Saturday, June 7, 2008


Dear Query Shark:

No one understands Angela Mitchell; not her neighbors, not her co-workers, not even her slightly twisted younger brother. So, when Stephon Barker – his hair slick and his smell funny – shows up on her front porch, Angela thinks she's found a kindred spirit; a partner not only in bed, but in murder, too. Unfortunately, Stephon's overly-enthusiastic penchant for killingbecomes quickly becomes irritating and challenges Angela's patience as well as her more methodical style. Knowing she must resolve the situation, she decides to take drastic action. But no matter what technique she employs, getting rid of her new boyfriend turns out to be much more difficult than simple murder.

First, when you start mentioning younger brothers, I think this is a YA novel. I'm not sure why, but younger brothers are a fixture of YA. Since the younger brother never makes an appearance in the query again, I suggest you change this to family, even if her younger brother is her only family.

I also don't get the segue from people don't understand her to murder.

I hope you might consider representing Knives in the Basement It is a 93,000 word paranormal thriller. No vampires are employed in the story, but ghosts and beings from other dimensions accompany the protagonist (a killer though she may be) on her journey.

My education degree is from the University of Iowa, though I've spent most of my career in newspaper advertising.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


This query isn't quite a mess but I'd read the pages just cause you have the one thing I look for more than anything: voice. I'll bitch from now till the cats start waltzing around the kitchen with the cows who've come home about punctuation grammar and diction, but I can fix all that, and I WILL, if you've got a great voice.


Cassiel Knight said...

Ms. Reid, you may not see this but I was wondering, what did you like about this voice? A light touch of humor? A sarcastic bite? The fact it feels as if it's a talking query?

I love that you do these things. Thank you very much!

Unknown said...

I'm with Kim...could someone clarify how this query had great voice???

Lehcarjt said...

This seemed like it did a good job of getting the characters and story across to me. I feel like I have a good handle on what to expect from the book.

My problem is that I can't imagine a story based on the exploration of what type of murder is acceptable / unacceptable. They are murdering people, right? As a reader, I just don't think I'd want to read this.

However, if you substitute 'murder' for something more appealing (I have no idea what that would be, just saying...) I'd give this a big thumbs up. said...

I think Janet was tipping the Scotch bottle when she read this one. I don't hear anything great about the voice. It's not bad, by any means, but it's not particularly distinctive, either, imho.

What really bothers me, though, is that the hook is a mess. What is this story about? What is Angela's age? She sounds like a preteen, too young to be hopping into bed with some guy. Personally, I don't care if she sleeps with the entire 7th Fleet, but if I had a preteen daughter who was going to read this, I probably would care.

What makes Stephon's "overly-enthusiastic penchant for killing" any worse than Angela's "methodical" style? I have to like the characters I read about, and I don't think you're going to convince me to like a pair of murderers.

And finally, as Janet told me in my query, if it's paranormal (or in my case, supernatural), let us know that much sooner.

DeadlyAccurate said...

What'd I found myself wondering is, what sort of killers are they? For hire? Serial? Or do they just engage in random acts of violence (sort of like in Natural Born Killers?)

I also don't understand where the paranormal elements fit into the story.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the part about the waltzing cats. said...

This popped up in my mailbox because someone added a comment to it just now. I see that I left a comment, and when I reread it, I think *I* must have been tipping the Scotch bottle when I wrote it. The query does have a good voice, and there's something catchy about it that I somehow missed the first time. Sorry about that, author! I hope you and all other new authors will remember that when it comes to criticism, a bad review may stem from nothing more than the critic's mood or their rotten day. It's been almost two years. How did this one turn out?