Sep 18, 2009

Query- Born on a Day When the Sun Didn’t Shine (revision 1)

Click here to read the original query.

Take two - I incorporated some of the changes and tweaked a couple of things. I originally included the part about relationships at the bottom for precisely the reason Rick stated - vampires are a tough sell in the post-Twilight era. I was trying to make it clear that there's more to the story than vampires. Let me know if you think the new sentence is any better or it confuses things. And thank you for your willingness to help!

Dear [Agent},

When Grace marries her high school sweetheart she looks forward to their long and happy life together. Instead, a brutal assault leaves her not only violated, but widowed as well. After grieving for a year, but feeling unable to move forward with her life, Grace decides to make a fresh start in a place that holds no bad memories: she moves across the Atlantic to find solace in the cottage she inherited from her Scottish grandfather.

Once settled into her new home she meets a man who annoys and intrigues her in equal measure--but he doesn’t scare her as most men now do, and that piques her curiosity.

She should have been scared.

Hagan is a vampire who still has human desires. He loves Grace and would give anything to be with her forever. Regrettably, his bite would only turn her into a zombie because his venom is weaker than the Morţii who created him; but that doesn’t mean the temptation’s not there…

To further complicate matters, there are some in the vampire community who seem to know that Grace possesses The Soul Collector--the only mirror that allows vampires to see their own reflection. Unfortunately it also traps the soul of any vampire who looks within it, conferring their strength upon whoever controls the mirror. It’s up to Grace to figure out how to safeguard it from those who might use it for their own corrupt purposes.

I hope you will be interested in representing my paranormal romance, “Born on a Day When the Sun Didn’t Shine,” complete at ~85,000 words. It is a relatable tale with the lightness and humor of chick lit, the passion of romance, and the dark glamour of vampires.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Kristy Hutchison

5 comments:

Merrilee said...

The first paragraph seems entirely unconnected to the rest of the story; it appears to be character backstory, not plot.

Hagan loves Grace? Why? What happened that he fell instantly head over heels?

Your villains are vague "some in the vampire community". Who? A couple of geeks? What's scary about that?

Grace owns the all powerful mirror, and she needs to work out how to safeguard it from the bad people. Well, if she owns the mirror and knows what it does, I'd be surprised the vamps aren't staying the hell away...otherwise, whoosh! Caught you Mr Toothy! And look, Grace is all powerful.

There's not enough plot here. Just a bunch of unrelated circumstances that don't make me interested in Grace or Hagan, or make me concerned for their safety. It's bloodless.

Donna Hole said...

Kristy:

The changes you make in this are very subtle, and do not at all lose the romance.

I still like the first paragraph, but Merrilee does have a point about background and tie in in the remaining paragraphs.

I don't think it would hurt the substance or tone of the query to delete the second and third paragraphs, intriguing and well written as they are.

I like the way you introduce Hagan, and the flaw you give him (not able to make Grace a true mate). I also had the question of how they met, and why he is so instantly in love with her. This paragraph does not need to be longer, it needs tightened so we know 1) Hagan's vampire transformation is not complete; 2) what draws Hagan to Grace, and 3) what his choices are regarding his vampire status (can he reverse it and does he want to, or does he seek to strength it an how).

Somewhere in the first paragraph you could state she is the guardian of The Collector and give it's purpose, and how seriously she takes the role. In the third and final paragraph you might hint that the death of her husband could be connected to coven of vampires, and who exactly wants this mirror and why. Maybe end with what will be necessary from Grace to protect the family legacy.

Or something like that.

All that aside, I still think its a strong query as is, though I wouldn't recommend the phrase "I hope you will be interested" as it lacks confidence in your novel.

.............dhole

Gina said...

Hmmm...

I agree with some of the above points, but I would tread extremely carefully with shaking up the bones of this too much, as it flows so well.

Re first paragraph:
Lots of character backstory bothers agents and many readers these days. So my advice would be: tighten it. I presume the novel starts somewhere near the time when Grace decides to move to Scotland (or maybe with the assault? If this has anything to do with subsequent events we do need to know in the query).
Maybe something like:

Grace is crushed when a brutal assault leaves her violated and her new husband dead. Unable after a whole year´s grieving to move forward in familiar surroundings, she decides to make a fresh start: she moves etc.

I´d hang on to the next two paragraphs exactly as they are, as they provide a great bit of voice.

Now, Hagan. I agree we need to know about what makes him so crazy ´bout Grace. (I sure hope it´s not her smell ;-) )

However, I think it´s perfectly fine to have vague villains in a query. You tell us they´re villains, and in a query context we believe that.

I feel that the mirror is very important, as it´s a major unique twist on the vampire thing. So I´d work that up a bit more. How did it come into Grace´s possession (was it in the cottage?) Has a vampire (or several) looked in it already, thereby conferrring certain powers unto Grace? That kind of thing. You needn´t go into the subsequent battle for the mirror so much; just hint, as you have done here, that the battle is coming, as a cliffhanger is always good.

I have no trouble seeing why the vampires would go to great risks to obtain the mirror. I also see heaps of plot and romance, and I was immediately interested in Grace, got an instant feeling that she won´t be as wet a rag as that other vampire moll. (Do you say that in the US? Wet rag - spineless person.)
With Hagan I have a bigger problem relating, partly because I´m not a vampire person (but again he seems different) but mainly because there isn´t much to go on with him. But I think that´s easily fixed, by adding Donna´s above excellent points concerning him.

I also agree with Donna re ´I hope you will be interested...´

What I really like in this query (and admittedly this might be a subjective thing) is that it starts out ´straight´ and the vampire bit only comes in halfway though. This goes a long way towards conveying that the story is ´vampires lite´, that there´s more to it than vampires. It somehow makes me think more Harry Potter than Twilight. And I think you new final sentence in replacement of the ´relationship´ bit is great!!!

JT said...

This is an interesting premise, but I'm afraid I have to agree with Merrilee that your query is largely setup with very little follow-through. At its most basic, what is your story about? It seems to me it's about a woman who gains possession of an object, a mirror, that is very dangerous to vampires. Yes, your story is also about romance and overcoming grief and moving to a new place and all the rest of it, but the struggle for control of the mirror drives the action of the main plot, doesn't it? If it doesn't, if it's just an afterthought (which is what it seems like in your query), then I think you're missing an opportunity to create a more compelling story. If you were writing a query for THE LORD OF THE RINGS, you wouldn't wait until the fifth paragraph to say, "Oh, and there's this ring everybody's after..."

Also — and I apologize for this, but I figured I should mention it — my first impression of your title was not favorable. What immediately popped into my head was, "Stick it where the sun don't shine." Sorry. Maybe BORN ON A SUNLESS DAY, or something like that. Or better yet, THE MIRROR or THE SOUL COLLECTOR. Your hook is the mirror, isn't it? If that's your new twist on vampire lore, then it seems to me that everything — the story, the title, even the query — should radiate outwards from that.

Sam said...

"When Grace marries her high school sweetheart she looks forward to their long and happy life together. Instead, a brutal assault leaves her not only violated, but widowed as well."

I'm on the dumb side. I had to read the second sentence a couple of times to be sure the husband didn't commit the assault.

Suggestion: rewrite the sentence to say, "instead, when a stranger brutally assaults the newlyweds, Grace is not only violated, but widowed as well." Or something like that to clarify who does the assaulting.

Good luck to you! I wish I had the nerve to post my query letter on here.