Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Katherine Camp

Today I would like to introduce Katherine Camp to you all. Before we go on you know my rule. Writing blogs are a community and a community only works if we all get to know each other. So please go visit her blog and become a follower. If you want to make everyone feel especially warm and fuzzy leave a comment explaining that you are following her because you met her on The QQQE.

Now, moving on, Katherine was the winner of my query critique and blog feature prize that Candace and I decided would be an appropriate gift for me to offer in her Joy to the World Contest. So I've already critiqued her query, and she and I have decided to make an (almost) week long blog feature out of it.

Today is really just for introductions. I'm going to share her original query here today, but I would like all of you to refrain from offering feedback until I have shared my critique of her query, which will go up tomorrow. Katherine is open to hearing others thoughts but I don't want any of you spoiling my amazing insights. I'm kidding mostly, but I would like you to wait until tomorrow to critique. That way we can all be prepared. Feel free to comment, of course, always feel free to comment.

So here is Katherine's query:

Of course first I have the "Dear (Agent's name)" and then I usually have a paragraph or two where I explain why I chose to query them, whether it is their blog or just their stated preferences on their website or a connection on Twitter. I left that out. The meat of the query is below:

Briand Varryda’s life is pretty grim. Her uncle hates her and wants to banish her from his household, the villagers won’t look her in the eye because she dresses like a boy and explores woods full of wolves and bloodthirsty unicorns, and the guards constantly try to beat her up because she beats them at their gambling games. Nobody thinks she’s worth anything at all except as a butt for jokes and a punching bag for fists. She’s pretty good with a knife and she can play cards like a man, but she doesn’t know how to make her uncle stop hating her or fix her screwed-up life long enough to avoid banishment to a backbreaking apprenticeship.

Oh, and she can control dragons with her mind. She’s a dragon-sayer, an ancient power from an ancient time. A time before electricity, steamships, and airships.

But Briand doesn’t exactly want this “gift.” It’s the reason both the tyrant Prince Cahan and his rival, Prince Jehn of the Monarchists, are looking for her. It’s the reason the Monarchists kidnap her. A war is coming, and the Monarchists know they cannot hope to defeat Prince Cahan’s airships without the help of the old magic from the far north—dragons.

And for dragons, they need Briand.

But she’s no chosen one. Briand’s only a dragon-sayer by accident, and she’s just a ragged guttersnipe—not to mention the fact that she’s female. She’s not even close to the lordly young man the dragon-sayer was supposed to be. The Monarchists don’t like Briand, and Briand doesn’t like them. She’d rather knife them all in the back than help them. But the Monarchists weren’t exactly asking.

The Monarchists haul her to a fortress in the far north for safekeeping, and despite her best efforts, Briand finds herself befriending some of the members of the company. She even finds herself falling for the leader of the group, Kael. But she still doesn’t want to die for their cause, however noble it might be.

When someone in their company betrays them to the enemy, and the monarchist refuge is burned, Briand and the rest must flee north to a place called the Stronghold to avoid being captured by the magical watchdogs of the prince, the Seekers, who slaughter whole villages and suck the thoughts from their victims’ minds. With the Seekers gaining on the group slowly, and a traitor in their midst, Briand has to learn how to handle her gift and call up a dragon before they’re all killed.

Although the Dragonsayer has both magic and dragons, I wouldn't think of it as a typical "S and S" fantasy or high fantasy. The story contains elements of historical fantasy as well as elements steampunk, blending dragons, castles, and swords with guns, clocks, and airships.

I have been writing seriously for two years now. I am not yet published.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.


Katherine Camp

Now, Katherine knows her query needs some work, that's why she selected my prize, but I would just like to say: is this not one of the most awesome sounding premises for a story you've heard in a while? Assuming you're into Fantasy and/or Steampunk? I know I really want to read this book.

So this week we're all going to try to help Katherine fix her query so that she can get this story going. Remember: please hold your query specific feedback until tomorrow. For now feel free to discuss her genre, or just say hello, or whatever.

P.S. Sorry this is going up so late but I had a softball game last night, and wounded my knee a little so I stayed in bed this morning feeling sorry for myself until 9AM. *GASP*.


vic caswell said...

very inventive! sounds like a cool tale!

Lindsay said...

Hope your knee feels better Matt!

Hoping over to say hi to Katherine on her blog now, but will stop by to help with the query (when you say go, I'm a good gal. lol)

I love a good Dragons-Slayer story. :)

Mia Hayson said...

Hi Katharine (and Matthew)(OUCH about the knee)*waves* *offers cupcake*

That DOES sound interesting, I LOVE Steampunk and Fantasy etc etc so this is right up my street.

Tabitha said...

Very interesting concept! It reminds me a bit of the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin--if you haven't read it, I recommend it. It's adult (I wasn't sure what age group your story is for) and the MC is sassy and strong. Not exactly high fantasy, but definitely contains fantasy elements. And it's great fun.

Matthew, hope your knee feels better!

Hannah said...

Refraining. Refraining.

I love the concept. You had me at bloodthirsty unicorns.

Candyland said...

This does sounds like a great story. Can't wait to see what Matt's thoughts are.

Bish Denham said...

Yep...got my attention!

Southpaw said...

Sounds fun.

Lenny Lee said...

hi mr matthew and miss katherine! sorry bout your knee. i hope it feel better. that book sounds pretty cool. im coming back tomorrow to see what you say that could make that letter better.
...smiles from lenny

Jemi Fraser said...

Hope your knee feels better soon!

I love the sound of Katherine's story! :)

Emily White said...

Fantasy AND steampunk? Sounds like a winner!

DEZMOND said...

"bloodthirsty unicorns"??????
no,no, that's just impossible and wrong! Unicorns are always good and precious. The symbols of pristine goodness and eternal beauty.

Kate Avery Ellison said...

Thanks for the nice words, everyone! I'm looking forward to making my query better this week :-)

Julie Musil said...

Loved Katherine's blog, by the way!

I agree that the story sounds really cool. I'm anxious to see what tips you'll offer to spruce it up.

Sarah Ahiers said...

bloodthirsty unicorns is a straight up effing win for me

Slamdunk said...

It does sounds like a great concept. I am off to read her blog and I hope the knee is better soon.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Dragons! Oh, boy. This sounds like a really good read. Looking forward to your analysis, Matt. And stay off the knee for a while - I wish you a speedy recovery.

Vicki Rocho said...

Dangit. I thought it was FRIDAY there for a minute.

Looking forward to your insight tomorrow...

Robert Guthrie said...

I'm saving a question. Matthew, I'm very interested where you go with this.

Rose Cooper said...

Great idea for an almost week long post, Matthew! and Katherine, it's a great concept! Now, hopping over to the next post!