Wednesday, July 29, 2009

42 Query Contest

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my urban fantasy YA novel TINKERS, complete at 55,000 words.

For thirteen-year-old twins Ben and Emma Hawthorne, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then they meet Jacob Rhodes, one of a group of Travellers who live in the woods nearby. Jacob’s family have guarded a small band of faeries for centuries but after Jacob’s father is sent to prison, the Travellers have trouble finding enough food (lightning stones) to sustain the faeries.

When a photograph is found that links the Hawthorne’s to the Rhodes, Ben and Emma open their eyes not just to the secrets of the faeries but also to the heritage that awaits them.

After Jacob’s father escapes from prison with the help of a rouge faerie, Ben and Emma must cram a lifetime of Traveller instinct into just a few short weeks if they are to beat Jacob and his scheming father at gathering lightning stones and rightfully securing their place as heads of the family.

TINKERS is a richly layered tale of traditions, betrayal, and adventure. Authentic details about the Traveller people, their private languages, and way of life, give TINKERS a starkly real context, drawing the reader into Ben and Emma’s world and not letting go until the very end.

I have recently completed an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England and have a short story that has been published in Lit by New Writing North in conjunction with Newcastle University. Also, several works have been published in Blackberry Winter, an annual chapbook of Rochester College where I earned my BA in English and Professional Writing. This is my first novel.

Upon your request, I am prepared to send the completed manuscript. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.


Emma sat beside me. Neither of us had spoken or moved from our chairs in hours. I squeezed my toes as hard as I could again; a trick Mom had taught me to hide my nervousness or embarrassment. Everyone could see you cry, but no one knew if you curled your toes. Boys arn't supposed to cry.
My toes started to tingle as I scanned the group of grownups at the back of the room. They were all Dad’s family, cousins, older people we saw sometimes at holidays, and a lot of people I didn’t recognize. Most of them wore black, some of the men in dark blue suits. I unclenched my toes. The heat spread and stung. Emma told me there were bodies in the basement, other dead people. Mom wasn’t a body anymore. She was ashes.
Dad said that Mom wanted to be ashes. He said that everyone in her family were ashes, it was tradition. But none of her family is here. I’ve never met any of them. You’d think that if they cared at all, they’d be here now, but they’re not. Or maybe they’re ashes too.
Another man entered the room. I could see his face, but it was like I was looking through him. He wasn’t a ghost, but it was hard to describe his face, like as soon as I thought of the right words, he seemed to shift somehow and I had to start over. I watched as his outline moved quickly to the sideboard and began reading the small cards in the flowers. His back was turned to Emma and me.


  1. Hooked I liked it. With the query I wasn't quite sure, but I kept reading and was glad I did. I like the clean, clear writing style.

  2. I've read a lot of YA faery books lately so this has to be something special to impress me. Unfortunately the query didn't deliver.

    However, I read pebbleintx's comments and read the sample. Nice job. You do have a typo, though: Boys arn't supposed to cry. I'm assuming that's a typo.

    Would I continue? Probably not. But that might be because I've read way too many YA faery books, and I'm getting bored of the subject.

    Good luck!

  3. it didn't really grab me. the query has too many details. figure out your stakes, and write it less like a summary and more like its own engaging story.

  4. I wasn't hooked on this one. The query reads more like a synopsis with a bit too much peripheral detail. I want to get hit right up front with something that says, "Yes. I want to hear more."

  5. *waffles*

    This reminds me a little bit of some of the popular books over in the MG section at the bookstore. So I think it could work and would have readers.

    But I'm not personally crazy about the 'faerie' thing. So personally it's a pass.... but this is good. :]

  6. I suspect that the sample pages may be good, but I think the query needs some more focus.

    First, I wonder if this would be better classified as MG? With 13-y-o characters and a faeries based story, this might be more appropriate as MG.

    The query lacks, voice, though, and you give more background than conflict.

    Regardless, I'd read on because while the writing of the query doesn't excite me, the concept behind the plot does.

    Sample: The typo (arn't) stood out.

    The tone and style of this feels more MG than YA.

    I'm not sure if I'm hooked or not. I'm not 100% sold on the story, but I'd turn the page and see what happened next.

  7. Children read up so this I would not consider to YA, but MG or middle grade. Other than that, I like it.

    Not love it.

  8. The query didn't wow me, but I read the sample page in spite of that. Loved, absolutely loved the writing. Would read on based on voice alone. btw think this is probably closer to middlegrade than ya

  9. I thought it was good enough to read the sample page. And I thought the sample page was pretty good. The next few pages would have to be great for me to keep reading, though.

    Maybe you just need a stronger hook in the query?

  10. Not sure if I'm hooked, but I read the whole thing anyway. The query confused me. The first paragraph makes it sound like the characters are all in the same neighborhood, and then later they are competing to be the head of the family? Huh?

    The photograph doesn't need a mention; it only creates more questions. It may be a vital plot point, but that doesn't mean it belongs in the query.

    Don't tell the agent it's a richly layered tale. Don't mention you did lots of research; it's important to you, but if the agent likes the story, that is when you can tell them. This paragraph isn't needed.

    Your biography looks great, but don't tell them this is your first novel.

    I liked the voice in the opening. The only problems I found were in the query.

  11. I'm not really hooked. I thought Jacob was a good guy until I read the later paragraph and that threw me off.

  12. There are a lot of fairy books out there. I think you need something spectacular to get an agent's interest. Maybe add something unique to yours? I'm not sure what, but think about it.

    Good luck!

  13. I think faeries are childhood stories for most kids, not just Emma and Ben.

    I'm not sure I understand this. Ben and Emma meet Jacob, who guards faeries. Good thing, yes? And by the end, Jacob is the enemy? I don't see where the switch was signaled.

    Also, guarding faeries doesn't mean the same thing as finding food for them and everything. I'm also unsure how the imprisonment of one man could cause so much trouble for them, or why the faeries are so important.

    I'm afraid the writing didn't draw me in. The voice seemed younger than a thirteen year old boy's.

    That said, I did like the details about squeezing toes and ashes in the sample page.