Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

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niklee90
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Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » July 13th, 2012, 4:13 pm

NEW QUERY ON LATEST POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Hello everyone! New to this site, but somewhat familiar with the basics of writing a query (one would like to hope). Here's my latest draft and would truly enjoy watching someone tear it to shreds :)

Dear Agent-lady-dude:


Ten year old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive, and his father and sister weren’t off fighting in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. Now Ion's working as a slave for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis, washing floors and doing laundry, which is decidedly the worst.

But when Ion discovers he’s a thunder-rolling, lightning-toting god, he gets his chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians responsible for the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops' eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated are actually nice...and obsessed with macaroons.

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father.

But not all spirits are what they appear to be.

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words.
Last edited by niklee90 on August 27th, 2012, 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by Beethovenfan » July 14th, 2012, 6:13 am

I really like the tone of this query, sort of casual and funny, which hopefully matches the tenor of the writing in your novel. It's really off to a good start too, because it captures attention right away. Here are my suggestions.


I would begin like this:

Ionicus Reaves is ten years old. And he is a god. The problem is he doesn't know it. Right now Ion is working as a slave for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge in all of Atlantis, washing floors and doing laundry. He dreams of the days before his mother died and his father and sister weren’t off fighting in some stupid war for the Olympian gods - the days before the draft. (This is where you could briefly explain what the draft is.)

Ion doesn't live as a household drudge for long. He soon realizes he's a thunder-rolling, lightning-toting god, and he gets his chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming a god means serving and protecting the old ones - the Olympians responsible for the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclop's eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He is glad to be free of the uliest judge in the realm, but he also feels he is betraying his family simply by being there. However, the Olympians he once hated are actually nice... (here you need to think of great word to replace "nice") and obsessed with macaroons.

Ion is visited by the spirit of his mother who presents him with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father. Will Ion choose to become a god, or will he give it all up to save his father? (I would not say the part about "not all spirits are what they seem" because it gives too much away.)


THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time in considering my work.

Sincerely,
XXXXXXX

In case you don't know of it, there is a great place to go to learn anything and everything about writing a query. It's called the Query Shark (aka Janet Reid). She's fabulous, but she's a stickler. She has rules that must be obeyed or she'll chew you up (thus the name Query Shark). Read through her blog and all the posts. It will take two or three days, but it will be time well spent.
Here's the link: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
Hope this helps, and best of luck!
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by wilderness » July 14th, 2012, 12:00 pm

Overall, I really like this. I think you can tighten a few things up but it seems that the major points are there. Good voice, too. Good luck!
niklee90 wrote: Dear Agent-lady-dude:


Ten year old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive, and his father and sister weren’t off fighting in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. Now Ion's working as a slave for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis, washing floors and doing laundry , which is decidedly the worst. I think this is a good beginning though your sentences could be leaner.

But when Ion discovers he’s a thunder-rolling, lightning-toting god, he gets his chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians responsible for the Draft. Good conflict

In the blink of a cyclops' eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated are actually nice...and obsessed with macaroons. Cute, but I wonder if there should be more to it than they are just nice. LIke do they actually have a good explanation for the Draft?

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father. I like how you clearly lay out the choices. I wonder if you can make it a little less obvious which one he will choose. I mean right now it seems a cinch --- he should save his father. Also, you hadn't mentioned that his father was not free, just at war. Are you saying he's in jail?

But not all spirits are what they appear to be. Not sure you need this line. Better to end with the conflict/character decision in the last paragraph. Also, you've only mentioned one spirit and you already implied it might not be her.

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » July 14th, 2012, 3:34 pm

Thanks for the critiques! Lots of options to think about now haha

The Draft was basically conscription, where an entire race of the island was drafted into this war outside Atlantis, so Ion's father and sister are off fighting in it out of forced service, which is why I refer to Ion "freeing" his father. Ion's mother was killed in the process of the drafting. I'm just worried that if I go too in-depth with explaining it, I'll lose vital lines for the rest of the story, or the query will be just too dang long.

Regarding the last bit about the spirit, I'm definitely going to take both your words on the matter and ex the last part out. Here was an alternate version for the last bit, but once again, not entirely necessary:

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive, and his father and sister weren’t off fighting in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. Now, he’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis, washing floors and doing laundry, which is the worst.

But when Ion discovers he’s a thunder-rolling, lightning-toting god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated are actually nice...and obsessed with macaroons.

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father. But all spirits work for one being, and imprisoned deep beneath the academy, he cares only to free himself.

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by elbowpatch » July 15th, 2012, 11:23 am

I like your diction especially wartiest and macaroons
Your title is also catchy, is there any way you can fit an explanation of it into the query?

I wonder if you might explain how someone can just become a god. Is your book working within standard Greek mythology tropes? If so, then the only way Ion can become a God is by being a fathered by a god. (or his mother could be a goddess...but then you have a whole adoption thing to work out). If you are not operating within standard tropes then how rare is it for someone to realize he is a god. I'm not sure how much of this you can fit into a query, but a sense of what sort of dislocation Ion feels may help.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » July 15th, 2012, 2:50 pm

Thanks for the idea, elbowpatch. Glad you had a problem with that, because I did too haha

So after some great advice, here's my newest revision. It's a tad longer than I'd like, but I believe I've managed to explain what I couldn't before. A long query isn't horrible, though--so long as it's an interesting, long query (I hope). Have at it!!
----

Dear Agent Woman-Man:

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft--the days when his mother was still alive and his father wasn’t forced to fight in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. Now orphaned, Ion’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis, washing floors and doing laundry, which is decidedly the worst.

But when Ion accidentally triggers a blizzard and discovers he’s an incarnation of a dead god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they would be. Turns out, not all the Olympians favored the draft, and some are so old they can’t even remember their own names. It seems what some have lost in sanity, they’ve gained in addictions...to macaroons.

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father from their army. But all spirits work for one being, and imprisoned deep beneath the academy, he cares only to free himself.

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by elbowpatch » July 15th, 2012, 3:59 pm

Like it, though I'm still trying to figure out why Ion has an iron jaw...

Can I suggest a rewrite of the last sentence:
But all spirits work for one being, who imprisoned deep beneath the academy cares only to free himself.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » July 15th, 2012, 9:51 pm

*Sighs, exhausted. Here's the newest draft. I think I'm gonna let it sit for a bit, but I'll be taking any advice in the meantime :)

Dear Ms. Agent:

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive and his father wasn’t forced to fight in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. The polished strip of iron his father attached to his jaw labeled him a cripple and saved him from being drafted, but now he’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis. He washes floors now, which is decidedly the worst.

But when Ion accidentally triggers a blizzard and discovers he’s an incarnation of a dead god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they would be. Turns out, not all the Olympians favored the draft. Some are so old they can’t even remember their own names, others are consumed by addictions...to macaroons.

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father from the war.

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by wilderness » July 16th, 2012, 2:11 pm

I think you are getting close. I would still try to make your sentences shorter and leaner. More in the middle-grade style. Hope this helps!
niklee90 wrote:
Dear Ms. Agent:

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive and his father wasn’t forced to fight in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. Long sentence. I would break it down. The polished strip of iron his father attached to his jaw [why?] labeled him a cripple andsaved him from being drafted. He's relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis. He washes floors now, which is decidedly the worst.

Butwhen Ion accidentally triggers a blizzard and discovers he’s an incarnation of a dead god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they would be. Turns out, not all the Olympians favored the draft. Good, I like this detail that doesn't lump all of them together. And gives us a reason that Ion wouldn't want to betray them. Some are so old they can’t even remember their own names, others are consumed by addictions...to macaroons. I liked the joke about the macaroons in the original draft but for some reason it falls flat here. A victim of too much revising I would guess.
Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a decision: Now Ion must decide: should he remain loyal to the Olympians and continue his training as a god, or betray them and free his father from the war.
I think you're implying the spirit told him that his father has been captured? Not sure. But I don't think you need that information. I would simplify and remove it because he will have to decide his loyalties with or without the spirit anyway.

Also, I feel that you're giving away too much with the "appears to be". You can probably save the twist for the book.


THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is a middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » July 16th, 2012, 3:04 pm

Reworked a few things. I think I got the macaroons joke back? No? Yes? The jaw part is going to be incredibly complicated to explain; I'll either have to base the entire query off it, or leave it out completely and let the agent wonder, which could be good or bad. Not sure about the ending--will definitely have to rework it, but laying out what betraying the gods is and what it could mean was accomplished, I think.

Thanks so much for the critiques, wilderness!

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive and his father wasn’t forced to fight in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. The strip of iron magically sewn to Ion’s jaw has somehow saved him from being drafted, but now he’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis. He washes floors now, which is decidedly the worst.

But when Ion accidentally triggers a blizzard and discovers he’s an incarnation of a dead god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they’d be. Turns out, not all the Olympians favored the draft. Some are so old they can’t even remember their own names...and they’re obsessed with macaroons!

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a mission: steal two relics from the Olympians and he might have a chance at freeing his father from the war. But stealing from the gods could mean death by locusts.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by wilderness » July 18th, 2012, 12:32 am

Cute. Yep, the macaroons joke works again :)

Not sure about the new last line. I think the conflict between betraying his new God friends and saving his father was more compelling than death by locusts, though it does have a humorous touch.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by LurkingVirologist » July 18th, 2012, 11:55 pm

niklee90 wrote:Reworked a few things. I think I got the macaroons joke back? No? Yes? The jaw part is going to be incredibly complicated to explain; I'll either have to base the entire query off it, or leave it out completely and let the agent wonder, which could be good or bad. Not sure about the ending--will definitely have to rework it, but laying out what betraying the gods is and what it could mean was accomplished, I think.

Thanks so much for the critiques, wilderness!

Ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves dreams of the days before the Draft, when his mother was still alive and his father wasn’t forced to fight in some stupid war for the Olympian gods. The strip of iron magically sewn to Ion’s jaw has somehow saved him from being drafted, but now he’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis. He washes floors now, which is decidedly the worst.

But when Ion accidentally triggers a blizzard and discovers he’s an incarnation of a dead god, he gets a chance at a new life. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they’d be. Turns out, not all the Olympians favored the draft. Some are so old they can’t even remember their own names...and they’re obsessed with macaroons!

Then Ion meets the spirit of what appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a mission: steal two relics from the Olympians and he might have a chance at freeing his father from the war. But stealing from the gods could mean death by locusts.
Very nice. I like this version a lot. Only a few minor suggestions:

You might consider rewording "becoming this god means serving and protecting the old ones--the Olympians who ordered the Draft." to something a bit more direct, such as "...becoming a god means serving and protecting the very Olympians he despises..." or something else that explicitly displays his feelings about the Olympians and feeds the sense of inner conflict.

The statement "the spirit of what appears to be his mother" is a little clunky to me. Would you consider something like "...a spirit claiming to be his mother..." or "...a spirit that could be his mother..."?

Not sure about the death by locusts. It's funny, and I like the line, but after the dead mom and the freeing his father from the war it comes off a little anti-climactic. Not sure though, I'll have to ruminate.

Also, I don't get the macaroons joke, and it's bothering me. The joke's not bothering me, it's bothering me that I don't get it :mrgreen:
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » August 1st, 2012, 4:17 am

After a bit of a vacation, I've returned to my query (throws confetti). I'm working on a new draft after sending out a few and coming up empty-handed. Here's the newest version. It's a bit rough, but I'm focusing more on the book's selling point: Ion's jaw. Have at it :)

Dear Ms. Agent:

For six months now, ten-year-old Ionikus Reaves has lived with a jaw of iron. It’s heavy, and cold, and everyone on Atlantis stares when he walks by.

Father attached it with magic, right before the Detainment too, when the Olympian gods drafted him, and a slew of other men, women, and children into the war outside Atlantis. Ion was spared only because of his jaw--a handicap, they’d called it--but he can’t help but wonder if his Father knew this would happen.

Suddenly orphaned, Ion’s relegated to slave work for the meanest, ugliest, wartiest judge on all of Atlantis. He washes floors now, which is decidedly the worst.

But there’s more to Ion than anyone thinks, and when he accidentally triggers a blizzard in the middle of the judge’s living room, he discovers he’s a reincarnated god. Trouble is, becoming this god means serving and protecting the Olympians who ordered the draft.

In the blink of a cyclops’ eye, Ion’s rushed off to the Achaean Academy, where his godly training begins. He feels he’s betraying his family just by being there, but the Olympians he once hated aren’t what he thought they’d be. Not all the Olympians favored the draft--some are so old they can’t even remember their own names. And not to mention they’re obsessed with macaroons.

Then Ion meets a spirit who appears to be his mother, and he’s presented with a mission: betray the gods and free his father. Ever since his father made him the Iron-Jawed Boy, Ion has always wanted to know why, but freeing his father would mean losing everything all over again, or worse...death by locusts

THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE is an upper middle grade fantasy complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by elbowpatch » August 1st, 2012, 5:48 pm

I like the emphasis on the jaw. Not sure I like the phrase decidedly the worst, sounds petulant and not particularly descriptive. There may be some issue with tone as well. I guess you're trying to keep it a bit cheeky, which works well with the macaroons and wartiest, but not necessarily with blink of a cyclopes eye or death by locusts. Makes the consequence sound funny as opposed to threatening.

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Re: Query: THE IRON-JAWED BOY AND THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE

Post by niklee90 » August 1st, 2012, 7:09 pm

Yeah, next step is to get down to the voice. The manuscript is humorous, but mainly serious, so I think I'll need to go more mysterious/ominous in the query. I'd prefer it that way, except it's an MG manuscript, and petulance is often favored in that arena. Decisions, Decisions...

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