Saturday, December 11, 2010

#191-revised 3x for the Win

Dear QueryShark:

Sixteen year old Hope's life went off the rails last year, when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. Not even a butt-load of pills could numb that pain.


In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in the Scottish Highlands. When Hope discovers a secret room full of elaborate costumes and a five-hundred year old painting of her mother’s face, she’s sure all the residents of the huge house are bat’s-ass crazy. The truth will test her new sobriety and give her a chance to redeem herself. Her mom isn’t dead. She is trapped in the year 1543. Hope steps into her mother's shoes, and joins the new generation of Viators—time travelers—as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.


The only normal piece of her freak-a-zoid life is the time she spends with local Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is one of the criminal Timeslippers. Hope’s mom kept them from stealing a book so powerful; (take out the semi colon) its owner can reshape history.

Now, Alex is back to finish the job, and it's up to Hope to stop him. He's also ordered to make sure Hope and her mom never return. Hope swore she would risk anything to rescue her mom, and she’ll be damned if some lying douche is going to get in her way. She'll do whatever it takes, even if it means getting left behind.


A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly will like this book. I am a member of the Historical Novel Society and the RWA.

Thank you so much for your time.


Well dear readers, I think she's got it.  

The voice is very forceful; that appeals to me.  I also like that we've got a sense of the stakes and a sense of the choice Hope has to make.

Before you send your queries out, make SURE you have an eagle eyed copy editor look this over. You've got an errant semi-colon in this version, a misplaced comma in another.  These aren't the difference between yes and no, but you want to make sure your work is as polished as you can make it.

This works. I'd request pages.




----------------------
Dear Query Shark,


Sixteen year old Hope's life went off the rails last year, when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. Not even a butt-load of pills could numb that pain.

In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in the Scottish Highlands. When There she discovers a secret room full of elaborate costumes and a four-hundred year old painting of her mother's face, she demands answers. But, the truth might be more than her new sobriety can take. Her mom isn't dead. She's trapped in the past--in the year 1543.(2) If Hope is strong enough, she can take up the family tradition and begin training with the other new Viators--time travelers--as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.

"strong enough" doesn't tell me much. Is she undergoing GIJane pt routine? Is it emotional strength? What does Hope need to do to get ready? And if this really isn't an important part of the story, don't mention it at the start of a sentence. Just start with She can take up the family tradition


The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with local, Alex Cameron. But when Alex appears at Henry VIII's Hampton court, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is one of the criminal Timeslippers, on a mission to steal a book so powerful, its owner can reshape history. She must rescue her mom and keep the book out of the Timeslipper's hands, even if it means Hope will never return.

no comma before Alex Cameron.

"budding relationship" is a phrase I'm confident no teen girl would use to describe herself or how she feels about a boy.

You've also used the second paragraph (2) to ask if Hope is strong enough to become a time traveller. In the third paragraph it sounds like not only is she, she's off at the court of H8. You're wasting time and words setting up a problem that isn't a key part of the book.

Focus on the first choice that Hope has to make. If her first choice is to rescue her mom, I said those weren't very high stakes on the first go round. However, it's clear something went VERY wrong if her mom is stuck in 1543. What does Hope bring to the problem that will solve it?

It's like you don't send someone down into a mine to rescue people without sending a rope and shovels with them. Otherwise you just have more stuck miners. What tools/skill does Hope have that will help her Mom? And if they don't work is she willing to be stuck there in 1543 with her?


A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work.

I can relate to a lot of things I don't like. Vegemite, shark-fin soup, reserves against returns.


Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly are the audience for this book.

or
Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly will like this book.

I am a member and district leader of the Historical Novel Society and the RWA.

Thank you so much for your time.

This isn't bad, and I know the comment column is clamoring to read this, but a query letter has to show me that you can write so well and so crisply that I will want to read this book more than once.

This query doesn't do that yet, but it's getting better.

Revise, let it sit for a while, revise again, then resend.
Make SURE the book itself is getting the same kind of polish you're doing here.

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

Dear Query Shark,

Sixteen year old Hope’s life went off the rails last year. All because when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. There wasn't even a body to bury.


Have I yapped enough about rhythm in sentences? Probably not. Say the first version out loud. Then the revised version. Which sounds better?


Word choice is mostly about the right word, but the final polish is always the right word in the right place. "All because" and "when" mean about the same thing in the context of this paragraph, but one is better than the other because of how it sounds. When writers talk about reading their work aloud, this is the kind of thing they are listening for.

She soon discovered that all the pills in the world couldn't numb the pain, though she gave it her best shot.


Pare away everything you don't need.


In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in Scotland, who needs her help on a project. Hope doesn't care if it's shoveling sheep crap as long as it gets her out of facing the mess she left back home.


She goes to Scotland with her aunt is about all you really need to say: we intuit that she'd want to get away, and with her mom dead, a relative would step in. Trust your reader to make the logical connections.


What she learns at her aunt’s old house in the Highlands is weirder than any drug-induced hallucination.


RESIST THAT METAPHOR. Metaphor is a powerful tool but you don't need it here. What she learns at her aunt's house is that her mom isn't dead. We get that that is weird. Simplify!

Her mom is not dead. She is trapped in the past, in the year 1543, and Hope is needed to bring her back. She joins the team of new recruits to the society of Viators, time travelelers, as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.

Why is Hope needed to bring her back? That's the key piece of information you're missing here.

Faced with a truth she never imagined and fighting off the old cravings, she treasures the only bit of normalcy in her life. Her budding relationship with a local boy, Alex Cameron. When Alex appears in renaissance England, Hope realizes she's been played. Alex is a member of the criminal Timeslippers. He’s ordered to steal the powerful Libri Atlantius and kill its owner, the young alchemist John Dee. He is also charged with killing anyone who gets in his way. With the book of Atlantis in the Timeslippers possession, they can shape history any way they wish. Now, Hope has to stop the Timeslippers from getting their hands on the book, save Dee, and bring her mother back home. No biggee for a recovering addict.


And here is where you go splat. You don't need all this. You've got a nice set up with rescuing her mom. And your first version had a much cleaner version of this:


The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with a local, Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at the court of King Henry VIII, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is a member of the criminal "Timeslippers." And he has orders to make certain that Hope and her mother never return.


All you need is one more sentence here telling us about the stakes: keep it very simple though. "A book that allows the reader to reshape history is about to fall into the wrong hands if Hope doesn't confound Alex's nefarious schemes." Or something like that.

A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work. I am a member, and district leader, of the Historical Novel Society and the FWCA.

Thank you so much for your time.

A TIME FOR HOPE
Genre: Young Adult
91,000 Word count

This is better, but it's not ready yet.

Polish, revise.

------------------------------------------
Dear Query Shark,

Sixteen year old Hope Walton didn't really want to become a time traveler, but apparently it's a family tradition.


Here's the trouble with log lines: they undercut any kind of buildup to a punch line-they destroy tension and suspense. Consider how much more a reveal it is if that log line appears AFTER these next paragraphs.

Her life went off the rails when she learned her mom was killed in a foreign earthquake. All the pills in the world couldn't numb that pain. When her aunt visits her rehab center and asks for help on a project, Hope assumes she means scrapbooking or maybe knitting.

She was wrong.

Now she has the chance to redeem herself. She can rescue her mother, then begin to pull her life back together. All Hope has to do is travel to the year 1543 and bring her mom home. No biggee.



Here's the revised layout:

Sixteen year old Hope Walton's life went off the rails when she learned was told her mom was killed in a foreign earthquake. All the pills in the world couldn't numb that pain. When her aunt visits her rehab center and asks for help on a project, Hope assumes she means scrapbooking or maybe knitting. She was wrong.

Hope Walton doesn't really want to become a time traveler, but apparently it's a family tradition. And her mom isn't dead, just trapped in 1543.

At her aunt's manor in the Scottish Highlands, Hope learns about her strange heritage. She is joined by joins a team of new recruits as they prepare for the longest road trip ever. The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with a local, Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at the court of King Henry VIII, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is a member of the criminal "Timeslippers." And he has orders to make certain that Hope and her mother never return.

A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work. I am a member, and district leader, of the Historical Novel Society and the FWCA. I am also under the tutelage of the Young Adult novelist, (redacted).

I'm not sure what under the tutelage means, but leave it out. Your bio is for publication credits and groups you belong to that are relevant. Your teachers, your school, your tutelors--not relevant.

Thank you so much for your time. It is such a precious thing.


A TIME FOR HOPE
Young Adult Category
91,000 word count


Structurally this is an above-average query. However, when I see paragraphs set up with the reveal (or the punch line aka the climax) at the start of the paragraph, it undercuts my confidence in how the book is structured paragraph by paragraph. I see this a lot in otherwise good queries. You need to unfold a story in your query just like you do the book. Set up, then resolve. In other words, don't tell us she's a time traveller before you set up the situation.

And frankly, the idea that someone time travels to the court of Henry 8 is beyond over-used. You've got an opportunity to go anywhere in time, and you choose the one period that has been the subject of more television shows and movies than any other.

And the stakes are pretty pale as well: she has to rescue her mom. Ok, sure, who wouldn't want to rescue their mom, but it doesn't have much pizazz.


This isn't a bad query, but it's getting a form rejection cause it doesn't do the ONE thing a query has to do: entice me to read it.

55 comments:

Lehcarjt said...

This is exactly the kind of book I like to read. The query is also in much better shape than the last few we have seen and does a good job of giving me a feel for the scope of the story.

At the same something was missing for me. QS used the word pizzaz and I think I agree with that in a broader sense.

My initial impression is that it is my connection to the heroine that is lacking. Can you show me how she is heroic/extraordinary? Can you make me love her?

arhooley said...

I'm intrigued about what these Timeslippers do and Alex's designs on Hope and her mother -- looks like sinister plans afoot!

But please, all these commas can go:

But, when Alex appears at the court . . .

I am a member, and district leader, of the Historical Novel Society . . .

Kirstin said...

Form rejection or not, I totally want to read this book.

Trisha said...

I've definitely seen worse queries on here, this one was pretty good. But yeah, needs a little more drama :)

Jaimie said...

I would read this book.

Lauren K said...

This sounds like it could be interesting. Why doesn't Alex want Hope and her mom to return?
Also, you mention at the beginning that Hope is in rehab. Does she continue to struggle with addiction in the rest of the book? It might be worth mentioning.
Good luck

Josin L. McQuein said...

Sounds like a YA version of Timeline.

Laura said...

I would totally pick this up, but then I'm a huge sucker for all things time travel.

But honestly, I like this one. My guess is the actual manuscript has more pizazz, and there is enough in this query for me to buy the book.

Charli Armstrong said...

I would read this!

marissameyer said...

This could be the first time I've ever disagreed with Janet! I am intrigued by this query - I want to know more about this "family tradition" of time traveling, and I really want to know more about the Timeslippers. Sure, the nuts and bolts could use some more tweaking, but I think this does succeed at that ultimate goal of enticing someone to read it.

Best of luck!

intertribal said...

I'm sorry, shouldn't "a foreign earthquake" be "an earthquake overseas"? Earthquakes are not "foreign" or "domestic."

Phoebe said...

Yeah, I'd definitely read this.

Though this is a popular time period to write about, as a teen I would have eaten it up.

John Jack said...

I feel the Timeslippers are an underdeveloped premise. They seem caricatured villains who if more realized would bring in some serious public stakes, not just Hope's private stakes rescuing her mother.

What's the Timeslippers' agenda that Hope uncovers through her quest to save mom? Ideally something original and high-concept that's accessible by and matters to a large young adult niche. Realizing what the Timeslipper agenda is might inform when best in time they stashed mom and why her in the first place.

Orlando said...

Show us what makes this story extraordinary, the drama, danger, fear, and excitement. Otherwise we've already read the story.

What is so wonderful about this story that we simply MUST read the manuscript?

Tell us a little more.

Jeff said...

Astute comment about the log line! It's amazing how much better it works as revised.

Oh magnificent QS, would it work as-is if this were a humorous book? I chuckled when I read the first sentence, imagining the king in Monty Python and The Holy Grail saying "someday, all of this will be yours" and the son responding, "what, the curtains?"

Jo-Ann said...

Hi Author- I agree that your query has potential, but still needs a bit of work. The Shark has kindly reminded us on several occasions to keep the background details to a minimum, but I think you're erring on the side of caution. More detail about the time-traveling family might be helpful here- did they zoom around the centuries the way that the rest of us go to the supermarket, or did they only travel in time when ordered by some authority?

I assumed that the para about the team of new recruits meant that a group of them traveled together, so it was confusing to read about Alex suddenly appearing at the court of Henry VIII - maybe that bit could be reworked. Does Alex have independent means of time travel, or does he rely on auntie's gang and their skills to travel temporally?

Finally, some detail about either the timeslippers' ambitions, or about Hope's mother's significance to these people- does she have to be kept away from her own era (if so: why?), or kept in 1543 in particular?

You dont need to answer all of these, just addressing one might help the reader to understand what's at stake here.

Jill Thomas said...

I am thrilled to see this query. Unlike some of the other chum, this one didn't scream form-rejection. It shows us once again that even with a somewhat intriguing story and a decently written query letter, our manuscripts can still merit rejection. Not good news, but informative, none the less.

Charity Bradford said...

The part of this query that interested me was the timeslippers and Alex. Did he play her? Is there a chance for him to redeem himself? The rest of it was ok, but this could make for a good romance. :D

Leira Carola said...

This seems like the kind of book I would read. I'm a Back to the Future fan.

M. G. E. said...

Seems there's some untapped enthusiasm for time-traveling stories here, but I'm not seeing it myself.

It seems to me that the concept is cliche, overdone.

I also agree that the query seems light on details, and that it fails to excite me into wanting more, more. It's a vanilla query.

College Boy said...

I found this interesting and would like to read more.

Stephanie Barr said...

It's hard for me to drum up enthusiasm for time-traveling stories because (a) I'm a stickler and they're often not done "right," and (b) so often the time travel is the whole story and it's just an exercise to see some other time through contemporary eyes.

But, when they're good, they can be very compelling and I'm not immune to a good time traveling story. Character and a story that compels is key. I think YA is a good market for this kind of story, too.

However, the problem here is I only have the time traveling issue to address, nothing that makes sense, no twist (other than nefarious other time travelers we're working against) to keep it interesting.

Obviously there's a lot of interest in time travel, but surely it's best when the time travel aspect is really key to interesting things.

Right now, it seems to me that the story could be written exactly the same without time travel with family members that are really secret members of the CIA and her mother (presumed dead) is really in a prison camp in dangerous part of the world. Or her families are ninjas, but same story.

I guess my question is, what does time travel do to make this story unique and interesting? Or, what is it about the story that makes it so compelling? I think that might be all that's needed for the win.

KO said...

FWIW, any book about time travel has to compete, in my mind, with Diana Gabaldon. It might not be fair, but that's my go-to time travel author.

When I saw earthquake I thought-- awesome! Time traveling in South America, Asia, or California!

It was a little deflating to see the characters go directly to the Highlands and then England, where the first several Gabaldon books were set.

One of Gabaldon's books involves the MC's daughter traveling back in time to find her mom and save her.

I'm not saying scrap it, but as she is well-known you might need to emphasize what's different about your story. As others have said: the Timeslippers are intriguing. Tell me more about them.

Lance Albury said...

Curious why you replaced "learned" with "was told." It's passive and adds an extra word.

Alison said...

I liked this query and was intrigued by the potential of the story. Just one confusion: what does "foreign earthquake" have to do with the year 1543? That was a bit jarring, as was the sudden inclusion of the Court of Henry 8. As some others have already indicated here, a little more background to connect the pieces would be good. Good luck!

(WV: regall--very appropriate at the Court...)

Janet Reid said...

Lance, my suggested change to "was told" was intended to show her mum wasn't dead,only that Hope was told she was dead. It was intended to convey deception.

It is passive; it is one more word, but in this case, I think it's the better choice.

Catherine said...

I think this book idea would be much more interesting if the mother was caught in, say, the Civil War Era? I think this is a great opportunity to explore a rich historical era that is relatively ignored by schools (which includes many eras, trust me.)

Laina said...

Something about the wording of "Young Adult Category" makes me leery that the author might know what that is, exactly.

Joel said...

If her mother is Anne Boleyn, then you got something.

Gisele said...

I will join in the chorus of previous posts by saying that I too, would enjoy reading this.

There are a few problems with the query but we can still see the kernel of an intriguing story shining through.

What jumped out at me was the juxtaposition between a very heavy topic (grief, addiction, and rehab) and the lightness of a time travel adventure.

Writer, is it essential to the story that Hope be doing a stunt in rehab? Couldn't her aunt's intervention come sooner (guess what? Mom isn't dead; she's just stuck in the past!) before she falls into the pits of despair and addiction?

I don't know. I wanted to embark on an adventure through time but the heaviness of her past kept nagging at me.

I like the idea of traveling to the court of Henry VIII. Janet is right in saying that it is a very popular time period. But what's been overdone is the young King Henry during his Anne Boleyn days.

The writer astutely chose 1543, when King Henry VIII is old, obese and down to his sixth wife. That part of history is still nebulous to many potential readers.

Why is Hope a time traveler and Alex a "timeslipper"? Was this distinction made solely to separate the good guys from the bad guys?

Why not call them all "timeslippers" and make that the title of the book. It is a much stronger and intriguing title.

siebendach said...

Besides going with the Shark's revised layout, I'd find a way to drop the sentence "She was wrong."

191, time travel is not one of my favorite story elements. But, since you're going with it, don't be discouraged by the inevitable chorus that you've chosen a time in history that is "too dull" or "done to death".

Off the top of my head, I remember these objections being raised in various online beta groups, message boards and chat rooms against World War II, World War I, the Civil War, the presidency of JFK, the gangster days of Al Capone, the California Gold Rush of 1849, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, medieval Scotland, feudal Japan, the Reconquista, the Norman Conquest of England, ancient Rome, ancient Egypt and ancient Greece.

There are reasons why there aren't lots of stories about heroines travelling back in time to fall in love with leech-gatherers in the third century B.C. The most popular historical settings tend to be those that are the most exciting (which in the study of history, often means "violent"), as well as the most well-documented. In the end, you have to go with what excites you. The test of your writing is to make it exciting for whoever's reading your story --- and your query letter.

Kenneth said...

As I Scot, I feel duty bound to mention that Henry VIII was King of England, not Scotland, so Alex Cameron wouldn't have been answerable to his court.

You might well be aware of this already, and if so, apologies for insulting your intelligence. You might've woven a justification into the plot, or maybe you've decided to sacrifice realism in favour of a good story, but don't forget that if you're attracting amateur history buffs, this might jar with some.

Janet B Taylor said...

Hi guys--I'm the author,
Thank you all so much for your comments.
I cannot tell you how much your ideas are helping.

I have a very specific reason for picking this time period, which actually has little to do with the royals of the time. (Although they do travel to Hampton Court) I should have omitted "King Henry 8 Court." That obviously led readers to get the incorrect impression that the king, queen etc. are heavily involved in the story. That is my fault.
The most relevant historical character is a man named Dr. John Dee. A fascinating man, but not exactly a household name.
I need to work on that, especially since he is such a major part of the Timeslippers big plot. I wasn't sure how much of that to get into. I wanted to follow the rules and deal mostly with Hope and her primary issues.
Again, thank you all so much. It means the world to me.

Ocean Archer said...

Janet Taylor--

The first half of your query made me want to read your story. The second half (Scottish Highlands) changed my mind. Not knowing how your story unfolds, I can't really offer suggestions, but I'm sure you can fix this up into a winning query.

One little nit: You don't need "foreign" to modify earthquake. It might be important in your story, but it has no context in your query. I'd just leave it at 'killed in an earthquake'.

If you haven't done so already, workshop your query on absolutewrite.com > share your work > query letter hell. And workshop your MS on TheNextBigWriter.

Good luck.

Ocean

morphine-moniza said...

sounds like a fabulous book. I'd want to read it. I like the way the shark edited the query. You should keep it :)

Me said...

Hi Janet (B Taylor),
If it's the time period that's important rather than Henry, you could refer to it as 'Tudor' England.
Although, for my part, time-travellers with cops/watchmen/ordinators following and/or trying to stop them 'because' is a little old hat, but then so were vampires before Stephanie made them sparkle. It seems that the general concenus of comments here like your premise so you'd be silly not to carry it through - which I'm sure you will. If you can put a fresh twist on a well-used theme, then all the power to you. Best of luck.

bzyglowi said...

I like the general idea; the opening sentence at least caught my attention. But the Query Shark has a point- pick a more interesting time period! Also, give us an idea of the complications, instead of just your one antagonist. Why was he sent to stop them? Does he have goals of his own?

I feel like I would read this book, but I'd need to know more about it. I'm not quite enchanted yet.

Bri said...

Honestly, if I read this query on a book jacket, I'd want to read it. And I knew several girls in high school that were obsessed with Henry VIII. It's overdone because it's interesting, and there's lots of people who will read several books about that time period.

Jess the Reader said...

Actually, the revised query makes me want to read the book, so there's a nice compliment for the author.

I agree that Henry 8 has been written about extensively, but it's a great time period and no matter how much I read about it, I keep wanting more. So the time period isn't a problem to me.

I also agree that getting your mother back isn't really massive motivation, but having said that my parents just spilt up (a 30 year marriage) and I'd give anything to go back two months and stop that. So, maybe the seriousness of the motivation depends on the reader too?

The story did remind me a little of Jasper Fforde's Chronoguard, from his Thursday Next series. They patrol time, making sure it stays the same. That's a humourous fantasy novel though, where this sounds more like a young adult historical romance.

Good luck with the query and publication, I'll keep an eye out for it!

Kim Kouski said...

Oh Poo!! I kinda found it interesting. I'd love to read it. Keep going, dear,

Julie Weathers said...

Janet Taylor, I'd definitely browse through the book based on a jacket blurb like this. I love historicals.I love time travel and I like a little mystery.

I'd give the twist a bit more than going to save her mother.

Re being compared to Diana Gabaldon, I wouldn't worry about it unless you have an MC who travels back to Scotland and falls in love with a hunky Scotsman. You have a very different story here.

The log line thing is throwing me for a loop, though. I can't even count how many times I have heard people advise query letter writers to come up with a fascinating log line and lead with that.

Blog time, methinks.

M. G. E. said...

Wow, I learned a lot from reading the Shark's take on this new version.

Somehow it's more intimate, more near, and made me "see" the standard a bit better.

Author, let's get your third version in--but not to soon. Spend some time polishing, maybe even a week or so. A query should not be finished in an afternoon considering its importance in the process.

Though there's something to be said for "fail early, fail often" :P

Janet B Taylor said...

Ouch.. Gonna need a lot of band-aids after that one. I thought it needed more clarification. I over-did. Query letters are harder, much harder, I believe-than writing the novel itself.
I will do by 100% best on the next revision. No hurrying.
I cannot thank all of you enough for the encouragement and the suggestions. Have a beautiful day. :)

Gisele said...

Re 1/2/11

Writer, you've got me hooked. This is a strong, intriguing and adventurous story. I look forward to reading your book.

Now, let's get to my take on your query.

Everyone has a past, baggage and key moments that define a lifetime. Indeed, readers willingly engage in the a priori understanding that past actions define the character's present choices. No need to explain. 'Tis good news, rejoice! That is one hurdle the query doesn't need to overcome.

Don't waist your precious 250 words on getting the reader up to speed with the character's background or set up. The time for that will come later, with the book. For now, the job is to get the agent to want to read the manuscript.

Query means action!

In this query, I'd take out all the info about the freakin' earthquake, the grieving over the dead mom, the pain killer addiction. Two reasons: It's background info and it's a downer. Also, how she got to the Highlands is irrelevant at this point. All this stuff can wait.

I'd jump right in with the time traveling action. This is where I'd start your query:

----------> (Hope finds out that) her mom is not dead. She is trapped in the past, in the year 1543, and Hope is needed to bring her back. She joins the team of new recruits to the society of Viators, time travelelers, as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.

And just expand it from there...

Good luck!

Janet B Taylor said...

Gisele
Thanks so much. See. That is where I'm confused. On the first query, I put in the logline. That is what they often recommend. I guess I just need to find a happy medium. Your advice is wonderful and much appreciated! I'm so new at this.. You guys are great to help!

batgirl said...

I know this is super-picky, but my small Latin stumbled over Libri Atlantius. Is that meant to be 'book of Atlantis'?

Janet B Taylor said...

Hi batgirl,
yes it means book of Atlantis.

Gisele said...

Janet B Taylor,

A quick observation that you may want to look into...

While libri is Latin for book, I believe that back in the day, they used to call a manuscript that was written on parchment "Codex".

"Codex Atlantius"

Theresa Milstein said...

This query is definitely improved. I especially like the first paragraph. I can't wait to see what you come up with for the next one.

Janet B Taylor said...

Thank you so much, Theresa. I'm sure trying. Janet said she hoped I was polishing the novel as much as the query. I am polishing the novel ten times more than the query. That's probably true for most of us. We scrub that novel till you could eat off of it. To me, it's harder to clean those rascally queries. They are slippery little buggers. :)

Stephanie Barr said...

1/9/2011 Rev - I like the voice, particularly in the first two paragraphs. I like the idea, which says something since most time travel yarns leave me cold.

What I'm still struggling with is this "training" for going back in time with other time travelers (which, for some reason, argues secrecy and keeping to the group concept) and a "budding romance" with someone "normal" in her local area. Yes, he turns out to be a criminal timetraveler of the same ilk, but that possibility surely struck someone else.

Deleting the references to training might resolve that, at least in the query so that the reference to normalness in the here and now doesn't strike anyone as, well, contrived.

Janet B Taylor said...

Thanks, Stephanie-
You're absolutely right. Training seems to strike the wrong chord. Preparing might be better, but I'm going to try to dump it altogether.

Thanks also for the compliment on the voice. Hope has a mouth on her, unfortunately. I can't stop her. :)

kshai1715 said...

This has the most incredibly helpful site about queries I have come across. The wealth of information here is sickening! I've been reading the archives, the comments, everything on this site, and my query is developing. I will submit for review. I hope it makes a grade.

I think some of the most useful pieces of advice are to sit on the query for 1-7 nights and then look at it again. I've done this and keep finding ways to change it every time I look at it.

Also, printing it out. It's amazing to me, as I have been working on my first manuscript, how very very different it reads when you have a tangible copy in your hands. What sounds good on the monitor does not read out so well on paper. What a massive difference!

I can't help but wonder - how many of these queries I've been reading back over the past few years actually ended up as published books with a major publishing house?

I think I need to Google more.

Stephanie Barr said...

Rev 3 - The best part of this query for me has always been the voice.

I'm glad she managed to infuse the whole query with it.

I like the finished product. I hope your book has the same quality to it.

Good for you.

Word verification: qualeti

Jane Marie said...

Well, I wanna read that! The thing that IS overdone is where the girl sees her mother's face in a portrait and it really is some ancestor, and the ghost of that ancestor is haunting the place, yada yada yada...but to look at the portrait and it really IS her mother, now that's an original idea. I would read it.