Apr 21, 2010

Query - Whispers in the Dark (revised courtesy of a friend!)

Click here to read the original query.

Query - Whispers in the Dark (revised courtesy of a friend!)

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

Whispers in the Dark, my 47,000 word paranormal romance novella, is perfect for the Faery Rose Press division. I’ve been published several times in the past but my most recent credits include: AnnWenn: Dawn of Destruction, a short story published by Lame Goat Press in Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology and Rebirth, another short story to be featured in Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror 2010 by Sonar4 Publications. I’ve also recently accepted an editing position with Strong Truths, a YA publisher.

In Whispers in the Dark, tragedy strikes Jazz Cornier when her entire family is brutally murdered by the very vampyres she slays. Emotionally weak, a mysterious vampyre invades her life and declares her a Goddess reincarnate—the one who can cure vampirism. She dismisses the whole idea and, in the wake of her family’s death, she lets the vampyre go unharmed.

But there is another who also believes she is the Goddess with the power to cure the thirst of blood—the insatiable need. But he doesn’t want to be freed; he wants to stop her. To protect Jazz, Kayne—the mysterious vampyre—returns to her. In an ever growing battle to stay alive, Jazz accepts his protection, even if she believes the whole idea is ludicrous.

As Kayne uses the very powers he wants her to destroy to defend her, he discovers his protection isn’t only for his mortality, but for reasons much more personal. Will his love override his dreams for mortality? Will it be enough to convince her to embrace her destiny?

Attached, in the body of this email, is a short synopsis.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Dawn Hullender


Rick Daley said...

To be honest, I think if a friend wrote the query you should scrap it and re-write it yourself. Even if your friend just wrote the Best. Query. Ever. It's not your writing or your voice. If I am mis-reading the level of your friend's participation in the title, please forgive me...

In regard to the query itself, I prefer queries that start with a strong hook and have the author bio at the end. I know there are different schools of thought on this, so be sure to research the preferences of the agents you are submitting to and be prepared to offer different queries based on those individual preferences.

tragedy strikes Jazz Cornier when her entire family is brutally murdered by the very vampyres she slays,
This is confusing for me...it seems like a time paradox or a Mexican standoff. If they are the very vampyres she slays, how do they kill her family (because she already slayed them)? I think its the specificity of "the very vampyres" that gets me.

I wouldn't end with the two rhetorical questions, many agents have a strong dislike for rhetorical questions in general.

I would also include the first 5 pages in the body of the email, not a synopsis.

Keep at it, you have great writing experience and it does seem like you have a well-developed plot, you just need to find the right way to show us the main storyline.

gj said...

First, you don't need an agent to submit to TWRP, so you might as well submit to them directly if the story is a perfect match for them.

Second (with apologies for the frankness that I hope is like pulling a bandage off fast to get it over with quickly), your credits aren't strong enough to lead with, even for a small publisher. In fact, I wouldn't mention them at all. The only time I'd lead with publishing credits is if I were a topseller with a major publisher (e.g., Avon, Bantam, Harlequin). At this point in your career, it's all about the story, so focus on that.

Substantively, you still need to find a way to convey how your story isn't just another Buffy The Vampire Slayer clone. Cut some of the melodrama and just tell the story. For example: When vampyre-slayer Jazz's family (you might want to indicate her age; is this YA or adult? Her "family" is different, depending on her age.) is killed by vampyres, she goes on a rampage and cleans out most of the local nest. The last one standing tells her something surprising: she's not really a slayer, but a goddess, and she could cure vampires instead of kiling them. Startled, she lets him go, even though she doesn't believe him until SOMETHING HAPPENS.

Forget all the mysterious creatures and the vague others we don't know. Tell the story. The whole story. And nothing but the story.

Name the antagonist and tell us what he's doing. And what she's doing. Don't tell us someone else rescues her. It's fine if she hunts down Kayne to learn more about his theory, and he acts protective, but their re-connection should have to do with her actions and choices, not his. Maybe she lets him think he's her bodyguard, even as she DOES SOMETHING.

And, finally, the stakes at the end should be HERS, not his. Beyond avenging her family and not dying, what does she care about? Has she fallen in love with Kayne, so now she wants her special powers to work? What is she willing TO DO to prevent that from happening?

Do you see the pattern here -- you've got all the motivation and backstory and none of WHAT SHE DOES. The choices she makes, the struggles she faces -- those are what make us care about her, and what makes her story different from BTVS.

Jacquelynn said...

I really like the information from gj, but I have a question also.

This wont apply to me for sometime, I have never been published. But I almost always see agents stating in their submission guidelines that you should post any and all credentials. Even writers groups your apart of.

However I am a strong beleiver if its not about the book, it should go at the end.

Im not saying GJ is wrong at all, I just never really understood the cred stuff personally. Unless its a non fiction in my opinion it shouldn't matter. But thats me im not an agent!