Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

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RebeccaKnight
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Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 1:44 pm

Hi, guys!

It's almost query-time for me, so I thought I'd run this past you :). There is a lot of great advice on these forums. Please feel free to be brutally honest, and thanks in advance for your help!

_____

Dear (Peronalized Agent Name),

I’m seeing representation for my 87,000 word fantasy novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS.

Astrid escapes her mother’s castle after a decade of captivity by using a book of magic found under the floor. She doesn’t know why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions—power is welling up within her. Power over the magic of the lei lines. Power her mother wants.

Astrid discovers that the same dark magic corrupting her mother is spreading throughout the land and feeding off the people. The only way to stop it is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady readership.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Contact Info
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want the most for what you want now."

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by aspiring_x » February 2nd, 2010, 2:12 pm

RebeccaKnight wrote:Hi, guys!

It's almost query-time for me, so I thought I'd run this past you :). There is a lot of great advice on these forums. Please feel free to be brutally honest, and thanks in advance for your help!

_____

Dear (Peronalized Agent Name),

I’m seeing representation for my 87,000 word fantasy novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS.Very professional.

Astrid escapes her mother’s castle after a decade of captivity by using a book of magic found under the floor. She doesn’t know why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions—power is welling up within her. Power over the magic of the lei lines.I'm probably just ignorant here, but I don't know what lei lines are. Power her mother wants.

Astrid discovers that the same dark magic corrupting her mother Is her mom the villain? I thought she was, but now I'm confused... that happens easilyis spreading throughout the land and feeding off the people. The only way to stop it is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before. If it was once banished, but has now returned, what brought it back? I don't know if it would help to mention that or not. You want to be concise, but then you also want to display the most unique parts of your novel.

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.This is interesting, but I didn't realize that the darkness was inside her, I thought it was her mother who was dark, and she and the Empress were good.
I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady readership.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Contact Info
I think your query is very good. It's the first straight-out fantasy one I've read so I could be completey off, but I thought that magic, and creatures, and betrayal is all sort of a given in fantasy literature. I think maybe you could benefit from dishing out a few more specifics about what exactly makes your novel unique (which I'm sure it is). Also, I was a little confused by which magic was good and which was bad, and thereby which characters were good and which were bad. What makes the bad magic bad by the way? You mention it feeding off the people, but does that mean it's killing them or feeding off their negativity? Seriously, though, I thought that your query was really good. Maybe I'm just slow.

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by christi » February 2nd, 2010, 2:50 pm

RebeccaKnight wrote:Hi, guys!

It's almost query-time for me, so I thought I'd run this past you :). There is a lot of great advice on these forums. Please feel free to be brutally honest, and thanks in advance for your help!

_____

Dear (Peronalized Agent Name),

I’m see(k)ing representation for my 87,000 word fantasy novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS. (as for this part, I’ve been advised to start with the action of paragraph 2, drop the ‘seeking representation’ part since it’s a given, and summarizing at the bottom ‘LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is complete at 87,000 words’ but that is just a suggestion)

Astrid escapes her mother’s castle after a decade of captivity by using a book of magic found under the floor. She doesn’t know why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions—power is welling up within her. Power over the magic of the lei lines. Power her mother wants. (I understand what lei lines are, but I don’t understand how they pertain to this, probably only because it’s out of context. I’d probably get it if I read the book :-) )

Astrid discovers that the same dark magic corrupting her mother is spreading throughout the land and feeding off the people. The only way to stop it is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before. (I have the same question as aspiring_x in regards to the effect her mother’s magic has over the people. As are they a queen and princess? You said a castle, but they could be nobility and not royalty)

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn. (That’s interesting. I like that part)

I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady readership. (Two things here. They usually only care about credentials if you have previously published works or if you are writing non-fiction and need degrees to support your book. Secondly, the jury is still out on work previously posted to the internet, so if you have readers of THIS story because it’s posted online, some agents might not like that.)
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

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It sounds really interesting, though. I wish you luck with it.
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by NHWriter » February 2nd, 2010, 2:54 pm

Hi Rebecca

Here are my suggestions. I hope they help.

First, you misspelled seeking in your first sentence. :)

Second, I'm a big believer in Kristin Nelson's query design. Emulate back cover copy. BCC is a pitch meant to grab the attention of a prospective reader. A query is a pitch meant to grab the attention of a potential agent. For some reason it's easier for me to write a compelling pitch to a prospective reader than it is to a prospective agent. Don't ask me why.

So, with that in mind, I think the details you offer are out of order. Astrid escapes. Astrid finds a book to help her escape. Her mother locks her up. Power is welling up inside her. She has a power her mother wants. Dark magic is corrupting her mother and spreading across the land. Darkness is growing in Astrid. She has to rescue an imprisoned empress that defeated the darkness before.

She's escaping before she's imprisoned. And she doesn't understand why her mother has locked her up, but her mother covets her power and darkness is growing inside her. Either of these seem reasonable for a mother to lock up her daughter. Decide what paints the clearest, most enticing picture for the potential reader. Is her mother a pure villain or a good-intentioned one? Is it her fault, or is it the corruption growing inside her? Does the book awaken Astrid's power or is it just a chachki to get her out of jail and give her an answer when she needs it?

She's imprisoned! She escapes! Evil is spreading across the land. She must rescue the empress to save the world! *cymbals crash*

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 3:11 pm

This is so helpful, guys! Also, I can't believe I misspelled "seeking". *headdesk*

I'm going to tweak using your advice--you ROCK! :) Thank you for all the insight!
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 3:30 pm

Okay, tweaking has been done. Does this make it less confusing? Or did I just make it worse? :P Thanks again for all your help!
__________________________________

Dear (Agent),

Astrid’s been a prisoner in her own castle since she was a child. Her mother, the queen, locked her away after being corrupted by dark magic—the same evil that is spreading throughout Taleria and feeding off the people.

Now eighteen, Astrid escapes using a book of magic she found under the floor. Power is welling up within her. She hopes it will be enough to stop her mother and save the lands from the shadow creeping over them. To scourge the dark magic, she must find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is a 87,000 word fantasy novel. I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady following.

Sincerely,

Contact Info
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want the most for what you want now."

http://rebeccaknightbooks.blogspot.com
@twoheadknight on Twitter

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by Remus Shepherd » February 2nd, 2010, 3:40 pm

I'm fairly new here, but let me start getting my hands dirty.
RebeccaKnight wrote: Dear (Peronalized Agent Name),

I'm seeing representation for my 87,000 word fantasy novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS.

Astrid escapes her mother's castle after a decade of captivity by using a book of magic found under the floor. She doesn't know why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions--power is welling up within her. Power over the magic of the lei lines. Power her mother wants.

Astrid discovers that the same dark magic corrupting her mother is spreading throughout the land and feeding off the people. The only way to stop it is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association. I've also been blogging for a year and building a steady readership.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Contact Info
I like this a lot, although I think it can be trimmed and made better. The first sentence and last full paragraph -- where you lay out your genre, title, word count, and writing credits -- are fine. If you add anything to them, you might add a mention of what else you've written. If this is your first novel you might not want to say so, but if you've written others just mention how many, to give an impression that you're not a one-book-and-done author.

Oh, and although I can't say for sure, I think instead of 'blogging for a year', just say, 'I am also a blogger, building a steady readership at' -- and the address of your site. Give the agent a chance to get to know you. This may or may not be good advice, depending on your site. I wouldn't direct an agent to mine; it's for introspection and venting, and not designed to capture readership. :)

As for the middle three paragraphs, I think they can be shortened. Here is where you can and should cut details, leaving only the most important thematic and plot elements of your story. You probably don't need to introduce lei lines, and you don't need to mention the book twice. Mention of Astrid's escape is redundant with the explanation of her mother's actions (and probably unnecessary, as the rest of the blurb makes it clear that she escapes). You should mention only important things, and then only once if possible.

I'd suggest trimming it like this:
Astrid doesn't know why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions -- power is welling up within her.

The same dark magic is spreading throughout the land and feeding off the people. The only way to stop it is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before. Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of Astrid's worries. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.
(I changed 'concerns' to 'worries' to keep it from rhyming with 'burn' in the next sentence.

That's trimmer and hits the same notes, I think, without serious rewriting. You could rewrite even more -- I don't like that the final 'her' in the first sentence is indefinite (it could be referring to either Astrid or her mother), but I like the sentence so I'd let it pass. Would the agent? I don't know.

Aside from that I see one weak modifier that could be made stronger. 'Uncertain allies' could be 'untrustworthy', 'unreliable', 'unknown', or something else more descriptive. I can't suggest what to put here without knowing the story.

Hope this helps. Good luck with the query!

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by Tycoon » February 2nd, 2010, 4:42 pm

This is a wonderful version imo for what its worth... one 2 minor things caught my eye

1) In your first paragraph - the same evil that is spreading throughout Taleria and feeding off the people. the word Taleria catches me only because I dont know for 100% sure if its a person,place or thing.... now im 99% sure its a place so maybe trying something like...

the same evil that is spreading throughout the land of Taleria and feeding off the people.

2nd I would state that a completed manuscript is available at your request...and say something along the lines of I look forward to hearing from you.

RebeccaKnight wrote:Okay, tweaking has been done. Does this make it less confusing? Or did I just make it worse? :P Thanks again for all your help!
__________________________________

Dear (Agent),

Astrid’s been a prisoner in her own castle since she was a child. Her mother, the queen, locked her away after being corrupted by dark magic—the same evil that is spreading throughout Taleria and feeding off the people.

Now eighteen, Astrid escapes using a book of magic she found under the floor. Power is welling up within her. She hopes it will be enough to stop her mother and save the lands from the shadow creeping over them. To scourge the dark magic, she must find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is a 87,000 word fantasy novel. I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady following.

Sincerely,

Contact Info

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 5:09 pm

Thanks, Remus, and thanks Tycoon! :) I'm feeling more confident now, and definitely appreciate the suggestions!

Glad the second version was getting warmer! ;)
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by TheShadow » February 2nd, 2010, 6:52 pm

RebeccaKnight wrote:Okay, tweaking has been done. Does this make it less confusing? Or did I just make it worse? :P Thanks again for all your help!
__________________________________

Dear (Agent),

Astrid’s been a prisoner in her own castle since she was a child. Her mother, the queen, locked her away after being corrupted by dark magic—the same evil that is spreading throughout Taleria and feeding off the people.

Now eighteen, Astrid escapes using a book of magic she found under the floor. Power is welling up within her. She hopes it will be enough to stop her mother and save the lands from the shadow creeping over them. To scourge the dark magic, she must find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.Is her age important, other than showing that she isnt a child anymore? I ask becuase I think this paragraph can be tightened up some and the metion of her age may not be necessay. It's only a suggestion, but maybe something along the lines of 'Having found a hidden book of magic, Astrid escapes with power welling through her. She hopes to stop her mother and scourge the dark magic from the land, but first she must find and free an...'

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.I dont know that there is enough conflict. What darkness in herself? Is she the one who will burn the land? Is she trying not to become like her mother?

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is a 87,000 word fantasy novel. I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady following.

Sincerely,

Contact Info
I hope this helps. BTW, I know what lei lines are and I liked it =)
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 7:37 pm

This totally helps! Thanks, Shadow :)!
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by Tycoon » February 2nd, 2010, 8:51 pm

_____

Dear (Peronalized Agent Name),



Astrid escapes her mother’s castle after a decade of captivity by casting a spell from a book of magic found hidden under the floor. She doesn’t understand why her own mother would lock her away, robbing her of her childhood, but she has her suspicions—power is surging deep within her body. Power over the magic of the lei lines, power her mother desperately craves.

Astrid discovers that the same dark magic corrupting her mother is spreading throughout the land, nourishing itself off the people of Taleria. The only way to stop the dark magic is to find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before.

Beautiful creatures morphed into wretched monsters, indecisive allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. As she faces a possible darkness buried within her soul - a darkness like her mothers - she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady readership.

My fantasy novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is complete at 87,000 words and is available at your request. I look forward to hearing from you.


Sincerely,

Contact Info[/quote]

After reading kayemevans post I thought he/she made some excellent points... I hoped to add some extra intrigue to your query... please do not be offended...
Also the line a darkness like her mothers could also be...a darkness unlike her mothers... depending on what said darkness is - I couldn't determine which it was

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by RebeccaKnight » February 2nd, 2010, 9:39 pm

This is SO helpful! Thank you so much for giving me some examples above, Tycoon. This makes a lot of sense to me, and adds some of the voice I felt was missing. I feel like I have more stuff to play around with now :).

Thank you, everyone, for your help! You guys rock!
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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by Yoshima » February 2nd, 2010, 11:25 pm

Hey Rebecca! More feedback to help with your revisions. :)
RebeccaKnight wrote:Okay, tweaking has been done. Does this make it less confusing? Or did I just make it worse? :P Thanks again for all your help!
__________________________________

Dear (Agent),

Astrid’s been a prisoner in her own castle since she was a child. Her mother, the queen, locked her away after being corrupted by dark magic—the same evil that is spreading throughout Taleria and feeding off the people. (Ooo, neat!)

Now eighteen, Astrid escapes using a book of magic she found under the floor. Power is welling ("wells" would be less passive) up within her. She hopes it will be enough to stop her mother and save the lands from the shadow creeping over them. To scourge the dark magic, she must find and free an imprisoned Empress who banished the same evil centuries before. (So the Empress is immortal, I'm assuming? Cool! I love magic and such. The one thing I'm not super clear on is what exactly this evil is. Right now I'm thinking it's like a plague, but I'm not sure. Maybe elaborate on the evil a bit more. It'll help make the danger feel more real, too.)

Beautiful creatures twisted into monsters, uncertain allies, and the deadly mystery of the book she possesses are the least of her concerns. (This made me pause. It kind of came out of nowhere. I was in Quest mode, and then I'm getting minor conflicts (I'm guessing they're minor, since they're in a list, you know?). Maybe rework the transition a bit? Like how do these conflicts play into the bigger one, or come into play during her quest to find the Empress?) As she faces the darkness in herself, she discovers that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn. (Hmm. Honestly, I'm not really sure about "watching it burn." I know there was evil coming over the land, but I thought it was in shadows and stuff. Now it's burning? I think it would make the ending stronger if you linked it back up with the same words/tone as when you described the evil earlier.)

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is a 87,000 word fantasy novel (Since your MC is eighteen, is it YA? Just curious. :) ). I studied fantasy and science fiction writing for my B.A. in Writing/Literature, and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association (Nice!). I’ve also been blogging for a year and building a steady following. (I'll be sure to drop by!)

Sincerely,

Contact Info
I really love the premise, Rebecca! I'm such a sucker for magic/super-dee-duper quest novels. Can't wait to see it on the shelf. ;)

As for the query, I think with a little more meat on the conflicts she faces during the quest will help a lot. To make room for that, maybe cut the second and third sentences in the second paragraph; it's her having to find the Empress that's important. Overall I felt like it flowed well and I didn't have any "this is where I would stop reading" moments. Good luck with revisions! Hope this helps!

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Re: Query--Legacy of the Empress (fantasy)

Post by NHWriter » February 3rd, 2010, 12:43 pm

RebeccaKnight wrote:Okay, tweaking has been done. Does this make it less confusing? Or did I just make it worse? :P Thanks again for all your help!
Dramatic improvement. Well done!

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