Wednesday, July 29, 2009

39 Query Contest

Dear Mrs. Jodi Meadows,

THE UNICORN TAMER is where Greek mythology meets Pokémon, a middle-grade fantasy that will appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen's HOOT and Brandon Mull’s FABLEHAVEN.

When her parents mysteriously disappear, 13-year-old Emma Brown is catapulted back to her birthplace - a steampunk version of our dimension that blue whales, centaurs, and griffons call home. In the wonderland called Drualtys, teenagers study to become Tamers - people who form unique bonds with legendary animals to protect them from extinction. Through this bond, Tamers absorb the creatures' magic, special powers ranging from the ability to control lightening, run on water, or see through skin.
Emma begins taming lessons to help rescue her parents from the Hunters, a ruthless clan of humans determined to prove that man is the most powerful beast of all. Their mission: murder the creatures of Drualtys and steal their magical abilities. The prize: a unicorn's cloak of invisibility. Together with her newfound friends, including a half-pixie who's too pretty for his own good and a whimsical boy who can talk to animals, Emma must stay one step ahead of the Hunters, save her parents, and the unicorns - before she is hunted herself.

THE UNICORN TAMER is complete at approximately 95,000 words and is the first in a trilogy. Upon your request, I'd be more than happy to send you the manuscript.

I graduated from Santa Clara University with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Creative Writing. I worked on my university's literary magazine as well as a Children's Storyteller at Barnes and Noble. I also used to contribute to the Google Video Blog.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.


What the Dragons Heard

Dragons are actually more curious than cats.

They proved it now, the hour before dawn in a land called Drualtys. This was the time when animals stirred, in the quiet, cool moments where the world seemed most like theirs. In the darkest corners of the Dreugan caves, the dragons pretended to sleep. Though they were very good pretenders, they could still not control the occasional twitch of excitement that tickled their ears as they eavesdropped on a very important conversation.

Eight clusters of fire the size of soccer balls whizzed silently under the cavern’s ceiling, giving light to an otherwise forebodingly black room.

“How is a dad supposed to react in a situation like this?” asked a man with eyes the color of violets. His name was Benjamin Brown, and anxiety vibrated from his thin frame as he paced the chalky cave’s floor. He stopped and snapped the shiny black arrow he held in two. That same arrow hours before had pierced through his daughter’s crib, missing the slumbering infant by mere inches. Disgusted, Ben threw the arrow against the cave’s wall, and the pieces rattled where they fell.
Perched nearby, the phoenix they called Phyress eyed the broken arrow and shook her ruby and plum feathers as if in disapproval. Sparks emitted from her and the embers flickered stubbornly mid-air, like a trick birthday candle.

The young woman named Aurora mirrored her phoenix’s reaction. She shook back her hair and lifted her chin defiantly. “It’s Emma’s destiny.”


  1. Query – hooked me, but this is my kind of story. There’s a lot of information in it which some would consider info dumping, but it’s pretty much necessary to know in order to be able to understand.

    Sample pages – love the idea and voice. Be careful with the adverbs though. They’re best used sparingly and you have quite a few of them here.

  2. Pretty much hooked. Was pulled out a little by the Children's Storyteller at B&N (not relevant).
    Love the opening line about dragons being more curious than cats.

  3. QUERY: Definitely hooked. Love the opening comparison of Greek mythology meets Pokemon, and the rest of the query actually shows how. The world building is clear, and a very interesting concept. The only thing I'd add to the query is age - is this targeted for YA or middle grade? Though your book comparisons may answer that question to someone more familiar with them.

    You do need to fix the middle line in your bio. It sounds like you worked on a Children's Storyteller, rather than volunteered(?) as one.

    Moving on to the pages.

    250 WORDS: Good voice, good conflict. I'd ask to read more. The only complaint - Aurora's response comes too long after Benjamin's comment. I had to backtrack to reread the question. Otherwise, this is really good. I like the details of the twitching dragon ears, the clusters of fire, etc.

    Good luck with this!

  4. Query: HOOKED.

    Sample: HOOKED.

    I like it! :)

  5. STEAMPUNK + Pokemon! :]

    I love the premise here - and yes, I used to love all of the Pokemon and Monster Rancher and Digimon thingies (adorable).


  6. This isn't my kind of story but I was hooked with the query and hooked with the sample.

    Great voice and writing.

    You have my vote!

  7. Definitely hooked. I love the ideas in the query and I liked the sample pages as well. Good luck!

  8. The first sentence threw me. HOOT isn't fantasy, but all the other comps it leaves me wondering what quality it shares with HOOT.

    Otherwise: like the query. Yes, some world-building, but since you've started with the character's dilemma it works for me.

    Sample: kill the "actually," and it's a good first line. But then I don't get the connection between dragons and the two people talking, maybe it's clear later on. I think you could just start with the people, unless the dragons are really crucial later on.

  9. I'm hooked on the query. And a little less so with the writing. Part of that is because it feels like a prologue and I'm not overly fond of them. But the writing it very good and the voice comes through (although the bit about the dragons threw me off).

  10. I thought both your query and your sample page were good. I'm not a fan of unicorn stories, but I can see this appealing to a MG audience.

    Good luck!

  11. I could not see the steampunk elements in the query or the 250 words. You might just say you studied creative writing, rather than minored in it.
    The idea is interesting, but I found the frequent use of 'named', 'called', was removing me from the story. The writing itself seems aimed at a younger reader than the plot would suggest.

  12. I thought the query was really good. The only things that bothered me was the word-count (are MG novels really that long?). Also, in your personal information, I thought you could probably leave out the B&N storyteller job.

    I hope this helps and good luck.

  13. The query didn't wow me, but it didn't put me off, either. I like unicorns, but they're not exactly a hot seller these days, so anything unicorn related needs to be super awesome.

    95k seems a bit long for MG.

    I love the first line of the sample page. The next part isn't quite so crisp, but it's intriguing.

    I'm unsure about the POV. It doesn't look like Emma's. The humans seem to come out of nowhere in the fourth paragraph. Are the humans and dragons on good terms? Otherwise, the humans risking their lives coming in and chatting in a cavern full of pretending-to-sleep dragons, aren't they?

    I'm more confused than hooked on this, but I think it wouldn't take much to make this a definite yes. The writing is already very nice.