Sunday, November 27, 2016

#285-Revised once

First revision
Dear Query Shark:
Eleven-year-old Emma Slate doesn't know she is the last guardian of magic. Not, that is, until her new stepbrother,  Jack, pulls her into the Shadowlands (even he doesn't know how he did it, and please-stop-asking-so-many-questions). There, Emma discovers a world peopled with skyscraper giants, fairies who love math, and tours a house filled with escaped book characters.

For the first time in her life, Emma belongs somewhere, as she discovers friends and her own growing magic.

When a half-human witch steals the Iris, it could mean the end of magic and the loss of everyone she Emmaloves, unless Emma she finds it in seven days. If she doesn't, the witch's (probably smelly) minions will feed on Emma's soul. Forever. You know what sounds even more impossible? Emma must work with Jack, come to grips with her mom's death, and confront her ideas of what it means to be family.

THE SHADOWLANDS, middle grade fantasy, is 83,169 words.

This is my first novel, though I have been featured on Blog Her twice. I drew on experiences raising a child with selective mutism in writing my main character, who shares this trait.

I currently attempt to shepherd five book-hungry children as a single mom. In my spare time (term used loosely), I commandeer various sea- and un-sea worthy vessels down the Snake River.

I love this bio. It's fun, it's interesting, and I want to go zipping down the Snake River with you.

Thank you for your consideration,

 This is so much better I'm in awe. 
I think you would have caught the minor revisions if you'd let this sit another week or so. 

Pare out everything you don't need. All the theres, howevers and buts. End on a climactic note. Don't try to stuff everything in the query.

I like this a lot.

Honestly, I'd probably read pages based on the bio alone. I know that will make all the non-Snake River wranglers moan with despair, but it's true. An interesting bio is a powerful tool.

Dear Query Shark,

Hi, I'm Emma Slate. (this is where I'd stop reading) I was born in the New York Public Library, where the magic leaked out of the books and into me. At least, that’s what I suspect. One thing’s for sure—I never knew how fully words would become my gift and my curse.

If I hadn't stopped reading after the first sentence, I'd stop here.

"Hi I'm Felix Buttonweezer" is a huge red flag. It screams inexperienced writer. It's how we wrote letters in the fourth grade.  It's almost always followed by a description of a book I don't want to read.

And frankly, it's bad writing.

Don't start your letter with Hi I'm (your name)

And what's worse is that what follows makes it clear this is not actually the writer.
It's the character.

Do not EVER write your query in the voice of your character. It's not fresh and new and fun. It's gimmicky.

I wish someone had warned me.

It started the day I almost hitchhiked to Poland, when I learned my dad had married a woman I’d never met. In Brussels, of all places. Could there be a worse combo than Brussels sprouts and stepmoms? Poland was definitely an option.

You'll notice there's nothing about the New York Public Library here which is why even if I hadn't stopped reading by now I'd be confused here. That is not what you want.

Then my stepbrother Jack woke me one night in the Shadowlands, which changed everything. I befriended a troll, met the Runaway River, and toured a house filled with escaped book characters. Jack says I’m the last guardian of magic.

Notice that Dad and stepmom have fallen out of the picture?
At this point I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt**

Thing is: we only have seven days to save the Shadowlands before it’s overrun with the soul-feeding, despair-filling (probably smelly) Hadrelenus. You know what sounds even more impossible? I’ll have to work with Jack, come to grips with my mom’s death, and figure out where I belong.

Because I have an obtuse narrator breathing down my neck, I’ll tell you the boring part.

THE SHADOWLANDS is 85,000 words, and, even though said narrator thinks it’s middle grade fiction, I’m telling you, this stuff happened.

This is Ms. Blackwell’s first novel, though she has been featured on Blog Her from time to time. In her spare time, Ms. Blackwell corrals five book-hungry children and commandeers various vessels down the Snake River.

She took my tale to the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference, where some book-loving types like Heidi Taylor (Shadow Mountain) and David Farland showed interest in her work. She was personally mentored by David Farland. Diann Read provided professional editing, and a critique group provided snacks.

These are not writing credentials. These are nice things that happened to you and your work. I'm glad they happened, but I don't care. How your book came to be doesn't matter. The story matters, and I have no idea what the story is here.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Repent. Revise. Resend.

**This is one of Truvy's lines from Steel Magnolias