QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

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melanieconklin
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QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 24th, 2012, 11:50 am

SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST REVISION :)

Hello fellow writers!

I've really enjoyed reading your work and comments this morning. I'm looking forward to jumping into the discussions, so look out for me!

I have a conundrum on my hands. I've written a novel that seems to lean more MG, but the MC is 14...an age that's on the edge of too old. I'd appreciate your feedback on my query below, and especially your opinion on the MG/YA potential. Sometimes I wish the genres weren't so specific, but I have to respect that the business has evolved this way for a reason, and I need to polish this MS in the right direction.

QUERY:

Fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford should have bombed yesterday’s bio quiz like the rest of her class, but that was before she figured out she was psychic. Instead, she lands in the principal’s office accused of cheating and racking her brains to explain how she aced a quiz given weeks ahead of schedule. No one else had the answers, because the lesson playing in Katie’s mind like a movie has yet to happen.

Freaked out by her sudden ability to catch glimpses of the future, Katie keeps her talent hidden from everyone but Brian, her nerdy neighbor turned sidekick. He bugs her to experiment, and fueled by curiosity, she chases after the thrill of the sight every chance she gets. Before long Katie’s making pig headed choices, wrecking her few friendships – and creating a jealous feud over a blue eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.

Friendless, Katie sees her gift of sight now as a curse, and turns her back on her abilities. Dodging Hilary’s ire becomes her daily success, until a vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie must win back her friends and tap into her powers, and fast. It’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future – and without her friends she’s got no future at all.

BOOK I OF THE SIGHT, FRESHMAN YEAR is an upper MG contemporary paranormal novel complete at 53,000 words.
Last edited by melanieconklin on February 29th, 2012, 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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klbritt
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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by klbritt » February 24th, 2012, 11:21 pm

I'm no good at editing/critiquing query letters, but I wanted to tell you that I think your storyline is super cute! Can't wait to read more.

~Kristie
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by KayHaskell » February 28th, 2012, 1:49 am

I totally agree with Kristie, your storyline is definitely cute and sounds like a lot of fun to read!
Even though Katie is a little on the older side for MG, I think your query pitches the story and the characters in a way that's more MG friendly than YA. I also, personally, think that an 11 year-old MG reader might be more apt to read about an older protagonist than a 16 or 17 year-old reading about a younger one. With phrases like "ex-bestie" you set the MG stage pretty well though.

One of the other big divides between MG and YA is romance. It will be a lot more prevalent in a YA story. Here it sounds like there is a hint of romance in the story, with this "blue-eyed boy," but that it's more of a side plot relating to how it affects Katie's friendships. So on that I'd also say MG!

My one warning would be that 53,000 words is a little long for MG, and is more in the YA range. But especially in paranormal, YA books are getting crazy long, so I wouldn't be surprised if MG is starting to make the same trend, especially in upper MG. But I'll also admit that I write YA, so I'm not well-versed in MG trends

But best of luck! I hope this was helpful for you!

-Kay

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 28th, 2012, 9:29 am

Thank you Kay, those are very helpful thoughts and I appreciate your sharing them.

I believe I'm coming to the same conclusions. I am framing it as "upper middle grade," as I've found in my research that this category is evolving in response to YA appeal to tweens 10-14. MG books with a little more oomph, more complexity, and touching on romance, but still stopping short of YA territory. I don't think I am a natural YA writer, with the edgy trends in that category these days. That said, the novel also has crossover appeal for women, due to the nostalgic elements. It's very interesting to see the variation in beta feedback between tween and women readers.

Now I am working on stripping down some of the vocab, removing excess descriptive content, and streamlining the chapters to be more MG length, with strong hooks at the conclusion of each. MG is not shy about bold hooks! I think my word count will end up closer to 45K once I'm done cleaning it up.

Thanks again!

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by Quill » February 28th, 2012, 10:02 am

melanieconklin wrote: Fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford should have bombed yesterday’s bio quiz like the rest of her class, but that was before she figured out she was psychic. Instead, she lands in the principal’s office accused of cheating and racking her brains to explain how she aced a quiz given weeks ahead of schedule. No one else had the answers, because the lesson playing in Katie’s mind like a movie has yet to happen.
Well-written, but leaves a question sticking in my mind: why were the kids given a test weeks ahead of schedule??
Freaked out by her sudden ability to catch glimpses of the future, Katie keeps her talent hidden from everyone
You just lost me with this wordy and redundant sentence. You could just say " Freaked out, Kate keeps her sudden ability hidden from everyone..." or some such.
but Brian, her nerdy neighbor turned sidekick.
"turned sidekick" is awkward. What turned him into a sidekick? Her ability? What is a sidekick anyway. A tagalong? A minion? Sounds vaguely like we're in a western.
He bugs her to experiment, and fueled by curiosity, she chases after the thrill
I'm not a big fan of two-subject sentences (He bugs and she chases). Sound like you're trying to cover too much ground.
she chases after the thrill of the sight every chance she gets.
The sight of what?? This is not coherent to me.
Before long Katie’s making pig headed choices, wrecking her few friendships – and creating a jealous feud over a blue eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.
When did she go from being freaked out about her abilities??
Friendless,
What about her sidekick? Is he still a friend?

Come to think of it, you could drop Brian from this query, as he apparently plays only a bit part in the important actions and decisions of the story.
Katie sees her gift of sight now as a curse, and turns her back on her abilities.
How does one turn their back on sight??? This may need to be explained better, in more dramatic terms.
Dodging Hilary’s ire becomes her daily success, until a vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie must win back her friends and tap into her powers, and fast. It’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future
This is pretty good.
– and without her friends she’s got no future at all.
Why is this? You may want to spell this out. Is it a life threatening reason, or just a euphemism for needing each other emotionally.
BOOK I OF THE SIGHT, FRESHMAN YEAR is an upper MG contemporary paranormal novel complete at 53,000 words.
Good. This definitely reads like an MG project, and you are wise to label it "upper MG."

Good luck with it.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 28th, 2012, 1:35 pm

thanks for the feedback! the query has already evolved much past this version, and i'm glad to see some of your comments are issues i've been ironing out.

regarding "sidekick," i had "confidante" but got feedback that level of vocab may be inappropriate for MG. I need to work that bit out, and I don't want Brian to be inconsequential.

Also, regarding the friends/future line - at 14, having no friends would be just about as bad as being dead, right? i intended the double meaning...but i don't want to irritate agents by seeming "mysterious." to be specific, her motivation is the threat of a violent attack, her goal is to balance being both a good friend and a psychic.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 28th, 2012, 2:50 pm

Thank you everyone for your opinions on MG v/s YA!

Here is the latest version of my query. I should mention, I'm in the middle of MS revisions using beta feedback from both tweens and adults, and so the MS and the query are advancing in tandem. It may be awhile yet before any version of the query leaves the nest!

QUERY:

When fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford aces a quiz everyone else bombs, she discovers she is not just super smart, she is super psychic. Too bad the principal just assumes she’s a rotten cheater. It turns out her teacher accidentally handed out next week’s quiz, and the lesson Katie recalls word for word has yet to even happen.

Freaked out, Katie keeps her psychic talent hidden from everyone but Brian, her nerdy neighbor. But when he eggs her on, her curiosity wins out over her worries. Learning to control her power is way harder than nailing a test, but Katie tackles the hard work with Brian at her side. When her secret practice sessions start paying off, she starts having fun, although sometimes her fun is at someone else’s expense—even Brian’s. Her bad choices pile up, wrecking her friendships and creating a jealous feud over a blue-eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.

Friendless, Katie decides her gift of sight is really a curse in disguise. She vows to ignore her visions. Dodging Hilary’s ire becomes her daily success, until a new vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie’s got to win back her friends, but she’s also got to embrace her power . . . and fast. After all, it’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future—or else she might not have one.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by kabbu » February 28th, 2012, 6:03 pm

The only thing I've got to add to what's already been said is that it feels like you have two opening lines for this.

I'd probably go with either the she "aces every quiz" line or the "her teacher accidentally handed out next week's quiz" line. Having them both together feels like I'm being introduced to her psychic ability twice.

Other than that I really like the pacing of this one, it flows really well and the story is definitely cute.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by Quill » February 28th, 2012, 11:04 pm

melanieconklin wrote: When fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford aces a quiz everyone else bombs, she discovers she is not just super smart, she is super psychic. Too bad the principal just assumes she’s a rotten cheater. It turns out her teacher accidentally handed out next week’s quiz, and the lesson Katie recalls word for word has yet to even happen.
Nice opening, although I don't think you need the super smart clause. It seems she is not normally an A student, so I'm not sure how you mean she discovers she's super smart.
Freaked out, Katie keeps her psychic talent hidden from everyone but Brian, her nerdy neighbor. But when he eggs her on, her curiosity wins out
Nicely put.
over her worries.
I'd omit as not needed.
Learning to control her power is way harder than nailing a test, but Katie tackles the hard work with Brian at her side.
Good.
When her secret practice sessions start paying off,
"Paying off" is cliche and non-descriptive. How do they pay?
she starts having fun, although sometimes her fun is at someone else’s expense—even Brian’s.
Having fun doesn't seem of sufficient import to carry a query. Remember, you are trying to entice an agent or editor to want to read your manuscript. In a query, every word must count.
Her bad choices pile up, wrecking her friendships and creating a jealous feud over a blue-eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.
Good, but I would find a clearer term for "ex-bestie." Is this a British term? Are you primarily querying British agents?
Friendless,
Did you tell us that Brian has left her?
Katie decides her gift of sight is really a curse in disguise. She vows to ignore her visions.
Okay. I'd omit "in disguise" as being not needed, and not pulling much weight.
Dodging Hilary’s ire becomes her daily success,
Again, dodging someone's ire doesn't seem too momentous, unless that person aims to really hurt them.
until a new vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone.
This is a good line.
With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie’s got to win back her friends, but she’s also got to embrace her power
Okay. I'd trade the "but" for "and" after "friends,"
. . . and fast. After all,
I'd omit, as junk words not doing much.
it’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future—or else she might not have one.
Decent ending. A little shaky in the transition after future. The "or else" doesn't quite follow grammatically. "Lest" (for fear that) fits better but sounds a little archaic, so I don't know.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 28th, 2012, 11:57 pm

"Good, but I would find a clearer term for "ex-bestie." Is this a British term? Are you primarily querying British agents?"

I just have to say this made me laugh out loud. I've never been British, but I have been a tween girl :)

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by Alret » February 29th, 2012, 5:26 am

I'm not really an expert on advice when it comes to queries, given the fact that I've just posted mine for some of you to rip appart...lol...wich is probably needed most of the time. Anyway, your query had me interested at once, I would really love to read you book!
Good luck with the torture and torment that most of us suffer when trying to write the perfect query! But I can already see that your cracking it!! Well done! ;)

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 29th, 2012, 1:07 pm

Thanks, quills. You have a real talent for spotting the extraneous, although we do differ on our vocab preference at times. :) I am still on the fence about the last line. I agree the grammatical structure is less than perfect, but I feel required to make the stakes super duper clear. Maybe that's Query Shark's influence speaking.

QUERY:

When fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford aces a quiz everyone else bombs, she is proud of being super smart, but discovers she is really super psychic. Too bad the principal assumes she’s just a rotten cheater. It turns out her teacher accidentally handed out next week’s quiz, and the lesson Katie recalls word for word has yet to be given.

Freaked out, Katie hides her talents from everyone but Brian, her nerdy neighbor. But when he pushes her to see what she can do, her curiosity wins out. Learning to control her power is way harder than nailing a test, but Katie tackles the hard work with Brian at her side. When her secret practice sessions unlock the controls, she has a blast being as right about everything as she always wanted to be. But her success is often at someone else’s expense—even Brian’s. Her bad choices pile up, wrecking her friendships and creating a jealous feud over a blue-eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.

When even Brian ditches her, Katie decides her gift of sight is really a curse. She vows to ignore her gift, until a new vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie’s got to win back her friends, and she’s also got to embrace her power. It’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future—or else she might not have one.

BOOK I OF THE SIGHT, FRESHMAN YEAR is an upper MG contemporary paranormal novel complete at 49,000 words

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by Lil Tailor » February 29th, 2012, 1:42 pm

First, and foremost, you have absolutely no reason to take anything I write seriously. I have no credentials that would indicate, at all, that you should give my comments even a passing thought.

I kinda like your old first line better honestly. the "When fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford aces a quiz everyone else bombs, she discovers she is not just super smart, she is super psychic" I think it sounds a little better than this one. I do kinda agree with Quill... but I think this line is heads and tails above the one you have now because your current one really breaks the flow for me.

The other thing I don't understand is why you even include Brian. I think that if you did a delete of him from the query it might work better?

When fourteen-year-old Katie Cranford aces a quiz everyone else bombs, she is proud of being super smart, but discovers she is really super psychic. Too bad the principal assumes she’s just a rotten cheater. It turns out her teacher accidentally handed out next week’s quiz, and the lesson Katie recalls word for word has yet to be given.

Freaked out, Katie hides her talents from everyone but Brian, her nerdy neighbor.Why does she turn to Brian? What kind of relationship do they have that he's the one she turns too? especially if he's so nerdy, it implies she is not nerdy. But when he pushes her to see what she can do, her curiosity wins out. Learning to control her power is way harder than nailing a test, but Katie tackles the hard work with Brian at her side.I almost feel like you could start your second paragraph here. When her secret practice sessions unlock the controls, she has a blast being as right about everything as she always wanted to be. But her success is often at someone else’s expense—even Brian’s. Her bad choices pile up, wrecking her friendships and creating a jealous feud over a blue-eyed boy with ex-bestie Hilary Russell.Why? how? if its important you may wanna explain it, if its not then you should delete it

When even Brian ditches her, Katie decides her gift of sight is really a curse. She vows to ignore her gift, until a new vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie’s got to win back her friends, and she’s also got to embrace her power. It’s no good being a psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future—or else she might not have one.I really like this line

BOOK I OF THE SIGHT, FRESHMAN YEAR is an upper MG contemporary paranormal novel complete at 49,000 words
I think my main issue is I feel like I'm reading a play by play. It feels so... emotionless. The other thing is, while I am getting a good picture of your story, I'm really not getting your voice at all. Unless your story is clinical and detached...

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 29th, 2012, 2:29 pm

Well, emotionless, clinical, and detached is certainly not what I'm aiming for, and I'm sorry to hear it struck you that way.

Katie's trying to figure out how to be both a friend and a psychic. Her relationships matter. That is why Brian plays a role in the query. The conflict with Hilary is mentioned to illustrate that Katie is facing both external and internal conflicts, as I'm not fond of purely internal crises--they can be boring without external consequences. I've left it at an introduction to the conflict to avoid plot summary.

As always, it is a battle to make a query "query-like" and still explain what *happens.* Early on in the query-writing process, I provided much less plot detail, but I was just telling, not showing. I needed to explain the conflict clearly in terms of plot. As I read other queries, I agree with this concept more and more strongly. You must give readers a strong sense of the story, without confusion or excessive mystery, or you have an automatic rejection. And yes, hopefully, with great voice.

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Re: QUERY: YA or MG? BOOK I OF THE SIGHT

Post by melanieconklin » February 29th, 2012, 4:19 pm

After taking in a variety of feedback, here I am. I like it!

QUERY:

When fourteen-year-old Katie takes a test, she expects to ace it, but when everyone else bombs a bio pop quiz, she discovers she’s not just smart—she’s psychic.

After she stops freaking out, Katie finds that mastering her powers is way harder than nailing a test. Her secret practice sessions give her heart attacks. Her friends get angry when she drops off the map. And when she finally starts using her power, she makes stupidly selfish choices. Being psychic doesn’t seem so awesome after all—as if freshman year needs to get any harder!

Katie wants to use her power, but she also wants to keep her friends. So far being psychic has done nothing but drive them away . . . and attract attention from the kind of girls she should never cross. When a new vision nearly suffocates her with its promise of an attack she cannot face alone, she fears failing will mean more than just a social death. With the violent image stuck on replay in her mind, Katie’s got to win back her friends and embrace her power. It’s no good being psychic if she can’t suck it up and face the future—or else she might not have one.

BOOK I OF THE SIGHT, FRESHMAN YEAR is an upper MG contemporary paranormal novel complete at 49,000 words
Last edited by melanieconklin on February 29th, 2012, 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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