The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query *3RD REVISION*

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Jessa
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The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query *3RD REVISION*

Post by Jessa » October 15th, 2010, 3:17 pm

(Revisions posted below)

Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of.

Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah making her living selling trinkets and knick-knacks, all of which carry some kind of enchantment on them. They're innocuous, either small magics that do nothing harmful or items that just carry a buzz of magic about them. Nothing evil, nothing bad.

Well, except the box. It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it but that's no excuse, and when a young girl vanishes, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. The body count rises as she scrambles for answers, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not want her dead, and a pack of werewolves who definitely want her dead. The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(contact info)
Last edited by Jessa on November 6th, 2010, 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

priya g.
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by priya g. » October 15th, 2010, 6:26 pm

Jessa wrote:Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of GOOD BEGINNING BUT THIS MAKES ME THINK THE VAMPIRE IS A TINY LITTLE THING, RATHER THAN THE SIZE OF A HUMAN- IS THAT THE IMPRESSION YOU WANT TO GIVE?.

Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah making her living selling trinkets and knick-knacks, all of which carry some kind of enchantment on them. They're innocuous, either small magics that do nothing harmful or items that just carry a buzz of magic about them HOW ABOUT- THEY CARRY THE FANCIES OF LITTLE TRICKS, THOSE INNOCUOUS THINGS THAT MAKE CHILDREN GLEE. Nothing evil, nothing bad THE REPETITION OF 'NOTHING' DOESNT GET IT QUITE RIGHT .

Well, except the box. It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it but that's no excuse, and when a young girl vanishes, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. The body count rises as she scrambles for answers, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not want her dead THIS CHARACTER SEEMS LIKE A FORCED INCLUSION, and a pack of werewolves DO WEREWOLVES ALSO FIGHT VAMPIRES? who definitely want her dead. The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(contact info)
good query letter- its direct and concise.
hope i helped!

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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by caseygriffin2 » October 15th, 2010, 7:19 pm

Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of.

Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah making her living selling Too many --ing "making living selling. Could we try "who makes her living" And the other poster had a good suggestion for combining these two sentences trinkets and knick-knacks, all of which carry some kind of enchantment on them. They're innocuous, either small magics that do nothing harmful or items that just carry a buzz of magic about them. Nothing evil, nothing bad. "Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah who makes her living selling innocuous magical trinkets and knick-knacks." Does something like that work? Also, the word innocuous already indicates that it's "nothing evil" but the phrase flows well into the next sentence.

Well, except the box. It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it, but that's no excuse, and when a young girl vanishes, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. The body count rises as she scrambles for answers, maybe make this into two sentences, the wording had me stumbling a little. Then carry on with "Her only allies are a..." her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not want her dead, and a pack of werewolves who definitely want her deadThe werewolves want her dead but are still her ally? Is that right? I take it there must be some ceasefire agreement or something.. The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you.Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(contact info)

Sounds exciting. Your query letter is pretty concise. Good job.

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HillaryJ
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by HillaryJ » October 16th, 2010, 1:09 am

Jessa wrote:Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of. *This is an interesting twist on the modern vampire story*

Rachel is a witch, and makes her living selling enchanted trinkets and knick-knacks in downtown Savannah, GA. *This seemed too pedestrian, and you lost your voice here. (Not literally) So, the quicker you can get this detail out, the better. Unless the shop has a clever name, and then you should mention it.* They're innocuous, small magics or items that just carry a buzz of magic about them. Nothing evil, nothing bad.

Well, except the box. It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it but that's no excuse, and when a young girl vanishes, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. *Least of all Rachel?* The body count rises as she scrambles for answers, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not want her dead, and a pack of werewolves who definitely want her dead. *I concur with the werewolves not making sense as allies. Maybe change this to something less absolute, like "who don't have her best interests at heart", or "who, if they didn't need her to find that box, would probably be trying to bury her in one"...something that doesn't contradict "ally".* The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(contact info)
This is good. Concise, with good energy and a funny vibe. However, I feel like we're missing two essential components: an understanding of Rachel's character, and an idea of what she must overcome. She's got a goal (box), but what forces is she acting against? If the vampire's just really hard to find, that doesn't seem like enough. If he's violently dangerous or there's some kind of conspiracy he's part of, that would be better. And what's Rachel like? Is she a fiery-tempered shopkeep irritated at having to close the store for a week? Is she a mild-mannered witch who has to step up and employ dangerous dark arts she's turned her back on this venture? Just a sentence or two better illustrating her would be nice.

Good luck!
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fishfood
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by fishfood » October 17th, 2010, 5:09 pm

Wow, I think the above posters nailed it with the above suggestions! So I'm not going to be adding a whole lot here and may even be repeating. I'm not a fan of vampire stories, but I do think you have a unique spin on a VERY popular genre.
Jessa wrote:Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of. Like the earlier poster said, it sort of made me snicker at this imagery. If this is a comedy, then I think it's a great line to start off with.
Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah making her living selling trinkets and knick-knacks, all of which carry some kind of enchantment on them. They're innocuous, either small magics that do nothing harmful or items that just carry a buzz of magic about them. Nothing evil, nothing bad.

Well, except the box. It might be relevant to state where she got this box and why perhaps she didn't know a vampire was in it? It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it but that's no excuse, and when a young girl vanishes, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. The body count rises I've seen this line used many a time. I'd try something else to describe the murders. as she scrambles for answers, is she scrambling for answers or scrambling to get the vampire back into his little black box? her only allies are a smokin' hotI just read another query that used smokin' hot...I like smokin' hot, just wondering if there's a more creative way to describe him. Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not want her dead,? and a pack of werewolves who definitely want her dead. Agree with the above...allies wouldn't be trying to kill her. And why would they want her dead anyway? The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Why does it hold all her answers? What answers? Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing. Didn't she sell it? Doesn't she want to get it back?

The query was set up nicely until you got to "her only allies..." then it seemed to lose it's focus. Maybe just focus on the Catholic priest and how he can help her. Then another conflict arrives when the werewolves want her dead. I know the mystery lies in the black box, but as I'm reading it, there doesn't seem to be any mystery here since we know a vampire came out of it and is killing people and she definitely needs to get the little vampire back into his home. Is that what's at stake here?

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you. Query shark recommends you NOT use this line because you definitely won't look forward to a form rejection.Sincerely,

(contact info)

Jessa
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by Jessa » October 17th, 2010, 7:34 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your comments! I'm working on a new version and will post when I get all the words in the correct order. Just wanted to say, think less "teeny-tiny vampire" and a little more "genie in a bottle".

Although, teeny-tiny vampire did remind me of that great Buffy episode with the little fear demon...

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gonzo2802
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by gonzo2802 » October 18th, 2010, 8:51 pm

I have to say that I agree with most of the things said by the others except I DO think the line about the werewolves as allies that want her dead works. That is, if the thinking goes along with typical lore that werewolves and vampires are natural enemies. Perhaps if you tweak it a little to suggest they're her reluctant allies, who plan to kill her the moment the vampire is taken care of.

You have a great voice in the query. Maybe tighten a couple of the sentences up as suggested, but don't cut/combine so much that you lose the feel of Rachel's personality coming through.

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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by oldhousejunkie » October 20th, 2010, 2:10 pm

Ok, the major issue that I see with this query is the flow. It's awkwardly worded and that's obscuring what is a very interesting plot.
Jessa wrote:Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and Rachel Marsh sold the little black box it came out of. Awkward. Maybe: "and it came from the little black box that Rachel Marsh just sold.

Rachel is a witch and shop owner in downtown Savannah making her living sellingwho sellstrinkets and knick-knacks,.all of which carry some kind of enchantment on them. They're Most are innocuous, either small magics enchanted items?that do nothing harmful or sometimesitems that justtheycarry a buzz of real magic about them. Nothing evil, nothing bad.

Well, except the box.Maybe: Except the little black box.It hadn't seemed malevolent when she sold it but that's no excuse, andwhen a young girl vanishes,Rachel blames herself. no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. The body count rises as she scrambles for answers, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, AWESOME!a Yankee warrior-witch who might or might not may want her dead, and a pack of werewolves who definitely want her dead. The only thing she's sure of is that the box holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(contact info)
Good try. With a few tweaks it should be there. Best of luck to you!

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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by Jessa » November 4th, 2010, 4:12 pm

After a complete life implosion that ends with no farm, no horses, no dogs, and living with my sister, I'm back with Attempt #LostTrack. Let's throw this one off the troika, see if the wolves devour it.

Dear (specific agent name):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, a girl is missing, dead bodies crash through store windows, and it's all Rachel Marsh's fault.

In Athena's Attic, everything is more than it seems to be, even the owner. Rachel is a witch, hiding her magical talents behind a façade that's equal parts sweet Southern lady and genial business owner. She makes her living running Athena's Attic, a junque shop where she sells items that happen to be magical in small ways; they carry minor charms or just the buzz of unfocused magic. She doesn't deal in malevolent magic, and won't sell anything that's harmful.

Until the little black box, anyway. It hadn't seemed dangerous when she sold it, but that's no excuse and when the young girl who purchased the box goes missing, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. She must hunt the monster responsible for the girl's disappearance, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch with motivations that are murky at best, and a pack of werewolves who spend an uncomfortable amount of time debating the whole "kill Rachel" thing. All she knows for sure is that she has to stop the vampire, and the key to doing so has something to do with the box. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jessa
(contact info)

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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by Erin » November 4th, 2010, 7:07 pm

Jessa wrote:After a complete life implosion that ends with no farm, no horses, no dogs, and living with my sister, I'm back with Attempt #LostTrack. Let's throw this one off the troika, see if the wolves devour it.

Dear (specific agent name):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, a girl is missing, dead bodies crash through store windows, and it's all Rachel Marsh's fault.

In Athena's Attic, everything is more than it seems to be, even the owner. Rachel is a witch, hiding her magical talents behind a façade that's equal parts sweet Southern lady and genial business owner. She makes her living running Athena's Attic, a junque shop where she sells items that happen to be magical in small ways; they carry minor charms or just the buzz of unfocused magic. She doesn't deal in malevolent magic, and won't sell anything that's harmful.

Until the little black box, anyway. It hadn't seemed dangerous when she sold it, but that's no excuse and when the young girl who purchased the box it goes missing, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Not even Rachel. She must hunt the monster responsible for the girl's disappearance, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch with motivations that are murky at best, and a pack of werewolves who spend an uncomfortable amount of time debating the whole "kill Rachel" thing. All she knows for sure is that she has to stop the vampire, and the key to doing so has something to do with the box. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jessa
(contact info)


This has nice energy and I love that there's a smokin' hot Cathloic priest! Nice job.

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HillaryJ
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query

Post by HillaryJ » November 4th, 2010, 11:13 pm

Jessa wrote:
There's a vampire loose in Savannah, a girl is missing, dead bodies crash through store windows, and it's all Rachel Marsh's fault. *I greatly prefer the hook line from your first attempt. It was catchy and unique. I don't believe that you need to boil all the events of the story into your hook, which it seems like you're trying to do here.*

*Strike previous. It was vague and a bit cliched, and since these following lines explain it, it was redundant.* Rachel is a witch, hiding her magical talents behind a façade that's equal parts sweet Southern lady and genial business owner. She makes her living running Athena's Attic, a junque *Is this a special kind of junk? A bit confusing* shop where she sells items that happen to be magical in small ways; they carry minor charms or just the buzz of unfocused magic. *I find this wordy for what it conveys. Maybe something like "items of small magic, minor charms or objects infused with the buzz of magic" I like "the buzz of...magic". It gives it a sensual, tactile quality.* She doesn't deal in malevolent magic, and *doesn't sell anything harmful.*

Until the little black box, anyway. It hadn't seemed dangerous when she sold it, *Passive language. Maybe try: "She hadn't thought it dangerous"* but that's no excuse and when the young girl who purchased the box goes missing, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. *Especially not Rachel.* She must hunt the monster responsible for the girl's disappearance, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch with motivations that are murky at best, and a pack of werewolves who spend an uncomfortable amount of time debating the whole "kill Rachel" thing. *Love what you've done with this conflict!* All she knows for sure is that she has to stop the vampire, and the key to doing so has something to do with the box. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing. *Oops...we seem to have lost the transition from the box to the vampire/key. Maybe interject around the sentence about the girl gone missing*

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency because (specific reasons for this agent). As requested in your guidelines, below please find (everything this agent asks for).

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jessa
(contact info)
Sorry for your implosion, Jessa!

I adore the sentence listing her allies. You've worked wonders with the werewolf bit. I loved your first first-line, and hope to see it come back. I really recommend tightening up the paragraph explaining Rachel, especially the parts describing the store and the wares. You spend almost as many words describing that as describing the entire high-stakes plot. I like the inclusion of the description of Rachel. Not sure it fully pops with the energy and attitude I suspect she has. And we need a box to vampire/key transition/explanation.

This is a good step in the right direction. A little more tweak and polish and you'll be all set. Good luck!
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query *3RD REVISION*

Post by Jessa » November 6th, 2010, 1:59 pm

Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and it's Rachel Marsh's fault.

Rachel is a witch, hiding her magical talents behind a façade that's equal parts sweet Southern lady and genial business owner. She makes her living running Athena's Attic, a junque shop where she sells items that carry minor charms or just the buzz of unfocused magic. She doesn't deal in malevolent magic, and doesn't sell anything harmful.

Until the little black box, anyway. She hadn't thought it was dangerous when she sold it, but that's no excuse and when the young girl who purchased the box goes missing, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. Especially not Rachel. She must hunt the monster responsible for the girl's disappearance, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch with motivations that are murky at best, and a pack of werewolves who spend an uncomfortable amount of time debating the whole "kill Rachel" thing. All she knows for sure is that she has to stop the vampire, and that his appearance has something to do with that little black box. It holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency (specific reasons for this agency). Enclosed please find (whatever this agent wants).

Thank you for your consideration.

Jessa
(contact info)
-------------------
I'm really happy with this version of the letter, and want to thank everyone who's helped me polish it. Hillary, above and beyond the call of duty!

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HillaryJ
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Re: The Little Black Box - Urban fantasy query *3RD REVISION*

Post by HillaryJ » November 9th, 2010, 2:05 am

Jessa wrote:Dear (specific agent):

There's a vampire loose in Savannah, and it's Rachel Marsh's fault.

Rachel is a witch, hiding her magical talents behind a façade that's equal parts sweet Southern lady and genial business owner. She makes her living running Athena's Attic, a junque shop where she sells items that carry minor charms or just the buzz of unfocused magic. She doesn't deal in malevolent magic, and doesn't sell anything harmful. *Much smoother, and this is about the right amount of words to dedicate to describing her*

Until the little black box, anyway. She hadn't thought it was dangerous, but that's no excuse, and when the young girl who purchased the box goes missing, no one's letting Rachel off the hook. *took out when she sold it, because it seemed redundant* Especially not Rachel. She must hunt the monster responsible for the girl's disappearance, her only allies a smokin' hot Catholic priest, a Yankee warrior-witch with motivations that are murky at best, and a pack of werewolves who spend an uncomfortable amount of time debating the whole "kill Rachel" thing. All she knows for sure is that she has to stop the vampire, and that his appearance has something to do with that little black box. It holds all her answers. Now if only she can hang on to the damned thing.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX is an urban fantasy novel complete at 83,000 words. I've selected your agency (specific reasons for this agency). Enclosed please find (whatever this agent wants).

Thank you for your consideration.

Jessa
(contact info)
-------------------
I'm really happy with this version of the letter, and want to thank everyone who's helped me polish it. Hillary, above and beyond the call of duty!
Maybe a little streamlining of the first line of the second full paragraph. These comments are just my humble opinion, but I think this has come together nicely. What's your word count? Do you have any room to give a hint as to what the little black box is, or add any other tension or points of conflict? The plot part is a little light, but the voice is good and the premise is intriguing.

It's been my pleasure to help. Good luck!
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