MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

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Shipple
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MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by Shipple » July 23rd, 2012, 5:06 pm

Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. And the school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. These people have a blind prejudice against humans. But when his sister disappears and everyone refuses to tell him what’s going on, Eric has had enough. He convinces his one friend to help him find his mother and figure out what’s going on.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is Eric’s story. This upper middle grade novel is complete at 66,000 words. I have included the first page of my manuscript below and hope to hear from you soon.

________________
7/25/12:
Thanks to all the great feedback, I edited the second paragraph. Here's the new version:


Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. The school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. Most of the students don’t like humans, and one student’s parent was killed by humans. His sister abandons him at the school, claiming she has something "important" to do, so Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel of the magical realism genre and is complete at 66,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
(*This last paragraph will change based on whether I have something agent/agency specific to say and based on whether I’ve attached/included any info, based on their guidelines)
Last edited by Shipple on July 27th, 2012, 6:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

hagenpiper
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by hagenpiper » July 24th, 2012, 9:12 am

Shipple wrote:Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

Super!

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. And the school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. These people (what kind of people?) have a blind (<-- wrong word) prejudice against humans. But when his sister disappears and everyone refuses to tell him what’s going on, Eric has had enough. He convinces his one friend to help him find his mother (not his sister?) and figure out what’s going on. (Or else what? Stress the stakes.)

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is Eric’s story. (<-- I already know that. The agent might be wondering how often you repeat yourself in the novel.) This upper middle grade novel is complete at 66,000 words. I have included the first page of my manuscript below (Only if the agent's submission guidelines require one page.) and hope to hear from you soon. (Of course, that's why you're writing this query. So if you state the obvious here, the agent might be wondering if this is something you do in the novel as well.)
This starts really strong, then stumbles toward the end. Fortunately the fixes are easy, and given a draft or two, you'll have one hell of a query! :D

LizV
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by LizV » July 24th, 2012, 4:08 pm

I think you're good up to the end of the second paragraph. Loved the quilt, loved "married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it." There's just enough mention of the school & the friend to know they're there, without getting bogged down in details.

I too wonder why Eric's interested in finding his mother but not his sister. I would punch up that last "and figure out what's going on" (incidentally, you've used that phrase a couple of times already) with some higher stakes -- figure out if this world is reality? put his family back together? put his mind back together, if they took half his memories?

The last paragraph could be streamlined as "UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel, complete at 66,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration."

chounzet
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by chounzet » July 24th, 2012, 6:29 pm

Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.I see that the world is upside down, but I'm having a hard time seeing what the norm is in the book and what is outside of reality. "ordinary" doesn't mean anything to me when centaurs and winged men are in the picture. Also, "he's been sick," seems obvious. He is in the hospital

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. love this sentenceHe can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. And the school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. These people have a blind prejudice against humans.stress why and how he doesn't fit in at the school, rather than say they have a prejudice. But when his sister disappears and everyone refuses to tell him what’s going onhis sister's shocking disappearance is enough to send him over the edge. , Eric has had enough. He convinces his one friend to help him find his mother and figure out what’s going on.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is Eric’s story. This upper middle grade novel is complete at 66,000 words. I have included the first page of my manuscript below and hope to hear from you soon.I think 5-10 pages is typcial
I think this sounds interesting! Good job keeping it professional and succinct while allowing your voice to appear in the query

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Shipple
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by Shipple » July 26th, 2012, 9:55 pm

Won't somebody please tell me whether they think my new second paragraph is actually better? I edited it into my original post b/c I thought that would be easiest to read and compare.

And to chounzet, LizV, and hagenpiper, thank you very much!
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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LurkingVirologist
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by LurkingVirologist » July 28th, 2012, 9:54 pm

"Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother [is there a way to re-word or re-phrase this so you don't use 'memory' twice in a row?]. The school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. Most of the students don’t like humans, and one student’s parent was killed by humans [this is awkwardly phrased - is it an important plot point, or can you omit from the query?]. His sister abandons him at the school [from the context, I can't tell if you mean she ignores him or literally runs off and he can't find her], claiming she has something "important" to do, so Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories."

You've got a quirky voice here, and it sounds like an interesting story. Second paragraph is much better, just those few kinks to work out.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

LizV
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by LizV » July 31st, 2012, 10:21 am

New second paragraph is definitely better; it's much more specific about what Eric finds himself facing. Might I suggest tweaking the end of it to something like:

When his sister abandons him at the school and disappears, claiming she has something "important" to do, Eric has had enough. He convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories -- even if it means [whatever he has to face to get his memories back].

You're definitely on the right track here.

suef
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by suef » August 3rd, 2012, 10:28 pm

Hi! The title alone intrigued me, so let's take a look:

Ordinary thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt. Before he can figure out what’s going on, a centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer. Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.Hmm...you have a great description but not much of a hook. Open up with something that immediately grabs and holds attention. The most surprising detail is not the flowered quilt right? It's the centaur and brother-in-law with wings, but these play second fiddle to the quilt.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the girly quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid.Ok, now more of your writer voice comes out here, and the quilt reference is cute. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. What was the cure? What did he have? Is his mother still around? A lot of questions...The school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. Most of the students don’t like humans, So this is not a school with humans? Is it a new school? What kind of school is it?and one student’s parent was killed by humans. His sister abandons him at the school, claiming she has something "important" to do, so Eric convinces his one friend to help him run away, find his mother, and recovery his memories.Who is this friend?

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is an upper middle grade novel of the magical realism genre and is complete at 66,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
(*This last paragraph will change based on whether I have something agent/agency specific to say and based on whether I’ve attached/included any info, based on their guidelines)I like the concept a lot-waking up to find the world you once knew is completely different. However, there are details left out that might reduce confusion. I've been told the query should describe what is going on in the first 20 pages-it makes things easier. Plus, the length from beginning to end should be around 250 words. Also, be careful -this might be more fantasy than magical realism, but don't quote me on that. ;) This sounds like a fun book idea. You have a great start-good luck!

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Shipple
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by Shipple » August 6th, 2012, 7:14 pm

Thanks, everyone for all of the feedback! Suef, you're probably right about the hook. I'm not exactly sure what to do with that, though . . . guess I'll have to think on it for a while. Thanks again!
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

LizV
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by LizV » August 7th, 2012, 11:54 am

A hook doesn't have to be the most surprising, OMG WHAT IS THAT?! thing in the novel. It just has to "hook" the reader enough to get them to read then next sentence. And the next, and the next.... Shipple, I think your first sentence does that just fine. The juxtaposition of the flowered quilt and the hospital equipment (where one would expect very bland bedding) is just odd enough to make me read on. And the way you use the quilt again in the next paragraph really shows your voice, which seems to be the one thing agents really latch on to.

I had a very "hooky" first line in the first few versions of my query.... It sent everyone who read it off on a wrong tangent, and when I got the opportunity to have a couple industry pros take a look, the first thing I heard was, "That's a log line. That doesn't belong here. Get rid of it!" YMMV, of course -- or rather, your target agent's MMV -- but I'd say don't sweat the "hook" thing. You don't have to sell the entire book with the first sentence; you just have to sell the second sentence. And the third sentence with the second, and so on....

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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by jenad » August 9th, 2012, 12:19 pm

If I were an agent, even with this query that needs a little more work I'd definitely be requesting more! Good luck!

gnf
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Re: MG Query: Under Sentinel Guard

Post by gnf » August 13th, 2012, 12:59 am

I worked on your original, and I think it still stands except you may want to elaborate about Eric's sister, as you did in the revision.

Ordinary When thirteen-year-old Eric Ortega wakes up surrounded by hospital equipment and covered with a flowered quilt, he's just a little confused.. Before he can figure out what’s going on,Aa centaur clip-clops in and introduces himself as Eric’s healer, and his sister is now married to a guy with wings. All of which happened while Eric has been 'ill'..Next, his sister is telling him that he’s been sick, and she married a guy with wings while Eric was out of it.

It’s a lot to take in, especially the quilt, but Eric’s a pretty flexible kid, so normally he would accept a new situation. But something here isn't right. His memories of his mother have been erased. And the school where he is enrolled following his recovery are totally against humans. When his sister disappears, he decides it's time to start figuring out what is really going on.. He can accept the evidence before his eyes. What he can’t accept is that his “cure” involved erasing half his memories, including all memory of his mother. And the school he’s sent to doesn’t make the situation any better. These people have a blind prejudice against humans. But when his sister disappears and everyone refuses to tell him what’s going on, Eric has had enough. He convinces his one friend to help him find his mother and figure out what’s going on.

UNDER SENTINEL GUARD is Eric’s story a 66 000 word This upper middle grade novel .is complete at 66,000 words. I have included the first page of my manuscript below and hope to hear from you soon.

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