Now let's get to work. I'm going on vacation next week. I'll be working on Monday, so I may post then, but after that the blog will probably be offline for at least a week. My sister is getting married in the Berkshires, and I'll be flying my family up to Boston, and meeting the likes of Sarah Fine, Anna Stanizewski, Kristen Wixted, Heather Kelly, and Chelsey Blair.
So that's it for news, really. Let's get to Colene's query. My thoughts will be in red.
Sixteen-year-old Damaris may have the power to steal human souls, but she isn't happy about it. I'm a bit confused. On the one hand, I kind of like this, assuming it's tongue in cheek, but on the other hand, I'm not sure it's obvious enough. I mean what sixteen-year-old would be happy about the ability to steal human souls? A direct descendant of Death, Damaris doesn't share her parents' beliefs that her kind, Ankou, are inherently evil. This is better. A bit of character, a bit of world-building, and a touch of conflict. Or that the only way they can gain access to Heaven is by killing humans and stealing their souls. Killing and stealing souls? I can see why she wouldn't be happy about that. Worse, she's been shipped off to boarding school because of her rebellion, leaving her younger sister, Genie, alone under her parents' murderous influence. Interesting. I went to boarding school, so I'm all about stories that include it, and I think you've set up some decent stakes here, and I'm interested to see where it goes.
But over summer break, Damaris has a chance to show Genie another way of life, put an end to all the senseless deaths, and, hopefully, start a chain reaction to change the rest of her kind. I like the concept of her rebelling, but I would like to see some specifics. How is she going to show Genie another way of life? How can she put an end to the deaths and what kind of chain reaction will it start? I get it that you don't want to give everything away in a query, but when you think about it, this last sentence doesn't tell us that much. Her parents have other ideas, however. If Damaris doesn’t make a kill, they’ll disown her. Of course, that’s if somebody doesn’t get to
Someone is stalking Damaris, stalking, or trying to kill? car and mail bombs popping up at every turn. If she isn't able to find out his or her identity soon, more than Genie's future will be lost, and escaping back to boarding school will no longer be an option. I like this. Conflict, stakes, and mystery. Well done. With everything falling in in? Or apart? Or down? Maybe collapsing? around her, Damaris must decide: go against everything she believes about the value of life and use her powers to save her sister, or admit defeat and let her deadly heritage carry on. Seems the life of a daughter of Death has just gotten way too complicated. Excellent choice. Well done summing up.
CALLING DEATH is a 64,000 word YA paranormal with series potential. (more agenty-personalized stuff if I can place any.)
So. In summary, as I said yesterday, I think this query is already quite good. The ending in particular carries some zing. What needs the most work, I think, is the opening hook. It's tough, I know, but we need to get a better sense of Damaris' character, and it would be nice to get a slightly better sense of the world. Do they live on earth? In hell? Somewhere else? I like how the kids seem to get to live a mostly normal life while they're young, and I think that's a cool premise, but I'd like to see some more specifics about how it all works.
Your middle paragraph is better. It raises the stakes, and introduces what looks like some great conflict, but again, it's a little vague. I basically said it all in my in text notes, but the point is, don't just tell us: this important thing happens, and then this important thing follows, show us what they are (without going into so much detail you need another hundred words).
Your final paragraph is pretty good, I think, I except for the points I mentioned.
So that's it.
What do you all think? Wish you were going on vacation? I bet.