Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

THE FABERGÉ CODE (YA Mystery); 2nd revised see #16; will crit back

Multi-Cultural Mystery Young Adult

  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 LeeAllan

LeeAllan

    LEEALLAN

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Published 7 magazine articles

Posted 29 July 2018 - 08:46 PM

Here's my 2nd revision. The pitch itself is 169 words, and the query is 239 words. Thank you, smithgirl, for your excellent critique! I'd be happy to return the favor to anyone who critiques this revision!

 

Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself, but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend, who’s suspiciously eager to help.

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara.

 

If they don’t, others will steal the treasure. Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself and save her family from ruin.

 

THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Here's my 1st revision, with the original one crossed out below. Thanks to all who critiqued it so far. I am happy to critique your query too!

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a cryptologist who craves a challenge. But she isn’t thrilled to learn that an $18 million Fabergé egg is hidden by encrypted clues within her grandmother Baba’s home. Lara is a neat freak with OCD, and Baba is a compulsive hoarder. Then Lara’s family unravels. Her uninsured father falls into a coma from an accident Lara believes she caused. Her brother is burned in their house fire while Lara babysits him. He’s flown to a burn unit in South Dakota. Their family borders on bankruptcy. To assuage her guilt, Lara vows to find the egg, convince Baba to sell it, and pay off the debts.

 

But Lara is thwarted by clues buried under Baba's pack-rat possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s gentleman friend are after the ornament. It's a race to determine who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must break her moral code of honesty and deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, Lara’s boyfriend helps her decode clues and discover her secret Chinese grandfather. It would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and those seeking diverse perspectives. I’m with the SCBWI, and served 6 years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, teenage neat freak Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba.

 

Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues.

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband.

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

 



#2 JessicaCohen

JessicaCohen

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 25 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 29 July 2018 - 09:25 PM

Hi, there!

 

You have what almost reads like a synopsis here, (in other words, too long with too many plot details) so what you really need to do is narrow the query down to one, big issue, which seems to be finding the Fabergé egg. I'm gonna toss some pieces of what I think is really important in your query to hopefully point you in the right direction.

 

***

 

Lara Hunter, a teenager with OCD, is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home. Knowing this egg could relieve her of guilt for allowing her family home to burn down, Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts, but she is stumped by her grandmother's hoard of possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament, and it's a race to the finish to see who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, Lara will learn more about her Japanese-Chinese heritage and struggle to cope with her obsessive-compulsive disorder. This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.

 

I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Hope this helps!



#3 LeeAllan

LeeAllan

    LEEALLAN

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Published 7 magazine articles

Posted 29 July 2018 - 09:45 PM

Thanks, Jessica! Your valuable critique certainly gives me something to work with!



#4 Milady

Milady

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 101 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada

Posted 30 July 2018 - 12:41 AM

Thank you for your help with my query!  :smile: 

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE is a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery.  teenage neat freak Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home. You want to avoid this - don't summarize your story, let the query do the talking.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” That's interesting, but not really a hook. Find something more intense to draw your reader in, like her father falling into a coma. Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba. There is a lot of extraneous information that we don't need, and can be cut down. 

 

Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues.

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband.

 

As Jessica pointed out above, your query tends to sound more like a synopsis. It's hard to follow Lara's journey and be invested in her when we're being thrown summaries of events. Try and focus on one central conflict, usually the earliest large conflict, and build up the stakes surrounding that. This happens to Lara, so she must do this, or this will happen. Cut down on the extra info and first trim to more of a bare bones version (you can bulk it up more afterwards) of Lara's journey. Why should we care about her? What's at stake if she fails?

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. This isn't really relevant to an agent.Thank you for your consideration.

 

Hope this helps!


If you have time, any feedback would be much appreciated!  :wink: 

 

WRITTEN IN THE STARS(YA sci-fi) 

 

Query


#5 Caligulas

Caligulas

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationEurope

Posted 30 July 2018 - 10:04 AM

Hi, there!

 

You have what almost reads like a synopsis here, (in other words, too long with too many plot details) so what you really need to do is narrow the query down to one, big issue, which seems to be finding the Fabergé egg. I'm gonna toss some pieces of what I think is really important in your query to hopefully point you in the right direction.

 

***

 

Lara Hunter, a teenager with OCD, is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home. Knowing this egg could relieve her of guilt for allowing her family home to burn down, Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts, but she is stumped by her grandmother's hoard of possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament, and it's a race to the finish to see who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, Lara will learn more about her Japanese-Chinese heritage and struggle to cope with her obsessive-compulsive disorder. This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.

 

I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Hope this helps!

Seconding this. The story sounds really interesting and unique, but there's too many plot details for a query. Word with this here. As well, as it is here and has Query Shark suggests, keep the housekeeping at the bottom. Oh, and the 16 years with a critique group line can go.



#6 AReadingRedSox

AReadingRedSox

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 45 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Northwest

Posted 30 July 2018 - 01:44 PM

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, BLANK-year-old Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” Agree with this not being a strong enough hook, and doesn't feel like necessary information. Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba. Yes, this is reading very much like a synopsis. We don't need to know all of this information, and we can definitely know it in fewer words. 

 

Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues.

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband. Work this information in elsewhere. 

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

 

 

Here's what I reworked for you:

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. But when Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp, Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. 

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Overall, I am struggling with what the central focus of the novel is. It needs to be made a lot clearer, and you need to get rid of all of the excess information that's bogging this query down. If you're interested, you can critique my query here: http://agentquerycon...ry-golden-hour/



#7 taylorhale

taylorhale

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 98 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationCanada

Posted 30 July 2018 - 03:40 PM

I hope you enjoy reading this query. Thank you in advance to anybody who critiques it. I am happy to critique your query too!

 

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, teenage neat freak Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home. (This can go at the end of the query. You don't need the one-line explanation on what the story is about - the query will tell the agent that. I know there is some conflicting advice about this on the web, but I follow Query Shark's advice and stick this stuff at the end. Totally your call though, as it isn't necessarily a query killer. That said, what the heck is a Faberge egg? Is this knowledge most people just have on hand? I would probably go the safe route and assume no one knows what it is and explain it. Another reason to cut this log line-type thing out entirely. You don't want an agent to open this and immediately think: What the heck is a Faberge egg?)

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a the self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” (Remove the quotations - stronger without) Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. > Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba. (Everything before the highlighted blue is strong, but I feel like the rest is an overload of random information)

 

Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, (again, don't know what that is. here would be a great spot to quickly explain. Forgive my ignorance but as far as I know, a Faberge egg isn't like as commonly spoken of as a McDonald's Big Mac, so I think a lot of people will not know what it is) before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues. (If you're going to include this, you need to state what the clues are or else it feels vague and incomplete)

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese (forgive me but why does his ethnicity matter? Is this a Japanese people vs. Chinese people feud? I can understand mentioning her father's ethnicity as this is relevant to Lara's character, but why do we need to know Baba's BF is Chinese unless it's plot relevant?) boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband. (You don't really need this at all. I would make it more clear in the story that she's investigating her Japanese-Chinese heritage. I got that she's Japanese, but the only mention of anyone being Chinese is in Baba's Boyfriend - who is not related to Lara. So is Baba Chinese too? If this story is about a girl investigating her roots then her roots need to be clear in the query, not in a quick overview at the end.

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. (Irrelevant - everyone is, or should be, exchanging critiques before they try to find an agent) Thank you for your consideration.

 

I think your story sounds really interesting, but the query is a little out of focus. Hope my inline comments help!

 

My query is here if you are interested :) - http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/



#8 Caligulas

Caligulas

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationEurope

Posted 30 July 2018 - 05:18 PM

Lol, I don't think a fabergé egg is an obscure thing? Kinda wondering how many people don't know what that is now.



#9 taylorhale

taylorhale

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 98 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationCanada

Posted 30 July 2018 - 05:23 PM

Lol, I don't think a fabergé egg is an obscure thing? Kinda wondering how many people don't know what that is now.

 

I think it's obscure enough that OP should quickly mention what it is - just in case. While many agents, I'm sure, are more culturally educated than I am, I'd say it's safer to clarify. I'd never even heard of it before today.



#10 Caligulas

Caligulas

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationEurope

Posted 30 July 2018 - 07:37 PM

I think it's obscure enough that OP should quickly mention what it is - just in case. While many agents, I'm sure, are more culturally educated than I am, I'd say it's safer to clarify. I'd never even heard of it before today.

 

Disagree. They're a pretty well known item in a lot of heist/mystery based stories. No where near obscure enough that an agent of all people wouldn't know what they are. It's not even a cultural thing at this point. Plus, no one else has made that point. If OP passes the query around more and doesn't run into the issue, I don't see the point in adding extraneous detail for something the majority of people reading the query will likely recognize. Up to OP, as always, but I don't see the point as they aren't writing a query for laypeople. Agents are pretty well read. Just my two cents.



#11 taylorhale

taylorhale

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 98 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationCanada

Posted 30 July 2018 - 07:43 PM

Disagree. They're a pretty well known item in a lot of heist/mystery based stories. No where near obscure enough that an agent of all people wouldn't know what they are. It's not even a cultural thing at this point. Plus, no one else has made that point. If OP passes the query around more and doesn't run into the issue, I don't see the point in adding extraneous detail for something the majority of people reading the query will likely recognize. Up to OP, as always, but I don't see the point as they aren't writing a query for laypeople. Agents are pretty well read. Just my two cents.

Fair enough. Since I'd never heard of it, my initial gut reaction was to suggest explaining it - but it really could just be me. Either way, I learned something new today. :-)



#12 Caligulas

Caligulas

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationEurope

Posted 30 July 2018 - 09:15 PM

Fair enough. Since I'd never heard of it, my initial gut reaction was to suggest explaining it - but it really could just be me. Either way, I learned something new today. :-)

 

That's always awesome. Appreciate the dialogue. :)



#13 Emily804

Emily804

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 96 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northwest

Posted 30 July 2018 - 10:58 PM

I hope you enjoy reading this query. Thank you in advance to anybody who critiques it. I am happy to critique your query too!

 

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, teenage neat freak Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, Baba, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist.

 

(When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba.) <Delete this or move it to the first paragraph. 

 

Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues.

 

But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband.

 

This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.

This sounds really interesting! Overall it's a pretty solid query, my only suggestion would be to edit the beginning a little. It seems repetitive to open by saying she is going to be sent to her grandmother and then end the second paragraph saying that she will be sent to her grandmother. It's confusing because when the information about her father is first presented, it sounds like it happened after she was sent to her grandmother's, but then when you get to the end of the paragraph you realize it happened before she was sent there. You don't have to get rid of the information about her uninsured father though, you could move it to the first paragraph.


Query Compatibility YA sci-fi: http://agentquerycon...lity-ya-sci-fi/


#14 LeeAllan

LeeAllan

    LEEALLAN

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Published 7 magazine articles

Posted 04 August 2018 - 11:49 AM

Here's my 1st revision. Thanks to all who critiqued it so far. I am happy to critique your query too!

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a cryptologist who craves a challenge. But she isn’t thrilled to learn that an $18 million Fabergé egg is hidden by encrypted clues within her grandmother Baba’s home. Lara is a neat freak with OCD, and Baba is a compulsive hoarder. Then Lara’s family unravels. Her uninsured father falls into a coma from an accident Lara believes she caused. Her brother is burned in their house fire while Lara babysits him. He’s flown to a burn unit in South Dakota. Their family borders on bankruptcy. To assuage her guilt, Lara vows to find the egg, convince Baba to sell it, and pay off the debts.

 

But Lara is thwarted by clues buried under Baba's pack-rat possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s gentleman friend are after the ornament. It's a race to determine who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must break her moral code of honesty and deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, Lara’s boyfriend helps her decode clues and discover her secret Chinese grandfather. It would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and those seeking diverse perspectives. I’m with the SCBWI, and served 6 years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#15 smithgirl

smithgirl

    smithgirl

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 749 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, published, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 04 August 2018 - 04:17 PM

First of all, I agree that the Fabergé eggs are well known. I don't think you need to define.

 

You need to start your query with a hook. My attempt below.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara's family is crippled by medical bills: her father is in a coma, her brother is burned. Lara can help them all, if she can just find that $18 million Fabergé egg hidden in her grandmother's over-cluttered house.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara is a cryptologist who craves a challenge. But she isn’t thrilled to learn that an $18 million Fabergé egg is hidden by encrypted clues within her grandmother Baba’s home. Why isn't she thrilled? Isn't that interesting? Lara is a neat freak with OCD, and Baba is a compulsive hoarder. Then Lara’s family unravels. Her uninsured father falls into a coma from an accident Lara believes she caused. Her brother is burned in their house fire while Lara babysits him. He’s flown to a burn unit in South Dakota. Their family borders on bankruptcy. To assuage her guilt, Lara vows to find the egg, convince Baba to sell it, and pay off the debts.

 

​OK, this is waaaay too much info for one paragraph. Like the others mentioned, a query is a pitch, not a synopsis.

 

But Lara is thwarted by clues buried under Baba's pack-rat possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s gentleman friend are after the ornament. It's a race to determine who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must break her moral code of honesty and deceive her guileless grandmother. Why does she need to deceive her grandmother? Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost. Good stakes.

 

In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, Lara’s boyfriend helps her decode clues and discover her secret Chinese grandfather. You have to include this is in the body of your query. It would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and those seeking diverse perspectives. I don't what it means to seek diverse perspectives. I’m with the SCBWI, and served 6 years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

So your query still reads like a synopsis, and it has way too much information. Your query is just a pitch, kind of like the blurb for a book. You need to cut out all the extra information, make it very focused. AReadingRedSox gave you a good example. You go back and cut it down to the essentials. I know this is hard, but it has to be streamlined.

 

The story, itself, sound interesting. I think you have something good here, you just have to clean this up some more. Good luck! Can you please look at my query when you can? Thanks! http://agentquerycon...-post-78/page-4

 

 



#16 LeeAllan

LeeAllan

    LEEALLAN

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Published 7 magazine articles

Posted 10 August 2018 - 02:20 PM

Here's my 2nd revision. The pitch itself is 169 words, and the query is 239 words. Thank you, smithgirl, for your excellent critique! I'd be happy to return the favor to anyone who critiques this revision!

 

Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself, but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend, who’s suspiciously eager to help.

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara.

 

If they don’t, others will steal the treasure. Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself and save her family from ruin.

 

THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#17 LKMoody

LKMoody

    It’s a good thing we had these bolt cutters!

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 87 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, published, unagented
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:Twice, in the fantasy anthology Sword and Sorceress XXV and Daily Science Fiction.

Posted 21 August 2018 - 08:38 PM

Hi LeeAllan!  This query has good stuff, and I love the idea of treasure being hoarded in a house so cluttered it requires clues to find.

 

Here's my 2nd revision. The pitch itself is 169 words, and the query is 239 words. Thank you, smithgirl, for your excellent critique! I'd be happy to return the favor to anyone who critiques this revision!

 

Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself (why? this seems central to her motivation, but isn't expanded on), but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered ('clutter' seems like too mild a word for a hoarder's hoard, especially one dense enough to bury treasure) house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder. (I would flip this paragraph and the next--start with the character.  With the current opening, I have trouble caring about a character about whom I know nothing.)

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist (the 'yet' confuses me--why would being OCD prevent her from being a cryptologist?  maybe 'she's also' instead?) who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend (it took me three re-reads to understand that the "so is" here refers to him also being a cryptologist.  For me, they're too far apart.  Maybe cut it?), who’s suspiciously eager to help.

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others (I know space is tight in a query, but it took me a second--my brain went, "others of what?"  maybe rephrase to clarify, something like "that point to furthur instructions buried under" or something similar) buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter (again, seems like a mild word for what must be an impressive hoard) while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara.

 

If they don’t, others (wait, what?  what others?  why would anyone else know about it?) will steal the treasure. Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself (when I first read this, I'd utterly forgotten about the guilt thing from the beginning, and wondered why she needed redemption) and save her family from ruin.

 

THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. (yes, but if I recall correctly--I worked in a children's bookstore--I think they're all middlegrade.  If at all possibly, I would try to get YA comps instead.  Maybe one MG comp.  But right now, fans of those books are too young to sell YA to.  They're probably great content comps, but the point of comps is to prove you have an audience, and the audience for these books isn't YA, it's MG) I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I love the concept here!  The biggest thing overall for me is that Lara's character is something of a cypher at the moment.  We know she's OCD, she blames herself for her family's accidents, and she's an amateur cryptologist.  Those are facts, but they only hint at the personality of the character being them.  A few words about how she feels, stuck in this impossible situation, would be great.

 

Also, I wondered why she was the only family member looking for the egg--18mil would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people!  And yes, Baba's probably ill, but why wouldn't she want to help?  I wondered a lot about her motives.

 

Lastly, a lot of things get mentioned and then never followed up on in this version: the gentleman friend, why Lara feels guilty, other people who want the egg.  Remember a query is only your main stakes and main storyline--simplify!

 

This looks like an interesting story and I'm intrigued to read the next QL draft.  Good luck!



#18 Kimseal

Kimseal

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 71 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:SFWA member, short story sales to pro markets, first novel on submission to editors now

Posted 24 August 2018 - 11:52 AM

Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma this needs to be past tense bc the medical bills are because he’s already in a coma, not bc he’s falling into one right this minute. and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself why?, but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. It feels odd to suddenly get her full name and age here, when we don’t need either of them. If those are going to go in, then it needs to be either right at the beginning or at a moment when it’s relevant. This looks like a sentence from an earlier version that got moved without being edited. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend, who’s suspiciously eager to help. He’s also an amateur cryptologist?

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Other whats? Clues? Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out (this sounds like a hit, not a lunch date)—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara.

 

If they don’t, others will steal the treasure why? If someone else can find it without getting rid of all the clutter, why can’t Lara do it too?. Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself and save her family from ruin.

 

THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Tweaked version:

 

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Hunter’s family is crippled by medical bills. Her father is in a coma and her brother has been badly burned. The solution to all their financial problems is close at hand: their grandmother Baba has a Faberge egg worth eighteen million dollars. The catch? Baba is a compulsive hoarder and the egg is lost somewhere in the massive clutter.

 

Lara hates clutter—she has OCD and finds the piles of junk at Baba’s house unnerving. Worse, she discovers the egg isn’t just lost in the clutter. It was actively hidden away by Baba’s father during WWII, with encrypted clues to its location left for the family. Still, Lara is an amateur cryptologist and the best chance the family has to find the egg. Baba’s gentleman friend is eager—possibly too eager—to help.

 

Lara’s mother just wants all the clutter gone. While Lara and her girlfriend are decoding the clues to the egg’s location, her mother is arranging for a company to haul all the junk away. Lara would love for her Baba to live in a clean house (Lara’s OCD is thrilled about a clean-up too) but the last clues are hidden within the clutter itself. Lara must save her family from the mess they’re in by digging through the mess in front of her and finding the Faberge before her time runs out.

 

 

This sounds like a great book! I've got a middle-grade fantasy query up. Would love it if you could take a look in return.



#19 Uncommon Decency

Uncommon Decency

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Southwest
  • Publishing Experience:I've been agented in the past for non-fiction. Had two proposals go to editorial meetings at the publishing houses, but unfortunately both ended up not getting optioned.

Posted 24 August 2018 - 12:09 PM

Hi Lee,

 

I looked at the revision and not any of the other messages. I really like this query and honestly, I could see my teenage daughter interested in your story.

 

This part, for me, is confusing:

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family.

 

"Takes Baba out" reminds me of actually killing someone. The lending money part is also a bit confusing.

 

I think you've done a really good job with this, though. I like it.



#20 Bibliophyl

Bibliophyl

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 84 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 25 August 2018 - 11:07 AM

Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself, [why?] but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder. I might say "Lara blames herself, so she becomes determined to find..." in order to stress the motivation for finding the egg.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter [feels weird to give us her full name after you've already introduced her in the previous paragraph], nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend, who’s suspiciously eager to help.

 

Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara. [this is a little unclear--does Lara's mother know about the egg? If not, why are they keeping it a secret?]

 

If they don’t [find it?], others will steal the treasure. Maybe mention who else is on the trail to heighten the tension? Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself and save her family from ruin.

 

THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 
Overall I think this is almost there. I just pointed out some areas for clarity. Hope it was helpful!






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Multi-Cultural, Mystery, Young Adult

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users