Monday, July 18, 2011

Query Critique Contest Submission + Contest ALERT!

UPDATE: My query was picked as a finalist!  Whohoo!  I guess the 40th time is the charm! ...Yes, this is my 40th draft, I counted.  And that's only the drafts I saved.  It feels soooo good to get some positive feedback on the elusive and maddening query letter.  Thanks for everyone's help and feedback!

Query Critique Contest Submission:

Dear Agent,

With a budding career as a pop singer and a boyfriend who is the heir to the most powerful political dynasty in the Republic, Lena Lowell doesn’t have much to complain about.  But Lena is still haunted by nightmares of the bomb that destroyed her home country of Stormland and it’s hard to forget that her boyfriend’s father was the one who ordered the attack.

Then members of the Wilde family, the Stormland royalty, appear on live news and Lena fears that her nightmares may soon become reality.  Not extinct as people thought, the Wildes’ return brings the threat of war along with a young Wilde prince with bizarre electrical powers…and his powers aren’t the only thing about him that give Lena the tingles.  Swept up in a dangerous love triangle, Lena is already in over her head when both of the men in her life are kidnapped.  She dives into a centuries old rivalry between the world’s most powerful ruling families to save the men she loves.  With the two countries playing a game of chicken with bombs, Lena knows one false step could ignite war.

Please consider STORMLAND, a 70,000 word upper young adult science fiction novel set in an alternate world similar to present-day United States.  STORMLAND was a runner-up in the agent-judged Made of Awesome blog contest and I have been published in small press magazines such as Nerve Cowboy and Nomad’s Choir

At your request, I would be pleased to send you more of STORMLAND.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Sharon Bayliss


Sorry I was late on catching this awesome opportunity!  But as far as I can tell, it's not too late to sign up.  Sign up by posting a comment here and then jump over to the query critique post to enter that contest.  Next week it will be a first page contest.  Good luck! 

If you're new to my blog, check out my post about the other July contest and critique opportunities here.

6 comments:

  1. One thing I liked about your query is that it had strong VOICE.

    I was a bit confused by the first paragraph. I kept thinking why is Lena moving into an apartment that someone is already living in? I reread it a few time and now I think I see what you were trying to say, but it wasn’t immediately clear. I don’t think you want that.

    Your second paragraph feels like backstory to me, and I’m not sure how it furthers the plot.

    The phrases “her nightmares may soon become reality”, “one false step”, “in over her head” and “centuries old rivalry” are all clichés and don’t really tell me anything.

    “and his powers aren’t the only thing about him that give Lena the tingles”—made me laugh in a GREAT way, very funny and clever :)

    Stick to the plot. What does Lena want? What stands in her way? What is the MAIN conflict of the story? What will happen if the conflict isn’t resolved?

    Author Elana Johnson has a great blog about writing a killer query. Her posts helped me tons.
    http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html

    You have a very strong voice—that is rare so use it to tell us the plot :) Good luck, it sounds like a fun story. I would love to find it on the shelves one day.

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  2. Sharon, what a cool story! If I had a critique it would be to possibly give up the first paragraph. The next two pretty much say the same things but in more depth. More questions are answered in those two paragraphs:)

    Also, if you are wanting to enter the actual query contest email me your final draft by 12PM ET Tuesday:) My email is deanabarnhart@gmail.com

    Good luck!
    D

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  3. Awesome story, I'm interested. I agree though that there is too much. Try to pare down to a total of 250 words. See what words you can cut to make things clearer. You could really start at the third paragraph. When you're tightening, don't lose the line about the tingles. It's awesome.

    Great to meet you! I'm a new follower.

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  4. Hi, Sharon,

    I've put my suggestions in parentheses/all caps:

    Turning eighteen and moving out of foster care used to seem like a big deal, but when the genetically engineered royal family of Stormland returns, Lena Lowell fears that her new apartment will be bombed before she even finishes unpacking her boxes. (BOTH HALVES OF THIS SENTENCE, ON THEIR OWN, ROCK; TOGETHER, I WAS DOING A LITTLE HEAD SCRATCHING TRYING TO CONNECT THE DOTS.)

    With a budding career as a pop singer and (a boyfriend who is the heir to the most powerful political dynasty in the Republic=THIS IS THE BEST PART OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE SENTENCE.), Lena doesn’t have much to complain about. But (Lena is still haunted by nightmares of the bomb that destroyed her home country of Stormland(COMMA) and it’s hard to forget that her boyfriend’s father was the one who ordered the attack. THIS IS ANOTHER STRONG PART OF YOUR QUERY.)

    (Then members of the Wilde family, the Stormland royalty, appear on live news and Lena fears that her nightmares may soon become reality.=I FOUND MYSELF GETTING LOST AGAIN.) (Not extinct as people thought=THIS IS INTERESTING), (the Wildes’ return brings the threat of war along with a young Wilde prince with bizarre electrical powers…and his powers aren’t the only thing about him that give Lena the tingles=I'M GETTING CONFUSED ABOUT WHO IS WHOM HERE.). (Swept up in a dangerous love triangle, Lena is already in over her head when both of the men in her life are kidnapped. She dives into a centuries old rivalry between the world’s most powerful ruling families to save the men she loves.=TIGHTEN THESE TWO SENTENCES.) (With the two countries playing a game of chicken with bombs, Lena knows one false step could ignite war.=GOOD)

    (Please consider=DELETE) STORMLAND(,=IS) a 70,000(HYPHEN)word upper young adult science fiction novel set in an alternate world similar to present-day United States. STORMLAND was a runner-up in the agent-judged Made of Awesome blog contest(COMMA) and I have been published in small press magazines such as (Nerve Cowboy and Nomad’s Choir=FORMAT MAGAZINE TITLES). (EXCELLENT BIO SECTION!)

    (At your request, I would be pleased to send you more of STORMLAND.=CHECK THE SUB GUIDES AND SEND WHAT THEY ASK FOR.) Thank you for your consideration.

    Michelle

    P.S. I'm a new subscriber! I'd be a follower too, but I couldn't figure out where to click ... Guess I'm not a night person. :)

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  5. Thank you Angie, Deana, Laura, & Michelle!! Your feedback helps a lot. I'll try to incorporate as much of it as I can before I officially submit.

    Good luck!

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  6. Love your story idea. I felt like each paragraph of your query was interesting, but didn't flow well enough together. For me, the main hook was this: Swept up in a dangerous love triangle, Lena is already in over her head when both of the men in her life are kidnapped. Maybe start with that as your tag line and then rework the middle, and keep your sentence-- With the two countries playing a game of chicken with bombs, Lena knows one false step could ignite war--as your ending hook. Remember, you want: The Hook, The Setup, The Conflict, and The Consequence (per Author Elana Johnson). Best of luck to you:)

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