Lost Cargo *updated version*

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Holly
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Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » December 26th, 2010, 7:40 pm

Updated version at the very, very end
Hello, I'm horrible with queries and thank you in advance for any feedback.

Title -- I'm waffling between Black Triangle and Lost Cargo. I like Black Triange better, but it seems too common. I posted an earlier query here two months ago under Black Triangle. I plan to send this out in mid-January.

This comes to 350 words with agent personalization and address, fiction credits, and my contact
info. I don't want to make it any longer.

Thanks!



When a galactic animal control ship crashes in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park and the cargo escapes, six-eyed pilot Tech 29 begins to search the city, falls in love with Earth, and wishes he could stay-–until he finds out about the Great Garbage Patch and nuclear weapons. He realizes he might be the luckiest one on the planet because he can leave. Maybe.

At the same time, college student Travis Maguire, Lexie, the girl he loves, and her brother Burke break into the wreck and steal an enigmatic souvenir. After Burke steps in a trap, they’re forced to leave him behind, and the wreck seems to vanish into the woods. The souvenir turns out to be a device that tracks a murderous creature through the streets and subway under Washington's famous landmarks.

When Travis and Tech 29 finally meet, Travis has to decide whether to trust the alien and return the tracker or keep it for himself. The device is the only hope to find Burke, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose Lexie, too.

LOST CARGO is a speculative fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. (agent personalization here)

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the ___________ newspaper. My recent short fiction includes ___________. I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,
Last edited by Holly on January 6th, 2011, 6:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Lost Cargo

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 26th, 2010, 9:41 pm

A few overall thoughts-- I think you have an interesting premise, but you don't develop the stakes enough in the query. For starters, the consequences of a space-ship-load of alien critters running around Washington, DC. You also might want to slim down the section introducing the pilot. His reaction to Earth isn't the hook-- the crash is the kickoff, and the consequences of the (other?) main characters stumbling upon the ship and nabbing the tracking device is the main complication.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » December 27th, 2010, 12:25 am

Thanks, sbs_mjc1. I appreciate your feedback.

Some of the phrasing could be better, but does this draft seem to be going in the right direction?



When college students Travis Maguire, Lexie Collins, and her brother Burke find the wreck of a black triangular aircraft in an isolated area of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, Travis steals an enigmatic souvenir with no thought about the consequences. Then Burke stumbles into a security grid. Travis and Lexie face a cynical police department when they go for help, can’t find the black triangle on their own again, and begin to argue with each other about the rescue.

The souvenir turns out to track a murderous creature that imitates a pillar in a parking garage and roams the streets and subway tunnels under Washington’s famous landmarks for prey. Travis is finally tackled in the dark by the black triangle’s pilot, a six-eyed galactic animal control technician. He has two seconds to decide to trust the alien and return the tracker, or fight to keep it for himself. The tracker is the only hope to find the ship and Burke again. And Travis has another problem. He’s falling in love with Lexie, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose her, too.

LOST CARGO is a speculative fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. (agent personalization here)

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the ____________ newspaper. My recent short fiction includes ________________. I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,
Last edited by Holly on January 6th, 2011, 6:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 27th, 2010, 1:26 am

Much better! More focused and a better sense of the stakes. (also I quite like the image of a predator that camoflages itself as a concrete pillar.)
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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » December 27th, 2010, 6:17 am

Thanks again for your thoughts, sbs_mjc1.

My worry is the last query version makes the novel seem like a plain old monster movie. The story does have a monster, but it also has a philosophical streak that I didn't convey.

The six-eyed animal control tech is just a regular guy who end ups saddened by humanity, wants to do his job, collect his creature, and leave for the stars. He isn't here for world peace, to take over the city, or anything like that. He's just a guy. Travis is just a guy, too.

The real fight in the story is between the humans. Travis is in love with Lexie, but stands in the way of her brother's rescue to give the alien time to leave, and she almost hates him for it. I do have all this stuff in the synopsis, though.

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by allegedauthor » January 5th, 2011, 9:33 pm

Holly wrote:Thanks, sbs_mjc1. I appreciate your feedback.

Some of the phrasing could be better, but does this draft seem to be going in the right direction?

*Updated version*



When college students Travis Maguire, Lexie Collins, and her brother Burke find the wreck of a black triangular aircraft in an isolated area of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, Travis steals an enigmatic souvenir with no thought about the consequences. Then Burke stumbles into a security grid. Travis and Lexie face a cynical police department when they go for help, can’t find the black triangle on their own again, and begin to argue with each other about the rescue.

The souvenir turns out to track a murderous creature that imitates a pillar in a parking garage and roams the streets and subway tunnels under Washington’s famous landmarks for prey. Travis is finally tackled in the dark by the black triangle’s pilot, a six-eyed galactic animal control technician. He has two seconds to decide to trust the alien and return the tracker, or fight to keep it for himself. The tracker is the only hope to find the ship and Burke again. And Travis has another problem. He’s falling in love with Lexie, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose her, too.

LOST CARGO is a speculative fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. (agent personalization here)

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the ____________ newspaper. My recent short fiction includes ________________. I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,
I think this second attempt shows more than the first. The only nitpick I have is to focus on the MAIN problem. The love Travis has for Lexie is a subplot. Another thing to consider is putting Travis and his friends instead of Travis and names of friends. It puts the central focus on your protagonist. It's just my opinion though. Queries are a hard beast to tame. But I certainly do LOVE the idea!

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » January 6th, 2011, 5:54 am

Hi alledgedauthor. Thanks for your comment. I'm deep in the query thickets and appreciate feedback.

Burke and Lexie are not really friends, so I don't want to say that. Travis finds a Nikon camera with UFO photos in Rock Creek Park, shows them to Burke, an obnoxious "family friend" and former Associated Press photographer, to get his opinion, but Burke just laughs at the photos. Burke's sister Lexie, a UFO buff, is there. They're in Union Station, see a woman who appeared in the photos, follow her all over the city, etc. etc.

The Travis-Lexie love story is one of the main storylines, and I have to show what he might lose (her love) by his choice to help the aliens or not, so I put it in there -- otherwise, it's just a monster story. I already left out the alien technician's story, which makes the novel different (no room for it).

I came up with the logline "When a galactic animal control ship crashes in Washington, D.C., a man struggles against the woman he loves to give the aliens time to leave." I'm trying to figure out how to work it into the query. Right now I have this sentence at the beginning of the synopsis.

About names, I found it more cumbersome to say "the brother of the girl he loves" than just Burke. I'll keep working on it.

Thanks again! Ripping my hair out...

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by AContos » January 6th, 2011, 10:46 am

Hello! I'm in the midst of trying to cobble together my own query, so all the usual caveats apply!
Holly wrote:Thanks, sbs_mjc1. I appreciate your feedback.

Some of the phrasing could be better, but does this draft seem to be going in the right direction?

*Updated version*



When college students Travis Maguire, Lexie Collins, and her brother Burke find the wreck of a black triangular aircraft in an isolated area of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park,is the exact location really important? you might consider removing if it not, since this is a pretty long and involved sentence already. Travis steals an enigmatic souvenir with no thought about the consequences. Then Burke stumbles into a security grid. Maybe it's just me, but I don't know exactly what this means, and I never would have guessed it meant Burke went missing until I read the bottom of the last graph that said Travis needs to find Burke.Travis and Lexie face a cynical police department when they go for help, can’t find the black triangle on their own again, and begin to argue with each other about the rescue.They way this sentence is written, it reads that when Travis and Lexie can't find the triangle again, argue with each other and go for help, they face a cynical polic dept. Maybe that is what you're trying to say, but it was confusing on first read, maybe consider re-ordering? 'Travis and Lexie are met with cynicism when they can't lead the police back to the triangle. Their constant arguing about the best course for rescue doesn't help.' Just a suggestion!

The souvenir turns out to track a murderous creature that imitates a pillar in a parking garage and roams the streets and subway tunnels under Washington’s famous landmarks for prey. Travis is finally tackled in the dark by the black triangle’s pilot, a six-eyed galactic animal control technician. He has two seconds to decide to trust the alientrust the alien about what? does the alien offer to help him find Burke? and return the trackerIt took me a few seconds to figure out that the tracker was the souvenir that Travis took, or fight to keep it for himself. The tracker is the only hope to find the ship and Burke again. And Travis has another problem. He’s falling in love with Lexie, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose her, too.I like this ending. But I think what might be diluting the stakes a bit is that we're not really sure what the consequences for not returning the tracker are for Travis. You say he's attacked, so I think 'oooh, alien is gonna kill him if he doesn't hand it over!', but when I read he has to decide whether to trust the alien, I think maybe it's not quite so dire...like the alien is trying to make some kind of deal with him. So maybe the alien isn't so scary and Travis better keep that thing or Lexie will never forgive him for giving up on her brother so easily!

LOST CARGO is a speculative fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. (agent personalization here)

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the ____________ newspaper. Not sure working in the advertising dept is relevant work experience, but definitely keep the published short fiction and pertinent memberships.My recent short fiction includes ________________. I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,
I think you've got the template for a good query, you just need to clarify a few things. Take what works in my comments and toss the rest! Hope that helps!

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » January 6th, 2011, 5:21 pm

AContos, just a quick note to thank you for your feedback. I appreciate all the comments.

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Lil Tailor » January 6th, 2011, 5:55 pm

Holly wrote:

When college students Travis Maguire, Lexie Collins, and her brother Burke this feels awkward to me. I feel like you could word their names a bit better find the wreck of a black triangular aircraft do we need to know the color of the ship and its shape? Is not the wreck of an aircraft significant enough?in an isolated area of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, Travis steals an enigmatic why is it enigmatic? souvenir with no thought about the consequences seems like you could just write "without thinking Travis steals a thingy". Then Burke stumbles into a security grid. where? when? It also doesnt really flow from the previous lineTravis and Lexie face a cynical police department when they go for help, can’t find the black triangle on their own again, and begin to argue with each other about the rescue. I like this last sentence.

The souvenir turns out to track a murderous creature that imitates a pillar in a parking garage Why does the creature turn into a pillar? It seems odd that it would turn into a very specific thing? does its planet have tons of pillars or something? and roams the streets and subway tunnels under Washington’s famous landmarks for prey why is it roaming? Wouldnt it more likely find a spot and stay there since it turns into a stationary pillar as camo?. Travis is finally why finally? Has he been trying to tackle travis before? tackled in the dark by the black triangle’s pilot, a six-eyed galactic animal control technician lol. He has two seconds to decide to trust the alien and return the tracker, or fight to keep it for himself this sentence seems long for what it says.. The tracker is the only hope to find the ship and Burke again. can the pilot not help him find it? Also, will the pilot not help them if he turns it over? And Travis has another problem. He’s falling in love with Lexie, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose her, too. nice

LOST CARGO is a speculative fiction novel complete at 80,000 words. (agent personalization here)

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the ____________ newspaper. My recent short fiction includes ________________. I’m a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

I like this one overall better than the first one. I like the story too.

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Re: Lost Cargo *updated version*

Post by Holly » January 6th, 2011, 6:05 pm

Thanks again, everybody, for all the comments. I'm probably going to go with this version and see what happens. I appreciate all the comments, pro and con. To answer some of them:
(1) I want to say that the story takes place in Washington, D.C.
(2) I want to tell the color of the ship -- it makes the query more interesting, plus black triangles are classic sci-fi;
(3) The shapeshifter turns into a lot of things because it's, well, a shapeshifter -- I just listed a pillar in a parking garage because that's different. Since I said the shapeshifter is murderous, that means it's roaming the city for prey.
(4) I want to keep the bio bit about advertising because I wrote ad copy, among other things, plus it makes me seem like a human being.


** updated version **


This version is for an agent who prefers the intro at the start, plus asks about writing plans (a sequel, etc.):


I’m seeking representation for LOST CARGO, an 80,000 word science fiction/fantasy novel about a galactic animal control ship that crashes in Washington, D.C. (agent personalization here) I’m currently outlining a sequel and planning a third novel.

When college students Travis Maguire, Lexie Collins, and her brother Burke find the wreck of a black triangular aircraft in an isolated area of Rock Creek Park, Travis steals an enigmatic souvenir with no thought about the consequences. Then Burke steps in a trap. Travis and Lexie face a cynical police department when they go for help, can’t find the wreck on their own again, and begin to argue about the rescue.

The souvenir turns out to track a murderous shapeshifter that imitates a pillar in a parking garage and roams the streets and subway tunnels under Washington’s famous landmarks. Travis is finally tackled in the dark by the black triangle’s pilot, a six-eyed galactic animal control technician. He has seconds to trust the alien and return the tracker, or fight to keep it for himself. The tracker is the only hope to find the ship and Burke again. And Travis has another problem. He’s falling in love with Lexie, and if he makes the wrong choice, he might lose her, too.

I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked in advertising for the __________ newspaper. My recent short fiction includes __________________. I’m a member of Pennwriters and the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

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