Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Query

Erm... Okay, so maybe it's not, but in the spirit of Ps and Qs being largely interchangeable, except not so many Qs are needed (since they're twice as big and all), and because of my FOMS (fear of missing something), I thought it was best just to swap them out and call it good.


I suppose it's possible I should explain the origin of the statement 'Mind your Ps and Qs'... when I was a kid I was under the impression it meant peace and quiet, or some such nonsense... NONSENSE! This is DRINKING SLANG! Mind your Ps and Qs means mind your Pints and Quarts (or watch how much you drink--oh, if my mother only knew! She used to say this a lot). The pub I worked at in Portland had a sign, written backward, posted behind the bar so the customer could see it the right way in the mirror. I liked that... clever beer pushers...

Anyway... back to the post...

You see there is a Query Blogfest today, whereby we can get some FEEDBACK on our Queries... and I thought... it's just ONE DAY. What harm can there be? I've never been one to follow rules to the letter ANYWAY (get it? To the letter? That's clever, eh? *cough*)

So the query I'm working with here is for my second book, currently waiting for 5th (6th?) revision. I've gotten great feedback from several great friends, but I do have my work cut out for me. My biggest problem with this book will probably be the genre waffling (it is about tweens and teens but for adults--and NO, I don't want to make any characters older to make it for upper teen, or mellow the content to make it appealing to younger kids... I believe the adults are the market for the match of character and story here--it is the story that needed to be told)... that said, let me try to sell it...

*****

Don't let my gorgeous cover influence you
Sometimes the only thing more dangerous for a teen than life on the streets, is life staying at home. Athena Garnett, thirteen, has to bash her mother's drug dealer over the head to escape; she sees her mother passed out on the floor, having not raised a finger to protect her daughter. Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out. Unfortunately, after not very many blocks of running, she realizes she has nowhere to go. Nowhere.

Across town, Peter Popescue, age ten, hides as his father is executed. When he relays events to his brother and sister they know it is time to do what they've been trained to do—disappear. They hide in secret rooms of their home, going out rarely, never coming or going in daylight, and sticking to parts of town where no one would know them. They keep hoping their mother will return, but it looks more and more like she was abducted before their father was killed.

A chance encounter and some observed coincidences bring these children together in downtown Portland, and a familiar name alerts them to a shared history that began before they were born. The children dive into the mystery, looking for clues about the missing mother. They encounter stolen art, thieves, a treasure hunt, kidnappers, and a tapestry of treachery and espionage where they cannot trust anyone but each other.

Legacy, an adult novel of family-based suspense, is complete at 100,000 words. It is about survival, street smarts, and loyalty, but ultimately, is about what happens to children left holding the explosive pieces of their parents chaotic lives.

*****

So there you have it. I would LOVE totally honest feedback. If you want to pick it apart line by line, it might be better to email me: hartjohnson23(at)gmail(dot)com, though I'm not shy if you want to do it here.

And come back tomorrow for a doover on P!


Gorgeous cover designed by Joris Ammerlaan

43 comments:

mooderino said...

"Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out."
Thought that line sounded awkward.

"A chance encounter ... before they were born."
This section was very vague. Like you're trying to cover all the bases but not really giving us anything to hook into.

It didn't really sound like an adult novel. The mystery, treasure hunt etc. makes it sound like a kids adventure.

Not entirely clear who it's about either. Athena, Peter and two unnamed characters?

I liked that she thinks she may have killed her mom's pusher and is on the run. And he is protecting his (younger?) siblings from theor dad's killer. But not getting much of an idea of what their common foe is. I realise that's the point of the book, but if you hold back too much it just becomes too enigmatic.

hope that helped.
mood
Moody Writing

Caledonia Lass said...

I like it. I know it needs a little work, but I'm too tired at the moment to point it all out. But wow. The storyline alone has me wanting to read this book.
Missed you! Hope you have a good day. :D

Charmaine Clancy said...

I like the premise of this story, lots of thriller action. The only thing I would suggest for your actual query letter is shortening the whole blurb. I'm a bit limited in my query knowledge (all theory so far), but I believe the idea is to have a short blurb, about a paragraph in the query letter and a synopsis should be about 1 page if asked for one (that's in Australia, I notice some American sites recommend 2-3 pages for a synopsis). But maybe this is your synopsis?

You could shorten the last sentence in P1 to "Unfortunately, she has nowhere to go."

Peter's paragraph could be shortened to explain why he has to disappear with his little brother and sister. I don't think at this stage you'd need to discuss the mother and what might have happened to her.

I'd shorten P3 to 'A chance encounter brings these children together.' Perhaps something about the streets of Portland being no place for children as they face thieves, kidnappers...etc. I like 'they can not trust anyone but each other'.

Also, I'm not keen on the term 'family-based suspense' it conjures up images of a cross between Disney and Val Macdermid, maybe suspense mystery?

I don't mind the fact that it's an adult novel with kids as protagonist, I've read plenty about kids ending up in prostitution, murders etc that are not for kids to read. I do agree though that mentioning a treasure hunt makes it sound more teenish, can you make that sound more deadly?

Good luck tightening up that query, you've got a great plot - I love thrillers, so, I'd read it :)

Hart Johnson said...

Yay for feedback! Thank you so much! I DO know it needs tightening, the trouble is, it's a complicated story, and yeah, from both Athena and Peter's PoV. I will definitely be able to use all this though, so thank you!

Old Kitty said...

Legacy sounds so epic!!!It;s mammoth!!!! I love the premise, I love the names of your characters, I love the mystery and intrigue and action/thriller aspects of it!!! Yay!!!

There is so much going on with the query though. It reads really busily. I'd cut out many of the details. I'd keep one sentence each to know enough as to why Athena Garrett and Peter Popescue are running for their lives. Then they meet in between.

Or something like that! Here is my feeble attempt.

"Athena has to bash her mother's drug dealer over the head to escape. She realises she has nowhere to go and noone to turn to. Across town, Peter Poescue witnesses his father's execution. Together with his brother and sister they to what they are trained to do - disappear. A chance encounter... etc"

But please lovely Naked Tart!! I know nothing!!! So don't listen to me!! LOL! I realise I'm probably writing a blurb rather than a query so off I go to eat some chocolate!

Take care
x

Jeanne said...

OK I thought you were nuts on the p's and q's till I read it. ANd I did not know that about Mind your p's and q's. My mother is probably rolling over in her grave on that one.Sorry mom.
I will be back for the P Doover. have not heard that word for a while.

I have done a lot of critique work on genre and age markets and I think you are going to need to reconsider your stand on it. Your age of your main characters determines, for the most part, the market of the book.Another thing to consider is what voice you are writing it in.
Just food for thought. I also find that if you are subbing to publishing houses, they will make that determination for you and you don't need to address that in your query. If you would like me to take a look at it I would be glad to. I am home sick today so have the time. I will email you.

Rhonda@laugh-quotes said...

LOL - I always wondered what ps and qs were, but I never realized it was a drinking thing before today. :)
I am doing the AtoZ not the query challenge.

allison said...

I had actually forgotten the phrase Ps and Qs til I saw the letters together on your post! I never knew what it meant, that's so funny!

- allison writes

Escape Artist said...

Way, way too much. Give me the hook. What are they up against beside their individual pasts?
Even with tightening it up, I need the plot and hook spelt out. That's what a query really is. Short sweet and to the point with enough intrigue to make you want to read on. The intrigue comes from the plot.
This sounds like it will be a wonderful read, but query writing is simply query hell and I'm not sure at this point what your story is about. Seems to me you have to focus on the shared history, the unknown pieces they have yet to discover...
I hope my comments will help.

Hart Johnson said...

More very helpful stuff! Thank you so much!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

I was with Mooderino - the "treasure hunt" line really made me think more of a children's story. Maybe there's a better way of wording it.
I have read adult books with children as main characters (most recently a horror) but there was always a lot of adult presence present. So i think, though difficult, it's something that can be done

Jen said...

I think it sounds very promising and interesting...

Michael Offutt said...

“she sees her mother passed out on the floor, having not raised a finger to protect her daughter”

I think you could exclude “having not raised a finger to protect her daughter” as I would assume so given that she’s passed out on the floor.

"Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out. Unfortunately, after not very many blocks of running, she realizes she has nowhere to go. Nowhere."

I would rewrite this for brevity. Example: “Athena knows she needs out, only, there’s nowhere to go.”

“They hide in secret rooms of their home, going out rarely, never coming or going in daylight, and sticking to parts of town where no one would know them. They keep hoping their mother will return, but it looks more and more like she was abducted before their father was killed.”

They hide, travel only at night, and go to a place of town where they won’t be recognized. When mom never returns, they suspect she was abducted.

"The children dive into the mystery, looking for clues about the missing mother"

Mysterious clues appear that may lead them to their missing mother.

Hart, I just want to say that I've been unsuccessful in my own queries so I've no advice to give on what makes a good one. But I do know a little about tightening up prose so I think you could condense and throw out some unnecessary words and still express the same thing. Maybe less words that say the same thing is good? I dunno. An agent could look at the envelope it's in and say, "pass" or then again be like "ZOMGAH light purplez is my favorite colors and I cannot believes it came in on this" /issues full manuscript request.

LoriTinkey said...

Yes, I'm already a fan from the opening blurb -- hilarious! It looks like you're wanting tough love on the query, so I'll cut and paste it here:

Sometimes the only thing more dangerous for a teen than life on the streets,NO COMMA is life staying at home I WOULD JUST SAY 'AT HOME.' SLAM DUNK. Athena Garnett, thirteen, has to bash her mother's drug dealer over the head to escape I WOULD ADD 'HIM' OR A DESCRIPTIVE ABOUT WHAT HE'S DOING; she sees her mother passed out on the floor, having not raised a finger to protect her daughter. I WOULD SEPARATE THE THOUGHTS Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out I WOULD SUBSTITUTE 'ALL SHE NEEDS OUT' WITH A VOICED STATEMENT ABOUT NO FUTURE FOR HER HERE. Unfortunately, after not very many blocks of running, she realizes she has nowhere to go THIS ACTUALLY SLOWS DOWN THE PACE, IRONICALLY, BECAUSE IT'S SUCH A SHORT SPACE OF TIME. Nowhere. YOU PROBABLY COULD END IT AT NO FUTURE HERE. AT HER AGE AND WITH THE STRONG WRITING YOU HAVE, I WOULD PRESUME SHE DOESN'T THINK SHE HAS ANY OPTIONS.

Across town, Peter Popescue, age ten, hides as his father is executed IN FRONT OF HIM? BY A GANG? IN AN ELECTRIC CHAIR? WOULD REALLY FRAME THE IDEA FOR THE QUERY-READER. When he relays events A LITTLE FORMAL -- WHAT WOULD HE SAY?to his brother and sister COMMA they know it is time to do what they've been trained to do—disappear. They hide in secret rooms of their home, going out rarely, never coming or going in daylight, and sticking to parts of town where no one would know them I WOULD KEEP THE STACK TO THREE FOR THE QUERY. They keep hoping their mother WHO IS SHE? will return, but it looks more and more like she was abducted WHY ABDUCTED VERSUS JUST LEFT, IN THEIR EYES? before their father was killed. I NEED MORE MOM PART, PARTIALLY BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW ABOUT HER PERSONALITY.

A chance encounter and some observed coincidences I WOULD REWORD AGAINST THE NATURAL 'SHOW US!' OUTCRY bring these children together in downtown Portland WHERE WERE THEY BEFORE? AND I COUNT FOUR -- ATHENA (I THOUGHT SHE LOOPED INTO THE STORY AGAIN HERE), PETER, BROTHER, SISTER, and a familiar name alerts them to a shared history that began before they were born THIS IS COOL. FAMILIAR AND UNUSUAL/UNIQUE NAME?. The children dive into the mystery TO STREAMLINE, COULD SKIP TO 'LOOK FOR CLUES', looking for clues about theIR missing mother IS SHE THE SAME MOM FOR ALL FOUR?. They encounter OR FIND? stolen art, thieves, a treasure hunt, kidnappers, and a tapestry of treachery and espionage where they cannot trust anyone but each other THIS IS EXCITING. CAN THE ABOVE BE STREAMLINED TO GET TO THIS AND HAVE ROOM TO UNPACK A BIT?.

Legacy, an adult novel of family-based suspense, is complete at 100,000 words. It is about survival, street smarts, and loyalty, but ultimately, is about what happens to children left holding the explosive pieces of their parents APOSTROPHE chaotic lives.

Especially since this is an adult novel, I would add in more about the missing mom and slight descriptives of the other parents. Then I would be careful to link in how the treachery they uncover is the doing of their parents, and maybe cliffhang the ending with wondering if the children can overcome the sins of the fathers... on their own. That type of thing. This would clearly put it as an adult read with lesser teen interest. Please then include a little time and place sprinkling. Hope this is helpful to you.

Hart Johnson said...

This is so helpful to get other eyes looking at it. I am a linear thinker, so I try this chronologically, but OF COURSE it can be tightened if I look from the top instead! Thanks you!

Marjorie said...

I'm going to mind my P's and Q's and not pick apart your query letter. I know nothing about such things. ;-P

erica and christy said...

haha, good way to fit both in!! I'm squeezing in some blog hopping over my lunch hour, but if I have time, I'll come back and look at your query again!

We're giving away a copy of Gae's book if you want to pop by to our blog today!
erica

Andrew Green said...

I never knew the meaning of "Mind your Ps and Qs" until now....
Huh. You learn something every day!

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiner's Book Blog) said...

I feel like the end sentence on the chance encounter paragraph is a laundry list and it doesn't tell me much about the stakes or what they have to overcome.

If I were an agent--I would ask for sample chapter but would have to be grabbed right away.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Tiger85 said...

This book sound very interesting. I'm a new follower. =)

Poetry, Quotes and Book Reviews.

Andrew Leon said...

Ah, the Ps and Qs. Actually, I did already know that. However, jot and tittle does have to do with writing and is used the same way, these days, although their original meanings have nothing to do with each other.
Interesting...

I'll say 2 things about your query:
1.It said enough to make me interested in the story, which, as far as I'm concerned, should be what a query letter is for.
2. It doesn't fit the "standard" format for a query letter.

But, hey, I still haven't gotten mine worked out. The whole query thing sucks, because it's all about fitting into some mold to even get an agent to look at it. We both know we're not good at that.

Alison said...

You got some great edits, there, so I'm just going to add: after seeing this, I really want to read your book. Wow!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I knew Ps & Qs meant pints & quarts.
However, I'm probably the last person you should ask about a riveting synopsis.

Tundiel said...

Ugh, I'm crap at critique.... anywho.

Your 'voice' definitely comes through, so that's a big tick.

You definitely get the plot explained, so that's another tick.

Your opening line is a great hook - yay, three big ticks!

But - and I think this will come as no surprise - I think you need to cut it quite a bit because it seems like it is about double the length that it needs to be. Well, maybe not double, but definitely too long. If you were being asked for a synopsis, then it would be fine, but for a query I think it's too long.

Like I said, I suck at critique. :(

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

what state does Legacy take place in ...and what year??? I think it sounds like a great read... I like your ottoman orgasm..t oo.. your topics... are so fun.. I love visiting.

Johanna Garth said...

Hart, is it set in PDX? Sounds like a book I'd want to read! Here's my crit of your pitch. It's small thing at the end. In the sentence that follows, "They encounter stolen art, thieves, a treasure hunt, kidnappers, and a tapestry of treachery and espionage where they cannot trust anyone but each other." I would delete references to stolen art, thieves, treasure hunt and kidnappers. It made it feel too juvenile and gave me images of from the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frank--- (umm, I don't know how to spell the rest of her name). Anyway, you get the point. You've already made your own point that it's exciting in the previous paragraphs. You can trim that sentence w/no harm to the overall substance.

There's my 2 cents...for what its worth-probably not a P or a Q. Hope it's helpful.

Lori M. Lee said...

she sees her mother passed out on the floor, having not raised a finger to protect her daughter. - but if she's passed out, how would she have been able to see what happened, much less help?

Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out. Unfortunately, after not very many blocks of running, she realizes she has nowhere to go. Nowhere. - this could easily be shortened to simply 'Unfortunately, Athena has nowhere to go.'

Super confused about Peter's father being executed. By whom? And why? And why are the children trained to disappear? It sounds intriguing, but I think you could stand to be clearer here.

The last paragraph confused me when you got to the missing mother. They share a mother? And Athena's mom was just mentioned at the beginning of the query so she's obviously around. When did she disappear?

I think you should condense all the back story into one paragraph (cut everything that doesn't directly relate to the plot) and get to the part hook sooner. What's this mystery they need to solve? The query started out feeling very dark and gritty, and it ended up feeling like an adventure. Expand more on this part instead of focusing on their back story.

Holly Ruggiero said...

First and foremost, it sounds promising. The only I know (from reading over the Query Shark) is to lose the cliché “A chance encounter.” For me the second paragraph was more enticing than the first so I’d be tempted to start with that one.

Helena said...

First, the heart of your story sounds compelling and definitely drew me in. As an adult (in theory) I'd certainly read it, and that's one of the problems with the world of genre-obsessed publishing: it can be too narrow. I was going to offer a couple suggestions, but there are so many here already that you'd be better advised to follow them than mine. That said, I know how hard it is to summarize a complex story in a handful of sentences. Even on the blurb for my book (thanks for your comments and review!), a couple friends thought I hadn't done my novel any justice, that it was too simple, too superficial. But that's the nature of trying to sell the beast whether by query or blurb. Good luck to you, Hart!

The Writing Goddess said...

Will have to have a P and/or a Q tonight as I wend my way through all the A-Z blogs I want to read, PLUS now the Blogquest ones.

One thing I want to know - WHY is this an adult novel? Since it is told in the children's voices - is this them, now, grown up? People who adopt them/shelter or help them?

I don't want to sound indifferent to children in danger, I'm not - but for ME, I'm missing a piece.

If it's not for kids, if it's for adults, you need to tell it in a more adult voice. The narrator (when not in a kid's head) needs to have an adult voice and vocabulary, kind of a fish-out-of-water, I-remember-what-it-was-like-to-be-so-young, to be shocked and horrified at what the kids are going through.

Yes, way too long. (Though I always find it easier to write something long and then chop chop.) :-) Here's my first pass edits.

Sometimes the only thing more dangerous for a teen than life on the streets of Portland is life at home. Athena Garnett, thirteen, bashes her mother's drug dealer over the head to escape, knowing all she needs is out. Unfortunately, she has nowhere to go.

The best place for Peter Popescue, age ten, witness to his father's execution, is hiding. Bringing his brother and sister into the secret rooms of their home, going out as little as they can, they hope their mother will return, but it looks more and more like she was abducted before their father was killed.

A chance encounter and a familiar name alert Athena and Peter to a shared history that began before they were born. As they seek clues about the missing mother, they encounter a tapestry of treachery and espionage where they cannot trust anyone but each other.

Legacy, an adult novel of family-based suspense, is complete at 100,000 words.

K, them's my cuts, but IMO, it probably needs to be trimmed even more. :-)

Abby Stevens said...

First of all, LOVE the cover.

Here's my thoughts/revisions:

Sometimes the only thing more dangerous life on the streets is life staying at home. [<--- This is totally your tag line! AWESOME!] When 13-year-old Athena Garnett finds her mother passed out on the floor and has to bash her mother's drug dealer over the head to escape, Athena knows she needs is out. It doesn't take many blocks of running to realize she has nowhere to go.

Across town, 10-year-old Peter Popescue [love the name] hides as his father is executed. When he relays the events to his brother and sister, they know it is time to do what they've been trained to do: disappear. They hide in secret panic rooms, going out rarely and only at night, sticking to parts of town where no one would know them. They keep hoping their mother will return, but it looks more and more like she'll never be coming back.

A chance encounter brings Athena and Peter together, and a familiar name alerts them to a shared history that began before they were born. Encountering stolen art, outsmarting thieves and kidnappers, and embarking upon a [adjective] treasure hunt, the children realize they must find the secret of the Popsecue's missing mother before it's too late. [These kinds of summary lists aren't so good for queries... need something more about the plot and the mystery of it all here instead. I tried to create something, but it's... well, you see.^ lol]

LEGACY, an adult novel of family-based suspense [you need a more concise genre, and I think agent's assume it's adult unless you write YA or MG], is complete at 100,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ru said...

(I started to say which previous commenters I agreed with, and then realized that would get out-of-hand. So sorry if this repeats advice.)

1. Athena's mom can't lift a finger if she's passed out anyway.

2. "Executed" creates too many questions in my mind, but not in a good way. If he was just murdered, I'd say murdered.

3. I would get rid of the "relays events to his brother and sister." It seems oddly passive. I'd probably change it to something like, "Peter knows exactly what to do when he witnesses his father's murder--follow his training. He takes his younger brother and sister and disappears." (Not the best suggestion, but something to emphasize the contrast between Peter and his sibs being "trained" to do something, whereas Athena is pretty much lost and on her own - I assume that's what you're going for.)

4. The list - "stolen art, thieves, a treasure hunt, kidnappers, and a tapestry of treachery and espionage" - it kind of seems like you're throwing the whole kitchen sink in there. It probably makes sense in the manuscript itself, but in a query, it seems like overkill. What, the terrorists aren't going to get in on this action? ;)

5. Lose the "family-based suspense." I'd just say mystery or suspense or whatever. Family-based seems really 1980s Disney, not in a good way.

6. Whatever the deal with the "familiar name" is, bring it up sooner and make it clearer. I get the sense that this is a big deal in your plot, but it's kind of buried. I think that might make the stakes clearer. (Unless I'm reading this wrong.)

Generally? I'm not sure about the tone. Bashing in heads and executions just doesn't seem to go with children searching for clues, treasure hunts, family-based suspense. Is the tone of your book dark, light, quirky, etc.? I can't tell from the query.

(Anyway, I hope this comment isn't just one big downer. Congrats on querying your project!)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Oh, queries are such a pain!

This does sound like a great read. YA is getting gritty, so I don't think it may be as tough of a sell as you think.

I can just offer some piddly suggestions, but I think you could switch around a few words (and the way I'm switching them may not give the tone you're looking for, I know):
For some teens, staying at home is more dangerous than life on the street. Thirteen year old Athena Garnett outwits her mother's drug dealer to escape him after her unconscious mother offers her no protection. Athena realizes in a moment all she needs is out... etc.

Hart Johnson said...

WOW--so much to assimilate and so many people to get back to! I've been tied up all afternoon (not literally, or I might be in a better mood), but I REALLY appreciate all the fabulous thoughtful advice here! Some things I want to argue, but so much of this REALLY rings true!

My trouble with this as a YA is actually the age of my protags. I think the story is definitely 15+ for readers--too awful for younger, but the oldest character turns 15 and I think adults will be more likely to read younger teens than OLDER teens would...

Huge number of these really really hit home though, so THANK YOU!!!

Jan Morrison said...

And now - from your onhelpful friend - I can't do it. Not today. All I've been doing, every little chance I get, is working on my damn synopsis so I looked at yours, thought about it for about ten seconds, and my head exploded. Yep, it did. Not because of what you wrote - just the state of my head. I'll get back to it later and email you what I think but hey - I think it is harder to write a synopsis than a novel. yes I do.

Will Burke said...

I don't know enough about querrying, but I think Matthew http://theqqqe.blogspot.com/ is your best bet. He may do a post on this with honest feedback, but I haven't asked him, so I can't promise. I just know that he seems good at what he does.

Patricia Lynne said...

I enjoyed that query. It capture my attention and made me want to read more.

vbtremper said...

Looks like you've received some awesome and constructive feedback here, so there's nothing left for me to say. So, instead, I'll just tell you - Wow! That sounds really cool and I would read it! As a YA writer, I can't help but wonder why it has to be an adult book, but of course that's for you to decide.

Good luck in the query contest!
-Vicki

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

I love the premise! One thing that is missing from your query is: what is at stake? They could simply all just hide out and not get caught up in the stolen art, thieves, etc. So why do they need to find her - other than the fact that she's their mother - which is obvious. Maybe a ticking time bomb... they need to find her within two weeks or she'll be executed, or one of the kids has a health issue and she's the one that knows which meds he needs, or Something Big that lends a sense of urgency to their plight as homeless orphans. Maybe some internal conflict - they don't really want to find her, but they have to because she's the one with the key to a safe deposit box filled with cash. Or she's the only one who knows the secret cookie recipe that will make them rich. Or Something. Does that make sense? Otherwise, I think it's brilliant!

Spenc said...

I'm not good with editing, I'm more about absorbing the idea and I like your ideas. Somebody commented about the treasure hunt making it sound un-adult like. I'm an adult and I love scavenger hunts and treasure hunts. It might be a valid point though, it's hard to write about kids for adults without it slipping into youth fiction. I think this sounds like a great story.

LTM said...

your mother + my mother = equally horrified. And my mom said this A LOT. :D

great query for Legacy... ahh how it all comes back to me. I liked that story very much. How's it coming?

And what's the latest on that ABNA?

Kalen O'Donnell said...

Sounds like you have an awesome story here, but you're overselling it. It's coming off too cluttered, as others have said. First off, I would just focus on one of the characters. Pick Athena or Peter and narrow in on them, tell us THEIR story, and have confidence in their storyline being compelling enough on its own to draw interest - and then mention it ties into others who are mysteriously connected in such and such a way.

The big problem is you're giving too many little details that don't need to be in the query - instead of the big ones that tell what the story is really about. Gloss over the backstory. There's time to delve deeply into that in the MS. What are the big themes of your story? Pick one or two, and then draw out the sentences about the plot that best convey those themes and show how you use them in the book.

Think of it like an aerial view of things. At the heart of every great story is the characters. They're what make a story. But you need a whole manuscript for that. At the heart of every great query letter, is the story itself. That's what the agent wants to read. So think of it like your query letter is you trying to get your future agents attention as he/she is flying overhead in a plane. Too high up and going to fast to get a good look, so you need to snag them with enough of the big picture that they can see it loud and clear and circle back around for a closer look - request pages, come in closer, so THEN they can see the characters and the little stuff that really makes it shine.

And if that makes no sense at all, I apologize. Its late and I'm very tired. LOL.

RosieC said...

SO, not having read the other (42!) comments, I don't know if you've already heard these thoughts or not. My apologies for duplicates.

First, I want to say that I want to read this. Now. :) If you need a beta (delta, or gamma) reader, let me know.

Athena knows in the moment all she needs is out. Unfortunately, after not very many blocks of running, she realizes she has nowhere to go.
--"after not very many blocks of running" made me stumble. Is there a better way to word this?

A chance encounter and some observed coincidences bring these children together in downtown Portland...
--"some observed coincidences" doesn't work for me since, well, I haven't observed them. I'm not sure what you mean by "observed" coincidences. Maybe it's just that word that's sticking for me.

Otherwise, I think this is great. Like I said, I want to read it. Nice job :)