Feb 13, 2010

Query- Beth (not the actual title)

When the exclusive Hamilton Arts Academy offers 17-year old rocker Beth Collins a scholarship, she leaps at the chance.

But it’s not her killer guitar skills that catches their eye.

Hamilton is a school for Talented—in other words, freaks like Beth who’s Talent is for causing death at will.

At Hamilton, Beth finds new love, camaraderie and training to control her dangerous abilities. But behind the school's supportive facade lurks an unknown evil-someone wants to exploit her Deathmage talents for their own hellish plans. With no one to trust, Beth must face down demonic powers and master her deadly skills, or succumb to those who would destroy her along with everyone she loves.

12 comments:

Rick Daley said...

This is interesting, it caught my attention. I think the brevity was a big factor...it's short and to the point.

I have a few suggestions:

a school for the talented

change who's to whose; if there are different types of Talents mentored at the Academy, not just Deathmage, maybe whose particular Talent...

This sentence needs to be re-worded:
But behind the school's supportive facade lurks an unknown evil-someone wants to exploit her Deathmage talents for their own hellish plans.

The concept seems fresh and original, I like it. Good luck!

Piedmont Writer said...

I agree with Rick on everything he said. However I have a question -- why would this school want someone who can cause death at will? Perhaps that's part of the hook that I missed?

Good job though. Good luck.

Lisa Amowitz said...

wow! thanks!

Shelley Sly said...

Great premise you have here. I think there are some spots that could use fixing, but the storyline sounds good!

I agree with Rick about the sentence: But behind the school's supportive facade lurks an unknown evil-someone wants to exploit her Deathmage talents for their own hellish plans.

It could just be the punctuation, but I read "evil-someone" as one word, which would make the sentence really messy. I'd consider using a colon instead.

But behind the school's supportive facade lurks an unknown evil: someone wants to exploit her Deathmage talents for their own hellish plans.

Not sure if you left out the title and word count because it's either untitled or unfinished, but be sure to include these in the actual query.

Shelley Sly said...

Sorry to comment again, but I'm looking at this a second time, I'm just wondering about the transition of events in the last paragraph.

Sentence #1 - Beth finds new love and camaraderie

Sentence #2 - Someone (sounds like a singular person) wants to exploit her

Sentence #3 - "With no one to trust..."

I'm just wondering if that one person mentioned in sentence #2 made her lose her trust in her lover and friends? If so, it's just a little unclear.

I'm liking the idea about the school for the Talented, though, and Beth comes across as a unique character, not just a run-of-the-mill teenage girl. Well done.

Emily said...

Good job having a short and sweet query. I think you tell the reader just enough but not too much. That, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to accomplish in a query.

A couple of minor edits:

Second paragraph that "catches" should be "catch." Verb-subject agreement.

Third paragraph "who's" should be "whose" and eliminate the "for." That sentence will be stronger if it reads ...Beth, whose Talent is causing death at will.

Fourth paragraph I would cut the word "new" as it adds confusion. Is the love new? Or is the love, camaraderie, AND training new? And I would add a comma after camaraderie, put that is my own pet peeve. After evil I would put a semi-colon not a dash, especially as you have already used the dash (effectively I might add).

But aside from that nit-picking, it has great energy and voice. I think this is a really effective query.

Lisa Amowitz said...

You guys are AWESOME. The reason I've left the title off is..ummm. Because it's pretty original and I'd like to keep it under the vest. This is the hook. I will have an intro (read, agent-fawning) and an ending bio paragraph. But this is the meat!

I am SO glad I posted here. I'm going to revise this based on your great suggestions.

Dominique said...

I think you've managed to fit it all in very succintly, so you're off to a really great start. You've got some great notes above. I'd just add one thing. "When the exclusive Hamilton Arts Academy offers 17-year old rocker Beth Collins a scholarship, she leaps at the chance.

But it’s not her killer guitar skills that catches their eye." These should probably condensed into one paragraph, and, if possible, one complex sentence.

Rick Daley said...

I can appreciate your apprehension for holding back in this public forum, but don't hold back when you query your dream agent. I figure you know that, but saying it just in case...

Lisa Amowitz said...

Believe me ,Rick. I won't. I've had an agent before and this will be the fourth book I've queried. I'm a bit of a dinosaur! Thanks for your concern! (If you are curious about my title, just shoot me an email. It's not a state secret, lol.)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

This is nicely done, but I would like to read more specifics instead of generalizations such as 'face down demonic powers' and 'master deadly skills.' Something that shows the unique voice of your story.
Because Maggie Stiefvater's Lament and Ballad take place at a music school for kids with unique skills, you might want your query to show how your story is different. One thing I don't understand is whether the talent for causing death is Beth's alone or is shared by the other kids. I think a line would be useful that says what some of their talents are or that they are a death squad if they're all the same.
The story does intrigue me.

Lisa Amowitz said...

Thanks Tricia. The kids have different talents. Beth views her's as more of a curse and is frightened of it.