Nov 1, 2009

Query: Ocean Fairies

Dear Ms Agent,

I'm seeking represetation and querying your interest in a fantasy novel for children (middle grade) of 30,000 words.

Jesse is a young teenage girl who feels like a round peg in a square hole when with other people. But she never stops giggling when with her fairy penguin friends. They make for strange companions: she is long, lean and lovely as a swan while the penguins are roly-poly and cute as ducks. But she knows they like her for who she is: a shy, sweet, mostly inarticulate, nature-loving girl.

When the penguins, who are also ocean fairies with their own kind of magic, promise to take her out on the ocean to see a sunken treasure ship, Jesse is ecstatic. However on that fateful day she meets the most powerful ocean fairy of all, the mighty Selkie. Then she really discovers the rapture of the deep. The merfolk have long been known for their power to enchant a human's senses, and the penguins fear that Jesse will never break free of the merman's irresistible spell and will lose her heart, her mind and her inclination to make delicious tuna sandwiches.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this project.

Yours faithfully,

P.S. Query Critiquers, in Australia we have miniature penguins that are known as fairy penguins. A critiquer of the novel from OS hadn't heard of them and was annoyed by the combining of what he thought was both a real and a fantasy creature, so now I always add this explanation.


Julie said...

Well first of all you need to say the age of the MC (12 or 13), when you say teenage I think YA but with both you are supposed to state the age of the MC.
Also have two cliche's that I would avoid using especially as your hook

"round peg in a square hole"


"they like her for who she is"

If you could find a way to paint a better visual picture of this world with out adding too much more. I like the word count, it seems appropriate for middle grade fiction.

dolorah said...

Two awkward phrases: "when with other people", and "when with her fairy". Reword those and I think, along with adding a specific age for Jesse, your query is ready to go.

Just my own curiosity: isn't adolescence when a child starts losing their faith in magic. Would a MC of about 10 work better?

Just a curious question, not critique feedback.


wendy said...

Thanks heaps, Julie and Donna. Yes, I agree there was some awkward phrasing in there. Didn't notice until after the query was posted.
Good point about her age. Her age thing has always been difficult, because on the one hand she loves being friends and telling fairy stories to the penguins. But on the other hand she goes sailing with them on her sailing boat and falls in love with the Selkie. So it was hard to pick an age. Perhaps around 15 would cover everything?

Thanks again :)

Roni Loren said...

I agree that you should state her age. And if she is fifteen, you may need to change things up a bit to make it sound that way. References to giggling and words like roly-poly indicate a younger voice.

I would take out the cliches as mentioned earlier. I also think you should cut "cute as ducks" because aren't penguins cute enough birds in their own right? :)

Take out "mostly inarticulate", you've already said shy so that covers it, and I personally wouldn't want to read a story where the MC is inarticulate (isn't she my narrator?)

Also, when you say "merman", if this is her love interest, I think you may want to reword to make sure he's a young merman or teen merman, otherwise it sounds like a kid with a "man".

Love the part about tuna sandwiches. :) And who doesn't love penguins?

Good luck!

wendy said...

Thank you, Roni! :)

kathrynjankowski said...

In addition to what's already been pointed out, I'd take a hard look at your character's age and how you want to market (and perhaps reshape) the story.

A 15-year-old in the throes of first love is a young adult story. Middle-grade characters (think of "Inkheart" and "Fablehaven") tend to be more involved in adventures sans romance.