Sep 8, 2009


Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent:

Moriah Rowani returns from the elite school where she's been trained as a top-tier bounty hunter looking forward to spending time with the father who raised her alone. Instead, she finds him bleeding to death -- shot by the Chancellery guard found dead nearby. Her father's final words are, "find the diary."

Moriah is forced from her ancestral estate by the Lord Chancellor and his men, who are intent on one thing -- eradicating people with human and satyr or nymph parents. With the help of allies both in and out of the underground resistance, Moriah discovers that the diary, written by the mother who left her ten years ago, holds the secret to crippling the Lord Chancellor's hold on power and possibly pulling the city-state of Callarion from the hell it's become.

My steampunk fantasy novel, CALLARION AT NIGHT, is complete at 100,000 words. Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.


Natalie said...

This is better than the first one, easier to understand. You need a comma in the first paragraph between father and who. Also, you state later that her mother left her, so it would be assumed that her father raised her alone - can you just leave it out in the first paragraph?

In paragraph two I'm a little confused. Lord Chancellor is eradicating people with human and satyr or nymph parents, does that mean that everyone with a human parent and everyone with a satyr or nymph parent are being slaughtered? Or do you mean to say that anyone who is a halfbreed is being slaughtered?

It's looking good!

Unknown said...

I also like this one a lot better. The only thing I would say is that, like Natalie, I'm still a little unclear about the halfbreed thing.

I'm also a little confused about your magic/paranormal involvement here. It seems like a tiny little bit when you say "satyr or nymph", but then that's all. I'd like some more details about setting. The little bit we have here is distracting and confusing.


Rick Daley said...

It's a great premise, but I think your hook has too much to it and can be streamlined. It will give you more room to talk about the story:

Bounty Hunter Moriah Rowani must find a lost diary to avenge her father's death and free the land of Callarion from the tyrannical rule of the Lord Chancellor.

Now, what prevents her from finding it? Is it lost, is it locked up?

When she finds it, what does she do with it, read a spell, or use strategic knowledge to plan a battle?

This was a lot better than draft 1.

Matthew Delman said...

You're all right about the halfbreed thing. I just didn't know precisely how to get it across.

TLH -- Magic does not exist at all in this world. The satyrs and nymphs aren't magical, they just happen to be another race of people that live side-by-side with humans. I could get deeper into the steampunk setting of it, but I'm struggling with introducing more of the setting while keeping the query relatively short. Suggestions are appreciated.

Rick -- Moriah's mother presents a coded solution in the pages of the diary that has to be figured out. Also, the "saving Callarion" bit isn't Moriah's primary motivation in the story. She doesn't care for the most part, except until she finds the diary.

Again ... no magic at all in this story. The next revision might include some mentions of the tech, to test out how that flows.

Thanks for the input everyone!

Joshua McCune said...

Matt, I like the idea of adding some of the tech, though i think your query's got a pretty good flow to it and works pretty well as a shorter query (i.e., some agents might prefer a longer version with more details), though I agree w/ Rick that the hook could use a bit more punch.

Unknown said...

Ah okay I see. If you're querying fantasy/scifi agents you might consider going into more depth about that detail. Not a drastic amount, just something to give a little more setting. Like a sentence that begins "In the land of Callarion..."?

dolorah said...


You've got a good head start here, and it sounds like a good fantasy novel. I only know it's fantasy, though by the single phrase "eradicating people with satyr or numph parents."

Sorry, maybe an agent knows, but I've never heard of "steampunk" fantasy. So, I'm going to say that if this is fantasy, you need to play up the role of your "fantasy" creatures. As in, name their species. For example:
"Moriah Rowani, a half nymph/half human bounty hunter, returns home to find her father bleeding to death in the kitchen of their ancestral estate."

And definitely, play up the role of the diary: where it comes from, what it's significance is to her family; and what it will do to overthrow the Lord Chancellor.

I'm also getting a sense that this is a very personal quest - from Moriah's POV - but phrases like "spending time with the father who raised her" and "written by the mother who left her" are depersonalizing. (Weird word, I know but I'm a social worker, so . .)

I would like to get a sense of your world as you've built it, and what the stakes are. I'm seeing that the elements are all in here, they're just not coherent - they don't flow smoothly from plot point to plot point.

Thanks for sharing.

Anica Lewis said...

I like this! As a fantasy fan, I'd definitely read it. Two suggestions:

1. If Moriah is half-nymph or satyr, you might tell us this, even if it's just to say "the nymph mother who left her ten years ago." Ideally, you could mention it earlier, as suggested by Donna.

2. I'm familiar with steampunk, and it definitely perks my interest to see it here, but is there possibly any way to convey that feel earlier? I had no idea this would be steampunk until you said so at the end.

Also, I must respectfully disagree with Natalie on the matter of the comma in the first paragraph. If you'd said "her father, who raised her alone," you would need one, but "the father who raised her alone" is a phrase unto itself.

Good luck!