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Author Topic: Blood Will Tell Query, New Version
Meredith
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Well, the last version got me two rejections--each came back the same day I sent it. Gee, it'd be nice to think somebody thought about it for, like, five minutes. Sigh.

So here's a new version. It's still a bit long, though.

quote:

Dear [agent name]:

A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL, an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Add to that a hybrid father, making her half-werewolf and one-quarter unicornóabout as far apart as two races in Chimeria can beóand things just get complicated. Vegetarian at the new moon and manic carnivore at the full moon, Valeriahís life is a constant balancing act.

Despite her value as a bodyguard to the powerful of Chimeria, Valeriahís werewolf blood is used as an excuse to disinherit her. But when someone tries to kill the only remaining heir, her cousin Crystal, it looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing. Someone else wants it badly enough to kill for itóand may have killed already.

Valeriah canít abandon her cousin and, with Crystalís life at stake, she canít afford to turn down any help she can get. Only Rolf, a stranger who turns out to be a dragon in disguise, is prepared to help the two women. And he has his own reasons for being interested in their grandfatherís estate.

To safeguard Crystal, they decide to leave the magical world of Chimeria temporarily and pass through the portal to the non-magical world. The Los Angeles area should provide plenty of room to hide. But their enemy follows them. When the killer attacks Valeriah in order to clear a path to Crystal, only Rolfís draconic magic and the healing power of Valeriahís unicorn blood can save heróand force them both to confront their true feelings.

But thereís still a killer to be caught. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is 93,000 words long. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


Newer version:

quote:
Dear [agent name]:

A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. The constant need to balance the opposing sides of her nature makes her life complicated, but her abilities make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria.

Those same powerful Chimerians use Valeriahís werewolf blood as an excuse to disinherit her. But when someone tries to kill the only remaining heir, her cousin Crystal, it looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing. It seems thereís something in the old wizardís collection that someone else wants badly enough to kill for. Valeriah canít abandon her cousin and with Crystalís life at stake she canít afford to turn down any help she can get. Only Rolf, a stranger who turns out to be a dragon in disguise, is prepared to help the two women, but for his own reasons.

After a third attempt on Crystalís life, they decide to leave the magical world of Chimeria temporarily. The Los Angeles area should provide plenty of room to hide, if they can cover their tracks. When the killer attacks Valeriah in order to clear a path to Crystal, only Rolfís draconic magic can save heróand force them both to confront their true feelings.

But thereís still a killer to be caught. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance. Itís 93,000 words long. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


Third version:

quote:

Dear [agent name]:

A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. The constant need to balance the opposing sides of her complicates her life, but her abilities make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria.

Those same powerful Chimerians use Valeriahís werewolf blood as an excuse to disinherit her. It looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing when someone tries to kill her cousin Crystal, the only remaining heir. It seems thereís something in the old wizardís collection that someone else wants badly enough to kill for. Valeriah canít abandon her cousin and with Crystalís life at stake she accepts help from Rolf, a stranger who may have his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

They try leaving Chimeria and hiding out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, itís time for the hunted to turn around and become the hunters. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance. Itís 93,000 words long. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


Okay. Fourth version

quote:
A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Her werewolf strength, agility, and instincts make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, however.

When someone tries to kill her cousin Crystal, Valeriah suppresses her anger at being disinherited because of her werewolf blood. Crystal is the only remaining heir. It looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing; thereís something in the old wizardís collection thatís worth killing for. With Crystalís life at stake Valeriah accepts help from Rolf, a stranger who has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

They escape Chimeria through one of the portals and try hiding out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, their alliance almost falls apart. But an attack on Valeriah pulls them back together, prepared to turn around and become the hunters. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance. Itís 93,000 words long. If youíre interested, you can learn more about Valeriah on my blog, http://MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


I tried to tighten up and add some tension to the third and fourth paragraphs. Fifth Version

quote:
A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Her werewolf strength, agility, and instincts make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, however.

After their grandfatherís death, someone tries to kill her cousin Crystal. Valeriah drops everything to protect her. Crystal is all the family she has left. On the defensive from the start, because thereís no clue as to who could be behind the repeated attacks, Valeriah accepts help from Rolf, a helpful stranger who has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

They escape Chimeria through one of the portals and hide out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, their alliance almost falls apart. An attack on Valeriah pulls them back together and leaves a trail for them to follow. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance, complete at 93,000 words. If youíre interested, you can learn more about Valeriah on my blog, http://MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


Sixth Version:

quote:

A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Her werewolf strength, agility, and instincts make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, however.

When someone tries to kill her cousin Crystal, all the family she has left, Valeriah drops everything to protect her. On the defensive from the start, Valeriah accepts help from Rolf, a stranger who has helped save Crystal once. He has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance, though.

Without any idea who is trying to kill Crystal, their best option is to escape Chimeria through one of the portals and try to hide out in Los Angeles. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, their alliance almost falls apart. An assault on Valeriah pulls them back together and leaves a trail for them to follow, first to the serial killer who attacked Valeriah and then to the man who sent him. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance, complete at 93,000 words. If youíre interested, you can learn more about Valeriah on my blog, http://MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


Seventh Version:

quote:
Dear [agent name]:

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still inconveniently driven by the full moon. She uses her werewolf strength and instincts as bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, a world where magic takes the place of technology and the varied magical races vie for the power once held by the dragons.

When an unknown enemy tries to kill her cousin Crystal, Valeriah steps in to protect her. Forced onto the defensive because she doesnít know who wants Crystal dead, or why, Valeriah accepts assistance from Rolf, a stranger who has helped save Crystal once already. However, she suspects that he has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

After dodging a third attempt on Crystal, Valeriah decides their best hope is to escape Chimeria through one of the portals and try to hide out in Los Angeles. When Rolf reveals himself to be a dragon in disguise, their alliance almost falls apart. An unexpected assault on Valeriah pulls them back together and leaves a trail for them to follow, first to the man who attacked Valeriah and from him to the man, and the reason, behind it all.

And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance, complete at 95,000 words. If youíre interested, you can learn more about Valeriah on my blog, http://MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 24, 2010).]


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Architectus
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Here are my honest thoughts, and I hope they help.

Like you said, its too long.

The first line caught my attention. I like werewolves, but not too hot about dragons. Perhasps call it a weredragon?

The line that really through me off, and I would leave it out, wa the line about being half unicorn. I almost stopped reading because of it. Perhaps in the novel, being half unicorn is handled well, but it comes off as corny in the query. Besides it isn't important enough to be in the query.

The following is my rewrite recommendation. It cuts unneccessary info, which is hard to do when it is your own work because you are close to it.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to tranform into a wolf, but is still driven by the full moon. Vegetarian during new moons and manic carnivore during full moons, Valeriah's life is a constant balancing act--like being a bodyguard in Chimeria.

When someone that wants the estate badly enough to kill for it, tries to kill her cousin, Valeriah must protect her because her cousin is the last remaining heir. Valeriah can't afford to work alone, so she accepts the help of Rolf, a weredragon with a hidden agenda.

I would cut the last paragraph all together, but if you include, I would cut it down to something like the following.

To protect Valeriah's cousin, they take her to the non-magical world. Los Angeles should provide plenty of room to hide, but their enemy follows them. When the killer attacks Veleriah in order to clesr a path to her cousin, Valeriah needs Rolf's draconic magic to survive, which forces them both to confront their true feeligns.

[This message has been edited by Architectus (edited February 01, 2010).]


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shimiqua
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What's wrong with dragons?

I like the new version a lot better. It seems much cleaner.
Good luck!
~Sheena


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MAP
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I think you give too much away in your query, and in knowing everything, I feel less compelled to read the novel.

quote:
Dear [agent name]:
A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL, an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance.

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Add to that a hybrid father, making her half-werewolf and one-quarter unicornóabout as far apart as two races in Chimeria can beóand things just get complicated. Vegetarian at the new moon and manic carnivore at the full moon, Valeriahís life is a constant balancing act.

I think this part is good. It nicely establishes character and world building.

Despite her value as a bodyguard to the powerful of Chimeria, Valeriahís werewolf blood is used as an excuse to disinherit her. But when someone tries to kill the only remaining heir, her cousin Crystal, it looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing. Someone else wants it badly enough to kill for itóand may have killed already.

I think you can cut the part about the disinheritance and focus on her cousin being threatened and Valeriah wanting to protect her.


Valeriah canít abandon her cousin and, with Crystalís life at stake, she canít afford to turn down any help she can get. Only Rolf, a stranger who turns out to be a dragon in disguise, is prepared to help the two women. And he has his own reasons for being interested in their grandfatherís estate.

I am not sure you should tell us that Rolf is a dragon. Maybe just say that she is forced to turn to a stranger for help who is more than what he seems, and she suspects has an ulterior motive for helping them. Give us a little mystery.

To safeguard Crystal, they decide to leave the magical world of Chimeria temporarily and pass through the portal to the non-magical world. The Los Angeles area should provide plenty of room to hide. But their enemy follows them. When the killer attacks Valeriah in order to clear a path to Crystal, only Rolfís draconic magic and the healing power of Valeriahís unicorn blood can save heróand force them both to confront their true feelings.

I think there is too much given away in this paragraph. All we need to know is that Valeriah takes her cousin to LA to hide her, but the enemy follows. Maybe hint at Valeriah's growing feelings for Rolf.

But thereís still a killer to be caught. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

I really like the last line, but I feel like it takes away all of the tension. If the werewolf and dragon are such awesome hunters, then there is nothing to worry about. They will kick the butt of the killer. I think you need to end showing us that the stakes are high, and there is real possibility of failure.

BLOOD WILL TELL is 93,000 words long. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


I hope this helps.


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Meredith
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Thanks. And thanks for the vote for dragons, Sheena.

This version's a bit shorter, though it may not look like it. It does all fit on one page, now.

I cut the reference to unicorns--not that these are fuzzy, rainbowy unicorns. But it just takes too much explanation for the query. Although, that loses me the rationale for why she's vegetarian part of the time and I kind of liked that bit.


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Meredith
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Simultaneous posts, MAP. Thanks. I've got your comments for the next round of revisions.
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Crank
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Haven't I seen Valeriah somewhere before?!

S!
S!


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Meredith
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@ Crank,

Yes, I believe you have.


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Architectus
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I like this much better

If it were up to me, I would end the description of the story here, "is prepared to help the two women, but for his own reasons."

The infor you give up to that point was enough to make me interested. That is the only goal of a query, after all, to get the editor to read the synopsis and/or the first few pages of your story.

The parts about leaving Chimeria and all that, if anything, started to remove my desire to read the first few pages. Besides, all it really does it show me that it's an urban fantasy, which you tell me later. BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy . . .

I hate writing queries, I really do. They make me want to bash my head on the keyboard.


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Meredith
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Bump for newest version.

On to working on the synopsis.


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Architectus
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They try leaving Chimeria and hiding out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them.

This sounds like they never actually leave Chimeria or hide out in Los Angeles, but only try to do so.

How about.

They leave Chimeria and hide out in Lose Angeles, but . . .?

Good luck with the synopsis. I hate writing them more than query letters.


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Architectus
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Oh, or.

They leave Chimeria, and try hiding out in Lose Angeles, but . . .


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billawaboy
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meredith,

First ty for sharing - I'm a total newbie as a writer and seeing an actual query letter being molded is so very helpful.

I don't know if my comments are worth anything yet. I'm not sure what's expected for a standard query...

I have to say that though the first one was longer it read better - made the story more intriguing. I absolutely love the first line, especially because you tell me what kind of story it is right off. Also it sort of reads like a joke (a rabbi, a priest, and a ninja walk into a bar..., lol)- but I don't think that was your intention. I actually thought it was a fantasy rom-comedy sort of thing. Was that you intention?

The rest of it highlights the main conflicts but still reads a bit dry - but then again that might be the format required for a query.

I think the query-reader needs to feel a bit of the tone of your story. If this is a dark brooding piece let us feel the darkness and melancholy. If it's a spunky edgy thriller, then I'd want it to read as punchy, hard-boiled - or sarcastic and fun, or what have you.

You say it's an urban fantasy with paranormal romance elements - but will the editor know how the story feels. Or is it too vague?

Can you write it so it feels like a really cool trailer for a movie? (is ny newbie-ness showing thru...?) May not be appropriate for a query, lol.

anyway, its ll i got, hope that helps, and good luck!

BTW - did you get 93k words out of the contest trigger!? Amazing!


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Meredith
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quote:
BTW - did you get 93k words out of the contest trigger!? Amazing!


No, it's sort of the other way around, actually.


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Meredith
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I tweaked it some more. Bump for newest version.
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TrishaH24
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I've posted this on someone else's query, but I thought this might help you. It's helped me refine my query down to about 8 sentenses of synopsis. www.queryshark.blogspot.com This is a blog run by Janet Ried who is an angent that has made it her mission to help writers write better queries. There are about 150 queries posted at the moment, all with feedback from Janet letting the author know what she thinks (usually without mercy). You can even submit your own query (provided you are ready for the abuse.)

The only thing I can really say for your summary portion is that it's too long, but I think others have already told you that. I'm not in love with the opening line, but not because it's poorly written. It's just not enticing to me. That doesn't mean it isn't a good line, it just doesn't sound like something I would read.

I wish you luck with this. I'm in that awkward, query-writing stage, too. I never imagined trying to sum up a 55,000 word book into a couple of sentences would be so hard.

Good luck!

PS: Getting a response the same day you send your query is better than never getting a response at all, right? It doesn't always feel that way, but take it from someone that has been completely ignored by agents: not knowing is worse than rejection.

[This message has been edited by TrishaH24 (edited March 01, 2010).]


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XD3V0NX
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Okay, so I read this, and It is way too long for a Query. I'm a mere amateur myself and I'm still struggling when writing Query's, too, but it was hard for me to finish actually reading this one. I like the idea; it sounds good, but i'd have liked it better--probably because then I wouldn't have gotten bored--if it was narrowed down a little bit further.

I don't know; that's just my personal opinion. The first 2 paragraphs caught me, though. I'll have to say.


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Meredith
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If it feels long, that's a problem.

I've always heard a length of abotu 250 words for a query. This is 258.

Is it the third or fourth paragraph that starts feeling long?
Maybe I need to find a way to punch it up more.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 01, 2010).]


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Meredith
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Bump for newer version above.

Oh and:

quote:
PS: Getting a response the same day you send your query is better than never getting a response at all, right? It doesn't always feel that way, but take it from someone that has been completely ignored by agents: not knowing is worse than rejection.

Yeah. Been there, too. There are quite a few agents any more who don't respond unless they're interested. So you are just left to watch the calendar and eventually figure out that it was no go.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 01, 2010).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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quote:
A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.
Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Her werewolf strength, agility, and instincts make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, however.

After their grandfatherís death, someone tries to kill her cousin Crystal. Valeriah drops everything to protect her. Crystal is all the family she has left. On the defensive from the start, because thereís no clue as to who could be behind the repeated attacks, Valeriah accepts help from Rolf, a helpful stranger who has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

They escape Chimeria through one of the portals and hide out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, their alliance almost falls apart. An attack on Valeriah pulls them back together and leaves a trial for them to follow. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance, complete at 93,000 words. If youíre interested, you can learn more about Valeriah on my blog, http://MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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


My take:

What happens when a werewolf, dragon and a serial killer face off? Only Blood Will Tell--a complete novel at 93,000 words.

The descendant of three disparate races (werewolf, human(?) and unicorn), Valeriah is denied her place in the bloodlines of the nobles of Chimeria. Though she's unable to transform into a wolf, Valeriah uses blood gifts her in skillful ways. All life for her is a balancing act, whether a carnivore under the full moon and vegetarian during new moon, or in service as bodyguard to the same upper echelon who refuse to legitimize her.

When someone attempts to murder Crystal, her cousin and the only legitimate heir to their Wizard Grandfather's estate, Valeriah is compelled to protect her. Or could there be something else in Grand's magic colletion worth killing for?

Here is my first real problem: There is no guaranteed danger.

  • Who else was murdered and how does it connect with their (nameless) grandfather's estate? AND if there is a connection,would it still be a "serial killer"? If it's for gain or adavancement, then it's just murder (not that there is a "just" for that). So, with no escalation of danger:
  • Why do they need another member of the team? Is the enemy powerful enough?
  • When, how and why do they know this?
  • Why do they feel compelled to run and hide?

I hope this has been of help...

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 01, 2010).]


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Meredith
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That makes me happy because it's my impression (and goodness knows I'm no expert) that the query is supposed to leave you with some questions and wanting to know more. That's hopefully why they ask for the partial or full ms.

That said, I will try to post another version later tonight or tomorrow that touches on a couple of those questions.

I've decided to leave the whole unicorn/human/werewolf part out of the query. It raised uncomfortable questions for too many readers. (Obviously, the unicorn. Nobody seems to have trouble with the human/werewolf part.) I can explain it more fully in the synopsis, hopefully. But don't be surprised if your take inspires the new opening of the synopsis.


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Meredith
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Bump for still another version.
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Edward Douglas
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Meredith,

I am working on some suggestions for your query, but felt I needed to post something important sooner. Before you send another query out.

quote:
An assault on Valeriah pulls them back together and leaves a trial for them to follow

You use trial when I believe you mean trail. If your queries went out with this spelling error that may have been the reason they came back so soon. Queries have to be meticulously clean. No errors. Not in spelling. Not in tense. None.

If you already discovered this and your queries did not go out with the spelling error, then I apologize.

I will post again with more in depth suggestions.


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Meredith
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Thanks for the catch. This version has not been sent anywhere, yet.
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Edward Douglas
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Which versions have gone out? 'Cause I also saw "trial" in your 5th version (I think you've edited it since).
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aspirit
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I'm going to do something different. The two versions I could tolerate the most were the second and the third (in bold), so I combined them to create something that interested me. Then, I added comments to show some of what did and didn't work for me. I hope this approach helps you instead of making you want to develop a curse that involves the word, "aspirit".
quote:
Dear [agent name]:

A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL. [COMMENT: I'm already turned off. The juxtaposition of the characters seems comedic but the title has an urban fantasy seriousness. You seem to like this line, because you used it in every version; however, I would've stopped reading right here if I didn't like you so much.]

Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. [COMMENT: Somewhat interesting.] The constant need to balance the opposing sides of her nature makes her life complicated, but her abilities make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria. [COMMENT: Okay, now I know we're dealing with a fantasy world and both internal and external conflict involving the MC. I like this.]

Those same powerful Chimerians use Valeriahís werewolf blood as an excuse to disinherit her. [COMMENT: Fantasy-world politics involving werewolves is new to me; I'd keep reading.] But when someone tries to kill the only remaining heir, her cousin Crystal, it looks like their grandfatherís estate may be a mixed blessing. It seems thereís something in the old wizardís [COMMENT: Her grandfather was a wizard? A possible reason for her physical condition. I didn't catch this on the first read-through and like it now that I see it.] collection that someone else wants badly enough to kill for. Valeriah canít abandon her cousin and with Crystalís life at stake she accepts help from Rolf, a stranger who may have his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance.

They try leaving [COMMENT: This is weak. My suggestion, if you want it, is "flee to" or something assertive] magical world of Chimeria and hiding out in Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them. When Rolf turns out to be a dragon in disguise, itís time for the hunted to turn around and become the hunters. And when a werewolf and a dragon go on the hunt together, their quarry better start to worry.

BLOOD WILL TELL is an urban fantasy novel with elements of paranormal romance. Itís 93,000 words long. The full manuscript is available upon your request. I have enclosed [whatever the agent wants], per the instructions on [the agentís] website.

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



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aspirit
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quote:
They try leaving [COMMENT: This is weak. My suggestion, if you want it, is "flee to" or something assertive] magical world of Chimeria and hiding out in Los Angeles,

To clarify, that line could be: "They flee the magical world of Chimeria to Los Angeles, but their enemy follows them."

Also, "turn around and" looks unnecessary to me.

[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited March 02, 2010).]


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Edward Douglas
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quote:
A werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer face off in BLOOD WILL TELL.

I'm jealous of InarticulateBabbler's suggestions. They're good ones. I wouldn't start my query with the title of the book, but obviously it can work. All I'll say is I prefer to start my queries with a hook, like the novel. The title of the book really doesn't matter, so it can come at the end. You'll save space by not having to repeat it, too.

quote:
Valeriah is half werewolf, unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. Her werewolf strength, agility, and instincts make her a valuable bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria, however.

BTW, is this your hook? Kinda ran on to me. Use of however at the end isn't needed. When words (e.g., werewolf) show up more than once I tend to find a way to word the query so the word only appears as often as is necessary. Hopefully that is only once. A lot of info here in one sentence, but, if shifted around, hacked up a bit, might read better.

Examples:

Valeriah is half-werewolf. Unable to take wolf form, but still driven by the full moon. She normally works alone*. Her strength, agility, and instincts make her well sought after as a bodyguard to the elite of Chimeria.

or

Valeriah is half-werewolf. What she lacks by not being able to take wolf form she makes up for through strength, agility, and instinct. Well sought after as a bodyguard to the elite of Chimeria she likes to work alone*.

*I inserted instances of "...works alone" only because I felt something was needed to quantify her allying herself with Rolf later. Seems to me Valeriah doesn't work well with others, and when she finds out something about them she doesn't like (like being a dragon) doubly so. Am I off the mark here? If not, it's good conflict for your query.

quote:
...all the family she has left

Left from what? Not necessary to know this yet. I think it is enough to say "the only family she has".

quote:
"drops everything" and "on the defensive"

Sounds contrived, cliche, incomplete. Would probably survive without these statements.

quote:
...Valeriah accepts help from Rolf, a stranger who has helped save Crystal once. He has his own reasons for being interested in the women and their inheritance, though.

Normally I wouldn't give an agent a complete mystery. I would spell things out, so to speak. But here you're clear enough about Rolf, his relationship to the women, and what he's up to that I think an agent would want to see the manuscript to learn what the conflict is. I'd drop the "though" though.

Your whole paragraph starting with:

quote:
Without any idea...

and ending with:

quote:
...better start to worry.

needs complete revision, I think. In a query, as in the novel, your storyline has to lead up to, then reach a climax. In a novel you'd have to wind down from that climax, in the query you can stop at the cliff's edge.

Example: With no idea who is trying to kill Crystal they flee into Los Angeles through one of the portals on Chimeria. There Valeriah learns Rolf is a dragon and their fragile alliance almost falls apart. An attack on Valeriah pulls them back together and opens a trail for them to follow. First, to a serial killer, then on to the man who sent him.

Now you can introduce the agent to your book.

BLOOD WILL TELL is my [When offering advice about queries I always suggest making the letter personal and make no apologies for this] 93,000 word urban fantasy novel...

[This message has been edited by Edward Douglas (edited March 02, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by Edward Douglas (edited March 02, 2010).]


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Edward Douglas
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Oops! Sorry aspirit. Looks like we dropped in with similar advice around the same time. Good suggestions.

Meredith,

at least folks are seeing your story in the same light. That's good, right?


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aspirit
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Edward, that may very well be a good sign. By the way, I'm glad you made that last suggestion. I agree an author should claim her book; additionally, I felt uncomfortable with the emphasis on the novel's length, because many popular urban fantasy novels are closer to 75,000 words.
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Edward Douglas
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Thanx, aspirit

Just once I would like to submit a manuscript with the following:

Word Count: enough to get from the beginning to the end with a few adverbs, some tense diversions, the occasional infodump, and some choppy dialog (for balance) sprinkled here and there.

:-)


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Meredith
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quote:
Which versions have gone out? 'Cause I also saw "trial" in your 5th version (I think you've edited it since).

None of these have gone out. Starting from the first version on this post, this was a new direction for the query. I think the older version, that was sent out twice, is on another post somewhere earlier (maybe December?).

Yes, I did edit the two instances of trial. No point in other critiquers catching the same error. Thanks again for that.

I guess I hoped that first line was a hook. I'll give it some thought.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 02, 2010).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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Nahan Bransford blogged about this. I (and a few of his contemporaries) liked it.
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Meredith
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I take it the opening, to at least some people, is coming off as:

"So, a werewolf, a dragon, and a serial killer go into this bar . . ."

As you noted, I like that line. But that's not the tone I want. I'm trying to figure out how to fix it.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 03, 2010).]


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Meredith
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Bump for one more version. March is ticking away and it's time to start sending this out into the world.
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aspirit
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I like! My only suggestions are for minor issues:
  • remove the second comma on the first line
  • "uses her werewolf strength and instincts as [a] bodyguard for the elite and powerful of Chimeria" -or- "[...] and insticts to guard the elite [...]"


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Teraen
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I've noticed every one of your queries is essentially a summary of your novel, but nothing else. Have you tried other formats?

For example, Nathan Bransford has some good examples (like: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/query-letter-mad-lib.html and http://blog.nathanbransford.com/search/label/Anatomy%20of%20a%20Good%20Query%20Letter ) where the summary is only one paragraph out of three, and there is more emphasis on why a particular agent was chosen... I have seen multiple times on his blog (and others, come to think of it...) where he comments that that is one of the most important parts of query, often times MORE than the summary...

Since you know it is the query being rejecting (since nobody has read the manuscript yet...) maybe you could try some of the other formats? There are a bunch of good blogs by agents and stuff that show what each particular one likes. Maybe by writing a generic form letter, you are inadvertently missing some of the key points of the people you are submitting to.

Also, have you tried query shark?


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Meredith
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quote:
For example, Nathan Bransford has some good examples where the summary is only one paragraph out of three, and there is more emphasis on why a particular agent was chosen...

If I think I can do it convincingly--like "I read your blog" or "because you represented XYZ book", I'll add some personalization. But I'm not particularly good at the schmoozing stuff, so if I think it sounds phony, I leave it off.

quote:
Since you know it is the query being rejecting (since nobody has read the manuscript yet...) maybe you could try some of the other formats?

This version of the query has yet to be sent anywhere but Hatrack (and my blog). The earlier version was sent out and rejected twice before I decided I needed to do it differently. Not exactly a huge sample of rejection for this book, yet. THE SHAMAN'S CURSE, now, that one has 23 rejections.

quote:
Also, have you tried query shark?

There's an earlier version of the query for THE SHAMAN'S CURSE somewhere in her inbox (for at least six months). It takes a long time for the shark to get around to you and fantasy isn't really her thing, anyway.


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