Jan 13, 2010


Dear Secret Agent Man:

I believe you would be interested in my YA urban fantasy DESOLATION, complete at 84,000 words.

It’s time for the devil’s daughter to join the family business of ruining lives and stealing souls, but sixteen-year-old Desolation Black only wants to do good.

Desi knows she’s part demon, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s also part angel. Caught in a power struggle between her father, Luke Black, and his minions, Desi feels destined to bring death and destruction wherever she goes. Until angel and love-of-her-heart Michael shows up to help her remember who she really is.

Reginald Knowles, Luke’s right-hand-man, convinces Desi that she can make a grand gesture for good—a singular act only she can perform that will allow the Fallen Angels to be forgiven. Only after she reads from the Book of Life does Desi realize she’s been tricked and she’s just granted demons the right to possess the bodies of the children of God.

Desi will never be a normal teenage girl. But she can be good—at a cost. With Michael’s help, the balance between heaven and hell could be restored, but the price may be too high for Desi to pay.

DESOLATION is a fast-paced story that mingles the edginess of Wicked Lovely and the vision of Hush, Hush to create it’s own dark love story at the end of the world.

If you would like to consider DESOLATION, I’ll happily forward the complete manuscript to you at your request. An outline for a potential sequel is also available.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ali Cross


Rick Daley said...

That is an awesome hook!

I have some questions about the story based on the rest of the query, and at the moment I don't have time to point them out.

But still, the hook is well-crafted and very fresh. It shows conflict / juxtaposition and it has a funny flare to it as well. Best of luck with this!

Aimlesswriter said...

Love the first paragraph! Great hook.
Second paragraph..she's caught between her father and his minions? Wouldn't father and minons be on the same side? Why would that make her caught between? (Am I reading this wrong?)
Good query but it jumps around a bit. I suggest merge and tighten paragraph two and three. You have too many details we don't need in the query.
Just say she's tricked into giving demons the right to possess he bodies of the children of God. That's the conflict. You don't need to know Reginald at this point. Tighten!
Everything I just said is only my humble opinion. I hope I helped!
Great story idea.

dolorah said...

When I read your hook paragraph I was instantly intrigued. And overall it’s an excellent story concept. The end of the line however is a bit flat in my view. “. . only wants to do good” is ambiguous. You use the concept of doing good three times through the query.

What is Desi’s idea of “good”. Maybe, in keeping with the sentiment of “ruining lives and stealing souls” you could say she “only wants to save souls and better human lives.” Something opposite her demonic destiny.

Also, how does she know she is “part demon?” If she is the actual “Devil’s daughter”, with an Angel for a mother, was she raised in Hell? By adoptive parents that told her of her demonic parentage? How does she become aware of the power struggle between her father and his minions? What type of power struggle is it? Is another powerful demon trying to take of The Devil’s role?

I'm sure all these questions are answered in the novel, but a it's written now, the second paragragh leaves me with too many unanswered questions.

If Desi has only ever known her demonic heritage, of course she “feels destined to bring death and destruction wherever she goes” and the line is unnecessary, taking up valuable word space in the query. The part about her angel lover showing up to “help her remember who she really is” is confusing, because “she doesn’t know is that she’s also part angel.”

By the time I got to Reginald Knowles, I was already lost in plot conflicts, though I feel this is the true conflict in the story. My take on the plot: Sixteen year old Desolation Black is a half demon/half angel, with a desire to save the world, not destroy it. In the ongoing battle between God and The Devil, Desi is tricked into using a unique power she has to allow demons to inhabit the bodies of righteous humans without the effort of converting them first. Using the knowledge she’s gained from reading The Book Of Life, Desi, with the help of her angel friend/lover Michael, must restore the neutral balance before the Armageddon and the final tally of souls is implemented.

The demonic power struggle sounds like a viable subplot, but doesn’t need to be touched on in the query. And we already know Desi is not “a normal teenager” because of her disclosed parentage.

As Aimless Writer said, this query just needs some tightening and focus.

This sounds like a fun, interesting adventure. Good luck with the query.


Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

Nice concept.

The paragraph about Reginald tricking her and the Book of Life needs to be expanded. It feels like you've cut out key information that the reader needs to understand. What specifically does he tell her she needs to do. I'm assuming he didn't just hand her the Book of Life and say, 'read from page 67 and everything will be great.'

Unknown said...

I like it, but I think it could be trimmed a little bit. I suggest combining the last 2 paras of the plot into 1 smaller para. Just hit the points, remove some of the explanation. There are a ton of "only"s in there...might want to remove those.

Definitely catches my interest.

ali cross said...

Thanks so much for the suggestions, guys. They were awesome!

I'm glad you guys liked the hook, but I totally get your point Donna. It felt awkward to me too, but I'd been stumped on how to fix it. Your suggestions will help me make it better ~ thank you!

Also, Donna, in general, I really appreciate your comments. Your "reading between the lines" was bang on ~ so I guess I need to tighten up, like Aimless said.

I think all in all, if I implement the changes you've suggested, from nuking some stuff to combining certain info, I think I can clean this up a lot more.

This query has gotten me two requests for partials and one request for a full, but there have been too many rejections. Maybe if I clean things up, an agent won't have to work so hard to figure it out and I might get more positive responses.

Thanks again!

dolorah said...

Thanks Ali. Can I offer one more piece of advice? (Yeah, right, like your tell the computer NO will stop me!)

Just think about this:

You've submitted the query as is and you've gotten two requests for partials and one request for a full. That's really pretty amazing, and though the query could use some cleaning up, obviously the story is very marketable.

Ask yourself a couple questions about the partials then: who the agents were and what genre they specialize in, then find others of their like; and if they offered any feedback on the partials, take the advice seriously and revise. And then re-read the pages you submitted and see if you can strengthen concepts that are already there.

This sound like a YA-spiritual. From what I've been seeing, this subject is almost as hot as YA-paranormal (Vampires). Read genre guidelines for the spiritual categories and see if your novel fits that general mold.

If you're unsure how to do that, open some of the query submissions here (especially the ones that seem like YA/MG), go to the comments and click on some of the profiles of the responders. You'll find a lot of people who write in your genre and do blogs and they will have great resource links for you. And helpful advice.

Your novel sounds intriguing to me, and I don't read or write in YA or MG.

Congratulations on the requests, belated as that may be.


ali cross said...

Thank you so much Donna.

I appreciate ALL the advice and have already begun taking it. :)