Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 9

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DanaE
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Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 9

Post by DanaE » January 28th, 2012, 12:14 am

Hello! I'd love any thoughts on my query letter. I'm worried it sounds boring. Thanks so much!

Dear Agent,

1952 Texas is a boy’s paradise providing ten-year-old Allan with endless adventure. But when his mother becomes ill, Allan discovers it’s not excitement he longs for, but the comfort of family and the gift of friendship.

Allan spends most of his days riding on his best friend’s handlebars while looking for escapades like hunting blood-spitting horny toads, riding a bucking bronco, and winning the best Concho River storytelling contest.

For three years, Allan watches the construction of the town’s 128 foot dam and all he can think about is riding down its long slope. He just has to convince Raymond to take the ride with him. When Raymond finally agrees, Allan hesitates. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes Allan to feel something he’s never felt before—fear.

When Allan remembers his mother’s words, he discovers the courage he needs to conquer the adventure of a lifetime. Allan begins to understand what his mother has tried to teach him about the give and take of life and the importance of family, friends, and a special little town.

RIDING THE DAM is a humorous, yet tender, coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
me
Last edited by DanaE on February 23rd, 2012, 10:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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wilderness
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Re: Query for MG, humorous & tender coming-of-age

Post by wilderness » February 1st, 2012, 6:24 pm

DanaE wrote: Dear (insert agent name),

1952 Texas is a boy’s paradise providing ten-year-old Allan with endless adventure. But when his mother becomes ill,Allan discovers it’s not excitement he longs for, but the comfort of family and the gift of friendship. Showing v. Telling: don't tell what he feels, show us with actual examples of what happens.

Allan spends most of his days riding on his best friend’s handlebars while looking for escapades like hunting blood-spitting horny toads, riding a bucking bronco, and winning the best Concho River storytelling contest. The language is not very child-like. Try to channel 10-year-old Allan and tell the story from his perspective. What words would he use? Would he say "escapades"?

For three years, Allan watches the construction of the town’s 128 foot dam and all he can think about is riding down its long slope. I think this could be a funny thought, if you told it from Allan's POV. He just has to convince Raymond to take the ride with him. When Raymond finally agrees, Allan hesitates. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes Allan to feel something he’s never felt before—fear. Again, you're telling us what he feels, not showing it.

When Allan remembers his mother’s words, he discovers the courage he needs to conquer the adventure of a lifetime. Allan begins to understand what his mother has tried to teach him about the give and take of life and the importance of family, friends, and a special little town. This is really vague. What did his mother tell him? What adventure did he conquer? Seems like you're excluding the good stuff!

RIDING THE DAM is a humorous, yet tender, coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
me
Right now it feels very adult and all about what Allan learned. Write a query that would appeal to a 10-year-old. What is the back cover blurb that would make them want to read it? Use the same voice as your novel. An agent will want to see that you can appeal to your audience. Hope that helps!

DanaE
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Re: Query for MG, humorous & tender coming-of-age

Post by DanaE » February 7th, 2012, 9:32 pm

Thanks! I honestly had not thought about writing the query from Allan's POV - to appeal to the MG audience. I'll work on this.

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wilderness
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Re: Query for MG, humorous & tender coming-of-age

Post by wilderness » February 8th, 2012, 8:09 pm

Good luck!

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Re: Query for MG, humorous & tender coming-of-age - REVISED

Post by DanaE » February 11th, 2012, 3:10 pm

Okay, I've re-worked my query a bit. My goal was to make the query letter just as appealing to the MG audience as the book itself. I'd appreciate any and all thoughts. Thanks!

Dear (agent's name),

1952 Texas is a boy’s paradise providing ten-year-old Allan with endless adventure. Allan spends most of his days riding on his best friend Raymond’s handlebars looking for excitement like hunting blood-spitting horny toads, riding a bucking bronco, and winning the best Concho River storytelling contest.

For three solid years, Allan watches the construction of the town’s 128 foot dam and all he can think about is riding down its long slope—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. Usually, Allan’s promise that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them both, gives Raymond the encouragement he needs—but this time it’s not enough.

Just like the time Raymond provides Allan with a quick getaway from the Fifth Grade Dance—and a very tall dance partner—Raymond comes through on this challenge. Only now, his mother’s death has caused Allan to question if he’s brave enough to ride the dam. Once Allan remembers his mother’s words of him being the bravest person she’s ever known, he discovers the courage he needs to conquer the adventure of a lifetime. Allan also begins to understand the delicate give and take of life and the importance of family, friends, and a special little town.

RIDING THE DAM is a humorous, yet tender, coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

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wilderness
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Re: Query for MG, humorous & tender coming-of-age - REVISED

Post by wilderness » February 13th, 2012, 9:37 pm

Hi Dana,
Great job getting a lot more specific than your previous version. I understand the plot a lot better now. However, I'm a little confused by Raymond's role. Also, I think it would also help to try to capture Allan's voice more closely. More comments below. Hope that helps & good luck!
DanaE wrote:
Dear (agent's name),

1952 Texas is a boy’s paradise providing ten-year-old Allan with endless adventure. Allan spends most of his days riding on his best friend Raymond’s handlebars looking for excitement like hunting blood-spitting horny toads,and riding a bucking bronco, and winning the best Concho River storytelling contest.This felt a little wordy since endless adventure and looking for excitement seem redundant. Tried to streamline it a bit.

For three solid years,(Not sure you need this, and it feels kind of adult for Allan to pay attention to the number of years passing) Allan watches the construction of the town’s 128 foot dam and all he can think about is riding down its long slope—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. Usually, Allan’s promise that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them both,(no comma here) gives Raymond the encouragement he needs—but this time it’s not enough. This sentence feels a little clunky, and I'm not sure what you're getting at. Why does Raymond need encouragement -- I thought it was Allan who wanted to ride down the dam.

Just like the time Raymond provides Allan with a quick getaway from the Fifth Grade Dance—and a very tall dance partner—Raymond comes through on this challenge. Again, this sentence feels a little long and clunky. Also, Raymond comes through on what challenge? He rode the dam? Only now, his mother’s death (in this case, his seems to ambiguous to be Raymond's mother or Allan's mother since the last person mentioned is Raymnond) has caused Allan to question if he’s brave enough to ride the dam. Once Allan remembers his mother’s words of him being the bravest person she’s ever known, he discovers the courage he needs to conquer the adventure of a lifetime. Allan also begins to understand the delicate give and take of life and the importance of family, friends, and a special little town. I think it's better to end with a conflict -- leave us hanging about whether Allan will ever get to ride the dam. Also, I think you could still get closer to Allan's perspective here. How would he phrase his fear? What words would he use when remembering his mother?

RIDING THE DAM is a humorous, yet tender, coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

DanaE
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 5

Post by DanaE » February 13th, 2012, 11:09 pm

Thanks for your comments, Wilderness. I'll keep working on it. :D

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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 5

Post by DanaE » February 20th, 2012, 11:09 pm

Okay, I've decided to completely re-write, rather than just revise. All comments welcome!

Dear Agent,

In 1952 Texas, ten-year-old Allan spends his days looking for excitement and the next big adventure.

Capture blood-spitting horny toads. Check.

Watch the scariest movie to come to the Texas Theatre. Check.

Build a 15-foot boat from scratch. Check.

Don’t get accused of setting off the skunk perfume during math. Check.

Come up with a story good enough to win the Best Concho River Story-telling Contest. Check.

Ride a bucking bronco. Check.

Find a quick exit from the 5th Grade Dance. Check.

Ride down a 128 foot dam on Raymond’s handlebars. No check…yet.

All Allan can think about is riding down the long slope of the town’s newly constructed dam—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. He just has to find a way to convince his best friend to take the ride with him.

Usually, Allan’s promise that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them is all the encouragement Raymond needs—but this time it isn’t enough. When Raymond finally agrees to take the ride, Allan’s not so sure. For the first time in his life he’s afraid. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes him to question if he’s brave enough.

With Raymond’s help, Allan discovers something more important than the courage to take the ride of his life—he discovers the meaning of family, friends, and a special little town.

RIDING THE DAM is a coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

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wilderness
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 5

Post by wilderness » February 22nd, 2012, 3:17 pm

DanaE wrote:
Dear Agent,

In 1952 Texas, ten-year-old Allan spends his days looking for excitement and the next big adventure.

Capture blood-spitting horny toads. Check.

Watch the scariest movie to come to the Texas Theatre. Check.

Build a 15-foot boat from scratch. Check.

Don’t get accused of setting off the skunk perfume during math. Check.

Come up with a story good enough to win the Best Concho River Story-telling Contest. Check.

Ride a bucking bronco. Check.

Find a quick exit from the 5th Grade Dance. Check.

Ride down a 128 foot dam on Raymond’s handlebars. No check…yet.

I really like this idea! But I'm not sure you need quite so many examples before getting to "no check...yet". Maybe just 3?

All Allan can think about is riding down the long slope of the town’s newly constructed dam—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. He just has to find a way to convince his best friend to take the ride with him.

Usually, Allan’s promise that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them is all the encouragement Raymond needs—but this time it isn’t enough. I think this sentence is a little awkwardly constructed but the idea is much clearer than previous versions. I like that they believe his Comanche heritage will protect them. When Raymond finally agrees to take the ride, Allan’s not so sure. For the first time in his life he’s afraid. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes him to question if he’s brave enough. It might work nicely to tie in the Comanche heritage part again here, something to the effect of "after all, their Comanche blood didn't keep her from getting sick"

With Raymond’s help, Allan discovers something more important than the courage to take the ride of his life—he discovers the meaning of family, friends, and a special little town. IMO, you can drop this last sentence all together and simply end with the conflict. I've seen Query Shark discourage these kinds of summaries, with the reasoning that this is telling not showing.

RIDING THE DAM is a coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
I think you're really close!

DanaE
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 7

Post by DanaE » February 22nd, 2012, 8:50 pm

Thank you for commenting! I agree with having fewer adventures listed - I'm wondering which ones to keep. I may ask a few kids which ones are most enticing to them.

I'll keep working - but I'm a more excited about this direction than I have been in the past! Thanks!!

DanaE
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 7

Post by DanaE » February 23rd, 2012, 10:08 pm

another try...

Dear Agent ,

In 1952 Texas, ten-year-old Allan spends his days looking for excitement and the next big adventure.

Capture a blood-spitting horny toad. Check.

Watch the scariest movie to come to town. Check.

Come up with a story good enough to win a contest. Check.

Ride a bucking bronco. Check.

Ride down a 128 foot dam on Raymond’s handlebars. No check…yet.

All Allan can think about is riding down the long slope of the town’s newly constructed dam—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. He just has to convince his best friend to take the ride with him.

Allan reminds Raymond that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them both. Usually that’s all the encouragement Raymond needs to participate in some crazy adventure—but this time it isn’t enough.

When Raymond finally agrees to take the ride of their lives, Allan’s not so sure. For the first time in his life he’s afraid. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes him to question if he’s brave enough.

With Raymond’s help, Allan discovers it’s not excitement he longs for, but the gift of friendship and the comfort of family and one special little town.

RIDING THE DAM is a coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

kabbu
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 7

Post by kabbu » February 23rd, 2012, 10:24 pm

DanaE wrote:another try...

Dear Agent ,

In 1952 Texas, ten-year-old Allan spends his days looking for excitement and the next big adventure.

Capture a blood-spitting horny toad. Check.

Watch the scariest movie to come to town. Check.

Come up with a story good enough to win a contest. Check.

Ride a bucking bronco. Check.

Ride down a 128 foot dam on Raymond’s handlebars. No check…yet. Magic number with this kind of thing is three. By the fourth one I'm expecting a payoff, or for it to be done entirely. I'd drop either the movie or the horny toad. I like the layout though.

All Allan can think about is riding down the long slope of the town’s newly constructed dam—even if it might result in possible death or amputation. He just has to convince his best friend to take the ride with him.

Allan reminds Raymond that his Comanche Indian heritage will protect them both. Comanche Indian is redundant. Usually that’s all the encouragement Raymond needs to participate in some crazy adventure—but this time it isn’t enough.

When Raymond finally agrees to take the ride of their lives, Allan’s not so sure. For the first time in his life he’s afraid. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes him to question if he’s brave enough. This line came a bit out of nowhere for me. I haven't read your other versions of the query so I"m not sure if this is sourced better somewhere else, but here it seems extraneous to the plot.

With Raymond’s help, Allan discovers it’s not excitement he longs for, but the gift of friendship and the comfort of family and one special little town.

RIDING THE DAM is a coming-of-age MG novel complete at 40,000 words. I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

DanaE
Posts: 11
Joined: October 17th, 2011, 8:52 pm
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Re: Query for MG, humorous coming-of-age, REVISED on post 9

Post by DanaE » February 25th, 2012, 9:59 pm

Thanks Kabbu! Those are great suggestions.

Dana

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