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Black Forest (YA/Thriller) - Latest version in #23


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#21 AliRey80

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 12:51 PM

Dear [Agent]:

 
[Personalization]. 
 
Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Dante Larson’s psychotherapist father went to work one morning and never returned. The cops say he left, but Dante can't accept his dad would abandon him. When he finds a hidden file comma he finally has a lead.  
 
The session notes in the file say a patient claimed to have found Nazi gold at a local inn. Everyone in town knows the rumors about the inn, that in the 1930’s comma Nazi spies were housed there as they mapped the area in anticipation of the inevitable German invasion. No one wants to get their hands on the gold more than Jason Krufelt, a six-foot-five white supremacist sociopath. 
 
In search of his father, Dante follows clues that leads lead him to the inn and the gold. the gold at the inn. Krufelt’s own search for the gold leads him to Dante. When Krufelt tries to kill Dante, he Dante forges an unlikely alliance with a black gang member who has his own reason to want Krufelt dead. Dante must decide — kill or be killed.
 
BLACK FOREST is a Thriller manuscript of 80,000 words. It will perhaps appeal to fans of LAST CHILD by John Hart and THE THICKET by Joe R. Lansdale. 
 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, personality disorders, trauma and depression in Boulder, CO.
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
Scott
 
Interesting plot line. I believe you can edit your original post and replace it with the new query.  Would love your notes on my query, Rushed Into the Unknown. Thanks in advance and good luck!


#22 jscottboyd

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 02:31 PM

Navin and Kanada I will review both of your queries shortly. Thanks so much for the additional feedback. I've tweaked mine some, I know it needs work, but curious what everyone thinks of this direction.

 

---

 

Dear Agent:

 
Personalization. 
 
Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Dante Larson’s psychotherapist father went to work and never returned. The cops say he left, but at six years sober, Dante can't accept his dad would abandon him. When he finds a patient’s file his father hid, he finally has a lead.  
 
Everyone in town knows the rumors about the inn — in the 1930’s Nazi spies hid gold there to aid in the inevitable German invasion.  The patient in the file states he found it. The patient’s former partner Jason Krufelt, a six-foot-five skinhead, will stop at nothing to get it. As Dante’s searches for his dad, he comes across the gold putting him on a collision course with Krufelt. Dante finds evidence that Krufelt is responsible for his dad’s death. [really struggling how, where, if to put this sentence in]. 
 
Dante hatches a plan requiring an unlikely alliance with a black gang member who has his own reason to want Krufelt dead. If it works he walks away with millions in gold and vengeance for his father, if it doesn’t, he won’t walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a Thriller manuscript of 80,000 words. It will perhaps appeal to fans of LAST CHILD by John Hart and THE THICKET by Joe R. Lansdale. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, personality disorders, trauma and depression in Boulder, CO.
  
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
Scott


#23 jscottboyd

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 11:51 AM

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study. 

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
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#24 lnloft

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 07:34 PM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for x-year-old [just because at first I thought he was an adult and then stopped and thought and went, "Wait..." and then I looked and realized you were YA, so I realized he was a teen. But you don't want the agent having to go through that] Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town That's just too many adjectives. I would cut "rural", because I feel it's somewhat redundant with "mountain" there, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study. The first line is good, and the concept of what you're doing here, but I feel there's a little too much exposition here, so it looses a little steam. Take what you have here and condense it into something a little snappier.

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn Oh, wait, so they don't actually know where the inn is? I was assuming it was like the local haunted house or something. Better clarify, so when you first mention it you say it's an urban legend or whatever is correct. results in an unbelievable discovery What discovery? In queries you generally want to be more specific on these things.—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone So, the member of the gang wants the gang destroyed?. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father Does this mean the discovery was that his dad is dead? Or...? Avenges is sort of an odd word for what we know right now. Based off everything else, I would have expected to hear something more like, "... with millions in gold and a chance to find his father". Obviously, you go with what the story is, but if it's actually avenging, then you need to give us something more to lead up to it. Or, alternatively, you don't go quite that far from what the manuscript revealed, and just leave it as part of the stakes is finding out what happened to his father. Whatever is most appropriate for your book.; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
Name
Contact Info

 

You're off to a solid start (re-start?). I need to know a bit more about what their "unbelievable discovery" and how that leads them to the skinheads. Right now we're missing a bit of a connect as to how things tie together. But overall you're clear, so it's just elaboration on certain points. Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#25 Heliagrey

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 07:42 PM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it.,He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study. This is too much for a hook. I stopped editing after the second sentence- your writing style is very clear and good- but I was waiting for that "oomph"- you need to pretty much delete everything from the "dad walked out' up to the hidden file. I'd use more of the second paragraph below for your hook, and then roll the info on Jack and his friend into the second paragraph. Basically, do a switcharoo.

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all. I like it! You can tighten this paragraph up a little- but you're far better at endings than I am.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
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#26 AstrMikeDexter

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 10:42 AM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study. I agree with others in that there is too much here. It is interesting but a little too much of a synopsis. It needs to be condensed.

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all. I think I'd like to see this tie in to his father's disappearance a little more. A large part of the first half of this is about his father going missing but here at the end we're talking about Jack avenging his father and it was a little confusing to me. I'm sure there's a reveal within the story that you don't want to spoil, which is fine. I guess I'm a little unsure if the story is more about the missing father or the hunt for treasure.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
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Contact Info

 

Definitely a solid start. It sounds like a pretty original story too!


Any help with my query would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


#27 RosieSkye

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 12:03 AM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study.  "Ever since his father walked out two years ago, Jack Larson has been stagnating in his small mountain town, enveloped in pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash.  That is, until he finds a hidden file in his father's study."  Or something to that effect.

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold is related to his dad's disappearance has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he'll walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. (Don't comment on your own writing - let the query speak for itself.)
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
Name
Contact Info

 

 

 

There's a lot of extraneous information here, and at the same time your query falls short when it comes to the important stuff.  What's the unbelievable discovery?  What's Jack's plan?

 

Hope this helps!



#28 cmmg

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 09:39 AM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned (something about the wording here isn't hooking to me). The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that (this is implied when you say that Jack refuses to believe it because he knew him well). Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. (stalling in place isn't super interesting to me) Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study. 

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn. (honestly, I would but this sentence/sentiment right after "...but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone." This is the real interesting part that delves further into the mystery of the disappearance where the stagnating isn't very interesting.  Also it's super illegal for Jack to be looking at these files, just saying)
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. 
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. (I like the development here) So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice (1. this is too much 2. you're just saying that instead of showing it, so I don't think this is helpful. Don't agents always say not to over-explain your book or tell people how great it is?). It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. (two comps, not three)
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
Name
Contact Info

 

 

I think you develop the stakes better once you get to Jack uncovering things, but there's a lot of stalling in the beginning.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#29 Surrly

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 03:43 PM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he The 'he' here sounds like you're talking about Jack and not his father. abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen year old Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. That's two long sentences without giving me much information at all. Is he really waiting for something to change? He's a kid just living his life. Either way, waiting for change are not the kinds of words you want in a query.

 

I find myself getting caught up in the details of logistics and it's detracting from your story. So Jack's dad disappeared and it sounds like the kid is on his own. But the cops wouldn't let him be on his own. Maybe mention a mother or other family member if someone is taking care of him. If not, then, for me, it's not believable that the cops would let Jack live on his own.Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his study.

I think you could make this whole paragraph simpler. Just the facts. Jack's father walked out the door when he was 13. Now, two years later, jack has found a file that could lead to his whereabouts.

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail location might be well served here. Since you mention Nazis, gold and the Black Forest Inn there's a hint they're in Germany. But I'd like clarity on where I'm at. County jail sounds like rural America, as does pot smoke and video games. Also, and given your background you'd know better than I, I questioned whether county jails would provide psychotherapists. Especially in Rural America/Germany? , and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Try for economy of language. "File concerns" is a pretty static sentence. You query should be between 250-300 words and every word should be used for max impact. Unless the brutal murder of a high school basketball star is pertinent info I wouldn't mention it (as you've written it here, it's not pertinent to the plot. You can mention the guy was a prisoner but his crime is secondary and I don't see how the murder relates to the gold).  Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Why is he convinced of this? There's a disconnect here. Did his dad mention gold before he disappeared? Did they have money troubles? What would lead him to this conclusion? Jack's dad goes missing. Jack finds a file that could lead to his location. The file mentions nazi gold hidden in Black Forest Inn. Those are your facts for this plot and yet they come off as random. I'm really wanting something to connect these things.  Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Jack and Cash investigate.  Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and "results in an unbelievable discovery" is a lot of space in this query to tell me exactly nothing. puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. One alternative: "Jack and Cash search the Black Forest Inn, colliding them headlong into a gang of local skinheads who will kill to claim the treasure." Economy of language.  
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that tTwo teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers. So he forms an unlikely allianceThis phrase gets used too much. It's become hack and you don't want to sound hack.  with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father; if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all. So, you've set me up with Jack's question/problem: Where is my father? And you've veered off into a gold hunting adventure that doesn't really deal with the initial problem. It sounds like Jack's dad's disappearance is a macguffin for the search for gold. Does he want to find his father? What happens when he does? Is the guy dead? How does that affect Jack? Does he even care his dad is dead? These are questions I'm thinking about as I read this. it's not that you have to answer them in this query but you do have to pay off the initial question that you posed. Where is my dad? Why did he disappear?
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice.You're telling me what the book is without displaying any of those qualities in this query. Take out all of those adjectives and insert them into the feeling of this query. If you wrote a book that's got rich relationships and is engrossing with wry humor and gritty realism in an authenitc and memorable voice, then you can write a few of those qualities into the query without telling me about it. Also, is it a mystery or a thriller? I believe those are different genres (as far as marketing goes) and I only mention it because your topic on this post said "Thiller." It sounds more like a mystery though.  It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. (ah, so they do provide therapy but only when you're leaving jail. So was that the case in Jack's dad's story? Was the inmate leaving jail and his dad teamed up with him to get the gold?) My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST. Does substance abuse factor into this story? If not, then I don't know if mentioning your background helps. This sounds like a YA mystery about finding gold. Not a coming of age, dealing with substance abuse type of story.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
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What does your character want?

What gets in his way to getting his want?

What does he have to sacrifice?

 

You've set me up with a question: Where is my dad? What happened to him? and answered it with a different question: "Will Jack get the gold and avenge his father?"

 

keep the through line, what does Jack want? What's at stake for him as he pursues this want? It's got to be more than just losing his life for a cache of gold IF you've set up the beginning to be about finding his father. In fact, I'd be more invested in Jack if he pursued this adventure with the idea of what happened to his father only to find out that his father wasn't the man Jack thought he was. The disappointment and soul-crushing truth that transforms Jack through the course of the story is more interesting than whether he'll get the gold.

 

Economy of language: Get right to the point. You have such little space to tell this story take out the passive words, the words that don't really reveal any of the plot.

 

Tone: if it's wry and engrossing and gritty then show us don't tell us.

 

These things are a process. Don't think I'm coming off as harsh. I don't mean any of this personally. Just want you to make this better. Good luck. I'll check back for new revisions.



#30 taylorhale

taylorhale

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 08:40 AM

 

It's a been a year since I've posted here about my query, but have done a major edit on the manuscript (with some outside help) and have a new query letter that I would love some feedback on (also got some outside help on this). I will gladly return the feedback favor for anyone kind enough to give me some notes.

 

--

Dear Agent:

 

Things have been looking pretty bleak for Jack Larson since the day his father (i'd say dad, since reading on, you use "dad". keep the voice consistent) walked out the door and never returned. The cops think he abandoned his family to start a new life, but Jack refuses to believe it. He knew his dad better than anyone, and he knows he wasn’t like that. Yet two years later, there’s still no sign of him—and fifteen-year-old (hyphens are grammatically correct) Jack is stuck stagnating in his drug-ridden rural mountain town, spending  . He spends his days in a haze of pot smoke and video games with his best friend Cash, waiting for something to change. Jack is beginning to feel like he’ll never get an answer regarding his dad’s disappearance when he stumbles upon a file hidden in his dad's study. 

 
Jack’s father was a psychotherapist at the county jail, and the file concerns a former patient who was awaiting trial for the brutal murder of a high school basketball star. Jack learns that before being locked up, the patient found a fortune in Nazi gold, rumored to be hidden at the infamous Black Forest Inn.
 
Convinced that the gold has something to do with his dad going missing, Jack enlists Cash’s help to investigate. Their search of the Black Forest Inn results in an unbelievable discovery—and puts them on a collision course with a gang of local skinheads who will do anything to claim the long-lost Nazi treasure. (You need to include what the discovery is or not say it at all - vagueness is not good in a query.)
 
Jack may not be the smartest kid in school, but he’s smart enough to know that two teenage stoners are no match for a bunch of jacked, violently unhinged Hitler worshippers (worshipers - one p). So he forms an unlikely alliance with a gang member who has his own reason to want the skinheads gone. If Jack’s plan works, he'll walks away with millions in gold and avenges his father;. But if it doesn’t, he might not walk away at all.
 
BLACK FOREST is a hard-hitting YA suspense novel of 68,000 words. It combines an engrossing mystery, a high-stakes heist, rich relationships, wry humor, and gritty realism, told in an authentic and memorable voice. (I don't know how I feel about this. It seems self-indulgent, or like praise someone else would give your novel. You shouldn't praise your own work in the query - let the agent be enticed and decide for themselves if it's authentic and memorable) It will appeal to fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, and Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. (Just FYI it is recommended that you use plot comps that have been published in the last three years. Idk abut the others but I think Spectacular Now came out in 2008. Can you find any newer titles?)
 
I hold a masters degree in clinical psychology and provide therapy for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and trauma in Boulder, CO. I also work as a clinical case manager in the Boulder County Jail, helping inmates return to the community after release. My experiences in this line of work, where truth is often more harrowing than fiction, have helped inform the plot and characters in my debut novel, BLACK FOREST.
  
 
Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
 
 
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Sounds like a great story! I hope my two cents helps :-)






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