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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » query for BLACKOUT

   
Author Topic: query for BLACKOUT
micmcd
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The agent to whom I'm submitting expressed a preference matching the letter, hence the opening (minus the greeting). I appreciate any and all opinions. Thanks!

quote:

Since you are looking for adult genre fiction with a strong multicultural cast, I’d like you to consider BLACKOUT, an adult urban fantasy novel set in modern-day Philadelphia. The manuscript is complete at 97,000 words.

People say God doesn’t ask from you more than you can handle. Well, those people never got drafted into a millennia-long battle because the angel of death needed a new vessel for his lieutenant. Malcolm Anders is a math teacher and a part-time gymnast, at least when he isn’t cleaning blood off his hands after waking up over another fresh corpse. He struggles to keep his sanity and his life while a divine spirit, Saraqael, wages a holy war using Malcolm’s body. Malcolm seeks the help of a priest to get his life back and expel his unwelcome celestial visitor, but what they discover only draws him deeper.

The demon Andras, Saraqael’s eternal foil, has chosen Philadelphia for this century’s uprising. His infernal legions possess the weak, the angry, and the damned. With an army of demon-possessed puppets, Andras plans to disrupt the Divine Plan and begin Armageddon before the world is ready. Saraqael hunts down Andras’s legionnaire-possessed humans one by one, leaving Malcolm terrified of the day when the cops show up at his door with questions about a dozen unsolved murders.

When the demons discover Malcolm’s identity, they bring the fight to him by kidnapping his wannabe lover, Pae Xiaolu, spurring Malcolm to break rules as old as time and bring Saraqael into his waking mind, destroying any chance Malcolm has of escaping his possession. Together, Malcolm and Saraqael fight to save Pae’s soul, Philadelphia, and the world in the midst of a city that doesn’t even know it’s under siege.


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Meredith
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Sounds interesting.

I'll think about it more, but the only thing that jumped out at me on first pass was this:

quote:
His infernal legions possess the weak, the angry, and the damned. With an army of demon-possessed puppets,
I'd change the first 'possess' to something else.

By necessity, you use possess a lot in that paragraph and others, anyway. Change the ones you can.

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micmcd
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Good point. The other major issue I'm struggling with is that the plot-summarizing stuff is mildly misleading. Malcolm save's Pae, and she becomes attached to him whether he likes it or not, much to the chagrin of his actual girlfriend, Cindy. The anger and jealousy allow the demons to possess Cindy, and the "final battle" is to save Cindy's soul, not Pae's. I didn't want to make the letter drag on, though. Perhaps I should put some of that into there, particularly since the "winning" agent letters they have on their site (it's NLA) seem to really, really emphasize the romantic entanglements/difficulties.
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Meredith
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Well, two things about that:

First, Kristen Nelson has specifically said that the query doesn't need to go further than the inciting incident. So, don't worry about what the climax is about.

Second, check the genre of those successful queries. NLA reps a lot of straight romance, too. The love triangle aspect might be more important in that genre.

If it concerns you, you might ease it by calling Pae just his friend.

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micmcd
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I read all of the example queries (with her thoughts), and even in the fantasy genre ones, she seems to get excited about the relationships. Also, I'm sending it to Sara Megibow (because her Publisher's Marketplace thing specifically asked for adult genre fic with diverse character casts). I'm not trying to pander, but I am trying to highlight aspects of the plot that draw in agents. I sort of hate writing queries. Messing around with them has kept me from doing any real writing for months.
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by micmcd:
I read all of the example queries (with her thoughts), and even in the fantasy genre ones, she seems to get excited about the relationships. Also, I'm sending it to Sara Megibow (because her Publisher's Marketplace thing specifically asked for adult genre fic with diverse character casts). I'm not trying to pander, but I am trying to highlight aspects of the plot that draw in agents. I sort of hate writing queries. Messing around with them has kept me from doing any real writing for months.

Nobody LIKES writing queries.

I'll give this one some more thought.

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extrinsic
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Contemporary Philadelphia seems to me a dynamic setting for an urban fantasy. I don't see in the query how a "multicultural cast" plays in the story. Philadephia has many underworld cultural enclaves. The city is a salad bowl culture rather than a melting pot. Many ethnicities, religions, immigrants, drug cultures, biker cultures, labor union cultures, blue collar, white collar, pink collar workers, organized and otherwise crime syndicates, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, and elitists, to name a few Philly cultures.
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Estee
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I had to read the first sentence of paragraph two multiple times. It came across as choppy to me. My opinion is that you the relationship stuff as is.
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Bruchar
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Here's my 3 cents:

The description alludes to a story full of action, but the query is bogged down with too much explanation.

It might read better if some of the info is stripped from it.
Consider shortening many sentences by eliminating all of the words after commas and conjunctions in the first paragraph. (People...)

Second and third paragraphs could also be edited to eliminate back-story and description. Focus on the action and shorten the sentences.

ex: eliminate in the midst of a city that doesn’t even know it’s under siege

Congratulations on finishing the novel, and I can't wait to see it on the big screen!

[ February 09, 2013, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: Bruchar ]

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