Friday, May 7, 2010


Today the amazing Roecker sisters Lisa and Laura are gracing us with their presence. They rock like a batholith so let's please take a moment to bask in their awesome ...

Now today unlike other guest Friday posts we have a rule: I promised to do all I could to help these twisted sisters reach 1000 followers ASAP. So because of that please stop reading now, go visit their blog, and become a follower. DO NOT READ ON until you have done so.

Just kidding, obviously I can't enforce that but seriously, their blog is so fun you have to read it, and if you're going to read it - why not follow?

They are sharing their query from: LIAR SOCIETY, a quick-witted mystery starring a private-school sleuth with attitude and pearls who receives an email from her dead best friend (Sourcebooks, Spring 2011).

Their agent Catherine Drayton has graciously agreed to allow their correspondence to be shared. If you wish to submit to her or Inkwell Management in general, please see their guidelines. Unfortunately the offer and further correspondence was done over the phone, so you'll have to ask Lisa and Laura to tell you about that.

This will work like all the other quest posts. My thoughts will be in red and LiLa's will be in blue. The only difference is that we won't know which sister is commenting, but that's fine since they're pretty much of one mind and it's more fun to guess anyway.

So on to their query. Be prepared to be shocked into ultimate query amazement syndrome - UQAS:

Dear Ms. Drayton,

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox:

I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

We knew we were kind of taking a risk including the email in our query, but we wanted to hook the reader. We played around with the format and finally decided on italicizing the text. I think it worked to grab a reader's attention and stand out from the crowd a bit. At least that's what we tell ourselves...

I think this is awesome. I read (and write a lot of bad) queries and I have never seen one like this. I've noticed a trend with many new novels containing either mixed media or innovative type of prose, letters, fictional blog posts, and so forth but I've never seen this kind of thing in a query. I think it's not only innovative but brilliant.

Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

One thing we've learned is to include your voice! No one wants to read a dry query for fear that the actual manuscript is dry too! Voice is what will separate your manuscript and while not everyone will respond to it (we're in the most subjective business ever), hopefully some agents will.

This is so TRUE. I want to shout about it because not only is it incredibly important, but it can be difficult to accomplish, at least it is for me. This is technically a business letter, so it feels counter intuitive to be colorful with the voice of your writing, but it really makes a difference. I know this sounds impossible - but have fun with your query.

The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous turn when her confrontation with Cameron, Grace’s addict boyfriend, almost gets her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth... Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.

This paragraph took a lot of reworking. We knew we needed a general plot overview without going into too much detail or introducing too many characters. This is SUCH a fine balance and while we unload a lot of information here, I think it's done in a way that is relatively straightforward. Well to us anyways.

I can't really speak to this. I mean my own queries are really bad at this part. The need to go over all the cool parts is so strong, but really doesn't help. I think Lisa and Laura do a great job here of setting up the conflict without giving too much away ... and introducing just enough setting and characters to give the agent an idea of what they'll be looking at. Remember: the point of a query is to get the agent to request pages.

Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We LOVE endings--chapter endings, ending-endings, you name it, we'll end it. Naturally, we wanted our query to end with a bang. We were hoping that agents couldn't NOT request. Now, that's a tall order (obviously) but a good goal.

This is great. Sure it's a little vague, but that's a good thing. It hints at adversaries without going into detail about each character the reader will have to guess about. And, it sets some pretty high stakes without giving too much away.

We are sisters-turned-writing-partners. LIAR SOCIETY is a 73,000 word YA Mystery. We have pasted the first chapter below for your consideration. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you.

Lisa and Laura Roecker


We pasted the entire first chapter into the body of the e-mail. We always followed agents query guidelines, but if they didn't specifically list whether or not to include a sample, we pasted the first chapter below our query. We figured the sooner they saw our work the better. They were either going to like it and request more or reject it. Oh, and no, you don't get to see the entire first chapter :) If you like the first few paragraphs you'll have to buy LIAR SOCIETY when it's out next year! We're sneaky like that.

That's not sneaky that's smart. Okay it's a little sneaky too, but these girls are like that. And as far as pages great idea. If the guidelines don't say not to, put em in. What can they do? Reject you?

Opening excerpt:

Her e-mail was bold-faced in my inbox. It didn't move or disappear or do any of the creepy things I'd expect an e-mail from a ghost to do. It was just there.


With trembling fingers, I clicked on Grace’s name.

Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)

I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

I didn't think dead best friends could send emails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Cue the men in white coats because it was entirely possible that I had lost my mind.

I should have been screaming or crying or something, but instead, my legs, my arms, my heart went numb.

Ooh, haunting. This is a great teaser and really makes me want to read this novel. Lucky agent got to read more.

So that's it. Short. Sweet. Super-awesome. What do you guys think? Have you ever seen anything like this? Are you going to change your own query at all now (please don't copy their email idea, I've already copyrighted that)?


Talli Roland said...

Thanks, as usual, Matthew!

I love this query and I can see why they got an agent from it! The email is a great hook, and the rest of the query gives enough detail without overloading the reader. Brilliant!

Thanks to Lisa and Laura for sharing it!

Jessica Bell said...

What an awesome query. Thanks for that! I wish I had the initiative to write query like that!!!!

Anne Gallagher said...

Brilliant query! I can't wait for the book to come out, I'm hooked already!

Alissa Grosso said...

Very cool of Lisa and Laura to share their query. I've been following their blog for awhile so I'm hardly surprise that they were able to come up with such a brilliant query.

Christina Lee said...

Lisa and Laura sent me over here to folow you ;-) Yeah I already knew they were made of awesome! Can't wait to red their book!

Vicki Rocho said...

I was totally hoping to read the whole first chapter.

I can see why this was successful - it's awesome. I like the added email in there, it was short and sweet and definitely helped hook.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That really is a unique query!

India Drummond said...

I can see why they snagged an agent with this query, and more specifically, with the book.

It sounds very exciting!

lisa and laura said...

Hey Matt! Thank you SO much for featuring our query. Sorry the link didn't post this is up now!!!! Also, thanks for all the new followers :) We love what you're doing over here...

Candyland said...

They're awesome. No doubt about it.

Stina said...

When I first saw the title of the post, I thought,"Hey, that's the title of LiLa's novel." Well, now I know the reason for the title. ;)

I can't wait for the book to come out. Thanks, Matthew, for this cool commentary about their rocking query.

kah said...

Love L&L. I mean, have you seen their vlogs? How could you not love them?

Can't wait for The Liar Society to come out.

Thanks for the interview. And L & L, thanks for sharing your bad-ass query with us. :)

Laura Pauling said...

I love their query. They have just the right amount of voice and plot and a great hook. Can't wait for the book to come out!

Christine Danek said...

Great post, Matthew. Thanks. I'm not at this stage yet but I'm trying to get peeks into the query world so I know what I'm going to have to do.
Great job girls! Loved it!

Unknown said...

Matthew you've truly outdone yourself yet again!!! Thanks for showcasing these two, they totally rock!!!

What a great query letter! I was really enticed and I can't wait for the book to be released in 2011!

Lindsay said...

I love this query, the voice jumps right off the page.:)

Kelly Polark said...

I love reading queries, and I love reading the author's thoughts on them. This book does sound awesome! THanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

LiLa rocks and they're both hilarious - I've followed their blog for awhile now and can't wait to read Liar Society!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm a follower now :)

Great query - and a good example of how something different and unique to your book can work. I'm inspired!

Lola Sharp said...

Great query LiLa, my sweeties.

Another great guest post, Matt.

Happy weekend.


Old Kitty said...


Thanks for sharing the query and as always it's great to be able to learn how to do these things properly - so this is very helpful!

Take care and all the best to Lisa and Laura!!


Sarah Ahiers said...

Fun Query!
Also i can't wait to read this book

erica m. chapman said...

Thanks Matthew! Great blog!

LiLa are the best! I love their query. Voice is so important in YA and they have a distinctive one ;o) Yes, peeps, follow their blog. It's one of the best out there, trust!

Unknown said...

I'm already following their blog, but if hadn't been, I would be now. :-) Excellent query. Thanks for sharing.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great query letter! I'm hooked. Congrats ladies- I'm now a follower and admirer of your work!

Thanks Matt for yet another awesome guest spot!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Already follow the lovely sisters!

Um, ladies this query is AMAZING!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Great post Matthew - as always ;o)
Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Josin L. McQuein said...

It's interesting that including the e-mail worked for you ladies. Most agents say specifically to avoid such things because more often than not it's gimmicky rather than attention grabbing.

I guess that's like prologues or waking with a dream or any of the other "don't"s. It works when it works.

Thanks for letting us peek at your query.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Awesome query, but I already knew they were awesome. :) It's great to be able to read this, thanks for posting!

Elana Johnson said...

I love this query. I love LiLa! I can't wait to buy LIAR SOCIETY and have them sign it!!

Shannon said...

What an excellent query! Thank you, Lisa and Laura, for sharing this!

Shannon O'Donnell said... how much would it cost to have you write my query letter for me?! LOL!! You two are even more awesome than I thought. I WANT THAT BOOK! :-)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I bopped over from Donna's blog and can't believe I haven't been here before! Thanks for sharing this query - it's very instructive.

Mia Hayson said...

Whoa, that was an amazing query! It is so difficult to get the balancce right when it comes to voice but they did it so well :~)

Plus that teaser made me want the book even more ;~)

Lydia Kang said...

Great! I love reading queries that rocked. And this one was awesome.

K. M. Walton said...

Lisa and Laura rock on every level. I, too, am looking forward to this book coming out!!!

Angie Paxton said...

I liked that this query was a little unique with the email and all. Really great job! Little bit of query jealousy. Nancy Drew was my favorite growing up. I can't wait to read this book.

Charmaine Clancy said...

The hook was great. Made me want to read it!

Mathew, thanks for visiting and following my blog - I'm so glad I've found you here (although you've already increased my book wish-list now). Great blog :-)

Heather Kelly said...

This was awesome--they are awesome! Thanks for posting this!

Cole Gibsen said...

I can't wait to read this book!!!

Angela McCallister said...

What an amazing example of a query. I'm sure they put a lot of work into it, but you'd never know. They make it look easy.

My query is still under mass construction, darn it. And don't even get me started with the evil synopsis...

Jo Schaffer said...

I am so nervous about my query. This was exciting but seemed longer than what most seem to be asking I wrong?

Jessica Bell said...

I have an award for you on my blog :)

Shelley Sly said...

This is fabulous! Thanks LiLa and Matthew! Love the query, love the premise, love the excerpt. Can't wait to buy this book!

angelarene said...

UQAS for sure! This is so beneficial to see what works, draws you in and what doesn't. Thx for posting you guys!

Unknown said...

I SO agree--voice is such an important part of a query. Thanks L&L!

Saumya said...

You've got an incredible blog here! So resourceful! That's very sweet of you to try and help other writers.

Gail said...

I love their query, knew I would, because I love the 2 ladies!

Good job Matthew!
I'm a new follower of yours but I see your comments on many of the blogs I follow. And now I found out you're a fellow Georgian!

When you have a moment, stop by my blog and check out the giveaway I'm running!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

That's awesome. Very cool. And what a fab query! Loved to see both your and LiLa's comments.

I am pretty much holding my breath until I get to read this book.

Sort of.

Actually, that's a lie. But I am excited to read it.

Matthew MacNish said...

Wow, even with Lila we can't break 50 comments. Just kidding. Thanks so much everyone for stopping by and following, but especially for commenting, it's only through the comments that we have a discourse in which we can get to know one another, and learn.

I will be doing my best tomorrow morning to visit all your blogs and become a follower if we are new acquaintances, but if not, thanks as always; you writers rock!

And a special thanks to LiLa, you gals are so cool you make some of us wonder what to do with ourselves.


Very clever query--very strong voice. Easy to see why the agent bit. Thanks for sharing! Great post.