Oct 2, 2009


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

Dear agent,

When Felicity Johnson disguises herself as a sexy vampire when she and her friends attend DragonCon, the convention in Atlanta that celebrates everything sci-fi and fantasy, she attracts two men: Blake, the rugged attorney that turns poor Felicity into a lovesick bumbling idiot, and Gabriel, the undisclosed vampire who would much rather just turn her and keep her as a pet.

Felicity is thrilled to be spending some alone time with Blake, but when Christian, her best friend, doesn’t show up at the planned meeting spot, she decides to search for him. She stumbles into a crime scene, and at the center is the last person seen with Christian--dead. Once the initial shock wears off, her only question is “Where is Christian?” No one else believes he is in danger, but to Felicity it is as obvious as the blood on the pavement. The one person she can depend on is the one person she can’t find: now she must save him, although she doesn’t have a clue how or from what.

She begins to falls for Blake as he and his team work overtime trying to find Christian and to keep Felicity safe. Gabriel has different plans in mind, leading Felicity to the most difficult choice of all. The desperate search for her best friend puts Felicity in danger of two things, death and love, neither of which she has time for.

IRON THIRST is a suspenseful urban fantasy novel complete at 80,000 words, and is the first in an open ended series. I am a member of Sisters in Crime and Atlanta Writer’s Club.

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




Roni Loren said...

Your first line needs to be more hook-y and it also uses “when” twice. Maybe something about how felicity is not going to be the normal one at Dragon con this year. Also, I don’t know if you need to define DragonCon, my guess is agents are familiar with the conventions. And it takes up precious query space.

Also change “attorney that” to “attorney who”. I would take out “poor” to describe Felicity, we don’t want to see her as pitiful. And cut some of the adverbs—Gabriel, the undisclosed vampire who would prefer (rather makes me look for a “than”) to turn her and keep her as a pet.

With the guys, is it a love triangle? If so there is no mystery as to which one she wants. Also, I’m not getting a feel for Gabriel’s motive. Why is he interested in Felicity in particular?

The second paragraph can be pared down a lot because you’re basically telling us one thing: friend is missing and she needs to find him. Maybe something like :Felicity is thrilled to spend time with Blake, but when her friend Christian goes missing and another person turns up dead, the honeymoon is over (but something less cliché than that last part :) ) No one believes that Christian is in danger, but Felicity’s gut tells her differently.

The third paragraph may need to be reworked as it reads a bit choppy. Here are my thoughts: With Blake’s help, Felicity embarks on a search for Christian. But Felicity soon realizes that saving her friend may mean sacrificing herself. Gabriel offers Felicity a choice, but some choices have no good answer. Etc etc. (I don’t know the plot so it’s hard to rewrite, but just throwing out ideas).

Alright, hope that’s helpful and makes sense—my mind is a bit mushy by this time of night. :) Your story sounds interesting. Good luck!

Tabitha Bird said...

this is a great second revision :) I still like the idea behind this book, I did when you first posted this query... my suggestions would be to focus on that first line. It kind of tripped me up because it is so wordy and I agree with fiction groupie, you use the word when two times, which doesn't help with the wordiness or the flow of the sentence.

Another small comment; your describe your book as 'suspenseful urban fantasy..' But where would it fit on the bookstore shelves? Try to use the specific word for your genre. and I would leave out the suspenseful bit. I am hoping most fantasy stories have this element to them. And it takes up words in your query letter without adding anything new.

Other questiosn I have; is there really blood on the pavement? If so, how come no one else sees this as a sigh that Christian is in trouble? Also why does she depend on Christian and what does his disappearance mean to Felicity personally? is it because he is her friend or is there are deeper meaning? What is the conflict or biggest struggle for Felicity? And why does Blake suddenly start helping her to find him? What is the most difficult choice of all for Felicity? You allude to it, but you don't spell it out. I guess what I am getting at is why do I care about Felicity and her quest for Christian? You have to set that out clearly in the query. Tell us who the pragmatist is(you do this well) and set up the conflict (needs clarifying) . What does she want and what will she stand to loose if she doesn't get it? What choices will she have to make in order to get where she wants to go. I have some idea of this, but I think it could be clearer.

I love the new title. I think it works really well. You have a strong story, but I feel like you are trying to get too much plot into this query without setting up what is at stake and why we need to care about what is at stake.

Just my thoughts :) Hope it helps.

Unknown said...

Roni and Tab already did a great job of critiquing your letter. I just wanted to pitch in and say I love the premise of this story! Finally a vampire that's sinister again!! Thanks for posting, I can't wait to pick it up at the bookstore!


gj said...

You're definitely headed in the right direction.

I don't usually comment on re-writes, but a new thought occurred to me. You describe this as urban fantasy, so the mystery/demon-slaying -- NOT the romance -- should be front and center. The romance should exist only to complicate the mystery/demon-slaying.

Instead, what I'm getting is that it's paranormal romance, with the romance (and I'm getting quadrangle vibes, rather than triangle vibes here, and I'm not sure that's what you mean) front and center, instead of the urban fantasy (which generally involves fighting demons, or a mystery, rather than a relationship).

You lead with the two potential love interests, plus there's Chris (and many, many, many readers will assume there's a romantic connection to Chris, since he's the first male introduced, so if he's not the hero, make that absolutely clear from the moment he shows up on the page). Those are all romance indicators. You have her falling in love, and you have someone else falling in love with her. That's all romance too. There's no conflict in the relationships, b/c the attraction is mutual (which means the story probably isn't romance in its execution, even if it sounds that way in the query), but the focus of the language is on relationships, making this romance.

If it's actually urban fantasy, then focus on the NON-romance aspects: when she goes to DragonCon, she's expecting to have a great time with her best bud, who's trying to get her to overcome her shyness, but instead her friend (doesn't really need a name, if he's just the MacGuffin) disappears, with clues that suggest the friend murdered someone. Then, give some reason why it's Felicity's job to solve the murder, and why she's got some unique skills that would enable her to do so, and only after that, show how the two guys make the investigation harder, e.g., she's distracted by making googly eyes at the lawyer, and she's evading a real vampire who wants to make her his pet.

A.J. Frey said...

Thank you everyone.
GJ & Tabita - I really appreciate both of you taking the time to critique my second attempt. You are spot on. I am struggling with which genre my book actually falls into, and it makes sense that would show in the query letter. Something I need to correct.

The book is very character driven, but keeps the reader guessing. I would say that the romance is second in nature, but still a large part of it. Maybe 60% Suspense/40% romance. Only urban fantasy because of the existance of vamps, even though they remain in the shadows. It is a more realistic take on vampires than some that I have read. The sequel is much more urban fantasy and dives deeper into the world.

Christian and Felicity's relationship is platonic, so I do need to clarify that in the letter. Thank you for pointing that out. I think I should remove Gabriel all together, because his part is revealed much later in the end and trying to clarify in the letter gives too much away - and bogs the letter down with details. Even though the feeling between Blake and Fee is mutual, the relationship has its own set of struggles.

I would say in order, it is Suspense, Romance, Urban Fantasy, with a chick lit voice. Can't very well put that on a query letter. :) Any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

A.J. Frey said...

After re-reading my post, it sounded like I was only thanking GJ and Tabitha. Attack of the misplaced sentence!! I was speaking to them directly on genre. I appreciate everyone's critiques and plan to put the good advice to use after letting it simmer. I just wanted to make sure that was clear. :)

This is an amazing site, and I plugged it today at an agent/author panel that I attended. So many of us struggle with the query, and that was a common thread in the discussion.