Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Query Extravaganza #8

Most of you know these query critiques sprang from the contest I helped run with Mike and SC. The Query Kombat agent round started today over at Mike's blog, and we are hoping for a ton of requests to go with these amazing queries and first pages. If you want to see what a great query looks like, that would be a good place to visit.

Also, if you are thinking of running your own writing contest you might be interested in an interview I gave to Amy Trueblood. It includes the behind the scene details on the difficulties of running a large contest. It's a lot of work for one thing, and there are always hiccups that threaten a host's sleep. You can find the interview here.

On to query #8.

To become my next participant you need only comment on the queries that come before  and after you and contact me on twitter to volunteer for sacrifice this valuable opportunity.

Please keep in mind that I'm no query guru, but I have read a considerable amount of query slush thanks to Query Kombat. (And that is a lot of repeating of the word query.) I might have an edge on what works and what doesn't.  But as in all such critiquing, the suggestions are mainly subjective. Or in other words, take it with a grain of salt and see if others agree with me.  

Sixteen-year-old witch's apprentice Bridey Corkill  has hated the ocean ever since her granddad dove into it, drowning with a smile on his face. (Nice start!)  So when a strange girl rolls in with the tide, Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into sea has made its return to the Isle of Man. (Still good.)   Soon, girls from Bridey’s town are turning up on the beach, waterlogged and lifeless. (You've jumped away from me here. My expectation was a siren as the'strange girl.' But do sirens go after girls or only men? My experience with Homer and Sinbad says men.)

Bridey would love to stay far away from the water, but her errands for the old witch involve frequent trips to the shore, where she searches for everything from soggy eels for nasty pies to sea glass fragments for mysterious spells.  One morning, instead of finding what the witch needs, she discovers an unconscious boy with deep gashes in his stomach.  In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey how to master her fear of the water—stealing her heart in the process.  But the secret surrounding Fynn's existence threatens to unravel his and Bridey’s new romance. (Now I'm wondering where the dead girls went. They disappeared from the story, as did the strange girl who came in with the tide. What I got in the first paragraph isn't carrying through.)

As Bridey confesses (expresses? admits? to avoid repeating the word.) her feelings for him, Fynn confesses the truth: he's a glashtyn, the very thing that might be luring girls to their deaths. (How does that explain her grandfather? Have we got male and female sirens working this beach?)   Her fury at this revelation ebbs quicker than the tide when something else tries to drown her sister, and Fynn saves her life.(So I'm guessing now the whole dead girls thing is personal, where before she ignored it. Makes sense.)  Now, Bridey must work together with the Isle's resident witch (I wish I had a better sense of the witch's personality. Maybe some adjectives would  help. Cranky? Eccentric?) and the creature she isn't sure she can trust—because if she can't stop the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves might walk into the sea, and never return. (Nice tie-in to the first paragraph. But sounds like she'd only lose her female relatives.)

My young adult novel Fear the Drowning Deep, set on the Isle of Man in the early 1900s, is a historical fantasy complete at 85,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of Patricia McKillip’s lyrical fantasies, fans of Meredith Ann Pierce, and to readers who enjoy a supernatural romance.  I have completed a detailed outlined for a sequel. I wouldn't have guessed historical, but fantasy for sure. Good word count.  

I'm still wondering about the 'strange girl' that disappeared from the 1st paragraph of the query. How does she play back into this? Of course, I took her for the troublemaker, but the author may have meant she rolled in with the tide--dead--which would make her 'a strange dead girl.'

I think this query just has a few things to clarify and it will be a strong query. 


  1. Hi! I agree with Michelle's comments. I like the first sentence, and the concept sounds interesting. I think you just need to show a little more clearly how we get from one point to the next.

    A couple specific comments: changing from the "strange girl" to the "dead girl" might help since now I'd assume she is alive. If she is alive, then I'd like to see how she ties into the rest if the other girls are dead.

    Is "the creature she isn't sure she can trust" Fynn? I wasn't completely sure. Also, her grandfather had a smile on his face, yet I imagine the waterlogged dead girls to be less happy. If all the dead die with smiles, it might make it more clear.

    Best of luck!

  2. As always, Michelle has awesome advise. Your concept is great and pulls me in. I agree with Laura's comment on giving just a bit more clarification. I think with these few adjustments, you will have an nicely polished query. Good luck and thanks for sharing.