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The Blasphemer's Cypher—YA Fantasy (Will Critique in Return)

Fiction Fantasy Offbeat/Quirky Young Adult

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#21 lnloft

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 05:48 PM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I've revised this with your comments in mind (for a third time). I think this is getting closer, but it's 264 words—perhaps a bit long?

 

Query revision 4:

 

When fourteen-year-old seamstress Jinxx Relinkerys deciphers a hidden note she finds in the castle, she possesses the evidence she needs to stop Lady Margaté plans to destroy Jinxx’s life. This feels a little too much like jumping in in the middle of things. My reaction isn't so much, "Oh, that's interesting," as, "Wait, who's Margaté and how and why does she want to destroy Jinxx's life?" However, a note isn’t strong enough proof to convict a noble. Fortunately, Jinxx is secretly studying magic. If she can learn how to use it in time, she might be able to save herself,.

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. Her life is like a dream This phrase just feels too blasé. Can you pick something a little stronger sounding? until Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life. This is basically reiterating what you've already said in the hook. I realize that down below you start elaborating, but you need to get something going sooner, without repeating yourself. Actually, taking a step back and looking at things, just delete the first paragraph. That voids the repetition problem, and it deals with the issue I had with the hook before.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. At first, Margaté  restricts her bullying to choir practice, but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous.

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her mentor Is the priest her mentor? Or is she close to the priest and learning magic from someone else? and end her apprenticeship. When Jinxx deciphers a  note she finds in the castle, she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. Yeah, this only reinforces my thought that you should delete the first paragraph. This again is information you're presenting twice, and the query does just fine only learning it here. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next.

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, she needs more than her sewing and math skills. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use.

Hmm. I think the big issue is that I'm not really feeling the stakes yet. I understand that Margaté is going to hurt Jinxx, but I don't feel the emotion behind it. Maybe it's that right now overall Margaté's threat feels very... petty, I guess. What is presented in the query is thus: Margaté is bullying Jinxx, and Jinxx might lose her apprenticeship because of it. And that's all unfortunate, but it doesn't come across as properly impactful. So two things that I think are worth playing up: the actual physical danger, and what Jinxx is getting out of her magic lessons. The magic's kind of a big deal, but honestly, for purposes of the query right now, it could be traded out for any hobby and nothing would really change. So can you give us a bit more on what the magic does and how Jinxx's life is changed by learning it? That will help make the reader care more that she might lose it.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck.


Please note I'm also posting on behalf of people who can't sign up, so if I provide a link in the main body of the post, make sure to reciprocate on that thread.

 

I've got 250 words I'd love your feedback on: Untitled fantasy project


#22 Valmodeus

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 08:37 PM

Can't figure out forum editing: https://docs.google....it?usp=drivesdk

Here's my query: http://agentquerycon...sky-ya-fantasy/

#23 lnloft

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 08:57 PM

Can't figure out forum editing: https://docs.google....it?usp=drivesdk

Here's my query: http://agentquerycon...sky-ya-fantasy/

Hey Valmodeus,

 

Neither of those links are directing properly. Best way to give feedback on someone's post is to just hit the "Quote" button down at the bottom of their post; that'll pop their post up in yours in the gray box (as seen above^^), and you can type your comments directly into that. Don't make people go to an external source to see.

 

The link to your query is just directing back to the main general forum page, so you might want to double check that link as well.


Please note I'm also posting on behalf of people who can't sign up, so if I provide a link in the main body of the post, make sure to reciprocate on that thread.

 

I've got 250 words I'd love your feedback on: Untitled fantasy project


#24 London C

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 12:41 PM

Revised version at the top of page one. Thanks, @LNLOFT for the feedback :smile:


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#25 Anna.k

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 12:57 PM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I've revised this with your comments in mind (for a third time). I think this is getting closer, but it's 264 words—perhaps a bit long?

 

Query revision 5:

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. The apprenticeship not only gives JInxx a future to hope for, but keeps her family out of desperate poverty. First impression is that there's way too much going on here; why can't she be a seamstress if she's crippled? Can she still use her hands? And what does math skills have to do with magic? 

 

Then Lady Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life. Now there's choir practice which also seems random.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. Ok so this seems like the meat of the plot/story; not her deformity or apprenticeship...At first, Margaté restricts her bullying to choir practice,?? Is Margate a peer or a teacher? but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous. Also confused why there's a priest involved...where is the magic school held? in a church?

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her magical mentor and he’ll terminate her apprenticeship. When Jinxx deciphers a note she finds in the castle,Ah so it's set in some form of the Middle Ages, might want to hint that earlier... she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next.

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, Terrible Sneak insinuates she's a terrible person who sneaks, not that she's terrible at sneaking around? she needs more than her sewing and math skills. ​I feel like you need to pick a lane here...there's choir, sewing, math and magic, but I'm not sure which have anything to do with the plot. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use. Not sure what this means....

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia, full of flamenco duende. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed  with Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.

 

It sounds like the story is about Margate getting back at Jinxx for a family feud and Jinxx doing...I'm not sure what it is she's doing about it  which you definitely need to clear up. Is she planning on hexing her? At this point there's too much information. Interested in seeing the next draft though.

Thanks for your help on my query it was appreciated!



#26 AsperBlurry

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 06:03 AM

Hey London, thank you for your feedback on my query! I'm returning the favor :) 

 

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I've revised this with your comments in mind (for a third time). I think this is getting closer, but it's 264 words—perhaps a bit long? I don't think it's too long, they say the whole query (not blurb) should be 300 words :)

 

Query revision 5:

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. The apprenticeship not only gives JInxx a future to hope for, but keeps her family out of desperate poverty. Good hook, but I'm wondering what her math skills have to do with magic? 

 

Then Lady Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks   blames Jinxx’s family (I think blames is stronger) is responsible  . At first, Margaté restricts her bullying to choir practice, but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous. I'm a bit confused here. Reading further I know it's Margarete spreading rumors but would be better if you told us here about it. Also, how about putting the info about the choir in the 2nd paragraph? it feels out of the blue as I thought Jinxx's magic is the main plot. I'd combine those 2 paragr anyway. 

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her magical mentor and he’ll terminate her apprenticeship. Why? What the pirest & choir have to do with the magic apprenticeship? does it all happen in the church? When Jinxx deciphers a note she finds in the castle, she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next. 

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, she needs more than her sewing and math skills. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use. why not? because it's just theory? I need specifics here. What kind of magic? & what violence? is margate trying to kill Jinxx? blow up the church or sth? You need to raise the stakes because now I don't know if the story is about Jinxx dealing with her deformity through magic or margate' s revenge? and what happens if she doesn't stop Margate?

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia, full of flamenco duende. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed  with Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE. I saw mixed opinions about bonding with an agent, but since you have space, why don't you say 'as you represent... or your MS wish list includes... Or, if you have a personal connection/knowledge of andalusia, you should tell an agent about it :) 

 

As I mentioned before, try to raise the stakes, be more specific & focus on what's the main plot. Hope it helps & good luck!

 

If you want to take a look, I posted a new version of my query :) 


Please consider a re-critique http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=360734


#27 London C

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 11:50 AM

Thanks Anna K. and AsperBlurry for the comments. I've started from scratch to simplify the query. I lost the magic entirely, which might be a problem for a fantasy novel, but the plot is easier to follow (I hope). It's updated in post #1.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#28 Derrick

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Posted 05 July 2019 - 11:24 AM

Starting off to say, I really think this is way better than previous versions. I think it's just so tight and clear.

 

In a flamenco-filled town surrounded by olive plantations, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness until she’s offered a strange job. A local recluse trains her to be his successor…as what, Jinxx isn’t sure. It involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen.

 

Let me offer up a revision to the red sentence.

 

A local recluse trains her to be his successor as... well, Jinxx isn't sure.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life, fresh from a military academy. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible for her father’s death and insistent that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. Margaté starts with a rumor that could cost Jinxx her job.

 

After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle she is certain Margaté is behind a plot to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends. The recluse is teaching something truly secret and powerful—magic—but she betrays his trust in order to prove that Margaté is guilty.

 

Accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime and Jinxx, an incompetent liar, is the worst person to sneak about seeking proof, but if she can’t find some, her family will starve and her friend will die.

 

My only hang up in the whole query is that I don't know how incompetent liar = bad at sneaking around. I think you need to elaborate on the type of sneaking around. When I hear sneaking around, I think like the guy in Watergate with a flashlight in his mouth rifling through files.

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#29 London C

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 12:42 PM

Thanks, Derrick. A new version is in #1.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#30 speedchuck

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:59 AM

In a flamenco-filled I understand that this is set in a fantasy Andalusia, but I had to google Flamenco. If most people do, it's not a good description to start a query. I might just be uneducated, though. town surrounded by olive plantations, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness until she’s offered a strange jobCould this last phrase be rolled into the next sentence? I think it would flow better and possibly be more concise. A local recluse trains her to be his successor as…well, Jinxx isn’t sure. It involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen.
 
Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life, fresh from a military academy. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible for her father’s death and insistent that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. Margaté starts with a rumor that could cost Jinxx her job. What does the military academy have to do with anything? Is that why she's considered a noble, later? I don't easily see the connection between the second and third sentences, here. What rumor? Is it related, or not? Is Margate REALLY convinced that Jinxx's family is responsible for her father's death, or is that a ruse? You don't have to build suspense with unreliable narration in a query. Possibly tell us that she 'claims' that instead of 'she is convinced'.
 
After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle she is certain Margaté is behind a plot to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends. The recluse is teaching her something truly secret and powerful—magic—but she betrays his trust in order to prove that Margaté is guilty. The query felt very scattershot until this point, but this part pulls it all together. I'm unsure if that's a good thing.
 
Accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime. Getting proof will require sneaking into the castle and constant deceptions (You're tying a verb action 'sneaking' with a noun 'constant deceptions'. While both are required, maybe you could rephrase the second part into a verb form to make it flow better? "require sneaking into the castle and spinning a web of constant deceptions."). Jinxx is an incompetent liar and a worse sneak (I like this.), but if she can’t find something to verify her claim, her family will starve and her friend will die. Good stakes. Specific, meaningful.
 
THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The story has elements OF Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of GLEE.

 

Just some things to consider. Take with a grain of salt. My best set of advice would be to connect things as much as possible. Right now the rumor and the note feel like plot point events with little to connect them, when we could just say something like "she started destroying her reputation and endangering her job" or "she discovers a plot to kill her friend". I know that what I'm suggesting is more 'show' than 'tell', but the events that you show don't feel connected because they are simultaneously specific and vague.

 

I like the stakes, the sense of the story, and the way things come together. The sequence of sentences is what might need revising. Again, I'm not a query expert. Take and leave what you will.



#31 NoNoNoNo

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 10:13 PM

Query version 8:

 

In a flamenco-filled town surrounded by olive plantations, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness until she’s offered a strange job. A local recluse trains her to be his successor as…well, Jinxx isn’t sure. It involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life, fresh from a military academy. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible for her father’s death and insistent that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. Margaté starts with a rumor that could cost Jinxx her job. This sentence doesn't quite do it for me. I get the gist of it, but without knowing exactly what the rumor is or a blood debt means it comes across a little toothless.

 

After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle she is certain Margaté is behind a plot to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends. The recluse is teaching her something truly secret and powerful—magic—but she betrays his trust in order to prove that Margaté is guilty. How so?

 

Accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime. Getting proof will require sneaking into the castle and constant deceptions. Jinxx is an incompetent liar and a worse sneak, but if she can’t find something to verify her claim, her family will starve and her friend will die.

 

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.

 

#

 

There isn't a lot wrong with the latest revision, but it would be more gripping for me if some of the details from the previous versions weren't rendered so vague. In my opinion, this version of the antagonist & conflict was stronger:

 

     Then Lady Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. At first, Margaté restricts her bullying to choir practice, but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local reclusive priest is inappropriate and scandalous.



#32 London C

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 10:43 AM

Thank, everybody. The updated query is in #1.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#33 Derrick

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 08:48 AM

Another update, streamlining the plot. 

 

Query version 9:

 

In a flamenco-filled town, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness, until she’s offered a paid apprenticeship by a wealthy recluse. The job involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen. Shortly after starting, she learns she’s learning something more powerful—magic.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible her father’s death and insists that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle, she’s convinced Margaté is plotting to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends and sets out to prove it.

 

However, accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime, and getting caught spying on the Sesedos could lead to hanging. Finding proof will require sneaking around and constant deceptions. Disabled and reliant on crutches as well as habitually honest, Jinxx is terrible at both. Her mentor only teaches her theory and forbids her from trying to cast spells. Even attempting magic risks the job her family depends on, but If she can’t find something to verify her claim against Margaté, her friend will die.

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The plot has elements of Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of GLEE.

 

I really like this, I think it's clear. I just think maybe the hook can be a bit punchier. I feel like all the parts are there, mixed in, but I would like to see the punchy-ness up top, personally.

 

I almost feel like keep every here the way it is mostly, but then draw some of the things that are hooking people up top in a new paragraph.

 

I really don't have suggested sentences, but I underlined above the things that caught me.


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#34 lionspaws

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 02:11 PM

I think you've come really far!

 

In a flamenco-filled town, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness, until she’s offered a paid apprenticeship by a wealthy recluse. The job involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen. Shortly after starting, she learns she’s learning something more powerful—magic. I think you could drop "in a flamenco-filled town." It throws me off and has me initially focused on trying to picture the town and wondering if it's in Hawaii, rather than focusing on your real hook, Jinxx's family's situation. 

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible her father’s death and insists that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle, she’s convinced Margaté is plotting to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends and sets out to prove it. So there's a mix up -- Sesedo is planning on killing Jinxx right? Or is there a double murder being planned? 

 

However, accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime, and getting caught spying on the Sesedos could lead to hanging. Finding proof will require sneaking around and constant deceptions. Disabled and reliant on crutches I'm not sure if it's politically correct, but maybe just say crippled? as well as habitually honest, Jinxx is terrible at both. Her mentor only teaches her theory and forbids her from trying to cast spells. Even attempting magic risks the job her family depends on, but If she can’t find something to verify her claim against Margaté, her friend will die. So wait. Why is her friend's life at risk if Margate wants to kill Jinxx? I'm also thrown off by what the paid apprenticeship has to do with anything; it's very mysterious and I'm sure it all ties together in your plot, but you might want to either clarify in the query or avoid talking about it and just focus on the situation with Lady Margate. You have a lot going on that sounds interesting and intriguing, and I certainly like the stakes here! 

 

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on my query for TO SAIL THE STARS :) 


http://agentquerycon...sail-the-stars/

http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/

 

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain 

"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds." - G.K. Chesterton 


#35 London C

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 06:39 PM

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible her father’s death and insists that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle, she’s convinced Margaté is plotting to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends and sets out to prove it. So there's a mix up -- Sesedo is planning on killing Jinxx right? Or is there a double murder being planned? 

 

Thanks for the comments. Lady Margaté is a McGuffin Jinxx chases after for most of the novel. Their relationship drives the plot until late in the final act, when Jinxx discovers what's actually happening. Since queries are supposed to cover the tease and beginning, not reveal the ending, I've ignored that. I'm not sure if that's a problem, although not addressing it makes it sound like there might be an antagonist motivation problem. Hmm…now uncertainly lurks in my castle :p


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#36 SuzieTheWriter

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 12:38 PM

Another update, streamlining the plot. 

 

Query version 9:

 

In a flamenco-filled town, I don't know if you want to lead with setting---it kind of just confused me, and I think something about the plot and what's happening would be better first fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness, until she’s offered a paid apprenticeship by a wealthy recluse. The job involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen. Shortly after starting, she learns she’s learning something much? more powerful—magic.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible her father’s death and insists that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle, she’s convinced Margaté is plotting to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends and sets out to prove it. Interesting!

 

However, accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime, Okay, here is where I'm understanding the setting more but perhaps you should make it more clear before (without leading with it in the hook) and getting caught spying on the Sesedos could lead to hanging. Rephrase so it's clear you mean death. Finding proof will require sneaking around and constant deceptions. Disabled and ,reliant on crutches as well as  and habitually honest, Jinxx is terrible at both. Her mentor only teaches her theory and forbids her from trying to cast spells. Even attempting magic risks the job her family depends on, but If if she can’t find something to verify her claim against Margaté, her friend will die. Right, I think one is more important.

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. Okay, thanks for clarifying this!! The plot has elements of Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of GLEE.

 

 

Old Versions—Query version 8:

 

In a flamenco-filled town surrounded by olive plantations, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness until she’s offered a strange job. A local recluse trains her to be his successor as…well, Jinxx isn’t sure. It involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life, fresh from a military academy. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible for her father’s death and insistent that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. Margaté starts with a rumor that could cost Jinxx her job.

 

After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle she is certain Margaté is behind a plot to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends. The recluse is teaching her something truly secret and powerful—magic—but she betrays his trust in order to prove that Margaté is guilty. 

 

Accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime. Getting proof will require sneaking into the castle and constant deceptions. Jinxx is an incompetent liar and a worse sneak, but if she can’t find something to verify her claim, her family will starve and her friend will die.

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.

 

Query revision 5:

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. The apprenticeship not only gives JInxx a future to hope for, but keeps her family out of desperate poverty. 

 

Then Lady Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. At first, Margaté restricts her bullying to choir practice, but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous.

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her magical mentor and he’ll terminate her apprenticeship. When Jinxx deciphers a note she finds in the castle, she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next.

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, she needs more than her sewing and math skills. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use.

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia, full of flamenco duende. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed  with Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.


Please check out my latest query:

http://agentquerycon...antic-thriller/


#37 janeald

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 04:24 PM

Another update, streamlining the plot. 

 

Query version 9:

 

In a flamenco-filled town, fourteen-year-old Jinxx’s family is on the verge of homelessness, until she’s offered a paid apprenticeship by a wealthy recluse. The job involves math and perplexing letters that aren’t part of any language she’s seen. Shortly after starting, she learns she’s studying learning something more powerful—magic.

 

Then Lady Margaté Sesedo struts into Jinxx’s life. Margaté is convinced Jinxx’s family is responsible for her father’s death and insists that Jinxx will pay the blood debt. After Jinxx discovers a coded note in the Sesedo castle, she’s convinced Margaté is plotting to kill one of Jinxx’s dearest friends and sets out to expose and stop herprove it.

 

However, accusing a noble without sufficient evidence is a crime, and getting caught spying on the Sesedos could lead to hanging. Finding proof will require sneaking around and constant deceptions. Disabled and reliant on crutches as well as habitually honest, Jinxx struggles with deception? is terrible at both (this sentence confused me.). Her mentor only teaches her theory and forbids her from trying to cast spells. Even attempting magic risks the job Jinxx's her family depends on, but If she can’t find something to verify her claim against Margaté, her friend will die. Magic is the only thing that can help. (suggestion to tie in the magic to Sesedo more)

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is an 85,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia. The plot has elements of Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed with subdued magic of Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of GLEE.

 

Interesting plot! There are a lot of elements to this story. I think you have everything here but it needs to be more clear how Jinxx plans to use magic to help stop Sesedo. I hope my suggestions help.

 

Also, I'd love your feedback/advice on my query: http://agentquerycon...irls/?p=361490 







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