Sep 26, 2009

QUERY - VANISHING IRON

Click here to read the first 3 pages.

Dear (agent name),

Felicity Johnson and her friends have made plans to submerge themselves in DragonCon, the convention in Atlanta that celebrates everything sci-fi and fantasy. When Felicity steps outside of her comfort zone and disguises herself as a sexy vampire, she attracts two men that will change her world as she knows it forever: Blake, the gorgeous attorney that first turns her head but quickly steals her heart, and Gabriel, the undisclosed vampire that wants her all to himself, one way or another.

When her best friend, Christian, doesn’t show up at their meeting spot, panic fills her down to her soul. She begins to desperately search for him, but instead finds another friend’s dead body. Her world spins out of control, and the one person she can depend on is the one person she can’t find. Christian has always been there for her and she must now save him, though she doesn’t have a clue how or from what.

In the weeks that follow, Blake and his highly connected friends try to help her find her long lost friend and struggle to keep Felicity breathing. Blake is forced to reveal to Felicity the existence of vampires, a secret that his family has made a pact to protect. Blake and Felicity’s relationship blossoms and the steam continues to rise as she falls deeper and deeper for this man who is working so hard to keep her safe, but little does she know that he has a deep, dark secret of his own.

VANISHING IRON, a suspenseful urban fantasy novel told with humor and romance. It is complete at 80,000 words. Set in modern day Atlanta, it is a story of passion, betrayal, and perceptions that exist on the edge of reality. It’s difficult at times to know whose side to be on. VANISHING IRON is the first in an open-ended series.

A third of my novel takes place at DragonCon, a real live event where thirty-thousand science fiction and fantasy fans descend upon the high-rise hotels of downtown Atlanta. It is a four-day convention where the participants are enabled to live out their fantasies. My novel plays with the idea that maybe some of those fantasies are real. I would be very interested in using these types of conventions as a platform to help market the book. As I am sure you are aware, conventions are becoming more and more mainstream thanks to the increasing popularity of young adult fantasy fiction, video games, and comic/superhero movies.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime and Atlanta Writer’s Club.

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

Sincerely,

(insert name here)

11 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love this concept and setting. The query reads well, but there are some places it can be tightened.
Since Felicity has made the decision to go to DragonCon, I think you can lose the cliche "steps out of her comfort zone" and just say Felicity disguises herself...
Isn't a vampire a former human? So you would say Gabriel "who" rather than Gabriel "that."
Next graph: Stop at "panic fills her" (and drop "down to her soul").
I was confused by "another friend's dead body" because I didn't think she had found anyone else dead. Maybe just "finds one of her friends dead" would make it more clear.
I think you can drop "Her world spins out of control," because it is vague. Just go with the problem that she can't find the one person she depends on.
What does "struggle to keep Felicity breathing" mean? It threw me way off, thinking something had been done to her, but I think you just mean they are trying to keep her from panic.
I don't know much about marketing but I think your plan to market through conventions sounds great. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this book!

AjFrey said...

Tricia, thank you for your comments. Truly appreciated. To answer your question about "keep Felicity breathing", Felicity's life is also in danger and is a bit of a play on words because the lengths that Gabriel will go to be with her. This is not discovered until further into the book, so I am struggling with rewording (because it didn't resonate with you and will probably not resonate with others)or omitting completely.

gj said...

I think it sounds like a fun concept, too (although you might want to consider fictionalizing the conference instead of using a real one, for legal reasons -- several years ago, in the romance context, JoAnn Ross did something like this with a fictionalized hybrid of both the RWA national conference and RT's conference).

The one thing that could use trimming is the abundance of hyperbolically vague phrases that either a) don't tell me anything, b) tell me something I already know or am about to find out in more concrete terms, c) are cliches, or d) are all of the above. One of these phrases wouldn't bother me, but a whole string of them suggests that the manuscript itself is also peppered with them.

Consider, in particular, omitting or being more concrete with each of these:

steps outside of her comfort zone

change her world as she knows it forever

first turns her head but quickly steals her heart,

panic fills her down to her soul.

Her world spins out of control,

little does she know that he has a deep, dark secret of his own.

Victoria Dixon said...

Hi, AJ.
I think the other commenters are spot on with their comments, both the praise and the suggestions. LOL. I did have two other comments to add. 1. Try to get your book's basic plot into three or four sentences - definitely one paragraph. 2. "It’s difficult at times to know whose side to be on." makes it sound like YOU'RE not sure. Not a good thing. If this concept needs to be in there, fine. However, be careful of how you put it or just let the agent/editor be intrigued by your red-herrings as they rush through their first read. Best of luck!

AjFrey said...

I didn't even realize that I was being so cliche until you guys pointed it out. The novel isn't as bad, I think I was trying to hard to sound salesy, and be vague as to not give too much away and get bogged down in details. I'm getting a lot of ideas from your posts. Keep them coming.

Also, feel free to check out my blog, www.aj-frey.blogspot.com. It's mostly directed to new writers from a new writer's point of view. Kind of prose about prose, but mostly just therapy ;-)

Tabitha Bird said...

The concept of this book is really intriguing and I think with some revisions you could have a really strong query letter.
Your plan to market through conventions is a great idea too.
There are a couple of times when you introduce a character and use phrases like, 'the gorgeous attorney' or 'long lost friend.' I am wondering if these could be changed to give a fuller feeling to your characters. They come across a bit cliche and probably don't do justice to your 3D characters, if that makes sense.

I would also consider your use of adverbs in these (and other) phrases, 'desperately search for' and 'quickly steals her heart.'
Adverbs are seldom a writers friend and I would hate for an agent to get the feeling that your manuscript was also peppered with them.

could you also trim your paragraphs so that they aren't so wordy? Hard to do, I know. As a general rule (so I've been told) you want a nice balance between key details and plot. I know you don't want to give too much away in your query, but you want to say enough so that the agent is in no way left confused. There were a few sentences that threw me a little bit. 'Struggle to keep Felicity breathing,' was one of them.
Hoping all goes well for you with this. :)You have a great idea and I'd buy this book if it were in print :)

Hollie Sessoms said...

I think you have a very good idea here. However, I agree with the other commenters. The main problem with the query is the oft-repeated phrase, "telling, not showing." You say it's funny, and I can tell from the first three pages that it is, but the query doesn't read very funny. When I read the line about humor and romance, I raised my eyebrows a bit.

I've never had a query greeted with anything other than a form rejection letter, so I'm one to be giving advice, but I would try to think of how Felicity would word the query. That may help you find the voice for it.

Good Luck with this!

erinn said...

My suggestion would be to cut the final paragraph about the convention. My concern is that 1/3 of the novel takes place in one surreal location. That might be a turn off for an agent.
Good luck.

Anica Lewis said...

Nice tension. I agree with Tricia's critiques about the clarification/trimming of a few sentences.

Also, have you read Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones? It is a fantastic book wherein supernatural creatures crash a made-up sci-fi/fantasy convention. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it, both as a good read and to know what's been done in this area.

Kristy said...

My immediate concern is that query letters are supposed to be one page. I agree with the suggestion to cut the paragraph that starts with "A third of my book," it's not necessary and takes up too much room. Once you sell the novel you can discuss marketing strategies with the publisher.

I think you could use a bridge between the first and second paragraphs. The meeting with Christian kind of came out of the blue for me. And what happened to Gabriel? You mention him in the first paragraph but then he disappears.

I'm also concerned about the placement of the sentence: "It's difficult at times to know whose side to be on." If you're going to use it maybe it should be moved to the top as a hook. It just seems out of place at the bottom after you introduce the book title and word count.

Sounds like an interesting book though, good luck!

AjFrey said...

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. I really learned so much from this. Especially, Holly. I got the best idea from you that I was having trouble doing. Since the novel is written in first person, I am going to go back and let Felicity write the query and then convert the I's to She's. I needed to put on her skin for just a little while longer. Thanks everyone!!