Saturday, March 24, 2012


Ugh. You all know I have had a rough time with my queries. They are evil. SOOOOO evil. I have never had such a hard time writing anything in my entire life. And for all the pain we put into that's probably gonna get rejected a million and one times. So...I decided to let everyone see my query evolution. Because I've had some awful ones, but I mean...I wasn't born a pro--obviously, and I also wrote queries before I decided searching google might be helpful...and before I could find examples online...and before I had a blog. So yeah. These are preeeettttyyyy bad. But I learned! My most recent is query #4. I'll tell you about it when you get through all these. (ahaha. you don't reallly have to read all of them, you can just read number 4 if you want).

Query #1:
Set in a time of swashbuckling mysticism, this novel is a tale of love, betrayal, and friendship. Cutlass (156,356 words) Yeah...crazy word count, huh? will appeal to young adults with a taste for adventure, suspense, and romance. Elves, dwarves, magic, and the classics of action and romance provide a new spin on pirates and their rough and tumble world. 
Barren Reed is a pirate who is haunted by a ghastly past. Though his former transgressions are not as noble as his current crime, he is still being hunted. Recently he has been accused of stealing the heart of the Half-Elf Kiera Lee the daughter of a Senator-turned-madman named Lord Christopher Lee. Though Kiera keeps Barren from indulging in his past sins, she cannot keep him from everything. Barren begins his search for his father’s stolen treasure map without any knowledge of what the treasure is. His quest unlocks a past that has been erased from his memory and a dreadful curse that could wipe out the entire Elvish race, including his wife, and the only way to save them is by sacrificing his own life.

Query #2
I have completed a 152,587 word young adult fantasy novel entitled Cutlass, and I hope you might consider it for publication.
The last place Barren should be is in Maris (a port town with a government notoriously against pirates) the noose around his neck only solidifies that fact. As Barren awaits death at the hands of his brother, William Reed, the last thing on his mind is the afterlife. At this moment, Barren’s only concern is the map he doesn’t have, a map to his father’s lost treasure. This treasure, however, is not what Barren expects. It is not gold or silver, jewels or pearls but a terrible weapon of dark magic forged in an attempt to kill Barren's father. Years after his father's death, the device still lives and kills. Barren must find it and destroy it in order to save his wife and the entire Elvish race it is killing. But destroying a device of dark magic only proves to be more difficult for Barren, especially when a curse of death comes over any who succeed in destroying the device.

Query #3
Barren Reed, a pirate and notorious enemy of the government, never thought searching The Orient for his father's treasure could kill him.

For Barren, it isn’t greed that motivates his search for the treasure, but his nightmares, which seem to be telling him something vicious lies in place of Jess’s so-called “treasure”. His fears are confirmed when he discovers the treasure is cursed and may kill, not only his wife and closest friend, but his entire Elvish race. Barren must destroy the treasure before everyone dies, but there is one problem—the device cannot be destroyed without killing its assailant. Barren must make a choice—cease to exist himself, or watch his world waste away.

Query #4

Barren Reed, a notorious pirate, never thought searching the Orient for his father’s treasure could kill him. Though, the nightmares of pleading voices should have been a clue.

While attending a state dinner at Maris in disguise, Barren Reed tries to find his father’s map, but is captured in the process by his brother, Ambassador William Reed, and his father-in-law, Lord Christopher Lee. Barren is saved from execution at the last minute by Leaf, his ex-first mate. Suspecting the Elf has an alternative motive for the rescue, Barren confronts him and discovers Leaf needs Barren's help in raising an army of Pirates to defeat a curse killing the entire Elvish race.

Barren discovers that his father's long-sought treasure is actually responsible for the Elves' curse, and is the result of a bitter feud between his parents. Not only does the curse affect the Elves in Aurum, but anyone who shares Elvish blood--that includes Leaf and Barren himself. In order to save the Elves, the treasure must be destroyed. Despite treason within his own crew, and William and Christopher’s pursuit of Barren, the pirate will stop at nothing to see this long-time feud end. There is only one problem--if Barren destroys the treasure, the curse will pass to him in its entirety and kill him. Barren must make a choice--cease to exist himself, or watch his world waste away.

Cutlass is a 120,000 work of Adult Fantasy. This is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Now, as you can see, I trimmed my word count, and decided I was writing Adult Fantasy. Lol. Query #4 was very tough to write, and I had to have the help of my boyfriend to write it. Why? 

1. He read the books. 

That's really my only reason. I know there might be unanswered questions here...(Well, actually I don't, so if there is, you should tell me, tehe). I felt like, in order to get my point across, I needed to bounce ideas off someone who was right in front of me, and it had to be someone who knew my characters and the story, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to write it. 

Another thing we did was go through "From the Query to the Call" by Elana Johnson and individually answer questions involving 

1. The Hook
2. The Setup
3. The Conflict
4. The Consequence

Believe it or not, this was tedious and I got angry. Can anyone picture me angry? It was awful. BUT I got through it, and I think better off than I was.

What do you guys think?  


  1. I love the concept of Pirates and Elves mixed together. I also struggle with the soul-crushing queries, and I think this one is really good! It grabbed my attention!

    Can't wait to dive into the pages this coming week, and I promise I'll have something to you by this coming weekend!

    1. I can't wait! :D I'm going to be printing off the first 100 pages and going over it with a red pen along with you, so together we should have a polished manuscript. lol. I'm hoping to start yours over this next weekend (I have a test, and two essays to write :/) I'm so excited!!

      I'm happy to hear it! It was hard to write! :/

  2. Query #4 sounded great, however, the word count is way too high for YA,the exception truthfully is if you are a bestseller, the exception was Stephenie Meyer who had a huge word count and the world knows how that went lol, but typically that doesn't happen,I suggest reduce your mss to the word count limit which is maximum 80-100K for YA. (adult)Following the rules shows professionalism and although as aspiring authors we know to break the rules one must first know the rules, but for querying its best I think to make a good impression. I wish you plenty of luck it is a hard journey but never giving up is what writing is about, I love pirates lastly I think you should make it YA don't think I've read any YA pirate books, what you can add is that it can also be marketed for adults, which agents like/editors many books these days have appealed to both YA and adult market.

    1. I've always felt that it can cross genres, my hardest point has been how in the world do I market! You know? I felt like maybe if I could get through to an agent, then that step would come next...we could decide how to go about it, but I'm not sure. :/ I wasn't aware of a limit on word count for YA until I began my blog around a year ago...and then I was like..."oh no...maybe I can be the exception?" lol. But I do agree! I have a lot to think about!

      Thank you so much for your help!

  3. I think #4 sounds great! And I would leave it as adult fantasy. I just read about someone looking for adult fantasy, too! (Bangs head against wall.) I will try to figure out who that was and let you know!

    1. WHOOO!!! LOL.
      I do think it can crossover, and I'd attempt to market it like that (well, I always think of ideas in my head). Thank you so much! I'm compiling my list of agents once again!

  4. The fourth one sounds great Ashley! Such an interesting story. With pirates, you bet I'd read it :)

    1. YAY! :) I'm so happy to hear it! Thank you!!

  5. First, I think the fourth one sounds great (especially compared to the others). That being said, I think you can really tighten it up. I know, those are absolutely the last words you want to hear. I've always wanted my queries to just be over. (I hate, hate, hate, the query process, though I understand why it exists). Feel free to completely ignore my advice. I don't have any magic keys, and I certainly haven't managed to drum up agent interest. What follows is how I would clean it up.

    Seriously, you don't have to read it if you don't want to.

    The hard part about your query is that it stars too many characters. There's Barren, William, Christopher, and Leaf who are the MC, the MC's brother, the MC's brother's father in Law (or maybe just the MC's father in law, there is a touch of pronoun confusion there), and one ex-first mate.

    That's four people plus three relationships which makes 7 things we have to remember so we can actually understand your query. That's a lot. Since he doesn't show up again in the query, nix the Father in Law of ambiguous relationship. Then I wouldn't mention that Leaf is the ex-first mate. Call him an old friend. This will ease the too many characters fatigue that you have right now.

    The next part I would focus on is ditching your hook. I know people went to great lengths to determine that your hook should be there, but I don't think yours is working because the obvious answer to it is: duh, of course hunting for treasure, even the mundane kind, is risky business. Even today it's risky business, so that makes your hook a little anticlimactic and makes me question your MC's IQ.

    I'd drop that first paragraph and start with something more like: "Barren Reed's plans can be filed into two categories: crazy or insane. When he decides to steal his father's treasure map at a state dinner, Barren get's captured by his own brother. Barren is convicted of being a pirate--a conviction he doesn't deny--and sentenced to death. But before the execution, his shady friend Leaf springs him from jail. And Leaf never works without a price."

    I'm sure you get where I'm going with this.

    Again, feel free to completely ignore my comments (I make too many anyway), and just because I've said something doesn't mean that what you've written isn't already great.

    Also, if you have questions or what not, feel free to email me.

    p.s. Did I mention I totally LOVE elven pirates. Good luck!

    1. I do agree that I have a lot of character at the beginning. I felt it would be easier to put all of them in, then cut them if I needed too, so that's an easy fix. I also agree that it could be tightened up. I'll definitely take notes! lol. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback (it was definitely appreciated, and not too much! :) )

      Thank you so much!

  6. I'll have to disagree with the others. Query #4 looks more like a synopsis than a query. Too many characters. A query needs to entice the agent/reader to read more, kinda like the blurb on the back of a book. Query #3 is short but succint, and while it can be improved upon, is a great base to work with. 120K words may be too long, even for adult fantasy, especially when you're a new author. I'd go back and trim at least 20K off. Look for unnecessary fillers, words like "just", "that", "really", "actually", and eliminate the ones you don't need.

    Good luck!! :)

  7. Queries are so hard to write! Good luck!
    I like #4, but I agree with those who said you might want to tighten it up just a bit.

    Also, I just wanted to let you know that you were awarded the Kreativ Award and the Sunshine Award :) You can see the details here:

  8. I really do like query #4. I do agree with the others that there are perhaps a bit too many character names for a query. Also, you can cut out that it is your first novel. Agents don't need to know that. It sounds like a great novel, though. I'd read it.

  9. I HATE queries!!!! #4 is definitely the best - good job! I have to agree there are too many proper names - they just get confusing. Also, I think Elvish Pirates are your hook - so cool!!! If you want to get some tough but priceless feedback, head over the Query Letter Hell at Best of luck!!

  10. I liked the first as well as the fourth. I'd have a horrible time as a publisher. I'd want to buy everything!

  11. Queries are super tough! Kudos to you for sticking it out. I really like where you landed with your first paragraph.