So, since today WriteOnCon really does actually start I'll keep this short. Here is the query Lady LiLa sent back to me:
Hey Matt! You are SO close with this! Hopefully we helped a little...
Dear Lady LiLa, HA.
The last thing Lee (insert last name here) expected to discover in the bitter wilderness of northern Idaho was magic. But after the death of his mother, and estrangement from his useless, high-society, drunk-whenever-he's-home father, Lee is shipped off to Rocky Mountain Academy and that's exactly what he finds.
Despite having to earn the right to attend classes after months of hard labor and being placed on restriction after getting caught alone in the woods with a female student, Rocky Mountain Academy redeems itself when Lee finally learns of the mysterious curriculum. The classes have names like "The Eight Principles of Yong" and "The Way of Unifying With Life Energy." In them Lee and his new friends (and enemies) study everything from East Asian Calligraphy and Meditation to Aikido and Kenjutsu.
Permission to actually kick ass is pretty awesome when you're fifteen and convinced it's you against the world.
Through these disciplines Lee and his fellow students learn to use their talents to harness their Chi for things like healing, telekinesis and imbuing their weapons with rockin' powers. And it's a good thing Lee stayed awake during class because the master of the school is sending a team of students on a mission to investigate an abandoned silver mine. While underground, they are attacked by Stone Golem Earth Elementals, (need a description here), and their newfound friendship and magical skills are put to the test.
Before reform school, Lee never in a million years thought he'd be battling subterranean monsters using Eastern mysticism. Then again he never thought he'd make an actual friend either.
Insert bio/reason you're querying here.
So as you can see they tightened up the plot descriptions drastically, which is AWESOME. This is way better than what I sent them, but I'm sure you'll all agree it's still not QUITE right. Tomorrow you'll see a few more changes I made to inject a little more voice and emphasize some of the changes they helped me make, and tomorrow's version, which is the current one, is the best I have so far but it still isn't perfect.
We can discuss that tomorrow.
LiLa and I also discussed a couple of other things about queries. We agreed that actually writing one in first person and leaving it that way is not an option, though we didn't consider writing it in first and then changing it - which I think is brilliant. I also asked them whether referring to the genre as YA Rural Fantasy would be a good idea, and while they thought the joke was pretty funny they weren't sure whether agents would get it. I see their point and probably won't do it ... except when I query Nathan Bransford because he liked it: see?