Sunday, December 7, 2014


Dear Query Shark,

Thirteen-year-old Stevie Blake shoots lightning at 1.21 gigawatts per bolt. He supercharges iPhones into iDuds just by touching them. He even flies. (Landing is a whole different story.)

But by the end of summer, he won’t exist.

His dad’s former sidekick, Artimus Smiles, has stolen a time machine and is using it to alter history. Suddenly, the good people of Summer Springs can’t remember a time when Smiles wasn’t the richest and most powerful Remarkable around, and they’re forgetting Stevie.

This is a weak closing line to a paragraph. Either end it on "most powerful  Remarkable around" or make "they're forgetting Stevie" a separate sentence (you can add something to that sentence for punch like "what's worse"etc.)

In the name of the greater good, Stevie breaks a few of the Superhero Handbook ™ rules to find out what Smiles is up to. Unfortunately, breaking-and-entering isn’t legal, not even when spying on a super villain wanna-be. Neither is stealing a Memory Serum so that Stevie’s cousins will remember him. But soon Stevie uncovers a connection between his dad’s past and Smiles’ present. A sinister connection, straight from a comic book, that could zap Stevie’s shot at a future.

But time is against Stevie, literally. His powers are weakening, he’s fading from pictures, and he could disappear any day. He must travel in time, Marty McFly style, and stop Smiles from erasing him from existence, even if it means altering history himself.

THE REMARKABLE STEVIE BLAKE AND THE TIME TRAVELER is a 68,000 word upper middle grade novel with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Matthew Cody’s Powerless and John David Anderson’s Sidekicked. I hold a BFA in Creative Writing, but unfortunately I possess no superpowers.

(I think your superpower might be writing query letters.)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Question: I've seen several agents say they're searching for works about people of color and/or by people of color. My MC is a person of color, and I'm a person of color. Should this be conveyed somehow during the querying process?

Clearly, the story stands on its own without mention of race or ethnicity, but you do want to convey that to the agent reading the query because you're right: we DO want those books.  This is a piece of information NOT related to the story, so you'll put it at the close, the same place you'd put your writing credits.

For example: Recently I've seen several agents say they're searching for works about people of color and/or by people of color. My MC is a person of color, and I'm a person of color. I hold a BFA in Creative Writing, but unfortunately I possess no superpowers. 

This is an absolutely splendid query and I think with a few minor tweaks it's ready to go.

Good luck on the query process (and let us know how it works out!)


Nora said...

Bravo! Really, I like it. Biggest quibble I have is the second paragraph seems a bit redundant between saying he's breaking some rules and then saying that what he is doing is illegal.

AJ Blythe said...

Sounds like something my kids would love to read! My only comment is that as soon as I read the name 'Artimus Smiles' I thought of 'Artimus Fowl' - which my kids also love.

Now, I have no idea what age group 'upper middle school' is (not a name we use in Australia and I write for adults, not kids), so maybe they are aimed at different age groups?

Ardenwolfe said...

Damn . . . now that's a winning query. Sounds like an outstanding, and timely, book to boot. Agents should snag you in no time . . . pun intended. ;)

bass said...

As a huge Back to the Future fan, I would buy this baby in a heartbeat! I hope this gets published soon because I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Shawna said...

Sounds like a fun book.

Question about the person-of-color point: If someone isn't a POC but they do have a POC main character, should they slip a line like that in there too? Or is it less interesting to the agent if the author isn't a POC? Also, is this more true of certain genres than others?

E.Maree said...

Love this!

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

Great query and sounds like a fun book. My quibble(we all have a quibble, right?) is the Marty McFly reference at the end. Sure, it's a classic time travel reference, but even the third of the three movies is just shy of a quarter century old. I've always thought pop culture references should be at least *somewhat* current.
But I'll be waiting for word that your story's been released by a publisher.

Elissa M said...

I think this is a great query. I love that the MC is a person of color--but that it's not even relevant to the story. This will appeal to all kinds of kids regardless of their backgrounds.

I have to disagree with John "Ol' Chumbucket" on the Marty McFly reference. Marty was my first thought when I read the part about fading from photographs. I think most, if not all, agents will have knowledge of the "Back to the Future" movies, and will find the photo-fading issue familiar. By outright mentioning Marty in the query, the author is acknowledging their own familiarity with the movies.

In any case, this sounds like a great book, and the query makes me think the author knows how to write. I suspect the author will have a pick of agents clamoring to sign them--and hopefully a bevy of publishers wanting to take on the book.

A.C. Thomas said...

Wow! I am still stunned and truly humbled by the responses. Thank you all so much.

Nora, thank you for pointing that out. That crossed my mind too, and I'm surprised the Shark didn't mention it. I may tweak that paragraph a bit so it’s not redundant.

AJ Blythe, you're the second person to point out the Artemis Fowl reference lol, but thank you! And Upper Middle Grade mostly refers to 12-14 year olds. Some people just say middle grade for all of it though.

Ardenwolfe, thank you. I won't be querying until March. I have some revisions to make to the book. I want to make sure it's just as good as the query letter.

Bass, thank you! I hope it does too :-)

Shawna, thank you! It’s been fun to write.

E. Maree, thank you!

John “Ol’ Chumbucket,” the Marty McFly thing is another thing I struggled with as well, but my gut tells me to keep it. I still appreciate the insight though. And thank you for the vote of confidence regarding a publisher:-)

Thank you, Elissa! I hope it will appeal to kids of all backgrounds. Children’s books desperately need more diversity. Thank you for the compliments as well. I hope to have an update in the 2015 regarding an agent. I won’t be querying until March.

Again, thank you all. Your comments are truly appreciated.

mhleader said...

You know...I don't read middle grade books--no kids except hyperactive teenage cat. But I am DYING to read this book! That's how good this query is.

Not an agent, but this query is smashing IMO!

I sure hope this brings the author a stupendously fabulous agent and a HUGE book contract for a series! Best of luck! (Hey, it's the holiday season when miracles do happen!)

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I don't read MC or much fantasy but I'd love to read your book.

Anonymous said...

I loved Sidekicked, and I want this book in my hand NOW!

Theresa Milstein said...

I read Sidekicked, and I totally get the comparison. I love the voice in this query, and I'd love to read this book. No doubt if your manuscript is as good as your query that you'll get an offer. Good luck!

A.C. Thomas said...

Hey everyone! It's been a while, but I have an update: I am now represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency. Although this query resulted in a lot of full requests, ultimately it was another manuscript that hooked Brooks. I used the information on Query Shark to write the query for the second manuscript (of course) and received multiple offers of rep.

This blog truly works, and I am proof of it.

Thanks for all of the well wishes!

Gypmar said...

That is awesome. Thanks for reporting back, and congratulations!