*REVISED* (AGAIN) Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

*REVISED* (AGAIN) Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 3:40 pm

REVISED VERSION on SECOND PAGE!!


Query letters give me heart burn and panic attacks. Help!!!--Thanks


In a parallel world, connected by an ancient system of portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty, the keeper of untold powers, and the final link uniting Earth-as-we-know-it with its magical sister, Gaia. The only problem? No one bothered to tell her. And to make matters worse, a reawakened race of evil sorcerers make a house call; someone wants Daria dead.

When her overprotective father disappears, she turns to Cicero and Sonya Anderson, the only family she trusts to find him. With the illusion of her once-mundane life now completely shattered, she’s forced to follow them through the nearest portal—Yosemite National Park—into the heart of this beautiful and deceptively dangerous new world. Further compounding her problems, their son Alex, her childhood crush, plans to join them. But after a bad break and three years of silence, Alex is the last person she wants to see. And he’s changed. He’s drop-dead gorgeous and completely off limits.

Not your average coming-of-age story, Gaia’s Secret, brings a new twist to life-as-we-know-it. This 106,316 YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate. Through the determination of a strong female heroine, the worlds may find peace and be united once again.

This novel has strong series potential but tells a complete tale and stands alone.
Last edited by bkloss on February 20th, 2011, 7:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by wilderness » February 18th, 2011, 4:03 pm

Honestly not a bad start, but I see some leaps in logic and chronology problems. For instance, you tell us in the first sentence what Daria herself doesn't know. But it makes it hard for us to understand when she learns what. I think you should stick to Daria's POV, and a paint a very clear picture of the opening events.

First, someone tries to kill her. But you haven't told us how or when or described the event.

Then her father disappears. Same, we don't know how he disappeared. Did the sorcerers take him when they came to kill Daria?

Then, she travels with a family to Yosemite National Park where a portal is. I like this setting btw - very cool. But how did she know there was a portal there? Did the Andersons know about the magical world?

You don't have to tell us everything, but each sentence should follow logically from the previous one, leaving us with questions about what happens next, but not confused about what has already happened. Good luck!

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 4:14 pm

Thanks so much...I've got a lot to think about now! I absolutely understand what you're saying. Let me get to work on this and hash it out so, like you said, it's more chronological.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by Quill » February 18th, 2011, 4:41 pm

bkloss wrote:
In a parallel world, connected by an ancient system of portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty, the keeper of untold powers,
Excellent intriguing start.
and the final link uniting Earth-as-we-know-it with its magical sister, Gaia.
Hmm, I thought Earth WAS also known as Gaia. If this is an alternate mythology, perhaps this "magical sister" should have another name.

Also, not sure what "Earth-as-we-know-it" means. You mean the earth we humans live upon? How is that different from simply "Earth". How is Earth different from as we know it? I would think the "as we know it" could be dropped. And the hyphens seem to only confuse the issue further.

Also, it is unclear how this dynasty of keepers is "the final link" between the worlds. I thought the portals were the links (you said the worlds were connected/linked via these). Perhaps you mean the dynasty contains the only people who know of these portals. That could be made clearer.
The only problem? No one bothered to tell her. And to make matters worse, a reawakened race of evil sorcerers make a house call; someone wants Daria dead.
1. "The only problem" and "to make matters worse" are cliches in queryworld (if not in real life): I see them often.

2. There is a tone change from mythic/poetic to hip street talk. A voice change that's a bit jarring. Makes me wonder what is the tone of the book.

3. Logically if her only problem is that no one told her, then the thing that makes matters worse would be a second problem, which would contradict the idea of there being just one problem ("her only problem")
When her overprotective father disappears, she turns to Cicero and Sonya Anderson, the only family she trusts to find him.
Hmm, now there is a third problem. I'm not sure how this relates to the second problem (someone wants her dead), and it seems a bit jarring to just leave that one and go on to this.

Flow-wise, I'd drop "Anderson" (not needed) and add a comma after "family".
With the illusion of her once-mundane life now completely shattered,
I think this can be omitted. It doesn't flow particularly well and doesn't seem to contain vital info.
she’s forced to follow them through the nearest portal—Yosemite National Park—into the heart of this beautiful and deceptively dangerous new world.
I like the story so far and I like the idea that our Earth is beautiful and dangerous (I'm intrigued to know why), but I think we'd like to know how she's being forced. Who or what is forcing her? This seems a big plot point, what is moving her to another world.
Further compounding her problems,
I'd drop this, as we don't need to be apprised of her problem quotient or status (we just need to know the plot points that are vital to your hook)
their son Alex, her childhood crush, plans to join them. But after a bad break and three years of silence, Alex is the last person she wants to see. And he’s changed. He’s drop-dead gorgeous and completely off limits.
Hmm. This may need to be mentioned, but I think it can be streamlined and made more original. "A bad break" is vague. "The last person she wants to see" is another query cliche. And "drop-dead gorgeous" is also a cliche and doesn't make enough of a case; you're really saying that in the midst of all this danger she can't keep her hormones in check? If so, okay, but maybe juxtapose it with the danger at hand, and put it in your own words.
Not your average coming-of-age story, Gaia’s Secret, brings a new twist to life-as-we-know-it.
This tells us nothing and should be dropped. It won't help sell the project.

GAIA'S SECRET should be all caps.
This 106,316 YA fantasy
Round down to 106,000, and add missing word "word".
tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate. Through the determination of a strong female heroine, the worlds may find peace and be united once again.
Drop all commentary ABOUT the book/story from the query. SHOW what you want to say through highlights of the action and motivations in the description paragraphs. This is what will entice the prospective agent to ask for more.
This novel has strong series potential but tells a complete tale and stands alone.
Okay

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 5:10 pm

Quill--That was incredible. It helps me tremendously. When you're in the thick of your story, your brain fills in all the gaps that don't necessarily make their way on to paper. I will work with every single one of those points, and hopefully conjure a query that flows and lacks query cliche's. I'm gonna be busy tonight. Lots to mull over in my brain. Thanks so much again!

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by Quill » February 18th, 2011, 6:41 pm

Thanks.

And, I meant add the comma after "trusts".
Flow-wise, I'd drop "Anderson" (not needed) and add a comma after "family".

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 9:13 pm

Alright! After such awesome feedback, I've made some 'linear' changes (or one can hope). I hope this is more coherent and flows more naturally. thanks again! This is so, so helpful.



In a magical world called Gaia, connected to Earth by an ancient system of hidden portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty, the keeper of untold powers, and the prophetic champion over a primordial evil. It's just that no one's bothered to tell her.

Evil sorcerers from Gaia have found her in Fresno, California. As a momentary distraction, her father flees to that world in their pursuit, leaving Daria in the care of the only family she trusts. A family that insists she follow them to this new world; her position on Earth has been compromised, and evil is still on the hunt. They must sneak Daria through the nearest portal--Yosemite National Park--into the heart of the beautiful and deceptively dangerous world of Gaia where her father will be waiting. But there's an unexpected addition to her escort: their son Alex, her former best friend. She's not seen him since the day he betrayed her three years ago. And he's changed. He's turned himself in the most gorgeous man she's ever seen.

On her journey through the magical world of Gaia, Daria uncovers a lifetime of secrets, hidden power, and unforeseen love; all of which she must harness before this ancient, reviving evil destroys the very ones she loves.

This 106,000-word YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate.

fishfood
Posts: 63
Joined: September 22nd, 2010, 10:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by fishfood » February 18th, 2011, 9:47 pm

Hey there, I read through the first draft and suggestions, so I'll take a go at this new version for you! Please take my suggestions with a grain of salt, I'm a total dunce when it comes to fantasy.
bkloss wrote:Alright! After such awesome feedback, I've made some 'linear' changes (or one can hope). I hope this is more coherent and flows more naturally. thanks again! This is so, so helpful.



In a magical world called Gaia, connected to Earth by an ancient system of hidden portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty, the keeper of untold powers, and the prophetic champion over a primordial evil. I feel like this is a vague description of Gaia. I almost wonder if just leaving it at "magical" is enough. It's just that no one's bothered to tell her.

Evil sorcerers from Gaia have found her in Fresno, California.(haha! Nice! Fresno of all places :) ) As a momentary distraction, Huh? what does a "momentary distraction mean?" And if they're after her, can you say her father chases them back into the world to protect her? her father flees to that world in their pursuit, leaving Daria in the care of the only family she trusts. A family that insists she follow them to this new world; her position on Earth has been compromised, and evil is still on the hunt. ?? I'm sort of lost...what's her position on Earth and if evil from the other world is hunting her then why would she go to that world? They must sneak Daria through the nearest portal--Yosemite National Park--into the heart of the beautiful and deceptively dangerous worldof Gaia where her father will be waiting. What's he waiting for? But there's an unexpected addition to her escort: their son Alex, her former best friend. She's not seen him since the day he betrayed her three years ago (what did he do? And if she trusts this family how did she manage to stay away from Alex. Does she just like the mom and dad?) And he's changed. He's turned himself in the most gorgeous man she's ever seen. Hmmm...I don't know, I'm a huge sucker for romance, but this phrase makes me cringe.
On her journey through the magical world of Gaia, Daria uncovers a lifetime of secrets, hidden power, and unforeseen love; all of which she must harness before this ancient, reviving evil destroys the very ones she loves. Why does Gaia want to kill the people she loves?
This 106,000-word YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate. ?? Why was it never meant to be separate?
Okay, so I think you probably have a pretty kick-ass story here, but the query is vague and doesn't distinguish itself from all the other YA fantasy queries I've seen so far. It follows the typical formula: Young teenager is ordinary. Finds out s/he is extraordinary. Must fight vague powers of evil before everything and everyone is destroyed. Find some way to make it specific and stand out. Good luck, don't give up. Keep posting your revisions for us. :)

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 10:03 pm

Wow this is amazing (and oh it hurts!).

I think I'm realizing my big 'issue'. When I hear people saying: "Think of your query letter like the blurb on a book jacket", that's what I think. Short, vague, sweet. I'm realizing I thought wrong. My blurb should have feet, arms, legs, a brain, etc. You want more details? I'll give you more details!

You guys are awesome. Back to the writing board...

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 11:14 pm

Okay...so you all have been incredible. I am now sufficiently embarrassed by the first 'draft' I posted. Which, I suppose, is proof of how much I've learned from all of you! I'll take your grains of salt AND pillars of it! ;) Thanks again!!



In a magical world called Gaia, connected to Earth by an ancient system of hidden portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty and the keeper of untold powers. It's just that no one's bothered to tell her.

A dark, powerful threat has lain dormant within the peaceful realm of Gaia; a power that’s bargained with Mortis, keeper of the dead, and conspired with Picans—Gaia’s banished race of cursed sorcerers. That threat has finally found Daria, the girl the prophecies have warned will ultimately defeat him, and sends a few of his sorcerers to snatch her from her home in Fresno, California.

Her father destroys them, fleeing in pursuit of the evil mind behind the attack, leaving Daria in the care of the only family she trusts. A family that proceeds to tell her she’s not from this world. That Gaia is her true home—the world they’re all from, including her father. And now that she’s been discovered, only the magic within Gaia can protect her.

They must sneak Daria through the nearest portal--Yosemite National Park--remaining hidden from the citizens of Gaia. They're afraid the dark has influenced members of the King's Council, and want no one to know of her existence until her father discovers who is behind the attack. In secret, they take Daria into the heart of Gaia where her father will be waiting within the protective, magical boundary of the Arborenne forest. It’s time she learns who she really is. But there's an unexpected addition to her escort: their son Alex, her former best friend. She's not seen him since the day he betrayed her three years ago. The day she realized their friendship was a fraud; that he’d only pretended all those years to please their parents. And then he vanished without a trace.

On her journey through Gaia, Daria uncovers a lifetime of secrets, hidden power, and unforeseen love; all of which she must harness before this ancient, reviving evil destroys the very ones she loves.

This 106,000-word YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate.

User avatar
SariBelle
Posts: 31
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 2:26 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by SariBelle » February 18th, 2011, 11:30 pm

Hmm, previous critiquers are a hard act to follow, but I'll give it a go.
bkloss wrote: In a magical world called Gaia, connected to Earth by an ancient system of hidden portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty, the keeper of untold powers, and the prophetic champion over a primordial evil. Because this sentence starts with 'In a', it seems like Daria is already in Gaia. This sentence is also quite long.It's just that no one's bothered to tell her.

Evil sorcerers'Evil sorcerers' feels a little cliche to me from Gaia have found her in Fresno, California. As a momentary distraction,Not sure what's meant by this. Is her father distracting the sorcerers from her so she can escape? her father flees to that world in their pursuit,Is her father fleeing or pursuing? They mean different things to me. leaving Daria in the care of the only family she trustsIs it Daria who trusts them or her father?. A family that insists she follow them to this new world; her position on Earth has been compromised, and evil is still on the hunt this sentence feels very vague. I think more concrete details here, like who the evil is, would up the stakes. They must sneak Daria through the nearest portal--Yosemite National Park--into the heart of the beautiful and deceptively dangerous world of Gaia where her father will be waiting In the previous sentence Daria is going to the new world because her position is compromised on Earth, this indicates it's safer for her to be in Gaia, but in this sentence Gaia is also described as dangerous. I think the danger is good (conflict) but I think the previous sentence creates a bit of confusion. Are they leaving Earth to protect Daria, or for another reason?. But there's an unexpected addition to her escort: their son Alex, her former best friend. She's not seen him since the day he betrayed her three years ago. And he's changed. He's turned himself in the most gorgeous man she's ever seen. I find the Alex aspect a little confusing. You've described these people as family (so Alex would also be family). Should she be thinking of him as gorgeous and being attracted to him if he's family?

On her journey through the magical world of Gaia, Daria uncovers a lifetime of secrets, hidden power, and unforeseen love; all of which she must harness before this ancient, reviving evil destroys the very ones she loves. I think more specificity would up the stakes. So far there hasn't really been any detail about what danger Daria is really in. Who is the 'ancient, reviving evil'? What can he do that's so scary? What are the stakes?

This 106,000-word YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate I'd cut this (it's telling rather than showing) and keep the line from the previous query about it being standalone with series potential.
As a disclaimer, I'd just like to say I struggle with queries, so please take this with a grain of salt.

User avatar
SariBelle
Posts: 31
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 2:26 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by SariBelle » February 18th, 2011, 11:31 pm

Wierd, I didn't see your other review before I wrote my comments. Sorry! Hopefully you'll still be able to get some good out of it :).

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 18th, 2011, 11:39 pm

Saribelle--thanks! I got LOADS out of your critique--actually it reinstated the changes I was forced to make, so thank you! I hope you like the newer version ;)

Yes, queries are tough for me (I mean, can't you tell?!). It took 100,000 words to tell my story, and now I have to give you the gist in about 200 words and make it catchy without being confusing. AGH! I can ask my beta-readers all I want. Problem is, their mind can fill in the details I didn't write in my query.

The help you guys have given me has been INVALUABLE!

User avatar
SariBelle
Posts: 31
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 2:26 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by SariBelle » February 18th, 2011, 11:51 pm

Attempt number two on your current one :)
bkloss wrote: In a magical world called Gaia, connected to Earth by an ancient system of hidden portals, eighteen-year old Daria Jones is the heir to the Regius dynasty and the keeper of untold powers 'untold powers' is very vague. What are the powers. And does 'keeper' mean she guards them, or they are her powers?. It's just that no one's bothered to tell her.

A dark, powerful threat has lain dormant within the peaceful realm of Gaia; a power that’s bargained with Mortis, keeper of the deadNot sure this is vital to the query. I would specify more who the 'dark, powerful threat' is though. Is he a sorcerer too? Is he human? Inhuman? Filling in these details will give a clearer picture of who Daria has to fight against. Ie. it will raise the stakes., and conspired with Picans—Gaia’s banished race of cursed sorcerers. That threat again, 'threat' is very vague. has finally found Daria, the girl the prophecies have warned will ultimately defeat him, and sends a few of his sorcerers to snatch her from her home in Fresno, California.

Her father destroys them, fleeing in pursuit I think I said this in the last critique, but 'flee' and 'pursue' mean contradictory things of the evil mind behind the attack referring to the bad guy as an 'evil mind' makes it seem like he's more of a metaphysical bad guy, rather than flesh and blood, leaving Daria in the care of the only family she trusts. A family that proceeds to tell her she’s not from this world. That Gaia is her true home—the world they’re all from, including her father. And now that she’s been discovered, only the magic within Gaia can protect her.

They must sneak Daria through the nearest portal--Yosemite National Park--remaining hidden from the citizens of Gaia. They're afraid the dark has influenced members of the King's Council, and want no one to know of her existence until her father discovers who is behind the attack. In secret, they take Daria into the heart of Gaia where her father will be waiting within the protective, magical boundary of the Arborenne forest. It’s time she learns who she really is. But there's an unexpected addition to her escort: their son Alex, her former best friend. She's not seen him since the day he betrayed her three years ago. The day she realized their friendship was a fraud; that he’d only pretended all those years to please their parents. And then he vanished without a trace 'vanished without a trace' is a little cliche. Also not sure it's necessary since we already know she hasn't seen him since, and it raises more questions about where he's one, if his parents knew, why he's back, etc, which detracts from the focus of the query.

On her journey through Gaia, Daria uncovers a lifetime of secrets, hidden power, and unforeseen love; all of which she must harness before this ancient, reviving evil destroys the very ones she loves.

This 106,000-word YA fantasy tells us of a world just beyond ours that was never meant to be separate.

bkloss
Posts: 31
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
Contact:

Re: Query letter for "Gaia's Secret"

Post by bkloss » February 19th, 2011, 12:07 am

Thanks yet AGAIN! And I'm so happy, that entry didn't have as much red as the other one. ;) That means I'm getting somewhere. Or at least on the right track.

I'm learning so much from this! I hope I can do the same for others, as much as you all have done for me.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest