Friday, December 12, 2008


Dear Query Shark:

Narissa is a lot of things—smart, outspoken, thick-skinned—but above all else she's dependable. She's spent half her life caring for her younger sister. Until now. After all, it's kind of hard to take care of someone when you're in another dimension.

No one meant for Narissa to be lifted into this dimension. There's a gateway connecting the worlds, but no one knows where it is. Determined to get back to her sister, Narissa sets out to locate the elusive gate. As she begins her search, Narissa finds herself the object of unwanted attention and gossip, which escalate as people begin to notice the way she's captured the interest of one of their leaders - prickly, reclusive Daman.

Even as she searches for her way home, Narissa finds herself attracted to life in this new dimension. She has friends here, and people who love her. Narissa faces a choice she's never considered before: should she continue putting her responsibilities to her sister first, or allow herself to have the life she really wants?

My young adult fantasy, The Refuge, is complete at 84,000 words. It's the first installment of a planned trilogy, yet is quite capable of standing on its own. The Refuge is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Well, this works for me.
I'd read the first five pages or so to get a sense of the writing.
Nice job.


Unknown said...


And I'm glad to see these queries. I've been going back and forth about whether to start out with the dry info like genre, word count, etc. (Just the facts, ma'am), or start out with a much more intriguing hook. Judging from this--start with the plot. (It's something I already mostly knew from the archives, I just sometimes forget about that as it looks so weird and is counter to how I normally write business letters)

BonnieA said...

Welcome back!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Interesting. I never thought of using most of the query letter for the novel. I've always scrupulously divided it up into paragraph 1 for why I'm querying that agent, paragraph 2 to describe the novel and so on.

Much better to catch the interest of the agent first, and put the basic facts about everything else in one short end paragraph.

Lehcarjt said...

I liked the question at the center of the query: that the heroine must chose between a new, exciting life and taking care of her sister.

I didn't find the writing very exciting though. It didn't sparkle to me. Although Narissa is interesting she doesn't have a huge amount of personality. Same goes with the 'dimension.' I'd like a hint and a nudge on what makes both of them special and different. Describing Narissa as dependable makes her seem boring rather than exciting.

Rebecca McKinnon said...

Thank you so much for looking at my query!!
Honestly, I expected to be told it didn't make any sense...I'd gotten so close to it I thought it might only make sense because I know the whole story.

About Me said...

I agree... this query get's to the point, lays out the stakes, and it's well-written. Good job, Becky.

And welcome back Query Shark! :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Welcome back, Query Shark!

I like this query. It might not be exciting, but it is clean and clear. I got what the story is about and the writing flows well.

Hopefully the first couple of pages are exciting and draw the reader in.

The Geeky Quill said...

I think I get it now. The query isn't like the back cover of a book. You don't write to the agent in the same way you'd write an ad for a book.

But, do agents want to know all the secrets? This query doesn't tell what Narissa ultimately decides.

talpianna said...

It's definitely appealing, but I'd like to know more about this new dimension: how it differs from ours (which I assume she's from) and why she's more successful there.

And it seems people WOULD notice her before some guy gets interested in her, seeing as she's out of place and often must be lost and confused.

Also, ages are important here. "Narissa" (and the usual form of the name is "Nerissa") has spent half her life caring for her sister: it makes a difference to her sister's need for her if Nerissa is twenty or fifty-five.

But it still draws me in.

WV: rapion--date-rape drug used in swashbucklers

none said...

Oh, I'm liking this. A genuine conflict that doesn't involve killing people. Sell that book!

Liana Brooks said...

Author- Tight query but the story doesn't quite capture me. Do the dimensions have names? Or descriptions? I don't get a sense of where she is, although the tension between one choice and the other is very well done.

Anonymous said...

This is a great example of everything a query should be. Stakes? Yes, both personal and public. Do I feel sympathetic for Narissa? Yes. Taking care of someone else is a form of self-sacrifice. I don't think this particular query needs the name of the dimension or description. It serves little purpose here. I would read this.