they did bad things, but as their child, wasn't it all normal for her since her childhood? What made her stop and oppose her family members and when? Motives of the other characters are questionable at best. Why would the bloodsorcerer help Tingra? How is the solider tied to this? I feel like you are intentionally being coy about it to keep yourself from revealing too much, but there's a thin line between intrigue and illogical. 

The characters showed no personalities. Consider adding character quirks into the prose of your query. For instance: If Tingra is a rebel at heart, make the sentences more sarcastic.

I'd like to see more on why exactly is Tingra's family evil with a few anecdotes. If possible, take out the bits about the solider and the Queen. It adds nothing to the prominent storyline within this query (about Tingra trying to destroy the Key).

You can look at the Goodreads' summary of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo as a guideline to present multiple point of views in a small space. Literary Agent Janet Reid talked about an exemplary query with multiple POVs here: http://queryshark.bl...03/199-ftw.html

 

Keep revising.



#4 MonaLon

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 05:00 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback annabella and Ajax! I tried to take into account your suggestions and I made a couple of edits.

 

--------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. That does not stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace.

 

Mother and Father spilled blood to dominate the royal court, unleashing the largest magical attack in the empire’s history. The Dernat family has left fractures on the palace that have yet to fully heal, even after years of exile. But a Dernat never leaves their target wounded. Tingra’s parents will only be content when the Queen’s heart stops beating.

 

Since childhood, Tingra has masked her true identity behind fake names. Anything to distance herself from the horrors of her inherited past. She’s not a court member, not a princess. Tingra is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. After a journey to the frigid north she returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty. The palace, the Queen, and Tingra’s integrity will never be safe with the Key intact. She intends to destroy it.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. Ilgi finds herself pinned between the wills of two generations. Her decisions must lead to one’s end. The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can.

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel that chronicles a blood feud through the eyes of four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bodyguard, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she’s trying to protect.

 

Some of the inspiration for this story came from my West African heritage. It will appeal to the readers of Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin. I have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my short story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Q4 2016 contest. I am also an associate member of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#5 df08388

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 05:06 PM

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. This does not doesn't stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace.I think this story is about Tingra, but this opening is about her parents. I'd suggest making it about her.

 

As the youngest living member of her family, Tingra can't never let her parents reclaim their place in the circles of the elite if she wishes for the stability of the empire to continue because?. She knows of the atrocities and corruption stained across her bloodline (Is the reason she can't let her parents back in power because of the atrocities of her family? Not sure if this is what you're saying or not. If not, it would be nice to know why) , when her people had held the court.(this seems repetitive. We already know they had a place in elite circles.)  Before Howling Night and her family’s exile. (not sure this adds anything. We know they're in exile and nobody knows what Howling night is.) So Tingra returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ (who are the Demats? Is that her family name? It's unclear.) claim to royalty. She intends to destroy it. (the obvious question is why does she have to return to her home city to destroy the key? Why not just destroy it where she is? There might be a good reason why, but without telling us, it makes me wonder why she's going to the city to do it.)

 

It all hinges on the family Tingra has to find the bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman Tingra knows (filtering) capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. A foreign soldier named William Auber runs from his defective military unit into Tingra’s blood feud, (what blood feud?) and the Queen herself fights for her life against a royal house resurrected from history. (this is too vague for me. If you're talking about Tingra's family as the royal house, then I'd be specific about it to avoid confusion.) The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can. (this tells me nothing. It's too vague. I have to guess what you're meaning is.)

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel tackling the concepts of responsibility, determinism, and the lethal depths that a family can sink to. The story is chronicled through the eyes of four protagonists: William as the outsider, Ilgi as the mediator, the Queen as the victim, and Tingra as the catalyst.

 

Some of the inspiration for this book came from my West African heritage. I hope that this book will join the conversation that Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin have continued about Afrofuturism and non-Western fantasy. I have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my short story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Q4 2016 contest. I am also an associate member of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

I think what's missing here for me is what does the MC (or MC's) want and what is stopping them. You gave us what Tingra wants - to destroy the key so her family doesn't rise to power again. But what are the consequences if they do? You mention atrocities and corruption stain the bloodline, but there is nothing specific to Tingra there. What happens to her if her parents assume their former positions in the elite?

 

The other three protagonists seem thrown in at the end and it isn't clear how they all mesh in the story. Auber runs into Tingra's blood feud, but nowhere previous to that line does it mention she's in a blood feud. What is good/bad about him doing that? What does this mean for him? The queen fighting for her life against a royal house resurrected from history makes no clear connection to Tingra or anyone else. What are the consequences if she loses the fight? You mention Ilgi as a protagonist, but that doesn't come across in the query. I'll admit, giving four characters equal time in a query sounds like an overwhelming task. I get the impression Tingra is the main character here. Can you focus on her in the query and mentioned how the others affect her in the story? Just a thought.    

 

In the end, there's no clear stakes for any of these characters that I can see. Something like - When (something that throws Tingra's life into a tailspin) happens, Tingra must (do something that seems impossible) or (something bad will happen). Not that this would exactly fit your story, but something to make the reader want to read this book. Right now, I'm not sure what it's about.

 

Of course, this is all just my opinion, so I hope you find something helpful in here!



#6 Nonicks

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 02:28 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback annabella and Ajax! I tried to take into account your suggestions and I made a couple of edits.

 

--------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tingra Dernat’s family legacy deserves to die. That does not stop Tingra’s parents from clawing out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace.

 

Mother and Father spilled blood to dominate the royal court, unleashing the largest magical attack in the empire’s history. The Dernat family has left fractures on the palace that have yet to fully heal, even after years of exile. But a Dernat never leaves their target wounded. Tingra’s parents will only be content when the Queen’s heart stops beating (to be honest, this paragraph was not really exciting, [for me]. This is some kind of backstory, and backstory is usually not very interesting. Besides, you were talking about Tingra, then switched to her parents.)

 

Since childhood, Tingra has masked her true identity behind fake names. Anything to distance herself from the horrors of her inherited past. She’s not a court member, not a princess. Tingra is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. After a journey to the frigid north she returns to her home city with the Key, the last existing record of the Dernats’ claim to royalty. The palace, the Queen, and Tingra’s integrity will never be safe with the Key intact. She intends to destroy it.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dernats’ place in the royal court. Ilgi finds herself pinned between the wills of two generations. Her decisions must lead to one’s end. The sun cannot burn as the Dernats can.

 

The Queen of Gosnter is a 115,000-word Afro-Asian science-fantasy novel that chronicles a blood feud through the eyes of four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bodyguard, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she’s trying to protect.

 

Some of the inspiration for this story came from my West African heritage. It will appeal to the readers of Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin. I have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my short story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Q4 2016 contest. I am also an associate member of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

 

I got confused when I reached the end. I thought this query was only about Tingra, but now I see it has four POVs? The shopkeeper is Tingra, the Queen has been mentioned, too, but where are the bodyguard and the bloodsorcerer? Maybe you should place the paragraph about multiple POVs at the beginning of the query, so the reader will know there is more than one MC?

 

Hope I was able to help. Also, if you have time, please take a look at my query:

Red Eyed Daniel



#7 MonaLon

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 03:15 PM

So I took a while to finish up some school stuff, and now I'm back with a new draft! I tried to address the length and specificity of the MC's motivations. A much more drastic change y'all might notice is the name changes, which was something I'd been debating over doing for a while and I finally decided to go through with it.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo masks her royal identity behind fake names. She has tried everything to distance herself from her family’s legacy, a past stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. Her parents finally claw out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace, and Tinuka’s names cannot hide her any longer.

 

To end her violent past -- and stop her parents from murdering the Queen -- Tinuka must destroy the Key, the last existing record of her royal lineage. Tinuka’s not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. After a journey north Tinuka returns home with the Key. She intends to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ place in the royal court. The blood feud drags in two foreign ex-soldiers who Ilgi and Tinuka attempt to ally. The strangers’ gun screams like no other, and they walk through the slums as legends.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bloodsorcerer, the Queen who they are trying to protect, and a fallen soldier. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#8 rcsam92

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 07:02 PM

Dear _______,
 
Tinuka Dayo masks her royal identity behind fake names. She has tried everything to distance herself from her family’s legacy, a past stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. Her parents finally claw out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace, and Tinuka’s names cannot hide her any longer--after forty years of exile, her parents are back.
 
To end her violent past -- and stop her parents from murdering the Queen -- Tinuka must destroy the Key, the last existing record of her royal lineage. Tinuka’s not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, (seems a little late to find out she's a shopkeeper and that she wants to stay one) and she is going to stay that way. After a journey north Tinuka returns home with the Key. (I'm a little confused as to what physically the Key is) She intends to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes.
 
It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: (it feels a little late to introduce this character) the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ place in the royal court. The blood feud drags in two foreign ex-soldiers who Ilgi and Tinuka attempt to ally. The strangers’ gun screams like no other, and they walk through the slums as legends. (I would combine this sentence on sidekicks) (a sentence summarizing what Tinuka has to do/overcome would be a good finisher here)
 
THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bloodsorcerer, the Queen who they are trying to protect, and a fallen soldier. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016. (sweet creds)
 
--
Sounds like a great story! The main thing I think is to get to the conflict sooner, try not to get too focused on exposition. Notice you say "It all hinges" as late as the third paragraph. Hope that helps. 


#9 dmsimone

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 02:38 AM

I love jumping in to new queries :)

My comments in blue...

Generally...it started off very well, but as it progressed I found it harder to follow and by the end I was pretty confused. 

 

The premise sounds very interesting...I think you just need to clarify and add the appropriate details to make it flow.

 

 

 

So I took a while to finish up some school stuff, and now I'm back with a new draft! I tried to address the length and specificity of the MC's motivations. A much more drastic change y'all might notice is the name changes, which was something I'd been debating over doing for a while and I finally decided to go through with it.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo masks her royal identity behind fake names. She has tried everything to distance herself from her family’s legacy, a past stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. What's a griot? Her parents finally claw out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace, and Tinuka’s names cannot hide her any longer. So far, I like it! I am assuming that her parents did something terrible.

 

To end her violent past -- and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen -- Tinuka must destroy the Key, the last existing record of her royal lineage. I mostly see folks use em dashes instead of two en dashes, but it might be a stylistic preference. Question - how will destroying what sounds like a family tree prevent Tinuka's parents from murdering the current Queen? Tinuka’s not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. After a journey north Tinuka returns home with the Key. She intends to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes. "After a journey north" sounds very bland to me. Why doesn't she destroy this Key as soon as she finds it? Why does she bring it home? 

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ place in the royal court. Why didn't Ilgi go with Tinuka north? When you said Dayo in this sentence I had to scroll up and remind me who that was - I had forgotten it was Tinuka's last name. The blood feud drags in two foreign ex-soldiers who Ilgi and Tinuka attempt to ally. Who is the blood feud between - Tinuka and the current Queen? Why are Ilgi and Tinuka involving two foreign ex-soldiers? All they have to do is destroy the key and Ilgi supposedly knows how to do that. The strangers’ gun screams like no other, and they walk through the slums as legends. This closing line does not make any sense to me. Who is the stranger? I am surprised they are using guns - because this is a fantasy and it sounds like it takes place in another time/place so...why guns? And why are they suddenly in the slums?

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bloodsorcerer, the Queen who they are trying to protect, and a fallen soldier. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#10 MGSCAL

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 11:33 PM

Tinuka Dayo masks her royal identity behind fake names.(This is a solid hook, only thing is 'fake names' is kind of weak. You can say behind 'monikers' or 'alias') She has tried everything to distance herself from her family’s legacy, a past stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs(Should griots' be capitalized? If not, it doesn't seem like an important enough thing to say as I have no reference point. You could probably just say vilified through songs, which still sounds cool.). Her parents finally claw out of exile, forty years after their descent from grace, and Tinuka’s names(again, something other than names would be stronger) cannot hide her any longer.

 

To end her violent past(One cannot really 'end a past' unless they're a time traveller, but they can accept it and move on, just a thought to consider) -- and stop her parents from murdering the Queen -- Tinuka must destroy the Key, the last existing record of her royal lineage. Tinuka’s not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. (This last sentenced i underlined here should be your hook in my opinion. Its pretty good!) After a journey north(comma) Tinuka returns home with the Key. She intends to destroy it before Father’s(Father's? Her father. Or like a bad person named Father?) machete strikes.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ place in the royal court. The blood feud drags in two foreign ex-soldiers who Ilgi and Tinuka attempt to ally. The strangers’ gun(I think someone else mentioned this about the gun, I was surprised to see anything ballistic related as i was reading. Not really a good or bad thing, just caught my attention) screams like no other, and they walk through the slums as legends.(I feel like you spread out your stakes throughout the query, and by the end of it I feel underwhelmed.)

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, her bloodsorcerer, the Queen who they are trying to protect, and a fallen soldier. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

 

This is a good query! :smile: You go right into the plot and characters early on. But the beginning of your second paragraph reads like the ending of a query. By the time I get to the actual end, I'm underwhelmed by your last sentence beginning with "The stranger'..." as it has no substance.


Check out my query(first link). And a blurb from an old story (bottom link)  :smile:

http://agentquerycon...aladult-sci-fi/

http://agentquerycon...le-humorsci-fi/

http://agentquerycon...ce-of-velisity/

crYAiwHt.jpg

 

"The laws governing what we perceive as reality, time and space, and matter do not apply here. Illogic becomes the logic. Absurdity becomes orthodox.” 

-Valharia


#11 MonaLon

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 01:44 AM

Hey again! Thanks so much for the feedback you've given me, I tried to change a few things to accommodate it. I kept the beginning and middle somewhat the same, though I changed the hook to MGSCAL's suggestion (by the way, I think it works even better now), and I tried to clear up a few things. I have three questions: should I keep the genre description as fantasy, or science-fantasy? As the gun implies, there are some anachronistic aspects to the plot but I didn't want to confuse readers of the query. Plus I heard from someone that the term "science-fantasy" is looked down upon for letters such as these. There was some focus on how the ending of the query shapes up. Does the final paragraph (before the writing creds paragraph of course) seem underwhelming, or did my changes fix some of that? Finally, is the query too long? I've also heard that it's a good rule of thumb to keep it under 250 words. Thanks for checking this out!

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo is not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way.

 

Trying everything to distance herself from her family’s royal legacy, Tinuka rejects a heritage stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. After forty years, her parents finally claw out of exile. The shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To keep her past from resurfacing — and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen — Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. With the Key, the Dayos rule again. After countless failed attempts, Tinuka returns home to destroy it. She must act before Father’s machete strikes.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ royalty. While Tinuka convinces Ilgi to betray the family, her parents work towards killing their daughter. Two foreign ex-soldiers join Tinuka’s cause as bodyguards. Their gun screams unlike any weapon seen in the empire, and they stalk the city as legends. The sun cannot burn as the Dayos can.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, one of her bodyguards, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she is trying to protect. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#12 JonasJ

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 12:23 PM

I like your query! I hope you can check over my query too! 

 

 

Dear Ms. (Mr.) _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. Trying everything to distance herself from her family’s royal legacy, Tinuka rejects a heritage stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. After forty years, her parents finally claw out of exile. The shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To keep her past from resurfacing—and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen—Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. With the Key, the Dayos may rule again. After countless failed attempts, Tinuka returns home to destroy it. She must act before Father’s machete strikes.

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ royalty. While Tinuka convinces Ilgi to betray the family, her parents work towards killing their daughter. Two foreign ex-soldiers join Tinuka’s cause as bodyguards. Their gun screams unlike any weapon seen in the empire, and they stalk the city as legends. The sun cannot burn as the Dayos can.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is completed at 116,000 words and it is a fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, one of her bodyguards, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she is trying to protect. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

 

 

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#13 Zeroelle

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 08:11 PM

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo is not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way.

 

Trying everything to distance herself from her family’s royal legacy, Tinuka rejects a heritage stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. After forty years, her parents finally claw out of exile. The shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To keep her past from resurfacing — and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen — Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. With the Key, the Dayos rule again. If this Key is so important, are Tinuka's parents going after it as well? If so, I think you should mention that here, as it raises the stakes for Tinuka. After countless failed attempts, Tinuka returns home to destroy it. She must act before Father’s machete strikes. 

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ royalty. While Tinuka convinces Ilgi to betray the family, her parents work towards killing their daughter. Two foreign ex-soldiers join Tinuka’s cause as bodyguards. Their gun screams unlike any weapon seen in the empire, and they stalk the city as legends. The sun cannot burn as the Dayos can.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, one of her bodyguards, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she is trying to protect. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016. Nice! This would certainly get my attention.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#14 kyriakos

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 05:57 AM

Hey again! Thanks so much for the feedback you've given me, I tried to change a few things to accommodate it. I kept the beginning and middle somewhat the same, though I changed the hook to MGSCAL's suggestion (by the way, I think it works even better now), and I tried to clear up a few things. I have three questions: should I keep the genre description as fantasy, or science-fantasy? As the gun implies, there are some anachronistic aspects to the plot but I didn't want to confuse readers of the query. Plus I heard from someone that the term "science-fantasy" is looked down upon for letters such as these. There was some focus on how the ending of the query shapes up. Does the final paragraph (before the writing creds paragraph of course) seem underwhelming, or did my changes fix some of that? Finally, is the query too long? I've also heard that it's a good rule of thumb to keep it under 250 words. Thanks for checking this out!

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo is not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. Better than your previous beginning !

Trying everything to distance herself from her family’s royal legacy, Tinuka rejects a heritage stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. After forty years, her parents finally claw out of exile. The shopkeeper cannot hide any longer. I had to google the word griot, an agent might not do that. You can use the word bard for exampe.

 

To keep her past from resurfacing — and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen — Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. With the Key, the Dayos rule again. After countless failed attempts, Tinuka returns home to destroy it. She must act before Father’s machete strikes. To keep her past from resurfaing and her family to rule again Tinuka must destroy etc I think it is simpler and with fewer words...

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ royalty. While Tinuka convinces Ilgi to betray the family, her parents work towards killing their daughter. Two foreign ex-soldiers join Tinuka’s cause as bodyguards. Their gun screams unlike any weapon seen in the empire, and they stalk the city as legends. The sun cannot burn as the Dayos can. I feel like there is too much information in this paragraph without telling me what the book is about.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, one of her bodyguards, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she is trying to protect. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

 

Hope I was helpful !



#15 samchapman

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Posted 31 December 2016 - 05:04 PM

 

Though I really enjoy your idea and would totally read the book, I think this query needs work. First of all, four voices there may be, but there's still one person who drives the plot--Tinuka, and maybe Ilgi, as their relationship seems significant. I'm no expert, but from all I've heard, agents don't always want to hear about four protagonists, and the bodyguards seem kind of incidental anyway. I would write another draft that cuts out everything not related to Tinuka, her situation, and her decision.

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo is not a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. (Great start, with one issue: for me, it confuses "not being a princess" with "refuses to be a princess." Is there some way you could make it clearer that not being a princess is her choice?)

 

Trying everything to distance herself from her family’s royal legacy, Tinuka rejects her family's royal heritage stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. After forty years, But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer. (How do they claw out of exile?)

 

To keep her past from resurfacing — and stop her parents from murdering the current Queen, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. With the Key, the Dayos rule again. After countless failed attempts, Tinuka returns home to destroy it. (This sentence doesn't work for me. Instead, I'd rather know about what Tinuka is sacrificing here--does she still love her parents, even though they're awful? Does she have to give up something else? What does she have to go through to reach the key?) She must act before Father’s machete strikes.

 

Another thing I'm uncertain about: how does the Key work exactly? Are Tinuka's parents doing anything other than looking for it and trying to assassinate royals? If so, and they have an army or some other kind of support, why do they need proof--surely people must remember they used to be monarchs? What does the Key do for them?

 

It all hinges on the family bloodsorcerer Ilgi: the only woman capable of breaking the Key and erasing any official proof of the Dayos’ royalty. While Tinuka convinces Ilgi to betray the family, her parents work towards killing their daughter. Two foreign ex-soldiers join Tinuka’s cause as bodyguards. Their gun screams unlike any weapon seen in the empire, and they stalk the city as legends. The sun cannot burn as the Dayos can. (This is the paragraph that needs the most work, for me. I don't feel like I know the story any better now that I've read it: I get that Ilgi and the bodyguard are important, but you've mostly just introduced characters without telling me how their presence really complicated the plot and Tinuka's decisions. The language is cool too, but doesn't quite work without anything to hang it on. Plus, in the second sentence, there is some pronoun confusion between Tinuka and Ilgi.)

 

Also, one more thing: why are Tinuka's parents trying to kill their daughter? Isn't she the inheritor of their legacy? Does she have a sibling or someone to replace her?

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The story is told through four protagonists: a shopkeeper, one of her bodyguards, her bloodsorcerer, and the Queen who she is trying to protect. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am the youngest published author in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Like I said above--fantastic idea, but for me, this letter didn't work. Try another draft, because your idea is very solid. Good luck!

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi


My YA science fiction query, Rafter's Rats: http://agentquerycon...nture/?p=332201


#16 MonaLon

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 02:44 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback again! This time I solely focused on Tinuka's story, though I did mention Ilgi's role in her plot. Not really delving into the other PoVs slims it down quite a bit, but I'm not sure if it has the same punch as the previous versions did. I guess I'll just see what you guys think.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo will not allow herself to be a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way.

 

Tinuka rejects her family’s royal heritage, a history stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To stop her parents from murdering the current Queen, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. Her parents are willing to kill if it stops her, but Tinuka must keep them from the throne. Even if she is forced to slit the throats of the same people who sung her to sleep as a child.

 

Returning to her home city of Jolid, Tinuka finds the only woman with magic strong enough to break the Key. She must convince the bloodsorcerer to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The Dayos’ blood feud is chronicled through a shopkeeper, the Queen who she is trying to protect, and the others who are caught in the fight. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi



#17 danipie

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:53 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback again! This time I solely focused on Tinuka's story, though I did mention Ilgi's role in her plot. Not really delving into the other PoVs slims it down quite a bit, but I'm not sure if it has the same punch as the previous versions did. I guess I'll just see what you guys think.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo will not allow herself to be a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way.

 

Tinuka rejects her family’s royal heritage, a history stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs. But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To stop her parents from murdering the current Queen I feel like there might be something missing between this and the previous sentence, maybe the reason for exile or how they got out?, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. Her parents are willing to kill if it stops her, but Tinuka must keep them from the throne. Even if she is forced to slit the throats of the same people who sung her to sleep as a child. I think the other thing missing is maybe the reason Tinuka wants to protect the Queen so badly - is it just because she doesn't want to be a princess?

 

Returning to her home city of Jolid, Tinuka finds the only woman with magic strong enough to break the Key. She must convince the bloodsorcerer to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes. I kind of want to know more about the Key! It seems to be a pretty important piece of the plot and you don't say much about it other than that it is "magical" which seems a bit vague.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The Dayos’ blood feud is chronicled through a shopkeeper, the Queen who she is trying to protect, and the others who are caught in the fight. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

 

This is good! I think you just need some more details in a couple places. I didn't read the past versions of your query but I know I usually struggle with either too much or too little detail so if that's your problem I definitely relate. Best of luck!



#18 KitCampbell

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Posted 05 January 2017 - 10:56 AM

Hello! Hope I can be of help! Comments in blue.

 

Thanks so much for the feedback again! This time I solely focused on Tinuka's story, though I did mention Ilgi's role in her plot. Not really delving into the other PoVs slims it down quite a bit, but I'm not sure if it has the same punch as the previous versions did. I guess I'll just see what you guys think.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo will not allow herself to be a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. (This work as a hook for me.)

 

Tinuka rejects her family’s royal heritage, a history stained with blood and vilified through griots’ (I'm not sure what these are, and I know there's mixed advice about using world-specific terminology in queries, but maybe use a more standard word here unless there's not an equivalent) songs. But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To stop her parents from murdering the current queen, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. Her parents are willing to kill if it stops her (they were already willing to kill? Unless you mean kill her specifically), but Tinuka must keep them from the throne. Even if she is forced to slit the throats of the same people who sung her to sleep as a child. (...are these different people than her parents?)

 

Returning to her home city of Jolid, Tinuka finds the only woman with magic strong enough to break the Key. She must convince the bloodsorcerer to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes.

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The Dayos’ blood feud is chronicled through a shopkeeper, the Queen who she is trying to protect, and the others who are caught in the fight. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016. (Nice bio, and good use of specifics!)

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

I didn't read the previous version but I don't think this one is lacking in punch--I'm mostly confused by who exactly is doing what in the middle paragraph.

 

Hope that helps!



#19 jphollis

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Posted 05 January 2017 - 06:42 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback again! This time I solely focused on Tinuka's story, though I did mention Ilgi's role in her plot. Not really delving into the other PoVs slims it down quite a bit, but I'm not sure if it has the same punch as the previous versions did. I guess I'll just see what you guys think.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear _______,

 

Tinuka Dayo will not allow herself to be a princess. She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. (First sentence is awesome as a hook, but I feel like keeping the second sentence here takes away from the first sentence's punch. Can you move the second sentence down to the next paragraph?)

 

Tinuka rejects her family’s royal heritage, a history stained with blood and vilified through griots’ songs (What is a griot?). But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

 

To stop her parents from murdering the current Queen, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. Her parents are willing to kill if it stops her (is this 'her' referring to Tinuka or the current Queen?), but Tinuka must keep them from the throne. Even if she is forced to slit the throats of the same people who sung her to sleep as a child.

 

Returning to her home city of Jolid, Tinuka finds the only woman with magic strong enough to break the Key. She must convince the bloodsorcerer to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes. (Up to this point, I felt like we were in a sort of fairy tale world where queens live in castles and ride horseback side saddle and such. Now that I read the word 'machete', I finally get an inkling that maybe this supposition was wrong. My ethnocentricity is showing through, I guess. Because in the next paragraph, I see that this is inspired by West African heritage. Is there a way to work in bits of the setting earlier, so that hearing the word 'machete' doesn't jar so badly with what many people imagine when they think of the word 'queen'?)

 

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The Dayos’ blood feud is chronicled through a shopkeeper, the Queen who she is trying to protect, and the others who are caught in the fight. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi

You're definitely on the right track. I feel like the structure of this query is spot on. I was only able to point out a few tiny things that might use changing. Hope it helped in some way. If you have time, I'd appreciate a look at the latest version of my query here.


No query or synopsis up yet. Stay tuned if you wish to reciprocate on a critique I've given you.

_________________

My Blog: jphollis.com


#20 MonaLon

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 01:25 AM

Alright, I tried to replace the "griot" reference with something that should also evoke a non-Western setting. I'm still unsure about it, since I feel like using the term lended the query some cultural and historical accuracy, but we shall see what you guys think of the changes!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear _______,

Tinuka Dayo will not allow herself to be a princess.

She is a shopkeeper, and she is going to stay that way. Tinuka rejects her family’s royal heritage, a history stained with blood and vilified through stories spread under the shade of palm fronds. But when her parents finally claw out of exile after forty years, the shopkeeper cannot hide any longer.

To stop her parents from murdering the current Queen, Tinuka must destroy the Key, a magical artifact that is the last record of her royal lineage. Decades ago, her family’s battle for dominance in the royal court left behind piles of corpses and an orphaned, infant monarch. Tinuka cannot let her parents finish the job they started, even if she is forced to slit the throats of the people who once sung her lullabies as sweet as mangoes.

Returning to her home city of Jolid, Tinuka finds the only woman with magic strong enough to break the Key. She must convince the bloodsorcerer to destroy it before Father’s machete strikes.

THE QUEEN OF GOSNTER is a 116,000-word adult fantasy novel inspired by my West African heritage. The Dayos’ blood feud is chronicled through a shopkeeper, the Queen who she is trying to protect, and the others who are caught in the fight. It will appeal to readers of LUNA: NEW MOON and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. I am published in Clarkesworld Magazine and my story “Iterations” gained an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Q4 2016.

Thank you for your consideration,
Kolawole Heyward-Rotimi







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