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WITHOUT SURRENDER (YA romance) query letter


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#1 Hannah Warren

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:14 PM

Title changed from TAKEN to WITHOUT SURRENDER.

Newest update at comment #31
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#2 cherie

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:36 PM

I think you don't need that first line. It's not really a hook, but just a general statement. Your query is short so you have room to give us more details. Give us a hook-y sentence to draw us in, a mini-synopsis detailing who is/are the protagonist/s, their conflict, and what's standing in their way. Then finish nicely with the title, word count, and genre--but don't give us this: "the story of a boy and a girl who find themselves in the face of love, separation, resistance, and difficult decisions that bring others to risk as well." because this is telling. Your query should be showing us how they are facing love, separation, etc.

Good luck!! :)
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
--Richard Bach


"Writing is easy. All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." Gene Fowler

I'm a YA writer represented by Julia A. Weber of J.A. Weber Literaturagentur GmbH.
I hang out at http://readywritego.blogspot.com
Twitter: @writercherie

#3 Hannah Warren

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:05 PM

I think you don't need that first line. It's not really a hook, but just a general statement. Your query is short so you have room to give us more details. Give us a hook-y sentence to draw us in, a mini-synopsis detailing who is/are the protagonist/s, their conflict, and what's standing in their way. Then finish nicely with the title, word count, and genre--but don't give us this: "the story of a boy and a girl who find themselves in the face of love, separation, resistance, and difficult decisions that bring others to risk as well." because this is telling. Your query should be showing us how they are facing love, separation, etc.

Good luck!! :)

Thanks. That really helps a lot. I've been struggling with this so any advice is great. I love my parents and all but they automatically give the 'Oh, that's wonderful dear.' response. I need more than that so thanks a bunch.
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#4 INCspot

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:32 PM

I agree with Cherie that you need a few more details, particularly about what the Save Our Youth program is and what Mayson and Gavin don't want to give into besides being separated. Also, until the end of the second paragraph, I was under the impression that Mayson and Gavin were siblings.

I'm curious to see more, though, so that's a good thing! Keep at it!
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#5 Hannah Warren

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:43 PM

I agree with Cherie that you need a few more details, particularly about what the Save Our Youth program is and what Mayson and Gavin don't want to give into besides being separated. Also, until the end of the second paragraph, I was under the impression that Mayson and Gavin were siblings.

I'm curious to see more, though, so that's a good thing! Keep at it!

Haha! I was worried about not getting the point across that Mayson was a girl. I never considered people might assume they're siblings but I can see why. I'll keep that in mind. I've changed my query a bit more and I think the new hook will clarify that.
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#6 Hannah Warren

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:10 PM

I'm going to fix my query letter, anyone interested please do read it and any advice is welcomed.
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#7 cherie

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 07:42 PM

This is the newest version. All ciritque posted yesterday (4/25/12) has been taken into account. Here is the newest change:


Dear Agent,

What if you loved someone but couldn’t tell them? What if you lived with that person but could never be with them? What if you had a chance to take them and escape it all? Would you take it? Scrap the questions. Most agents hate them, and they don't really add to your hook anyway.

The ‘Save Our Youth’ program is newly formed and is sweeping across the country in an unstoppable torrent. The program works by taking in children from thirteen to seventeen and training them in an occupation or skill and having them compete in any way for the country. After you turn eighteen you’re left where ever you may be and your family will be notified to pick you up. From there it’s up to you to use your new skill and any credentials achieved through it to make a life for yourself. Scrap this, too. Always start with your protagonist/s. Don't set-up--the agent reading will get bored and skip the rest of the letter. We want to care about the protags first.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are closer than anyone might guess. Living in a group home leaves them with only each other. Their love runs deep but they’re too insecure and unsure. Neither wants to ruin their rare form of friendship. Unfortunately the group home catches on and forces them to separate from each other.

Mayson and Gavin dread the day Gavin turns eighteen and leaves before her but can’t wait until Mayson can leave and they can be together again. Already fighting their home for each other the Save Our Youth program is the last straw. It poses the ultimate threat; they might never see the other again. In your mini-synopsis, this is where you can incorporate details of the Save the Youth program to show us what's at stake for both of your characters.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable?

‘Taken’ is a young adult drama at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren


GOODLUCK!!
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
--Richard Bach


"Writing is easy. All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." Gene Fowler

I'm a YA writer represented by Julia A. Weber of J.A. Weber Literaturagentur GmbH.
I hang out at http://readywritego.blogspot.com
Twitter: @writercherie

#8 Hannah Warren

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, I would never have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another.

They dread the day Gavin turns eighteen and leaves before her, when she’ll be left alone then later out on the streets too. Both love the other and both believe the other loves them as a friend. Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

Already fighting their home for each other the Save Our Youth program is the last straw. It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart.

The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep. It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them. It offers all activities and has the children compete against each other and other countries for their country. Once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. Any awards you earn as well as your graduation certificate are left with you to help you earn a job. From there, you’re on your own.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”
― C.S. Lewis

#9 Brighton

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:33 PM

Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, I would never have made it. (I like this)

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another.

They dread the day Gavin turns eighteen and leaves before her, when she’ll be left alone then later out on the streets too.<this sentence is confusing) Both love the other and both believe the other loves them as a friend. Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

Already fighting their home for each other the Save Our Youth program is the last straw. <( this sentence is confusing) It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again.(<I like this sentence) And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart.

The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep. It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them. It offers all activities and has the children compete against each other and other countries for their country. <(tell me more about how they compete) Once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. Any awards you earn as well as your graduation certificate are left with you to help you earn a job. From there, you’re on your own. (this competition part seems interesting, but I need to know more about it.)

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. (maybe i am tired and missed this part, but why is it that they want to escape, the competition part sounds fun, and they get picked up by their family at the end so I fail to see why it's bad) But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren
"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. ...and to this conception he was faithful to the end." -The Great Gatsby

#10 efowler

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:37 PM

Hold on.

#11 efowler

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, I would never have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another.

They dread the day Gavin turns eighteen and has to leave leaves before her, when she’ll be left alone then later out on the streets too. Both love the each other, and both believe the other loves them as a friend and both are scared to make the leap from friendship. Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

Already fighting their home for each other (I don't know what you mean, clarify. Maybe "Already fighting to stay together") the Save Our Youth program is the last straw. (Here, you should explain the Save Our Youth. ie put here what I highlight in green. Then that can be the end of the paragraph, leaving the other dire sentences for later.) It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart.

The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep. It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them. It offers all activities and has the children compete against each other and other countries for their country. Once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. Any awards you earn as well as your graduation certificate are left with you to help you earn a job. From there, you’re on your own.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren



#12 tgweber

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:33 PM

I think efowler made some nice suggestions. I have two.

1. "If it had been anyone else, I never would have made it." - To me it sounds better this way, switching "never" and "would". Read your way and this way aloud and pick the one that sounds better.

2.When you are describing the save our youth program, it gets very wordy. Example: "It offers all activities and has the children compete against each other and other countries for their country." Say this aloud, it just doesn't sound good.

The program and its competitions sound interesting! Keep at it!!

#13 Hannah Warren

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:23 AM

Thanks everyone for the help! I revised it a bit:


Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, I never would have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another. The one year age difference means Gavin leaves the group home before Mayson. Even if it’s only a year it’s enough time to cause a major separation. Both love each other but don’t know if and how to move on to more than friends. Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

They already have to fight against their group home to stay together but now with the Save Our Youth program another obstacle arises. The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep. It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them.

The competitions, depending on the activity, are either held within the country or worldwide. You travel all over to compete but once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. From there, you’re on your own.

It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart. Their relationship won’t allow being apart as an option. They are each other’s rock and without the other their lives could easily fall apart.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”
― C.S. Lewis

#14 Brighton

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 12:40 PM

One little note I should have noticed last night but I was kind of tired, is that though I really like your hook, I'd advise changing it from I to she, or he, depending of its Mayson or Gavin who's point of view that statement is from, or they if it's from both. Because the rest of your query is in the third person it makes sense to have that part in third person as well instead of first.
"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. ...and to this conception he was faithful to the end." -The Great Gatsby

#15 Hannah Warren

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 02:08 PM

One little note I should have noticed last night but I was kind of tired, is that though I really like your hook, I'd advise changing it from I to she, or he, depending of its Mayson or Gavin who's point of view that statement is from, or they if it's from both. Because the rest of your query is in the third person it makes sense to have that part in third person as well instead of first.

Yeah, that's actually a really good idea, thanks. It did feel a little off but I wasn't sure how exactly to change it. I'll probably change it to they because earlier I was thinking how I liked that it could be seen from both their pov's.
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#16 tgweber

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 09:54 PM

If it had been anyone else, I never would have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another. The one year age difference means Gavin leaves the group home before Mayson. Even if it’s only a year it’s enough time to cause a major separation. Both love each other but don’t know if and how to move on to more than friends. (This sentence is wordy, simplify. example: Both love each other yet are uncertain if it's more than just friends. or: Both love each other, perhaps more than just friends. Another view: Stating they both love each other before saying it may be more than just friends can sound backwards. If they love each other, wouldn't they be more than just friends? I know you can love a friend, but choose your words carefully.)Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

They already have to fight against their group home to stay together (you say above that Gavin leaves the group because he is older, that it's a rule. So why would they be fighting against their group home if they knew this already?)but now with the Save Our Youth program another obstacle arises. The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep. It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them.

The competitions, depending on the activity, are either held within the country or worldwide. You travel all over to compete but once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. From there, you’re on your own.(This paragraph sounds like you stepped out of your query to describe the program.)

It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart. Their relationship won’t allow being apart as an option. They are each other’s rock and without the other their lives could easily fall apart.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I read in another query critique about using questions such as your last two sentences. THe advice was not to use them since it may invite a snarky response from an agent. Just passing on info, do what you feel is comfortable. I think you are improving and the book sounds interesting with the competitions all over the world.

#17 jmarshburn

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 01:05 PM

Thanks everyone for the help! I revised it a bit:


Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, I never would have made it. (I agree that we need to know who is speaking here. This is the only part of your query that is first person, and my understanding is that the whole thing should be in a consistent tense and voice.)

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another. The one year age difference means Gavin leaves the group home before Mayson. Even if it’s only a year it’s enough time to cause a major separation. (I think this is a better place to introduce your Save Our Youth Program, because it explains more thoroughly the threat of their separation.) Both love each other but don’t know if and how to move on to more than friends. Mentally paralyzing but completely sincere.

They already have to fight against their group home to stay together but now with the Save Our Youth program another obstacle arises. The Save Our Youth program takes their country in one quick sweep (This sentence doesn't make sense to me. When you say the program "takes their country in one quick sweep", I'm imagining some conquering force of some sort. I would recommend rewording more clearly. If you are referencing the travel involved, make that clear.) It takes in all children thirteen to seventeen and trains them for whatever occupation or skill suits them.

The competitions, depending on the activity, are either held within the country or worldwide. You travel all over to compete but once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. (You mention above that they are both orphans, so what family will come get them. If they are each other's only "family" then where is the fear of separation?) From there, you’re on your own.

It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart. Their relationship won’t allow being apart as an option. They are each other’s rock and without the other their lives could easily fall apart.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape this they run off into the night. But can they escape the inevitable? And even if they can, what then?

‘Taken’ is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Hannah Warren

I understand the threat of separation, but I'm struggling to see the real crux of your conflict since, based on what you've written it seems their are ways to overcome the separation. I feel like their are things you are leaving out or not explaining as much as you could. On one hand, you don't want to give away your whole story so that the agent will ask for more. On the other, you do want to give a full voice to the suffering of your characters. I'm not sure I'm getting that.
I hope these little notes help, and feel free to reciprocate with feedback on my letter (Detached) if you want. Look forward to seeing more from you! Good luck!

-Jenn

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Becoming a writer is not a 'career decision' like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you’re not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.' - Paul Auster


#18 Hannah Warren

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:48 PM

I understand the threat of separation, but I'm struggling to see the real crux of your conflict since, based on what you've written it seems their are ways to overcome the separation. I feel like their are things you are leaving out or not explaining as much as you could. On one hand, you don't want to give away your whole story so that the agent will ask for more. On the other, you do want to give a full voice to the suffering of your characters. I'm not sure I'm getting that.
I hope these little notes help, and feel free to reciprocate with feedback on my letter (Detached) if you want. Look forward to seeing more from you! Good luck!

-Jenn

I'm going to post the newest revision next but I wanted to explain some stuff a bit. Since they are both orphans and have no family when they age out of the program they are simply left wherever they may be. They are not each others' legal family and have made no sort of 'claim' since they are both still in the group home. I admit it's a flaw in the system but it's necessary to the story. And thanks a bunch for the help, I feel like this letter's finally getting somewhere.
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#19 Hannah Warren

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:51 PM

Alright, the latest revision:


Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, they never would have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another. The one year age difference means Gavin is going to leave the group home before Mayson. Even if it’s only a year it’s enough time to cause a major separation. Both love each other but are unsure if being more than friends is possible.

They already have to fight against their group home to stay together but now with the Save Our Youth program another obstacle arises. The Save Our Youth program quickly makes the arrangements needed and takes in all children from thirteen to seventeen without much warning at all. The children are taken and trained in any skill or occupation they choose then are sent to the appropriate competitions.

The competitions, depending on the activity, are either held within the country or worldwide. You travel all over to compete but once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. From there, you’re on your own.

It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart. Their relationship won’t allow being apart as an option. They are each other’s rock and without the other their lives could easily fall apart.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape they run off into the night. Even if they can avoid it they still have their personal trials to face and whatever may manifest from them.

TAKEN is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Hannah Warren
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”
― C.S. Lewis

#20 emilykcassidy

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:12 PM

Dear Agent,

If it had been anyone else, they never would have made it.

Seventeen year old Gavin, and his best friend, sixteen year old Mayson, are both orphans and strongly dependent upon one another. But because of their one year age difference ,Gavin must leave the group home without Mayson. Even if it’s only a year
(comma ) it’s enough time to cause a major separation. Both love each other but are unsure if being more than friends is possible.

They already have to fight against their group home to stay together but now with the Save Our Youth program another obstacle arises. The Save Our Youth program quickly makes the arrangements needed and takes in all children from thirteen to seventeen without much warning at all. The children are taken and trained in any skill or occupation they choose then are sent to the appropriate competitions.

The competitions, depending on the activity, are either held within the country or worldwide. You travel all over to compete but once you turn eighteen you are left where ever you are and arrangements are made with your family to come get you. From there, you’re on your own. (I am confused by these competitions? Are they a bad thing?)

It poses the ever-present threat; they might never see each other again. And this time, it’s all the more likely they’ll be incredibly far apart. Their relationship won’t allow being apart as an option. They are each other’s rock and without the other their lives could easily fall apart.

When fate seemingly gives them a chance to escape they run off into the night. Even if they can avoid it they still have their personal trials to face and whatever may manifest from them. (Consider rewording this. I get what you are trying to say but I think you want to be careful. All MC face personal trials and have to deal with the consequences. Be specific please)

TAKEN is a young adult novel at over 64,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Hannah Warren


Hannah- I am very impressed by you. Knowing that you are still in school AND writing is an accomplishment. I think you are off to a great start, but I think you should take some of the generalizations out of the query. Only add details that are specific to your story and show how special it is. I look forward to hearing more from you! Keep up the great work.




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