Thursday, November 18, 2010

Query 39

Lilith Rising

Samantha Sheridan has been told what she is her whole life: a psychic vampire that feeds on living energy; a half-breed; and the prophesied second coming of Lilith, the mother of all vampires. But none of that told her who she is. Now, after running from her demons (and herself) for over half a century, fate steps in and forces her to face them all in a showdown that will come to define her not only in her position of power, but also as a woman.

Just after returning home from an assignment in New York City covering the Vampire Equality Coalition’s annual ball, magazine journalist Samantha Sheridan finds herself in a world of trouble. Her nightmares are back, leaving her with the shockingly dreadful memories of a vampire that existed centuries before she was even born. And because there are more questions about her existence than there are answers, Sam fears that her soul may not only be connected to something ancient and powerful, but also inherently evil.

Lilith Rising, complete at just over 94,200 words, is a fast paced urban fantasy offering something that should appeal to any fan of the genre: action, thrills, politics, humor, and a taste of romance. Set primarily in Virginia, and Washington, D.C., Samantha’s paranormal world includes vampires, zombies, magic, and an encounter with a mysterious elf that either wants to kill her or kiss her. She’s not sure which.

Lilith Rising is written to be presented as a standalone novel, but a sequel is in progress. Sample chapters or full manuscript are available upon request. Enclosed below is my contact information.

Thank you for your time in considering this proposal.

Comments

This is an interesting premise, but right now that's all it is in this query: a premise. While it's technically well-written and has voice -- all good things! -- what little we get of the story itself is told to us, not shown us. I also think the words could be used more efficiently to present the story.

Samantha Sheridan has been told what she is her whole life: a psychic vampire that feeds on living energy; a half-breed; and the prophesied second coming of Lilith, the mother of all vampires. But none of that told her who she is. Now, after running from her demons (and herself) for over half a century, fate steps in and forces her to she faces them all in a showdown that will come to define her -- not only in her position of power but also as a woman.

Your paragraph hook here is great for use where a shorter hook like that is requested. For a longer query, I would start out with the first two sentences, then let the rest of the query show that last sentence in greater detail.

Just after returning home

This is the likely place to let us know where the story unfolds rather than where you tell us later that it's set primarily in Virginia and Wash DC. "Home" doesn't tell us where home is. "Returns to the DC area" economically gets across her going home to the VA and DC setting.

from an assignment in New York City covering the Vampire Equality Coalition’s annual ball, magazine journalist Samantha Sheridan

This is another example of where the words could be more efficient. "assignment," "covering," and "journalist" all convey the same idea. We don't need Samantha's last name again. And while the detail of the VEC dropped in as it is works quite nicely to convey world-building, we probably don't need "annual." You could pare it down to: covering the Vampire Equality Coaltion ball in New York, magazine journalist Samantha...

finds herself in a world of trouble.

A bit cliche and vague. Plus, I'm more interested to know why the mother of vampires is a magazine journalist. I would think she'd be getting special treatment if she and "everyone" knows she's the second coming. What's her motivation for working as a journalist and for vampire kind letting her?

Her nightmares are back,

If her nightmares are "back" then that should mean she was in trouble before when she had them originally, right? So we need to know what's different this time.

leaving her with the shockingly dreadful memories of a vampire that existed centuries before she was even born. And because there are more questions about her existence than there are answers, Sam fears that her soul may not only be connected to something ancient and powerful, but also inherently evil.

Right now, what the reader is seeing of the plot is: Sam's home and having nightmares and thinks she might be connected to something evil. But since we haven't been given anything to substantiate her fear and no antagonist or complication, someone having nightmares won't be enough to keep a query reader's interest.

Lilith Rising, complete at just over 94,200 words,

Go ahead and round to the nearest thousand: 94,000. I would also cap the book's title.

is a fast paced urban fantasy offering something that should appeal to any fan of the genre: action, thrills, politics, humor, and a taste of romance.

There really are few rules in query writing. One, though, that just about everyone has, is not to tell the reader that your work is fast-paced and offers action, thrills, etc., but to show these things. Right now, the only thrills and action you've shown are her having nightmares. Nothing of politics, humor and romance have come through save for you telling us they're there.

Set primarily in Virginia, and Washington, D.C., Samantha’s paranormal world includes vampires, zombies, magic, and an encounter with a mysterious elf that either wants to kill her or kiss her. She’s not sure which.

The detail of the elf conveys a bit of humor, which is good. However we have no context for the elf or for the zombies or magic. How do these things fit into Sam's world? What's the complication in her life? What's her goal? What's standing in her way?

Lilith Rising is written to be presented as a standalone novel, but a sequel is in progress. Sample chapters or full manuscript are available upon request. Enclosed below is my contact information.

This is another example where your writing could be tightened. LILITH RISING is a stand-alone urban fantasy with series potential. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript. Nix the contact info bit. That it's there is a given.

Thank you for your time in considering this proposal.

As someone with a novel titled Cameliard Rising, I'm quite partial to your title :o)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

This is Jeff, the author of the MS/Query. I just wanted to say a HUGE thank-you for pointing out to me what I obviously missed seeing in my query. Needless to say I will be hard at work this weekend working on the changes. I agree with everything mentioned! I can see now where someone who hasn't read the book would be scratching there heads...And that's definitely not what I want.

It took me nearly two years to finally finish and edit this MS. So of course I want my query to represent my book in the best way possible.

I think my biggest problem was having to keep the query to 1 page. That's where I was struggling. Samantha is a magazine journalist because she desperately wants to have something normal in her life. She's also very passionate about vampire equality, and her job helps her fight for that cause.

She's spent most of her life running from most of her problems, including her "destiny," because she fears it. In the nightmares, she witnesses graphic murders that the other incarnations of Lilith have committed in the past, and fears that she too will evolve into the monsters that they were.

The vampire high council in England, and those close to her know about what she's destined to become. To most other vamps, they've heard rumors, but not much else. This is how she's been able maintain a somewhat functioning life of her own.

I focused on the nightmares, and her running from facing up to her destiny, because that is the main plot. She must essentially face up to who she is and embrace herself if she ever wants to feel like a whole person.

She quickly finds that the things from her past that she ran from start showing up to bite her in the ass. Including an extremely powerful vampire (that murdered her father when she was a child in a failed attempt to kill her), and who possesses the power to raise the dead. This vampire was sent again to assassinate her (among other things) because some of the council members feared that as Samantha's powers grew, so would her desire to rule over them.

This (and many other things) lead to an army of the dead being unleashed on D.C., forcing Samantha to embrace who she is and fight back.

I just wanted to quickly provide some of the answers to the questions left unanswered by my query. Now the task is to somehow fit the most important parts into one page, lol. Thank you so much, again! I look forward to your feedback about the revised one when it's done (if you wouldn't mind.)

Phoenix said...

Hi Jeff: I would say yes to mentioning the nightmares, but that's a fairly internal struggle that's going to be hard to capture and make into exciting plot. So maybe not so much focus on them in the query. You do seem to have some exciting elements that you can lace your new query with.

I bet that if you take some of what you've written here and combine it with your original query, you can come up with a kick-ass letter that simply demands your pages and your full be read.

You're more than welcome to submit a revision. I don't have anything scheduled yet for after the holiday.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Phoenix! Finding you and this site has been a blessing :-)