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A Burial for Ghosts - YA Historical Fiction


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#1 Artsnerd

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 04:25 PM

CURRENT DRAFT IS IN POST #29

 

Hey, all! I'm currently working on my query letter and would love some comments and suggestions! Thank you in advance! :)

 

 

Dear _____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. She endeavors to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunting her every waking moment.

 

Ophelia’s young life is thrown asunder when Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel shadow of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. It’s a poor match, so the newspapers say. But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

Soon after, a long-buried history comes surging back in ways most puzzling: unearthed letters, clandestine conversation, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

Though still uncertain, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, it seems, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more—that is, until she discovers the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death.

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical fiction novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me, you can find me at [insert url for my website here].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 ___________



#2 galaxyspinner

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 07:04 PM

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. She endeavors to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunting her every waking moment.

 

Ophelia’s young life is thrown asunder (you can tear something asunder or split something asunder, but it seems odd to "throw" something asunder) when Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel shadow of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. It’s a poor match, so the newspapers say. (This is a weird syntax; do we really care that it's the newspapers telling us this? If so, go with a more active voice like "The newspapers say it's a poor match") But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

Soon after, a long-buried history comes surging back in ways most puzzling: unearthed letters, clandestine conversation, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

Though still uncertain, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. (Feels odd that this is the first we're hearing of their banishment) In a stroke of good fortune, it seems, (I'd get rid of "it seems") she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more—that is, until she discovers the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death. (This is a pretty crazy run-on sentence, and hard to follow)

 

You make pretty heavy use of em-dashes and colons; I think you need to simplify your sentences. Further, you could probably stand to tighten your plot synopsis into two paragraphs.

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical fiction novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me, you can find me at [insert url for my website here].


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#3 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 07:54 PM

Hey, all! I'm currently working on my query letter and would love some comments and suggestions! Thank you in advance! :)

 

 

Dear _____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. She endeavors to push it out of thought, ​)Why does she push it out of thought?) even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunting her every waking moment.

 

Ophelia’s young life is thrown asunder when Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel shadow of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. It’s a poor match, so the newspapers say. But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

Soon after, a long-buried history comes surging back in ways most puzzling: unearthed letters, clandestine conversation, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon. ​I'm not really sure why that changes things? I mean, in her mind, I understand, but aside from that, why does it matter?

 

Though still uncertain, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, it seems, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more—that is, until she discovers the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death.

 

​I like the ending stakes. Good job. I'm not quite sure why there was not more about Ophelia and her grandma's memories. There's also not much about her and Silas's relationship prior to the last paragraph. I think some more detail would be good.

 

​These are just some of my thoughts. I think this query is pretty good. Good Job!

 

Please reciprocate at http://agentquerycon...-book/?p=349136

 

Thank you

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical fiction novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me, you can find me at [insert url for my website here].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 ___________


Preston Copeland

Website: prestoncopeland.biz

Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#4 BadgerFox

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 11:45 AM



Hey, all! I'm currently working on my query letter and would love some comments and suggestions! Thank you in advance! :)

 

 

Dear _____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.[O cool! Nice hook.]

 

It’s the summer of 1910. [I'm glad you explain that here or her name would feel a bit Mary-Sueish for a modern day character. As it is, this is lovely.] Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. She endeavors to push it out of thought [slightly ungrammatical phrase; needs rephrased. You can 'put something out of your mind' or keep something 'out of sight, out of mind', or even 'push thoughts away', but I don't know if you can 'push something out of thought'], even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunting her every waking moment.

 

Ophelia’s young life is thrown asunder [again, this phrase is ungrammatical. I know what you mean but you've paired this noun with the wrong verb to what is expected. You can 'tear something asunder' or 'tear something apart' or even 'blow something apart' but usually you can't 'throw something asunder'. Try saying it out loud and you'll see it sounds weird] when Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel shadow of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. It’s a poor match, so the newspapers say. But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

Soon after, a long-buried history comes surging back in ways most puzzling ways: unearthed letters, clandestine conversation[s?], and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

Though still uncertain, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, it seems, she and Silas grow closer. [I agree with the poster above that there are just a couple of points in this synopsis that, whilst not actively problematic, are a tad long and would be better condensed. If you can leave off the bit about her changing her feelings for Silas, I think this paragraph could be merged with the one above and it would still make sense. I can still understand from what's left that Silas seems to have a suspicious background and may know more than he lets on] And she wants nothing more—that is, until she discovers the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death.[you punctuate well enough to just about get away with this monstrously long sentence, but if you COULD divide it into two, that would be even better]

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical fiction [do NOT call it a 'fiction novel', many agents say this is a pet hate of theirs and that it's an automatic rejection. Sorry, I'm not trying to be mean here, I know you didn't know, but their point is usually that it sounds amateurish and it's a redundant word, because all novels are automatically a work of fiction anyway] novel is complete at approximately 97,000 words. [This seems very long for YA. And again, I'm not trying to say that to be nitpicky or squash your idea, it's just that I know from the experience of trying to get published with a too-long MS that you tend to get more agent replies when you whittle down the word count. There's always a couple of really exceptional books that manage to get into print despite hefty word-counts. That's true. But how sure are you that yours will be properly recognized as exceptional and get over that hurdle vs how much do you want to play it safe and shave off 8000 to increase your chances with an agent? It's tough but it can be worth it. And 8000 words is realistically just a stage-direction or a couple of adjectives per page. If you shaved a tiny bit on each it probably wouldn't damage the overall text too much...]

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me, you can find me at [insert url for my website here].[leave off the website unless it contains significant information about your writing career so far or some experience that's highly relevant to your novel. Agents seem to be very busy people and unfortunately tend to be more irked by surplus information about someone's personal life than they should be.]

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 ___________

 

I think this has a real eerie Edwardian charm to it, and I would most definitely have picked this up when I was choosing from the YA section! I'm already picturing vintage-spooky cover art with a dreamy grey-eyed protagonist :) The short sentences are refreshing too. It sounds like you really 'get' the concept of what a query is and isn't supposed to include.

 

I think in a couple more redrafts, this could be pretty close to perfect. The tale has all the elements a good supernaturally-flavoured YA ought to (the title even sounds bang-on) and I found it easy to understand most of the necessary plot from this query. Well done, this is looking good!


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#5 Artsnerd

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 09:58 AM

Thank you all so, so much for your help! I've edited the query letter, and while I'm not completely satisfied with it, here's the current draft:

 

Dear _____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment.

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides.

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?)

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.


I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

______


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#6 Catherine Kraus

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 11:05 AM

Thank you all so, so much for your help! I've edited the query letter, and while I'm not completely satisfied with it, here's the current draft:

 

 

Dear _____,

 

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. Very cool hook!

 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment. Is there a way to rework this to only include her grandmother? The extra stuff with the year and where she is feels uneccesary. 

 

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger. This passage comes out of nowhere, esoecially since you gave us that great hook. I also think you're gvung us too many characters in a short amount of time.

 

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions How so? Becuase she goes to live with him?. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides. I think part of what's confusing is that you're trying to give us subplot, too. Clearly the connection she has with her grandmother is key, so definately stick with that. But the romance, for the most part, is less vital. It's important he is connected, sure, but I think the query would only be strengthened if you narrowed your focus.

 

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?) I think if you rework the focus of the query, it will be clear her life is in danger witohut necessarily needing to tell us. 

 

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words. Delete "approximately." Agents know you're rounding. 

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

______

The story is there! You just need to narrow the focus and remove all unnecessary details (so hard, I know!). When you have a new edit, I'd love to take another look!

 

I also have a query if you can take a look: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=349190



#7 Artsnerd

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 10:00 AM

Thanks for the help, everyone -- I'm still going through more edits. If anyone has any more critiques to offer, I'm always open to reading them! :)


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#8 Springfield

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:23 PM

Thank you all so, so much for your help! I've edited the query letter, and while I'm not completely satisfied with it, here's the current draft:

 

 

Dear _____,

 

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

Aaah! She couldn't have left her like, a broach or something? Jesus. You really don't want to start off with a whole eyes-in-a-jar thing, imo.

 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. You can combine and rephrase to make this smoother. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. What is this meant to mean? Don't be coy. Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment. This is all too vague and sounds like it's trying hard to read as litfic.

 

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, Again, I don;t know what you mean here -- this is her mother, to whom something has happened? It's someone who took over for her mother? Just be clear. Also, don't switch characters, heh. arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger. You have that she's like a ghost and is meek above, so this feels like overkill with the same thought. I've also got no reasons for anything -- why is she desperate to prove herself, especially to someone she doesn't love. 

 

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. Way too vague. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon. Huh? You were talking about a physical knife above? You've got three paragraphs here that seem entirely disconnected. She somehow has her grandmother's eyes in a jar and her memories, though I dunno what that means, then she finds something. Then she's set up with a boy who I don't know if she likes, but she wants to marry him for her mother, whom she doesn't love, all for reasons I don't know; now she finds out her grandparents killed themselves and it was kept a secret. Ok. Dunno what any piece has to do with any other piece, or how it affects her, or what her problem is or what she actually does want.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society What? This has never come up before. that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides. Ok, so I have no idea what her problem is, what she wants, what she does, or the stakes. In the query she's entirely passive. Stuff happens as she wanders. 

 

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?)  It's not a sentence, so leaving it here seems odd.

 

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words. If this is hfic, what is this based on? 

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

______



#9 T.C. Stevenson

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:37 PM

Thank you all so, so much for your help! I've edited the query letter, and while I'm not completely satisfied with it, here's the current draft:

 

 

Dear _____,

 

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. I like the hook.

 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, no comma stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood This gave me pause. I wasn't sure if you mean forest/ a tree stump/ a knife block. I'm assuming you mean a forest now, but I had to think about it. Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment.

 

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment figment doesn't feel like the right word here. Apparition maybe of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). I'm not a fan of the line either. Maybe you can describe a brief  scene in which we see how they don't mix. But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer I would leave this detail out along with the next sentence. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides. I feel like this should be more of the focus of your query. One of the things I hear most on this site is what are the stakes? What does Ophelia stand to lose/gain and what is standing in her way? Your potential agent will want to get a taste of the conflict, and so far I'm not seeing the conflict as much as the setting.

 

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?) I would attach it to the previous sentence personally, but again I feel the conflict between Silas and Ophelia should have a greater presence in the query.

 

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. I wouldn't include a writer bio unless it directly relates to your story (Such as I'm a police officer and so is my main character) or you have publications. 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

______

I can see that there may be a good story in there, but I feel you may not be focusing on the right parts of your book with this query. I would consider removing specific details about Ophelia's mother and grandmother and making the query more about the conflict between her and Silas. That's the most interesting part, to me, and the relationships with her mother and grandmother are too vague to draw me in. 

If you have the time to take a look, my query is here, and I'd appreciate a critique in return. Good luck!



#10 galaxyspinner

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:59 PM

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

Aaah! She couldn't have left her like, a broach or something? Jesus. You really don't want to start off with a whole eyes-in-a-jar thing, imo.

 

[...]

 

She somehow has her grandmother's eyes in a jar and her memories, though I dunno what that means...

 

 

Springfield: Are you joking, or do you seriously think that she means that she's literally got her grandmother's eyes in a jar? Because this isn't the first time you've acted like you don't understand simple English idioms and turns of phrase, and I'm getting less sure that you're being facetious every time.


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#11 Springfield

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 01:19 PM

Springfield: Are you joking, or do you seriously think that she means that she's literally got her grandmother's eyes in a jar? Because this isn't the first time you've acted like you don't understand simple English idioms and turns of phrase, and I'm getting less sure that you're being facetious every time.

 

I'd guess she probably didn't mean a jar of eyes -- however, the phrasing says she did. 'Bob inherited his grandmother's eyes,' suggests the idiomatic usage. 'Bob has inherited his grandmother's whatever,' suggests something that just happened, following his grandmother's death. Hence...

 

Also, combined with the inheriting of memories, which suggests to me nothing but fantasy/magical realism, heck, could've meant eyes in a jar. Maybe grandma was a witch. 

 

In a general sense, I'm usually trying to subtly point out someone has phrased something in a way that's grammatically unclear, or in a way that actually means something they probably didn't intend.



#12 Artsnerd

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 02:48 PM

Springfield: Are you joking, or do you seriously think that she means that she's literally got her grandmother's eyes in a jar? Because this isn't the first time you've acted like you don't understand simple English idioms and turns of phrase, and I'm getting less sure that you're being facetious every time.

 

 

I'd guess she probably didn't mean a jar of eyes -- however, the phrasing says she did. 'Bob inherited his grandmother's eyes,' suggests the idiomatic usage. 'Bob has inherited his grandmother's whatever,' suggests something that just happened, following his grandmother's death. Hence...

 

Also, combined with the inheriting of memories, which suggests to me nothing but fantasy/magical realism, heck, could've meant eyes in a jar. Maybe grandma was a witch. 

 

In a general sense, I'm usually trying to subtly point out someone has phrased something in a way that's grammatically unclear, or in a way that actually means something they probably didn't intend.

 

Yes, I didn't quite literally mean Ophelia has her grandmother's eyes in a jar. I'll play around with the first sentence, maybe just omit "inherited". Hopefully, that'll make things clearer. 


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#13 nickpetrone

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 12:03 PM

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. (What is significant about these memories? Hook your agent here. Or perhaps start with the "It's the summer of 1910..." which gets us right to the action. I might even start with some hint that her grandparents died in an unusual way.)

 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. ​(Given that this is historical fiction, I think it IS important to include the year.) Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment. ("even as ​visions here late grandmother's past...")

 

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment ​(figment suggests she is not real. I would find a different word) of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides. (why no mention of grandpa until now?)

 

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?)

 

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading. (I would not include this)

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

(I think overall there is too much going on. You might be trying too hard to tell the story rather than simply entice the reader to want to know what happens. What is the most important part of the plot, what is the most gripping conflict? I became interested when it was revealed that Ophelia was being courted by a guy who may have been involved in the double-suicide of her grandparents! That's the hook. But it takes 5 paragraphs to get there.) 



#14 Kelz1990

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 07:06 PM

Thank you all so, so much for your help! I've edited the query letter, and while I'm not completely satisfied with it, here's the current draft:

 

 

Dear _____,

 

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. Sounds too vague - explain what you mean by "wood." Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment.

 

 

Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. Please explain what happened to her mother to make the sentence less confusing. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

 

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. In a stroke of good fortune, she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. You can combine this sentence with the sentence before or after. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides.

 

 

And her own impending death. I suggest reattaching it to the last sentence. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?)

 

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.

I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading.  Unless it relates to the story, you don't have to say this.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

______

 

I will admit, there are some things that need to be fixed, but your story sounds really interesting. 



#15 bijou

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 02:17 PM

Hi! I'm coming late to this party, but I'm writing historical fiction as well, and it seems like historical fiction is rare in this forum, so I wanted to chime in on queries for that genre. You are my second critique!

 

 

Dear _____,

 

 

Ophelia Gallaway has inherited her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. [I don't agree about the "eyes in a jar" thing, but cutting "inherited" would tighten and give more punch, so I'm on board with that idea.]

 

It’s the summer of 1910. Ophelia, a meek girl who often feels more ghost than human, [maybe cut the previous phrase. It's def more in "telling than showing," and intrudes on the action.] stumbles upon a knife in her family’s wood. [agree with other commentors; I'd change "wood" to "woods" to avoid confusion. Or even "on her family's land."] Troubled, she struggles to push it out of thought, even with visions of her late grandmother’s past haunt her every waking moment. [not explicit that the knife triggers though visions of her late grandmother. does it?]

 

[there's a LOT going on in this paragraph, especially the first sentence. The mention of the change in her mother is just strange and jarring. I think you need to decide where you want your emphasis. If it's on the unwanted courtship, then put the emphasis there; don't distract with the mention of her mother. I've done a suggested edit. Take or leave it, as you see fit.] 

When Ophelia's mother Mrs. Gallaway, a cruel figment of the kind-hearted mother Ophelia once loved, arranges a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster local boy named Silas Foster, Ophelia goes along with it, hoping to please her mother. But Silas is brash and outgoing, and alongside him, Ophelia feels like she shrinks away. In his overwhelming light, she’s nothing but a mere shadow (Note from author: I'm not too keen on this part, but I didn't want to just outright state that Ophelia and Silas don't mix, as that would make the sentence more "telling" instead of "showing"; if anyone has suggestions for this, I'd love to hear them!). [I agree with you that the previous sentence isn't really doing what it needs to do yet. IN part, it's because "his overwhelming light" seems too vague. And also, it's not about how Ophelia feels -- you say she /is/ a mere shadow, which is different. Maybe: "] But Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother, even if it means being courted by a stranger. [I'm not sure what "prove herself" means. Prove what about herself? And why does she need to do this?]

 

["Soon" suggests to me that there isn't a strong plot logic here; more of a "and then this thing happened. I'm guessing that's not how your novel is structured, so you may want to rework to create more of a thread. I'd suggest maybe opening this paragraph with a mention of the courtship with Silas. Something like, "The courtship continues, but Ophelia is troubled by ominous visions of her grandmother triggered by long-lost letters she finds and clandestine conversations she overhears. Ultimately, she discovers a horrifying truth: The knife she found was her grandparents' suicide weapon.]

Soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. But these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—her grandparents committed suicide. The knife she discovered is no longer simply a knife. It’s a suicide weapon.

 

 

Though still haunted by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. [THis info needs to come in much sooner. Is it the source of the mother being cruel? Has it impacted Ophelia before? If so, it should be couched early on as something that needs to be undone.] In a stroke of good fortune, [This phrase suggests the growing closer "just happens" -- that it's not due to events in the plot, which derails the tension. Maybe think about how the plot actually brings them closer.] she and Silas grow closer. And she wants nothing more. That is, until she finds the answers to their linked past: that perhaps Silas Foster is not all he seems to be, that he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides. [Yes! This is important. It should all drive to this.]

 

 

And her own impending death. (Note from author: Now, I'm not sure if I want this part to be its own paragraph. Should I just reattach it to the last sentence and just delete "that Silas Foster is not all he seems to be"? Or does this part work here?) [My gut says add it to the paragraph above.]

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 97,000 words.


I’m an alumna of the National English Honor Society and am currently pursuing an English degree. I was born and raised in Florida, where I escaped the doldrums of suburbia through my passion for writing and reading.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

______


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my historical novel query.


#16 Artsnerd

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 02:06 PM

Thanks for all your input! I've decided to rewrite most of this query, so here's what I've currently got:

 

 

Dear ____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

It's the summer of 1910. Since birth, fifteen-year-old Ophelia has been haunted by pasts that aren’t her own. They come in the form of visions, sudden fits that have made a strange girl even stranger. She spends her days wandering about Burgess, her family’s secluded estate, with visions haunting her every step.

 

But she’s hardly to blame for her family’s isolation; for years, her bloodline has run dark with rumors and ridicule. In a vain attempt to raise her family from society’s contempt, Mrs. Gallaway offers a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. Though an odd match with little hope, Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—and bring love back to a loveless woman—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

But soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. And these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—Ophelia’s grandparents committed suicide.

 

Though haunted still by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. But then she finds the horrifying answers to a past she’s known only in visions. As she pieces together the secrets of her grandparents’ deaths, she discovers that what began as a harmless courtship is unraveling into something far more sinister. [Note from author: I'm torn between this previous sentence being the concluding one, or something more along the lines of what I had before--"perhaps Silas is not all he seems to be, he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death." If any of you have a preference or an idea of how to combine the two, I'd love to know!]

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 95,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

________


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#17 MICRONESIA

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 02:32 PM

Ophelia Gallaway has her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. Nice.

 

It's the summer of 1910. Since birth, fifteen-year-old Ophelia has been haunted by pasts that aren’t her own. They come in the form of visions, sudden fits that have made a strange girl even stranger. Here would be a good place to describe the visions. She spends her days wandering about Burgess, her family’s secluded estate, with visions Maybe try for a different word, since you've already used "visions." Ghosts? haunting her every step.

 

But she’s hardly to blame for her family’s isolation; for years, her bloodline has run dark with rumors and ridicule. In a vain attempt to raise her family from society’s contempt, Mrs. Gallaway offers a courtship "Offers a courtship" rings weirdly. between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. Though an odd match with little hope, Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—and bring love back to a loveless woman— I'm unclear on how Ophelia dating this dude brings love back to her mom. She's just trying to warm her mother's heart? Isn't there an easier way than dating some dude she doesn't like? even if it means being courted by a stranger. 

 

But soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. And these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—Ophelia’s grandparents committed suicide. I thought she saw her grandmother's memories. Why does she need letters and conversations?

 

Though haunted still by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. But then she finds the horrifying answers to a past she’s known only in visions. Seems like you've already said this. As she pieces together the secrets of her grandparents’ deaths, she discovers that what began as a harmless courtship is unraveling into something far more sinister. Oh yeah. That thing. We've already forgotten about it. How does it tie in SPECIFICALLY? I think you're being too coy here. [Note from author: I'm torn between this previous sentence being the concluding one, or something more along the lines of what I had before--"perhaps Silas is not all he seems to be, he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death." If any of you have a preference or an idea of how to combine the two, I'd love to know!] Yeah, I'd definitely try to work that in.

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 95,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

________

 

This is a pretty badass concept. The hook and opening paragraph are awesome, but the "visions" stuff gets quickly lost -- especially the grandmother. You tell us ABOUT these visions, but do little to describe them. It leaves me wondering how much she sees/knows about the past, and therefore what she needs to investigate in the real world. And like I said, you should do a bit more to link the two plots in a specific way.


A Darkness in Spring (query | synopsis)


#18 Sataris

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 02:48 PM

Thanks for all your input! I've decided to rewrite most of this query, so here's what I've currently got:

 

 

Dear ____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories. Love this

 

It's the summer of 1910. Since birth, fifteen-year-old Ophelia has been haunted by pasts should this just be "a past?" otherwise it seems to imply that she has a bunch of different peoples' memories that aren’t her own. They come in the form of visions, sudden fits that have made a strange girl even stranger. She spends her days wandering about Burgess, her family’s secluded estate, with visions agree that this could be ghosts or apparitions or something concrete like that haunting her every step.

 

But she’s hardly isn't to blame for her family’s isolation; for years, her bloodline has run dark with rumors and ridicule. In a vain attempt to raise her family from society’s contempt, Mrs. Gallaway her mother offers a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. Though an odd match with little hope, Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—and bring love back to a loveless woman how does getting into a loveless marriage bring her mother love?—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

But soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions This seems to contradict the fact that she has her Grandmother's memories; maybe just speciify that the letters bring a flood of new memories, and that'd she's surprised because she thought she knew everything as well I know you're saying they come surging back, but at first glance we didn't know any of it was missing, so by the time we get to the third part of the list (memories) we're not sure how much of the revelation is sleuthing and how much is memory magic And these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secret—Ophelia’s grandparents committed suicide.

 

Though haunted still by fragments of her grandmother’s life, Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself to a society that has banished reviled the Gallaway name for decades. But then she finds the horrifying answers to a past she’s known only in visions can you give us a more concrete idea of what's happening here?. As she pieces together the secrets of her grandparents’ deaths, she discovers that what began as a harmless courtship is unraveling into something far more sinister. [Note from author: I'm torn between this previous sentence being the concluding one, or something more along the lines of what I had before--"perhaps Silas is not all he seems to be, he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death." If any of you have a preference or an idea of how to combine the two, I'd love to know!] I definitely prefer the latter, though the impending death thing kind of strikes me as dropped in because I'm not sure if the character is aware of it or if it's a secret we're privy to as readers

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 95,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

________

I too love your hook, and the next paragraph is really strong. I would probably cut her mother's name, since you have three named characters and two unnamed (grandparents) which can be a lot to keep track of, and because Mrs. Gallaway could refer to the grandparents at first glance.

 

The only part where I start to get a little lost is towards the end, where we seem to shift from making her mother proud to redeeming the family name- I know those threads are connected, but I think we need a bit more info on what exactly is at stake in the courtship.

 

Hope that was helpful! Best of luck.

 

 

Edit: also, not that titles really matter all that much-or at all- while querying, but "an unkindness of ghosts" just came out to a good amount of acclaim, not sure if it's worth mentioning but you might want to think about whether your title is too close to that or not. Interestingly enough, "an unkindness of magicians" is out there too.


No current query.


#19 KET Writes

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 05:20 PM

Thanks for all your input! I've decided to rewrite most of this query, so here's what I've currently got:

 

 

Dear ____,

 

Ophelia Gallaway has her grandmother’s eyes—and her memories.

 

It's the summer of 1910. Since birth, fifteen-year-old Ophelia has been haunted by pasts that aren’t her own. They come in the form of visions, sudden fits that have made a strange girl even stranger. She spends her days wandering about Burgess, her family’s secluded estate, with visions haunting her every step. While this last line helps set the scene, the last phrase is kind of redundant, because already know she's haunted by visions.

 

But she’s hardly to blame for her family’s isolation; for years,  I find the next line is a strong enough opener. Unless you are going to go into WHY she might be to blame for their isolation, it's unnecessary. her bloodline has run dark with rumors and ridicule. In a vain attempt to raise her family from society’s contempt, Mrs. Gallaway offers a courtship between Ophelia and a brash boy named Silas Foster. Though an odd match with little hope, Ophelia is determined to prove herself to her mother—and bring love back to a loveless woman—even if it means being courted by a stranger.

 

But soon, a long-buried history comes surging back through unearthed letters, clandestine conversations, and a series of ominous visions. And these mysteries are made all the more baffling by a confessed secretWhile I know she can see visions and has her grandmother's memories. I'm confused as to who and how confessed this secret—Ophelia’s grandparents committed suicide.

 

Though haunted still by fragments of her grandmother’s life, I'm wondering how and when this started. The hook implies that she always has been able to, but when you say "still", it makes me think that there is the potential for her to have lost this ability.  Ophelia becomes more driven than ever to prove herself how is she going to prove herself, and why is she so driven? to a society that has banished the Gallaway name for decades. But then she finds the horrifying answers to a past she’s known only in visions. As she pieces together the secrets of her grandparents’ deaths, she discovers that what began as a harmless courtship is unraveling into something far more sinister. [Note from author: I'm torn between this previous sentence being the concluding one, or something more along the lines of what I had before--"perhaps Silas is not all he seems to be, he may have something to do with her grandparents’ suicides…and her own impending death." If any of you have a preference or an idea of how to combine the two, I'd love to know!] I feel that the sentence you currently have doesn't really set up the stakes. I want to know what it is about Silas that has her thinking something sinister is going on. The conflict  you allude to at the end seems to be heavily centered around Silas, but he doesn't seem to be really present except for the quick mention of their courtship at the start. If he is integral to the conflict of your story, you might need to weave him into your query a bit more.

 

A BURIAL FOR GHOSTS, a young adult historical novel, is complete at approximately 95,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

________

 

It's an intriguing story, but it's missing a bit of clarity as to how her courtship comes into play--especially, if it's important enough to contribute to her impending death!

 

Best of luck, and keep up the good work :)


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my YA Urban Fantasy Query !

 


#20 Artsnerd

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 09:07 PM

Thanks, everyone! While I plan on revising again, I'm going to go through your own queries and leave critiques, if desired. Thank you again! :D I feel like my query is finally getting somewhere, lol.


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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