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Contemporary YA: Shaved Llamas & Friendship Memos [Will crit back]


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#1 perpetual

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 01:38 PM

Hey guys!

 

I'd love your thoughts on making the stakes clearer. [Feel free to read query first so below makes sense. ;)]

 

 

What she needs to do: Immediately, make sure she can keep an eye on him. Later, get Asher proper support before it's too late. 

 

What's preventing her: To keep an eye on Asher, she needs Mom's permission to have him stay with them, but June's barely talked to Mom in the past few weeks and doesn't feel like Mom understands or sympathizes with mental health issues. Also, her own emotions in response to his suicide attempt; i.e. a lot of anger, confusion, etc. especially because he doesn't initially want the help. 

 

 

Let me know if this is coming across in the query version below and if not, how I can improve it. I'm willing to make big picture revisions, if needed. :)

 

Thanks so much in advance.

 

 

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Dear Agent,

 

Getting arrested for vandalism isn’t on the list of Smartest Things June Gerber Has Done In Her Seventeen Years of Life. Then again, maybe if June was told Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad died at same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she might’ve reacted better. Betrayed, June pulls away. Mom doesn’t even seem to notice, preoccupied with the rat bastard. As the pang for Dad resurges, June has to fight from crawling back to the same mental hellhole she’d dug after his death.

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken town, June turns to her curmudgeon of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with him over hair dye, hockey, and the loss of a parent makes everything else bearable. But then Asher withdraws to the point where he barely acknowledges her existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

June flushes the pills, but Asher’s less than thankful. June ignites with a confusing and irrational fury. She needs another, clearer head to help Asher find the right support: Mom. Maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom—before Asher makes a second, more successful attempt.

 

 

***

 

Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.


Query: Click here.

 


#2 Quillaby

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 08:17 PM

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalism for the second time. She tagged her new school with four droopy tulips after her mom waited a year and half to tell her about The Boy ToyMom's first serious relationship since Dad's death. There's an attempt at voice here, but it falls a bit flat. You tell us about the funny, euphemistic "droopy tulips" vandalism in an almost detached way. Unless the tulips aren't phallic/meant to be funny at all and I'm having a Freud moment... After being let out of police custody and enduring a harsh Mom-doled punishment, Then June finally meets the rat bastard and has to concede he's not the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger. And a searing remind that the only reason he's was in June's life was is because Dad wasn't isn't. Watch your tenses. The "searing remind" part is awkward and doesn't actually make sense. You're literally saying he's a reminder he's in June's life.

 

Classmate and co-worker, Asher Alkoff, shares June's pain of losing a parent. Feeling alienated from her mom and desperate for an understanding ear, June pursues a friendship with sullen and anti-social Asher, despite his resistance nearly every step of the way.** When he doesn't show for work one day, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him locked in his home bathroom, a bottle of pills in hand. If the door's locked, how does she get in? I know this is nitpicky, but I'm pointing it out because it's a perfect example of telling us something interesting whilst simultaneously sucking the interest out of it. Does she pick the lock? Freak out and break a window? Replacing the telling with these kinds of details gives a query life.

 

**You've got a bit of a problem here. Our first introduction to Asher is that he's in pain from losing a parent. It's immediately followed by June's desire to befriend him, not because she wants to help him or they "get" each other, but because she wants to use this poor guy as a sounding board for her own unhappiness. It immediately makes her an unsympathetic protagonist.

 

For June, Asher's pain and mental battle is a familiar one. What isn't is navigating the onslaught of confusing and sometimes irrational thoughts that follow in the days after. After what? Drug use? Attempted suicide? I'm honestly not sure what she's referring to June knows to be a proper help to Asher, she needs to turn Mom and The Boy Toy, even if that feels like a betrayal to Dad. For Asher’s sake, June’s willing to do it. I'm completely confused here. Is "turning" someone a turn of phrase I'm just not familiar with? I'm assuming you mean something like she needs to give her mom's boyfriend a chance, but even if that is what you're saying, I don't see how that would help Asher at all**. She can only her cross fingers and toes that for once, he won’t resist. Resist what??

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

To answer your question: no, your stakes aren't clear yet. We need a better sense of why Asher and June are friends, why June feels compelled to help Asher, and why helping him is a personal challenge for June (if helping Asher is indeed the core conflict of your story).

 

**Hours later and I just got it. You mean "turn to Mom and The Boy Toy". Is that it? Either way, it still doesn't make sense without context. How will turning to Mom and the bf help Asher?



#3 perpetual

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Posted 23 June 2018 - 02:01 PM

Thanks so much Quillaby! I've made some changes in response to your critique--let me know if it's an improvement. ;)


Query: Click here.

 


#4 RosieSkye

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Posted 23 June 2018 - 02:10 PM

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalism for the second time. She tagged her new school with four droopy tulips after her mom waited a year and half to tell her about The Boy ToyMom's first serious relationship since Dad's death. After being let out of police custody and enduring a harsh Mom-doled punishment, June finally meets the rat bastard and has to concede he's not the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger. And a searing remind that the only reason he was in June's life was because Dad wasn't.  (I'm a little fuzzy on this.  How long ago did Dad die?  Did her mother start dating this guy right after her dad's death, and it took her a year and a half to tell June about him?  A little more clarification is necessary.  And letting on that the guy isn't so bad takes the wind out of your sails.  You start building drama with this interloper, then follow it up with "Well, he's actually not so bad."  You negate any real sense of conflict by doing that.)

 

Classmate and co-worker, Asher Alkoff, shares June's pain of losing a parent. (It feels like you've switched POV's here.) Feeling alienated from her mom and desperate for an understanding ear, June pursues a friendship with sullen and anti-social Asher, despite his resistance nearly every step of the way. When he doesn't show for work one day, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him locked in his home bathroom, a bottle of pills in hand.

 

For June, Asher's pain and mental battle is a familiar one. What isn't is navigating the onslaught of confusing and sometimes irrational thoughts that follow in the days after. (After what?  Do June's feelings come and go?) June knows to be a proper friend to Asher, she needs to turn to Mom and The Boy Toy, even if that feels like a betrayal to Dad.  (Again, not sure why this is such a betrayal to her father, since he's dead and these people can help save her friend's life.) For Asher’s sake, June’s willing to do it. She can only her cross fingers and toes that for once, he won’t resist.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

 

I think the situation of your stakes are clear insofar as Asher is suicidal and June needs to help him.  But I think you need to clarify exactly why June is so bitter about her mother's boyfriend.  It it the fact that her mother has a new guy at all, or more of the idea that her mother lied to her for a year and a half about him (if that's what happened?)  Since June's feelings regarding this seem to be the crux of your story, you need to make exceptionally clear what's going on, so the reader can empathize with her struggle - especially when it comes to trying to save Asher.



#5 perpetual

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Posted 23 June 2018 - 02:20 PM

I think the situation of your stakes are clear insofar as Asher is suicidal and June needs to help him.  But I think you need to clarify exactly why June is so bitter about her mother's boyfriend.  It it the fact that her mother has a new guy at all, or more of the idea that her mother lied to her for a year and a half about him (if that's what happened?)  Since June's feelings regarding this seem to be the crux of your story, you need to make exceptionally clear what's going on, so the reader can empathize with struggle - especially when it comes to trying to save Asher.

 

 

This is a great point. By the way... I seem to have posted a new version right as you were working on your critique.

 

In the novel, there's a lot of factors that attribute to June's bitterness. The biggest is that Mom told June's older sisters months ago that she was dating and made them keep June in the dark as well. When Mom punishes June for the vandalism, June feels like she does so without any regard for the fact that June needs certain things to upkeep her coping mechanism to prevent relapsing into depression. Overall, June feels like she doesn't 'belong' in her family. There's a huge disconnect between June and Mom, so when June suddenly feels super alienated, it's like the wounds from her Dad's death are reopened especially since June was closer to her dad than she's ever been with her mom.

 

But I don't think I can get into all this into the query? It's a lot.

 

Maybe the new version simplifies things so less questions are raised and then the manuscript can do it's own thing? I'd love your thoughts on how I can best address this.


Query: Click here.

 


#6 smoskale

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Posted 23 June 2018 - 03:46 PM

Please critique my query. Thanks.

 

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her new school—not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating seriously for the first time since Dad's death. After being let out of police custody and enduring a harsh Mom-doled punishment, Not sure how much of this clause you actually need. Perhaps just, when June finally meets the rat bastard, she concedes he might not be the Devil incarnate. June finally meets the rat bastard and has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t. I like this

 

Feeling alienated from her mom, June is grateful when she learns  When  a classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent, June bonds with him. But despite their shared bond, Asher soon begins to withdraw, above and beyond this is cliche; try for a metaphor or a simile here his usual sullen anti-socialness. When he doesn't show for work one day, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital WNot sure how I feel about this. It feels like too much telling, not showing. I would cut it. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, relief doesn’t even scratch the surfacecliche. Give us a juicy image of your own: relief rushes through her like party drug--or something. When it dies out, June’s bombarded with confusing and sometimes irrational thoughts, like she’s all but forgotten she was once intimately familiar with depression this needs TLC. Then she realizes she needs help herself--from Mom and even from the rat bastard.. She needs Mom’s and even the rat bastard’s help, as much asking for it feels like a betrayal to Dad. But if it means Asher getting the support he needs, June’s willing to do it. She can only her cross fingers and toes he’ll accept the help.I'm a little lost here: What is the choice she needs to make? What are the stakes? I'm thinking the choice is to ask for help or not? This feels a little meh. The stakes are--not sure? 

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family. 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.



#7 SnowFox23

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 05:49 AM

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her new school—not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating seriously for the first time since Dad's death. After being let out of police custody and enduring a harsh Mom-doled punishment, June finally meets the rat bastard and has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t. This is all very good. Simple, effective.

 

Feeling alienated from her mom, June is grateful when she learns classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent. But despite their shared bond, Asher soon begins to withdraw above and beyond his usual sullen anti-socialness. When he doesn't show for work one day, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, relief doesn’t even scratch the surface. When it dies out, June’s bombarded with confusing and sometimes irrational thoughts, like she’s all but forgotten she was once intimately familiar with depression. She needs Mom’s and even the rat bastard’s help, as much asking for it feels like a betrayal to Dad. But if it means Asher getting the support he needs, June’s willing to do it. She can only her cross fingers and toes he’ll accept the help.

 

You know, I like this. It's got good voice, it's clear and concise and I didn't get confused, yay! The thing about contemporaries is that the stakes aren't usually as high as other genres. And that's okay. I'm digging it :)

Can you check out either of my queries, cheers mate.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, I'm not a fan of the title, though! my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, cool! This is very marketable atm but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.



#8 perpetual

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:09 AM

Hey guys! Thanks so much for your feedback.

 

I've posted another version up there, hoping the stakes are better worded.

 

Please let me know if it's an improvement :)


Query: Click here.

 


#9 RosieSkye

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:27 AM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her new school—not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating seriously for the first time since Dad's death. After being let out of police custody and enduring a harsh Mom-doled punishment (unless this punishment is essential to your overall plot, you don't need it for querying purposes), June finally meets the rat bastard and has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t.  (What you mentioned in your previous post about the whole family keeping June in the dark about Mom's new boyfriend is intriguing, and might add some color and dimension to June's life situation.  It could also up the overall sense of conflict in this first paragraph.)

 

Feeling alienated from her mom, June is grateful when she learns classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent. (I completely get what you're saying here, but right now it comes across as "Yea! This guy is suffering, too!"  A little finessing is necessary.) But despite their shared bond, Asher soon begins to withdraw above and beyond his usual sullen anti-socialness (these are redundant - pick one). When he doesn't show for work one day, June knows something is Wrong - yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, relief doesn’t even scratch the surface. (Wonky sentence structure - it sounds like relief is what arrived in time.) When it dies out, June’s bombarded with confusing and sometimes irrational thoughts, like she’s all but forgotten she was once intimately familiar with depression. (Hmm... this is the first we've heard that she suffered from depression.  This should probably be worked into your first paragraph with her family issues, so it can come full circle here.) She needs Mom’s and even the rat bastard’s help, as much as asking for it feels like a betrayal to Dad. (see below) But if it means Asher getting the support he needs, June’s willing to do it. She can only her cross fingers and toes he’ll accept the help.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

 

Based on your previous post about June's family background, it seems like June's real feeling of betrayal is for herself, rather than her father.  (Not that it can't be both in your manuscript, of course, but your query should be as streamlined as possible.)  Her family kept a huge secret from her, she's been alienated from them forever, and she's the one who's still alive and dealing with it.  I think, for querying purposes, that you should focus simply on June, rather than looping her father into it - because without more information, it seems natural that her mother would eventually move on with her life, and having June feel betrayed on her father's behalf muddies the waters of your query.

 

Good luck!



#10 perpetual

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:40 AM

Based on your previous post about June's family background, it seems like June's real feeling of betrayal is for herself, rather than her father.  (Not that it can't be both in your manuscript, of course, but your query should be as streamlined as possible.)  Her family kept a huge secret from her, she's been alienated from them forever, and she's the one who's still alive and dealing with it.  I think, for querying purposes, that you should focus simply on June, rather than looping her father into it - because without more information, it seems natural that her mother would eventually move on with her life, and having June feel betrayed on her father's behalf muddies the waters of your query.

 

Good luck!

 

Man oh man, this is the second time you've critted the old version right before I posted a new one. ;)

 

These are great suggestions. Thank you so much!

 

I posted a new version again in the original post. Hopefully there's more of a full circle, plus I've kept the focus on June & Mom's relationship.


Query: Click here.

 


#11 TheBest

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:55 PM

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her school. Not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating for the first time since Dad's death. (I usually hate media res openings to queries, but this just works!)Then again, maybe if June was told at the same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she would’ve reacted better. (Ok, this sentence is just a little too much media res. You hooked us, now jump back into traditional querying format.) When June finally meets the rat bastard, she has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate after all. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t. Not recognizing the person Mom is with the rat bastard, June feels alienated from her and fears backpedaling to the same mental hell hole she was right after Dad died. (Your voice is on point. Immediately pulls me in. There's so much of it, though, that you could cut some of the media res details for more traditional querying format, and still keep me interested. Ie, establish stakes. What's going to happen if she doesn't geta long with boyfriend? If they clash? Replace that 'reacted better' sentence with some good old fashioned stakes.)

 

Classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent. But despite their shared bond, Asher soon begins to withdraw above and even beyond his usual curmudgeon (Little too flowery, even if it keeps voice. Change.) self. The day he doesn't show for work, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, June is flooded with relief. When it peters out (Why? Why does it peter out? Cut earlier sentence if it's not super important.), she fights against the confusing and irrational thoughts bombarding her. (Too much going on here.) Having once been intimately familiar with depression, she knows how unfair it is to blame Asher. Realizing she can’t get him the support he needs on her own, June has to cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom. And desperately hope Asher actually accepts her help.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family. (Comp is too specific. Make it more traditional. Ie, SHAVED LLAMAS AND FRIENDSHIPS MEMOS is x meets x, or SL&FMs will appeal to fans of x)

 

Wow! You have a remarkably strong voice, that shines through very well. However, I think your query suffers from a lack of stakes, especially in the beginning. While the voice is powerful and original, your non-traditional opening might throw some people off. So meet in middle. Keep the media res opening, but add in clear stakes immediately afterwords. Then, cut down on some of the asher details mid query, and end with the stakes you have now. Voice is the cornerstone. I really believe that it's the one thing that can't be taught, and you definitely have it. Cut some details and bolster your stakes, and you'll have something really special.

 

I'd love your opinion my first 250 words here: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=357822



#12 Beth Kerring

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 10:23 AM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her school. Not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating for the first time since Dad's death. Then again, maybe if June was told at the same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she would’ve reacted better. When June finally meets the rat bastard, she has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t. Not recognizing the person Mom is with the rat bastard, June feels alienated from her and fears backpedaling to the same mental hell hole she was right after Dad died.

 

June's emotions and mental state, as well as her voice, seem very clear here! I feel a tiny bit mixed about focusing so much on her mom's boyfriend since he doesn't come up again later in the query letter - the fact that there IS a boyfriend is necessary to mention, but maybe either have less focus on him here or more focus on him later? Does June's relationship with him come into play in the story as much as her relationship with her mom?

 

Classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent. But despite their shared bond (since the word "share" is used twice here, maybe use a different word? Also, are they already very close friends, or just two people who bond over a common experience?), Asher soon begins to withdraw above and beyond his usual curmudgeon self. The day he doesn't show for work, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, June is flooded with relief. (Maybe reword this sentence? It feels like the style and voice is a bit different than in the rest of the letter.) When it peters out, she fights against the confusing and irrational thoughts bombarding her. Having once been intimately familiar with depression, she knows how unfair it is to blame Asher. Realizing she can’t get him the support he needs on her own, June has to cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom. And desperately hope Asher actually accepts the help.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

I really like this! The stakes and emotions seem clear to me (and on a more high-level note, it's always refreshing to see a platonic boy-girl friendship). Good luck!

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.



#13 perpetual

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 12:41 PM

 

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber is in police lockup, arrested for vandalizing her school. Not the best reaction to learning Mom's dating for the first time since Dad's death. Then again, maybe if June was told at the same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she would’ve reacted better. When June finally meets the rat bastard, she has to concede he might not be the Devil incarnate. Still, he is a complete stranger and a searing reminder that the only reason he’s in June's life is because Dad isn’t. Not recognizing the person Mom is with the rat bastard, June feels alienated from her and fears backpedaling to the same mental hell hole she was right after Dad died.

 

June's emotions and mental state, as well as her voice, seem very clear here! I feel a tiny bit mixed about focusing so much on her mom's boyfriend since he doesn't come up again later in the query letter - the fact that there IS a boyfriend is necessary to mention, but maybe either have less focus on him here or more focus on him later? Does June's relationship with him come into play in the story as much as her relationship with her mom?

 

Classmate and co-worker Asher shares her pain of losing a parent. But despite their shared bond (since the word "share" is used twice here, maybe use a different word? Also, are they already very close friends, or just two people who bond over a common experience?), Asher soon begins to withdraw above and beyond his usual curmudgeon self. The day he doesn't show for work, June knows something is Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

Having arrived in time, June is flooded with relief. (Maybe reword this sentence? It feels like the style and voice is a bit different than in the rest of the letter.) When it peters out, she fights against the confusing and irrational thoughts bombarding her. Having once been intimately familiar with depression, she knows how unfair it is to blame Asher. Realizing she can’t get him the support he needs on her own, June has to cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom. And desperately hope Asher actually accepts the help.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

I really like this! The stakes and emotions seem clear to me (and on a more high-level note, it's always refreshing to see a platonic boy-girl friendship). Good luck!

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

Hey! Thanks so much for the feedback.

 

You raise great questions re: the boyfriend. I'd love to go full circle with him in the third paragraph as well because in the novel---as June puts it---she's sure if he hadn't been there, Mom would've never agreed to letting June become so involved in helping Asher. In terms of practical help, the boyfriend takes more of an interest in Asher than the mom does. June's grateful, so she becomes more open minded to giving the boyfriend a solid chance.

 

I've kept the focus on Mom because part of the distance between Mom and June is the fact that June feels like Mom doesn't fully appreciate June's battles with mental health. ie. that even though she's 'fine' now, the reason is because she's proactive in her preventative measures.

 

If you have ideas on how I can get the boyfriend stuff across in a simple way in the query without also spelling out the ending, I'm all ears! If it can be done simply, I think it'll add another layer of complexity to the query, which would be awesome. :)


Query: Click here.

 


#14 perpetual

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 05:24 PM

New version with a new approach posted above.


Query: Click here.

 


#15 AstrMikeDexter

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 06:24 PM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Seventeen-year-old June Gerber admits getting arrested for vandalism isn’t the best reaction to learning the recent fifty-seven mile move was so Mom could be closer to the rat bastard she’s been dating. Great opening but the sentence is a little long. Might it work better broken into two? Then again, maybe if June was told about him at the same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she would’ve reacted better. Unable to put the betrayal swirling within her into words and unsure Mom would even care to listen, June lets the distance between them grow. As it does, the pang for Dad makes a vicious resurgence and June has to fight from crawling back into the same mental hellhole she was in just after he died. GREAT voice.

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken town (I have to admit, I'm not sure what this means), June turns to her curmudgeon of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with Asher over hair dye, hockey, chopped onions, and the loss of a parent makes everything else bearable. But then Asher begins withdrawing, to the point where he barely acknowledges June’s existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

June’s flooded with relief, knowing how close Asher came to a different outcome. Asher’s less-than-thankful, reminding June he knows how to get the same pills again. June can’t help being infuriated by his selfishness, despite being taught by her own depression how unfair and irrational it is to blame him. Asher needs proper support; Mom could help him find it. Maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. (I don't know if it's clear why the Mom could help Asher) All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom, then hope Asher actually accepts the help.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS, my debut novel, is a 78,000 word Contemporary YA. It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

I really like this query! I did have a few questions, though. Very strong voice! Good work.


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


#16 perpetual

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 03:15 PM

Hey all! thank you so muchly for all your help.

 

Another new version is up in the original post. Hoping the thoughts link better now :)


Query: Click here.

 


#17 RosieSkye

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 01:09 AM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Getting arrested for vandalism isn’t on the list of Smartest Things June Gerber Has Done In Her Seventeen Years of Life. Then again, maybe if June was told Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad died at same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she might’ve reacted better. Or better yet, if Mom hadn’t moved June fifty-seven miles just so she could closer to the rat bastard. June is unable to put the Mom's betrayal into words and unsure Mom would even care to listen, June lets the distance between them grow. As it does, the pang for Dad makes a vicious resurgence and June has to fight from crawling back to the same mental hellhole she’d dug after his death. and meanwhile has to fight off a resurgence of the depression that overtook her after Dad died.  (This is a ton of back story, and I know you need some to explain why June is the way she is, but I've tried to pare it down a little.)

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken (I don't get this) town, June turns to her curmudgeon of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with Asher over hair dye, hockey, chopped onions, and the loss of a parent (pick three of these four things - the rhythm flows better that way) makes everything else bearable. But then Asher withdraws to the point where he barely acknowledges her existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

June flushes the pills, but Asher’s less than thankful. Despite being taught by her own depression how unfair and irrational it is to blame him, June can’t help her fury. She June realizes she needs clearer heads to help Asher find the support he needs: Mom. And maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom—before Asher makes a second attempt.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS is a Contemporary YA complete at 78,000 words.It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

 

In this new version, I don't think you need to mention the boyfriend at all, apart from the fact that Mom is dating again.  The important point is that Mom betrayed June, and it just happens to be regarding her dating life - the boyfriend as a person seems irrelevant to your query.

 

Hope this helps!



#18 sri.1209

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 02:26 PM

Getting arrested for vandalism isn’t on the list of Smartest Things June Gerber Has Done In Her Seventeen Years of Life. (Really good hook!) Then again, maybe if June was told Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad died at same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she might’ve reacted better. (The previous sentence sounds a bit awkward, but I can't really put my finger on why). Or better yet, if Mom hadn’t moved June fifty-seven miles just so she could be closer to the rat bastard she supposedly loves. Unable to put the betrayal into words and unsure Mom would even care to listen, June lets the distance between them grow. As it does, the pang for Dad makes a vicious resurgence and June has to fight from crawling back to the same mental hellhole she’d dug out of after his death. (Really nice first paragraph overall; the story line and characters are very clear)

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken town, June turns to her curmudgeon of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with Asher over hair dye, hockey, chopped onions, and the loss of a parent makes everything else bearable (I do agree that this sentence would flow better with only three of the four items listed). But then Asher withdraws to the point where he barely acknowledges her existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, yes, with a capital W (I really like this sentence!). She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills.

 

June flushes the pills, but Asher’s less than thankful. Despite being taught by her own depression how unfair and irrational it is to blame him (Asher), June can’t help her fury. She realizes she needs clearer heads to help Asher find the support he needs: Mom. And maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom—before Asher makes a second attempt (Really nice ending and I think the stakes are well established at this point!)

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS is a Contemporary YA complete at 78,000 words.It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

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

I really like this query. It is well written and establishes a very clear picture of your story. I wish you all the best with you querying journey!

 

Please edit my query: http://agentquerycon...ood-ya-fantasy/



#19 Bkrasnik

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 03:19 PM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Getting arrested for vandalism isn’t on the list of Smartest Things June Gerber Has Done In Her Seventeen Years of Life. Then again, maybe if June was told Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad died at (the) same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she might’ve reacted better (I understand that June wouldn't want her Mom to date after her dad died, but why does it matter if its the same time as her older sisters?) . Or better yet, if Mom hadn’t moved June fifty-seven miles just so she could closer to the rat bastard (It sounds like only June moved 57 miles and not her mom based on the way you wrote this. I would make it clear that they both moved for this dude) . Unable to put the betrayal into words and unsure Mom would even care to listen, June lets the distance between them grow. (This is starting to read a little bit like a synopsis) As it does, the pang for Dad makes a vicious resurgence and June has to fight from crawling back to the same mental hellhole she’d dug after his death. (this last sentence is good)

 

I just realized that the hook about the vandalism now seems sort of irrelevant. You don't talk about her being rebellious after that which is what I would expect to happen if you include that type of hook. 

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken town, June turns to her curmudgeon of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with Asher over hair dye, hockey, chopped onions, and the loss of a parent makes everything else bearable. (delete) But then Asher withdraws to the point where he barely acknowledges her existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills. (this is reading very much like a synopsis. We don't need these types of details about her friendships. We need to know the main narrative arc and the important stuff that relate to it and that's it.)

 

June flushes the pills, but Asher’s less than thankful. Despite being taught by her own depression how unfair and irrational it is to blame him, June can’t help her fury. She realizes she needs clearer heads to help Asher find the support he needs: Mom. And maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom—before Asher makes a second attempt.

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS is a Contemporary YA complete at 78,000 words.It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.

 

You need to answer these questions in your query:

 

what does the character want?

what keeps her from getting? 

and why does she want it?

 

Without this, this is not a query, and just background information about your book that no agent will care about. 

 

Also, I would really appreciate a critique back on my query! Thank you in advance :)


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#20 Caligulas

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Posted 02 July 2018 - 06:10 PM

NEWEST VERSION POSTED HERE:

 

Getting arrested for vandalism isn’t on the list of Smartest Things June Gerber Has Done In Her Seventeen Years of Life. Then again, maybe if June was told Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad died at same time as her older sisters—eight months ago!—she might’ve reacted better. Or better yet, if Mom hadn’t moved June fifty-seven miles just so she could closer to the rat bastard. Unable to put the betrayal into words and unsure Mom would even care to listen, June lets the distance between them grow. As it does, the pang for Dad makes a vicious resurgence and June has to fight from crawling back to the same mental hellhole she’d dug after his death. (I like the voice in this, but it's a little much for an intro. Is the inciting incident basically the move? If so, focus most on that. Like "Then again, maybe if her Mom hadn’t moved them fifty-seven miles just to BE* (wasn't there before) closer to her new rat bastard bf, June might’ve reacted better." Then you've got the necessary details to show this is where the character's life changes with the added umph of revealing the father is dead in the last few words of the paragraph. It has a  better building flow from that's annoying to that's sad)

 

Desperate for at least one understanding ear in this llama-forsaken (Is this a replacement curse? Reads weirdly to me. Distracting weird) town, June turns to her curmudgeon (Does your MC really use words like this?) of a classmate and coworker, Asher. Bonding with Asher over hair dye, hockey, chopped onions, and the loss of a parent makes everything else bearable. But then Asher withdraws to the point where he barely acknowledges her existence. The day he doesn’t show for work, June realizes something’s Wrong, yes, with a capital W. She finds him in his home bathroom, clutching an unopened bottle of pills. (Okay, this kind of takes a turn from what the opening implies. Seems more like a family-based story there and this turns into trying to help a friend with depression? What's the REAL inciting incident? The query doesn't have to show the entire opening. If the story is more based on this stuff, the query should open here. She moves and gets close to this guy.)

 

June flushes the pills, but Asher’s less than thankful. Despite being taught by her own depression how unfair and irrational it is to blame him, June can’t help her fury. She realizes she needs clearer heads to help Asher find the support he needs: Mom. And maybe even the rat bastard could prove useful. All June has to do is cross the canyon-sized distance between her and Mom—before Asher makes a second attempt. (Not vibing with the stakes. She wants to save Asher, okay. There's a million ways to do that (or not do that) without involving her mother unless her mother is the country's best depression therapist and no one else is available for this kid. You have to give me something that makes sense in a world where suicide/depression based help is available in a plethora of forms from hotlines, support forums, chats, groups, and therapy to make me understand why she needs her MOM specifically. Then you have to tell me what happens if she fails (death obviously) but also what happens if she succeeds in getting aid that is detrimental. Right now it's just she gets closer to her mom she's just being pissy with. Not very high stakes for MC. She might lose a new friend, but really, nothing is threatening her world personally. Hope that helps! If you could, I'd appreciate you taking a look at my query for When I See Me. :))

 

SHAVED LLAMAS & FRIENDSHIP MEMOS is a Contemporary YA complete at 78,000 words.It features a platonic boy-girl friendship, but is otherwise similar to Emmy & Oliver in the themes of friendship and family.

 

 

***

 

Please let me know how clear the stakes are! Also, I do crit back, but just give me the heads up if you'd like a crit. Thanks so much in advance.






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