MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

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Shipple
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MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Shipple » September 12th, 2012, 7:48 pm

Ok, so I've put both of these queries out there, and I haven't gotten any requests for anything (and I have gotten a discouraging number of rejections). I would love some opinions on which is better (and maybe why). The first has more humor, but the second makes the book sound more unique, which is why I personally am leaning toward it. If you have any opinions on how to improve either (esp the second since I had the first on here a little while ago), I'd love to hear them.

Query 1:
Ordinary twelve-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. The school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better because most of the students don’t like humans. His sister abandons him at the school, claiming she has something "important" to do, so Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel complete at 67,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Query 2:
When he wakes up in an unfamiliar room covered in a flowered quilt and surrounded by hospital machines, twelve-year-old Eric Ortega freaks out. And not because of the girly quilt, either. His sister explains that he'd been possessed by a cacodemon, and she had to bring him to the winged Sentinels to save him. Unfortunately, the Sentinels' mysterious ruling Council put a few conditions on their help. They have decreed that Eric will have no further contact with the human world, he will go to their school, and he will not attempt to trigger the memories the Council "accidentally" locked away while they were installing mindblocks in Eric's brain. The mindblocks are to keep Eric from remembering how to use a cacodemon's powers, but somehow Eric lost a few important memories of his own-like every single memory of his mother, who he's no longer allowed to see.

Eric isn't going to let some super-human beings tell him what to do. He never even knew Sentinels existed until he woke up in their weird, secret town, and he definitely never agreed to their rules. Eric convinces his one Sentinel friend to help him run away and search for his mother. But the Sentinels aren't the only supernatural beings out there . . .

Complete at 67,000 words, UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is a middle grade novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

***I went back and forth on whether or not to include the sentence "And not because of the girly quilt, either." On the one hand, it lends the letter some humor and this could sound like a very dark book without some lightheartedness. On the other, it's a little out of place with the fact Eric just woke up surrounded by hospital equipment, so I welcome opinions.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

Cher
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Cher » September 13th, 2012, 12:50 pm

Hello Shipple,

I like the premise of your story, but I think your trying to get too many details in the query. I played with it a little. It's only a suggestion to break it up some. I don't know your story, but this is what I came up with to show you another direction you might want to try. I hope you don't mind, I'm just trying to help and it's certainly a suggestion that you can ignore if you don't like it, but hopefully it helps some.

Dear Agent,

Twelve-year old Eric Ortega thought waking up in a hospital room filled with machines and a flowery quilt covering him, his sister _____, marrying some guy with wings, half his memory gone, including no recollection of his mother, had to be some weird dream. Especially when a strange centaur, clip-clopped towards him, claiming he was his healer.

He thought wrong...mind blocks to keep him from remembering how to use a cacodemons powers were installed in his brain and the Sentinels' mysterious ruling Council decree that Eric will no longer have contact with the human world. He must attend their school located in their peculiar secret town, and he will not attempt to trigger memories that the Council "accidentally" locked away. Eric never agreed to their rules and he never expected his sister to abandon him, but she did.

Knowing the Sentinels aren't the only supernatural beings out there ... he hopes the one and only Sentinel friend he has will help him escape. It’s his only chance to find his mother and then pray to God he can get his memory back.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel complete at 67,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I wish you all the luck and don't get discouraged with the rejections. Your story sounds great. You should try sending your query to the Query Shark. She will definitly help you get your query on the right track.

Cheryl

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Shipple
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Shipple » September 15th, 2012, 8:28 pm

Thanks for the kind words and suggestion, Cheryl.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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midenianscholar
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by midenianscholar » September 18th, 2012, 1:01 pm

I actually liked the first query better. It made me smile and interested. I think the danger with the second query is that there's so many new terms in one space. I found my head spinning as I was trying to take in all the details of the world.

Here are some comments about the first query option:
Shipple wrote:Query 1:
Ordinary twelve-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it. I wanted a taste of Eric's reaction to this. Even if it said, "she married a creepy guy with wings"/"a guy with fluffy angel wings".

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. <-Love this line. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother.

When his sister abandons him at a school for [supernatural/mythological/something] [boys/children], Eric determines he's not going to stick around. Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recover his memories.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel complete at 67,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I'd add that it needs one more turn of the screw. Is this really just about Eric and his mother? Or is there something more at stake?

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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Nicole R » September 18th, 2012, 1:58 pm

I agree with midenianscholar. I really enjoyed the first query! A few minor suggestions to make it stronger, but overall I think the first option is your best bet.
Shipple wrote: Query 1:
Ordinary Delete Ordinary and just start Twelve-year-old Eric...twelve-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it. Streamline this last line to: Next, his sister is telling him she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it. We already know he's been sick, so you don't need to tell us again.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, This part made me smile. but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. He can even accept house-arrest at a bizarre new school, and the outside chance that he's possessed by a demon. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. The school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better because most of the students don’t like humans. His sister abandons him at the school, claiming she has something "important" to do, so Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories. I like the last line, but it's getting close to synopsis territory instead of query. I'd add another line for the closing. I really like the line from your 2nd query about Eric definitely never agreeing to their rules. You might have to do a little adjusting to set the context, but it'd be great to work that line in here. Very powerful. Also reiterate what's at stake if Eric fails.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel complete at 67,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Nicely done! Good luck.

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Shipple
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Shipple » October 6th, 2012, 5:31 am

You guys made awesome suggestions. So now I have two new query letters (I don't know what it is about me & two query letters). Oh, and not sure about the title. The last was a little too not-MG:

QUERY THREE:
Twelve-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him she married a guy with wings while he was out of it, and he’s trapped in a town of mythical beings because that was the deal she made to get him help.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept that these people actually exist, but he did not agree to their rules. He definitely didn’t agree to a “cure” that involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. He convinces his one friend to help him run away to find his mom and a few of his memories, but the creature that made Eric “sick” isn’t done with him yet.

Complete at 66,000 words, ESCAPING BIRCH STEW is a boy friendly, middle grade fantasy, and I have started plotting another book set in the same world.

QUERY FOUR:
When he wakes up in an unfamiliar room covered in a flowered quilt and surrounded by hospital machines, twelve-year-old Eric Ortega freaks out. Everything gets a little weirder when a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Eric finds out that his sister made a deal with the mysterious All Races Council to save him, but their help came with a few conditions. The Council decreed that Eric will have no further contact with the human world or his mother, and he will not attempt to get back the memories that their “cure” stripped away.

Eric didn’t agree to their rules, and he definitely didn’t agree to leave his mother all by herself. So Eric convinces his only friend to help him run away and find his mother. What Eric doesn’t realize is that some of those lost memories include an evil being who isn’t done with him yet.

Complete at 66,000 words, ESCAPING BIRCH STEW is a boy friendly, middle grade fantasy, and I have started plotting another book set in the same world.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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Tom Mullin
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Tom Mullin » October 9th, 2012, 11:40 pm

Sarah:

My advice would be to pick one query to revise and go with that one until it’s where you want it. Why make twice the work with two queries?

My revisions/suggestions for your Query Four:

When he wakes up in an unfamiliar room covered in a flowered quilt and surrounded by hospital machines, twelve-year-old Eric Ortega freaks out. Everything gets a little weirder when a A centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. (A centaur entering tells us we’re in fantasy setting.) Eric finds out that hisEric’s sister made a deal with the mysterious All Races Council to save him, but their help came with a few conditions: (add colon)The Council decreed that Eric will have no further contact with the human world or his mother, and he will not attempt to get back the memories that their “cure” stripped away.

Eric didn’t agree to their rules, and he definitely didn’t agree (repetitive) to leave his mother all by herself. So Eric convinces his only friend to help him run away and find his mother. What Eric doesn’t realize is that some of those lost memories include an evil being who isn’t done with him yet.

Overall I would trim it as above and add more details to your plot.

I think we need more on what’s at stake for Eric and more details about the villain. As it is: Eric wants to go home to Mom, but there’s a bad guy out there. Not much else to go on as written. Those are the details that tell us what’s at stake in your story.

I've read it's 200-250 words to cover the plot in a query. With my cuts, you're down to 137 words. Plenty of room to add more.

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Shipple
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Shipple » October 28th, 2012, 11:11 pm

All of you had wonderfully helpful things to say, but, as you've seen, I've been a bit all over the place with possibilities. I've refined one single query letter that takes at least some of what many of you have told me & puts it all together in a query that is hopefully fun(ish), easy to read and understand, and, of course, compelling (although I have the feeling I'm not quite at compelling yet). Here's my nth query letter (even I've no idea what number I'm on):



When twelve-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up in an unfamiliar bedroom hooked up to hospital machines, he freaks out. His day goes from scary to unreal when a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer, and his sister brings in her new husband – who has wings!

Eric’s pissed that his sister made a life changing deal on his behalf. She arranged for the mysterious All Races Council to save him, and in exchange Eric has to remain trapped in this crazy town, forget all about his mother, and pretend it’s okay that the Council’s “cure” stripped away half his memories.

Eric didn’t agree to the Council’s rules, and he won’t abandon his mother. When his attempts to jumpstart his memory fail, Eric convinces his only friend in town to help him run away and search for his mom. What he doesn’t realize is that the evil being that haunts his dreams is still out there and would love to reunite with him.

Complete at 61,000 words, TRAPPED IN BIRCH STEW is a boy friendly, middle grade fantasy, and I have started plotting another book set in the same world.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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Shipple
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Re: MG: Under Sentinel Guard - Which Query Do You Like?

Post by Shipple » October 28th, 2012, 11:13 pm

Note the title is evolving/changing. I am not a fan of titles. They befuddle me.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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