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OF WINGS (YA Fantasy) major revision in post #8!


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#1 Rochelesmit

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 02:25 PM

Hi everyone! I would love a fresh set of eyes on my query. Thanks in advance for any critique/suggestions, and I will be happy to critique in return!!

Dear Agent,

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, seventeen-year-old human Pheobie has a choice - go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee north to a mythical and dangerous enemy kingdom. Unfortunately, both options are a far cry from the simple life of solitude she had dreamt of. Choosing danger over misery, Pheobie travels to the reviled Jhihari, a winged people that had been exiled after the Great War to the inhospitable northern alps a century before.

At the mercy of the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution, and is banished to survive a winter alone in the alpine wilderness. When she’s rescued and nursed back to health by a handsome young Jhihari named Caleyb, she takes refuge in his village. One night, a mysterious seer reveals to Pheobie that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Pheobie has never even heard of magic, and is told that to unlock her powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Pheobie hides her identity and struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes to journey back to the human lands and begin her search for the book. War is looming, and she can either risk her life for the troubled people she has come to love, or to take the opportunity to start a new life, the one she always wanted, free of any bonds.

OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers of Heather Fawcett’s EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNES.


#2 SnowFox23

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 01:03 AM

Dear Agent,

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, whose past is a lie? Her Mother's or Phoebie's?

eventeen-year-old human Pheobie has a choice - go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee north to a mythical and dangerous enemy kingdom.

 

Unfortunately, both options are a far cry from the simple life of solitude she had dreamt of. Choosing danger over misery, Pheobie travels to the reviled Jhihari, a winged people that had been exiled after the Great War to the inhospitable northern alps a century before.
 

 

Duuuude, I re-read these two paragraphs four times and I still struggled to comprehend. What is in the note that suggests that Phoebe has to do anything at all?
At the mercy of the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution, and is banished to survive a winter alone in the alpine wilderness. When she’s rescued and nursed back to health by a handsome young Jhihari named Caleyb, she takes refuge in his village. One night, a mysterious seer reveals to Pheobie that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Pheobie has never even heard of magic, and is told that to unlock her powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Pheobie hides her identity and struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes to journey back to the human lands and begin her search for the book. War is looming, and she can either risk her life for the troubled people she has come to love, or to take the opportunity to start a new life, the one she always wanted, free of any bonds.

 

Oh this is simply too confusing to continue.

Why is her mother mentioned at the start of the query, but never mentioned again? I'm guessing the note is about how Phoebe is not quite human but part Jhihari. Cut the note out, it slows down the story, and it makes it disjointed.

 

I would simply start off with Phoebe going to the Jhihari and cutting out everything before. Queries are a bitch, I know. Good luck.



#3 PensiveWombat

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 04:02 AM

Hi everyone! I would love a fresh set of eyes on my query. Thanks in advance for any critique/suggestions, and I will be happy to critique in return!!

Dear Agent,

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, seventeen-year-old human (why do you need to mention she's human?) Pheobie has a choice - go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee north to a mythical and dangerous enemy kingdom. Unfortunately, both options are a far cry from the simple life of solitude she had dreamt of.(I feel you could reword this to make it tighter and clearer. Maybe 'she once dreamed of' to replace 'she had dreamt of'?) Choosing danger over misery, Pheobie travels to the reviled Jhihari, a winged people(I'm guessing you specified Pheobie is human above because you have characters that are other species. However, since you're clearly telling us that these are winged people, we'll assume they're not fully human, so definitely don't need to keep the 'human' part imo) that had been exiled after the Great War to the inhospitable northern alps a century before.

At the mercy of the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution, and is banished to survive a winter alone in the alpine wilderness. When she’s rescued and nursed back to health by a handsome young Jhihari named Caleyb, she takes refuge in his village. One night, a mysterious seer reveals to Pheobie that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Pheobie has never even heard of magic, and is told that to unlock her powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession. (There's too much going on in this paragraph. You need to narrow down what is most important to your story. Too many details can bog a query down.) 

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Pheobie hides her identity and struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes to journey back to the human lands and begin her search for the book. War is looming, and she can either risk her life for the troubled people she has come to love, or to take the opportunity to start a new life, the one she always wanted, free of any bonds. (But how will she be able to start that new life? You state early on in the query that a free life isn't really an option for her, so by bringing it up at the end as a possibility you cancel out the high stakes that drove Pheobie to this point in the first place.)

OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers of Heather Fawcett’s EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNES.

I agree with the above post, there's too much going on in your query. You bring things up and then don't really follow through on them which is confusing the story. It sounds interesting, but you've got to go back to the bare bones of what your story is about. A half-human, half-Jhihari girl trying to stop a race war, right? 

 

Hope this helps! :) 



#4 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 07:56 AM

Hi everyone! I would love a fresh set of eyes on my query. Thanks in advance for any critique/suggestions, and I will be happy to critique in return!!

Dear Agent,

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, seventeen-year-old human Pheobie has a choice - go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee north to a mythical and dangerous enemy kingdom. Unfortunately, both options are a far cry from the simple life of solitude she had dreamt of. Choosing danger over misery, Pheobie travels to the reviled Jhihari, a winged people that had been exiled after the Great War to the inhospitable northern alps a century before.

At the mercy of the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution, and is banished to survive a winter alone in the alpine wilderness. When she’s rescued and nursed back to health by a handsome young Jhihari named Caleyb, she takes refuge in his village. One night, a mysterious seer reveals to Pheobie that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Pheobie has never even heard of magic, and is told that to unlock her powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Pheobie hides her identity and struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes to journey back to the human lands and begin her search for the book. War is looming, and she can either risk her life for the troubled people she has come to love, or to take the opportunity to start a new life, the one she always wanted, free of any bonds.

OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers of Heather Fawcett’s EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNES.

I think you have a REALLY interesting premise here, and you certainly hooked me into wanting to read it. However, I think you could probably leave out the highlighted paragraph above entirely, and replace it with a paragraph describing your qualifications as a writer. :)

I wish you all the best!



#5 Wayfarer

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 11:49 AM

Hi everyone! I would love a fresh set of eyes on my query. Thanks in advance for any critique/suggestions, and I will be happy to critique in return!!

Dear Agent,

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, seventeen-year-old human Pheobie has a choice - go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee north to a mythical and dangerous enemy kingdom. Unfortunately, both options are a far cry from the simple life of solitude she had dreamt of. Choosing danger over misery, Pheobie travels to the reviled Jhihari, a winged people that had been exiled after the Great War to the inhospitable northern alps a century before.

At the mercy of the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution, and is banished to survive a winter alone in the alpine wilderness. When she’s rescued and nursed back to health by a handsome young Jhihari named Caleyb, she takes refuge in his village. One night, a mysterious seer reveals to Pheobie that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Pheobie has never even heard of magic, and is told that to unlock her powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Pheobie hides her identity and struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes to journey back to the human lands and begin her search for the book. War is looming, and she can either risk her life for the troubled people she has come to love, or to take the opportunity to start a new life, the one she always wanted, free of any bonds.

OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers of Heather Fawcett’s EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNES.

Remove the part where you talk about a husband. You never mention it again, so it just takes away from the query. You can leave details of your story out of your query, in fact you should. You'll dilute it otherwise. Explain why her past is a lie instead, how its revealed she's this mixed race, and how she then goes to seek out her people.

 

Explain what she does to almost be executed, don't just leave something that pivotal open for interpretation.

 

Explain what the two races at war are. Human and J's? J's and dogs?

 

Explain that the Jhirari are magical before saying Pheobie is one, then explain her powers.

 

Again why does the King want her dead?

 

What are your stakes exactly? Either learn magic and save people, or what exactly? Escape back to her home world?



#6 Rochelesmit

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 01:34 PM

Remove the part where you talk about a husband. You never mention it again, so it just takes away from the query. You can leave details of your story out of your query, in fact you should. You'll dilute it otherwise. Explain why her past is a lie instead, how its revealed she's this mixed race, and how she then goes to seek out her people.

Explain what she does to almost be executed, don't just leave something that pivotal open for interpretation.

Explain what the two races at war are. Human and J's? J's and dogs?

Explain that the Jhirari are magical before saying Pheobie is one, then explain her powers.

Again why does the King want her dead?

What are your stakes exactly? Either learn magic and save people, or what exactly? Escape back to her home world?


Good points! I’ve got lots to think about as I rewrite it again.

In my original query I didn’t have anything about the arranged marriage or letter, but everyone said I needed to explain why she would run willingly into enemy territory.
(She’s about to leave for an arranged marriage she wants no part of, and finds a very cryptic note from her mother the night before while packing that says very little but tells her to go north to find answers to the truth of her past)

She doesn’t find out for quite some time that she’s actually Jhihari.

For the upcoming clash/war: 100yrs before there was a revolt/war and subsequent massacre of the Jhihari by the humans. Stragglers escaped into the alps which are protected by an enchanted forest. Now, a new king wants to finish the job and wipe out the Jhihari for good with the help of a warlock who practices dark magic.

When she gets to the Jhihari kingdom, she is captured and charged as a spy. I’ll add that! The Jhihari king hates humans so much he’s blinded by his hatred. Basically any human will be killed on sight just on the basis of being human.

There is limited magic in my world. (Magic was a gift from the gods at the beginning of time and very few were worthy) Very few humans have ever possessed magic, and the only Jhihari that possessed powerful magic was the royal bloodline which was thought to be massacred. Pheobie’s powers are locked away by a generational spell that has hidden her and her recent ancestors true identity and she has to figure out how to undo it.

Stakes explanation: She’s been an outcast all her life and her only wish was to live a quiet life in solitude. Her father arranges her to be married against her wishes, but because of the medieval society she lives in, she can’t easily defy them. When she comes back to human land later on, she’s gained a whole lot of confidence and has the means at hand to survive on her own and start a new life if she wants. But she has also found out her true heritage, made friends, fallen in love, and gained a sympathy toward the plight of the Jhihari -who are not the monsters humans are taught from birth and have become the family she never had. If she doesn’t find the book and her powers, the Jhihari will certainly fail in battle.

#7 Rochelesmit

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 11:37 AM

Ok, I trimmed 16 words from the body and restructured a few sentences. Can you let me know if this sounds better? I also switched Girl of Fire and Thorns to a newer comp of The Remnant Chronicles. Thanks again everyone and let me know if you have a query you'd like critiqued!

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie, seventeen-year-old Phoebe can either go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee to a dangerous enemy kingdom. With neither choice giving her the simple life of solitude she always dreamt of, she chooses danger over misery. Once she’s outside of human lands, Phoebe finds herself at the mercy of the Jhihari, a winged people exiled by humans to the northern alps a century before.

When the embittered Jhihari king charges her as a spy, she narrowly escapes execution and is left to die in the desolate alpine wilderness. After she stumbles into a remote village and is nursed back to health by a handsome Jhihari named Caleyb, Phoebe is approached by a mysterious seer. He reveals that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Phoebe has never even heard of magic, and finds that to unlock her alleged powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, Phoebe struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed, she escapes and journeys back to human lands to begin her search for the book. But war is looming, and if Phoebe risks her life for the people she has come to love, she may never have the opportunity to find the peace and quiet she’s always wanted.


OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers who enjoy Heather Fawcett’s gritty mountain survival in EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and the riveting pacing of Mary Pearson’s THE REMNANT CHRONICLES trilogy.


#8 PureZhar3

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:52 PM

​New set of eyes reporting! I'm actually looking for the same thing, so if you could check out and comment on my query after you've read my comments on yours, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks in advance :)

Ok, I trimmed 16 words from the body and restructured a few sentences. Can you let me know if this sounds better? I also switched Girl of Fire and Thorns to a newer comp of The Remnant Chronicles. Thanks again everyone and let me know if you have a query you'd like critiqued!

After finding a note from her deceased mother hinting that her past is a lie ​ooh. This could maybe strengthened if you let us know what kind of past she has?, seventeen-year-old Phoebe can either go through with an arranged marriage to a loathsome man, or flee to a dangerous enemy kingdom ​ooh. a small note: call him more than a loathsome man and you may strengthen this. Is there any way you can show us rather than tell us why he's loathsome? If not, no worries. With neither choice giving her the simple life of solitude she always dreamt of, she chooses danger over misery. Once she’s outside of human lands, Phoebe finds herself at the mercy of the Jhihari, a winged people exiled by humans to the northern alps a century before. ​would alps be capitalized? 

When the embittered Jhihari king charges her as a spy, she narrowly escapes execution and is left to die in the desolate alpine wilderness. After she stumbles into a remote village and is nursed back to health by a handsome ​they're always handsome. Can you give us something more substantial - something more intriguing? Jhihari named Caleyb, Phoebe is approached by a mysterious seer ​hm. This transition seems a bit too sudden to me? Like I didn't know she was hurt until she was nursed back to help? Maybe instead of "after", say something like "Starving and desperate, she". He reveals that she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline and that she alone can bring salvation to the troubled people in a coming clash between races. Trouble is, Phoebe has never even heard of magic, and finds that to unlock her alleged powers, she must recover an ancient book that’s in human possession.  possessed by humans. So, this brings up a question for me - is she human? I assumed she was, but the bloodline thing threw me off, as did the "human possession" line. Maybe instead of saying "human", you could say precisely who possesses it? The king? The librarian? Etc.

Not quite human, not quite Jhihari, ​hahhaha ignore all my last comments Phoebe struggles not only to find her place among the Jhihari ​I don't like the repetition of Jhihari in this sentence. Can you say her place in the village? or something such?, but also with the feelings she has grown for Caleyb. When the king resumes his efforts to have her killed ​slight questions aroused as to why he stopped in the first place, she escapes and journeys back to human lands to begin her search for the book. But war is looming, and if Phoebe risks her life for the people she has come to love, she may never have the opportunity to find the peace and quiet she’s always wanted.

OF WINGS is a 95,000 word YA Fantasy with series potential and will appeal to readers who enjoy Heather Fawcett’s gritty mountain survival in EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and the riveting pacing of Mary Pearson’s THE REMNANT CHRONICLES trilogy.

​Good query! I left quite a few comments, but all of them are minor and not worth giving much weight to if they can't be easily fixed. This is solid as it is.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#9 Rochelesmit

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 07:04 PM

Ok folks, bear with me! After getting some agent feedback I’ve switched it up quite a bit. Let me know what you think of this version!

In a world where women have no say in their lives, seventeen-year-old Phoebe defies expectations and risks everything by traveling to an enemy kingdom to face the shocking truth of her past. She's not human.

All she ever wanted was a simple life of solitude, but when an unwanted betrothal shatters those dreams, Phoebe puts herself at the mercy of the Jhihari, a winged people exiled by humans to the northern alps a century before. Captured and charged as a spy by the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution and is left to die in the desolate alpine wilderness. Against all odds, she survives and stumbles into a remote village where she’s nursed back to health by an intriguing young Jhihari named Caleyb. There, a mysterious seer reveals the truth; she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline, and she must recover an ancient book stolen by humans to unlock her own powers—powers that may bring salvation to the troubled kingdom.

Loathe to let anyone dictate her destiny, Phoebe struggles to find her place among the Jhihari. When the king finds out she’s still alive and resumes his efforts to have her killed, she leaves and journeys back to human lands. War is looming, and if Phoebe risks her life for the people she has come to love, she may never have the opportunity to find the peace and quiet she’s always wanted.

OF WINGS is a 98,000 word multiple POV YA fantasy with series potential, and will appeal to readers who enjoy the gritty mountain survival in Heather Fawcett's EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and the strong character development and riveting intrigue of Mary Pearson's THE REMNANT CHRONICLES trilogy.

#10 PureZhar3

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 07:23 PM

Ok folks, bear with me! After getting some agent feedback I’ve switched it up quite a bit. Let me know what you think of this version!

In a world where women have no say in their lives, seventeen-year-old Phoebe defies expectations and risks everything by traveling to an enemy kingdom to face the shocking truth of her past. ​colon, not period She's not human.​ the punch at the end is cool, but everything else strikes me as just kind of cliche

All she has ever wanted was a simple life of solitude, but when an unwanted betrothal shatters those dreams, Phoebe puts herself at the mercy of the Jhihari, a winged people exiled by humans to the northern alps ​shouldn't alps be capitalized? a century before. Captured and charged as a spy by the embittered Jhihari king, she narrowly escapes execution and is left to die in the desolate alpine wilderness. Against all odds, she survives and stumbles into a remote village where she’s nursed back to health by an intriguing young Jhihari named Caleyb. There, a mysterious seer reveals the truth; she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline, and she must recover an ancient book stolen by humans to unlock her own powers—powers that may bring salvation to the troubled kingdom.

Loathe to let anyone dictate her destiny, Phoebe struggles to find her place among the Jhihari. When the king finds out she’s still alive and resumes his efforts to have her killed, she leaves and journeys back to human lands. War is looming, and if Phoebe risks her life for the people she has come to love, she may never have the opportunity to find the peace and quiet she’s always wanted.

OF WINGS is a 98,000 word multiple POV YA fantasy with series potential, and will appeal to readers who enjoy the gritty mountain survival in Heather Fawcett's EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and the strong character development and riveting intrigue of Mary Pearson's THE REMNANT CHRONICLES trilogy.

​I definitely like this version better! My only thought would be that the book should maybe be mentioned again in the last sentence, or maybe second to last. Otherwise it just reads as story story "huge potential quest!" back to the story story story 


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#11 Temeraire

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 12:32 PM

In a world where women have no say in their lives, seventeen-year-old Phoebe defies expectations and risks everything by traveling to an enemy kingdom to face the shocking truth of her past. She's not human. I'm not loving this hook. It's a bit long, and it feels like it's describing stuff that's already happened, like this is a sequel. "Shocking truth" is too vague to really hook me. 

All she ever wanted was a simple life of solitude, but when an unwanted betrothal shatters those dreams, Phoebe puts herself at the mercy of the Jhihari, a winged people exiled by humans to the northern alps a century before. Oo yes tell me more Captured and charged as a spy by the embittered Jhihari king,
The previous sentence implied she purposely approached the Jhihari to seek sanctuary she narrowly escapes execution and is left to die in the desolate alpine wilderness. Against all odds, she survives and stumbles into a remote village where she’s nursed back to health by an intriguing young Jhihari named Caleyb So, Caleb? I'm snarky but I'm not a fan of fantasy names that are just weird spellings of normal names. There, a mysterious seer reveals the truth; she’s the last of a magical Jhirari bloodline, and she must recover an ancient book stolen by humans to unlock her own powers—powers that may bring salvation to the troubled kingdom. Could you give hints about how the kingdom is troubled? Civil war, civil unrest, social injustice? 

Loathe to let anyone dictate her destiny, Phoebe struggles to find her place among the Jhihari. When the king finds out she’s still alive and resumes his efforts to have her killed I'm wondering why he cares so much?, she leaves and journeys back to human lands. War is looming, and if Phoebe risks her life for the people she has come to love, she may never have the opportunity to find the peace and quiet she’s always wanted.

OF WINGS is a 98,000 word multiple POV YA fantasy with series potential, and will appeal to readers who enjoy the gritty mountain survival in Heather Fawcett's EVEN THE DARKEST STARS and the strong character development and riveting intrigue of Mary Pearson's THE REMNANT CHRONICLES trilogy. 
 
I do like this - winged humans in a desolate alpine setting, yes please - but I feel like it needs rewording. I like how Phoebe basically wants peace and quiet, but the inclusion of Caleyb/Caleb hints at romance, but that's not elaborated on at all. I'd like to know what Phoebe's living situation was before, how she survived, what her skill set was, why the betrothal was such a big deal she couldn't just say no and move on. 

If I've helped you with your query, I'd love if you would take a look at mine! 

 

UNICORN (gothic fantasy) 

Query letter 





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