Query Help - Hacked -Third round

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skottk
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Query Help - Hacked -Third round

Post by skottk » December 15th, 2009, 6:06 pm

Dear Personalized Salutation,

Twenty-something hacker Audrey Frincke survives an accident that should have killed her, and discovers that she’s not human. She’s one of the Folk, an ancient race of elves who live among humans in secret, amassing power and wealth while murdering each other with magic and swords. Her old flame Peke Schults is Folk, too. He gives her the whole story when he drops back into her life after the accident, the first time she’s seen him since he dumped her back in high school. His father is reclusive billionaire Copal Pretorius, one of the most powerful Folk in the world. Bad news, since Audrey’s just taken a contract to hack his company, and according to Peke they play for keeps.
Audrey can’t honor her contract without dishonoring the only man she’s ever loved. However, Audrey can’t break her contract without betraying her client, an assassin who’s killed for hire ever since the Crusades.
She’ll just have to make sure he never finds out.

Hacked tells how Audrey cons, hacks, and fights her way through magical adversaries, office politics, and the occasional suburban mall cop. Along the way she finds friends, allies, the secrets of her dead parents, and maybe even a shot at love. Hacked is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. It's a standalone novel, although I've begun outlining the sequel.

I'm the internet security guy at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now.

Thank you,

SK
Last edited by skottk on December 21st, 2009, 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

Tzalaran
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by Tzalaran » December 15th, 2009, 10:27 pm

Here are my thoughts.
skottk wrote:Dear Personalized Salutation,

Twenty-something hacker Audrey Frincke survives an accident that should have killed her, and discovers that she’s not human. She’s one of the Folk, an ancient race of elves no need to call them elves after calling them Folk imo who live among humans in secret, amassing power and wealth while murdering each other with magic and swords. Her old flame Peke Schults is Folk, too. He gives her the whole story when he drops back into her life after the accident, the first time she’s seen him since he dumped her back in high school. His father is reclusive billionaire Copal Pretorius, one of the most powerful Folk in the world. Bad news, since Audrey’s just taken a contract to hack his company, and according to Peke they play for keeps. really like how you introduce the main players, the plot, and the stakes here. i don't know that you need to give Audrey's age there, i think you could go with 'Hacker Audrey Frincke...'

Audrey can’t honor her contract without dishonoring the only man she’s ever loved. However, Audrey can’t break her contract without betraying her client, an assassin who’s killed for hire ever since the Crusades. This section outlines Audrey's dilemma, but it comes off flat to me. very technical. This needs to have your voice carry it, and it's not there for me right now.

She’ll just have to make sure he never finds out. I'd rework this with the preceding paragraph, as they go together.

Hacked HACKED Standard convention is to use all caps for title afaik tells how Audrey cons, hacks, and fights her way through magical adversaries, office politics, and the occasional suburban mall cop. This is telling, show how she does these things (i do love the mall cop though ;) ) Along the way she finds friends, allies, the secrets of her dead parents, and maybe even a shot at love. Telling, 'friends, allies' seems repetitive to me, and the dead parents is out of nowhere. Show, and either drop the dead parents angle or tie it in earlier as well... Hacked is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. It's a standalone novel, although I've begun outlining the sequel with series potential. Standard convention to talk about sequels from what i've read.

I'm the internet security guy at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now. Some might call this unnecessary, but i personally like it...

Thank you for your time and consideration, Standard convention again...

SK
Love the premise, and the story sounds very solid. The standard conventions i mention you can feel free to ignore or adopt as you prefer.

Not really my preferred genre, but this sounds interesting enough that i'd read pages. With a few tweaks i think you can convince an agent to as well.

Good luck
I'd rather hate myself for failing, than hate my life for never having tried.
"Success leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to failure." - Vlad Taltos

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Hillsy
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by Hillsy » December 16th, 2009, 7:20 am

skottk wrote:
Twenty-something hacker Audrey Frincke survives an accident that should have killed her, and discovers that she’s not human. She’s one of the Folk, an ancient race of elves who live among humans in secret, amassing power and wealth while murdering each other with magic and swords. Her old flame Peke Schults is Folk, too. He gives her the whole story when he drops back into her life after the accident, the first time she’s seen him since he dumped her back in high school. (OK....this is a lot of explanation that could be far more succinct. The Amassing power and wealth is unnecessary, and the swords and magic bit is kinda given with elves....and I agree with Tzalaran their inherent elfishness isn't important...something like "Twenty-something hacker Audrey Frincke hasn't seen Peke Schults since he dumped her back in highschool. Now, recovering from a {carcrash/electrocution/shooting/stabbing/serious blender incident}, Peke decides to drop by to inform her he isn't human. He's part of a magical race called the Folk - and so is she." Well, something like that. Much shorter. The chronology isn't as important as getting the main point's - name, hacker, age, her Folkishness, Peke, their past, his Folkishness, what happened to her to facilitate learning about her Folkishness.) His father is reclusive billionaire Copal Pretorius, one of the most powerful Folk in the world. Bad news, since Audrey’s just taken a contract to hack his company, and according to Peke they play for keeps. (OK...good set up....good conflict...if it's just coincidence that Peke appears just as she's moving in on his Dad, she wouldn't tell him about it. Minor, Minor tweak needed about Peke's intentions: delete his input or get him involved. So far he's turned up and played Dungeon Master)

Audrey can’t honor her contract without dishonoring the only man she’s ever loved. (But he dumped her? And it's his Dad's company, not his. Need to put more meat on her turnoil.) However, Audrey can’t break her contract without betraying her client, an assassin who’s killed for hire ever since the Crusades. (OK, damned if you do, damned if you don't - I get it. Again good conflict. Puts her between a rock and a hard place. But could do with knowing, somewhere, sometime, what it is she's hacking and why.)

She’ll just have to make sure he never finds out. (Three things. 1 - Why and what is she hacking? We still don't know. 2. Caught between an assassin and someone who has no involvement - as far as I can see - in the business she's about to hack, she'd choose the assassin. She isn't so we need more reasoning why!!!...and...3. Errr...is that all the plot? She finds she's an elf, she's hired to hack into a billionaire's account by some immortal assassin...................anything else? You've alluded to lots of events and problems below and obviously there's going to be some kind of romance problems, threats on her life from the billionaire, the whole she-bang.....where is it?)

Hacked tells how Audrey cons, hacks, and fights her way through magical adversaries, office politics, and the occasional suburban mall cop. Along the way she finds friends, allies, the secrets of her dead parents (Wha---??????????), and maybe even a shot at love. (This is all telling, not showing....use this too flesh out your plot.)

SK
Ok....once you've cleared down that first part into something leaner, you've got LOADS of space to ram in plot and problems for Audrey.....believe it or not even though it lacks a lot of detail, it's a good thing because you've got scope to beef it up.

Your Conflict is great and your Concept fine, another big plus. You've got plenty of clarity in there, just not enough plot.

Good Luck with revisions!

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Shannon
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by Shannon » December 16th, 2009, 10:40 am

I don't have much else to add. Tzalaran and Hillsy did a great job covering my questions with the query. I just wanted to comment that I really like the premise. Looking forward to reading your revision!

skottk
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by skottk » December 16th, 2009, 2:23 pm

Thanks for the critiques and the kind words. Here's another take:

Lonely hacker Audrey Frincke gets shot at the mall by a ninja. Was it the zombie Alice in Wonderland costume Audrey was wearing, or something personal? When she wakes up at the hospital, the doctor tells her she isn't human inside. Her old flame Peke tells her that she's one of the Folk, an ancient race of long-lived warriors who have hidden among humans for millennia, accumulating wealth and power while murdering each other with magic and swords. How does Peke know? He's Folk, too.

Peke's father is Copal Pretorius, the reclusive CEO of Copallon Industries. That's bad news, because Audrey's trying to hack Copallon for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn't like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke's her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren't a threat to his family. Besides, Peke has told her what his father's people do to their enemies - they play for keeps.

Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix over to them, but the only deal they offer her is one week to destroy Felix or die trying. Audrey's not a fighter, so the only chance she sees is to pull off a tricky double double-cross. When her plan goes off the rails, she has to fight a duel in front of the Folk King a mile under Westminster Abbey and battle for her life at the edge of an infinite forest in Felix's basement. She even gets a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.

Now, if she could just get her hands on that ninja...

HACKED is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. I'm the internet security guy at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now. Would you like to see more?

SK

Alexandra Little
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by Alexandra Little » December 16th, 2009, 10:16 pm

skottk wrote: Lonely hacker Audrey Frincke gets shot at the mall by a ninja. Was it the zombie Alice in Wonderland costume Audrey was wearing, or something personal? When she wakes up at the hospital, the doctor tells her she isn't human inside. I already need more on the world. The genre is urban fantasy, but fantasy is very free-form when it comes to setting. Is this a world where any "other" race such as the Folk are common knowledge to humans? I am confused as the doctor seems rather unfazed by her not being human. I read fantasy, but my first presumption is that the world is as close to ours until shown otherwise. In addition, by naming the doctor you make him a seemingly important character, and when you mention Peke int he following sentence I am confused as to if they are one in the same. If the doctor is unimportant, then simply say that "at the hospital, she discovers that she's not human." Her old flame Peke (when and why does he pop up to tell her this? His introduction is a little crowbarred in at this point.) tells her that she's one of the Folk, an ancient race of long-lived warriors who have hidden among humans for millennia, accumulating wealth and power while murdering each other with magic and swords. How does Peke know? He's Folk, too. Why didn't he tell her before? Why now?

This paragraph is also a bit crowbarred in, and the transition can be much better. Peke's father is Copal Pretorius, the reclusive CEO of Copallon Industries. That's bad news, because Audrey's trying to hack Copallon for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn't like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke's her friend (would seem like ex-friend at this point), and might be more than friend material if she weren't a threat to his family Repeat: they're friends? If Peke knew she was Folk, he presumably knew that they were on opposite sides in the Folk feud (at least, that's the impression I'm getting, so why did he even get involved?) How does his family feel about this? . Besides, Peke has told her what his father's people do to their enemies - they play for keeps (this sentence sounds like an intentional gimmick and it doesn't work. I'm not even sure what you mean by it.).

Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix over to them (Why? She's a threat to them and Audrey certainly didn't object morally before this.), but the only deal they offer her is one week to destroy Felix or die trying (Why her? There must be someone more qualified to take care of Felix.). Audrey's not a fighter, so the only chance she sees is to pull off a tricky double double-cross. When her plan goes off the rails, she has to fight a duel in front of the Folk King (Why and with whom?) a mile under Westminster Abbey (finally! setting! Need it much earlier than this. I was not picturing this story in London.) and battle for her life at the edge of an infinite forest in Felix's basement. She even gets a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.

Now, if she could just get her hands on that ninja... I wondered what happened to the ninja. What is your main plot here?

HACKED is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. I'm the internet security guy ("guy" is informal for what is essentially a business letter) at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now. Would you like to see more?Just say the traditional: The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time.

SK
Here's Nathan's query letter mad lib: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

Joel Q
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by Joel Q » December 18th, 2009, 5:01 pm

I think you put in too many details, leaving lots of questions...
But the revisions are good.
skottk wrote: Lonely hacker Audrey Frincke gets shot at the mall by a ninja. (I'd leave at it as an attempt on her life, malls and ninjas opens a lot of questions) Was it the zombie Alice in Wonderland costume Audrey was wearing, or something personal? When she wakes up at the hospital, the doctor tells her she isn't human inside. (the Dr would be on national TV with this story. You probably have this figured out in the manuscript, but here it sticks out like "WHAT?") Her old flame Peke tells her that she's one of the Folk, an ancient race of long-lived warriors who have hidden among humans for millennia, accumulating wealth and power while murdering each other with magic and swords. How does Peke know? He's Folk, too. ( I like his intro in your first query.)

Peke's father is Copal Pretorius, the reclusive CEO of Copallon Industries. That's bad news, because Audrey's trying to hack Copallon for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn't like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke's her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren't a threat to his family. Besides, Peke has told her what his father's people do to their enemies - they play for keeps.

Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix over to them, but the only deal they offer her is one week to destroy Felix or die trying. Audrey's not a fighter, so the only chance she sees is to pull off a tricky double double-cross. When her plan goes off the rails, she has to fight a duel in front of the Folk King a mile under Westminster Abbey and battle for her life at the edge of an infinite forest in Felix's basement. (too much detail, leave it at the DDcross) She even gets a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.

Now, if she could just get her hands on that ninja...(I'd leave out the ninja, unless it is a major part of the plot and if so, explain it a bit more.)

HACKED is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. I'm the internet security guy at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now. Would you like to see more? (I don't think this sounds professional)

SK

askmonkey
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Re: Query Help - Hacked

Post by askmonkey » December 18th, 2009, 5:30 pm

I think your query letter is definitely much better after the revisions. Here are my suggestions for further revisions:
skottk wrote:
Lonely hacker Audrey Frincke gets shot at the mall by a ninja. Was it the zombie Alice in Wonderland costume Audrey was wearing, or something personal? <--at first read I love these two lines! Sets us a funny, quirky tone. But if this isn't what reading your novel will be like, consider re-writing. When she wakes up at the hospital, the doctor tells her she isn't human inside. <--ummm...okay? does this mean she has an alien living in her body? just say that the doctor is perplexed by...(something specific) or just say she finds out she isn't human. Her old flame Peke tells her that she's one of the Folk, an ancient race of long-lived warriors who have hidden among humans for millennia, accumulating wealth and power while murdering each other with magic and swords. How does Peke know? He's Folk, too.

Peke's father is Copal Pretorius, the reclusive CEO of Copallon Industries. That's bad news, because Audrey's trying to hack Copallon (do you mean trying to hack into their computer system? just saying "trying to hack" a company doesn't make sense) for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed (vs "been killing") for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn't like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke's her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren't a threat to his family. Besides, Peke has told her what his father's people do to their enemies - they play for keeps. ("play for keeps" feels cliched. not sure you need it.)

Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix over to them, but the only deal they offer her is one week to destroy Felix or die trying (rephrase. try something like --Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix over to them in exchange for money, but instead they give her an ulimatum--either destroy Felix in one week or die trying). Audrey's not a fighter, so the only chance she sees to stay alive is to pull off a tricky double double-cross. When her plan goes off the rails, she has to fight a duel in front of the Folk King a mile under Westminster Abbey and battle for her life at the edge of an infinite forest in Felix's basement. She even gets a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.

Now, if she could just get her hands on that ninja... (okay at this point while reading I'm annoyed that the ninja isn't really relevant to the story and was some sort of gimmick hook. either tell us more about the ninja or take it out.)

HACKED is a work of urban fantasy and complete at 115K words. As an internet security consultant (or whatever your title is), I have extensive knowledge about the types of hacks, cons, and scams Audrey uses in the book and that are being used across the country everyday. I'm the internet security guy at a midsized company in the Boston area. Audrey's hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone's running somewhere, right now. Would you like to see more? (<--delete this line)

SK

skottk
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Re: Query Help - HACKED - third round

Post by skottk » December 20th, 2009, 12:54 pm

Thanks for some great feedback, everyone! Here's another try.

Audrey Frincke is a lonely twenty-something hacker living in her uncle's house in the Boston suburbs. She gets shot at the mall while parading in a flash zombie mob-- was it personal, or was it her zombie Alice in Wonderland costume? When she wakes up at the hospital, she finds out she isn’t human. She’s one of the Folk, an ancient people who have lived hidden among humans for millennia accumulating wealth and power.
Her old flame Peke Schults is Folk, too. He gives her the whole story when he drops back into her life after the accident, the first time she’s seen him since he dumped her back in high school. Peke’s father, Copal Pretorius, is the powerful businessman who owns Copallon Industries. That’s bad news, because Audrey’s trying to take penetrate Copallon’s network for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn’t like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke’s her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren’t screwing around with his dad’s company. Besides, Peke has told her what his father’s people do to their enemies, and it scares the crap out of her.
Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix in if they’ll let her off, but all they offer her is an ultimatum - one week to destroy Felix or die trying. This is the first time she’s ever bet her neck on one of her scams, but if she can pull off this tricky double double cross, she’ll be safe and set for life. She might even get a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.
HACKED is urban fantasy and complete at 110K words, a standalone novel with series potential. As the internet security lead at a midsize company in New England, I know that all of Audrey’s hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone’s running somewhere, right now. The completed manuscript is available on your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

And thank you all for yours!
SK

askmonkey
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Re: Query Help - Hacked -Third round

Post by askmonkey » December 28th, 2009, 1:06 pm

I think this works much better! I only have a two suggestions for tweaking further:
skottk wrote: Audrey Frincke is a lonely twenty-something hacker living in her uncle's house in the Boston suburbs. She gets shot at the mall while parading in a flash zombie mob-- was it personal, or was it her zombie Alice in Wonderland costume? When she wakes up at the hospital, she finds out she isn’t human. She’s one of the Folk, an ancient people who have lived hidden among humans for millennia accumulating wealth and power.
Her old flame Peke Schults is Folk, too. He gives her the whole story when he drops back into her life after the accident, the first time she’s seen him since he dumped her back in high school. <---need a better transition between these two sentences--->Peke’s father, Copal Pretorius, is the powerful businessman who owns Copallon Industries. That’s bad news, because Audrey’s trying to take penetrate Copallon’s network for her client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn’t like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke’s her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren’t screwing around with his dad’s company. Besides, Peke has told her what his father’s people do to their enemies, and it scares the crap out of her.
Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix in if they’ll let her off, but all they offer her is an ultimatum - one week to destroy Felix or die trying. This is the first time she’s ever bet her neck on one of her scams, but if she can pull off this tricky double-double-cross, she’ll be safe and set for life. She might even get a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.
HACKED is urban fantasy and complete at 110K words, a standalone novel with series potential. As the internet security lead at a midsize company in New England, I know that<---rephrase so is less awkward all of Audrey’s hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams that someone’s running somewhere, right now. The completed manuscript is available on your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

And thank you all for yours!
SK

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Re: Query Help - Hacked -Third round

Post by Clio » December 29th, 2009, 12:43 pm

I have read and followed your posts and your Query piece just gets better and better!
I hope you don't mind, but I have taken the liberty of tweeking in the hope of improving it further.....
Audrey Frincke is a lonely twenty-something hacker living in her uncle's house in the Boston suburbs. Shot at the mall whilst parading in a flash zombie mob, Audrey wonders if it was personal, or was it her fancy dress costume? At hospital, Audrey discovers she isn’t human - she’s one of the Folk - an ancient people who have lived hidden among humans for millennia accumulating wealth and power.

An old High School flame, Peke Schults, drops back into her life and reveals he is Folk too.

Peke’s father, Copal Pretorius, is a powerful businessman who owns Copallon Industries. This is bad news, as Audrey finds herself trying to penetrate Copallon’s network for her newly aquired client, an assassin named Felix who has killed for money since the Crusades. Audrey doesn’t like to stiff a client - especially a deadly one - but Peke’s her friend, and might be more than friend material if she weren’t screwing around with his dad’s company. Besides, Peke has told her what his father’s people do to their enemies, and it scares the crap out of her.

Audrey goes to Copallon offering to turn Felix in if they’ll let her off, but all they offer her is an ultimatum - one week to destroy Felix or die trying. This is the first time she’s ever bet her neck on one of her scams, but if she can pull off this tricky double double cross, she’ll be safe and set for life.

She might even get a chance at love, if she doesn't screw it up.

HACKED is urban fantasy and complete at 110K words, a standalone novel with series potential.

Currently employed in internet security for a company in New England, all of Audrey’s hacks and cons are based on real technology and scams - scams being run by someone, somewhere, right now.

The completed manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Hope this helps.

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