Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Query Revision 12: Redux

Original critique here.

Hi! I've been "wrenching on my ride" and hopefully this can pass inspection. Thanks for giving it a look - Author

Dear Agent,

Alamandine “Mandi” Croach may be next in line for the crown of the Star Court in Faelyn. Her younger half-brother has been kidnapped and even the strongest seekers cannot find him.

But she doesn't know any of that. Her parents are dead, and though she and her full-fae aunt run a magical jewelry store in Philadelphia, she isn't much more than a Tufts-educated checkout girl. She knows that she is half-faery, but with no magic and only one messenger as a connection to the faery homeland- it doesn't mean much to her.

At least, it doesn't until she is dragged to Faelyn. Under the pretense she is a suspect in her brother's disappearance Mandi becomes pawn in a political game she doesn't understand. Mandi is asked to fetch a weapon, but gets much more.She gains access to her powers and to the true memory of the night her father was drowned when the binding spells that hold her are removed.

The more Mandi pokes around, the more obvious it becomes that faery politics are dirtier than even Philadelphia has seen, and she doesn't know who she can trust. Whoever had her father killed is also responsible for the prince's kidnapping and she needs to find out who is behind both crimes and what they have planned for her.

ALAMANDINE'S SONG is a 90,000 word adult urban fantasy that mixes adventure, humor and romance.

Comments

Overall, I'm really liking the direction is going! I was caught short by the startling revelation at the end, though, so which aspect of the story and voice in the book that you want to bring out most in the query may be something to think about.

Alamandine “Mandi” Croach may be next in line for the crown of the Star Court in Faelyn. Her younger half-brother has been kidnapped and even the strongest seekers cannot find him.

Since Mandi doesn't know these things, this is is the authorial voice and the author and the rules of succession would dictate whether Mandi is next in line or not, right? So it's not a question that she "may" be next in line, but that she may be called to the crown soon if her bro can't be found. 

But she doesn't know any of that. Her parents are dead, and though she and her full-fae aunt run a magical jewelry store in Philadelphia, she isn't much more than a Tufts-educated checkout girl. She knows that she is half-faery, but with no magic and only one messenger as a connection to the faery homeland- it doesn't mean much to her.

The "one messenger" muddles things here as it isn't explained and could, in a cold reading, come across as meaning the aunt. Unless the messenger is a love interest, you can delete him. If he is a love interest, we need to know more about him.

At least, it doesn't until she is dragged to Faelyn. Under the pretense she is a suspect in her brother's disappearance, Mandi becomes pawn in a political game she doesn't understand. Mandi is asked to fetch a weapon, but gets much more. She gains access to her powers and to the true memory of the night her father was drowned when the binding spells that hold her are removed.

I got a little lost in this paragraph. A suspect is asked to fetch a weapon? It's likely well explained in the book but as presented, this doesn't seem reasonable. The "binding spells" come a bit out of nowhere, too. Perhaps allude to those in the previous paragraph: "... but with no magic and no memory of the short time she spent in Faelyn -- and with a few strong binding spells imposed on her to keep it that way -- she ... "

The more Mandi pokes around, the more obvious it becomes that faery politics are dirtier than even Philadelphia has seen,

... are even dirtier than Philadelphia's sordid games ... (or if you infuse a lighter touch in the query, maybe "are even dirtier that Philly's own political laundry/unmentionables")

and she doesn't know who she can trust. Whoever had her father killed is also responsible for the prince's kidnapping and she needs to find out who is behind both crimes and what they have planned for her.

If you do go lighter in the query, maybe "... who is behind both crimes before they turn her into so much fairy dust."

ALAMANDINE'S SONG is a 90,000 word adult urban fantasy that mixes adventure, humor and romance.

Oops. Humor and romance? Nothing in this query seems to indicate the story goes in either of those directions. I think if these are strong selling points for you, then you'll need to give a bit of an indication and bring back the love interest in the query and go with a lighter voice in the query. As it is, I'm expecting to see a dark political suspense.

11 comments:

LSimon said...

Yeah, I'm having a hard time with the tone. The story is pretty rough and tumble- violence and politics- but the character is funny. I have considered writing it in the first person....but that is a scary road, fraught with cheesiness.

Hmmm......

Michelle said...

At least, it doesn't until she is dragged to Faelyn.

When you say this it takes away from the urban fantasy genre. It makes it feel like the rest of the story happens in Faelyn instead of Philly. Try using dragged into the midst of the struggle over sucession.

I agree you need something to prove the romance. Try adding an adjective to messenger such as sexy, or attractive.

Also try forced or some other word such as tricked, instead of 'asked to fetch a weapon'. Asked is too tame.

'what they have planned for her" also is too vague.

_*rachel*_ said...

I'm with Phoenix on the messenger bit and the next paragraph. And I'd delete "that mixes adventure, humor and romance." Other than that, I like it!

LSimon said...

Ok...I may be the most obnoxious person ever... but if you could let me think of this...

To say that Alamandine “Mandi” Croach takes life as it comes would be an understatement. She chose her college because that was where her father taught before he died. Her mother left her a jewelry store, so that is where she works. She accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her aunt's abilities and eccentricities or the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life.

All that "going with the flow" starts to dry up when secrets and lies start floating to the surface. Mandi isn't without magic- she has had her powers blocked. Her father didn't drown- he was murdered. Her mother isn't dead- she is ruling as Queen of the Star Court in Faelyn and since the line of royalty is carried by the female line, Mandi may be in line to be queen. The half-brother she never knew existed has been kidnapped, and all the evidence indicates that her father's murderer is responsible.

When faeries start showing up in Philadelphia asking her for favors and messing with her life; her first thought is to play dumb and weak. To let it be water under the bridge. That would be simpler and far safer.

Someone is eliminating possible heirs to the Star Court's throne, but that same someone killed her father. Can she really ignore the fact that her father's killer is still out there and has stolen a fourteen year old boy? When Mandi is freed from her magical block, she finds that she has the tools to take on her own life- but taking on a deranged faery is a leap.

Getting involved in faery politics is dangerous-and all the lies have left her not knowing who to believe. She decides to have faith Hayune, her faery messenger, and step into the deep-end. For Mandi, both her life and heart are on the line and it's sink or swim.

Michelle Massaro said...

The first half of your updated query is good. Then it starts to lose ground and sound synops-y. Plus it's a little long. Let me give it a whirl:

To say that Alamandine “Mandi” Croach takes life as it comes would be an understatement. She chose her college because that was where her father taught before he died. Her mother left her a jewelry store, so that is where she works. She accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her aunt's abilities and eccentricities or the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life.

All that "going with the flow" starts to dry up when secrets and lies start floating to the surface. Mandi isn't without magic- she has had her powers blocked. Her father didn't drown- he was murdered. Her mother isn't dead- she is ruling as Queen of the Star Court in Faelyn- and since the line of royalty is passed down through the women's side, Mandi may be heir to the throne. The half-brother she never knew existed has been kidnapped, and all the evidence indicates that her father's murderer is responsible.

When Mandi is freed from her magical mental block, she finds that getting involved in faery politics is dangerous. But Hayune- her handsome faery messenger- earns her trust and she decides to step into the deep end. For Mandi, both her life and heart are on the line- and it's sink or swim.
***

I think this is much better. You don't need all the plot you were providing- just enough to set the tone of the book and give us a sense of the stakes for Mandi. The love interest is highlighted now, and the political dangers are clearer.

Anyone care to add?

Anonymous said...

Hi Writer,
Please dont listen to me bit I'd start here:

When faeries start showing up in Philadelphia asking Mandi for favors and messing with her life, her first thought is to play dumb and weak. uch simpler and far safer.

Listen to Divine Miss P and good luck. Want the revision,
Best,
Bibi

Phoenix said...

I think Michelle did a great edit! There are only a couple of places where I think stronger word choices would be more effective:

All that "going with the flow" starts to dry up when secrets and lies start floating to the surface.

Maybe something like:
When faeries start showing up in Philly asking for favors, Mandi learns that life she's accepted -- it's all built on lies.

(If you mention Philly here, though, you'll want to probably add "jewelry store in Philadelphia" to the first 'graph.)

...she decides to step into the deep end.

I would just change "step" to "dive" or "jump" or something a little more active.

Otherwise, I think it's time to stop tinkering and time to start submitting!

LSimon said...

"Otherwise, I think it's time to stop tinkering and time to start submitting!"

Day officially made!

LSimon said...

So, I started sending it out...5 rejections later...I'm feeling like maybe some tweaking is in order????

Phoenix said...

It seems a common litany these days. I just responded to something similar in the comments for Query Revision 18. Take a peek. Meanwhile, I'm off to ask EE if he has any insights.

LSimon said...

You are my hero