Wednesday, July 29, 2009

18 Query Contest

Dear Jodi Meadows:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs,
steals a silver bracelet with strange qualities, she ends up having to
face not just her personal demons, but literal ones as well.

The daughter of a serial killer, Blue has spent most of her life
fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the
process. Worse yet, she's living with a doofus she can't stand, and
the guy she can't admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in a few

Now people are coming after the bracelet - starting with an assassin
possessing the body of a pizza boy. He is quickly followed by Leo, the
half demon hunter, half mad scientist who created the bracelet. Leo explains
the bracelet is actually a tag to mark demons. And that means
Blue is a demon too... except none of Leo's tests can identify any
demon DNA in Blue.

Despite her distrust and unwilling attraction to Leo's own half (sex) demon
side, Blue has no choice but to work with him to figure out what is going on.
Together they uncover a vast apocalyptic conspiracy that somehow includes
Blue's live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) and her half-sister's wedding. Now,
with Hell on earth pending, Blue has to protect those she loves... maybe even
from herself.

A 101,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA,
is a standalone novel with series potential that should appeal to fans
of Charlaine Harris's and Janet Evanovich's colorful female

I have two college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA
in Film and Television Production. I'm also an active member of a
critique group and maintain a well-trafficked blog. In addition, in
May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman's
World magazine.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


I’m pushing a vacuum, trying to shake the hangover still lingering
four days after my Christmas Day drinking binge, when I first see it.

It is the bracelet sitting on my employer’s dresser. As far as I’m
concerned, the bracelet might as well be underneath a tinsel covered
tree, wrapped up with a bow and my name on top. I know immediately -
it is mine.

Usually, I’m not much for Christmas. You could say it leaves a bad
taste in my mouth, and maybe that’s why I drank so much of the
moonshine my uncles gave me as a Christmas gift. It was the only gift
I received. And it wasn’t wrapped in ribbons and bows. No, it was
just two mason jars tucked into a brown paper lunch bag and left on my
front doorstep.

It wasn’t until I passed out after drinking half of the first jar that
I was able to forget all that needed forgetting.

Like how I was spending Christmas alone.

And that my half-sister’s New Year’s Eve wedding was as inevitable as
drunk people singing “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight.

Mostly though, I needed to forget my father.

I was barely two years old on the Christmas my father was arrested.
Years before I was even born, on three different Christmas days; he
drowned his wives, along with the daughter each had given him. And if
the police hadn’t taken him away when they did, he’d have killed me on
Christmas Day too.


  1. I don't understand what (sex) means in the last paragraph of the pitch.

    Some parts of the pitch weren't clear, but I'd read on.


    Hmmm...I don't think the pages hooked me enough to read on. There's a lot of weak verbs (is/was), and the focus shifts from the bracelet to moonshine to wedding to father...I think I'd prefer her to explore the bracelet. If I were vaccuming and saw a bracelet that I thought was a gift to me, I might think of how my only other gift was moonshine, but beyond that, I think my thoughts would stay with the bracelet.

  2. I am not a fan of the genre but your query made me want more. I don't know if comparing your story to others is a good thing or not, to me it rings as if you're trying to ride the coat tails of other's novels instead of letting yours stand on its own.

    Other than that, I like this.

  3. I liked the query but would have stopped reading the sample. Too many flashbacks in just one page.

  4. Query - I like your hook. And I also like the title. :]

    Yes, hooked.

    Snippet: No, I'm sorry. Too much background information right upfront. You can work it in later...

  5. HOLY SHENANIGANS. YES. You had me with "daughter of a serial killer" and I didn't stop from there. The last sentence on the first page made me stop breathing ... So, yeah, I'd totally request this one!

  6. I liked it, both the flashback and the excerpt. I'd request this. The excerpt has a good voice.

  7. oops, I meant query. Both the query and the excerpt.

  8. First of all, I love the name of Blue Downs. I liked the first 250 words. Although there was a lot of backstory about your father in the beginning, it still got my attention.

    I do question the use of the present tense at the beginning and then slipping into the past tense. That always jars me, but I suspect that's just a personal thing with me.

    I don't think the query letter quite captured the voice of the manuscript. Any way of using Blue's irreverent voice in the query?

  9. I'm hooked. Then I read your 250. Hooked again. I like the premise of the maniac father, but I hope you signal soon, some trouble. It's nice for the purpose of sending out 1st pages to mention something forboding about the bracelet or cut the last para so no one knows just yet if the father was due to arrive to permanently spoil her Christmans...the best of luck.

  10. Solid query although I wonder about mentioning two degrees -- I wouldn't unless they were in creative writing. You had me in the excerpt until the backstory paragraph at the end. There isn't enough of a scene to go into a reminiscence already -- I'd try to show us more about your MC before going back to her life as a child.

  11. The query is a little lengthy and I found myself skimming in parts, but you definitely have something there. I was partially hooked, so I read on.

    In the snippet, you had me with the first 3 paragraphs. The backstory is a little much this early on, so I'd try to work that in later.

  12. I liked your query enough to read the sample page. Your sample page lost me, though. I'm sure the backstory is important, but I want more of the bracelet. Let me get to know your character through her actions before you tell me about her past.

  13. I want to know more about Blue and the bracelet! I'm not so interested in her living situation or family drama (not for the query anyway).

    Query hooked me, but the excerpt lost me. Just a personal dislike for 1st person. Definitely marketable though, good luck!

  14. Loved the query and the sample. Not much more to add really.

  15. Seems to be a lot of first person present tense running around this contest. As I've said, it's hard to pull off. I can't think of any right off that really *worked* for me. To make first person present tense as invisible as it needs to be in order to work that well, the writing itself needs to be *fabulous*. No scaffolding, super strong verbs, all around awesomeness.

    The sample page seemed kind of rambly to me. There was a lot of backstory in there, when mostly I wanted the plot to get a move-on.

    Looks like there's some interesting ideas in this story. Overall, the query works for me (not a fan of the personal/literal demons thing, though), but the sample page put me off it.

  16. Liked your query. I echo the other who said they liked the name- very interesting. I also like that you made me interested in a MC that is obviously flawed, after all, a 'criminal act' propels that story. So, with that, you reeled me in.

    Your query- I didn't so much mind that you mentioned other writers, so you didn't say you or your book are "the next..." I know that in screenwriting, for your elevator pitch, you better have a few comparable films. Since I have so many screenwriter and producer friends, I tend to think that's not so bad as long as you aren't choosing a blockbuster or being so confident to call yourself "the next." I think when done right, it can paint a picture of your style.

    However, just nitpicking a bit here- I don't think you need to say 'college' degrees. I think degree is enough. I would leave them in since they are artsy, but I don't think you need your blog or being a member of a critique group.

    Snippet- I agree that there was a lot in your first 250. I know that's all important to the story and that you wanted to get all the Christmas stuff out... maybe there is a better way to do it.. give us more Blue first. Nonetheless, I was hooked.

    Good luck!