The Evolution of Janie YA query

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Penang
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The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by Penang » June 27th, 2010, 4:19 pm

**I'm editing to include a second query choice in this post as well (also in post #3)

This is my most recent attemp at my query. I had some success with my previous query but I've since done major rewrites and need a new query. I'm open to all feedback! Thanks! :) Ang

**First Query**

"You’ll die curing them." Not exactly the words Janie Carter expects to hear from her brother minutes after learning her boyfriend, Marcus is a shape shifter.

Janie is used to being hurt. Now she just wants to be invisible. Then a simple bet puts her at the center of a town feud between shifters craving control of their people and those wanting freedom from their infection. Both groups believe Janie, who carries the mark of the raven, will be the one with the power to achieve their goal.

But no one is prepared for what Janie’s presence will mean for them when she makes a choice that brings her mother, the most dangerous Shifter back to town. And with the supernatural tales about her family’s origins, Janie learns she may be a whole new breed of shifter.

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE, a paranormal YA novel (82,000 words) is it a stand alone novel, the first in a planned three-book trilogy.

**Second Choice**

People only hurt you. It’s an adage Janie Carter holds onto since first her father and then her mother deserted her. But Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead. Her family legacy is built on an ancient legend and myth that will change who and what she will become.

Janie’s a “new blood” in Everett, Montana and everyone seems to be hiding something. When she starts dating Marcus, the town begins to split and Marcus must reveal the truth behind the town secret. They are Shifters, infected by the blood of the first shape shifter, and have been waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled by The One marked by the Raven. A mark just like one on Janie’s back.

The problem for Janie is that both sides of town see her death as the only way to get what they want and fulfill the prophecy. As Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her and her sense of reality is destroyed, she must face the warring desires of the town for power and a cure.

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE is a paranormal YA novel, complete at 82,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy.
Last edited by Penang on June 27th, 2010, 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Quill
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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by Quill » June 27th, 2010, 5:12 pm

Penang wrote:
"You’ll die curing them." Not exactly the words Janie Carter expects to hear from her brother minutes after learning her boyfriend, Marcus is a shape shifter.
Usually not advisable to begin with a quote (though I'm not sure why).

Usually stronger to use the positive; say what Janie does expect rather than what she doesn't.

Omit "exactly" and "minutes", as neither does much work or adds to the voice.

Comma after Marcus.

Janie is used to being hurt.
She is? How so? If it matters enough to mention, why not give us the context?

Now she just wants to be invisible. Then a simple bet puts her at the center of a town feud
"Now..." doesn't resonate well with the "Then..." of the next sentence. Possibly omit "Then" and just say "A simple bet..."

between shifters craving control of their people and those wanting freedom from their infection.
Their people, their infection? Whose?? The shifters' people, the people's infection? It isn't clear to me.

And, who are "those"? Are they shifters? People?

What is a shifter? What is a shifter's person? What's the difference between shifters and people?

Basically I think we need a little more info here, and you've got the space to do it!

Both groups believe Janie, who carries the mark of the raven, will be the one with the power to achieve their goal.
If she carries this mark, wouldn't they believe she is the one, not "will be the one"?

But no one is prepared for what Janie’s presence will mean for them when she makes a choice that brings her mother, the most dangerous Shifter back to town.
This seems obscure or convoluted or both. Phrases like "no one is prepared for " and "what will mean for them" and "when she makes a choice" lack punch. And, why is "shifter" capitalized all of a sudden?

And with the supernatural tales about her family’s origins, Janie learns she may be a whole new breed of shifter.

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE, a paranormal YA novel (82,000 words)
Probably more elegant and professional to eschew the parentheses and just say "of 82,000 words" or some such.

is it a stand alone novel, the first in a planned three-book trilogy.
Omit "three-book", as redundant to trilogy.


Welcome to the board! Hope to see you around some of the other discussions here as well.

Penang
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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by Penang » June 27th, 2010, 5:53 pm

Thanks, Quill!

Okay, so I took a long hard look at it and decided to try an entirely new one :) I haven't completely abandoned the first but I'm just so stuck on the wording that I can't figure out how to rework it.

**Second query***

People only hurt you. It’s an adage Janie Carter holds onto since first her father and then her mother deserted her. But Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead. Her family legacy is built on an ancient legend and myth that will change who and what she will become.

Janie’s a “new blood” in Everett, Montana where everyone seems to be hiding something. When she starts dating Marcus, the town begins to split and Marcus must reveal the truth behind the town secret. They are Shifters, infected by the blood of the first shape shifter, and have been waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled by The One marked by the Raven. A mark just like one on Janie’s back.

The problem for Janie is that both sides of town see her death as the only way to get what they want and fulfill the prophecy. As Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her and her sense of reality is destroyed, she must face the warring desires of the town for power and a cure.

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE is a paranormal YA novel, complete at 82,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy.

***

I'm still struggling to work her mother back in to the last paragraph since her mother is the main antagonist, but doesn't appear until the end of the book.

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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by fivecats » June 27th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Penang wrote: People only hurt you. It’s an adage Janie Carter holds onto since first her father and then her mother deserted her.
It would be stronger to have this directly attributable to Janie, as in "Janie Carter's motto is 'People only hurt you.' Otherwise, as you have it written here, you tell us that people only hurt you and then you introduce us to... a person (who, logically, should then be prepared to hurt us). Give us your character first, then have her do/think something.
Penang wrote:But Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead.
That's certainly a big Conflict, but it doesn't exactly hang off of the notion of her mother having deserted her. If mom wants Janie dead, why didn't mom just kill Janie before leaving?
Penang wrote:Her family legacy is built on an ancient legend and myth that will change who and what she will become.

Janie’s a “new blood” in Everett, Montana where everyone seems to be hiding something.
"Her family legacy is built..." and "Janie's a new blood.." work well together, the latter building nicely off of the former. However, when you throw "...Everett, Montana where everyone seems to be hiding something." you take the focus off of Janie entirely. The next sentence has the focus on Janie (dating Marcus) and the sentence after that back to the town and its divisions. It's best to keep our attention on Janie to start, and then fully move us to the big conflict facing her in town.
Penang wrote:When she starts dating Marcus,
What happened to the idea of People Will Only Hurt You? What changed in Janie that she was willing to trust some guy? Or is it only adults Janie mistrusts?
Penang wrote:the town begins to split and Marcus must reveal the truth behind the town secret. They are Shifters, infected by the blood of the first shape shifter, and have been waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled by The One marked by the Raven. A mark just like one on Janie’s back.
"the town begins to split" is a bit clichéd as well as vague.

You've also only talked about the Shifters. The other side of the split (from your first version of the query) got lost here.
Penang wrote:The problem for Janie is that both sides of town see her death as the only way to get what they want and fulfill the prophecy. As Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her and her sense of reality is destroyed, she must face the warring desires of the town for power and a cure.
"Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her and her sense of reality is destroyed" is clichéd as well.

Given what I think is a really good set up for conflict and character arc, I'd really suggest rewriting this with some original insight, giving us a better idea of how Janie feels (show us, don't tell us)
Penang wrote:THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE is a paranormal YA novel, complete at 82,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy.
I've read conflicting things about telling agents that your query is the first in a planned series/trilogy. Does anyone else have comments on this?
Penang wrote:I'm still struggling to work her mother back in to the last paragraph since her mother is the main antagonist, but doesn't appear until the end of the book.
You haven't addressed the big "Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead" line from earlier in the query. With something that big that demands some explanation, I'd recommend leaving the line out.

Given the strength of this query I think you could leave out all mention of mom and you'd be fine. However, if you want to really up the stakes at the end, showing how a Bad Situation just got so much Worse, you could throw in something like, "As Janie tries to make her own decisions and control her own destiny, her mother comes back into town wanting to see Janie dead for her own reasons."

Personally, I prefer this second version of your query. I also think you have a good handle on presenting your story and hope you do very, very well with it!
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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by Emily J » June 29th, 2010, 10:18 am

Penang wrote:Thanks, Quill!

Okay, so I took a long hard look at it and decided to try an entirely new one :) I haven't completely abandoned the first but I'm just so stuck on the wording that I can't figure out how to rework it.

**Second query***

People only hurt you. It’s an adage Janie Carter holds onto an adage Janie Carter has held...?? possibly? since first her father and then her mother deserted her. But Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead. this begs the question, why does Janie's mother want her dead? And how does she know that? Why did the mother walk out instead of killing her?? Her family legacy is built on an ancient legend and myth is there a need to use both legend AND myth? isn't one sufficient that will change who and what she will become. "change who and what she will become" is both cliched and vague, if you read this again the legend or myth is never really explained, so this really isn't telling me anything

Janie’s a “new blood” in Everett, Montana I think you need a comma here, and what does "new blood" mean? assuming that there is a specific meaning because of the quotation marks where everyone seems to be hiding something. cliched and vague again When she starts dating Marcus, the town begins to split why? and into what factions? and Marcus must reveal the truth behind the town secret. They are Shifters, infected by the blood of the first shape shifter, and have been waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled by The One marked by the Raven. perhaps this should be in quotation marks? A mark just like the one on Janie’s back. This is getting better, we have a few more specifics

The problem for Janie is that both sides of town see her death as the only way to get what they want and fulfill the prophecy. second time you have used the terms fulfill the prophecy, and what is this prophecy? As Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her cut this part, it is cliched and her sense of reality is destroyed, she must face the warring desires of the town awkward construction for power and a cure. assuming the prophecy is a cure for the Shifters, but it might be more comprehensible if you come out and say this

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE is a paranormal YA novel, complete at 82,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy.

***

I'm still struggling to work her mother back in to the last paragraph since her mother is the main antagonist, but doesn't appear until the end of the book.
The story sounds interesting but you need to drop the cliches. Even the opening adage is a cliche. Throw out the cryptic vague sentiments and focus instead on the unique specifics of the novel. I think you need to spell out the prophecy that Janie is to fulfill but also why the townspeople believe she must die to fulfill it. At this point if you are having a hard time fitting the mother in, my recommendation is to leave her out! I think a decent rule of thumb is to query only the plot until the rising action. It sounds to me (and this is a guess) that the mother is a twist that comes in later. But of course only you know so only you can decide what needs to be included and what can safely be excluded. One other suggestion is to describe the mark on her back earlier, that way it feels less contrived when the One Marked by the Raven prophecy is mentioned.

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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by clara_w » June 30th, 2010, 10:59 am

I'd say "her father and her mother deserted her."

Also, I prefer the second version way better then the first. It's more digested, its not throwing new things and terms at me. I like this query =)

Penang
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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by Penang » June 30th, 2010, 6:48 pm

Thanks for the feedback! I totally agree on some of the awkward phrasing and the cliches. I'll work on finding a better way to say it. I'm going to rework both of the queries this week.

:) Ang

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Re: The Evolution of Janie YA query

Post by dios4vida » July 2nd, 2010, 2:15 pm

Penang wrote: People only hurt you. It’s an adage Janie Carter holds onto since first her father and then her mother deserted her. But Janie’s heritage goes further than a mother who is determined to see her dead. Her family legacy is built on an ancient legend and myth that will change who and what she will become.

Janie’s a “new blood” in Everett, Montana where everyone seems to be hiding something. When she starts dating Marcus, the town begins to split and Marcus must reveal the truth behind the town secret. They are Shifters, infected by the blood of the first shape shifter, and have been waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled by The One marked by the Raven. A mark just like one on Janie’s back.

The problem for Janie is that both sides of town see her death as the only way to get what they want and fulfill the prophecy. As Janie’s carefully constructed walls crumble around her and her sense of reality is destroyed, she must face the warring desires of the town for power and a cure.

THE EVOLUTION OF JANIE is a paranormal YA novel, complete at 82,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy.
I see a lot of potential in your story, Ang. I think you have a really good premise. My problem is that I'm not getting a really clear picture of what exactly is going on here.

I really like your first paragraph - it's intriguing and really makes you want to read more. When we skip straight to the "new blood" I'm thinking it's some kind of fantasy thing, like the shape shifters later. I'm still not entirely sure if "new blood" is significant or just a way you're saying she's new in town. Kinda got hung up there.

The whole Shifters/Raven/Mark thing is very interesting, and that both sides think she needs to die is great. I got excited about that. But then the last sentence feels like it drops the tension: "face the warring desires of the town for power and a cure" loses me. How does she face the warring desires of the town? What exactly does that mean? What power is she trying to gain, or destroy? And what cure are you talking about?

I think that if you clarify just a little bit on the last part you'll be golden. Good luck!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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