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A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 6th, 2010, 12:20 am
by Erica75
I've had some great insight already and have revised this bugger several times, but could use fresh eyes. The asterick in the last paragraph is where I took out a line about sub-plots. I feel like somthing else needs to go there, but haven't quite gotten it right yet. Please let me know what you think.

Dear [Name],

McKenzie (Kenz) Grayson is moving to back to Vespa, Wisconsin, the hometown she and her mother fled seven years ago. She's determined to finish her last year of high school and leave town again as soon as possible. Unless, of course, her mom's prediction of finding an all-new life and love suddenly comes true.

Kenz couldn't have imagined love would come in the form of Lincoln James, a guy who spends every moment enjoying sports, friends, and girls - in that order. Lincoln is determined have fun with everything life has given him, no strings attached. The last thing even he expects is to find a love that makes him question it all.

Kenz and Lincoln are drawn together at an awkward party and soon discover how powerful their attraction is. The summer brings unexpected challenges, including a devastating car accident and a sexual abuse allegation, that threaten to destroy the new relationship. When they later begin to suspect that Lincoln's mother, a nanotechnology banned word, illegally altered methods she used to save him from a horrific illness years ago, Kenz must decide if the truth about Lincoln's perfect life is too much for her to accept or if her future still lies with him.

A NEW DAY is a contemporary YA romance with an added scientific twist. Nanotechnology theories are used to determine a possible explanation for Lincoln's miraculous recovery. [*see above] Complete at just over 59,000 words, A NEW DAY spans only one summer and, if successful, offers the opportunity for a sequel.

I follow your blog and news about your agency and have learned a lot from your posts. I like your honest, upbeat style and hope you are interested in seeing more of my work. (This para would be personalized but this is the gist of it)


Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 6th, 2010, 3:18 am
by PaulWoodlin
I have a series of questions.

Why does she have to finish high school in Vespa?
Are Mom's predictive powers important to the story?
Why should I like Lincoln? He's just a spoiled jock so far.
Who is in the car accident?
Who is accused of sexual abuse?
Did the nanomachines change Lincoln's behavior? Why are they important to the plot?

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 6th, 2010, 6:11 am
by Kniki
I like the query - it has lots of elements that I would like to know more about. I wondered whether you have a scientific background? It might be worth mentioning that, if your novel has a scientific twist. I also wouldn't mention the sequel. You can tell them about that later once they are already interested in the first novel. The only sentence I had trouble with was the section "illegally altered methods", I wasn't really sure what that meant.

Intriguing query!

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
by Erica75
Paul - Good questions. Hopefully an agent would think the same thing and request a partial, which would answer most of them.

Kniki - I've messed with the sequel sentence and decided to leave it in for feedback - thanks! Also, you aren't the only one who didn't like the "illegally altered methods" sentence, so now I know I have to change it.

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 9th, 2010, 10:38 am
by jessicatudor
No offense meant, but Paul's good list of questions, to me, signal the query isn't doing its job. Those questions aren't the my-interest-is-piqued sort of questions, they are I-don't-understand-this questions, and there is a difference. (Especially that third one.)

My problem with the query is a few things. It seems like the first half and the second half are two different books. The first half is a regular YA contemp romance, the second half is more sci-fi thriller type. You don't transition them very well. Also, the use of "they later begin to suspect" reinforces this two-plots-one-book problem. It also makes me wonder what's actually happening until then, because it sort of seems like not a lot. You need to integrate your subplot better, whether in the query, the book, or both. Also, Kenz's decision at the end seems superficial. If the mother did illegal gen-eng on her son, Kenz has to decide if she can handle that or not? Where are the stakes?

I'm interested in the mystery you've established surrounding Kenz's arrival in town and the predictions (are they important to the plot? is the mother actually a psychic?) but if they don't mean anything to the plot, I don't understand why they're included. They make me think the story is going one way when it isn't, since you never come back to it.

(Also, grammar note: "Kenz and Lincoln are drawn together" by whom or what? Nix the passive voice.)

Your last para would flow better if you cut the sentence beginning "Nanotechnologies." We understand the subplot from its mention in the book description.

It sounds like you have a good unique combination of elements here, you just need to fix how they're related to one another a bit!

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 10th, 2010, 6:13 pm
by Erica75
Jessica - thanks! I wasn't ignoring you, I was just offline for a couple of days. I've changed quite a few things based on lots of feedback and this was a slightly bandaged-together version of my original that I was never in love with. Your criticism tells me what I need to do - put back in some of the "voice" my original contained, take out extraneous info. that I put in on someone else's advice, and repost. Someone else posted the advice on writing a one sentence description, then 3, then expand to a query and I'm going to try that, too. In research papers and non-fiction articles, I'm very brief and often have trouble meeting minimum word counts. Why I can't explain my novel appropriately in 350 words or less is baffling!!

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 10th, 2010, 7:09 pm
by jessicatudor
LOL No worries. It's not an easy thing! And it's a unique thing, too.

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: March 13th, 2010, 12:34 pm
by Erica75
Revised query. Better? Worse? It's shorter, but maybe more "hooking" and less confusing? BTW, I've received quite a few questions on different forums asking if I have a scientific background. No, but I'm a really good researcher of other people's reports (and that isn't anything I want to put in a query!). Also, I took out the word "predictions" since it's being translated by readers as "psychic." No paranormal here. I know there's a couple of problematic sentences here, so feel free to shred - I want to know if you see the same things I do (but am still not sure how to change). Thanks!!! Also, Nathan says he wants us to revise in the same post rather than starting a new thread - does anyone know if we can change the title of the thread to show it includes a revised version? I see a lot of people just starting a new post, but I'm a bit of a good-two-shoes and want to follow the rules.

Dear [Name],

Seventeen-year-old McKenzie (Kenz) Grayson is moving back to a town she hated the first time she lived there. Her mom's vague assurances that the move will prompt better lives for both of them do nothing to convince her it's a good idea. What she doesn't know is that the almost-perfect Lincoln James is there, living a life of girls, friends, and sports - in that order. Neither of them expect the summer before their senior year to change their lives so drastically.

A NEW DAY is a complete 59,000 word contemporary YA romance. A scientific subplot is included as Lincoln and Kenz try to tie together Lincoln's miraculous recovery from a life-threatening illness and his mother's job as a nanotechnology banned word. That isn't the only thing trying to derail the developing romance, however. The town's resident "mean girl" will go to any length to make sure Kenz doesn't end up with Lincoln - even if her methods send someone to jail. Throughout it all, Kenz must decide if ending up someone who sometimes seems too perfect is worth putting herself through so much.

I follow your blog and news about your agency and have learned a lot from your posts. I like your honest, upbeat style and hope you are interested in seeing more of A NEW DAY.

Erica L. Olson

Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: April 1st, 2010, 5:47 am
by JTB
It's tough getting the story down to 300 odd words or so, condensing it to a few sentences, practice, experiement, trail and error ... I've had a go for you, I hope this helps -

Dear [Name],

What, Seventeen-year-old McKenzie (Kenz) Grayson doesn't know when she moves back to a town she hated, is that the almost-perfect Lincoln James is there. Whilst Lincoln falls prey to a life threatening illness and the local ‘mean girl’ does what she can to destroy their budding relationship, neither of them expect the summer before their senior year to change their lives so drastically.

A NEW DAY is a complete 59,000 word contemporary YA romance.

it needs beefing up but i think that's the core of your story, from here you can embellish.


Re: A NEW DAY query (Contemp. YA)

Posted: April 1st, 2010, 9:17 am
by kenpochick
I would probably nix the nano part as well unless it's a major plot point. I also don't understant why she would care if his mom saved his life with some untested technology. Shouldn't she just be happy the boy she loves is alive? I don't really understand what the book is about because there are so many attempts at different genres mixed in (sci-fi, thriller, romance). I also don't see why I should like Lincoln. He's seems kind of like the obnoxious captain of the football team. Does his illness change his thoughts on life?

The query is getting better it just needs to be more cohesive.

BTW, I agree with Paul. You need to answer those questions in the query because they're not the "I'm curious so I'll ask for more" type of questions, they're the "I don't understand this so form rejection" type of questions.

Good luck.