Sunday, June 28, 2020


“That roof is the wrong shape to talk to God.”

Chloe Reed hears this inside her head when she looks up in a coffeeshop, her house, her church, everywhere she goes. And the strange, static-laden voice is getting louder with each repetition.

It tells her she’s been chosen to build a correctly shaped roof.

Chloe bounces between thinking she’s going insane and hoping she’s been singled out to talk to God. She needs it to be the latter. She needs to know God loves her, that anyone loves her. She needs to know why her own father doesn’t even want to be in the same room as her.

She builds the roof and puts it on a shed in her backyard. She steps inside. The distorted voice that had been confined to her head crackles down at her from the roof. Chloe prostrates herself on the wooden floorboards.

The voice tells her it’s God. It tells her it has a plan and it needs her help. But it’s not the God she was expecting. This one doesn’t know who Jesus is.

Chloe must find out if the voice belongs to God. If it does, Chloe finally has concrete proof that she’s worthy of love. She finally has a way to get all the answers.

But the voice wants more than her faith. It wants all of humanity to believe. It wants total control. And it needs Chloe to get it.

CHLOE’S ROOF (80,200 words) is a work of speculative fiction. This would be my debut.

Put your comps here. Yes, you need them.
Put your bio here. Yes, you need one.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
This is clear, concise, well-written.
It works for me, I'd read the pages.

But, this is not going to appeal to every agent.
Which means even a clear, concise, well-written query is going to get some passes. 

Any questions?


Sunday, April 5, 2020


Revision #1

Cinis Munimoh ripped her best friend’s teeth out on purpose, uttering thanks when the favor was returned.
As first sentences go, that's pretty eyecatching.
Horrifying but eye catching.
Mirroring her caretakers, Cinis clipped her horns, shed her skin, and seasoned her disguise with contacts, hiding her misshapen pupils. The 21 survivors of Amarith were no more. Now, they were just normal people walking the Earth, impersonating the very thing responsible for their downfall: humans.
I don't know what Amarith is, but at this point, I don't really care. I'm not going to stop reading to wonder about anything.

Even shrouded in disguise, the Amarithians are hunted down, struggling to survive and preserve their race.
This sentence doesn't connect to the next one. It's a good sentence, but it just doesn't fit well here. Thus: chop.
But Cinis craves more than mere survival. She longs  longing for the day she can rebuild her planet. that fell to humanity.
We know that her planet fell. That it fell to humanity is something the reader will intuit.  And that lets you cut that last part which improves the rhythm of the sentence.
 Just before Cinis loses hope of preserving her kind, she meets Sebastian, who reveals that

Then she learns Amarith wasn't destroyed.
I have a thing about main characters being told things. It's so passive.
Putting it as she learned makes it more dynamic.

In fact, hundreds of Amarithians and humans alike are held captive there, forced to harvest resources that Earth can no longer could provide. Now, Cin and her friends must find a way to liberate Amarith without blocking Earth from resources and triggering the extinction of thousands of species.

My science fiction novel, Human (115,000 words), is the first in a planned series. The work takes on the point of view of several characters, all of whom keep “war logs”, through which the story is told.
In a query like this it's important to say this novel can stand alone. It can, right?
Although most book deals have been for two or three books in the past, we're coming into a new norm, and single book deals may be one of the changes.

I’ve always been an advocate for the I'm active in the fight against climate change, and my fascination with the environment only aids my writing as ideals of preservation and human pollution can be traced throughout my work. Human is my first novel.

Thank you for your consideration.


Is my bio too long? I've been struggling with it since I don't have any credentials or formal education as of the moment, but I do have some things I felt were important to mention.

Too long? It's barely there!
A good bio gives us (the reading agent) a sense of who you are.  You can mention pets, where you live, what you do when you need inspiration, your favorite kind of shark..anything that warms up the intro.

Telling us what you care about is fine, but it shouldn't be the only thing here.

Original query

Dear Query Shark,

Cinis was eating breakfast when the first bomb hit.
This seems like one of those sentences that should work, doesn't it?
But it doesn't really. Cause everyone is doing something when the bombs hit.
Breakfast is as good as any.
A good first sentence in a query needs to grab your reader's attention and makes them wonder "what will happen now?"
You've got a pretty good candidate for that kind of sentence. It's the last one in the paragraph

Everybody was caught off guard, sure, but they knew the attack would come sooner or later; the Humans had known about Amarith for decades now. But the day had finally arrived:
This one: The Humans had come, and they had not come in peace.

Cinis and twenty other Amarithians were forced to flee. With nowhere else to go, they ran to Earth,
this is a classic example of saying the same thing twice, albeit in different words.
fleeing and running are the same thing here.
You can revise this sentence:
With nowhere else to go, Cinis and twenty other Amarithians were forced to flee to Earth
 hoping to hide in plain sight.

Eight years have passed, and later, just before Cin loses has lost all hope of returning to her planet, a new friend reveals life-changing information.

 what is the info?

Now, Cin and her friends must make a decision, one that could decide the fate of two planets, and all who inhabit them.

What's the decision?

My science fiction novel, Human (115,000 words), is the first in a planned series. The work takes on the point of view of several characters, all of whom keep “war logs”, through which the story is told.

I’m a staff member of a popular (name) server which has over 500 members dedicated to reading and discussing each other’s work.

This is another one of those things that sound good, but my first question is do they BUY the books of the members? Discuss all you want, but you don't get paid (me either) until a book has a sales slip.

I’ve always been an advocate for the fight against climate change, and my fascination with the environment only aids my writing as ideals of preservation and human pollution can be traced throughout my work. I also would like to point out my unique position as both a member of the LGBT community, and a woman, making this novel a #ownvoices contributor, as several main characters share one or both of these traits.
You're not the only (ie unique) woman who's part of the LGBT community. Saying this makes me think you don't understand what unique means.

Words are your tools.
If you keep hitting your thumb with a hammer, I'm not hiring you to hang sheetrock.
Thank you for your consideration.


There isn't enough here to catch your reader's interest. It's all pretty bland, and that is death in a query. A horrible beige death of zero cuts.

There's no sense of drama or tension because you've said they get info, but not what it is, and have to make a decision, but not what that is.

Dig in. Be specific. Use vibrant language. And use it well.

**if you saw the post before Sunday 4/5/20 at noon, 
and perhaps commented, 
that was an early draft posted in error. 
Comments were deleted.

Sunday, March 29, 2020



1.) I know you said that mentioning my self-publishing published novels (despite the tens of books I sold) is a no-go, but honestly, those are the closest things to writing credits I have. Is having no writing credits better than pointing out my two independent novels?

Self publishing isn't a writing credit.
Writing credits are when your work is selected by someone else for publication.

Not having writing credits isn't a problem in fiction.
Having two books in three years with a total of 21 Amazon reviews however IS.

You can take them down from Amazon and not mention them in your query, OR wait to query until you get some additonal reviews up there.  More as in 50 or so.

2.) I'm cautious on if mentioning that I'm a recent college grad in my bio will help or hurt me.
Your email with a .edu suffix pretty much lets the cat out of the bag.
It's not a problem that you're a recent grad. (Also, congrats!)

Dear Query Shark:

Three years ago, the notorious rock star Jon Cameron loved slinging heroin in his veins

Slinging heroin means selling it.
At least it did the last time I looked which was when I was mainlining The Wire.
So, what you've said here is he's selling heroin in his veins.
You've pulled me out of the narrative and made me wonder if you used the wrong word, or this is some kind of weird new way to sell heroin.

In either case, pulling your reader out of the  narrative is something to be avoided at all costs.

more than he loved screaming the F-bomb on stage. That stopped the night Jon handed his brother and best friend, Carter, a needle and watched him die of an overdose. Today, Jon's sober, has quit touring with his renowned rock band, and has started a foundation in honor of Carter. No matter what he does, though, his brother's death clings to Jon like a cancer.

You can solve this entire problem by ditching the first paragraph and starting here:

Former notorious rock star Jon Cameron lJon gets an invitation from Nebulova, the electronics company that controls its billions of customers like a skilled puppeteer. The technology juggernaut is, apparently, about to revolutionize the video game industry by releasing its first virtual-reality gaming system. To flex its "reality-defying" VR system's muscles, Nebulova invites eleven celebrities to compete in a nationally broadcasted video game tournament -- the Eros Levels.

Yeah, woohoo, sounds cool and all, but what does Jon get if he wins? $10 million for the foundation he set up for his brother who died of an overdose. An overdose Jon gave him. And when Jon learns that his ex-girlfriend, the captivating R&B icon Nia Vermilion, is also invited, he can't say "yes" fast enough.

Well, at least it's not bombshell or gorgeous, or drop dead beauty, but it's damn close.
Describing female characters by their appearance is an increasing red flag. Avoid doing this.

Once Jon, Nia, and the other nine celebrities are inside the Eros Levels, Nebulova unveils its true intentions. For years, Nebulova has been using its powerful technology to secretly record everything its customers say – and think. Nebulova knows that each of the eleven celebrities has a sinister, violent, and well-hidden secret that has ruined – and ended – lives. Now, the Eros Levels will be their punishment: lose in the Eros Levels, and die in real-life. The winner gets the prize of being the only one spared.

You've revealed here what Jon's secret is. He killed his brother.
You might consider NOT revealing that here in the query.
If we don't know what Jon's secret is, you create tension. We wonder what it is, and read on to find out more.

One of the biggest problems I see is writers giving away too much, both in the query, and in the first pages of the book.  NOT knowing things builds tension, which builds interest.

Jon can either fight to win the Eros Levels – which would mean watching Nia, the only girl he's ever loved, die – or let his brother's death finally kill him.

THE EROS LEVELS (109,000 words) is a science-fiction novel complete with 109,000 words. THE EROS LEVELS  that will appeal to fans of Blake Crouch's visual writing style and Ernie Cline's creative world-building. I'm a recent college graduate that, Unlike my rock star protagonist, I do does not play guitar and scream F-bombs for a living (I only do the latter part-time). However, we both share the same inane love for Arnold Palmer drinks.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

This redirects to Facebook. It's not really a website as such.
You (and all authors) should have an actual website with your contact info, your bio, and pictures of your dog and your published works if you have them and want to mention them. Also, links to your social meda like Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. When I say link, I mean the icons that you click on, not a URL.