All right. Let's do work.
Today is Sheri's query again. I love saying that. Anyway, this time I'm critiquing it, and my thoughts will be in red.
Let's get right to it:
High school is a mishmash of viable energy, I don't understand what this means. Viable energy? Why is it viable? For what purpose and for whom? and if sixteen-year-old ANA TATE I love the spelling of Ana, but you don't have to capitalize character names in a query letter. senses the wrong kind she could lose her mind.
Okay, so I have to say that on the one hand (assuming you mean what I think you mean here) I really love this opening hook and premise. The problem is: I can't be sure that it means what I think it means. After reading on I see that you explain it better in a moment, but you can't leave your opening hook (which is the most important part) vague and ambiguous like this.
Being tomboyish and emotionally I would cut emotionally. I'm not sure it's needed, because being jaded is pretty much always a combo of thoughts and emotions. jaded, that being said, I LOVE the characterization "jaded" gives us. with a secret I think you can cut secret too, it becomes obvious when you describe the power. ability to sense the energy and emotions of others, makes Ana not the best at blending in. Do you see why I added "being" to the front? After a recent encounter with a sinister energy is the energy sentient, or just sinister because of the person it came from? that caused her to panic and pull the fire alarm, damaging the school’s gym floor, she’s shipped off to attend a class for troubled teens at a new prep school. Troubled teens? Reform/prep school? Yes, please. Here, she meets Victor—I would suggest not using em-dashes in query letters. If you can make it work, you're better with HTML than I am. the gorgeous yet irritating campus recluse, you're really good at these one or two word characterization phrases. who stirs her ability like she’s never felt before. Unbeknownst to her, she rouses a curse that hungers for her sanity. Sentient energy, hungry curses. I basically love the rules of the world you're building for us here, but I think you need to explain it better. How does this stuff work? Why would it hunger for her, sanity. Her powers?
Viktor is a Lycan poisoned by psychic Vampire blood. Holy amazeballs. This is getting good. Also: more specific. He’s cursed to feed his sire the sanity of mortals, until one can resist him. And now, his sire wants Ana's sanity. So it's not the curse, but a character. Or is the character the curse? But, Viktor has his own inner demons he's battling and doesn't want to harm her. That doesn't sound like a demon to me. Not even an inner one. That sounds like compassion (or attraction). When he double-crosses his sire, causing more trouble than good, I would cut this, because if Ana ends up surviving all of this, that's actually more good than trouble, in the long run. Ana must accept her abilities and challenge the curse to free Viktor and herself. Only, her quest unearths a family secret and deeper connection to Viktor she didn’t see coming. One that calls for a high payment, found hidden…in the last beat of her heart.
Hmm. So this last "meat of the story" paragraph is really good. High stakes, specific conflict, tough choices. Some minor tweaks could be made, but basically if you made the whole query more like this paragraph, you'd be in great shape.
MARKED BEAUTY, a paranormal romance for young adults complete at 85,000 words, travels beyond the paranormal elements and into the inner struggle of a feisty female lead I might change this to "protagonist." A lead is an actor in a film or play. Not a huge deal though. who finds herself in the midst of a world she never knew she was a part of.
Other than potentially changing that one word, this is a good summary.
I am a published freelance and short story writer. My work can be found in local Maine newspapers--the Town Line Publication, The Two Cent Times, Highlands, and Capital Weekly--and also in Pill Hill Press. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a moderator for YAlitchat.org—I would cut all these dashes. First of all, you're using double hyphens in some places, and em-dashes in others. Keep it consistent, or even better, cut them all. Commas would work fine here (or a colon for this last one). an online writing community.
Other than the punctuation, great bio.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Okay. So to summarize, I think this query is in decent shape already. It's obvious you've got a unique premise, one that is full of interesting creatures, characters, and powers.
Your query gets better and better as it goes on. Your one big problem is that your hook does not make sense right off the bat, and I think if you could fix that, you'd be off to an excellent start.
I'll give it a try:
Ana Tate is a sixteen-year-old jaded tomboy, but her problems run much deeper than normal high school drama. She can sense the energy and intent of those around her, and if she senses the wrong kind she could lose her mind.
I know, pretty lame, but I think you get the idea. Be more specific, give more information, and don't worry if your "one sentence hook" has to actually be two.
What do you guys think? Surely one of you can give a better example of a good opening line for this query, right?