My Own Queries


Dear Agent,

Fifteen-year-old Lee Ruccio is a reluctant juvenile delinquent. The last thing he expects to discover at reform school in northern Idaho is magic. But after estrangement from his useless, drunk-whenever-he's-home father, and his mother's death, Lee's guardians ship him off to Black Mountain Academy, and magic is exactly what he finds.

He has to earn the right to attend classes by doing months of hard labor, and gets placed on restriction after getting caught alone in the woods with a girl. The school redeems itself with its mysterious curriculum, though. The classes have names like "The Way of Unifying With Life Energy" and "The Eight Principles of Yong." In them, Lee and his new friends (and enemies) study everything from East Asian Calligraphy and Meditation, to Aikido and Kenjutsu.

Permission to kick ass is pretty awesome when you're fifteen and convinced it's you against the world.

Through these disciplines, Lee learns to manipulate his Chi for things like healing, telekinesis, and imbuing his staff with rockin' powers. And it's a good thing he mostly stayed awake during classes, because the Master of the School is sending a team of students on a mission to investigate an abandoned mine. While underground, they're attacked by Earth Elementals, golems of mud and stone, and their new-found talents are put to the ultimate test.

Actually kicking ass is pretty critical when it's a matter of life and death.

Complete at 90,000 words, WARRIOR-MONKS is a Young Adult Rural Fantasy with series potential. 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, about Middle Grade books at Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and about Young Adult books at YA Confidential.

NOTE: Rather than adding another page for a one or two sentence high concept pitch, I'm just going to put it here. This will be a work in progress.

A reluctant juvenile delinquent must achieve knowledge of self and let go of resentment amidst magic and martial arts at the world's strangest reform school. If he doesn't, he'll never be able to help his new found friends (and enemies) survive an encounter with the creatures in the surrounding wilderness.


Dear Agent,

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 (total delusion). The truth is, the foster system is just as broken as Micah. He’s run away from each placement home ever since he can remember, but when bounty hunters finally catch him, and drag him off to a behavioral-modification center for at-risk-teens, 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 they hitch a ride with an anti-government member of the Aryan nation and his nephew. While the men zip along a high-wire of drug-addled paranoia and loaded weapons, what began for the boys as a simple ride soon spirals into a full-blown 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.


Tracy said...

Wow, Matt! This is light years different than what I remember this query being back in the day. Good job!

Curious, because I know how much longer these things look in blog many words total is your query blurb?

Matthew MacNish said...

It's 309 words, and that's without personalization, so yep it's a little long. I don't consider it done yet.

mshatch said...

definitely intriguing.

Hollister Ann Grant said...

Matt, I love your story idea. Best of luck to you.

A. B. Keuser said...

Interesting concept.

I do query critiques on my blog. Check them out. If you think I can help you, just let me know.

- Amy

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks Amy, that's very kind. I'm in the middle of re-writing the novel, so I won't be changing the query anytime soon, but I'll check out your blog in the meantime anyway!

J.C. Martin said...

COOL story! Anything with martial arts is intriguing enough, but MAGIC as well? :) When can I read it?

Unknown said...

I love the query. I've never written or plan to write things like these (since I don't really aim to be a big published author... or any type of author for that matter), so reading these things is a new experience. The fact that you incorporated a lot of Eastern mysticism and martial arts is astounding. My mentor is an eclectic martial artist, with Wing Chun as his specialization. I've never encountered anything so deadly, beautiful, and philosophical all in one. I hope to see some of that depth in your novel.

Unknown said...

Sounds really great! Especially the part where you cut it down to 98k (I spent a good long day trolling old blog posts to see how others got started). I've read lots of great queries today and it crushes me that they haven't been accepted yet, so what hope do I have?

Natalie Zaman said...

OMGosh am LOVING this story! :D