Query: All That Glitters (YA)

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bronwyn1
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Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by bronwyn1 » May 1st, 2011, 12:28 am

Any comments/thoughts/suggestions/etc are welcome! :)

Belén never believed in ghosts. Until she meets Ale, the restless spirit of a teenage girl who says that her old neighbor and family friend, Señor Rossi, is a war criminal.

Ale is a desaparecida, one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean for daring to oppose Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. She's wanted for years to see Señor (formerly Vice Admiral) Rossi rot in prison. But amnesty laws and presidential pardons excuse most of the dictatorship’s crimes. Now however, she thinks that Belén is the one person who can land him there.

Because Señor Rossi is guilty of the one crime that isn’t covered under the amnesties or pardons: the stealing of infants from doomed political prisoners. Belén wants to help Ale, who’s turned out to be more like a friend than a flighty spirit. So she must convince Señor Rossi’s ‘daughter’ that her ‘father’ is directly responsible for the murder of her real parents. Belén knows it’s tough to hear that your entire life is based on a grotesque lie, but she’s willing to burn bridges with Señor Rossi and his family if it means that Ale and Argentina get the justice they need and deserve.

ALL THAT GLITTERS is a 56,000 word young adult novel. [Biographical stuff about how I’ve been to Argentina and whatnot…]

AllieS
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by AllieS » May 1st, 2011, 1:15 am

Belén never believed in ghosts. Until she meets Ale, I think combining this would give a better effect. the restless spirit of a teenage girl who says that her you could change this to "Belén" to clear up any confusion that might arise. old neighbor and family friend, Señor Rossi, is a war criminal.

Ale is a desaparecida, one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean for daring to oppose Opposing would tighten things up Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. She's wanted for years to see Señor (formerly Vice Admiral) Rossi rot in prison. But amnesty laws and presidential pardons excuse most of the dictatorship’s crimes. Now however, she thinks that don't need Belén is the one person who can land him there.

Because Señor Rossi is guilty of the one crime that isn’t covered under the amnesties or pardons: the stealing of infants from doomed political prisoners This is the only crime that isn't covered?. Belén wants to help Ale, who’s turned out to be more like a friend than a flighty spirit. So You could drop this and start with "She." she must convince Señor Rossi’s ‘daughter’ that her ‘father’ is directly responsible for the murder of her real parents. I kind of wish the mention of Rossi's daughter came a little earlier in the query. Belén knows it’s tough to hear that your entire life is based on a grotesque lie, Hmm, I'm not sure this line is needed. You could say something much shorter to convey that Belen feels for the girl, but then jump right into the burning bridges. Then again, does she have a good relationship with Rossi's family? I might mention that earlier too. but she’s willing to burn bridges with Señor Rossi and his family if it means that Ale and Argentina get the justice they need and deserve.

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Quill
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by Quill » May 1st, 2011, 9:45 am

bronwyn1 wrote:
Belén never believed in ghosts. Until she meets Ale, the restless spirit of a teenage girl who says that her old neighbor and family friend, Señor Rossi, is a war criminal.
Agree with Allie that "her" should be changed to "Belén's". Until Allie pointed it out, I thought it was Ale's old neighbor (from before she was killed).

Also, "old neighbor" throws me; it sounds like maybe this person was her neighbor, long ago. How about "neighbor and old family friend"?
Ale is a desaparecida, one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean
A grisly detail, to be sure. How about dropping "the" from "30,000"?
for daring to oppose
Agree with previous poster to shorten to simply "for opposing".
Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. She's wanted for years to see Señor (formerly Vice Admiral) Rossi rot in prison.
A bit wordy but okay. A little odd that a ghost has "wanted for years". Do ghosts really think in terms of time?
But amnesty laws and presidential pardons excuse most of the dictatorship’s crimes. Now however, she thinks that Belén is the one person who can land him there.
Okay, but hmm, this is a bit wordy, too. How about pulling the "(formerly VP)" from above and substituting it for "the dictatorship" here. This might help smooth the slight disconnect when you go from Rossi to "the dictatorship" as a whole.
Because Señor Rossi is guilty of the one crime that isn’t covered under the amnesties or pardons: the stealing of infants from doomed political prisoners.
Agree with Allie that it sticks out that this is the only crime not covered. How about dropping "the" and having it read "guilty of one crime"?

Also, how about dropping "Because" because it leads nowhere. Looks like you originally had a comma after "prisoners". In any case, as is it is an incomplete sentence.
Belén wants to help Ale, who’s turned out to be more like a friend than a flighty spirit. So she must convince Señor Rossi’s ‘daughter’ that her ‘father’ is directly responsible for the murder of her real parents.
This is unclear. Why are daughter and father in quotes? Who is this daughter person and why does Belen need to convince her? It seems like we are being introduced to a whole new plot point at a late hour in the query. Is this the only way to get Rossi behind bars? OH. She's one of those children.

Why doesn't Belen simply go to the police with evidence he is harboring such a child?

I think this important turning point in your story/query could be laid out out here with more clarity, thus giving it more weight. It could be written so to better link it to the non-amnesty thing. As is it seems to sneak up indirectly (the mysterious quotes), thus appear unconnected. Is the daughter Belen's age? Are they friends?

Belén knows it’s tough to hear that your entire life is based on a grotesque lie,
How does Belen know this? You don't mean because she found out her neighbor is a murderer? That wouldn't be her entire life...Seems a bit dramatic, if not a bit query-cliche.
but she’s willing to burn bridges
Another cliche, which kind of sticks out. An original phrase here would really help drive home the point.
with Señor Rossi and his family if it means that Ale and Argentina get the justice they need and deserve.
Good.

Sounds like a solid plot written with lots of color and knowledge of the subject. Good luck with this project!

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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by bronwyn1 » May 6th, 2011, 11:08 pm

So I gave this query a giant makeover...tell me what you think :)

Belén can’t believe it when she learns Señor Rossi, the man who saved her nine-year-old self from drowning, is a war criminal. Or that this news is coming from the ethereal lips of a teenage spirit.

After all, ghosts don’t exist. Or so she’s always thought, until Ale just magically appears in her bedroom one night. At first, Belén can care less about the vague politics of the past that caused Ale’s death. She has more important things to worry about than a decades-old murderous regime. But after she’s forced to do a school project on Argentina’s last dictatorship, Belén does something crazy: she asks Ale for help. It’s not cheating. It’s called using a primary source. Soon, Ale becomes more like a friend than a vehicle for academic achievement as Belén discovers that Argentina’s past is still painfully relevant. Like when Ale tells her about how Señor Rossi tortured political dissidents as a part of his job in the Navy. And that he tortured her.

Señor Rossi’s never been punished because of amnesties and pardons that excuse most of the dictatorship’s crimes. His impunity is why Ale’s spirit roams Buenos Aires. The only way she’ll ever be at peace is if he rots in jail for the rest of his life. But Señor Rossi has a terrible secret that, if exposed, would land him in prison. Belén must betray the man who saved her life if she wants to right the past and set Ale free.

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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by AllieS » May 7th, 2011, 4:21 am

Belén can’t believe it when she learns Señor Rossi, the man who saved her nine-year-old self from drowning, is a war criminal. This is awkwardly phrased, and doesn't grab me the way I want it to. You could try breaking it up to say something like, "Belen just learned the man who saved her life years ago is a war criminal. What's even more surprising is that the news came from a spirit." Obviously, that's just an example, but it's just one way to make it catchier. Or that this news is coming from the ethereal lips of a teenage spirit.

After all, ghosts don’t exist. Or so she’s always thought, until Ale just magically appears in her bedroom one night. Kind of restating similar things. You could combine these two lines. At first, Belén can could care less about the vague politics of the past that caused Ale’s death. She has more important things to worry about than a decades-old murderous regime. Same comment for the previous two lines. You only need one of them.But after she’s forced to do a school project on Argentina’s last dictatorship, Belén does something crazy: she asks Ale for help. It’s not cheating. It’s called using a primary source. Soon, Ale becomes more like a friend than a vehicle for academic achievement as Belén discovers that Argentina’s past is still painfully relevant. Like when Ale tells her about how Señor Rossi tortured political dissidents as a part of his job in the Navy. And that he tortured her. This part is interesting, but it seems a little long and in-depth for a query. You just need to brush over the surface, and save most of these details for the synopsis.

Señor Rossi’s never been punished because of amnesties and pardons that excuse most of the dictatorship’s crimes. The phrasing of this is a little bland. His impunity is why Ale’s spirit roams Buenos Aires. The only way she’ll ever be at peace is if he rots in jail for the rest of his life. But Señor Rossi has a terrible secret that, if exposed, would land him in prison. Belén must betray the man who saved her life if she wants to right the past and set Ale free.

So my suggestions would be to make sure you don't repeat similar ideas back to back, and to make sure you say only what you need to. Hope this helps!

bronwyn1
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by bronwyn1 » May 9th, 2011, 11:17 am

Latest draft. I *think* I'm getting there, but tell me what you think:

Belén can’t believe that Señor Rossi, the man who saved her life years ago, is a war criminal. What’s even stranger is that this news is coming from the ethereal lips of a teenage spirit.

After all, ghosts don’t exist, until Ale appears in her bedroom one night. She’s one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean for opposing Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. Belén has more important things to worry about than a decades-old murderous regime. But when she’s forced to do a school project about the dictatorship, she does something crazy: she asks Ale for help. Soon, Ale becomes more like a friend than a vehicle for academic achievement. More importantly, Belén discovers that Argentina’s past is still painfully relevant to her present. Like when she learns Señor Rossi tortured political dissidents as a part of his job in the Navy. And that he tortured Ale.

Señor Rossi’s never been punished because amnesties and pardons absolve most of the dictatorship’s crimes. His impunity is why Ale’s spirit roams Buenos Aires. The only way she’ll ever be at peace is if he rots in jail for the rest of his life. It just so happens Señor Rossi has a terrible secret that, if exposed, would land him in prison. If Belén wants to right the past and set Ale free, then she must betray the man she owes her life to.

JMB
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by JMB » May 11th, 2011, 7:58 am

I think you need to bring some personality to this by giving your letter the voice of your MC. How old is Belen?

I might try something like this:

Belen refuses to believe that the sweet old man who lives next door and walks around with rice pudding dribbling down his chin is a war criminal. And she sure as heck isn't going to take the word of the spirit who haunts her backyard for it. Belen's 16 years old. Way too grown up to believe in ghosts.

Sure Belen's been taught in history class about former junta members living quiet lives in Buenos Aires suburbs like hers, escaping punishment for their deeds in the Dirty War. But all that happened ages ago. Before Belen was even born. Why doesn't everybody just forget about it and move on?

And Senor Rossi, capable of kidnapping, torture or murder? No way. In fact, she owes her life to him. He pulled her out of the way of an oncoming bus when she was five. The man wouldn't hurt a fly.

But the teenage ghost won't go away. She haunts Belen's nights at first, and then her days, begging her to bring Senor Rossi to justice. She tells Belen she is one of the 30,000 Los Desparacidos who 'disappeared' in the violent coup three decades ago, and that included children who were killed or stolen from their mothers and 'adopted' by childless militant leaders. When the ghost girl points out that Senor Rossi's 30-year old daughter looks nothing like him, Belen's confidence in his kindness is shaken. Could his grown daughter be one of the stolen children? Belen decides she must learn the truth, no matter the cost. But what can a 16 year old do? Fortunately, she has a ghost bent on justice on her side.


Hope this helps. Sorry my history on this point is a bit week. Just wanted to give you an idea of how to keep the perspective focused on your MC and give her voice. And end with a problem to be solved (so I brought back Rossi's daughter, who you mentioned in an earlier draft)

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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » May 11th, 2011, 6:05 pm

I agree with JMB: Great concept, great conflict and hook, but the voice comes off as disinterested. Short sentences tend to help with this issue-- for example:
16-year old Belén owes her life to retired Navy man Señor Rossi. So when a ghost appears in her backyard claiming he is a war criminal, she can't believe her ears. Or her eyes.

Obviously, I don't know your tale as well as you do, and am making this up off the cuff. But hopefully it's clear?
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by Joel Q » May 13th, 2011, 4:41 pm

Curious as to what is the relationship between Belén and Señor Rossi now? I think needs to play in the query. Adds emotional and possibly physical conflict.

JQ

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Anna Geletka
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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by Anna Geletka » May 15th, 2011, 6:25 pm

First of all, this looks like a neat book, and it feels unique and interesting. But I agree with others who say that you need some more of Belen's voice in the query.

Belén can’t believe that Señor Rossi, the man who saved her life years ago, is a war criminal. What’s even stranger is that this news is coming from the ethereal lips of a teenage spirit.

The second sentence is a bit confusing. At first glance, I think - "what news?" You could try switching around information between sentences, something like:

Belen owes her life to Senor Rossi. (it doesn't matter, for query purposes, that it was years ago) So when a teenage ghost tells her that Rossi is a war criminal, Belen doesn't know what to think. Senor Rossi has always been the nice old man down the street. And Belen isn't even sure she believes in ghosts.

After all, ghosts don’t exist, until Ale appears in her bedroom one night. She’s one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean for opposing Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. Belén has more important things to worry about than a decades-old murderous regime. But when she’s forced to do a school project about the dictatorship, she does something crazy: she asks Ale for help. Soon, Ale becomes more like a friend than a vehicle for academic achievement. More importantly, Belén discovers that Argentina’s past is still painfully relevant to her present. Like when she learns Señor Rossi tortured political dissidents as a part of his job in the Navy. And that he tortured Ale.


Señor Rossi’s never been punished because amnesties and pardons absolve most of the dictatorship’s crimes. His impunity is why Ale’s spirit roams Buenos Aires. The only way she’ll ever be at peace is if he rots in jail for the rest of his life. It just so happens Señor Rossi has a terrible secret that, if exposed, would land him in prison. If Belén wants to right the past and set Ale free, then she must betray the man she owes her life to.

Again, to me there feels like too much information in here, and the writing is a bit formal. The query should reflect the book, and this is YA, right? How about something like:

Thirty years ago, Ale was kidnapped, tortured, and drowned in the sea because she opposed Argentina's military dictatorship. She is only one of the 30,000 who shared a similar fate. And now her ghost is appearing in Belen's bedroom. (I might put these first three sentences in the first paragraph.) For Belen, the murderous regime is ancient history - until she's assigned a school project on the dictatorship. When she asks Ale for help with her project, the ghost becomes a friend. (vehicle for academic achievement is really stiff and formal sounding.) And when Belen learns that Senor Rossi tortured political dissidents, including Ale, she finds that Argentina's past is still painfully relevant to her present.

Amnesties and pardons have protected the dictatorship's monsters, but Ale's roaming spirit cannot rest until Senor Rossi faces justice. In order to right the past and set Ale free, all Belen has to do is expose Rossi's terrible secret. (more info about the secret, maybe?) But in doing so, she will betray the man to which she owes her life.

Hope this helps! I also agree that I'd like to know more about Senor Rossi's relationship with Belen at the time the book takes place.

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Re: Query: All That Glitters (YA)

Post by ChrisM » May 17th, 2011, 2:05 pm

In general, I liked the first more than the second, but it could use some tweeks. Such a cool story idea though!
bronwyn1 wrote:Any comments/thoughts/suggestions/etc are welcome! :)

Señor Rossi saved Belén when she was nine, and remains a family friend. Nothing would shake that bond, until Ale appears. Ale is the ghost of a teenage desaparecida, one of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and thrown into the ocean for daring to oppose Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Ale claims Señor Rossi is guilty of the one crime that isn’t covered under the amnesties or pardons: the stealing of infants from doomed political prisoners. Something here about Belen's challenge of deciding what to do - how she doesn't believe it at first, but through research, finds out it is true. Also, I don't get the relationship between Ale and the stealing of infants - did she have an infant stolen?

ALL THAT GLITTERS is a 56,000 word young adult novel. [Biographical stuff about how I’ve been to Argentina and whatnot…]
Chris

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