Wednesday, July 29, 2009

7 Query Contest

Dear Ms. Jodi Meadows,

Lexi Porter is sixteen-years-old, she’s telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem. When a random desert thunderstorm sends her and a teenage escaped convict, Cam, to the world of Solara, life gets much more complicated.

Her powers come in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange world. To start, she doesn’t appreciate having her worst memories displayed on the wall like a freakin’ movie, or explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens. But hey, at least they left a mini hurricane in her bathroom so she had something to dry her hands on.

Maybe it isn’t all bad. At least her abilities aren’t as rare and freakish as she’d always thought.

She makes a deal with the Solarians—if they help her get home, she’ll help them find others with similar abilities on Earth. She’s even willing to put up with Cam. He might drive her nuts, but at least he’s fun to look at.

Lexi never imagined that what awaited her back in Oracle, Arizona would be far worse than anything on Solara. But when she sees lifeless eyes in the face of a friend, she must decide what she’s willing to fight for.

Maybe she should’ve just stayed in Solara—it's too late now. She must quickly learn to embrace her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever live to use them.

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. This story is science fiction for people who don’t necessarily like science fiction—it is extremely character driven. It is complete at 66,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Why was the fool girl out in the desert with a monsoon coming anyway? Cam shook his head and crouched further down beside the prison van. The wind buffeted his orange uniform around his body. The weight he’d lost in prison made everything loose on him.

He watched Alexis Porter shade her eyes, trying to see through the opposite window. He was intensely grateful that the van didn’t have any windows in the back. It insured she wouldn’t see the guards inside, his guards, lying unconscious in the prisoner area. They wouldn’t remain that way forever. He needed to make his move soon.

She shrugged, seeming to determine the van was empty—exactly as he’d hoped. Her long, dark curls whipped wildly in the turbulent air. Climbing back on her bike, it took all her weight to push down one pedal, straining against the rising wind. Amidst the waves of blowing sand, she’d only gone about twenty feet before he started having difficulty making out her retreating form.

He took a few deep breaths. When he cornered her she’d be automatically wary. His appearance alone would draw her suspicion. There was nothing he could do about that now. He’d play the part. After searching so long, the girl was close. Finally, within his grasp.

When he felt confident she wouldn’t turn around—Cam ran after her.


  1. How are her powers displayed like a movie? I like the hint of voice in this one, but that second paragraph confuses me. Perhaps an extra sentence or two about Solara?

    You use "at least" twice, very close together.

    There's a *lot* here--aliens, a new world, a murderer on Earth...I'm a little confused. I like the SF twist, and I suspect this one may be one I like, but the pitch confuses me too much. There's just too many details. It read like: this happens, then this happens, then this happens. Condense it to the main problem, the main consequence.

  2. I loved this. The voice is funny and the story intriguing, also the sample holds up. I'd be reading on. One quibble though, in this case I'd put the last paragraph first because I didn't realize it was a SciFi. I thought it started of rather like a grown-up version of "Wizzard of Oz"

  3. I enjoyed the query. You might want to reconsider the sentence "Maybe she should've..." because it felt choppy and unfinished.

    I also liked the excerpt. There was a little confusion in the second paragraph (I was pretty sure Cam was in a vehicle of some sort but not totally) but the rest is really interesting. I'm very curious to see how he knew who she was and why he was chasing after her (when he could've just dumped the guards and taken the van or something).

  4. Escaped convict? Now I must read a little bit to see what this teenager was convicted of yet still sympathetic.... :O

    Query: Hooked.

    Snippet: Erm... creepy. Admittedly I don't really have any sympathy for convicts who seem about to attack a girl in the desert.... :O

    But that's up to you to convince me to have sympathy for him, at least to the point that I can accept he's a main character per the query.

    I'd read on...

  5. This is voice-heavy and snappy, which I like.

    Unfortunately, the query lost me pretty quickly. Okay, so the telekinetic protagonist is dumped in another world by a random act of God. Then she cuts a deal with the aliens. Then she’s somehow back home, and there’s a bad but unspecified thing going on, and an unnamed friend is dead for some reason, and she has to decide what she’s willing to fight for, but the reader isn’t allowed to know anything about this choice. And there’s a murderer.

    I feel like everything including the kitchen sink is being thrown at me here, and I’m struggling to identify a single main plot. It can’t be getting home, because that’s quickly resolved. The murderer? Protecting the other telekinetics? What, ultimately, is the overall plot?

    I doubt this is a character-driven novel. The query is far heavier on plot than characterisation - I don’t have a very strong impression of the protagonist as a character.

    Slightly weirded by the excerpt. It’s in the viewpoint of someone who appears to be a psychotic stalkery escaped convict: I’m kind of wincing here and winding up for him to rape and murder the other character. I’m not sure how this ties in with the story.

    Having the opening in the viewpoint of someone who’s not the protagonist is inherently a little confusing.

    Overall, I’m not hooked.

  6. I got the impression that the MC was with a teenage ex-convict and then when I read the first 250, the guy was in prison. That worried me right off the bat. Is he stalking her? How does he know who she is?

    I think it is a good premise for a story, but might need a little clarification.

  7. Semi-hooked but a few things stop me from being on the ride with you. The first sentence should either be three sentences or use semi-colons or get rid of the two "she's". Also the title isn't catchy and I don't know if saying it's "extremely" character driven is good. Maybe cut the extremely. Also for people who don't necessarily like sf? Hmm. Feels a bit heavy handed and puts me off a tad.

  8. Left me very confused. Is the story about her time on Solara? Or her time after, back on Earth? It also doesn't appear from the query that Cam plays too big a role in the novel so why mention him in the query? Not hooked.

  9. I was a bit taken back by being in Cam's POV after reading about Alexis in the query. I thought the query could be tightened up a bit -- it wanders a bit. The writing was decent, but overall, I wasn't hooked.

  10. The query lost me. Perhaps you should end it when she makes a deal with the Solarians and try to make it more interesting before that.

    The snippet was very good. You don't need the word "that" after "intensely grateful," you don't need "the" after "any windows in," and "insured" has to with insurance, so "ensured" is the preferred word nowadays. In a later paragraph, you don't need "automatically." She'd be wary.

    These word comments aren't aimed at you in particular. Pick up a copy of Stephen King's "On Writing" and see what happened to him on pp. 56-57, hardcover edition. It's what we all need to learn.

    Mark in the Seattle area

  11. Crazy confused by the query. But I still like the idea of it. The humor feels a bit dry and at the same time preposterous in a Hitchhiker's Guide kind of way.

    I'd agree with earlier posts that a trimming down of the query should go a long way towards hooking an agent.

  12. The query was too disconnected. My mind was still on the deal she made with the aliens (which didn't do much for building my sympathy with the MC, as it sounded as if she'd traded her own freedom for all the other people with her abilities that she was going to rat on)... but then suddenly we've switched to empty-eyed humans and murders.
    so, didn't read on

  13. This one started out strong, but as more and more of the plot was described, I found myself mostly confused. There's too much back and forth. The query shouldn't be a description of the plot -- that's why you write a synopsis -- but a short way to hook a reader. What is the story *about*?

    I have a feeling it's about Lexi's learning to deal with her powers (internal conflict) and helping others who develop powers (external conflict).

    It's everything else I'm not sure about. How does Cam fit in? How does Solara fit in? They're cool ideas, but right now they're causing more confusion than I think they're worth. I'm also not sure how an escaped convict will draw my sympathies enough to read about. Furthermore, he has the opening scene; that almost makes him more important than Lexi, at least to start with.

    This one has cool ideas, and there's a good chance I'd like the story, but I wouldn't request based on this query and sample.

  14. I liked both your query and the sample. But I was thrown off by the fact that the query is all about Lexi, then the sample is from Cam's POV. Maybe you need to rewrite the query to tell it from both of their perspectives?