Mar 10, 2009

Query:Realm of the Makers:The Legend

Dear Mr./Ms. ,

For the greater good; the unwritten code that all Makers follow to keep their world hidden. Zinnia, a Nature Maker, always thought she would be able to do whatever it took for magnum bonum, the greater good, until now.

The Makers, a race born with the ability to control either nature or the weather, educated by the Fairy in a world hidden within the human world; this is Zinnia’s home, the Realm of the Makers. But things have been spiraling out of control in the Realm for years; the Dark One has both Makers and Fairy in a steel grip of fear, looking to the time the promised Legend will be fulfilled.
Emotions collide inside Zinnia as she anticipates her first year at Edoceo, the school all Makers attend when they turn fifteen. The year stretches out in her mind; the Harvest Ball, new friends, and finally discovering her gift, things she has dreamed of doing for as long as she can remember. Then an electrical introduction to Stephan, a Weather Maker, changes everything. Suddenly the hope of her world rests upon Zinnia and Stephan’s shoulders.

Zinnia’s year takes her in a direction she never dreamt possible. Learning that the Legend is more than just a bed time story; falling in love, impending danger from the Dark One, running for her life, and an impromptu wedding are all things Zinnia never thought the year would bring. When faced with making the ultimate sacrifice, Zinnia must decide how much she is willing to loose for magnum bonum, and follow the Makers code.

The Realm of the Makers-The Legend is a Young Adult Fantasy, complete at 93,000 words.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Carley

CHAPTER ONE

Zinnia

Everyone has a secret that needs to be kept. Zinnia was no different; except for the fact that the very existence of her world, and the humans, hinged upon this secret remaining just that- a secret. Zinnia walked alone in the garden, absent mindedly stopping every now and then to pick a flower. Her father’s voice echoed again in her head, “The humans must never know!” Her delicate brow furrowed as she wondered, was it possible to be terrified and excited at the same time? It must be since that was the only way to describe how she felt.

She approached the weeping willow that stood in the center of the garden, and without missing a step nodded at the tree. The branches parted and Zinnia walked through. Once she was in the shelter of the great tree they fell silently back into place. She sat on the bench at the base of the tree. She had always known that their world was hidden within the human’s world; every Maker knew this and accepted the fact that they must protect this secret at all costs-for the greater good. Just like they all knew that centuries before, her kind- the Makers, had been forced into hiding from the humans. This was common knowledge, as was the fact that if the humans ever discovered them, it would begin all over again- the desire to steal the Makers power- a power that could not be stolen. That was why the Makers had fled and had remained hidden for all these years. Zinnia sighed and looked around her. Her world, the Realm of the Makers, was an ancient one governed by a magic even more ancient. And now, the Dark One threatened to expose it all. It was only a matter of time before the humans began to question the ripple effect the Dark One was causing, letting things seep into their world. She knew that her fathers concerns were justified. But she was still scared, terrified even, for reasons so selfish her cheeks burned.

There was only one week left until she would begin her time at Edoceo, the place all Makers went when they were fifteen to continue their education at the hands of the Fairy from the Eastern Vale. There they would learn the ancient ways as only the Fairy could teach them. That was the exciting part, for as long as she could remember she had looked forward to that day. Her mother and father had educated her in the ways of the Nature Makers; she had learned how to harness her powers over nature, and how to use them. She had been taught by her parents as all Maker children are, of the ancient Legend, and of the two Makers in the Legend who would save them from the Dark One. These days all Makers looked anxiously around them for the two in the Legend now that the Dark One was raining terror down upon them. But now it was time for her to learn more; it was time to learn of her gift, and to perfect that which she had already learned; just the thought of going to Edoceo put a smile on her ethereal face. To at last discover her gift! But now there was talk of not allowing the Maker youth to return this year to Edoceo. All because of the Dark One, and that terrified Zinnia. Not the Dark One exposing them all to the humans, although it should. The thing that scared her most was the possibility of not going to Edoceo. It didn’t seem like a reality! She had looked forward to it for years. Zinnia sighed out loud.

Again, the two very contradictory emotions collided inside Zinnia’s mind-terror & excitement. At Edoceo she would meet for the first time those that lived above them in the clouds, the Weather Makers. All though her brother Cedrus, two years older than she, would be in his last year at Edoceo, had assured her there was nothing to fear of the Weather Makers, she was still a bit scared to finally meet one, even if it did sound a little bit exciting. After all, wasn’t her brother’s best friend a Weather Maker? And the stories he came home from school with made her, well, nervous. They were different from Nature Makers, and Zinnia had encountered very little in her life that was different from her.

Her most distant memories, when she was a very small child were of freedom. The freedom to roam where she would, freedom of running where she wanted and freedom of going where she wanted; as Zinnia grew older these memories faded into different memories. Memories of fear, uncertainty and not knowing; they began when the Dark One had began tormenting the Makers. Since that time Zinnia had rarely been allowed out from the walls surrounding her home-except for the weekly trip into town, but then that was always with her father or mother. Freedom had been replaced by fear, and although it was not meant to feel like it, her home had slowly become her prison, she could not have been more secluded if she had tried to be. Edoceo was to be Zinnia’s first taste of freedom in a long time. Zinnia watched as the sun danced on a window of her home. She knew she shouldn’t feel this way about her home; it really was so lovely, with turrets on the east and west, made from the whitest stone that glistened in the sunlight. There were places where the crystal windows caught the sunlight and cast rainbows all around. It was both magnificent and beautiful, but her home was also a fortress. Huge walls surrounded the entire house and grounds, keeping out those that were meant to be kept out, and those that wanted out in. Besides the walls, it was doubly protected by the enormous rocks that surrounded it, jutting up from the oceans floor. Zinnia’s home sat on the ocean, only her father, mother and now Cedrus could raise the bridge to cross over to land. As the daughter of Lord Creo, she had been closely guarded, and there fore very secluded.

And so it was that now, Zinnia, a Nature Maker, one of the race that ruled all things living- plants, animals, insects- all things, would quite possibly meet in a weeks time, her first Weather Makers, those who ruled the weather, everything to do with it, from the rain, to the wind, the snow, the ice, the heat & the cold. She understood that together the Makers kept the world in balance as they counseled with each other and the Fairy, but since they lived apart from each other, she knew very little of them, and it was the not knowing that terrified her. It was her over active imagination that excited her.

Zinnia jumped as the branches of the tree stirred gently. By the time she had walked to them and bade them open they were thrashing in the now ferocious wind. Why hadn’t she noticed the weather changing? Her blue eyes shone with fear as she stepped out from the shelter of the tree and looked to the sky. She watched the black clouds swirl ominously above her; the wind whipped her blue gown, pulling it taught against her slender figure. The flowers she had picked earlier fell from her hands as she began to run against the wind, towards her house. She had to get to the safe room, the room without any windows before this storm hit. With a wave of her hand a side door flew open, she bade it shut once through and continued running towards the safe room. The thick walls of her home shuddered with the increasing force of the wind. Zinnia pushed her long black hair from her face as she made her way to the safe room.

12 comments:

Rick Daley said...

Hi Carly,

I will read this tonight and let you know what I think. thanks for submitting, and best of luck!

Rick

Carley said...

Wow, you posted that really fast! I barely had time to finish my "GULP" after I sent it! Thanks for the opportunity...hopefully many more will follow us as we closed our eyes and jumped!
Best.

scott g.f. bailey said...

Hi Carly,

Your query is way too long, and goes all over the place. You don't need to give all these details about setting and the fairy world. You just need to point us to the story.

"When faced with making the ultimate sacrifice, Zinnia must decide how much she is willing to lose..."

This is the important bit. What's the ultimate sacrifice? Who's the Dark One? Why does Zinnia care? Why do we?

Try to reformulate this into one or two sentences along the lines of:

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting].
But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's
quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

Seriously, that's all you need in a query. Be assertive and confident.

Carley said...

Scott,
Thank you. I tend to babble when I'm nervous, and apparently it applies to my query as well. I'll tighten this up and use your suggestions, I thought they were very helpful. Thank you again!
Carley

Prince Balthazar said...

Hi Carley. I commend you for being brave and putting your query up for public critique.

Rick, I found your site from the comments section on Nathan's blog.

Carley, it sounds like you have an interesting story but your query, in my opinion (and I'm certainly no expert) is very confusing. You've introduced a number of things in your opening paragraph. Too many: magnum bonum, Zinnia, Makers, Nature Maker, unwritten code. You then go on to mention a Dark One and a legend, but you give us nothing of what those two things are.

I would suggest you take a look at a few query letter sites and try to boil your query down to your main character, what she wants, and what is stopping her from getting it.

That's all we need to know in a query. Don't worry about secondary characters. Don't bring too much of your fantasy world into the letter because it becomes confusing. You know that world better than anyone, but when you try to talk about it in a short letter, it becomes too much.

Have you ever heard of Agentquery .com or the forums at absolutewrite.com? Both sites will help you sharpen your query letter.

Good luck and I hope your novel gets some interest!

Carley said...

So Rick, after I give my query a serious buzz cut, take off a few apendages,and put it on a diet, am I allowed to re-post it here to see if it's any better? Or is there a one time post deal? Just curious! Thanks!

Rick Daley said...

Hi Carly,

i still haven't gotten to my critique of your query, but I will tonight. I'm very glad to see the useful feedback posted here, thank you to everyone who is reading and helping on this site.

Yes, you can re-post. I'm tagging entries with the title and genre so it will be easier to see multiple revisions.

I'll be posting my own in due time...

Rick Daley said...

Carly,

You have an imaginative story with a defined conflict and a way to overcome it, so the foundation of the story is solid. I’m going to provide a few critiques that I hope will help strengthen your prose. I’ll start with some feedback on the query first:

- Start with a one-sentence hook. Something an agent could use to pitch your story to an editor. Something you could use to explain your story to your friends. It doesn’t have to explain everything, but it should make them want to know more.

- “The Makers, a race born with the ability to control either nature or the weather, educated by the Fairy in a world hidden within the human world; this is Zinnia’s home, the Realm of the Makers.”
o When you say “a race born with the ability” you are speaking of multiple people, but when you finish with “either nature or the weather” you have shifted from the plural race to a singular person within the race. As it reads, the entire race can control either the nature or the weather.
o Also, you mention the Makers twice here. Try to establish it once, and then move on. Remember that every word counts, so don’t double up unless it’s absolutely necessary.
o “always thought she would be able to do whatever it took…But things have been spiraling out of control in the Realm for years” this seems inconsistent.

- The tone and mood changes dramatically between the second and third paragraph. You go from the steel grip of fear to leaving for school.

- What is her gift she discovers?

- 4th paragraph, 2nd sentence, you start separating clauses with a semi-colon then switch to commas. Use one or the other; I recommend the commas. You can put a semi-colon after possible, then still use the commas.

- 4th paragraph, last sentence…change “loose” to “lose” so she doesn’t seem slutty ;-)

- Thank you for your time and consideration. Not in advance, and don’t say you’re eager to hear back. Trust me on this.

- Everyone has a secret that needs to be kept. Avoid passive voice. Change to “a secret to keep”

- http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/passivevoice.html this is a great resource on passive voice

- “Her father’s voice echoed again in her head, “The humans must never know!” Her delicate brow furrowed as she wondered, was it possible to be terrified and excited at the same time?”
o Break out the dialogue as separate paragraphs. It’s a thought, not spoken word, but it gives shape to the print on the page. Italicize her own thoughts. Then again, maybe they were and it didn't come through in the posting?

- She had always known that their world was hidden within the human’s world; every Maker knew this and accepted the fact that they must protect this secret at all costs-for the greater good.
o You can rephrase this to get the point across more succinctly: Like every Maker, she knew that their world was hidden within the human’s world.
o Hidden within the human world, but hidden from whom? Pay careful attention to the words you use. If they don’t convey all that you want them to, then add or change them.

- had been forced into hiding from the humans
o This starts to answer the question about their hiding, it is from the humans, but who forced them, the humans or someone/thing else?

- the place all Makers went when they were fifteen to continue their education at the hands of the Fairy from the Eastern Vale.
o Syntax deals with the order of words in a sentence (and many other facets of punctuation and grammar). This sentence should be worded like this: the place all Makers went to continue their education at the hands of the Fairy from the Eastern Vale when they were fifteen. The reason is the verb “went” relates more to the place she was going than her age at the time of travel.

- One final note, the paragraphs are quite long. I’m not sure if this is the posting, or if it’s how it is presented in your manuscript. You can probably break them up a bit.

Rick Daley said...

Prince Balthazar,

Thanks for stopping by to check out this site, and for taking the time to share your feedback.

I've been to agentquery.com, but not absolutewrite.com, thanks for the tip!

Crimogenic said...

Carley,

I don't know what's left to say, Rick has covered the basics. If you post a revision, I would be glad to give a critique. :)

Carley said...

Thank you everyone for the helpful critique's. I appreciate you all taking the time to give me such valuable feedback. You've left me with my brows furrowed whilst slapping my forehead and thinking "Sloppy!" Hopefully my revision will be somewhat better. Thanks again all!

Rick Daley said...

Carley,

Keep at it and you'll get there. You have the right attitude. It's frustrating (I know this from personal experience..), but as long as you are willing to learn and improve, you're on the right path.