Jul 21, 2009

QUERY - A SCORPION’S NATURE

Dear Agent,

Rage and dread torment Kyle Matusik after his dad's suicide. YMCA Camp Powell could have been a refuge, but Kyle isolates himself by alienating his overeager sailing partner and ignoring the affections of the camp newspaper's vulnerable poet. His Junior Counselor's treachery and confrontations with Brayden, a tyrant camper, ravage his insecurities. Kyle and Brayden's attraction to an alluring girl escalates their rivalry. The sunny idiots on staff can Kum Ba Yah all they want. Kyle will lash out until he gets even or is booted from camp—either outcome ends his chance to find belonging.

A SCORPION'S NATURE follows an anguished thirteen year old who copes with death by walling himself off from the living. Kyle's journey unfolds in a rollicking summer camp with quirky songs and food so atrocious even the director's mutt refuses to eat the Cheesy Fish Tarts. My 55,000 word middle grade novel coalesced out of twenty years as a YMCA camper, counselor, and director. Though not artsy, I am quite crafty.

The complete manuscript is available upon your request. Thank you for considering my work.

Sincerely,

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The first sentence definitely hooked me.

I wonder, however, if there are too many conflicts for a query letter. What's the primary conflict in the story? (How's he going to come to grips with his father's suicide?)

There's a lot of info packed into the first paragraph. Would it be possible to streamline the conflict?

folksinmt said...

I thought that the first paragraph had too much info also. It almost seemed choppy. Little bits of your voice were peeking through...like the part about the dog and the kum ba yah. The rest read like a brief synopsis.

Just wondering about the Kum Ba Yah: would it read better if it was hyphenated? Or maybe you could add the word "sing" ahead of it. That might help that sentence flow better.

Good luck!

Julie said...

I agree with the Kum Ba Ah comment, and with the too many conflict comment.

Maybe pick the main conflict and mention how a few of the other one's make the conflict worse.

I would use some version of this sentence to start with:

"Kyle will lash out until he gets even or is booted from camp—either outcome ends his chance to find belonging."

Then maybe focus on the tyrant camper (every boy book needs an enemy!).

you mention the sunny idiots and the junior counselor - maybe lump those two together into one statement about the counselors in general.

You can mention the girl when you mention Brayden. I think the other conflicts don't have to be in the query.

Keep it simple, I don't know for sure but I can imagine the query should explain the book in a way 9-12 year olds would understand.

That way agents will have an idea of how well you write for a middle grade audience.

As a current YMCA program director, I love this idea and I have recently read on at least 5 agents sites that they are desperately seeking "boy" middle grade books.

I really think you should mention Boom-Chica-Boom in your novel. It's a Y camp staple song! :)

in fact I just got done listening to twenty minutes of that song through the walls in my office.

I had no idea there was a janitor style!