Monday, September 10, 2012

Pimp My Query

I'm participating in Deana Barnhart's Gearing Up To Get An Agent contest (aka GUTGAA)! Deana is a great blog friend, and even though she's now repped by Sarah LaPolla, she's still so awesome that she wants to pay it forward by hosting this contest. Go follow her if you're not already, and check out the contest. She has helpful contest links in the upper right hand corner of her blog.

And a quick update for those of you who read my last post on virus woes, I'm using hubby's computer this week while I wait for my Toshiba recovery disks to come in the mail. He's just going to wipe my hard drive. So, hopefully my cute little laptop will be healthy again soon.

Okay, so on to GUTGAA! I'm entering my recently completed upper middle grade fantasy. For those of you that don't know, middle grade is usually readers between 7 and 12, and upper middle grade is the oldest category, usually the 11 and 12-year-olds. This is my first full length middle grade novel, though I wrote a short novella for my son once.

So, what we're supposed to post is our query and the first 150 pages of the book. The judging round is next week, so please offer up your feedback so I can polish! Tell me what works and what doesn't. I really would appreciate any and all constructive criticism. Also, definitely let me know if you're participating in GUTGAA too, so I can make sure to visit your entry. I know I'm not going to be able to make it to all 200 or so entries, so that will guarantee I return your visit. And, please feel free to provide feedback even if you're one of my regular blog friends not in GUTGAA!

Query:

(Agent's proper salutation),

The last of the dreams are running out…

It’s been thirteen years since the Queen of Ravens cast the spell to strip all Taravel’s inhabitants of dreams. Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to her, there is one remaining who can dream unaided, twelve-year-old Eleven, the dreamseer.

An orphan, El has been raised in a black market dream caravan, caring for the ponies who grant people the ability to dream. The citizens of Taravel pay generously for a ride on the dream carousel, a chance to touch the magical, dream-inducing manes of the ponies. But when the ponies start losing their ability to spin dreams, El knows she must do something.

Accompanied by Dusti, a persnickety pony, and Ryn, the pirate-poet, El sets out to break the Queen’s spell. The three companions’ adventures take them from crystal pirate ships, to cities in the sky, to underground palaces and the home of a sea witch. Along the way El realizes there’s a lot more at stake than the ponies: a rebellion is brewing, the Queen has learned of her existence, and the truth about her parents is far different than she ever imagined. And worst of all, if El doesn’t free the dreams soon, they’ll be gone forever.

Everdream is a 50,000 word upper middle grade fantasy. Per your submission guidelines, I've included (whatever requested) below. Thank you for your time and consideration.



First 150 words:

Dreams seeped through the flaps of the tent, escaping into the sky like multi-colored ghosts. It was a busy night in the caravan. Though the metallic taste of thunder sat on my tongue and dark clouds pressed down over the crowd, we were still packed. The other merchants had begun to close up for the night. But we weren’t exactly ordinary merchants.

I counted bodies as I walked along the line of people snaking out the purple and white striped tent. Sixty-two. Eight-eight. Ninety-six. When I hit one hundred I cut in.

“Sorry, but this is the cap for the night.” I watched the opposite expressions of relief and disappointment on the faces of the two people I stood between. Groans and angrier protests rose around me.

I walked back to the tent as the crowd behind lucky number one hundred dispersed into the darkness.



Thanks for taking the time to read my entry! Good luck to all GUTGAA participants. And everybody have a great week!

17 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I love everything about this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good luck! You have some great imagery in there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really like this query, Alexia. The first line of the letter led right into the crisis and then the main character. I wanted to read on.

    Jai

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really like this excerpt.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting concept.

    The last of the dreams are running out…

    It’s been thirteen years since the Queen of Ravens cast the spell to strip all Taravel’s inhabitants of dreams. Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to her, there is one remaining who can dream unaided, twelve-year-old Eleven, the dreamseer.

    An orphan, El has been raised in a black market dream caravan, caring for the ponies who grant people the ability to dream. The citizens of Taravel pay generously for a ride on the dream carousel, a chance to touch the magical, dream-inducing manes of the ponies. But when the ponies start losing their ability to spin dreams, El knows she must do something.

    I'm a little confused by this. All the dreams were stripped away, except they weren't and there's still a way to dream. I think you need just a little to bridge the gap between stripping away all the dreams and why the dream ponies can overcome this--temporarily.

    Good luck with this story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on my query!

    The main thing I need to say is this sounds amazing! The query is great, though I do agree with Meredith about bridging the gap there. Once you've done that, I think you'll have an even stronger query... And your first 150 words were awesome! I SO want to read more! Great job and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I loved the concept of your story-and the first 150 words practically melted off the page into my thoughts. It was great!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,
    I love the premise of your story. I was hooked from the beginning. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just read about your virus attack. Left a comment on that post, Alexia.

    Loved your query, it has a great hook. It has captured all the important elements as well as the main characters.

    The first 150 words are super. They suck the reader into the story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello from GUTGAA! I am making rounds to say hi to everyone. Last night I posted how happy I was to make it around to everyone's pitch polish post, and this morning noticed three light blue titles right in the middle of the list - clearly indicating I had over looked these lonesome three. I'm so sorry!!

    I think you have done a fantastic job with your query. I'm not for sure if i even have any suggestions for making it better. The premise sounds exciting and enticing.

    The first 150 is very descriptive and interesting.

    What more can i say? Best wishes this month with GUTGAA!
    and again, nice to meet you:)
    Talynn

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a cool concept! This is fabulous! I love your query - great start. And I love, love, love the first line of your 150. It's beautiful. Good luck with this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loved the query and first 150 words. Counting bodies did sound creepy, not sure if that was your intent? Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi, I'm also participating in GUTGAA.

    First, I have to say that I love your concept. Very original. The query and the first 150 definitely hooked me. The only thing I might mention is that I had to read the query twice to understand exactly what was going on...maybe that was just me? Also, I was thrown by twelve-year-old Eleven. I mean, I understood that it was your MC's name, but it felt a little awkward. Again, maybe just me. In my (unprofessional) opinion, I think you could eliminate "the dreamseer" at the end of the first sentence and it would make it stronger. I think its clear on its own.

    As far as the first 150-fantastic! I would definitely read on. The only feedback I have is that while I LOVED the "counting bodies" line, at first I thought she was counting dead bodies...it pulled me out of the story a bit while I figured out what was going on. I don't know that I'd change the line, but I just wanted you to know...

    Great job! I think you're on your way to publication!

    Natasha
    www.greeneyesandfreckles.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awe no! I'm so sorry to hear about your virus woes. Hopefully the clean swipe will save the computer, but that kind of stuff sure is a rotten bummer. I hate that.

    I think this idea sounds so cute and interesting! I really have nothing to criticize, you have done such a wonderful job. The query is clear and I totally get the feel for the book. The first pages sucked me in, wondering what is going on, wanting to see more of this world. Generally I don't read middle grade (harry potter the obvious exception) but I would pick this up off the shelves in a heartbeat, it sounds awesome!

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great query, Alexia. Just one niggle: Unbeknownst to her, there is one remaining who can dream unaided, twelve-year-old Eleven, the dreamseer. is a little awkward. Would it work better like this?: Unbeknownst to her, twelve-year-old Eleven--the dreamseer--can still dream unaided. Eliminates the 'there is' bit agents might find unnecessary.

    Okay, and with your 150: Awesome first paragraph. Really grabby and draws me right in. In the second paragraph, the phrase 'snaking out' tripped me up. At first, I thought you meant to write 'staking out' like they were putting up the tent, but then I realized they were in a line snaking out of the tent. (Might just be me there, though.) The rest of it makes perfect sense, and as a whole it definitely makes me want to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. its such a nice & Awesum blog provide info
    hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!
    for more plz visit
    ppi claim refund

    ReplyDelete

I love talking with friends new and old! What's on your mind?