Wednesday, July 29, 2009

25 Query Contest

Dear (agent name):

Princess Ingrid Dana DeWitt has a problem. Many, actually. The family fortune is gone, and to refill the Royal Coffers her parents are marrying her off to an older distant cousin whose sexual preferences run to big boy diapers and nursing. So she does the honorable thing to help her once proud nation—itself on the verge of bankruptcy—regain some dignity.

She runs away from home.

Alone and out of cash, Dana meets a tall, pasty, and handsome American, desperate to get into her panties (when she’s wearing them). She lets him tag along on her mad dash for freedom, but Dana isn’t the only one hiding their true identity from their traveling companion. It would be a lot easier if the press, her Royal Security Team, and half the cops on the continent were the only ones trying to find her. And as Dana discovers the meaning of true love, her former stalker crashes the party and threatens to end her newfound bliss. Permanently.

In the tradition of ROMAN HOLIDAY, my 85,000 word Chick Lit manuscript ROYALLY SCREWED tells of how running away can sometimes lead you home, even if that home is a castle. A second novel, OLIVERS TRAVELS (72,500 words), tells the same story from the male protagonist’s point of view. I am an Associate Member of the SCBWI. I received First Place in the 1,000-Word Fiction Contest at the 2007 Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, and Honorable Mention in 2008. Upon request I can send you the complete manuscript.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.


(contact info)

April 12, this year

I adjusted the tiara on my forehead.

“Is it supposed to hurt?” I asked.

“Yes, Princess Ingrid.” the seamstress said. “Now stop fidgeting.”

“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes. “Ouch!” The pin didn’t draw blood, not this time anyway. The fitting for my gown was going about as well as the rest of my life.

“There.” She sat back and admired her handiwork. In my annoyance with life, I hadn’t caught her name. That sort of thing was happening a lot as of late. “Go ahead, turn around.”

I did as I was told. Fifteen pounds of white gown fluttered around me. My mother had worn it to her wedding twenty-six years earlier. She’d had it bejeweled until it was worth more than a decent sized home. Back then, the thought of a Fordlandian princess wearing a hand-me-down bridal gown was out of the question. After the nuptials, she’d promptly tossed it into her closet and left it to rot. One of her servants rescued it and made sure it was properly hung (I doubt my mother even remembered how to hang something).

And now it was mine. They’d taken in the bust. A lot. Mother is...blessed. They also hemmed it up six inches from the bottom so I wouldn’t trip over it.

“You look beautiful!” the seamstress insisted.

“I look...nice,” I said. I didn’t want to crush her by telling her what I really thought. That I looked like a cake topper dipped in Wite-Out.


  1. First of all, I found this concept interesting and definitely would keep reading after the query. I also found the 250 words interesting (although there are a couple errors in punctuation that need to be fixed).

    Having said that, I think there are some problems with the actual query. The line, "but Dana isn’t the only one hiding their true identity from their traveling companion" confused me. I am guessing that this is a reference to the American, but I don't think you want the agent to be guessing. I am also guessing that the American is the "love" but, at the same time, find that hard to believe since he is described as pasty and after only one thing. Also, where does the stalker come from and what party is he crashing? Last question, how does this end? If "the point" of the story is that she discovers the meaning of love, I think you need to wrap it up with that statement.

  2. Hooked I'd keep reading. I loved the touch of sass in the writing style. Love the sense of humor -- runs away from home and panties when she was wearing them. Plus who can turn down a Princess story.

  3. The query seems a bit off--there's some grammar mistakes, and you don't mention the stalker at all until the end of the pitch. I'm not sure if you should mention the sequel here--I just don't know how that looks to an agent.

    But ROMAN HOLIDAY is my favorite movie OF ALL TIME. ...on to the pages...

    The pages are cute, and probably something I'd read more of.

    One question I still have after reading the whole selection: how old is Dana?

  4. Hooked. There were a couple problems, but overall I loved he humor and quirkiness of it. I'd read more.

  5. Your query did make me think of ROMAN HOLIDAY. I'm not sure you should mention it in your query. If the agent makes the connection, fine. But if she doesn't make the connection, that's fine, too.

    Using "pasty" and "handsome" in the same sentence threw me. I have trouble seeing someone "pasty" as "handsome."

    Good opening sentence of the manuscript. Humorous, light-hearted tone. I think you could improve on incorporating exactly that tone in your query letter.

    All in all, a fun read!

  6. What threw me a little was: "A second novel, OLIVERS TRAVELS (72,500 words), tells the same story from the male protagonist’s point of view."
    Why would anyone pay for the same story twice? Maybe you should leave that out and mention it to your agent when you signed a contract.
    Otherwise, it reads well.

  7. I was hooked. The only thing I would take out is the reference to Oliver's Travel because it clouds the issue and turned me off. But the query was great and I laughed out loud. The excerpt was also good and I'd be interested in reading more.

  8. Somewhat hooked by the query (which needs a little nudging), very hooked by the snippet. :]


    What former stalker?

    Also... I'm not sure if I'd mention the same story sequel just yet.

  9. take out the sequel info, and it is good!

  10. Semi-hooked, but not quite. I'd go for "a modern day Roman Holiday" over "in the tradition of" because due to your own query it sounds like the basic plot of Roman Holiday, except updated. Not a bad thing, necessarily. Also, mentioning the second novel is a minus. Which are you selling? And would I want to read the same story twice, even from a second character's point of view?

  11. Sorry, but I'm not hooked. I read through the query and a few lines of the partial but it had more of a "Princess Diaries" feel than "Roman Holiday" and I wasn't sure what audience it would appeal to. It feels too young to be chick lit. The writing flows well, however, and someone more familiar with chick lit might feel it's bang on. Good luck with it.

  12. I'm not hooked. I think it's because I was prepared for a book aimed at MG or YA because of the use of the word 'princess'. Princess always makes me think of young girls for some reason. So when I read the reference to her parents marrying her off to someone whose sexual preferences "run to big boy diapers and nursing", I was thinking "No way. You can't do that in a MG or YA novel."

    I was thrown off enough not to be hooked. Since it seems like everyone else liked it, though, this could just be my mood this morning.

  13. It sounds interesting, but I thought it was chick lit from the query, but then the sample sounded more like YA.

    Also on the query, he can't be pasty and handsome. Pale and handsome, yes, but not pasty.

    The mention of a stalker seems thrown in. I would change it to 'a former stalker' instead of 'her former stalker'. The latter gives the impression that we've heard about the stalker in the query already, which we haven't.

  14. the Query: Not hooked. I think it's an interesting twist to have her run away in order to help the kingdom regain some dignity, but I'm not sure the kingdom or her parents will see it that way.

    It's a good summary but I'm not emotionally hooked by the MC yet and would like to be. Additionally, I'm not all that tied in with the pasty American either.

  15. Well I'm a fan of all things remotely related to Audry Hepburn. Call me a goof, but if I agented, and you said your character had the perky demeanor or style similar to Audry H. I'd ask for more. I'd probably read the whole thing like a box of chocolates.

    So before I hook myself, may I offer some pickies to look at?
    Big boy diapers is kind of stinky to me. I think you're using Colloguialisms that most Americans would only guess at. Clarity, especially until we get used to your characters' slang, can help here. Same for it means sickly looking, nearly at death's door.
    In your query, I'd love to see a bit more of your male lead's intentions and background. This is I think a romance.
    You don't have to waste space and time with (while she's wearing them)...this is very common...The farsical is uncommon, "so he could try them on."
    The sample struck a mood, bravo and I like her self deprication at the finish.
    Okay, got to leave now, to watch Sabrina.

  16. Princess put me in a generic medieval fantasyland. Seeing an American in there was really startling. By the end of the blurb, I'm still unclear on the setting.

    I also had trouble with the older distant cousin's sexual preferences. I may be revealing a giant hole in my knowledge here, but big boy diapers and nursing? I thought he was an adult at first (older cousin), and then I thought maybe he was a baby (diapers), and then I thought he was an adult again (older cousin). I briefly considered the idea he's a pedophile, but that's too gross.

    The last sentence of the first paragraph could be streamlined some. It took me multiple rereads to get it.

    "But Dana isn't the only one hiding their true identity from their traveling companion." -- Not sure, at first, if that meant there was a third person. That sentence could be clarified.

    Where did the stalker come from? I assume that's not the American, if he's who she's falling in love with.

    In spite of my confusion, I sort of like this modern day princess. In the sample page, the writer does a good job of making sure the reader knows the setting. If the rest of the sample pages continued this way, there's a good chance I'd request, but they query itself really lost me.