Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

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D.S. Deshaw
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Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 18th, 2010, 3:28 am

Take #2
Take #3

ORIGINAL:

Dear [Agent],

Kenzie Johnson just wants her mother to be around more often. Her mom thinks staying alive is more important than staying home.

Kenzie's mom is always on the run from local Native American tribes because she’s a shape shifter considered the progeny of evil. They’d love to see her dead on the side of the road. Kenzie would rather not. She’s determined to use whatever she has to keep her mom home and hidden from the hunters. Hiding her becomes a bit more difficult when two new skin walkers overload the area’s evil quota.

Kenzie can deal with that. Her mom stays home for more than a handful of months and Kenzie thinks she’s set. Things with her best friend Ryan are getting a bit complicated—in the good way—and the new boy Jack is giving him some competition.

She’d be living in a romance book if Ryan didn’t turn out to be one of the hunters who have been hunting her mom for over a year. She would’ve considered herself still lucky if she hadn’t found out Jack is one of the new skin walkers. Now she either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant.

EQUINOX is a 95,000* word young adult romance novel with a supernatural twist set in the Pacific Northwest. It follows Kenzie's struggle to please her mother while trying to follow her heart at the same time. This is my first novel. I hope it has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



*This isn't my actual word count. It's much lower--but it's also not complete. I don't plan on querying until after I've finished and polished the novel, but while I'm in the process, I'd like to see how the query is coming along. This is my upper limit word count, though.

Thanks for the help! Anything is appreciated :) My first two pages are here.
Last edited by D.S. Deshaw on August 23rd, 2010, 6:27 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by Quill » August 18th, 2010, 8:58 am

D.S. Deshaw wrote:Dear [Agent],

Kenzie Johnson just wants her mother to be around more often. Her mom thinks staying alive is more important than staying home.
Good opening.

Omit "just".
Kenzie's mom is always on the run from local Native American tribes
Awkward. If she's always on the run, how can she be around at all? If she is on the run from local tribes, why not move out of the locality? The words "always" and "local" are creating the confusion. Also, to some extent, "tribes". On the run from entire tribes? Are whole tribes pursuing her?

"Local Native American tribes" is unspecific. Name them.
because she’s a shape shifter considered the progeny of evil.
A mouthful.

Shape shifter I actually know, but not as a negative thing. I know it as a medicine or warrior thing. I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted by tribes for it.

Progeny of evil seems too obscure.
They’d love to see her dead on the side of the road.
This is an odd thing to read, like they'd be glad if she was accidentally hit by a car. Aren't they trying to kill her?
Kenzie would rather not. She’s determined to use whatever she has to keep her mom home and hidden from the hunters.
"Use whatever she has"? What does she have? Carpentry skills to build a hidden room? Money to support the family with? Not sure I'm getting the picture of what you are trying to convey, the setting and situation of your story. Is this a girl's fantasy?
Hiding her becomes a bit more difficult
So the mom goes along with the idea? It's not clear here.
when two new skin walkers overload the area’s evil quota.
What's a skin walker? What is the area's evil quota? What area? Is there such a thing as a quota? Not sure if you're joking since we're into a lot of life forms in your story we are not familiar with.
Kenzie can deal with that.
She can? How?
Her mom stays home for more than a handful of months
How many months are a handful? Does her mom actually stay home for that long, or is this all in the girl's mind? Where does she hide her mom? Does her mom have any say about any of this? Sounding like the girl is the mom here and the mom is the girl.
and Kenzie thinks she’s set.
Who's set? Kenzie, or her mom? What does "set" mean?
Things with her best friend Ryan are getting a bit complicated—in the good way—and the new boy Jack is giving him some competition.

She’d be living in a romance book if Ryan didn’t turn out to be one of the hunters who have been hunting
Awkward, "hunters who have been hunting."
her mom for over a year. She would’ve considered herself still lucky if she hadn’t found out Jack is one of the new skin walkers.
Meaning nothing without knowing what is a skin walker.
Now she either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant.
Obviously, with how you've weighted the story elements in this query, she will choose her mom. Any way to ramp up the suspense about her choosing? Right now the mom looms all-important and the boys seem like afterthoughts.
EQUINOX is a 95,000* word young adult romance novel with a supernatural twist set in the Pacific Northwest. It follows Kenzie's struggle to please her mother while trying to follow her heart at the same time. This is my first novel. I hope it has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best to not describe the book after the word count. Best to show that info in your description above.

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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by wilderness » August 18th, 2010, 4:15 pm

D.S. Deshaw wrote:Dear [Agent],

Kenzie Johnson just wants her mother to be around more often. Her mom thinks staying alive is more important than staying home.

Kenzie's mom is always on the run from local Native American tribes because she’s a shape shifterconsidered the progeny of evil. The last clause feels awkward. Consider putting in the next sentence as indicated. They consider her kind the progeny of evil and, they’d love to see her dead on the side of the road.Kenzie would rather not. Obvious information. She’s determined to use whatever she has to keep her mom home and hidden from the hunters. Hiding her becomes a bit more difficult when two new skin walkers overload the area’s evil quota. What are skin walkers?

Kenzie can deal with that. Her mom stays home for more than a handful of months and Kenzie thinks she’s set. Things with her best friend Ryan are getting a bit complicated—in the good way—and the new boy Jack is giving him some competition.

She’d be living in a romance book if Ryan didn’t turn out to be one of the hunters who have been hunting her mom for over a year. She would’ve considered herself still lucky if she hadn’t found out Jack is one of the new skin walkers. Now she either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant. Her mom seems the obvious choice.

EQUINOX is a 95,000* word young adult romance novel with a supernatural twist set in the Pacific Northwest. This doesn't feel like a YA romance since the emphasis is on the danger to her mom. It might be better categorized as YA fantasy. It follows Kenzie's struggle to please her mother while trying to follow her heart at the same time. We know this from the above description. This is my first novel. I hope it has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Good start, but I suggest telling a little more about Jack and Ryan, why Kensie is interested in them, how she feels when she learns the truth. Right now it feels a little flippant -- I would try to give more drama to the conflict.

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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by Krista G. » August 19th, 2010, 2:12 am

D.S. Deshaw wrote:Dear [Agent],

Kenzie Johnson just wants her mother to be around more often. Her mom thinks staying alive is more important than staying home.

Kenzie's mom is always on the run from local Native American tribes because she’s a shape shifter considered the progeny of evil. Yeah, this last phrase is a bit of a mouthful. They’d love to see her dead on the side of the road. Kenzie would rather not. She’s determined to use whatever she has to keep her mom home and hidden from the hunters. Hiding her becomes a bit more difficult when two new skin walkers overload the area’s evil quota.

Kenzie can deal with that. When her mom stays home for more than a handful of months, and Kenzie thinks she’s set. Things with her best friend Ryan are getting a bit complicated—in the good way—and the new boy Jack is giving him some competition. The transition from Kenzie's mother's situation to Kenzie's love life is a bit abrupt.

She’d be living in a romance book if Ryan didn’t turn hadn't turned out to be one of the her mother's hunters who have been hunting her mom for over a year. Nice conflict! She would’ve considered herself still lucky if she hadn’t found out Jack is one of the new skin walkers. I have a suggestion for combining these two sentences: "She'd be living in a romance book if Ryan hadn't turned out to be one of her mother's hunters--and if Jack weren't one of the new skin walkers." Now she either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant. I'm thinking there's a catchier way to sum this up, but nothing's springing to mind.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult paranormal romance* novel with a supernatural twist set in the Pacific Northwest. It follows Kenzie's struggle to please her mother while trying to follow her heart at the same time. This is my first novel. I hope it has series potential. The first sentence here tells what you've already shown (as several others have pointed out). The second sentence is obvious, since you don't provide any credentials (although it took me a while to finally strike a similar sentence from my query, so I don't blame you for throwing it in). And starting off any sentence with "I hope" comes across as a little needy in a query.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
On the whole, I think this has potential. I especially love how the mother is integral to the story, since parents are so often throwaway characters in YA fiction. Good luck with finishing it up!

*After reviewing wilderness's post, I just thought I'd add that he/she (sorry, wilderness, I'm not sure of your gender...) makes a good point here. As I said before, I love how the mom's so central to the plot, but it does throw a wrench into some of the other story elements. Would any likable protagonist even think of choosing a boy over her mother? And if the mom's the central issue, the romance really can't be. I'm not saying you have to change your plot, just how you present it.
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 19th, 2010, 2:48 am

Thank you Quill, wilderness, and Krista G. for your thoughts! I realized reading through your comments that I didn't start the query with the conflict. I tried fixing up and clarifying what I had but it turned more into a complete rewrite. Hopefully this version leaves less questions and even more interest :) Please let me know if I'm headed in the right direction.



Dear [Agent],

Kenzie knows three things for sure in the beginning of September: she really likes her best friend, the new boy in school seems genuinely interested in her, and her mom needs to stay home more often. By the end of December, she isn't so sure anymore.

Her best friend Ryan turns out to be one of the hunters who has been after her mom for over a year. She isn't sure she can be with a boy that wants to kill her mom, but it doesn't make her like him any less. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe. When two new skin walkers move into the area, the hunters intensify their efforts. Her mom leaves and she tells Kenzie that the only way she'll come back is if the new skin walkers leave.

Kenzie is determined to find these new skin walkers and persuade them to move. Washington state is rich with forests so she doesn't think her request is too much to ask for if it'll keep her mom safe. That changes when she accidentally finds out the new boy, Jack, is one of the skin walkers. She likes him but her mother taught her that skin walkers leave, and she doesn't want to be left when she's in love.

Kenzie must make a choice between pleasing her mom and following her heart. She still likes Ryan, but being with him is betraying her mother. She likes Jack, but her mom won't come home until he's gone. She either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult paranormal romance novel set in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 2)

Post by RebeccaB » August 19th, 2010, 5:14 am

Welcome to the world of queries, I have been struggling with my own at the moment, so i hope i can help in any way with yours. I have found the replies to my query extremely helpful.

Kenzie knows three things for sure in the beginning of September: she really likes her best friend, the new boy in school seems genuinely interested in her, and her mom needs to stay home more often. By the end of December, she isn't so sure anymore. IMO this paragraph is awkward, Possibly; Kenzie started the year sure of three things. She had a devoted best friend, the new boy in school was almost defiantly into her, and her mother should spend more time at home. But by December, Kenzie is having to question every aspect of her life. Not perfect, I am sure you can write better, but you get the idea.

Her best friend Ryan turns out to be one of the hunters who has been after her mom for over a year. She isn't sure she can be with a boy that wants to kill her mom, but it doesn't make her like him any less. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe. When two new skin walkers move into the area, the hunters intensify their efforts. Her mom leaves and she tells Kenzie that the only way she'll come back is if the new skin walkers leave. This also reads awkward, possibly something like; After discovering her best friend is part of a tribe hunting her mother, kenzie is torn between her emotions and her common sense. Being a skinwalker gives her the upper hand in avoiding detection, but after two new skinwalkers move into the neighborhood and the tribe intensifies their hunt, Kenzie's mother decides it is safer for Kenzie if she leaves town. Again, not perfect, but gives you an idea.

Kenzie is determined to find these new skin walkers and persuade them to move. Washington state is rich with forests so she doesn't think her request is too much to ask for if it'll keep her mom safe. That changes when she accidentally finds out the new boy, Jack, is one of the skin walkers. She likes him but her mother taught her that skin walkers leave, and she doesn't want to be left when she's in love. IMO this does read strong, possibly something like; Determined to convince the invading skinwalkers to leave so that her mother could return, Kenzie is shocked to discover the new boy in school is one of them.......... After that it gets confusing, I think she would worry more about getting her mum to come back rather than being concerned with her heart being broken by a boy leaving, a boy you have given no indication that she is actually dating, you just say she thinks he likes her.

Kenzie must make a choice between pleasing her mom and following her heart. She still likes Ryan, but being with him is betraying her mother. She likes Jack, but her mom won't come home until he's gone. She either has to be loyal to her mom, choose a boy who wants her mom dead, or choose a boy with a death warrant. I thought Ryan was the best friend, not the boyfriend, being with him, implies a relationship not a friendship. Don't see how she has a choice between them, from what you have said, there is only one choice, get her mum home. she cant choose between two boys that you have given no indication are wanting her. You sat best friend and she thinks jack likes her, but you need to clarify all of this if you are going to put it in your query. Try to pick the major plot point, write from that, try not to introduce stuff you either don't need or don't have the space to explain.


EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult paranormal romance novel set in the Pacific Northwest. Don't need to say set in pacific Northwest, and you should probably put, completed 95,000-word, also, i don't know if young adult paranormal romance is actually a genre, if it is, i apologise, if not, just say young adult novel, they can categorise it later.

I hope this helps in some way,

Happy Inking
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 2)

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 23rd, 2010, 6:26 am

Thank you, Rebecca, for your suggestions! I took a few days to sit on it and rework it in my head to be clearer. I also wanted to make the conflict between the boys, and the boys and the mom, a more even playing field. Here's the latest rewrite.

I'm really struggling with the phrase in italics. I want it to have as equal of an impact as "wants to kill her mom" but I can't think of anything strong. Any comments/suggestions/critiques are appreciated. Many thank yous in advance!

Dear [Agent],

For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder.

Kenzie is on a first name basis with her mom. Her mom is never around and she doesn't even try to be--staying alive is more of her priority than being a wife or a mom. It doesn't help that Kenzie is involved with a boy that wants to kill her mom and a boy that her mom wants to leave.

Ryan is her best friend. Or, he was her best friend until she found out he wanted to kill her mom. He is one of the hunters that have been after her mom since Kenzie and her family moved to Washington a year ago. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe. He promises Kenzie that he won't hurt her mother--he loves Kenzie so much that he'd risk betraying his tribe to keep her happy and protected.

Her mom isn't their only target, though--two new skin walkers overloaded the area's evil quota a few months ago and her mom takes advantage of their presence. By leaving. Her mom gives Kenzie an ultimatum: get the new skin walkers to leave or she won't come back. She would've done that if one of the skin walkers wasn't the new boy, Jack, who has been slowly winning her heart. He's not going anywhere, either, because he'd rather be with her than be without her.

Kenzie is in love with Ryan and Jack, but she can't be with both of them. She isn't even sure if she can be with either of them. While she's tired of her mom leaving, she's not sure if she wants to give up on her--or her family--just yet.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by lachrymal » August 23rd, 2010, 7:09 am

This might be just a problem I have, so check it out with others. But--the first time I read this, I got totally distracted by the number of times you used the words "her mom". I think it was something like 10 times in this brief query. Since Kenzie is on a first name basis with this lady, and since she appears to be a huge character in this book, can she have a name? Something about the number of "her mom"s became truly awkward by the second paragraph.

For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder.

Kenzie is on a first name basis with her mom. Her mom is never around and she doesn't even try to be--staying alive is more of her [less awkward if you said "a priority"] priority than being a wife [since you don't mention her other family much in this, can you delete the wife part?]or a mom. It doesn't help that Kenzie is involved with a boy that [this should be "boy who wants"] wants to kill her mom and a boy that her mom wants to leave ["a boy [she] wants to leave"? Why I don't know what this means. Is her mom in a relationship with one of these boys?].

Ryan is her best friend. Or, he was her best friend until she found out he wanted to kill her mom. He is one of the hunters that [if the hunters are people, it should be "hunters who have been"]have been after her mom since Kenzie and her family moved to Washington a year ago. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe. He promises Kenzie that [you could delete this "that"] he won't hurt her mother--he loves Kenzie so much that [you could delete this "that"] he'd risk betraying his tribe to keep her happy and protected.

Her mom isn't their only target, though--two new skin walkers overloaded the area's evil quota a few months ago and her mom takes advantage of their presence. By leaving. Her mom gives Kenzie an ultimatum: get the new skin walkers to leave [you've used "leave" at least three times in this query. It feels a little repetitive. If you could change the phrasing just a little for variety, I wouldn't notice it so much] or she won't come back. She [who? You've just been talking about Kenzie's mom, so if you've switched back to Kenzie, use her name] would've done that if one of the skin walkers wasn't the new boy [new boy at school? A newly created boy? New boy in town?], Jack, who has been slowly winning her heart. He's not going anywhere, either, because he'd rather be with her than be [you can delete this "be"] without her. This last sentence lacks punch, because you don't give any real consequences for him choosing to try to be with her.

Kenzie is in love with Ryan and Jack, but she can't be with both of them. She isn't even sure if she can be with either of them. While she's tired of her mom leaving, she's not sure if she wants to give up on her--or her family--just yet. Again, this falls flat for me. What are the consequences? You weave some drama through the para about Ryan and his tribe, but then in this final para, it just seems like some romantic vs. family choices.

Best of luck with this!

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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 23rd, 2010, 4:19 pm

I hadn't noticed all of the 'her mom' in there! The only problem is that while Kenzie is on first name basis with her, she still refers to her as 'her mom' in her mind. Also, I've introduced three characters already. There's no way I can introduce a fourth, it'd be name soup. I'll try to fix it around so it's not as noticable...

Thanks for pointing out all the obvious deletions! I wasn't look for those at all, especially all of the places I should've said 'who' instead of 'that.'

I'll focus on those lines that you don't feel have a punch. Although when it boils down to it, it really is romance vs. her mother. I'm not sure I can conceal that in any way without totally lying. The stakes might be simple, but it's not an easy choice for her.

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 2)

Post by Hyaline » August 23rd, 2010, 7:14 pm

OK, just to start with--great job revising this! It's much clearer and crisper this time around. I've made some points inline below, for what it's worth. Hope they help!
D.S. Deshaw wrote:
Dear [Agent],

For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder.

Kenzie is on a first name basis with her mom.I'm not quite sure what this means--Kenzie and her mom are close? Or that they have a distant relationship because she doesn't call her Mom? Her mom is never around and she doesn't even try to be--staying alive is more of her priority than being a wife or a mom. It doesn't help that Kenzie is involved with a boy thatI'd learned, old-school grammar-wise, that you always use "who" rather than "that" when talking about a person. wants to kill her mom and a boy that her mom wants to leavenot sure about the italics--I think it's stronger writing if you can show emphasis without them. Plus--if someone was trying to kill me it goes without saying I wouldn't want them around!.

Ryan is her best friend. Or, he was her best friend until she found out he wanted to kill her mom.I would combine these sentences--Ryan is her best friend--at least, he was until she found out he wanted to kill her mom. Just my preference. He is one of the hunters that have been after her mom since Kenzie and her family moved to Washington a year agoOK, this raised the wrong kinds of questions for me--if they just moved there and these issues started, why don't they move away? I wouldn't even think twice about location without this sentence--unless you can easily smooth out this hiccup without a lot of extra words, I would just cut the sentnece and move into the next idea--why they want to kill her mom. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe.This may be opening a huge can o' worms in terms of too much info, but--why does the tribe hate skin walkers? He promises Kenzie that he won't hurt her mother--he loves Kenzie so much that he'd risk betraying his tribe to keep her happy and protected.

Her mom isn't their only target, though--two new skin walkers overloaded the area's evil quota not sure about evil quota--it sounds flippant, just the turn of a phrase, but from the way you continue below, it may be something that drives the plot--you can't have too many skin walkers in one place? a few months ago and her mom takes advantage of their presence. By leaving. Her mom gives Kenzie an ultimatum: get the new skin walkers to leave or she won't come backI don't quite get why this matters to Kenzie's mom--I would have thought she'd want others of her kind around if she's got angry Indian tribes on her tail.. SheWho's she? Mom or Kenzie? would've done that if one of the skin walkers wasn't the new boy,new boy seems vague--new boy at school/in town/or skip altogether and say "wasn't Jack, who had been..." Jack, who has been slowly winning her heart. He's not going anywhere, either, because he'd rather be with her than be without her.This felt a little obvious--if he's spent time winning her over, he'd rather be with her--can you throw the stakes in there? With her and away from his family than without her? With her than without her but safe?

Kenzie is in love with Ryan and Jack, but she can't be with both of themThis line felt a little washy to me--of course she can't be with both.. She isn't even sure if she can be with either of them. While she's tired of her mom leaving, she's not sure if she wants to give up on her--or her family--just yet.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Nice job revising--I think there are just a couple points that you could smooth out. Thanks for letting us read :)

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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 2)

Post by thewhipslip » August 23rd, 2010, 10:19 pm

D.S. Deshaw wrote:I'm with Lachrymal that the repetitive use of "her mom" sticks out like an elephant in a shopping mall. And yes, everyone tends to think of their mother as "mom", but the reader won't because she's not their mom. And for the purpose of the query, repetitive word use is going to turn an agent off.

Dear [Agent],

For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder. I think this hook could be stronger. See my comments below...

Kenzie is on a first name basis with her mom Can't we be on a first name basis too?. Her mom is never around and she doesn't even try to be--staying alive is more of her priority than being a wife or a mom. It doesn't help that Kenzie is involved with a boy that wants to kill her mom and a boy that her mom wants to leave.

Ryan is her best friend. Or, he was her best friend until she found out he wanted to kill her mom Aha! I found your hook! And it seems I found your book too. Based on the first paragraph, I would have no idea that your novel was fantasy/paranormal.. He is one of the hunters that have been after her mom since Kenzie and her family moved to Washington a year ago. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe Nice drama. I'm liking this paragraph!. He promises Kenzie that he won't hurt her mother--he loves Kenzie so much that he'd risk betraying his tribe to keep her happy and protected.

Her mom isn't their only target, though--two new skin walkers overloaded the area's evil quota a few months ago and her mom takes advantage of their presence. By leaving Huh? You mean she's able to escape because the hunters are distracted by the other two? And how come they've been living there for a year and she still hasn't been killed? What's taking them so long? And if she needs two other skinwalkers to distract the hunters, then why would it take them a year to kill her? And why would she stay in one place for a year?. Her mom gives Kenzie an ultimatum: get the new skin walkers to leave or she won't come back Wait - what? I'm confused. If Kenzie doesn't like her nameless-mom, why would her mom think that she'd want her to come back?. She would've done that if one of the skin walkers wasn't the new boy, Jack, who has been slowly winning her heart. He's not going anywhere, either, because he'd rather be with her than be without her. Introduce Jack earlier. He seems to come out of nowhere. And what about Ryan? It sounds like she's blowing him off here.

Kenzie is in love with Ryan and Jack, but she can't be with both of them. She isn't even sure if she can be with either of them. While she's tired of her mom leaving, she's not sure if she wants to give up on her--or her family--just yet.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Okay, your biggest problem here: I don't care about Kenzie's family at all, and that seems to be the driving force to this novel. If the idea of maintaining her family life is what drives her every move, then make us feel that. Show us who Kenzie is and why she makes the choices that she does. And if losing her mom is so important to her, then it needs to be important to us too. Give us a sense of who her mom is, and make us want her mom to come back. Hope this helps some. Sounds like you've got a good story here, but queries tend to make them sound like the opposite. It's a nasty trait that they have. I've found that a Xanax and walks on a leash tend to make them behave. Good luck with this!
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RebeccaB
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by RebeccaB » August 24th, 2010, 4:16 am

For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder.
For a hook, this one needs a little more. Remember that the hook is the first thing the agent reads, so it needs to rock.

The rest of the query Possibly; Kenzie is used to her mother taking off, being a skinwalker means that she is forever putting her family last. Staying alive is understandably a higher priority for her. But this time Kenzie is in a position to bring her mother home. The only problem, It would mean that she would have to get the new boy, and the love of her life to leave.


Jack is a skinwalker too, and his families presence in TOWN NAME means that the tribe of hunters are out in full force. A tribe that Kenzie's best friend Ryan is a part of. Ryan has no reservations about solving her problem for her, a skinwalker is no better than a serial killer in the mind of the tribe. It is only the fact that Ryan has been in love with Kenzie since they met, that has kept them from coming after her mother.

But when Ryan and his tribe begin hunting Jack, Kenzie has to choose, the boy she loves or the mother she hardly knows. Her love for Jack might be strong, but will it be strong enough for her to sacrifice her mother?

Just a thought. It gives you an idea of how it can go. Hope it helps.

Happy Inking
RebeccaB

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Quill
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 2)

Post by Quill » August 24th, 2010, 10:10 am

D.S. Deshaw wrote: For Kenzie Johnson, keeping her mom around just got a lot harder.

Kenzie is on a first name basis with her mom. Her mom is never around and she doesn't even try to be--staying alive is more of her priority than being a wife or a mom. It doesn't help that Kenzie is involved with a boy that wants to kill her mom and a boy that her mom wants to leave.

Ryan is her best friend. Or, he was her best friend until she found out he wanted to kill her mom. He is one of the hunters that have been after her mom since Kenzie and her family moved to Washington a year ago. Kenzie's mom is a skin walker, a shape shifter no better than a serial killer to Ryan and his tribe. He promises Kenzie that he won't hurt her mother--he loves Kenzie so much that he'd risk betraying his tribe to keep her happy and protected.

Her mom isn't their only target, though--two new skin walkers overloaded the area's evil quota a few months ago and her mom takes advantage of their presence. By leaving. Her mom gives Kenzie an ultimatum: get the new skin walkers to leave or she won't come back. She would've done that if one of the skin walkers wasn't the new boy, Jack, who has been slowly winning her heart. He's not going anywhere, either, because he'd rather be with her than be without her.

Kenzie is in love with Ryan and Jack, but she can't be with both of them. She isn't even sure if she can be with either of them. While she's tired of her mom leaving, she's not sure if she wants to give up on her--or her family--just yet.

EQUINOX is a 95,000 word young adult fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
What is a skin walker? What is a shape shifter?
How old is Kenzie?
What is Ryan's tribe?
What do you mean by "the area's evil quota"? Who sets this quota?
By evil quota, you are saying skin walkers are evil, so Kenzie's mom is evil?
What kind of mom gives her daughter ultimatums about getting other people to vacate the area?
What kind of boy wants to kill someone?
Why would Kenzie's heart be open to someone (Ryan) who wants to kill her mom?
Why would Kenzie's heart be open to someone (Jack) who is evil?
If the mom is a wife, where is the husband in all this?
Again, what is a skin walker?

chris13
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by chris13 » August 26th, 2010, 6:05 pm

Hi,

I like the premise, but have some questions about skin walkers. From what I know they are the evil witches of the Navaho tribe. Are there skin walkers in the NW? Also, would a skin walker hunter abandon his role and tribe for a teen girl? This sounds like good conflict if you can make it believable. BTW, is everyone Native American in the book? Or if not, did they learn about being/hunting skin walkers from a tribe?

Just wondering.....you probably explain in it your book.

Good luck!

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D.S. Deshaw
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Re: Query: Equinox -- YA romance (take 3)

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 26th, 2010, 11:57 pm

Thank you Hyaline, thewhipslip, and Quill for your great input. I'll keep this all in mind when I revise again. I think the problem with my conflict might've been that there really wasn't a dramatic climax. I'm working on this in my plot and I'll revise when I've worked out some kinks! Thanks again!

Thanks for trying to help, Rebecca, but it feels very weird for you to be rewriting my query when you're unfamiliar with my story... I appreciate the effort and I'm sure you meant well though :) A lot of the elements you introduced in your rewrite were far different than what I have in my book. Hopefully my query wasn't giving you a false impression; maybe I should try to be clearer next time. Thanks for laying it out in another way, though. It helps reconstructing some parts easier.

Chris13, here's some answers to your questions. Skin walkers are a legend in a few Native American cultures, including Navajo and Iroquois. For the Navajo, it's a witch trade. It's not quite like that for the Iroquois. However, how one becomes a skin walker is consistent among most legends and we've used this as the basis of our skin walkers. There aren't any tribes in the Pacific Northwest that we know of that believe in skin walkers, but for many tribes it's a taboo topic (like the Navajo). We've taken this sort of 'hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil' mystique and used it to our advantage. Skin walkers are evil and banned, hunted, etc. It's not their choice to leave their tribe, they are kicked out.

Yes, everyone is pretty much Native American in some degree. Hopefully we do a good job explaining all of this in our book but you never know! Let us know if any of this sounds fishy to you :) We'd love an outside opinion by a curious bystander.
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