QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

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Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 28th, 2010, 5:33 pm

Thank you all so much for your help! I've tried to work your suggestions into my query. Here goes:
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London reaches home, his mother is- understandably- frightened into sending him to live with Corwin James, the officer in charge of the case, until the criminal is caught.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But Emil is also privy to some extra information: each murder is accompanied by a note quoting Alice in Wonderland.

These notes don’t mean anything to the police, but they do to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

thewhipslip
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by thewhipslip » September 29th, 2010, 9:42 am

I like it, but I'm not buying that Emil's mother would think he's safer with the head of the investigation. Wouldn't that make him more of a target? What if the Hatter decides to go after the cop who's chasing him - that's going to put Emil right in harm's way. Your earlier versions didn't make it sound like that.
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Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 29th, 2010, 9:55 am

Ooh, yes, that's true. Thanks. It's tough to remember that the reader doesn't know as much as I do.
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London reaches home, his mother is- understandably- frightened into sending him to live with Corwin James, the officer in charge of the case, until the criminal is caught.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But Emil is also privy to some extra information: each murder is accompanied by a note quoting Alice in Wonderland.

These notes don’t mean anything to the police, but they do to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 29th, 2010, 12:24 pm

This is getting better, but I'm still questioning why Emil is sent to live with Corwin. I feel like there is more to the story here. Was Corwin the officer in charge of Emil's kidnapping? Why would his mother be concerned for him simply because there's a murderer rampaging London? A murderer that's targeting girls no less? Her actions don't seem justified.

Additionally, newspapers in the 19th century did report on every gory detail in these cases; the Metropolitan police often had a hard time protecting information from being reported. Reporters were always hanging around murder scenes (as they do now), and cops were always on the take, so information leaks were a given. So newspapers would have mentioned the "Alice" notes, most likely.

Maybe it should be re-worked to say that Emil makes a connection between the murders and his kidnapper and goes to the officer in charge?

Also it sounds like Emil and his mother don't live in London. If that's not the case, maybe droping "reaches home" would clarify. Otherwise, why send him into the thick of things?

I still love this concept, I just don't think it's coming across very well in some sections. Best of luck to you!
Thalia wrote:Ooh, yes, that's true. Thanks. It's tough to remember that the reader doesn't know as much as I do.
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London reaches home, his mother is- understandably- frightened into sending him to live with Corwin James, the officer in charge of the case, until the criminal is caught.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But Emil is also privy to some extra information: each murder is accompanied by a note quoting Alice in Wonderland.

These notes don’t mean anything to the police, but they do to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 29th, 2010, 1:13 pm

I honestly don't know how to explain without the end. Hmmm... well, his mother goes to the person she believes to be the head policeman of the Yard and asks them to protect her son. This person pulls the strings a bit and Emil ends up with Corwin, for his own reasons. That make sense?

Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 29th, 2010, 9:46 pm

Okay, I worked through it a bit. Here's what I have. Be brutal, please!
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London convinces Emil that his kidnapper is on the move, he’s almost ecstatic to learn that his guardian, an officer with the Scotland Yard, is in charge of the case.

Each murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, the body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But Emil and his guardian know a little more about the case. Each murder is accompanied by a note quoting Alice in Wonderland.

These notes serve to confirm Emil’s suspicions. After all, his kidnapper was never caught, and Emil knew him by one name: The Hatter. But as he and his guardian get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by stephmcgee » September 29th, 2010, 10:28 pm

Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882. I rather like this, especially as it's a historical so this immediately puts you in that mindset. Great!

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So wWhen word of a ruthless killer rampaging London convinces Emil that his kidnapper is on the move, he’s almost ecstatic to learn that his guardian, an officer with the Scotland Yard, is in charge of the case. If the guardian is important, shouldn't he have a name? (BTW, how old is Emil? If it's YA, that could end up being important in the query.)

Each murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped.;Tthree days later, the body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But Emil and his guardian know a little more about the case. Each murder is accompanied by a note quoting Alice in Wonderland.This paragraph reads very choppy. I think it might be all the fragments that are doing it. I do feel the information is necessary to include, but maybe it could be reworked to flow a little more smoothly.

These notes serve to confirm Emil’s suspicions. After all, his kidnapper was never caught, and Emil knew him by one name: The Hatter. Was it how the kidnapper referred to himself? Or the name the cops gave the guy when Emil and his sister were taken. But as he and his guardian get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me
I love the title and I think that the query really does well at making the book live up to the title. There are some flow issues in the query. I would suggest reading it out loud before the next revision. Where it stops feeling natural is where you should re-structure your sentences. But don't make any changes that are going to eliminate the great sense of voice and tension that is coming out in the query. I think the story sounds incredibly interesting and well-plotted. I do wish that there was a little bit more sense of the stakes of the external conflict. You leave it off at him avenging his sister's death, but that's a very personal conflict. Great job overall!

Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 30th, 2010, 8:20 am

Thanks! Here I go.
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London convinces Emil that his kidnapper is on the move, he’s almost ecstatic to learn that his guardian, an officer with the Scotland Yard, is in charge of the case.

The basic facts of the murders are well known. A young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, the body shows up, horrifically mutilated. However, unlike the rest of the city, Emil and Corwin know that a note quoting Alice in Wonderland accompanies each murder.

These notes serve to confirm Emil’s suspicions. After all, his kidnapper was never caught, and Emil knew him by one name: The Hatter. But as he and his guardian get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

thewhipslip
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by thewhipslip » September 30th, 2010, 9:26 am

Some great improvements. It's just wordy in a lot of places.
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London convinces Emil that his kidnapper is on the move, he’s almost ecstatic to learn that his guardian, an officer with the Scotland Yard I don't know if you need the Scotland Yard tidbit. It breaks up the sentence too much, and we can assume that 'in charge of the case' means his guardian is a police officer. Also make sure you mention Corwin's name here, since we have no context for it in the next paragraph, is in charge of the case.

The basic facts of the murders are well known. A young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, the body shows up, horrifically mutilated. However, unlike the rest of the city Is it important that no one else knows about the Alice quotes? This is just adding words..., Emil and Corwin know that a note quoting Alice in Wonderland accompanies each murder I liked the previous version better for this part.

These notes serve to confirm Emil’s suspicions This is pretty wordy. Try: The notes confirm Emil's suspicions. He knew his kidnapper by one name: the Hatter.. After all, his kidnapper was never caught, and Emil knew him by one name: The Hatter. But as he and his guardian get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all I love the last sentence here. Nice job..

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me
[/quote]

Great job! I really like this.
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Quill
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Quill » September 30th, 2010, 11:06 am

Thalia wrote:London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when word of a ruthless killer rampaging London
I would say "news" instead of "word" as being stronger.
convinces Emil that his kidnapper is on the move, he’s almost ecstatic to learn that his guardian, an officer with the Scotland Yard, is in charge of the case.
Good.
The basic facts of the murders are well known. A young girl is kidnapped.
A slight disconnect where murders is plural and girl is singular. I can puzzle through it but it sounds like multiple murders of one girl.

Also, I think it is more like the girl disappears, as I'm assuming there is no ransom note. How do police know she has been kidnapped as opposed to abducted or simply murdered?
Three days later, the body shows up, horrifically mutilated.
"Horrifically" is redundant to "mutilated" as there is no other type of mutilation, but rather effective here in this spare query.

"Shows up" , on the other hand, seems rather generic, and modern sounding.

There is a time frame issue here, as well. You have word of a ruthless killer rampaging (operating sounds more like what he's doing, by the way; a rampage implies sudden, violent actions rather than the methodical modus you describe). And then there's a full-on pattern that can be identified through multiple murders of three days each. How many murders are we talking here, and with what frequency?
However, unlike the rest of the city, Emil and Corwin know that a note quoting Alice in Wonderland accompanies each murder.
Awkward:

1. Abrupt to begin with "However".

How about "Unlike the rest of the city, though, Emil..."

2. Odd juxtapose, "city" with "Emil and Corwin": Unlike the city, Emil knows. A city cannot know. It is the people who may or may not know. Also, to say no other people know this is probably false. What about citizens and cops who found the bodies?

3. Who is Corwin? You probably are implying that he is Emil's guardian, but we need to know this.

4. It might read stronger to put "Alice" at the end: "Unlike most of London's citizens, though, Emil and Corwin know that a note accompanies each murder, quoting Alice in Wonderland." Or some such.

5. Agree with a previous poster that this is something that likely the newspapers have gotten a hold of.

These notes serve to confirm Emil’s suspicions.
Omit "serve to" as serving no purpose.

Feels like we're back tracking. Earlier you had Emil convinced his killer was on the move, and now he his merely confirming his suspicions.

After all,
Omit as not quite fitting the meaning and flow.
his kidnapper was never caught,
How about "his sister's killer was never caught" or some such. Or maybe "He knew his sister's killer by one name"(but see next comment).
and Emil knew him by one name: The Hatter.
Sorry but I can't picture a solitary murderer telling his name to a supposed victim. Do you think it would be good to say how he learned that this guy calls himself "The Hatter"? And also, how is it that he would have any question at all that it's the killer of his sister. He knew there was a note with his sister's body, did he not? Not sure I understand how there's any mystery there at all that it's the same guy -- regardless of the name he gives himself.
But as he and his guardian get closer and closer to tracking the man down,
The guardian, a professional Scotland Yard man, lets this kid, this former victim, this untrained minor (I assume; we haven't been given his age) tag along into these dangerous waters and this professional police work? How is he not reprimanded for this?
Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all.
I feel like this could be put in clearer and stronger terms, and you certainly have the space to do it. What I'm getting is that by bringing up the past and by being on the scene (of the investigation, as unbelievable as this seems, but maybe this is not meant to be strictly realistic) his emotions are stirred to the point where his only recourse is to kill the bastard, or be killed by him. He assumes a vigilante role at the end. Is that right? If so, it might be good, again, to explain how it is the detective allows him to participate in the investigation at all. Just to make this crux believable. To make the whole thing hang together. A little more about the relationship between the guardian and the kid. Also, might be good to give the kid's age, for context. Are we talking sixteen? Twenty-two?
MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Isn't this a bit short for an adult novel in this genre?

Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 30th, 2010, 12:12 pm

Thank you for the advice! It's a young adult novel, though. YA.

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Quill
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Quill » September 30th, 2010, 12:23 pm

Sorry. I saw the historical and missed the YA! So the length should be okay.

Thalia
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » October 2nd, 2010, 8:22 pm

Newest version!
Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived. His sister didn’t. So when he hears news of a serial killer rampaging London, he’s convinced that his former abductor is on the move again. The peculiarities of the murders—a note quoting Alice in Wonderland is found at each scene—go hand in hand with the name his tormentor fashioned for himself: The Hatter.

Corwin’s not to keen on Emil having anything to do with the case, but Emil’s extensive knowledge of the man’s methods is too invaluable to waste. Yet as the two get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil starts to realize exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares. But if he fails to avenge his sister’s death, he doesn’t know how he’ll live with himself- if he lives at all.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

thewhipslip
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by thewhipslip » October 6th, 2010, 2:46 pm

Awesome revisions! The only thing you left out is who Corwin is - make sure you mention he's the lead investigator.
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

priya g.
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by priya g. » October 8th, 2010, 5:20 pm

this query is worth sending off immediately!

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