1st round of rejections

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choculagrl
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1st round of rejections

Post by choculagrl » December 9th, 2009, 1:41 am

Just got back first two rejections, eagerly anticipating (ha!) more. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Dear SuperAgent,

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man.

In the 66,000-word teen novel TAROT’S KISS, Lucy is exploring her new home when she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious world of tarot. Lucy develops an uncanny ability to read the cards, but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy artist on a mission of his own, and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family.

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. When Lucy’s quest becomes more complicated than expected, the leader of the Guild shows his impatience by ordering a devastating murder. Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
choculagrl

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KFran
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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by KFran » December 9th, 2009, 10:11 am

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man. (maybe just say murderer?)

In the 66,000-word teen (young adult?) novel TAROT’S KISS, Lucy is exploring her new home when she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious world of tarot. Lucy develops an uncanny ability to read the cards, but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy (don’t know if you need to say sexy? He’s an artist – all artists are sexy) artist on a mission of his own, and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family.

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. (why does she decide to help them, do they threaten her? what is her choice, to be with gavin and help them or to be murdered? not sure it’s personal enough for her?) When Lucy’s quest becomes more complicated than expected, the leader of the Guild shows his impatience by ordering a devastating murder (he orders the murder because she’s failing in the quest, or because it’s becoming complicated, not clear? Who does the leader want to kill, gavin or a random stranger?). Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill. (I don’t think you need this paragraph)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I think you have a great idea, I’d love to read a story about tarot cards and it’s a compelling theme. Good luck!

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by Jude Hardin » December 9th, 2009, 11:04 am

One of the problems with writing YA is that you have to get past the parents and librarians first. I'm thinking a lot of them would associate tarot reading with the occult and wouldn't want their girls dabbling in it. Your query is pretty good, I think, but the subject matter might be holding you back.

choculagrl
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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by choculagrl » December 9th, 2009, 11:21 am

I've wondered about that very thing concerning the topic. It's not a particularly dark book or anything(MC is like Juno meets Stephanie Plum), but people might have that whole occult association...I've considered making the MC older, but worry then that the book wouldn't appeal to adults or teens. Maybe this whole "new adult" genre will take off.

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by ebradmon » December 9th, 2009, 11:32 am

I just have to pop out of lurkdom to interject that I love the concept of this book and I disagree with that it maybe to "occult-ish" for today’s YA audience. As a young girl I read many books in the High school/public library that were occult like way before it became vogue (this was in the early 90's) Girls tend to like things that are a little naughty mixed with mysticism and this looks like it could be a very fun read.

Sinking back into the depths of lurkdom again...

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by ElisabethMoore » December 9th, 2009, 1:51 pm

Below are my thoughts. Please keep in mind that I am a rank amateur myself and take with a grain of salt.
choculagrl wrote:Just got back first two rejections, eagerly anticipating (ha!) more. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Dear SuperAgent,

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man. This hook needs to be stronger.

In the 66,000-word teen novel TAROT’S KISS, I would put this at the end, not break up the storyline with word count, genre and title. Genre is "young adult" not teen. Lucy is exploring her new home when she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious world of tarot. Lucy develops an uncanny ability to read the cards, but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy artist on a mission of his own, and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family. This all seems too wordy. Condense it into one or two good sentences. So much info dump after the name Gavin that I forgot the name and had to look up again when I read the next paragraph. That may be due to not enough coffee yet this morning though.

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. Why is Lucy motivated to take orders from the guild's leader? With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. Discovering family history is our motivation, then? When Lucy’s quest becomes more complicated than expected, the leader of the Guild shows his impatience by ordering a devastating murder. Huh? This seems to come out of left field. The sentence also feels awkward, I would lose the bolded part and fix the verb for the deletion. Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again. This kind of sentence makes a great hook: WHO must do WHAT or BAD THING will happen.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill. I would leave this paragraph out, or at least remove the bolded part.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
choculagrl

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by SmurfHead » December 9th, 2009, 6:31 pm

Very cool. I adore all things YA and urban fantasy/paranormal. It's like peanut butter and jelly--they go so well together! I actually find the occult themes to be really intriguing and unique. I'm seeing a lot of YA books about monsters and such (*tucks away own query about angsty werewolf girl*) but not so much with this kind of occultish theme.

I think your first paragraph has a nice hook, but when I read the second paragraph, I got a little confused. It took a second reading for me to realize that the story doesn't START with Lucy knowing the cards, but that we get to actually follow her as she learns. Not sure if everyone was confused, or maybe it was just me.

I really like how you've given us a rundown of the story's conflicts--Lucy trying to find out about her family, trying to find the Empress, and trying to prevent a murder. But the part about the Guild killing someone to spur Lucy on felt very sudden. It goes from, "Hey, here's the Guild. They're giving Lucy an assignment," to, "OMFG! These guys are evil!" Maybe referring to the Guild as "mysterious and dangerous" (or something to that effect) would make this feel less abrupt. Any hint of how dangerous the Guild is might be useful.

Would also be interested to learn a little bit more about the "peculiar events in her family’s history"--besides being interesting, it might give Lucy's desire to unravel her family's secrets a bit more emotional relevance in the query. Just a thought.

And, okay, I gotta say it... As a teenager, I learned how to read the cards to impress my friends and pretend to be psychic, so the subject matter of this book makes me squee :) If this had been on the shelves when I was a teen, I totally would have been obsessed with this book. And including the card spreads in the book? Awesome.
"Mind-bottling, isn't it? ...You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?"

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shadow
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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by shadow » December 9th, 2009, 6:44 pm

I think the idea is great, is it just me or is it that I have never read a YA novel about tarot, lol. Myself, still being in highschool and a YA i would probably pick up this novel, even though I am more into action, adventure and stories with fights and swords. I think the creepy and dark factors are great pluses in a story, for that is what catches me. Now to the query, I am no pro in the query letters, and am still working out my own, but I will try my best to give some novice advice.

Dear SuperAgent,

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. (When you say celebrity I imagine actors.. maybe its just me though.) Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man. Someone already mentioned this but you should just change it to murderer.

In the 66,000-word teen novel TAROT’S KISS, Lucy is exploring her new home when she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious world of tarot. Lucy develops an uncanny ability to read the cards, but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy I agree with taking sexy out, maybe mention if he is young? is he a love interest for her? artist on a mission of his own, and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family.

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. When Lucy’s quest becomes more complicated than expected, the leader of the Guild shows his impatience by ordering a devastating murder. Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again.I only had to read the paragraph once to understand but maybe cut a few of the sentences.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers Oh thats really cool!can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
choculagrl

Good Luck! I hope that I helped and that you find an agent!
All things writing, visit my blog http://arielemerald.blogspot.com/

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 9th, 2009, 7:07 pm

Oh no, I had written out a reply and I think I lost it. Whoops!

My thoughts in brief:
- I don't think it's a problem that the subject is Tarot/the occult as I think many teens are really interested in things that are creepy/subversive
- I wonder if you could be more specific about the mystery surrounding her family, and I would reveal who the leader of the Guild kills
- There were some word choices ("unwittingly", "tasks") that I'm afraid I found a tad awkward.

I like idea though. Good luck!

choculagrl
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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by choculagrl » December 10th, 2009, 12:08 am

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Back to the drawing board! Or the tarot deck, as the case may be :)

Do y'all think something like this would make for a stronger hook:

It’s too bad Lucy didn’t learn to read fortunes sooner. Perhaps then she’d have avoided stumbling into an inherited grudge match with Nathaniel Bode, the obsessive octogenarian who’s just taken her mother hostage.
Last edited by choculagrl on December 17th, 2009, 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by casnow » December 10th, 2009, 6:15 am

I like the premise, but what I really think will be a neat catch is the inclusion of the tarot cards. I don't know if this would be at all appropriate, but if you had a separate "guide to reading tarot cards" sitting in your back pocket, you could mention that as well just incase there was some interest in bulking up the length closer to 70k.

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by Hillsy » December 10th, 2009, 7:36 am

choculagrl wrote:Just got back first two rejections, eagerly anticipating (ha!) more. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Dear SuperAgent,

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man.

- She's inherited a grudge from the past. That's the hook, not the stuff about Tarot.....you cover that again later....."HSS Lucy inherits a house & a fortune, and the decade old battle...yadda yadda ya".....see what I mean...straight to the hook!

In the 66,000-word teen novel TAROT’S KISS, Lucy is exploring her new home when she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious (probably don't need mysterious....it's not like Tarot is accepted as a science....but I nitpick) world of tarot. Lucy ("develops an uncanny ability to read the cards" - clunky. "Lucy is a natural" or something similar is enough), but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy artist on a mission of his own and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family. ("Artist and hearthrob, Gavin, employs her card reading to [insert movtivation here], but the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family, have more sinister uses for Lucy."......you use draw twice in quick succession and you need to clarify Gavin's motives - even if they end up being fake)

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card - redundent; we know she's hunting the card - you just talked about the card and then said she's hunting....that's enough, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. When Lucy’s quest becomes more complicated than expected, the leader of the Guild shows his impatience ([full stop]Fine up to here. now you've got to stop and think how best to leave the query. You can really go to town here with your style and voice, and you kinda have to. Mad society seems fine then murders someone and threatens to murder again - it's a bit old hat. You need a fresh way to say it. "Now Lucy's in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and her conscience won't hold another body" - or something ilke that...see what I'm getting at??....be creative!) by ordering a devastating murder. Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
choculagrl
Sorry if the tone comes across abit harsh but I don't mean it like that.....good luck with the revisions!!!

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by c.ska » December 12th, 2009, 7:20 am

choculagrl,

I know I come in late on this, so I will keep it brief.

First of all, I love the title. I would buy this book on the title alone, though I know it is silly to judge a book by its title. I also find the premise intriguing. And, while I agree with most of the previous feedback about the use of words (such as 'murderous', 'mysterious', 'uncanny', 'sexy' etc) I must say I like the voice of the query. It has both warmth and clarity. You could add more details about the Divinatory Guild of Savannah. While I would include the tarot spreads, I'm not sure you need to mention it in the query. By the way, is it a love story as well as a mystery?

TAROT'S KISS sounds like an exciting read! Thanks for sharing.

c.ska

choculagrl
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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by choculagrl » December 13th, 2009, 12:50 am

Thanks cska! This is a great forum and the feedback has been funny, direct, and helpful. I'm wishing everyone a booming fistful of Agent Dust (mythical substance guaranteed to secure primo representation.) To answer your question, it is kind of a love story..love of the important things like men, tarot and Count Chocula.

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Re: 1st round of rejections

Post by hartjohnson » December 18th, 2009, 1:59 pm

choculagrl wrote:Just got back first two rejections, eagerly anticipating (ha!) more. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Dear SuperAgent,

High school senior Lucy Auburn never thought life would take her from mixing paint at the local hardware store to reading tarot cards for celebrity clients. Then again, she also didn’t imagine that she’d inherit a house, a fortune, and a decades-old battle with a murderous man.

As Lucy explores her new home she discovers a series of letters alluding to peculiar events in her family’s history, letters drawing her to the mysterious world of tarot. Lucy develops an uncanny ability to read the cards, but her new talent doesn’t go unnoticed; she unwittingly draws the attention of Gavin, a sexy artist on a mission of his own, and of the Divinatory Guild of Savannah, an enigmatic organization with historical ties to Lucy’s family.

The Guild’s leader tasks Lucy with finding The Empress, an invaluable tarot card last believed to have been held by Lucy’s grandmother. With Gavin as her partner, she begins the hunt, hoping that by finding the card, she’ll unravel the secrets in her family’s past. When Lucy’s quest becomes complicated, the Guild leader shows his impatience by ordering a devastating murder. Now Lucy’s in a frantic race to uncover the mystery of The Empress and prevent the Guild from killing again.

Throughout TAROT’S KISS, the main character conducts several tarot readings. These card layouts or "spreads" are included in the book so that interested readers can learn to use tarot cards while reading the story. As an experienced card reader, I know that teen girls in particular are drawn to this skill. (I'm not sure this last part will be a seller to agents--it sounds a little like it might work or might distract from the actual story, so maybe don't mention up front)
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
choculagrl
I think it sounds like an interesting story. Part of what I did here (though i don't think I managed to change all the font colors) was change things like 'leader of the guild' to Guild leader' because it just flows better to me and I think your summary could use a little tightening.

And from my perspective, Tarot, Ouija, etc. are maybe looked at darkly in the Bible belt, but in most of the country it is more a fascination or curiosity with a handful of people making noise, but most people interested and not afraid. I think the people for whom it is an issue are the same set as have issues with Harry Potter over witchcraft.

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