Oct 15, 2010

Query- STEAM PALACE (revised)

Click here to read the original query.

Sometimes meeting your Evil Twin makes you wonder which one you are.

In the world of STEAM PALACE, New England shunned the Revolution and formed the Kingdom of New Britannia. In 1878, twins are separated at birth, one to live with her abusive mother in poverty, the other raised as a favored daughter of the court. Twenty-three years later, the ‘courtly’ twin has lost her title, her lands, and the only means of supporting her family, so she travels to Hartford where she meets her double--and it’s hate at first sight. The twins view each other as the enemy, the ‘evil twin.’ To restore her family’s station, the ‘courtly’ twin seeks the hand of an ambitious Duke, but her sister is his secret lover. The Duke pits the twins against each other while he plots with their country’s enemies in search of the mythical Sea Key. As enemy heavy dirigible bombers approach their respective homes, the twins must first overcome their mutual loathing, and then use their shared ‘mad passion’ to defeat the Duke and save New Britannia from steam-powered invaders by finding the Sea Key and unlocking its power.

STEAM PALACE, a Steampunk Adventure, is complete at 120,000 words. I have completed a creative writing certificate course at the University of Washington, completed Holly Lisle’s “How To Revise Your Novel” online course, and I co-host a local critique group.

A couple other ideas for the hook line:

You meet your Evil Twin...but who’s to say you aren’t the evil one?
Mutually Assured Destruction is not how twins should treat each other.

Thanks for your input!
I think it can/should be shortened even more. What do you think?


Anonymous Author said...

The hook line is terrific.

After that I got a little lost. Historical quibble: if New Brittania is a kingdom, rather than a colony, there must've been some kind of revolution.

The paragraph is too long and confusing. I'd name the twins, because calling them the courtly twin and the other twin is confusing. If one of them is the protagonist, focus on her and leave out subplots and backstory.

I'd also lose the bio stuff-- it leaves me wondering what a "certificate course" is.

Danielle said...

I agree with Anonymous - naming the twins will make things easier to understand here.

Also, break up that big chunk of text into smaller pieces. I would make a new paragraph after "favored daughter of the court," and another after "his secret lover."

This is definitely sounding more interesting than the first version!

Jodi Henry said...

The hook is good.

But where does the book start? In 1878 or 23 years after that? If it is 23 years after that (which i am assuming it is becuase 23 years would be a lot of backstory) then start the query there.

Also, whose point of view is the book told from. If it's multiple POV's then you have to chose one to tell the query from. I think you have most of this from the Courtly Twins POV and then you get to the DUKE and what he's doing. If the Courtly twin knows what he's doing this is fine, but you need his actions to match her POV.

This is what I would consider. It's not perfect by a long shot, so take what you can from it.

Sometimes meeting your Evil Twin makes you wonder which one you are.

At the cusp of the twentieth century, twenty-three year old, (NAME OF COURTLY TWIN) has lost the title of (COURTLY TITLE), her lands, and the only means of supporting her family, (if these means are something other than her lands tell us what it is, if it is her lands drop ‘the only means to support her family).

To restore her family’s station, she travels to Hartford with hopes of marrying an ambitious Duke, only to find her sister, and identical twin is his secret lover. For (COURTLY NAMED TWIN) it’s hate at first sight and she deems her twin as the enemy, the ‘evil twin.’

She struggles to steal the Duke from her sister, but soon discovers the Duke is the enemy and in search of the Sea Key—(tell me what the Sea Key is next).

The twins must overcome their loathing of one another and use their shared ‘mad passion’ (Mad passion of what?)to defeat the Duke, if they hope to find the Sea Key and unlock it’s power in time to save New Britannia from steam-powered invaders.

STEAM PALACE is a Steampunk Adventure novel for (young adults or adults or whatever here) and complete at 120,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.

Note: if this is in fact a young adult novel your word count is way to high. Young adult is at most 70K and that's still on the high side. Adult first time author novels should be closer to 100K.

a great source for info about query letter and such is Janet Reids Query crit sight at


hope this helps a little,


Piedmont Writer said...

I love the hook the way it is.

I really like the way you've toned it down from your earlier version. Two problems.

Too much chunky text. You need to break some paragraph action.

You've lost your voice. This reads more like a synopsis.

Don't fret. We've all gone through it to try and find perfection. I like the way this is readable and I can follow what happens without the war, but there's no zing. no shiny. It was washed out with the rewrite.

I know you've got it in you. One more go around.

Rick Daley said...

I think you have a great hook. I agree with the others that naming the twins would be add clarity, plus it would give me more of a connection to the characters.

Break the story description into at least two paragraphs. There's a lot going on in there. Breaking it up will make it easier to read.

For example, (after the hook sentence) use paragraph 1 for the intro to the protagonist(s), then a paragraph about the Duke, then a paragraph about the struggle. I'm not saying add words...you can probably trim and consolidate a little bit.

I like the backstabbing, twisty plot, but that's a hard story to describe. You gave yourself a nice challenge!

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Thanks everyone!
I'm working on a new version that focuses just on the twins.

To address a couple concerns brought up:
@AA: They were part of England until England fell...so they formed their own country. I'm pretty much doing what you suggested.
Not sure the bio is better or worse than nothing.

@Danielle: thanks!

@Jodi: For these alternate/fantasy type queries, a line about the world is expected. It's definitely not YA, and the word count is long but it is what it is.

I like your edits...but Sophia would never steal the Duke from Viola (bing...names!)
And the Duke's not the enemy, but he's dealing with the enemy for his own gain.

@Piedmont: I wrote a new one in that style...should be up in a couple days.

@Rick: Thanks once again. Look for my new version in a day or two.