Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

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Regan Leigh
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Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Regan Leigh » April 27th, 2010, 3:22 pm

Since I sucked it up and entered Nathan's contest, I decided I should be brave enough to post my query here for feedback. :D Rip this apart... I'll take the strongest criticism you have. ;) And I promise to skim the other queries here later today and see if I have feedback to give in return. (I'm new at queries, but I'll try anyway.)

Thanks in advance!

********

Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast.

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all.

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com
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kenpochick
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by kenpochick » April 27th, 2010, 4:41 pm

Regan Leigh wrote:Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. (The first two sentences are awkward. At first I thought that there may be a necromancer or ghost buster type person that was hurting her but since you mean emotionally maybe you can rephrase.) She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast.

Her spirit Sheis pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all.

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. (Is this a paranormal romance? It sounds like one.) I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com
Seriously, this sounds like a really cute story. I'd definitely pick it out at a bookstore. Good luck with it!

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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by HillaryJ » April 27th, 2010, 7:12 pm

Regan Leigh wrote:
Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. *delete: For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts.* She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast. *Does this matter in terms of plot? Does her being drawn/pulled to Evan's house have anything to do with her life? If not, remove this sentence.*

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all. *Why is she doing these things? Later you mention it's to get noticed, but there's no urgency to it, no desperation.*

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed. *Is this necessary for the query - the distillation of plot (what happens), character (why this character is compelling and different) and voice?*

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com
I like the premise, but the query makes the book sound kind of...lazy. I'm not saying you are lazy, but I don't want to read NINETY THOUSAND words about a sulky poltergeist hiding keys and trying not to smack a guy on the butt so hard that it knocks him over. I want to know why she's stuck at Evan's house, if she is, and what decisions she has to make. What choices does a spirit stuck in a stranger's house have, and what is compelling about him other than that he's cute? Also, if he doesn't notice her at all, then who cares if she's stuck in his house? Up the tension in this query, and you'll improve it dramatically.

I don't think you need to specify "adult" paranormal. I think you only have to specify when it's not targeted toward adult readers.
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by ocelott » April 27th, 2010, 7:18 pm

Regan Leigh wrote:Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. The way it's placed so early, the pain sounds like it happens before she meets Evan, so I want to know who or what is hurting her. Does she go to Evan to escape that pain? Does the person hurting her know?She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast.Very nice.

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all.

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. Is paranormal indicative of paranormal romance or contemporary fantasy?I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. This part isn't really necessary.The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.
Really neat idea here. This is something I'd pick up and read.

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Regan Leigh
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Regan Leigh » April 27th, 2010, 9:53 pm

kenpochick: Thank you for the feedback and it's nice to hear you'd be interested in it!

HillaryJ: Totally get what you're saying. I have to figure out my balance of not giving away much more without it sounding boring! :) Thanks for the help!

ocelott: And again, it's great to hear you found it interesting! Thanks for the crit.




I'll take some time away from this one before I work on it more, so any and all feedback is helpful and worthwhile. Thanks!
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Krista G. » April 28th, 2010, 1:08 am

Thanks for sharing your query with us. I especially liked the last two sentences of the summary: "She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does." Fantastic:)

As for the rest of the summary, my biggest problem is that we don't get any sense of escalating conflict. Mallory's initial conflict is clear: She's falling in love with someone she can't be with...because she's dead. But I don't want to read 90,000 words of her attempts to get his attention, and I'm sure that's not what your book is about, anyway. So what raises the stakes?

Also, that last sentence in the first paragraph ("She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast") was intriguing, but then you don't come back to it. I'm wondering if this has something to do with what pushes the story forward later on. If so, we definitely need to hear about it.

As for your final paragraph, I'd change "adult paranormal novel" to "paranormal romance," which sounds more like a bookstore genre (if you don't mention it's YA, an agent will assume it's adult). And your degree isn't super-relevant to the plot, so, as the others already mentioned, I'd just cut that.

Good luck with this. It does sound like a cute story.
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by ceiser » April 28th, 2010, 9:48 am

Hi. Brand spanking new at this, but here goes.

This sounds like a really intriguing idea, but I'd have to agree with some of the other posters. I kept waiting for something to come to head as the query went on, but it just sort of petered out. That's fixable though.

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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by wilderness » April 28th, 2010, 5:11 pm

Regan Leigh wrote: Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. Physically or emotionally? She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast.

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all. You should explicitly state that she knocks over stuff because she's in love with him and wants to get his attention. It reads strangely here, where you say she is moving his stuff without giving a reason.

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does. Funny!

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist (formatting problems?) has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com
I agree with Krista about the escalating tension. I'd like to have a greater sense of urgency and conflict without losing the cute, funny tone. Haha, OK I know that's tough to do. Good luck!

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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Regan Leigh » April 29th, 2010, 10:55 pm

Krista G. wrote:...Good luck with this. It does sound like a cute story.
Thank you for your feedback! I appreciate you going through it.
ceiser wrote:...This sounds like a really intriguing idea, but I'd have to agree with some of the other posters. I kept waiting for something to come to head as the query went on, but it just sort of petered out. That's fixable though.
The feedback was great. Thank you for reading through it! :)
wilderness wrote:...I agree with Krista about the escalating tension. I'd like to have a greater sense of urgency and conflict without losing the cute, funny tone. Haha, OK I know that's tough to do. Good luck!
Thanks for going through my query and giving your feedback! (And no, it wasn't a formatting issue. I'm keeping the search bots from connecting my career/job with my name in search results. ;))


Seriously, thank you all for your help! Many of the same issues are being pointed out, so I have a clear idea of where I need to take this query. HOW to get it there is a whole other story. ;) Thanks again!
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Ermo » April 30th, 2010, 12:38 pm

Regan Leigh wrote: Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. Yeah, my first instinct is that this is physical hurt and you have to change my mind. That's probably not a good way to start. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast.

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Why is it pulled into a home at all? Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all. I think the dimples should be secondary. She's a woman that died and is forgetting her life. Every day hurts - you said so. I'd think that an emotional connection with Evan would be more powerful in both helping her get over this hurt and in creating a better hook for the reader. Then, you can mention the dimples.

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does. Excellent last two sentences.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel. I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com
I think the story could be really fun and interesting but it has one problem - no plot. It feels like you almost have a plot and you're not telling us about it but basically we need to know why falling in love with him is so important. Will it send her to some Nirvana? Will it make her alive again? And what's the conflict? Is it that she's dead and can't talk to him? That's not much of a conflict. Is it that she only has so much time to connect with him? What happens if she doesn't? I think this could be really good - it's just that is query left me with too many questions. Good luck!

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Regan Leigh
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Regan Leigh » April 30th, 2010, 5:16 pm

Ermo- Thanks for the feedback!


I do think my query barely scratches on the plot. I was trying to be sure and emphasize a hook while also not giving away too much, but from all the feedback here and in other places I'm seeing that I have to go further and deeper. I'll re-post my edited version at some point. Thanks for all your help!
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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by sperber » May 4th, 2010, 1:26 pm

Great start! Here are my thoughts. Good luck.
Regan Leigh wrote: Dear Mr. Awesome Agent,

Sometimes the dead haunt the living, and sometimes, the living hurt the dead. For a wandering spirit named Mallory Richards, every day hurts. She can't remember how she died, and the memories of how she lived are fading fast. Start with these two sentences, which punched me in the gut (in a good way!) when I read them.

Her spirit is pulled to a stranger's home, where she moves car keys when he isn't looking, slams drawers, and knocks over magazines. Evan, a sensitive loner with amazing dimples--just the sort of man she could fall in love with--disregards it all. I don't love this sentence. It's a little too cute, too soon after my punch-to-the-gut reaction to your opening paragraph. Could you change the wording a bit? Save the amazing dimples for later, but maybe mention the potential for Evan to stop Mallory's pain, through love (or maybe an exorcism)?

Mallory tries to keep from interfering in his life too much, but she still sneaks in the occasional butt slap. She has to be careful because her energy can knock him flat on the ground, but that’s not always a bad thing -- it might be her only chance of getting noticed. I think this a good place to add the tension/conflict that other folks have asked about. She's not just a hot-to-trot ghost, right? She's trying to hold on to who she was when she was alive, or love will send her spirit forward, or she'll figure out how she died? Or something else? Let us know.

Mallory knows there is definitely life after death, but whether or not there is love after death will require a bit more work. Acting like a sulky poltergeist isn't cutting it. She hopes she doesn't scare him to death. Then again, maybe she does. These sentences read like tag lines to me -- they feel like a series of clever one liners that might appear in a book jacket, but they don't tell us what's going on in the story. Except I love the lines about scaring Evan to death. Really clever.

MALLORY’S STORY is a 90,000 word adult paranormal novel.I have a M@ster of A*ts in Pr*fessional C@unseling and my experience as a ther@pist has aided me in the writing of this character-driven story. The first few pages are below for your consideration and the full manuscript is available upon request. These sentences really aren't necessary, and just use up words that could be telling us more about your story.Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Regan Leigh
http://www.reganleigh.com

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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 1:38 pm

I actually love your hook though some may disagree with me about it. I am still trying to learn the query ropes, and most of my limited ability is based on looking at all of yours. I bet this will be great when you're done with it!

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Re: Query Mallory's Story- Rip it apart. :D

Post by Regan Leigh » May 10th, 2010, 2:37 am

Sorry it took me a while to get back to these posts! (Thank you insomnia for letting me be more productive today. ;))

sperber and kathleen- Thank you for the help and encouragement. I do agree that the first line HAS to change or get out. ;) It's great to hear your thoughts and reactions to the lines and hook. I'm working on the written synopsis now and will use it to round out my query more.

Thanks again for the comments!
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