Wednesday, July 29, 2009

3 Query Contest

Dear Ms. XYZ,

Sixteen year old Maya Georgiou may be an ocean nymph, but she's still insecure, awkward, and na?ve. When she moves with her mom and cousins back to Bar Harbor, Maine during the summer before her senior year, she expects to find the same jealous girls and leering guys. Maya certainly wasn't anticipating having a crush on the sullen (albeit gorgeous) waiter at the resort where her mom works.

Shoreline, complete at 63,000 words, is a young adult fantasy novel that follows Maya as she explores what it means to be an ocean nymph and have a boyfriend that doesn't realize she's straight out of a Greek mythology book. And it's only after the two are attached at the hip that Maya learns she must make the ultimate decision -- sacrifice Nate or offer herself up as a victim -- to fulfill her ancestral obligations.

Although this manuscript works as a standalone book, I am working on a sequel that follows Maya and her family to Greece where they delve further into their heritage.

I currently freelance for several websites with an audience of teens and young adults. My monthly combined page views top one million and I would have the opportunity to present and promote my book within the sites. I have also written four non-fiction books in the puzzle and games category and they are currently available in most major bookstores.

Thank you for taking the time to review my query. If you wish to receive the manuscript please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail or phone.


Chapter 1

My mother threw me in the ocean when I was exactly five weeks old. A test of sorts, she didn't mean to be cruel and could have easily saved me if I started to drown. But I didn't. I happily played in the water, dove down to run the gritty sand through my fingers, and floated in the gentle ebb of the tide. The water, warm to my skin even though most swimmers would chatter in their wetsuits, cradled me, buoyed my chubby little legs, and lulled me to sleep.

And sixteen years later, the ocean is still a comfort to me. It's where I thrive. I have to be near the shore or I start to feel disoriented and disconnected. Oh, and then there's also the responsibility -- which forces me to live only a short distance away since I have to care for the sea life and creatures within.

Of course my mother knew this when she tossed me in. She's the same way. It's in our blood. Because we're not exactly human.


It was a warm sunny Saturday morning in early June when the five of us settled ourselves at Lindbergh Field Airport waiting for our flight.

"Is it delayed again? Seriously?" Jocelyn huffed, aggravated as she stretched a piece of gum out between her teeth and around her index finger. All the guys within a twenty-foot radius leaned in as my cousin played with the gum, twirling it lazily around her finger before she popped it back in her mouth.


  1. This query feels like it is missing the meat of the story. The first paragraph gives the setting and the second gives more of an overview. The only sentence that hints at the point of the book is the last line in the second paragraph. On the other hand, the author has provided a lot (perhaps too much) information about herself. I would suggest adding more information about the story and less about the author.

  2. I'm sorry: not hooked. The pitch didn't seem to stand out. From it, I gthered that she's a nymph and has a crush--but what's the twist? If it's just that she's a nymph...I'm not hooked. Is there some sort of conflict or consequence to her being a nymph?

    Look at it this way: in the old TV show BEWITCHED, the twist is that the woman's a witch. But it's a romantic comedy--there's no deep stakes to it--and the twist is the humorous scrapes the couple get into because of magic. However, in, say, TWILIGHT, the guy's a vampire. The consequence to the love is that he might eat her.

    But when I read your pitch paragraph, I couldn't tell what the consequence is. Is this going to be a comedy like BEWITCHED or SPLASH? Or is it serious, with consequences, like TWILIGHT? Those are two totally different genres and tones of novels--and since I couldn't tell which way this story was going, I honestly quit caring.

  3. I'm not hooked. I feel like there's a paragraph missing after the first. Basically, I'm left wondering "so what?" about Maya. And the ultimate decision that she has to make came out of nowhere. Why? What kind of ancestrial obligations? The conflict is where the meat is and that's what would keep my interest.

  4. I'm not really sure about this one.... the first paragraph, I was like (huh) about how casually the 'nymph' was dropped in a 'moving to new home and school' type ya plot.

    The second paragraph hooked me. Really cool. :]

    So query hooked -

    And definitely first chapter hooked.

    Nice job.

  5. QUERY: I liked the voice of this query, but the plot is not coming across as coherent and logical to me.

    16-year-old ocean nymph Maya moves to a new place and eyes up a hot guy. Next paragraph, bang! She has a boyfriend and is facing a kill-or-be-killed dilemma. I was thrown out of the story with a vengeance and ended up asking myself a ton of questions. Is the boyfriend the same guy mentioned before? Why is she facing this dilemma? Where does it come from? What ancestral obligations? Why doesn’t she tell whatever person or force put her in this dilemma to screw themselves? What happens if she just refuses to do either?

    Not too keen on the structure of the query either. It’s challenging enough to immerse the reader in the story you’re telling without breaking right out of it to deliver some metafictional, author-level stuff like the title, wordcount and genre, and then trying to ease us back in again. Keep the synopsis/story section together in a single flowing story.

    I feel like I could use more characterisation here. The boyfriend especially -- even assuming that he’s the same guy from before, all I know about him is that he’s sullen and gorgeous.

    FIRST 250: Nice opening. Needs to lose some excess adjectives, I think, but not a big deal.

    OVERALL: I enjoyed this and would read on. The query is the part that needs the most work.

  6. I felt that the query was lacking what the story was about. The first paragraph didn't tell us anything but the protagonist being an ocean nymph and that she has a crush. We don't know how these tie in, etc.

    The important details that are in the second paragraph because of the placing of the novel title and word count.

    Because of these things, I stopped reading after the query.

  7. I wasn't hooked, although I liked the nymph out of Greek mythology idea. But what then? It looks like a concept in search of a story. It needs more on the 'ancestral obligations' that require a sacrifice. I can't tell if I will like *this* story.

    In the personal stuff, I thought the part about the ability to promote felt like an indirect bribe and would have turned me off.

  8. Sorry, not hooked enough to read the samples, but that's just my personal taste - don't like water books. Although I'm guessing an agent would be quite happy to hear about your ready-available marketing setup, so I'd say that's an important detail to leave in

  9. OMG - I loved your first line in the book! I almost spit my coffee out. lol

    The query was pretty good too.


  10. The query felt like it should be flipped; switch the second paragraph for the first. The second paragraph brings out the Greek mythology aspect which is what hooked me. And you brought in Greek myths by concentrating on a minor character - a nymph. Pretty cool.

    For me it was the premise that hooked me. And the voice in the opening was lively, readable and had so many unique elements to keep me intrigued. Really nice!

  11. Hooked by the concept, but agree with what's been said before that there seems to be something missing from the query... why should we care about Maya? what's important about her story?

  12. Sea nymph? Hooked. But yeah, I'd like to understand a little better why she's forced to make decision she has to make. Loved your first line. I'd totally read on.

  13. I liked the nymph protagonist and her conflict of living a mortal life, but not so much the shallow (forgive the pun) crush. I would have been more intrigued if you would have hinted at the consequences of her decisions a little more.

    In other words, I get the 'real' world. Show me some more of the nymph's world and I'll be eager to read on.

  14. I liked your query, though after reading the other comments I could see that some more detail about the conflict would be useful. I think the info at the end about the websites you write for is great. I disagree that it's like a bribe. It's a demonstration that you have platform, and you will be able to help out with the marketing of your book.

    I liked the sample too, though I found the phrase about having to care for the sea life and the creatures a bit awkward. I've thought about it and I'm not sure why, so this isn't a particularly helpful comment. Sorry! I thought I'd mention it in case others thought the same. If not... just ignore it.

  15. It's nice to see a nymph, rather than one of the normal urban fantasy characters. I also really liked the first line of the sample page.

    But I wouldn't request this, because it's missing something. The thing about nymphs is...they're not scary. They're flirty and frolicking, they take care of the water and sealife, and that's it.

    It looks like there's another piece in this; the writer hinted at a sacrifice, which is neat, but up until that point, there's no tension in the plot. A nymph likes a boy. He likes her back.

    The first paragraph, after the awesome first line, needs some work. There's a comma that should be a semicolon, and a few other places that should also have some different punctuation to make the images clear.

    I can see why the writer added the first scenelet, but it's unnecessary. The reader will figure out soon enough what's going on; the first scenelet doesn't reveal anything important.