Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Query Revision 12 Redux: Redux

(My query post titling system seems to have run into a conundrum.)

Earlier revisions for ALAMANDINE'S SONG can be found here and here.

The author sent a revision this weekend, but the electrons had barely sorted themselves out for posting before the author sent a revised revision. She's really working to get this right. But is she working too hard?

Dear Agent:

Mandi's an orphaned faery princess. But for a chick pushing 30 and living in Philadelphia that means exactly squat . The only perk of the position is Hayune, her faery bodyguard, but after years of unrequited love she's (almost) over that, too.

Mandi has never garnered much interest from the residents of Faelyn, but suddenly she's real interesting to the Faery Court. No one will be straight with her, but she manages to learn a few things. One: Mom is very much alive and still the Queen. And two: the skanky lake creature with big boobs and malicious intentions that killed her dad just kidnapped the brother she didn't know she had.

Mandi forces Hayune to give her a crash course in magic. But when the lake skank tries to drown Mandi, her body guard disappears. On her own she has to save her brother and keep him alive in the Human Realm until it's safe to take him back to Faelyn. Because someone--maybe Hayune--wants to take the throne and killing off both the Queen's children is the first step.

ALAMANDINE'S SONG is an adult urban fantasy, complete at 90,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration...

Comments

I'm no expert. All I have is opinion here, just like the rest of the critters chiming in. On my current sub, I've had 8 requests for the full (4 of which are still outstanding) plus another handful of requests for the partial. I've had 2 revision letters from agents. By that account, my query has been successful. Yet my request rate has only been about 12%. You do the math.

It's a tough market. A perfect storm of query, writing, and idea are needed to get a toe in these days. Revise the query, yes, but it may be the first pages you're sending with it that need tweaking. Or the idea isn't hook-y enough.

I didn't go back and read the earlier versions this time, but do you know what stands out for me about the story from an earlier draft or maybe your early comments? The idea of fairy politics being akin to the mob. Juxtaposing a mob-run fairy government against a Philly background made me go Wow! I sat up and took notice. I even tried to capitalize on that idea and infuse a little of that mob comparison/feeling into one of my revises.

I could be off base here, but I'm thinking you need something more raw and urban and different feeling to your story to make it stand out. As it is, from the bits you've chosen to reveal in your query versions, the concept doesn't really leap from the pages as being a lot different from all the other fae stories out there. And while you've played with your voice, it maybe doesn't sound quite authentic enough.

In this latest version, the voice sounds a little forced, but you're using it to carry the query. And hate me though you will as you've mentioned you will never give in to the YA craze, this latest query makes the story sound more YA than adult. IMO.

What does everyone else think?

11 comments:

vkw said...

I think the idea of a fairy kingdom being mob-like is interesting and unique. But, it's not coming through your query.

The voice sounds forced because it's not consistent.

e.g.
Mandi has never garnered muct interest from the residents of Faelyn but suddenly she's real interesting to the Faery Court.

Perhaps the voice would be more consistent if it went more like this:

Not one fairy in Faelyn gave a rat's ass about her until the court does this and this. Realizing no one is being straight with her, Mandy has to snoop things out for herself. First she learns mom is alive and still the queen. Then she learns she has a brother but before she can do much more than that he gets kidnapped by the skanky lake creature that killed her father.

LSimon said...

I'm ready to strap myself up in a straight jacket, find myself a nice padded cell and devote myself to some high quality gibbering.

Thing is, this is a really character driven book, but every time I come at the query from that POV, I get slammed one place or another for being boring or having too much backstory. I had a query that I really liked' but I didn't send it out because...(read above)

I know I'm obnoxious, and I can't please everyone...but still- this is getting frustrating!

Matt said...

Honestly, I got bored with the query about halfway through and skipped to the comments. But the mob angle...THAT got my attention. It's an interesting contrast, and if you were to open with that, I doubt I would bow out half way through.

However, Phoenix is right. You don't have to please me (I'm not into fairy stories). The important thing is that you have a query that accurately reflects your story, and if that doesn't work then the MS needs revising.

I remember Batgirl wrote she got an agent after a ton of rejections and only one request for full. No need to revise the query after every rejection.

Sarah Laurenson said...

There is a definite voice to this query that is completely different than the previous versions. Is this the same voice as the book? Sarcastic and breezy and, yes, very YA-ish?

It moves a little fast and that makes it a little clunky - forced perhaps - but that can be fixed in smoothing it out by adding a few more words here and there.

It's the voice of the query matching the voice of the book that I'm wondering about.

Phoenix said...

Here's the revision LSimon sent right before the one that posted. I got her permission to pop it in here in the comments.

I think it's a better version, but still has that lighter, more snarky tone to it, different than the first batches. Trying not to compare it to the first ones, what do YOU guys think of it?
_________

The orphaned daughter of a Faery Queen, Mandi Croach is the prototype for every lame fantasy novel ever written. Thing is, she has no interest. The only perk of the position is Hayune, her faery body guard, but after years of unrequited love she's (almost) over that, too. Pushing 30, she just wants as normal a life as Philadelphia can offer.

Turns out Mom's not dead, she's been ruling Faelyn and Daddy didn't just drown-- he was murdered. That, as they say, is a faery of a different color.

Mandi's half-brother is kidnapped and the evidence shows her father's murderer is responsible. She wants answers, and maybe a little revenge. Harnessing magic that she has never had access to, she discovers the plot goes a lot deeper than the death of her father and the snatching of her brother. Faeries are dangerous and there are other creatures at work as well. Mandi needs backup.

She turns to Hayune. He offers her help, protection and information. Showing her how to use her magic, together they overcome her fear of the water. He also lies to her, manipulates her and disappears when her life is danger. Can she trust the man she has loved since she was 12? Or is he part of the conspiracy to kill off both of the Queen's children and take the throne?

ALAMANDINE'S SONG is an urban fantasy novel in the same vein as Nicole Peeler's Jane True series. It is complete at 90,000 words.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It needs some minor tweaks, but I like this version.

There doesn't seem to be a transition from para 1 to para 2. It's a bit abrupt.

The second half is stronger than the first half and that might be a problem. Hard to say as the voice is there and does seem to carry it through.

I've never heard of Nicole Peeler's Jane True series and there are agents/editors who might be in the same position. Hard to say if this is helpful.

Here's my tweaked version:

The orphaned daughter of a Faery Queen, Mandi Croach is the prototype for every lame fantasy novel ever written. Except the only perk of her royal position is Hayune, her faery bodyguard. After years of unrequited love she's (almost) over that, too. Pushing 30, she settles in for as normal a life as Philadelphia can offer.

Instead she finds out Mom's not dead. She's been ruling Faelyn all these years. And Daddy didn't just drown-- he was murdered. That, as they say, is a faery of a different color.

Mandi's half-brother is kidnapped and the evidence shows her father's murderer is responsible. She wants answers, and maybe a little revenge. Harnessing magic that she never had access to before, she discovers the plot goes a lot deeper than the death of her father and the snatching of her brother. Faeries are dangerous and there are other creatures at work as well. Mandi needs backup.

Hayune offers her help, protection and information. He shows her how to use her magic, and together they overcome her fear of the water. He also lies to her, manipulates her and disappears when her life is danger. Can she trust the man she has loved since she was 12? Or is he part of the conspiracy to kill off both of the Queen's children and take the throne?

Phoenix said...

vkw:

Did you delete your latest comment here? I have it in my email. Blogger's been acting really weird for me this past week. If you didn't purposefully delete it and you don't mind, I'll post it back out here. I thought you made some really excellent observations!

vkw said...

Hi Phoenix,

I didn't purposely delete my ideas/opinions I posted here.

Blogger ate it and by the time I realized that I didn't think I could recreate it.

If you have it and you things its worth saving then you are more than welcome to post it.


vkw

vkw said...

PART 1

This last version is better, here's my tweak:

Pushing thirty, all Mandi Croach wants to do is live a normal life. Is that too much ask?

It may very well be because she's a fairy living in the human world with hunky Hayne as her bodyguard. After years of unrequited love she's (almost) over him and she finally feels like she has control of her life. (or whatever) That is until she learns her mother isn't dead but rather a queen in Faelyn and daddy didn't drown - he was murdered.

Then she learns her brother has been kidnapped by skanky lake-monster that killed her father and becomes determined not only to rescue him but get to the bottom of all this deception. And, if she gets a bit revenge - all the better.

Haynue helps her learn to use magic she's never been able to use before in the human realm. And, together they learn there is a lot more going on in fairy land than one dead daddy or king and one kidnapped brother.

As the plot unravels, Manid learns her home has more in common with Chicago gangsters than the happy-go lucky Tinker Bells they've been made out to be. Then things go from bad to worse when Hayune, her only ally, lies to her, manipulates her and disappears when her life is danger.

She finally has to admit that he can't be trusted as she unweaves the plan to kill off the royal family and take over the kingdom. Suddenly her search for answers becomes a (harrowing fight to survive, or mission impossible to save her family, the entire fairy people)

or something to that effect -

Phoenix said...

PART 2

Okay in this version, I thinks it better but it has three problems: In my opinion and one more -

First the most exciting thing about your book is the idea that fairyland is more akin to mobsters than tinker bell. I strongly suggest you get that into your query. That's what is setting your book apart from hundreds of fantasy submissions or urban fantasy or romances or whatever. That's the fun part.

Second, the details you gave are boring. . . he helped her overcome her fear of water. .. . . . .that's not so interesting. now if after he helps her overcome her fear of the water, they confront the skanky lake monster and learn something useful. That's interesting. Put that in.

Third, I didn't like the sentence that she has to wonder if she can trust him. Really? Listen, someone lies to me, manipulates me and disappears when I need him the most, I know I ain't trusting him.

I am not a feminist. I am completely in favor of men picking up the bill, opening the door for me, supporting me (I'm taking applications), and defending my honor and everything else needed to be defended. However, I do not support the idea Mandi has what it takes to do what needs to be done, if she has to wonder whether someone can be trusted after lying, manipulating and disappearing.

And last, starting out with a sentence that says something to the effect this is an ordinary, boring fairy tale, probably isn't going to help your cause. I hated that sentence.

My too many coppers. I am not good at the query writing, (or maybe not writing at all) but these are just ideas that may assist you.

vkw

Phoenix said...

So sorry for any multiple emails subscribed readers might have gotten.

Blogger doesn't let a commenter know when they've exceeded some internal word count and it starts to do wonky things like not actually posting the comment to the blog but sending it out via email anyway.

The cure is just to put the response into two comments. I've gotten to where I always compose long emails -- especially those with rewrites -- in Word or notepad and then pre-emptively put them into two separate comments.

Today's Blogger tip for you!