Oct 29, 2009

IRON THIRST - QUERY - REVISED

Click here to read the original query. (Originally posted as Vanishing Iron)
Click here to read the revised query.
Click here to read the first three pages (original submission).
Click here to read the revised sample pages.

Dear Ms. Agent,

The why I picked you paragraph.

It was to be a party like no other, but Felicity soon learns that not everyone at DragonCon is in costume. Some of those fangs are real and are quite thirsty.

Felicity Johnson is a sales assistant at a brokerage firm in Atlanta. It’s not rocket science, but it pays the bills. For a nice break from the norm, she and her friends decide to attend DragonCon, the convention that celebrates everything science fiction and fantasy; this year they even dress up. The day starts with adventure, laughter, and amazement at all there is to see and do at DragonCon, but the night ends in disaster. Felicity stumbles into a crime scene, and at the center is one friend’s mangled body, which looks as if rabid bears attacked him. And to top it off, the friend that was with him, he’s vanished.

Unsure if she should be grieving one or two, Felicity turns to Blake Richmond and his team. Blake, and his much too lovely chest, try to heal her broken heart and to help her find her missing best friend, but in the process, he is forced to reveal to her the existence of vampires, a secret that he was sworn to protect, and a little tidbit that she could gladly live without. Ultimately, the search puts Felicity in danger of both death and falling in love, neither of which she has time for at the moment.

IRON THIRST is an urban fantasy with a chick lit feel. It is complete at 80,000 words and is the first in an open-ended series.

My day job is as a sales assistant at a brokerage firm. To add a little flavor to the protagonist, I used my experience to highlight the humorous in’s and out’s that exist from everyday cubicle life, something I think that many people can relate to. I am a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime.

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

Sincerely,
Me

10 comments:

Suzan Harden said...

Hi A.J!

I don't think I commented on your previous versions, so if I did and I'm repeating myself, please feel free to ignore this comment.

Overall, this is a good plot, but I'm going to seriously pick some nits because I think you can make this a GREAT query by tightening a few things.

1) Scrap the first subsentence on the second paragraph. It adds nothing and you want every word to count in a query.

2) Leave off Felicity's day job. It doesn't have anything to do with your core story (or doesn't seem to from what I've read).

3) You've got a TERRIFIC opening in "Felicity Johnson learns not everyone at DragonCon is in costume..." I'd build on that sentence.

4) Pare down the third paragraph to the barest elements: night ruined by one friend's murder and another's friend's disappearance. And make it part of the second paragraph.

5) I'm making a couple of large assumptions here that (a) Felicity is a hetero female and (b) Blake is her hetero male love interest. If that's the case, I suggest not using the phrase "lovely chest." If Felicity is a tranny, please ignore that last comment.

6) On the fourth paragraph, trim down the excess. E.g. Felcity's broken heart is thrown in out of nowhere. It implies she had an intimate relationship with the dead friend.

7) Also on the fourth paragraph, be specific about the stakes Felicity faces. Death from who or what and why?

8) Trim down your bio to your writing organizations and any credits.

9) I'm adding this next bit from bittersweet experience. Unless the agent sepcifically says she's looking for chick lit, don't put it in your query. Substitute "humorous" instead. I got more requests after taking "chick lit" of my query. Okay, full disclosure, I actually GOT requests after taking the phrase out.

You've got the potential in your story. Reflect that potential in the query.

Best of luck on your submissions!

M said...

Hey! Nice work on all of your revisions. Here are some examples of what I would change if it were my query.

Some of those fangs are real and are quite thirsty.

Fangs can't be thirsty because they are teeth.

Felicity stumbles into a crime scene, and at the center is one friend’s mangled body, which looks as if rabid bears attacked him. And to top it off, the friend that was with him, he’s vanished.

Felicity stumbles into a crime scene. And at the center is her friends mangled body, so ravaged that [she barely recognizes him, or something...]. To top it all off, her friend that was with him has completely vanished.

Blake, and his much too lovely chest

I would cut the chest reference.

Also, this:

Unsure if she should be grieving one or two, Felicity turns to Blake Richmond and his team. Blake, and his much too lovely chest, try to heal her broken heart and to help her find her missing best friend, but in the process, he is forced to reveal to her the existence of vampires, a secret that he was sworn to protect, and a little tidbit that she could gladly live without.

should be broken up into multiple sentences.

IRON THIRST is an urban fantasy with a chick lit feel. It is complete at 80,000 words and is the first in an open-ended series

I would chop the chick lit reference. Agents are saying it's dead. I would also chop the series mention.


My day job is as a sales assistant at a brokerage firm. To add a little flavor to the protagonist, I used my experience to highlight the humorous in’s and out’s that exist from everyday cubicle life, something I think that many people can relate to.

I would cut this whole section. Many people work in cubicles, so it's not the type of direct experience agents say they're looking for when constructing a bio paragraph. And if it isn't directly relevant (i.e. if you aren't a former Vietnam POW that is writing about your experience as a POW) then you can cut it.

I look forward to hearing from you.

I would drop this. What works in corporate cover letters sometimes sounds pushy to agents, from what I've read.

You're on the right track! GL!

RCWriterGirl said...

I agree with Suzanne. Your query starts off well, but then digresses into "backstory." I know, everyone hates the word and hat's being accused of it. But, pure and simple, that's what you've got. And it's dull and irrelevant and makes you wnat to stop reading.

I'd say, go with your first paragraph, cut the backstory in the second paragraph. Also, identify Blake Richmond, so I know why she's turning to him. Is he a police officer, a demon hunter, an "investigator" (which could encompass both the previous descriptions without having to go into the weird details that surround his job)?

I would cut everything in the section about yourself, with the exception that you belong to the Atlanta crime writer's club and sister's in crime.

Your pared down query should look something like this:

It was to be a party like no other, but Felicity soon learns that not everyone at DragonCon is in costume. Some of those fangs are real and quite thirsty.

Felicity Johnson expected adventure and laughter when she and friends attended the DragonCon science fiction and fantasy convention, but the night ends in disaster. Felicity stumbles into a crime scene, and at the center is one friend’s mangled body, which looks as if rabid bears attacked him. And to top it off, the friend that was with him has vanished.

Unsure if she should be grieving one or two, Felicity turns to [TITLE] Blake Richmond and his team. Blake tries to heal her broken heart and to help her find her missing best friend, but in the process, he is forced to reveal to her the existence of vampires, a secret that he was sworn to protect, and a little tidbit that she could gladly live without. Ultimately, the search puts Felicity in danger of both death and falling in love, neither of which she has time for at the moment.

IRON THIRST is an urban fantasy with a chick lit feel. It is complete at 80,000 words and is the first in an open-ended series.

I am a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime.

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

Sincerely,
Me

RCWriterGirl said...

P.s. Someone mentioned fangs can't be thirsty, which is true. I'm not as bothered by it, though. But, if you're looking for a more accurate phrase, "quite deadly" will work, too. Or you could say, "some of those fangs are real, and their owners are quite thirsty."

Donna Hole said...

Aj;

I loved your hook! That was pure genious - and I loved the thirsty fangs remark.

Your next two paragraphs need to be pared down to bare basics. Introduce Felicity and her two friends; show the nights ending in the brutal murder of one friend and the disapperance of the other, connect Blake Richmond, and spice it with some reason for Felicity to fall for him, and what the actual danger is to Felicity - is she next on the list of savage murders and who saves her.

Leaving out her emotional indecision and focusing on the action will make it stronger.

I like the jaunty tone of the query. It has a nice, chic-lit feel to it. So I think you could leave off that reference. Stating its Urban Fantasy is descriptive enough, especially if you can keep that tone in the body of the query.

And I doubt an agent would care about your experience in a brokerage firm. The story is about "Urban Fantasy" and unless you have some degrees in mythology or developing those type video games, it really doesn't pertain to the story.

I would keep "I am a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime." I'm not sure about the writers club - unless its a name Agents would recognize that specializes in this type writing, it would just be another writers group.

You query is coming along splendidly! Your hard work is showing to your credit.

Thanks for sharing your efforts with us.

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

AjFrey said...

Thanks everyone for the critiques so far! One note, their where two reasons that I was including both the protagonist and my job info. One they are the same. I've read that agents like that. Adds a layer of reality and truth to a story. And without saying - this is unique - it does make it a little different. Most protagonist involved in urban fantasy are either in the service (bar, diner) industry or actually trying to kill the vamps. My version, it could be any of us brought into this world of make believe. But, it may be too subtle - and I'm sure not going to say - hey, mine is different, because somewhere out there - I'm sure it exists already and I just haven't found it.

Also, she doesn't know what vampires and why they are targeting her until the end of the book, so I can't give that up. :) It has a mystery/suspense aspect to it. I'll work on a way to heighten the danger, but keeping the secrets. I would love any suggestions on accomplishing this without giving up the goods. :)

Suzan- nope, no trannies in this novel. LMAO!! There are lots of costumes though. Can't have DragonCon without some really awesome costumes. They do get to have two or three chapters of good times at DragonCon before the death and mayhem start.

You guys are the best!

Suzan Harden said...

AJ,

Don't worry about keeping the ending a mystery. Granted a query should be similar to a back cover blurb, but there's a major difference. The readers WANTS to be surprised. The agent NEEDS to know whether you can write a satisfying ending.

Also, I think there's been a miscommunication about the comments concerning the bio paragraph. The writer's real life experience matters when that experience directly effects the plot. If I'm a lawyer and I write a legal thriller, then yes, I want to mention my day job. If I'm a journalist and the majority of my plot involves my journalist heroine's transformation into a zombie and dealing with the supernatural world, then no, I don't want to mention it.

Hope this helps!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Hey AJ,

I know I'm coming in late and I agree with a lot of the feedback already given. Mostly, I think this is too wordy and long. Here is what I pared it down too. It's not perfect, but I think it cuts it down to the important points. I also would definitely leave out the part about your job. It's not relevant.

It was to be a party like no other, but Felicity soon learns not everyone at DragonCon is in costume. Some of those fangs are real.

Straight-laced sales assistant Felicity Johnson is looking forward to an escape from the norm. And DragonCon, the convention that celebrates everything science fiction and fantasy, is the perfect prescription. However, Felicity gets more adventure than she bargained for when she stumbles upon one friend’s mangled body and another friend goes missing.

Unsure if she should be grieving one or two, Felicity turns to (insert job) Blake Richmond and his team. Blake provides a well-muscled shoulder (if you want to put something about his physical appeal—don’t use chest, sounds feminine) to cry on and tries to help Felicity find her missing friend. But in order to protect Felicity, Blake is forced to reveal a secret he is sworn to protect—vampires exist, and Felicity is now on the top of their menu/hit list (or something like that). If Felicity doesn’t find her friend and get out soon, she’s going to end up dead or in love, neither of which she has time for at the moment.

IRON THIRST is an urban fantasy complete at 80,000 words. I am a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime.

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

Hope that helps! Good luck!

AjFrey said...

Roni - That is awesome! Thank you!

AjFrey said...

What do you guys think of this for the ending to cover the what is at stake?

To make matters worse, one of these vampires finds Felicity to be a quite yummy catch and wants to keep her as a pet. Ultimately, the vampire forces Felicity to choose between life with him as a vampire or being lunch. Dead or undead, that is the question.