Friday, October 29, 2010

Query 31


Dear Ms. XXX,

Dying sucks-- high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister, Kayla, brought her back from the dead. Now whatever Ember gets her hands on dies.

Let's face it, being a hormonal teenage girl with a toxic touch is a total killjoy. And when Daemon Cromwell breaks into her house, claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s just a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help her control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Daemon’s father, a man she is sure has skeevy reasons for collecting gifted children like action figures. Learning to control her fingers-of-death holds a powerful allure. Ember is willing to do anything to be able to hold her Kayla’s hand again. And heck, she'd also like to be able to kiss Daemon.

But when Ember learns the accident that made her a freak wasn’t an accident, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

Gifted is a YA yada yada . . .



This is quite nice as is -- well written, easy on the "ears" and enticing. I bet you gets lots of requests off of it without changing a thing!

So I'm only going to offer some random observations that you can no doubt safely ignore.

Agents have commented on the number of queries they're seeing lately where the MC dies in the first paragraph, so that part may not be as hook-y as you're hoping for.

The voice here is pretty breezy, but the query doesn't tell us how Ember finds out her touch is toxic. Does she kill a few plants, her pet dog, the EMT who finds her at the car accident? Depending on her emotional state about the things she must have killed to get a clue that she has that gift, the phrase "toxic touch is a total killjoy" might be a bit too breezy and throw-away for the circumstances. This might be a turnoff for some agents in that Ember seems to be taking death too lightly.

Is this inability to touch like Rogue's ability where it has to be skin-to-skin? Does she wear gloves and long sleeves, long pants, etc? Or is it just passed through her hands? Are people who touch her in danger?

Why does Daemon break into her house to tell her she has a gift (trope alert!)? He couldn't knock? Actually, cute supernatural boys breaking into girls' rooms is probably becoming more a convention than a trope these days ;o)

What kind of gifted kids is D's father collecting? He wants Ember but not gifted little Kayla? Are these different gifts or do all the kids he's collecting have Ember's same ability to kill?

"Learning to control her fingers-of-death holds a powerful allure." I think you can delete this sentence as it's a bit redundant with what's just been said.

We will assume the word count is between 60,000 and 90,000 words.

I would capitalize the title of the book.

Good luck -- and let us know how the agent search goes!


Jennifer Armentrout said...

Thanks Phoenix! I love your suggestions.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The voice is great. I, too, have a slight issue with the dissonance between the subject matter and tone. Strikes me as not being quite right, but maybe that's what you're going for.

There are many good books out there that strike this kind of chord. I suggest being doubly and triply sure your booke and your query have the same tone.

Great job!

Sarah Laurenson said...

God, I sound pompous this morning.

Phoenix said...

Sarah: Perhaps that pompousness comes with the wisdom of now being another year older?

Ben Langdon said...

Great idea for a story, especially the idea of someone collecting kids with special powers 'like action figures'.

One little criticism I'd have is the name of the Daemon Cromwell - I'd change that immediately. Even if he does have links to Cromwell, I'd disguise it a bit more.

But apart from that I think the query is awesome!

fairyhedgehog said...

This is one of the best queries I've seen in every way. The only thing that jarred at all for me was that I don't know the word "skeevy" but that could be an age or nationality thing.

This is great.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hah! Pompous and wisdom in the same sentence?

Skeevy is often associated with pervert. I'm sure it has a distinct meaning, but I think of it as an accentuation on the perv part.

I did have one more comment. Read a blog post (or part of one anyway) by a teen reader who was adamant that MC names must not be a form of Damian - especially in a romance. Seems it's a tad overdone these days.

Jennifer Armentrout said...

Thanks everyone! Your comments warm my little heart.

Sarah- you didn't sound pompous! I love the name Daemon. I don't know why, but every story I ever wrote starts out with his name, then being changed to something else during edits. Which will probably happen here too.

Yeah, skeevy may be a bad word choice there.

Thanks again! During this time, I actually got an offer of publication (from a real, honest to goodness publisher) on my finished novel. SO hopefully, this query gets better with a pub credit at the bottom!

Phoenix said...

Excellent news, Jennifer! Yay! A pub cred will definitely improve your odds ;o)

Let me know when launch day is and where we can buy it as the day approaches and I'll be happy to post a promo for it!

Jennifer Armentrout said...

Oh a promo - I'd love you forever. I'm pretty far away from a pub date. Still in contract, then revisions, but as soon as I know, I'll let you know.