Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Katie Mills FOSSEGRIM Query Critique

Today I just want to get right into it. You all remember what's up right? Here is Katie's query with my thoughts.

Dear (specified agent)

I've talked about this before but I do think you make the right choice here, getting right to the story. Unless an agent specifically states that they want to see the housekeeping or the personalization first, just get down to business, STAT.

Seventeen year old Sage Reynolds realized long ago that wishing for a different life is a pretty fruitless venture. This starts out pretty well, but then fizzes out. Cool age, awesome name ... both tell us a lot because we already know what main genre this is going to be (YA) and that the character will probably stand out, but I would like to see more in this first sentence. This sentence is more important than almost any other one. What kind of guy is Sage before he gets the tail? Jock? Band Geek? Bad boy? And why is he wishing for a different life? The way it is written now is too vague. But that doesn’t stop him from wishing anyway, one summer’s eve, on the beaches of Misquamicut, Rhode Island. You've got to clear this up for yesterday's readers. I told people that I thought you told me once that you were from Connecticut before you moved to France, but I can't remember for sure if that is even true. It might have been momentary insanity, or the fact that his foster parents were finally sending him away. In any case, Sage thought the threat of military school was the worst of his problems.

I see that you do touch on the reasons for his wishing here in this paragraph, and I should clarify that it doesn't HAVE to be in the first sentence that this is explained, but if you can find a way to convey it very briefly it will make that hook really pop! Also, this is a good start here with these last two concepts, the foster parents, the threat of military school, but the way they are written here makes it feel like they're just being thrown out there for good measure. Let's see if our reader's can help you convey all the ideas from this first paragraph into once succinct pitch/hook that knocks the reader on their ass and shoves the need to read your pages down their throat.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

This rocks harder than an ancient barnacle. You don't really need the "but" but it works either way. This is excellent voice, and when this query earns requests it is probably going to be because of this line.

In this 70,000 word YA fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of being ‘Fossegrim’- I had to look this up. Apparently you did not make this creature up. I love the sound of it, for some reason it reminds me of Jotun and Norse mythology. including the discovery of a whole other race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. The problem though is that this feels like too much telling. Telling is not altogether taboo in queries, but it can get you into trouble. For example right here I'm wondering whether the other race is the same thing as the Fossegrim, and are the Fossgrim essentially just mermen or not? Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail hilarious and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on roids. Awesome. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with a Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago so that she could stay with the man she loved. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. Here are the beginnings of a great conflict and choice setup, but this is too confusing and too vague. First of all you need to clarify that Fossgrim are all the same kind of creatures, and that that is the name of the race, not of a character, because right now it's not completely clear. Second this part about the female one throwing down the stone and it somehow being the key to Sage becoming human again sounds awesome, after you re-read it a couple of times to make sure you understand it. You should try to re-word this so that it both sounds more exciting (high stakes) and makes more sense. Readers, can you help with some suggestions?

But his homecoming proves dangerous. Being Fossegrim has made him an enemy to those he was once closest to and, to top it all off, he returns home to find a warrant out for his arrest. Despite Sage’s desire to be human again, his choice between regaining the life he’s lost or protecting the world he’s found won’t be as easy as he once thought. I'm not sure you need this. The main problem as I see it in your query is the lack of specificty. I do like the warrant and how that raises the stakes but it kind of comes out of left field. That doesn't have to be entirely a bad thing but right now I'm left wondering what the plot is, and which part is the main conflict. And who are these enemies?


I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen and FOSSEGRIM is my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog: http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. I am twenty eight years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years. This is debatable. Really the only thing that actually matters is your story, but certain agents may like this kind of thing. Others will hate it though, so be sure to research what kind of mini-bio agents are looking for.

Listing the blog is good, but you should try to make it display properly. The HTML code for displaying a link without showing the whole URL is like this: [a href="http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com"]Creepy Query Girl[/a]. Just replace the [ and ] with a <> (I had to write it that way to get it to display). The problem here is that different email carriers will format things differently, so you may just want to use the plain text URL.

Thank you very much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will send the added material accordingly.

Sincerely,

CQG.

So that's it. Please try to help us out here. Any feedback at all is much appreciated but I would especially love if anyone can help suggest a better and more concise hook for Katie, as well as a re-write about the changing stone main conflict bit. Ideas?

45 comments:

Creepy Query Girl said...

Really really great points Matt!!- you're awesome (I knew you would be) i can't wait to see what your followers propose! Thanks so much!

Suzi McGowen said...

I would snip almost everything from the last two paragraphs. Your age, where you live, and how many kids you have aren't things that give you a better platform for writing this book. They're also not things that should be brought up in a job interview. (Because that's what this is.)

A reference to the blog is ok.

Also, maybe start out with "Foster kid Sage Reynolds realized...". That gives us an idea of his age and some of his issues, as well as his hard look on life in just a few words.

salarsenッ said...

Yeah, I'm loving the 'bottom of the ocean' bit. That snagged me, Kate. The story sounds really interesting and I love the male POV.

Matt, great job as always. Now geez, if I can just get up the courage to post mine....hah. It's still not ready.

April said...

I agree with salarsen - that snagged me too. I love it when a female author writes well with a male POV and makes you forget it's written by a woman at all. That's how I feel with your male POV.

I don't think your age is necessary, but I don't think it hurts to mention that you're a mother and where you live. I don't know, but I've read that it gives the agent a feel for who you are. You might write okay but not have the personality that matches that particular agent. I guess it's not necessary, but I also don't think it's necessary to delete it. Then again, I'm not published. :P

Creepy Query Girl said...

I forgot to clarify for yesterday's readers- I know about Misquamicut because I grew up in Connecticut and during my teen years- Misquamicut Beach was 'the summer hang out':)

Amie B said...

oh i think you could write a really great opening hook based on matt's comments.

Being shipped off to military school by his foster parents was not exactly what Seventeen year old Sage Reynolds had in mind when he wished for a different life;.....then add the awesome "freaking fish tail" part.

i think the middle of the query can be condensed and more concise if you follow matt's input.

and i would get rid of the bio, or put in relavant writing credentials.

good luck with this! sounds like a fun story!

Red Boot Pearl said...

This story sounds amazing! I really like the premise. I agree that the hook needs to grab more because it doesn't quite give the umph that the rest of the query does.

If you somehow pulled the line: "But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail" into the hook I think it would work. Here's my attempt, still kinda rough:


Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds thought his life was pretty bad as a Foster kid on the verge of attending military school, but that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

I think if you did scrap the paragraph starting with: "but his homecoming proves dangerous"

Then you could "show" us more about dealing with the realities of being a fossegrim.

It's so hard to juggle the word count and the important parts of the story.

Good luck! It's sound really great.

Bish Denham said...

Hi Katie, you brave girl you! I think you ought to use that waking up with freaking tail right at the beginning. EXCELLENT!

I don't think this is needed at all. "one summer’s eve, on the beaches of Misquamicut, Rhode Island." I don't need to know where he is in the world.

Also I have twice stumbled over the word "roids." I know you're talking about steroids, but both times my first thought/image was hemorrhoid.

And a quick explination of ‘Fossegrim’ would be helpful.

Over all I LIKE this idea.

Piedmont Writer said...

And yes, I appreciate the Rhode Island reference however, in the next paragraph Sage is in the North Sea. Where does the story actually take place, I think this is what the query should state. Perhaps take out the north sea reference and just leave it as "north eastern ocean".

As for the bio, even though I have enough cred to fill it in, I don't use anything. Especially about being a mother, kids, or the blog.

I put my blog reference down at the bottom after my phone number and email address. If they are interested in me, they can go to my blog and learn that I have a child and I have published credits.

Jess said...

I LOVE the sentences Matt pointed out that scream "voice." Man-tail, Disney character on roids...all awesome!

I only have one question to add--do foster parents have the power to ship kids to military school? I was under the impression that they were still wards of the State, and that Sage could report to his Foster-Care Officer if he was going to be sent away. I thought you would have to be adoptive parents to do something like that...just wondering :)

Janet Johnson said...

Great critique Matt. I pretty much agree with all your comments. So here's my attempt at a new hook . . .

"With his foster parents kicking him out and military school in his future, seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds thought life couldn't get any worse. . . ."

Good luck with it Katie! Sounds like an interesting book. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm not going to weigh in on this since I'm beta reading the book tonight. I only skimmed through the query when Katie sent it to me, but the fossegrim caught my attention. It's not quite the same version that I know from Norse mythology (my last novel was based on the myths and Scandivian folklore), but there are a few version out there. That's part reason why I'm excited to read the book. If it is indeed from Norse mythology, Katie should mention that in her query.

Stephanie said...

"Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds thought he had problems, but that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean floor with a freaking fish tail."

Start by getting to the point. I agree with all the other comments. Ditch the personal stuff that doesn't add to your story or being a writer. Whittle down what the conflict is (the stone thing) and get to it quickly. Sounds like a fantastic story! Good luck!

Lisa Gail Green said...

I LOVE it! I think the story sounds like it rocks. The parts you point out where the voice is showcased are the best of all. Why not start it out with jumping right to When seventeen-year-old Sage wakes up on the bottom of the ocean with a fishtail he finds out what real problems are. IDK you can do better, honestly, but the point is jump right to that great hook!!

Donna Hole said...

I was confused too about the "warrant", and why he needs to search out the other female ‘Fossegrim’ (I'm with Matt; love this term).

I was thinking along the same lines as Amie B. Most of what I'd recommend has already been mentioned.

Sounds like a cool book. Good luck with the query re-write.

.........dhole

Christina Lee said...

I actually think you can stop your query after this line, and it would be enough: "If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity."
I agree about reworking the first line a bit to show more of personality and I'd exclude the really personal info. I hope that helped!

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

I'm with Piedmont and just put my blog under my contact info. I would also nix the personal information since it's not related to you as a writer.
This story sounds really awesome. Otherwise i agree with everything Matthew said

LTM said...

Hey, cutie! Here's my two cents--I'm not as techie as Matt w/all the red ink... sorry for the hunt-n-seek...

See what you think:

Dear (specified agent)

Seventeen year old Sage Reynolds knows wishing for a different life is a pretty fruitless venture. But on a beach in Rhode Island, with his foster parents finally sending him away, he does it anyway. Sage thought military school was the worst of his problems.

That was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

Sage is transformed into a ‘Fossegrim’ and discovers an entire race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Now he'll do anything to get his old imperfect life back--he never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on roids. But to reclaim his humanity, he must find the original Fossegrim and convince her to return to the ocean. The only problem is she left the sea 70 years ago to stay with the man she loved.

His homecoming proves dangerous. Being Fossegrim has made Sage an enemy to his friends and on top of that, back home there's a warrant out for his arrest. Sage realizes the choice between regaining the life he lost or protecting the world he’s found won’t be as easy as he once thought.

FOSSEGRIM is a 70,000-word YA fantasy and my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog "Creepy Query Girl" (http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com).

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,

CQG.

LTM said...

oh, and P.S.---I am totally buying this book. :D <3

Creepy Query Girl said...

wow- thanks so much for your comments guys- I've been tinkering with it all day based on everyone's awesome feedback!

Colene Murphy said...

I just loved where Katie's voice came through after the first few paragraphs when it got funny and snappy. That was where I got her voice more than the beginning.
Love this!

Melissa Gill said...

I love a story that uses a real but unusual paranormal element. This sounds very fresh, and full of voice. Great job.

You've got a lot of great suggestions here. I'll just chime in with a vote for moving the part about being a foster kid shipped off to military school up front: Seventeen year old Sage thought getting shipped to military school by his foster partents was the worst. Then he woke up... with a (man-tail part, that's really funny) ...

For your personal, if you leave in the part about the setting in RI, you might want to just mention that you grew up on the E Coast, but now you live in France, cause that is soooooo cool.

Melissa said...

"But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail." <- Seriously, this is the best line of a query that I've ever seen.

I really enjoy the voice in this query. I didn't realize how vague it was before - probably because I have similar problems with vagueness - but now that I notice (thanks to Matt) I agree the query could be tightened if you were more specific.

Melissa said...

"But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail." <- Seriously, this is the best line of a query that I've ever seen.

I really enjoy the voice in this query. I didn't realize how vague it was before - probably because I have similar problems with vagueness - but now that I notice (thanks to Matt) I agree the query could be tightened if you were more specific.

Elana Johnson said...

Okay, warning: Long comment ahead.


Seventeen year old Sage Reynolds realized long ago that wishing for a different life is a pretty fruitless venture. But that doesn’t stop him from wishing anyway, one summer’s eve, on the beaches of Misquamicut, Rhode Island. It might have been momentary insanity, or the fact that his foster parents were finally sending him away. In any case, Sage thought the threat of military school was the worst of his problems.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

(Okay, this is your hook. Yeah, other people have said it, I’m saying it again. This is what the first sentence needs: the fish tail. And are you opposed to parentheticals? I would so use them here, but I also have parentheticals in my book, so there’s that to consider. (If you don’t, you might not want to use them.) Maybe something like, “Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds (foster child) thought his life was bad (impending military school)—until he wakes up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.” Or some such that combines all this information with the fish tail.)

In this 70,000 word YA fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of being ‘Fossegrim’- (See, and I’m fine with this term, because, hey guess what? You already told me he has a fish tail. I don’t think you need to go into too much detail here. Or any. This is a term I have to learn to deal with in your book.) including the discovery of a whole other race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on (‘)roids. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with a Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago so that she could stay with the man she loved. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. (End here. I don’t think you need more. This is the conflict. There’s a consequence if he doesn’t find the girl. You’re good.)

But his homecoming proves dangerous. Being Fossegrim has made him an enemy to those he was once closest to and, to top it all off, he returns home to find a warrant out for his arrest. Despite Sage’s desire to be human again, his choice between regaining the life he’s lost or protecting the world he’s found won’t be as easy as he once thought.

I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen and FOSSEGRIM is my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog: http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. I am twenty eight years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years. (Okay, since people are commenting on this, I want to too. Don’t wanna be left out. I would axe the first sentence. You might say something like, “Besides writing novels, I also write…” and continue into the second sentence. And I’m honestly okay with the last sentence. Residing in France is cool. *grin*)

Thank you very much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will send the added material accordingly. (I’d cut this last sentence. NEVER give them a way out. “Oh, I don’t think this project holds promise. Rejection.” You know? Just say, “The complete manuscript is available upon request. I do think you should have the title in here again. I cut it from the first sentence of your bio, so maybe you should add it back in. Like, “The complete manuscript of FOSSEGRIM is available upon request.”)

Hope something helps!

Elana Johnson said...

Okay, copied and pasted and bolded:


Seventeen year old Sage Reynolds realized long ago that wishing for a different life is a pretty fruitless venture. But that doesn’t stop him from wishing anyway, one summer’s eve, on the beaches of Misquamicut, Rhode Island. It might have been momentary insanity, or the fact that his foster parents were finally sending him away. In any case, Sage thought the threat of military school was the worst of his problems.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

(Okay, this is your hook. Yeah, other people have said it, I’m saying it again. This is what the first sentence needs: the fish tail. And are you opposed to parentheticals? I would so use them here, but I also have parentheticals in my book, so there’s that to consider. (If you don’t, you might not want to use them.) Maybe something like, “Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds (foster child) thought his life was bad (impending military school)—until he wakes up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.” Or some such that combines all this information with the fish tail.)

In this 70,000 word YA fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of being ‘Fossegrim’- (See, and I’m fine with this term, because, hey guess what? You already told me he has a fish tail. I don’t think you need to go into too much detail here. Or any. This is a term I have to learn to deal with in your book.) including the discovery of a whole other race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on (‘)roids. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with a Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago so that she could stay with the man she loved. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. (End here. I don’t think you need more. This is the conflict. There’s a consequence if he doesn’t find the girl. You’re good.)

But his homecoming proves dangerous. Being Fossegrim has made him an enemy to those he was once closest to and, to top it all off, he returns home to find a warrant out for his arrest. Despite Sage’s desire to be human again, his choice between regaining the life he’s lost or protecting the world he’s found won’t be as easy as he once thought.

I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen and FOSSEGRIM is my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog: http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. I am twenty eight years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years. (Okay, since people are commenting on this, I want to too. Don’t wanna be left out. I would axe the first sentence. You might say something like, “Besides writing novels, I also write…” and continue into the second sentence. And I’m honestly okay with the last sentence. Residing in France is cool. *grin*)

Thank you very much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will send the added material accordingly. (I’d cut this last sentence. NEVER give them a way out. “Oh, I don’t think this project holds promise. Rejection.” You know? Just say, “The complete manuscript is available upon request. I do think you should have the title in here again. I cut it from the first sentence of your bio, so maybe you should add it back in. Like, “The complete manuscript of FOSSEGRIM is available upon request.”)

Hope something helps!

Emily White said...

This story sounds really fascinating!

The only problem I had with the query was the fact that the last couple paraghraphs seemed like too much info. Like Matt, I didn't understand why a girl throwing a stone on the ground seventy years ago would affect a teenage guy. I also got a little lost when you mentioned his new enemies on land.

That being said, I agree with everyone who loves the "freaking fish tail" line and wonder if that might be your best hook.

Good luck with your query! :D

Elana Johnson said...

Oh! I forgot to add that you might want to put one more sentence after the part I told you to stop. Like, "If not, he'll have to learn how to attract the chicks with his fins." Or some such to let me know that he's going to remain mermanish forever.

And I don't want to argue with Matt, like at all, but I don't think your query is too vague. You don't want to give away everything. You don't even want to go into too much detail. You just want to give them A) a taste of the writing style and B) the main highlights of the plot and C) drop them off a cliff so they'll request your whole MS. That is the goal. To generate a request. Not to stuff in every little detail about every plot line. You know?

Okay, that is all. Matt rocks. I *heart* him. And you. And bacon.

Elana Johnson said...

Okaaay. I thought I posted. Let me try again.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

(Okay, this is your hook. Yeah, other people have said it, I’m saying it again. This is what the first sentence needs: the fish tail. And are you opposed to parentheticals? I would so use them here, but I also have parentheticals in my book, so there’s that to consider. (If you don’t, you might not want to use them.) Maybe something like, “Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds (foster child) thought his life was bad (impending military school)—until he wakes up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.” Or some such that combines all this information with the fish tail.)

In this 70,000 word YA fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of being ‘Fossegrim’- (See, and I’m fine with this term, because, hey guess what? You already told me he has a fish tail. I don’t think you need to go into too much detail here. Or any. This is a term I have to learn to deal with in your book.) including the discovery of a whole other race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on (‘)roids. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with a Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago so that she could stay with the man she loved. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. (End here. I don’t think you need more. This is the conflict. There’s a consequence if he doesn’t find the girl. You’re good.)

I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen and FOSSEGRIM is my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog: http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. I am twenty eight years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years. (Okay, since people are commenting on this, I want to too. Don’t wanna be left out. I would axe the first sentence. You might say something like, “Besides writing novels, I also write…” and continue into the second sentence. And I’m honestly okay with the last sentence. Residing in France is cool. *grin*)

Thank you very much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will send the added material accordingly. (I’d cut this last sentence. NEVER give them a way out. “Oh, I don’t think this project holds promise. Rejection.” You know? Just say, “The complete manuscript is available upon request. I do think you should have the title in here again. I cut it from the first sentence of your bio, so maybe you should add it back in. Like, “The complete manuscript of FOSSEGRIM is available upon request.”)

Elana Johnson said...

Okaaay. I thought I posted. Let me try again.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

(Okay, this is your hook. Yeah, other people have said it, I’m saying it again. This is what the first sentence needs: the fish tail. And are you opposed to parentheticals? I would so use them here, but I also have parentheticals in my book, so there’s that to consider. (If you don’t, you might not want to use them.) Maybe something like, “Seventeen-year-old Sage Reynolds (foster child) thought his life was bad (impending military school)—until he wakes up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.” Or some such that combines all this information with the fish tail.)

In this 70,000 word YA fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of being ‘Fossegrim’- (See, and I’m fine with this term, because, hey guess what? You already told me he has a fish tail. I don’t think you need to go into too much detail here. Or any. This is a term I have to learn to deal with in your book.) including the discovery of a whole other race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on (‘)roids. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with a Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago so that she could stay with the man she loved. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. (End here. I don’t think you need more. This is the conflict. There’s a consequence if he doesn’t find the girl. You’re good.)

Elana Johnson said...

Aaaand, part two:


I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen and FOSSEGRIM is my third completed manuscript. I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog: http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. I am twenty eight years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years. (Okay, since people are commenting on this, I want to too. Don’t wanna be left out. I would axe the first sentence. You might say something like, “Besides writing novels, I also write…” and continue into the second sentence. And I’m honestly okay with the last sentence. Residing in France is cool. *grin*)

Thank you very much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will send the added material accordingly. (I’d cut this last sentence. NEVER give them a way out. “Oh, I don’t think this project holds promise. Rejection.” You know? Just say, “The complete manuscript is available upon request. I do think you should have the title in here again. I cut it from the first sentence of your bio, so maybe you should add it back in. Like, “The complete manuscript of FOSSEGRIM is available upon request.”)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oooh, good stuff! thanks so much Elana!!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Wll I love the sound of the story, but I think there's been so many awesome comments already I'll sound repeating. lol.

I love Elana's take on the query too. She is a query goddess!

Dawn said...

Clearly I got here too late because the advice I'd offer has been said. Great job, Matt. Creepy, I'd read this book... xo

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I really like this query, but I'm conflicted - it does feel a bit like telling, but it's also lacking in some specificity. There are a couple of lines where the personality and attitude shines through, and if those could expand to the whole query, it'd be amazing. :)

Jeffrey Beesler said...

The only thing that really threw me was the past tense use at the very beginning of the query. Once I got past that little hang-up, I found myself wanting this book a lot more. The part about Sage growing the man-tail sealed the deal for me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

One thing I was taught was to 'compliment' the agent/publisher on work they do with (author/books), usually in the first paragraph, but it could also replace some of the personal information of Katie's in the last paragraph.

Old Kitty said...

Oh Creepy Query fabulous Girl! I'm totally useless at hooks! LOL! I love your Fossegrim idea and notion. I think your query letter read just fine but what do I know?! Anyway, I think there are fabulous suggestions here to make your query really sparkle!!!

GOOD LUCK!!
Take care
x

Take care
x

Nicole Zoltack said...

A suggestion for the hook: Seventeen-year-old Sage thought the threat of military school was the worst of his problems until he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

I love the premise for this story. Can't wait to see your new query.

Julie Musil said...

Wow, there are already so many great comments here.

I love the voice you've added (roids, etc)

All I'd add is that I'd put the fish tail part in the beginning. That's a great hook (fish, I know). Also, I wouldn't add the personal stuff at the end, but like Matt said, you could research who likes what.

Awesome query. This sounds like a totally original book.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love the line And that was before... I suspected Matt would love it too! :)

Matthew Rush said...

So I just wanted to add: thanks so much to everyone for all your wonderful advice. Katie and I will continue to work on her query and one of us will probably put a shiny new version up sometime soon.

Also, Elana rules but it is totally fine if she has to disagree with me from time to time. She is also kind of right. There are some very specific parts to this query, AND you don't want to get TOO specific anyway.

The two parts that tripped me up and are what I meant when I wrote that it was vague were: how did he get from Rhode Island to the North Sea and what is the deal with that anyway, and the part where you mention the other race. For me it was not clear that the other race were all also Fossegrim. We'll see if we can make that clearer.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

First of all, awesome story! I hope I get to read it someday! And second of all, I agree about shortening the bio even more, but I'd keep the bit about living in France. I think most agents would want to know if you live in the same country or not. It also implies you have a special bit of culture since you're living someplace other than your country of origin.

Definitely reference your blog as it is fabulous and has you singing the redone Mary Poppins song. If I were an agent, I'd sign you on your personality alone. ;)

The rest I think has been touched on. I'm totally late to the game. I thought it was great, and I'm sure you've already revised it to be even better per ppl's awesome suggestions.

Good luck, CQG. You have fans.

Creepy Query Girl said...

wow- thanks so much everyone for all your motivating comments and fabulous feedback. This was a GREAT experience and I'll be posting a new and improved, blindingly sparkling clean query either here or on my blog very soon! Thanks again!

Slamdunk said...

Well done Matthew and Katie--and thanks for the helpful exchange.

I enjoy knowing that a writer bases a work in accurate history and mythology (as with the Fossegrim).