Query Critique Friday 9/24/10

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
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Adam Heine
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Re: Query Critique Friday 9/24/10

Post by Adam Heine » September 28th, 2010, 9:24 pm

Nathan, you totally just made my day :-D

stephmcgee
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Re: Query Critique Friday 9/24/10

Post by stephmcgee » September 29th, 2010, 6:50 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford:

For Hagai's twenty-first birthday, his mother sends him a stone that gives visions of the future. Totally random and you don't necessarily have to address it in the query, but how does he know it's from her? Is there a note attached to it that is signed with her name? Does someone give it to him saying it's from his mother?But he doesn't know why she sent it, or how, since she was killed eighteen years ago. Hagai's not exactly a hero -- the bravest thing he's ever done is put peppers in his stewLove this voice that's coming out. -- yet when the stone shows his mother alive and in danger, he sets out to find her.

Air pirates and sky sailors are also after the stone, and Hagai soon loses it to a wanted sky’ler named Sam. Sam wants the stone to help him avenge his father, but it only shows him his own death. Hagai, he learns, receives many visions. This last sentence reads kind of awkwardly to me for some reason.So when Hagai tracks Sam down and demands he give the stone back -- politely, of course, because Sam's got a knife Love this last aside. Great voice.-- Sam offers him a job instead.

Now Hagai, who grew up wanting nothing to do with sky’lers, is crew to one and fugitive from both pirates and police. He’s not sure he can trust Sam, and the stone haunts Hagai with visions of his own death. Nonetheless, he’s determined to change the future and find his mother, if it’s not already too late.

AZRAEL'S CURSE is a 90,000-word science fantasy novel, available on request. It's written to stand alone but has series potential.This is something that I think would be better to come out in conversations should an agent offer representation. In the query, it reads as putting all your eggs in one basket. My short story “Pawn's Gambit,” set in the same world as AZRAEL'S CURSE, appeared recently in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES. Good. Shows that your world and writing are convincing enough to make people believe in them.Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Adam Heine

Overall this is a really good query. I get a good sense of the personal conflict that Hagai is going through, but I'm missing the external/bigger picture. You say the book has series potential, so show that somehow. (Maybe.) Why are the pirates and police after him? You hint at this broader conflict, but you leave us hanging. There's a really great voice coming through in the query which I like. The ending paragraph is good in that it shows you have the chops and people enjoy your writing and world enough to call it publish-worthy. Great job!

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