BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

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Dana-Lynn
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BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by Dana-Lynn » April 4th, 2011, 8:34 am

Hi, everyone. This is my 4th attempt at a query letter for Big Mouth Blues. Please feel free to tear it apart.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to give me your feedback. :) I need all the help I can get.



One sentence tagline:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan masquerades as a normal teen wanting the love of her best friend's older brother, but the escalating emotional and physical abuse from her alcoholic father threatens to reveal the secrets that hold her family--and her life--together.


Query:

Dear Agent:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan's boozing dad treats her like a punching bag, and her mom's denial leaves Kacey to fend for herself. She envies her friends whose biggest worries are Homecoming dates and getting good grades, while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret in order to hold her family together. Her big mouth constantly gets her into trouble and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

Kacey finds sanctuary in BFF Maxine's idyllic family, especially big brother Wade. She clings to Wade, which leads him to question the bruises, but Dad says he'll murder her if she tells. She keeps her mouth shut for once. Desperation drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade, but she's rejected, followed by a major blowout with Maxine. With no allies left, she ends up stuck between the wall of lies she's built and her father as the emotional torture and physical abuse escalate, causing her to seek escape in Dad's whiskey. The more Kacey says she will not be like her father, the more she is like him.

In the end, it's not Kacey's big mouth, but the truth Mom reveals about her past that tears the family apart. Kacey is left with no choice but to confront her father, stand up to him and fight. But will the courage to finally break her silence cost Kacey her life?

BIG MOUTH BLUES is a contemporary young adult novel full of humor, heartbreak, and hope completed at 64,000 words. Per your agency request, I've included XYZ below for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Dana-Lynn
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maybegenius
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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by maybegenius » April 4th, 2011, 5:06 pm

Dana-Lynn wrote:Hi, everyone. This is my 4th attempt at a query letter for Big Mouth Blues. Please feel free to tear it apart.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to give me your feedback. :) I need all the help I can get.



One sentence tagline:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan masquerades as a normal teen wanting the looking for love of her best friend's older brother, but the escalating emotional and physical abuse from her alcoholic father threatens to reveal the secrets that hold her family--and her life--together.


Query:

Dear Agent:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan's boozing dad treats her like a punching bag (removed comma) and her mom's denial leaves Kacey to fend for herself. She envies her friends, whose biggest worries are Homecoming dates and getting good grades (removed comma) while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret in order to hold her family together. Her big mouth constantly gets her into trouble and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

Kacey finds sanctuary in BFF Maxine's idyllic family, especially big brother Wade. She clings to Wade, which leads him to who questions the bruises, but Dad says he'll murder her if she tells. She keeps her mouth shut for once. Desperation drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade, (I think you can probably clarify here that because she can't tell one secret, she's driven to reveal another. As is, it just sounds like she's desperate for Wade's love when really she's desperate for acceptance and understanding about her family situation -- I think; I'm assuming a little bit there!) but she's rejected, followed by a major blowout with Maxine. With no allies left, she ends up stuck between the wall of lies she's built and her father as the emotional torture and physical abuse escalate, causing her to seek escape in Dad's whiskey. The more Kacey says she will not be like her father, the more she is like him.

In the end, it's not Kacey's big mouth (removed comma) but the truth Mom reveals about her past that tears the family apart. Kacey is left with no choice but to confront her father, stand up to him and fight. But will the courage to finally break her silence cost Kacey her life?

BIG MOUTH BLUES is a contemporary young adult novel [full of humor, heartbreak, and hope] (I might cut the bracketed section because it's ambiguous and sounds a little cliche, but that's totally up to you) completed at 64,000 words. Per your agency request, I've included XYZ below for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Dana-Lynn
As you can see, most of my comments were grammar/structure related. Overall I think the content reads pretty well. It's concise and conveys the stakes and the plot. The only thing I can really think of is possibly including a little bit more of Kacey's unique personality and/or the story's unique plot points to make it stand out a little more against other novels with similar plots (what makes this story different?), but I think you're on the right track!
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Dana-Lynn
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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by Dana-Lynn » April 4th, 2011, 7:17 pm

THANK YOU so much for the suggestions, maybegenius. I'm really grateful for your input.

:o)
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Emily J
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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by Emily J » April 4th, 2011, 8:44 pm

Dana-Lynn wrote:Hi, everyone. This is my 4th attempt at a query letter for Big Mouth Blues. Please feel free to tear it apart.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to give me your feedback. :) I need all the help I can get.



One sentence tagline:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan masquerades as a normal teen wanting the love of her best friend's older brother, but the escalating emotional and physical abuse from her alcoholic father threatens to reveal the secrets that hold her family--and her life--together. this feels wordy for one sentence, consider streamlining, such as "Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan masquerades as a normal teen, in love with her best friend's brother, but the abuse of her alcoholic father is threatening to tear her family - and her life- apart." Just a suggestion, though I do think that you could juxtapose the two clauses more.


Query:

Dear Agent:

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan's boozing dad treats her like a punching bag, and her mom's denial denial feels a bit vague, she is pretending the abuse doesn't happen? leaves Kacey to fend for herself. She envies her friends whose biggest worries are Homecoming dates and getting good grades, while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret in order to hold her family together. Her big mouth constantly gets her into trouble and the bruises are getting harder to hide. this is a great dichotomy, the big mouth girl who is keeping a huge secret no one suspects, I think you need to again, juxtapose these two ideas more clearly, maybe show how she is a big mouth, can't keep secrets, is blunt with everyone etc. etc. and use details to bring this character trait alive

Kacey finds sanctuary in BFF Maxine's idyllic family, especially big brother Wade. She clings to Wade, which leads him to question the bruises, but Dad says he'll murder her if she tells. She keeps her mouth shut for once. <-- this sentence doesn't really work, because you haven't really established kacey as a big mouth Desperation what sort of desperation? drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade, but she's rejected, this transition does not work for me --> followed by a major blowout with Maxine. With no allies left, she ends up stuck between the wall of lies she's built what lies? this begs the question, has she lied to Maxine's family? Wade? What has she lied about and to whom has she lied? and her father as the emotional torture and physical abuse escalate, causing her to seek escape in Dad's whiskey. The more Kacey says she will not be like her father, the more she is like him.

In the end, it's not Kacey's big mouth, but the truth Mom reveals about her past what truth??? that tears the family apart. slightly cliche, and how is the family torn apart? divorce? separation? murder? Kacey is left with no choice but to confront her father, stand up to him and fight. fight literally or figuratively?? But will the courage to finally break her silence cost Kacey her life? be careful of ending paragraphs with questions

BIG MOUTH BLUES is a contemporary young adult novel full of humor, heartbreak, and hope completed at 64,000 words. <-- I would rephrase and put the word count after the title Per your agency request, I've included XYZ below for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Dana-Lynn
I really like this idea of the blabber mouth girl who is nevertheless keeping a colossal secret. But some of the query feels like telling, and not showing. Give us some examples of how Kacey is a big mouth, or what her father says or does so we can sympathize more. Some of the diction was vague, words like denial, rejection, felt more clinical than emotional and didn't help me personalize with Kacey.

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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by wilderness » April 4th, 2011, 10:51 pm

As maybegenius said, you've got a precise and coherent query there. We get what the book is about. Also, I really like the title.

I think what's missing is some voice. Right now, the words feel distant, like an adult telling the story. I'd like to be a little closer to your MC's POV, get inside her head a bit, use phrases that a teenager might say. For example, I thought "but Dad says he'll murder her if she tells" was really good because it feels like it's your MC's own words. On the other hand "while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret" feels more like adult terminology.

Hope that helps!

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Dana-Lynn
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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by Dana-Lynn » April 5th, 2011, 10:46 am

Thank you so much Emily J. and Wilderness. Some great suggestions. THANK YOU!


Please keep the feedback coming. :) I really need the help.
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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by AllieS » April 6th, 2011, 10:22 pm

Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan's boozing dad treats her like a punching bag, and her mom's denial I agree with what Emily J said about denial being a bit vague. leaves Kacey to fend for herself. She envies her friends whose biggest worries are Homecoming dates and getting good grades, while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret in order to hold her family together. Her big mouth constantly gets her into trouble and the bruises are getting harder to hide. Good line.

Kacey finds sanctuary in BFF Maxine's idyllic family, especially big brother Wade. She clings to Wade For some reason I don't like this phrasing. Clings makes me think of obsession, and there's no transition from finding sanctuary in the family to growing to love Wade., which leads him to question the bruises, but Dad Shouldn't this be "her dad"? The query isn't in first person. says he'll murder her if she tells. She keeps her mouth shut for once. I agree again with Emily J's comment on this. Desperation drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade, but she's rejected, followed by a major blowout with Maxine. With no allies left, she ends up stuck between the wall of lies she's built and her father as the emotional torture and physical abuse escalate, causing her to seek escape in Dad's whiskey. Really long line. Breaking this up would make it more gripping. The more Kacey says she will not be like her father, the more she is like I think saying, "the more she becomes him" sounds better. him.

In the end, it's not Kacey's big mouth, but the truth Mom Again the first person thing. reveals about her past that tears the family apart. Kacey is left with no choice but to confront her father, stand up to him and fight. But will the courage to finally break her silence cost Kacey her life?

Sounds like an interesting story!

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Re: BIG MOUTH BLUES, Contemporary YA query

Post by SSB » April 16th, 2011, 8:59 am

Maybe something like this.
Fourteen year old Kacey Donovan has a secret. Her friends are worried about dates and good grades. Kacey is worried about hiding the bruises.
I would shorten the hook to something like this.
Fourteen-year-old Kacey Donovan's boozing dad treats her like a punching bag, and her mom's denial leaves Kacey to fend for herself. She envies her friends whose biggest worries are Homecoming dates and getting good grades, while she struggles to keep the abuse a secret in order to hold her family together. Her big mouth constantly gets her into trouble and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

Kacey finds sanctuary from her dysfunctional family in BFF Maxine's idyllic family, especially her big brother Wade. She clings to Wade, which leads him to question the bruises, but Dad says he'll murder her if she tells.Wade notices the bruises, but she knows her dad will murder her if she tells. She manages to keep her big mouth shut, but not for long. Desperation drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade and overwhelmed, he rejects her. Desperation drives Kacey to confess her love to Wade and he rejects her but she's rejected, followed by a major blowout with Maxine.Kacey doesn't think her life can get any worse and then she has a major blowout with Maxine.[/color] (Over what?) With no allies left, she seek refuge in her alcoholic dad's whiskey. ends up stuck between the wall of lies she's built and her father as the emotional torture and physical abuse escalate, causing her to seek escape in Dad's whiskey. The more Kacey says she will not be like her father, the more she is like him.

Startled by Kasey's downward spiral, Kacey's mom reveals the dark truth about her past and Kacey is left with no choice but to confront her fatherto stand up her father and fight.But will the courage to finally break her silence cost Kacey her life? (Most agents hate rhetorical questions)

BIG MOUTH BLUES is a contemporary young adult novel full of humor, heartbreak, and hope completed at 64,000 words. Per your agency request, I've included XYZ below for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Dana-Lynn
( I do not know your story so I am only making suggestions on clarity. Take my edits with a grain of salt because I am struggling with my query also.)
** It's the writer's job to keep upping the ante on the complications, starting a bigger problem the minute the last one's resolved, keeping the reader turning those pages. **I don't know if you intended this to be part of your query, but strike it.

Dana-Lynn

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