Wednesday, July 29, 2009

50 Query Contest

Dear Jodi Fabulous,

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them.

Ever since the fae discovered her talent ten years ago, McKenzie has fought to balance her normal life with her life as the Court’s best shadow-reader. She has things almost under control until she’s abducted from her college campus by Aren, a charismatic and dangerously attractive fae who’s set on overthrowing the king.

Aren's determined to make McKenzie help him. She’s determined to stay loyal to the Court. After all, this is the man responsible for importing the human technology which has damaged the fae’s magic and led to a bloody civil war. Or so she’s been told.

Aren’s methods of coercion – and his devilish smiles – rattle McKenzie’s faith. Instead of hurting or threatening her, he teaches her his language and claims the Court has told her lies. Now, McKenzie must decide if she can trust the fae she’s falling for or if his seduction is part of a strategy to lure her to his side of the war.

FISSURED is a paranormal romance novel complete at 95,000 words. As per the guidelines on Miss Snark’s First Victim, I’ve pasted the first 250 words below. Thank you for your time and consideration.



My skin tingles a moment before a slash of white light flashes at the front of the lecture hall. I clench my teeth and keep my eyes locked on my scantron, refusing to acknowledge the fae entering my world through that fissure. I don’t give a damn if it’s the king himself, I will pass this test tonight.

I darken in C on my answer sheet then read the next question.


My heart clenches at the familiar voice. It’s Kyol. Why the hell is he here? I’d made it clear I never wanted to see him again.

“McKenzie,” he says. “We must go.” No one else can hear or see him, not even my professor who stands less than two feet to his left. All the other students remain bowed over their desks, completely focused on their final exams. I grip my pencil and bubble in another circle.

Kyol climbs the steps to my fifth row seat. Still not meeting his eyes, I shake my head. Never mind that I’m pissed at him, I’d told him – I’d told all of them – not to call on me this week, but none of the fae understand why I need this degree, not when the Court takes care of all my needs. I’ve tried to explain that I’m human, that I have human dreams and need a human life and that it shouldn’t take anyone eight years to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English. They hadn’t listened. At least, Kyol hadn’t.


  1. A good query. I was hooked.

    You give a good description of the novel without it getting confusing. If I was to do a line by line on it, I might suggest a stronger word here, and a restructured sentence there. But it works as is.

    The first 250 words were good as well.

  2. Hooked and hooked again! Nice job :)

  3. Well I don't read a lot of parpanormal stuff, so I was a bit confused I'm afraid. First question - what is a fae? A fairy?
    Second - what kind of world does McKenzie live in?

    I did think the writing was nice and tight and I liked the idea of the romance, but I wanted to know if they do fall in love. Oh and devilish smiles is a bit of a cliche.

  4. Partially hooked. I was confused by fae also, but this might not be a problem for agents who represent paranormal. I might move the first sentence of your query's last paragraph to the first sentence of the first paragraph for clarity purposes.

  5. Loved the query, loved the sample... if I were an agent, I'd ask for more! Good job!

  6. Hooked.
    Liked the first line but was a bit confused by the use of fae (and I love paranormal). Also would have liked some clarification on the term "shadow reader." I agree you could come up with something more original than "devilish smiles."

    I thought you set up the conflict well in the query and I also enjoyed the first 250 words. Good job!

  7. Great tagline to start off the query. The premise and the plot both sound intriguing. I was hooked and read more. The first page continued to keep my interest, even if the present tense threw me for a loop initially. I definitely got a feel for McKenzie and wanted to know how she was going to tell Kyol to get lost in the middle of her exam.

  8. Great! It jumped right in to the story and was clear and to the point. I went on to read the sample, which I also enjoyed.

  9. Hooked.

    In the query letter, I would like to know what her normal life is. That would help a lot in establishing the conflict between worlds. Otherwise, from the first line, I assume that tracking is a job and IS her life.

    The beginning was great and immediately showed the conflict, and answered my question from the query.

  10. Query: I'm confused about the king. Is that fae king or some kinda real king. Ditto the Court? Where does she live? What is a shadow reader...

    Also, I'm wondering if this is Urban Fantasy instead of Paranormal...

  11. They query hooked me. I love the concept of a human trying to balance her normal life with responsibilities in the fae world.
    Didn't enjoy the sample page, but only because it's present tense - becoming more and more popular, but it just doesn't draw me in the way past tense does

  12. Query: hooked.

    Sample: hooked.

    An interesting note: I didn't read the whole query or the whole sample. I could tell within a few lines that this was hook-worthy. Well done!

  13. I love this! The beginning of the query was slow though.

  14. Hooked and hooked! Good job.

  15. I'm hooked. The query was great and the first page was fantastic. I'm definitely interested in reading more!

  16. I could imagine an agent being interested by this premise, and on the whole, I like the query.

    My one concern has to do with world-building: What is a fae? What is the relationship between the faes' world and ours? The first few sentences make me think that this will be high fantasy, but then we learn that McKenzie is on a college campus. Incorporate a few more details that will clarify this alternate reality you've created, and I'd say your query is pretty solid.

  17. As I stopped back for additional crit work, I ran across this again. It came back to me fresh and clean the next day.

    I'm not only hooked, but I think you might have a winning concept here. I hope to see it in book form soon!

  18. Hmmm... Yeah, like others have said the word 'fae' sort of threw me. I'm used to seeing that as an adjective or a plural noun, not as a singular noun.

    I was off-balance from the start though. Maybe I'm brain-dead, because other people seem to be getting it, but I don't understand what 'they' is modifying. If 'they' are the fae, couldn't anyone who can see them hunt them with training? Or is she tracking humans who see faeries?

    I stayed muddled, I'm afraid.

    I read the sample anyway and I liked it. I'm not certain about some of the tenses though. For example, "I'd told him," seems like it should be, "I told him." And I'm thinking that rather than saying "they hadn't listened," it should be, "they haven't listened." Because while they hadn't listened in the past, they still haven't listened now.

    Overall, it seems promising. But I'm a sucker for faeries. =)

  19. Hooked by the query and completely drawn in by the sample!

    Very clean, concise and intriguing. So the whole "human gets dragged into the machinations of the Sidhe" has been done before; I don't care. This seems fresh enough to garner my attention.

    Good luck!

  20. @Andrea I've had about a gazillion people look at my first few pages, and you're the first one to point out the "I'd made it clear" grammar. I checked with an editor friend of mine and you're right.

    Looks like I need to do another read through and fix the "hads" before I start querying.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks so much for pointing the tense problem out!

    And thanks everyone else for your comments and feedback! I'm hoping the query works for Jodi and that I pull off first person present.

  21. Jodi Fabulous, huh? I think I'll make that my legal name. ;)

    I didn't have trouble with the word fae; I suspect most agents who read SFF have seen it before. I wouldn't worry about it.

    It's hard to hook me with a fairy book, but I do like this query. It sets things up nicely. You might consider trimming the scaffolding, but overall, I think it works.

    And the first person present tense...I noticed it in the very first sentence, but it fades after that. I'd say, overall, it works for me. I'd read more of this and hope the invisibility holds up.