HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

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Severus Lawliet
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HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 10th, 2010, 9:09 pm

Hi! This is the first query I've posted, but I've made sure to reply to others first. So don't worry, I've contributed. Anyway, please TEAR THIS QUERY APART! Crunch it, rip it, use it as toilet paper. Beat it like a wild animal. I can handle it, don't worry. But um...remember, I'm a newbie...don't be too harsh XD.

Nitpick, if all else fails.

-----
Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya dislikes children. In fact, he downright hates them. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money for the new art supplies that he wants so desperately. Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his not-girlfriend.

Note to self, if you want to keep a job then whatever you do, don't tell your friend with benefits, who happens to be your manager, that you think the relationship you have is unhealthy.

Knowing that it goes against his lazy lifestyle of having things handed to him and being told exactly what to do, Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper. He doesn't exactly get what he bargained for when the only people who reply to the ad ask him to babysit their son, Haley Myers.

Haley happens to be eleven, cheerful, bright eyed and childish. Basically he looks perfectly capable of babysitting himself. But when the other side of Haley's personality releases itself Alex finds himself dealing with an insane, cunning, eerie boy with an unnatural blood lust.

Alex is caught between just quitting the job and also quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

HALEY is a 50,000 word Suburban Gothic novel.

Thank you for your consideration!

Severus Lawliet
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priya g.
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by priya g. » October 11th, 2010, 12:04 pm

Hi Severus. My suggestions are in capital letters, inserted in your letter.

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya dislikes children. In fact, he downright hates them COMBINE THE FIRST TWO SENTENCES- 16 YEAR OLD ALEX MONTOYA HATES CHILDREN. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money for the new art supplies that he wants so REMOVE 'SO' desperately. Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his not-girlfriend I GET WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, BUT THE SENTENCE STRUCTURE ISN'T TOO CLEAR.

Note to self, if you want to keep a job then whatever you do, don't tell your friend with benefits, who happens to be your manager, that you think the relationship you have is unhealthy CONSIDER REMOVING THIS SENTENCE.

Knowing that it goes against his lazy lifestyle of having things handed to him and being told exactly what to do, Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper CHUNKY SENTENCE- TRY BREAKING IT DOWN. He doesn't exactly get what he bargained for when the only people who reply to the ad ask him to babysit their son, Haley Myers WELL CUT THE SENTENCE TO ONLY HALEY PARENT'S REPLYING TO THE ADD, INTRODUCE THE PROBLEMS WITH HALEY BEING SOMETHING HE HADN'T BARGAINED FOR.

Haley happens to be eleven, cheerful, bright eyed and childish. Basically he looks perfectly capable of babysitting himself IF HE IS CHILDISH, HOW CAN HE LOOK AFTER HIMSELF?. But when the other side of Haley's personality releases itself Alex finds himself dealing with an insane, cunning, eerie boy HMMM, PERSONALLY, THIS SEEMS LIKE AN OVERDOSE OF ADJECTIVES- CUT IT TWO WORDS THAT CAPTURE HALEY with an unnatural blood lust.

Alex is caught between just quitting the job and also quitting his paycheck RETAIN ONE- QUITTING JOB OR PAYCHECK BECAUSE THEY IMPLY THE SAME, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

HALEY is a 50,000 word Suburban Gothic novel.

Thank you for your consideration!

Severus Lawliet


the characters come out well but the conflict isnt coming out very strong.
hope I helped!

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wilderness
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by wilderness » October 11th, 2010, 12:06 pm

Hi Severus!

Although your first few paragraphs are funny, they don't seem to fit -- is this story supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or scary? Also, I don't think 'suburban gothic' is a recognized genre -- maybe you should choose one of YA suspense or YA horror or YA urban fantasy.

Also, the reason why Alex decides to babysit (that he needs money) is really unimportant, but you spend half the query on it. Instead, I would start with the hook: Alex babysitting an unusual child. And then expand, with specifics. Instead of saying the child is "insane, cunning, eerie boy with an unnatural blood lust", give us examples of things the child does that makes Alex think these things...e.g. is he cruel to animals, make strange comments (and what are the comments), etc.

From there, amp things up. Tell us how Alex knows that the child's parents seem unconcerned about this behavior. Did he do something in front of them that they ignored? Then, what does Alex do about it all? What choices is he confronted with?

By the way, there are so many stories about demon children, a la The Omen and The Exorcist that you really have to work hard to tell us what is unique about this story.

Hope that helps!

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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 11th, 2010, 12:29 pm

Oh wow, such great advice! Thank you, I'll have the second version up maybe later today!
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 11th, 2010, 11:15 pm

Wotcher! Okay, here is version two. Thank you for the advice from everyone! Tell me what you think!

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money for the new art supplies that he wants desperately. Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his ex-girlfriend.

Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper, even though it goes against his rules of having things handed to him. A couple replies to the ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son.

Haley Myers is a mature, bright eyed kid with academic skills and an open and helpful personality. He offers to mow the neighbors lawn, wash the car, even trim the hedges of the people who live across the street from him.

Despite the fact that they all decline his offers, Alex thinks that Haley meant sincerely to help. To Alex he looks perfectly capable of watching himself for a hour while his parents go to the movies.

But when the other side of Haley's personality releases itself Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Alex is even more surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain.

Alex is caught between just quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

HALEY is a 50,000 word YA urban fantasy novel.

Thank you for your consideration!

Severus Lawliet
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Remmik
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Remmik » October 12th, 2010, 2:11 am

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money for the new art supplies His artistic side isn't otherwise mentioned in the query - in addition to the money issue, is there a way to include it in the query? that he wants desperately. Is this a really, really small town? Is there no way he could mow lawns or run errands for the elderly or something? Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his ex-girlfriend.

Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper, even though it goes against his rules of having things handed to him I don't understand why this violates his code - he's searching for a job, not letting his parents find one for him.. A couple replies to the ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son.

Haley Myers is a mature, bright eyed kid with academic skills and an open and helpful personality. He offers to mow the neighbors lawn, wash the car, even trim the hedges of the people who live across the street from him. Does he offer to do these things for free?

Despite the fact that they all decline his offers, Alex thinks that Haley meant sincerely to help. To Alex he looks perfectly capable of watching himself for a hour while his parents go to the movies.

But when the other side of Haley's personality releases Over time or the first day? itself Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Alex is even more surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity How is Alex sure that Haley isn't just acting like a kid and trying to freak him out?, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain. Why doesn't Alex call the cops about the animal abuse?

Alex is caught between just quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

HALEY is a 50,000 word YA urban fantasy novel.I don't get the sense this is an urban fantasy novel, YA or otherwise. I think you need to play up the supernatural bit more. Right now, it seems like Haley's a kid with a diagnosable personality disorder.

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Severus Lawliet
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 12th, 2010, 11:54 am

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money for the new art supplies His artistic side isn't otherwise mentioned in the query - in addition to the money issue, is there a way to include it in the query? that he wants desperately. Is this a really, really small town? Is there no way he could mow lawns or run errands for the elderly or something? Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his ex-girlfriend.

I co-wrote a previous novel about Alex. Only he was Alex Zimmerman. This story conflicted with his timeline so I had to change the last name. The other novel was called The Sleep Of Reason, after the painting. Art was a big thing in that, because Alex was a serious artist. I kept all the traits of the character even when I changed the last name. I really don't want to change the hobby.


Oh, I kind of forgot about the elderly....XD

I'll try to fix this.


Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper, even though it goes against his rules of having things handed to him I don't understand why this violates his code - he's searching for a job, not letting his parents find one for him.. A couple replies to the ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son.

By 'going against his rules of having things handed to him' I meant that he has a rule of people handing him things. He's very lazy. You see, his last job was given to him by his girlfriend at the time...

I'll word that sentence better.


Haley Myers is a mature, bright eyed kid with academic skills and an open and helpful personality. He offers to mow the neighbors lawn, wash the car, even trim the hedges of the people who live across the street from him. Does he offer to do these things for free?

I intended for it to be for free. I'll add that in.

Despite the fact that they all decline his offers, Alex thinks that Haley meant sincerely to help. To Alex he looks perfectly capable of watching himself for a hour while his parents go to the movies.

But when the other side of Haley's personality releases Over time or the first day? itself Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Over time. I'll include that.

Alex is even more surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity How is Alex sure that Haley isn't just acting like a kid and trying to freak him out?, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain. Why doesn't Alex call the cops about the animal abuse?

??? Kids act like that to freak people out??? If they do I'll ad it in, but I don't know any little kids who do that. And I know quite a few little kids.

Alex is kind of a weirdo. He paints macabre pictures of people dying slowly and painfully. I didn't think a dying cat would bother him, but I guess I should put down why. Thanks.

Alex is caught between just quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

HALEY is a 50,000 word YA urban fantasy novel.I don't get the sense this is an urban fantasy novel, YA or otherwise. I think you need to play up the supernatural bit more. Right now, it seems like Haley's a kid with a diagnosable personality disorder.

I'll put more fantasy in there or change the genre. I don't want him to seem like a kid with a personality disorder. Thank you for the advice!
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by wilderness » October 12th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Hi Severus --

I agree with Remmick that this isn't coming across as a fantasy. I like the examples you give that show Haley's strange behavior--definitely a lot more clear--but I think we need to see that there is something paranormal at work here. Also, I still think you ought to cut out the beginning, as Alex's reasons for babysitting are just slowing down the pacing of the query. Good luck!

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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 12th, 2010, 9:56 pm

wilderness wrote:Hi Severus --

I agree with Remmick that this isn't coming across as a fantasy. I like the examples you give that show Haley's strange behavior--definitely a lot more clear--but I think we need to see that there is something paranormal at work here. Also, I still think you ought to cut out the beginning, as Alex's reasons for babysitting are just slowing down the pacing of the query. Good luck!
Thanks! I got an opinion from a few more people (not on this forum) and they said the same thing about the first paragraph. Thank you very much for the advice!
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Thermocline » October 14th, 2010, 4:03 pm

I agree with the other comments that this doesn't come across as fantasy. I think part of what might be contributing to this is the effort you put into showing how normal everything is until you get to the fifth paragraph. Cutting a number of these elements will not only speed up your query but will also help us get the sense that things REALLY are not right with this situation.
Severus Lawliet wrote:Wotcher! Okay, here is version two. Thank you for the advice from everyone! Tell me what you think!

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting, he's run out of options to make money. for the new art supplies that he wants desperately. Unless you count crawling back to the manager of the only fast food restaurant that is hiring - she who happens to be his ex-girlfriend.

Alex puts a babysitting ad in the paper, even though it goes against his rules of having things handed to him.
A couple replies to the his ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son, Haley.

Haley Myers is a mature, bright eyed kid with academic skills and an open and helpful personality. He offers to mow the neighbors lawn, wash the car, even trim the hedges of the people who live across the street from him.

Despite the fact that they all decline his offers, Alex thinks that Haley meant sincerely to help. To Alex he looks perfectly capable of watching himself for a hour while his parents go to the movies.

But when the other side of Haley's personality releases itself
Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Alex is even more surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain.

Alex is caught between just quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

HALEY is a 50,000 word YA urban fantasy novel.

Thank you for your consideration!

Severus Lawliet
I realize those are some pretty big cuts, but I think it helps narrow the focus of your query so you're targeting the important elements. This also gives you room to expand on the fantasy elements of your novel.

I hope my comments help!

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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 14th, 2010, 4:48 pm

Thanks Thermocline! Wonderful advice!
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 14th, 2010, 4:50 pm

I already redid a version of the query before you responded though. I'll redo it according to your guidelines too, but here's what it looked like before.

---

Dear Agent,

Despite the fact that Alex isn't that fond of children, he puts a babysitting ad in the paper. He intends on getting an easy job - a quiet obedient kid to watch for an hour or two. A couple replies to the ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son.

Haley Myers is a mature, bright eyed kid with academic skills and an open and helpful personality. He offers to mow the neighbors lawn, wash the car, even trim the hedges of the people who live across the street from him. For free.

Despite the fact that they all decline his offers, Alex thinks that Haley meant sincerely to help. To Alex he looks perfectly capable of watching himself for a hour or two while his parents go to the movies.

But when the other side of Haley's personality releases the third time Alex is asked to babysit, he finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Alex is even more surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain.

The worst part is that when Haley is back to "normal" he simply tells Alex that the cat got run over by a car the previous day, the garbage can fell over the previous night and that's why the soda cans are in the front yard, and he loves his parents and thinks of Alex as a role model and would never kill anybody.

He tries to tell his friend Sam who just tells him that Haley is being a kid and trying to freak him out, and that the cat probably did get run over by a car. As much as Alex would like to believe her, he knows that something is up. There are some things that he can't ignore.

Alex is caught between just quitting his paycheck, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

HALEY is a 50,000 word Thriller novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration!
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 16th, 2010, 10:32 pm

Okay, here is the new query! Thank you everyone for your advice!

---

Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting he's run out of options to make money.

A couple replies to his ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son, Haley.

Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him.

Alex is surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain.

Alex is caught between quitting, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Severus Lawliet
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priya g.
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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by priya g. » October 23rd, 2010, 12:07 pm

Severus Lawliet wrote: Dear Agent,

Sixteen year-old Alex Montoya hates children. But other than babysitting he's run out of options to make money.

A couple replies to his ad, asking him to babysit their twelve year-old son, Haley. TOO CASUAL

Alex finds himself dealing with a boy who tortures his cat, throws soda cans at squirrels, and mutters things about how he hates and will one day kill everyone around him. IN THE EVER-GROWING WORLD OF VIDEO GAMES AND SUPER VIOLENT CIA MOVIES TO FILL KIDS MINDS WITH TORTURING THOUGHTS, THESE SEEM TOO ORDINARY INSTANCES TO PROVE HIM DIFFERENT.

Alex is surprised to see that Haley's parents are distant towards the situation THAT CAN BE EXPLAINED BY THEM BEING BUSY ETC. They blatantly ignore Haley's insanity, whether it's by talking loudly over his mutterings or leaving through the door they came when they see the cat groaning on the floor in pain. UM.. THE CAT EXAMPLE ISNT TOO OBVIOUS. HOW ABOUT SOMETHING THAT PARENTS WOULD REALLY GET PISSED AT?

Alex is caught between quitting, or sticking around to find out what exactly is wrong with Haley and why his parents aren't the least bit alarmed about his personality problems. I AM NOT SURE IF HE HAS 'PERSONALITY' PROBLEMS, MORE LIKE HE IS A NEGLECTED CHILD WITH NO ADULT SUPERVISION.

Plus, it's not like Haley is all evil - just half of the time. EVIL? NOT THE RIGHT WORD- TOO STRONG.

Thank you for your time and consideration!
YOU SKIPPED OUT THE NAME, GENRE AND WORD COUNT OF YOUR NOVEL.
Severus Lawliet
From this draft, i dont grasp any 'thriller' hint. the best way will be to find the most violent examples, e.g. (I am making this up) running on to a road and putting a kitten and letting a car crush it (eew, its creepy- but you get the point)
hope to see your next draft

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Re: HALEY - Suburban Gothic Novel

Post by Severus Lawliet » October 26th, 2010, 11:22 am

Thank you so much for all of your advice!!!

I'll post up the new query as soon as I can, thank you!
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