Wednesday, July 29, 2009

38 Query Contest

Dear [Agent name here]:

When Marian isn't helping her mother with her herbalist trade, she retreats to the forest. The woods hold a secret for her alone, a crying voice that echoes her own loneliness. When she overhears plans to cut down the forest, Marian is determined to find a way to stop it. Unbeknownst to her, the Fey have their own agenda for saving the forest. They burn the village to protect the spirit of their banished goddess. Marian helplessly watches the fire rage, knowing her mother is inside. Furious at the loss of her mother, Marian is filled with a surge of unfamiliar power. As she learns about her magic, she struggles with the desire to use it to help others at the risk of revealing herself to the Enchanter Council.

The Fey seek the hope of their race, a woman with magic, who can initiate the return of their goddess. The Enchanters fear the Fey goddess and kill every female born with magic in order to prevent her return. Marian is sought after by both; the Fey come to her for help, and the Enchanter Council wants to kill her. If the goddess isn't brought back soon, anything touched by fey magic will be affected, including Marian. The Fey will slowly lose their magic. Most will die of despair. Can Marian forgive those who killed her mother, in order to save herself? Marian sees Jex, a thief with debts to the Enchanter Council, at every turn. Though at first an annoyance, he helps her in ways she never expected. She'll need to open her heart to his advice and his love in order to fulfill her destiny.

EMERGENCE OF THE FEY is a fantasy novel complete at 97,000 words. The opening page is below. I am a moderator for, an online writing community, where I also served as a Fantasy Newsletter editor for two years.

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

Best wishes,

[Contact info]

Chapter One

Marian knelt by the small stream, watching the puddle jumpers. The blue sparks danced just out of reach as she dipped her hand in. The only sounds were the trickle of the stream and a pair of birds singing courtship.

She stood and wiped her hands on her long tunic. Why were the trees so silent today? Odd that the absence of resonating cries caused a different kind of sorrow. An emptiness. Marian caressed the smooth bark of one of the oaks.

Rushed footsteps interrupted her musing. "Marian... Marian." Her sister came into view, cheeks flushed and dark hair loose from its braid.

"Terra, what's wrong?"

Terra stopped to catch her breath. "Mother... needs help... Glenna... baker's wife... having baby."

Marian gasped. "Has it been ten moons already?"

Terra shook her head. "Only eight and a half. Mother is over there now. She needs an ointment made and fresh water."

Marian didn't need to hear more. "You get a bucket from the well. I'll make the ointment and meet you at Glenna's."


Marian knocked on the door as she entered the room. Her mother looked up from her tea preparation at the hearth and motioned her daughter over. A ribbon held her dark brown hair out of the way. She handed Marian a ribbon to do the same.

Glenna squatted at the end of a worn bed. Her husband sat directly behind her, ready to brace her during her struggles.


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  2. Not bad. I would be hooked if I was into this genre.

    I do think you can trim the description (I'm a fan of a one paragraph synopsis for the query), and in its place add some personal info regarding why you are querying said agent.

    Overall pretty good.

  3. Query – I’m hooked enough to read the sample pages, but the bit about Jex feels random. It’s like you wrote the rest of the query and then just threw that part in there. Some people don’t like rhetorical questions. I myself don’t mind them, though they don’t actually reveal anything and they answer is usually ‘yes.’

    Sample pages -- I’m intrigued. I especially like the first two paragraphs. They have nice voice and the dialogue is realistic. I’d read more.

  4. The Jex part does seem a little random. If love it a big part of the novel, then maybe thread it through the query. Overall, I thought the query was well written. Good Luck!

  5. It would be nice if there was more voice in the query; it reads a little list-like now. I would also like a little bit of a definition of the Enchanter that humans with magic?

    I'm with the others: Jex seems tacked on at the end.

    Personally, for the query, I'd rather you start with the fire, not the forest. That seems the more important part of the story, and would cut down on a lot of the words.

    How old is Marian? Should this be YA? (I'd been reading assuming she was teenaged, and was a little surprised you hadn't classified it as YA.)

    ...reading sample...

    By ten moons, I assume ten months, but human pregnancy = nine months. Is Glenna not human? That threw me out of the story. Also: ribbons are terrible at holding up hair! That threw me out of the story as well.

    Noticing all these little details makes me realize that I'm not in love with the story, and I think that stems from the query. I'm really sorry, but I'm just not sold on the overall writing.

  6. Query: I like with reserve. I thought it could be tightened up a bit.

    Snippet: Yep, I like.

  7. Not hooked. The query seems... dry? There's no sense of urgency. It's like the events are being recited, and with too many details.

  8. I'm hooked by the query but you should probably either leave the part about Jex out or put it in earlier. As it is, it doesn't sound like romance is a key part of the novel so you could leave it out altogether.

    As to the pages, I'm sort of hooked. I'm curious about what happens next but not dying to know.

  9. The query had way too much stuff in it for me. And I was thrown off by the Fey burning down the forest. To me, it would seem the Fey would want to protect the forest.

    Anyway, I wasn't hooked. Maybe try streamlining the query.

  10. There are some cool ideas in here, but the query isn't focused or streamlined enough to hook me. These are the things that seem important to me: Marian overhears a Fey plot to burn down the village; they succeed (does she try to stop them?) and her mother dies; and then she hears about these Enchanters who want to kill her for power she has. Meanwhile, they Fey are kicking themselves (or should be) for killing her mother because now they need her help to restore their goddess.

    Marian's choice is to let the Enchanters kill her, keep running and end up dead because of the lack of goddess, or forgive the Fey and save everyone (except the Enchanters).

    Those are good conflicts and choices. They need to be presented more clearly in the query letter.

    The opening page didn't draw me in. The first scene is so short it almost doesn't matter. It doesn't *hook* me. There's no time for grounding or conflict to draw me in. An off-screen character I don't know or feel attachment to having a baby... :)

    According to the query letter, the story starts with the village in peril. That's interesting. I think the manuscript starts too soon, so I wouldn't request.