Sep 10, 2009


Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Bolt had nothing to do with the king’s death, but who would take his word for it? He has no connections, no family. His very arrival in the kingdom of Byrony was so strange that he had to register as a possibly-dangerous Mystical Waif - making it easy for an enemy to accuse him of the royal murder. Now Bolt has fled into the forest south of Byrony, running for his life.

Rabbit has lived in his secluded village for three hundred and twenty-one years - making him, as a forest elf, about sixteen. He’s never even seen a human before the bold and capable, if curiously defensive, young adventurer who calls himself Cougar. Intrigued, Rabbit decides that he wants to see the world - and what better way than to tag along on Cougar’s travels?

With Byrony’s Royal Soldiers on his trail, “Cougar” can’t afford to waste time. When even the truth of his dangerous journey doesn’t discourage the adventure-hungry Rabbit, Cougar must accept a companion on his trek across the continent to the safe kingdom of Farewon. With the help of a fast-talking fop and an abandoned fox kit, both of whom are more than they seem, Rabbit and Cougar dodge werewolves, goblins, and the Royal Soldiers, becoming friends along the way. But when they reach Farewon, it holds not the safety Cougar expected, but some clues to his own mysterious roots - and more adventure than Rabbit could have asked for.

The YA fantasy novel RABBIT AND COUGAR, about 72,000 words, alternates chapters between the viewpoints of streetwise Cougar and smart-but-naive Rabbit. Its humor and whimsy will appeal to fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia C. Wrede.

I have published short works of humorous fantasy in Spindle and Renard’s Menagerie, and am a member of the James River Writers.

Enclosed is (whatever material you want). I look forward to your response.

Thank you for your time,

Anica Lewis


Gina said...

Cool. Very cool. I like both story and query, and only have a few nit-picky issues with it.

- I´d leave out the ´Mystical Waif´ bit. It doesn´t mean anything to a newcomer to the story, and you don´t need it. Saying that Bolt is suspicious due to his outsider status should be sufficient.

- You´ve got two ´when´ in the third paragraph.

- I think we need an idea why Farewon is safe

- We need more about Bolt´s ´mysterious roots´ in the beginning, such as how and why he came to Byrony, or alternatively that he suffers from something like amnesia (which is the impression I get from this query)

- Say ´my YA fantasy novel´, not ´the´, and say ´complete at 72,000 words´.

Not much to fix, really.

Good luck!

MattDel said...


I want to hear more about Bolt's strange arrival and why that makes him dangerous. Did he drop into the throne room in a flash of light while nekkid as the day he was born? Or did he tumble from some house people believed was uninhabited and/or haunted?

I agree with Gina about leaving out "Mystical Waif." While that might be the term he's registered as, telling us that he's immediately under suspicion because of how he showed up is enough.

I didn't get the sense that Rabbit was living in the forest south of Byrony. This is an easy fix though -- add the word "forest" in between "secluded" and "village" and you're all set.

Of course the fast-talking fop and the abandoned fox kit are "more than they seem" -- you don't need to tell us this, because otherwise they wouldn't be helping Bolt/Cougar and Rabbit or even mentioned in the query.

Mind you, I LOVE the idea. We can always use more humorous fantasy in the world.

I'm also not 100 percent sure about including the line about you feeling the book will appeal to fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia C. Wrede. I seem to remember reading somewhere that's one of those things that can potentially turn an agent off.

Overall though, I would definitely pick this one up if I saw it in the bookstore.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I thought this query was awesome, Anica. I got wrapped up enough in the story of it that I guess I didn't notice if it had any flaws.

Good luck with this. I'd love to read the book once it's in print.

Natalie Bahm said...

Great advice so far! I agree with most of it, but I also think this is a very strong query just the way it is.

I'd love to see a bit of the synopsis that showed the humor, because I think humor might be what sets this apart from other YA fantasy.

I think your idea is fun.

Gina Logue said...

I thought this query was very good.

I agree with Matt about Bolt's strange arrival and why that makes him dangerous.

Not sure why only in the first sentence of the third paragraph, Cougar is in quotes. No quotes elsewhere.

Good luck.

Hollie Sessoms said...

Are Bolt and Cougar one and the same? I had to read through this a few times before I made the connection. Maybe you should make that a little more obvious, or maybe I'm just slow. It's true that I did have the best education that South Carolina had to offer, but still, I'm sure that literary agents are functioning at a higher level of intelligence than I am. So maybe it would be clear to them.

Also, I think that I've read not to start your queries with a question. Nathan Bransford especially doesn't like that.

Other than that it sounds good and interesting!

Gina said...

I actually think the question at the start of this query works extremely well.

The rhetorical questions that put agents of seem to be the kind that go something like ´Have you ever wondered what would happen if...´

L. T. Host said...

Good job Anica! I don't have anything to add, pretty much agree with what everyone else has said, but I just wanted to chime in that I love your story idea and can't wait to read it ;)

Anica Lewis said...

Thanks so much to everyone! Your feedback is helpful and kind. This is a great community. :)

TLH said...

I like this query and I agree with what everyone said already. I really have nothing beyond those suggestions.

I did want to shout out to my fellow Virginian though. I get the James River Writers' newsletter, though I live too far away to visit meetings, and they are really terrific!

Best of luck to you!