BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE Query help!

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1swedishfish
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BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE Query help!

Post by 1swedishfish » February 22nd, 2014, 3:26 pm

Dear Agent,

When 17-year-old Emma Rocklin moves to the mystical swamp town of Brentwood, Louisiana, where voodoo is law, she thinks the worst part about being the new girl is wrangling a spot on the cheer squad, garnering a homecoming nomination, and snagging the “it” guy. Instead, she is attacked and left for dead in the woods behind her house. Now she’s an exquisite walking corpse. With the help of best friends Candice Bourque (the Belle of Brentwood), Nina Walker (a descendent of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau), and Andrew Ryan (a descendent of sugarcane mogul Étienne de Boré), Emma learns that her curse is the result of a rivalry between the Walker’s and the Ryan’s that dates back to the 18th century. The Ryan’s had control of the port of New Orleans, and the Mississippi River above it, accumulating money, power, and slaves to the family empire. The Walker’s were left powerless—except Voodoo and the spell of an ancient curse only a skilled Bokor could cast. To help cure Emma, Nina has to renounce the secret society she belongs to, and Andrew must shun his estranged brother. Things complicate when Emma falls in love with a monster and a hero—but doesn’t know which one is which.

Hers is not a scintillating story about immortality, but rather the unceremonious rend from consciousness as she knows it. BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE is a 78,000-word YA paranormal thriller with romantic elements, and stands alone, but lends itself to a series. It will appeal to readers of THE SECRET CIRCLE and older readers of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE series as it features a strong female protagonist in a mystical setting.



Thanks everyone in advance for your help! Be brutal.

2 hours later...

Per a friend I have a revised query below, but would like to hear from others I don't know regarding the one above or below.

17-year-old Emma Rocklin is attacked and left for dead in the woods behind her house in swampy Brentwood, Louisiana. She awakens the next morning an exquisite walking corpse subject to voodoo. Emma discovers her curse is the result of a rivalry between two powerful families that date back to the 18th century.

Her boyfriend's family had control of the port of New Orleans, and the Mississippi River above it, accumulating money, power, and slaves to the family empire. Her best friend's family was left powerless—except Voodoo and the spell of an ancient curse only a skilled Bokor could cast. To help presently cure Emma, her best friend has to renounce the secret society she belongs to, and her boyfriend must shun his estranged brother. But this would also mean amends between both sides, and there are forces that don't want this to happen. Things complicate when Emma falls in love with a monster and a hero—but doesn’t know which one is which.

Hers is not a scintillating story about immortality, but rather the unceremonious rend from consciousness as she knows it. BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE is a 78,000-word YA paranormal thriller with romantic elements, and stands alone, but lends itself to a series. It will appeal to readers of THE SECRET CIRCLE and older readers of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE series as it features a strong female protagonist in a mystical setting.

Sweet Venom
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Re: BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE Query help!

Post by Sweet Venom » February 22nd, 2014, 7:31 pm

Starting the query off with "17-year-old Emma Rocklin is attacked and left for dead in the woods behind her house in swampy Brentwood, Louisiana" is an instant hook that works because I know how old your protagonist is, where she lives, and what happened to her. It drew me in.

Is the boyfriend a fully developed character as well? If so, instead of putting "her boyfriend's family..." maybe you could put "[insert name]'s family..." - I just personally don't like the way "her boyfriend's family" sounds, and you do mention the name of her best friend, who I am assuming plays a large role. If the boyfriend plays a minor role however, keep it as it is.

I would also take out the word presently in "to help presently cure Emma" - it's not needed.

- Sorry, you only put the best friend's name in the first query, didn't catch that the first time. That being said I think it's fine if you don't mention their names. Definitely go with the second query. All of the names in the first one became confusing and bogged me down.

Jillian Karger
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Re: BENEATH THE CYPRESS TREE Query help!

Post by Jillian Karger » February 23rd, 2014, 11:03 pm

The second query is definitely much stronger. However I would suggest that you DO name the boyfriend and best friend, so you don't have to keep saying "her boyfriend" and "her best friend"--it feels clunky. There was a character soup in the previous draft but it's okay to name just two more characters.

Voodoo is also in lower case early in the letter then capitalizes later on.

And I think you mean younger readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, since those are for adults.

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