New Query for RONNIE FOR REAL

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otherside89girl
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New Query for RONNIE FOR REAL

Post by otherside89girl » June 25th, 2010, 5:06 pm

Rejections are wearing me down. Is this new query any better? Thanks in advance.

New version:

Dear Agent,

I am querying you because [...]. RONNIE FOR REAL is a 90,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold is a high school freshman who doesn’t know what she wants. She wanted to learn about art and go on dates. But a B in photography and a close call -– almost kissing a boy her mother would approve of -– make her question everything.

Enter Marco: talented, mysterious, and way too old for her. Her mother doesn’t approve. Ronnie dives into Marco’s world full of art galleries and senior parties, and she can hardly believe their crackling chemistry. But Marco has a secret -– he’s illegal -– and before the school year’s over he’s forced to return to Mexico. With no hope of seeing him again, Ronnie knows no boy will ever compare.

At seventeen, Ronnie can’t believe she has to endure another year of high school. The tedium is lifted by Michael, a popular soccer player who spills to Ronnie about his suicidal depression. Moved by sympathy, and attracted, against her better judgment, to Michael’s biceps and cavalier flattery, Ronnie gives him a chance.

Their relationship goes from tenuous to stressful as Michael’s depression weighs on them both. Ronnie wants to be there for Michael, but then, like a vision from her past, Marco returns.

Marco pulls her back to a place filled with dreams and happiness, and Ronnie knows he’s the one. What she doesn’t know is that he’s still an illegal resident. When Michael, a vengeful dumpee, finds out, Ronnie wonders if she’ll ever get her happily ever after.

[some other stuff about me/book comparisons]

Sincerely,
me





old version:

Dear Agent Name,

I have chosen to submit to you because [...]. RONNIE FOR REAL is a young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Freshman Ronnie Gold wants high school to change her. She wants to grow up, to learn about photography and French, to talk to boys without melting in embarrassment. If someone had told her she would meet the love of her life that very first day… that Marco, a dark, talented senior, would profess his feelings for her in the tea kettle room of the Kingsley Art Museum… or that he would disappear to Mexico after an immigration scare, leaving her heartbroken and feeling much too old for her fourteen years… Well, she probably would have been too nervous to go to school at all.

By senior year, Ronnie’s excitement about high school is long gone. She expects tedium and homework, not romance. So she surprises herself when she lets Michael, a popular soccer player, draw her in. She hasn’t given any boy a chance since Marco, and suddenly she’s tired of being alone. Michael’s confession of his suicidal depression piques Ronnie’s sympathy, and she’s caught up in her new role of girlfriend-slash-therapist.

And then Marco returns, pulling Ronnie back into a world of dreams and uncomplicated happiness. Ronnie knows Marco is the one, but breaking Michael’s heart is messier than she expected. When a vengeful Michael finds out Marco is in the States illegally, Ronnie wonders if she’ll ever find her happily ever after.

[some stuff about me]... The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
me
Last edited by otherside89girl on August 30th, 2010, 5:17 pm, edited 27 times in total.

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by cheekychook » June 25th, 2010, 10:52 pm

otherside89girl wrote:This is my first attempt at a query for my YA novel. Feedback greatly appreciated! <3

Dear Agent Name,

I have chosen to submit a query to you because [insert personalized stuff here]. RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year. The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words.

Ronnie Gold wants high school to be different, exciting, magical. That’s why she and her best friend, Jem, decide to go to Chimakum High, where they won’t have to see any of the familiar faces they’ve known since kindergarten. But it doesn’t take long for Ronnie to feel more lonely and less interesting than ever. Her solitude compels her to obsess over Marco, a mysterious, skull-and-crossbones clad senior with whom she’s never spoken, and Ronnie wonders if she’s going insane. But one dark morning on the streets of her rainy suburb sparks a change, and suddenly Ronnie is making friends, going on dates (sort of), and dying a red stripe in her hair. When Marco finally speaks to her, Ronnie feels her real life beginning in all of its magical splendor. And then, in a blur of immigration terms that Ronnie barely understands, Marco is gone, and Ronnie is left guarding her heart more closely than ever.

When senior year arrives, Ronnie and Jem don’t expect anything at all. They’ve been at Lake High since sophomore year and they know the drill. Ronnie just wants to focus on her AP classes and her bakery job, but her longtime friend Michael makes that difficult. Michael has grown up; now he’s a sought-after soccer player with a Mustang, and he only has eyes for Ronnie. When he confides his rather depressing secrets to her, Ronnie decides to give him a chance. And then Marco comes back. So much for finishing her senior year in peace. Will Michael drive her over the edge? Will she live happily ever after with Marco? Or will events from three years ago come back to haunt her?

RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is my first novel, and I am prepared to send the full manuscript at your request. I have included the first [however many] pages as requested by you on your website.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
My Name
I like the idea of telling someone's story by showing us their first and last year of high school. I don't read much YA fiction these days, but your query makes this book sound interesting.

RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year. ----I added the word "told" because I initially thought you meant the book was two volumes. (Then again it's really hot here today and I'm feeling a little loopy, so that misunderstanding could just my heat-dementia.)

The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words.---I would put this at the end and just go straight into your story instead.

The second paragraph summarizes the events of Freshman year well; it gives me a clear picture of the overall storyline. I think it can be shortened, though, and it left me with a few questions. Is Marco a foreign exchange student? An illegal alien? Is there significance to the fact that her life changes on a dark, rainy morning? (If there is, leave this in, but maybe hint at why it's significant---if it's not, this might be a good spot to condense things.) Is it important that she dyes a red stripe in her hair? (If it is, tell us why, if not,this is another place you can shorten.) It's normal for a shy teenage girl to obsess over a guy she's attracted to, what makes Ronnie think she's going insane?

When senior year arrives, Ronnie and Jem don’t expect anything at all.---I'd change this to say what they DO expect instead of what they DON'T expect (ex: When senior year arrives, Ronnie and Jem expect the same old drudgery.... or....When Senior year arrives Ronnie and Jem can't wait to be done with high school...whatever it is that they're thinking.)

Is Michael's depressing secret that he's in love with her? If so, why is it "secrets" (plural)---what else does he confess? By giving him a chance does that mean she beings to date him? Not sure what you mean by "finish her senior year in peace"---is she trying to avoid conflict with her longtime friend Michael by dating him even when she doesn't really want to? I can see how Marco coming back into the picture complicates things, but is it because she doesn't want to hurt Michael's feelings or because she's legitimately torn between them?

The use of questions in a query is a topic I've seen debated, a lot. Most things I've read are in favor of avoiding questions if at all possible. Can you pose these conflicts in another way? Ronnie is forced to choose... Ronnie worries about....Ronnie must decide.... If you're set on using a question I'd at least try to cut it down to one rather than three. Just my opinion.

I notice that you mention Jem in both descriptive paragraphs, yet you never tell us anything about her other than she's Ronnie's friend. Does she have an important role in the story? If she does, tell us a little about her. If she doesn't, I think you can leave her out of the query.

I would not repeat the name of the novel in the last paragraph, nor would I say it's your first novel; both of those things are unnecessary. You also don't need to state that you're including x-number of pages as per the agent's website---agents are smart, they'll figure that out. ;)

I'd put a sentence about "Complete at 90,000 words, this manuscript is available upon request"----or something like that.

Overall it sounds like you have a very complete story with good potential for young adult drama. If you haven't already done so, try writing a one sentence summary (I don't know how to link to particular blog posts, but Nathan discusses this in detail); it's a great way to really boil down the most important parts of your story.

Good luck with the query process!
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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by fivecats » June 26th, 2010, 1:13 am

Freshman year = age 15. Senior year = 18.

Even though there is only 3 years between them, there's a world of difference between a Freshman and a Senior. The most obvious difference: a Freshman is looking at starting high school, while a senior is worried about getting into college or having to find a job to support themselves as an adult.

My one suggestion, above all others, is to clearly define why & how you have chosen to eliminate the Sophomore and Junior years from your story. Did nothing interesting happen? Nothing that will shed light on the Senior year?

To me, it seems like a huge leap between the two years. As an agent, I'd wonder what direction your story was going in to be in two parts liek this. (I'd expect this to be a four-part series -- one book per year in high school)

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » June 26th, 2010, 1:43 am

cheekychook - Thanks, your feedback was really helpful!

fivecats - I was wondering if some people would feel that way... I can definitely add the reason behind that decision.

If others could weigh in on that too, I'd be interested to hear if you think that would pose a big problem, or if you agree with cheekychook that it sounds good.

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by OneChoice1 » June 26th, 2010, 4:38 am

otherside89girl wrote:This is my first attempt at a query for my YA novel. Feedback greatly appreciated! <3

Dear Agent Name,

I have chosen to submit a query to you because [insert personalized stuff here]. RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year. The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words. [Many advise to place this at the end of your query before the paragraph with "Thank you for your time and consideration." Also, I agree that you should consider creating four books for each year of high school. There’s just too many changes and events that can happen.]

Ronnie Gold wants high school to be different, exciting, magical. That’s why she [Oh, I thought it was a boy. But Ronnie is unisex, so okay :D] and her best friend, Jem, decide to go to Chimakum High, [what do you mean by decide? People could decide on what college they wish to attend, but zones decide which elementary/middle/high schools children and teenagers have to go to. Are you saying they persuade both their parents to move to a different area so they are able to grace Chimakum High with their presences?] where they won’t have to see any of the familiar faces they’ve known since kindergarten. But it doesn’t take long for Ronnie to feel more lonely and less interesting [Is there a stronger way of saying "lonely and less interesting"?] than ever. Her solitude compels her to obsess over Marco, a mysterious, skull-and-crossbones clad senior with whom she’s never spoken, and Ronnie wonders if she’s going insane. [I still do not see why she feels compelled… Is it because Mario seems alone too? Did she catch Marco looking at her one time? Did she overhear people talking about him?] But one dark morning on the streets of her rainy suburb sparks a change, [Why? Did she get struck by lightning? Run into a creepy old woman? Almost get run over by popular kids? Save someone’s life? There has to be something that makes this morning stand out more than just the morning is dark and raining...right? Unless it rarely rains in her area, perhaps?] and suddenly Ronnie is making friends, going on dates (sort of), [Why say "going on dates" and then say "sort of" --- be more clear and direct] and dying a red stripe in her hair. [I do not see the significance of "dying a red stripe in her hair."] When Marco finally speaks to her, Ronnie feels her real life [I do not see why you say "real" life.] beginning in all of its magical splendor. And then, in a blur of immigration terms that Ronnie barely understands, Marco is gone, and Ronnie is left guarding her heart more closely than ever. [Uh-Oh.]

When senior year arrives, Ronnie and Jem don’t expect anything at all. [Not even to graduate?] They’ve been at Lake High [why did they change high schools?] since sophomore year and they know the drill. Ronnie just wants to focus on her AP classes and her bakery job, [So freshman yr = Ronnie was into love and finding wonders of life. Now in senior year = she is focused on work. Correct? If this change is only because of Marco, then I am starting to see why you only want to write about freshman and senior year. If anything important happened in between, you could always write flashbacks… I guess :D.] but her longtime friend Michael makes that difficult. Michael has grown up; [Grown up from what?] now he’s a sought-after soccer player with a Mustang, and he only has eyes for Ronnie. When he confides his rather depressing secrets to her, Ronnie decides to give him a chance. [So she pities him?] And then [You already started a sentence with "And then."] Marco comes back. [Make this sentence stronger. Make the agent feel how crazy-wonderful-but-inconvenient this is. Make more tension.] So much for finishing her senior year in peace. Will Michael drive her over the edge? Will she live happily ever after with Marco? Or will events from three years ago come back to haunt her? [I recommend rewriting these last three sentences, and not making them rhetorical questions. Or, at least, changing two of them and leaving only one sentence rhetorical.]

RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is my first novel, [This a good paragraph to add word count, genre, and the information about your novel's two parts.] and I am prepared to send the full manuscript at your request. I have included the first [however many] pages as requested by you on your website.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
My Name
Your query definitely speaks out to your novel's genre—YA. :D Reading through the whole thing, I’m on the fence with my opinion if you should write just about Ronnie’s freshman and senior years. Sorry :} It’s just, like I said above, I think I see why you wrote those two years only.

I hope I helped you. Good luck!
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otherside89girl
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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » June 26th, 2010, 6:38 pm

OneChoice - You had some helpful suggestions. I think I'm going to ditch the 2 different high schools thing and just stick with one school to make it less confusing... It seemed symbolic or something when I first wrote it that way but now I see it just confuses readers. :) Thanks for your help!

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » June 26th, 2010, 8:22 pm

Okay, I've posted my second try in the original post! Thanks again to those who've given feedback. :)

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by OneChoice1 » June 27th, 2010, 5:19 pm

otherside89girl wrote: Here is my 2nd attempt at a query for my YA novel. (I have replaced the original with Version #2.) Feedback greatly appreciated! <3

Dear Agent Name,

I have chosen to submit a query to you because [insert personalized stuff here]. RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.


The following are suggestions and such. Take what you think helps, ignore the rest ;D


Ronnie Gold wants high school to be different, exciting, magical. When she starts at enters Chimakum High she expects her new persona to burst forth right away – creative, friendly, and fearless. [You could "show" Ronnie's expectations more, like "she expects to be invited to parties and asked out right away."] But it doesn’t take long for Ronnie to feel more lonely and less interesting awkward than ever, bogged down by her pesky shyness. In her solitude, she obsesses over Marco, a mysterious, skull-and-crossbones clad senior with whom she’s never spoken. [I'm still curious about why Marco catches her eye..]

(I think a new paragraph should be started here.) Her best friend, Jem, After Jem, her best friend, (insert here the reason why Jem started branching out), she starts branching out and drags Ronnie along. Now Ronnie's making friends and going on dates like she should. When Marco finally speaks to her, she feels her life beginning in all of its magical splendor. And then, in a blur of immigration terms that Ronnie barely understands, Marco is gone, and Ronnie is left guarding her heart more closely than ever.

When Senior year arrives and Ronnie expects it to be just like last year, and the year before. she has ceased to believe in the magic of high school. She Forget about magic, she just wants to focus on her AP classes and her bakery job, but her longtime friend Michael makes that difficult. Michael is a sought-after soccer player with a Mustang and a perpetual crush on Ronnie. When he confides to in her about his depression, Ronnie gives she sees no harm in giving him a chance, although she’s not sure if she likes him or just feels sorry for him. Marco – long-lost Marco – comes back, and Ronnie’s doubt about dating Michael turns into full-blown regret. Ronnie is She never imagined Marco coming back. Ronnie's certain that she and Marco are meant to be together, but first she has to break Michael’s heart. Now all she wants is to live happily ever after with Marco, but events from three years ago come back to haunt her. Michael's heart and unresolved events from freshman year can very well stop that from happening.

RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL will be appreciated by readers who enjoy the works of Carolyn Mackler, Stephenie Meyer, and Megan McCafferty. The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words and is available upon your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
My Name

I like your original first sentence better. IMO, the structure built the sentence up and was a good way of presenting Ronnie's voice/personality in her first year of high school.

Maybe you should leave the agents up to decide if they think readers who read CM, SM, and MM will enjoy your story.
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otherside89girl
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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » June 29th, 2010, 10:56 pm

Thanks again, OneChoice. I like your suggestions. :)

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by clara_w » June 30th, 2010, 10:50 am

I like this, I really do. Only problem would be: Query one story at a time. Don't query both books in one.

Pitch the first. If everything goes right, you won't even need to pitch the second. =)

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » June 30th, 2010, 1:36 pm

clara_w wrote:I like this, I really do. Only problem would be: Query one story at a time. Don't query both books in one.

Pitch the first. If everything goes right, you won't even need to pitch the second. =)

Thank you, clara_w, I'm glad you like it! But it's one book with two parts. :)

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » July 1st, 2010, 10:46 am

Version 3 is up on the original post. Thanks guys!

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by Emily J » July 1st, 2010, 4:25 pm

otherside89girl wrote: Here is my 3rd attempt at a query for my YA novel. (The following is Version #3.) Feedback greatly appreciated! <3

Dear Agent Name,

I have chosen to submit a query to you because [insert personalized stuff here]. RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold wants high school to be different, exciting, magical. When she starts at Chimakum High she expects her new confident, worldly persona to burst forth right away. But it doesn’t take long for her to feel more lonely and awkward than ever, bogged down by her pesky shyness. In her solitude, Ronnie obsesses over Marco, a mysterious, skull-and-crossbones clad senior with whom she’s never spoken.

Her best friend, Jem, starts branching out and drags Ronnie along, and suddenly Ronnie is making friends and going on dates. When Marco finally speaks to her, Ronnie feels her life beginning in all of its magical splendor. And then, in a blur of immigration terms that Ronnie barely understands, Marco is gone, and Ronnie is left guarding her heart closer than ever.

Senior year arrives and Ronnie expects it to be just like last year, and the year before. maybe just say the last two years? Forget magic - i am nit picking but this looks like a hyphen to me, not a dash she just wants to focus on her AP classes and her bakery job. Her longtime friend Michael makes that difficult. Michael is a sought-after soccer player with a Mustang and a perpetual crush on Ronnie. After years of dodging his advances, Ronnie decides to give him a chance after he confides in her about his depression. She wouldn’t have done that if she knew Marco was coming back.

Ronnie is certain she and Marco are meant to be together, but Michael and unresolved events from freshman year stand in her way.

The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words and is available upon your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
My Name
So technically this is solid. But Marco coming back into her life really lacks a punch. I mean, it isn't even stated directly. Can you find a way to make Marco's surprise have more impact to the reader? I think that would give the ending of the query a bit more force. Maybe something like "Moving on with Michael, Ronnie feels like her life is finally starting to fall into place. But just when she dares to let herself be happy, Marco returns unexpectedly, eager to pick up where they left off. Suddenly Senior year just got a lot more complicated."

That is just a suggestion! (not a very good one either) And obviously you need to put it in your own voice, but I do feel the drama could be amped up a bit in the conclusion.

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by otherside89girl » July 2nd, 2010, 11:10 pm

Thanks, Emily J! I took your suggestion into account.

I've posted version 4 in the original post! Thanks everyone!

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Re: Query for RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL

Post by Ellie G » July 3rd, 2010, 9:10 am

I think the structure of this query is very good, but could use some reshaping at a sentence level. You're saying a lot of things twice (e.g. " but that doesn’t happen. / She feels just as shy as ever" -- we infer the latter from the former; you don't need to spell it out) and you're using a lot of "writerly" (flowery) language that muddies up the plain facts.

I'm confused by what "unresolved events from freshman year" means. And if Ronnie's so sure she and Marco are meant to be together, why doesn't she just dump Michael and date Marco? You need to really spell out why this is a hard choice for her.

I'd put the agent-specific stuff at the end and just say straight out it's a simultaneous submission, e.g.,

Dear Agent Name,

As a freshman, Ronnie hopes high school will be magical, but she feels just as shy as ever. etc...

Senior year arrives and Ronnie's no longer expecting magic in her life. She just wants to focus on her AP classes and her bakery job. etc...

Just when Ronnie has gotten used to being Michael’s girlfriend-slash-therapist, Marco comes back to find her, his feelings unchanged after three years. Ronnie believes Marco is the one, but A, B, and C make her think that might be a mistake/Michael is the one after all/whatever and she has to decide if she wants Compelling Choice #1 or Compelling Choice #2.

RONNIE IN HIGH SCHOOL is a young adult novel complete 90,000 words. The manuscript is available upon your request. This is a simultaneous submission.

I chose to submit to you because [blah blah personal stuff you're the best agent ever.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
My Name

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