I promised I would show you guys this today. I'm a little apprehensive, because with all the time I spend on queries here, you're probably going to expect something phenomenal, but the thing is: queries are hard. I mean sure, I've spent a lot of time on them over the years, and I'd like to think I've gotten pretty good at recognizing good queries, and critiquing those that need a little work.
But writing my own is still hard.
I don't know if it's a matter of being too close to the story, having written it, or whether maybe it's the trap of trying to include too much (or getting stuck trying to be too concise), but writing queries for your own manuscripts is damn hard. That's why I always recruit friends to help me with mine.
The biggest influence on this query is my dear friend and critique partner Susan Kaye Quinn. I'm sure you all know her, so I'll just hyperlink her name, but Susan was one of the few who read the manuscript and helped me with the query. It was she who not only convinced me the longer version I'd written was not necessary, but also gave me the blueprint for the shorter version I'll show you today, that still includes the important points from the longer one I wrote.
After Susan, I got a lot of help from Jessica Corra, Angela Ackerman, Simon Larter, Adam Heine, Bryan Russell, and a bunch of the awesome people over at YA Confidential, like Alexandra, Katy, and Copil.
I highly recommend not going it alone, especially when it comes to queries.
Anyway, it's still a work in progress, but here is the latest version:
Seventeen-year-old Micah Neiss is not a nice guy. His probation officer considers him a dope fiend (not entirely false), a burden on the system (debatable), and a complete waste of his time (totally unfair). The truth is the foster system is just as broken as Micah. He’s been running from home to home ever since he can remember, but when bounty hunters for at-risk-teens finally catch him, and drag him off to a wilderness-survival/behavioral-modification center, he wonders if his abusive new “school” might finally break him for good.
Micah refuses to bow to the school authorities, and together with a bullied younger student, Chris, he escapes the mountaintop prison. But their situation goes from desperate to dangerous when an anti-government member of the Aryan nation and his bumbling nephew pick them up. While the men zip along a high-wire of drug-addled paranoia and loaded weapons, what began as a ride soon spirals into a kidnapping. Micah must decide if he should do what he's always done: run and save himself, or prove his probation officer wrong and save Chris, who is too naïve (and high) to appreciate the danger.
RUNNING FROM RUBY RIDGE, a 75,000 word YA contemporary novel with elements of magical realism, will appeal to fans of the psychologically gritty In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith and readers who enjoyed the magical, honest look at loss in Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. My short fiction has been published under the pen name Matthew MacNish, in the anthology Literary Foray, from Static Movement Press, and in the online magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal. I blog about query letters, and the path to publication, at The QQQE, a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers pick, and contribute to the popular blogs Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and YA Confidential.
That's it. You're welcome to tell me what you think. I've got thick skin. Otherwise, I hope you all have a great, productive day!