query

July 2015 Query Blog-Hop

When I had just finished Happily Ever After, I did one of these and got some great feedback. I’ve done two more drafts and worked on the query, so I’m hoping to get that final polish in time for #Pitchwars. If you’d like to join in, see this post on the lovely Michelle Hauck’s blog: http://michelle4laughs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/july-2015-critique-blog-hop.html

Genre: Fantasy, adult, lgbt+

Wordcount: 103,000

Query:

Dear [Agent]

Lavie Streaver has many identities: noblewoman, knight, and now hero. With a long war over, Lavie and her childhood friend have set the rightful heir to the throne, but, while the kingdom is at peace, she’s not. Too highborn to remain with the soldiers, and too scarred by her experiences to be comfortable with the nobility, she searches for a purpose to her life amid worries the new reign she risked her life for will be short-lived.

When the new king is torn between his duty to the throne and the man he loves, Lavie finds must choose between what’s right for the kingdom, and what’s right for her oldest friend. As cracks appear in the peace, and their friendships, Lavie finds herself continually drawn to an unlikely source – the man she worked so hard to defeat.

Starting where most fantasy novels would finish, Happily Ever After is an adult fantasy of 103,000 words featuring a strong LGBT+ cast.

Yours sincerely,

First 250 words:

The sea-warped gate in the bailey opens with a squeal, dusting me in flakes of rust. I cringe at the sound, hoping the keening seagulls cover it. Sea-salt on the wind mixes with the smell of blood and anticipation in the air as I slip into the narrow space between the inner and outer wall and signal my team to follow me.

Today, I take back my home. Today, I kill a man and end the reign of a tyrant. The idea of it makes my body tingle. Everything ends today. Either we defeat the Usurper and set the prince on the throne where he belongs, or we fail and nothing matters anymore.

“…Lavie?”

The voice makes me start and I curse under my breath. One of the soldiers accompanying me points ahead and I hear something else. Footsteps.

“Sir,” I correct the man sharply as I draw my sword. “Wait here.”

I slip into the inner bailey and press my back against the wall by the steps. The unseen figure is almost at the bottom and my fingers twitch on my hilt. As he emerges, I step out and drive my sword into his belly.

Our eyes meet in the gloom. He’s not a soldier, just a runner. He’s also barely more than a boy, fifteen at most. His pale hands clutch at his stomach, as if he’s trying to push the blood back, and a gurgling cry spills from his lips. I give him mercy and put my sword through his heart.

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Sun vs Snow Query Critique Workshop

See here for details. Of course, of anyone has any feedback I’d appreciated it. This is an unedited manuscript, so I haven’t really considered the query. As such, it’s very rough, I’ll warn you now!

Title: Happily Ever After

Wordcount: 107,000

Genre: Fantasy, Adult

Query:

Dear [agent name]

They say that endings are just new beginnings and that could not be more true for Lavie Streaver. A noblewoman turned knight, she and her childhood friend, Harry, have fought long and hard to survive, raise an army and set the rightful heir, Prince Brendan, back on the throne. Enough blood, sweat and tears have been shed to drown the kingdom thrice over, but the war is finally over.

Lavie finds peace is harder to live in than she expected. She no longer has reason to be with soldiers, and doesn’t fit in with the nobility. Searching for a reason for her life, she finds herself seeking out conflict wherever she can. Fortunately, it does not seem to be in short supply. Assassins, raiders, and politics all threaten the fragile kingdom. Lavie worries the new king will not have the strength of resolve to reign, especially when he cannot chose between his duty to the throne and the man he loves.

As the cracks begin to appear in the kingdom, and their friendship, Lavie finds herself turning to an unlikely source of help – the man they worked so hard to defeat. Happily Ever After is an adult fantasy exploring what happens to heroes when their quest is over and featuring a strong LGBT cast. 

Yours Sincerely

Rose Black

250 words:

The stone steps rise up like a mountain. Standing at the bottom, for a moment I cannot even contemplate the idea of reaching the top. I’m exhausted. There’s sweat soaking the hair beneath my helm, spreading through the padding beneath my armour. My blade is coated in blood already, and my mail is choked with gore and viscera.

There’s a roar from ahead which reignites my determination. I can still hear the words Harry whispered to me before we parted: Go kill that bastard, Lavie. Signalling the men behind me, I put one foot on the first step, then the next, and the next until I am standing at the throne room door.

A hasty barricade has been erected, but we tear into it like a suckling pig. If there had been archers we might have been in trouble, but arrows only last so long in a siege and so long passed a while ago. As the gap grows wide enough for me to push through, I enter the last part of my journey.

He is actually sitting on the throne. The Usurper, the man who killed my king and plunged my home into three years of chaos, is sitting there, watching me with a smile. I tighten the grip on my sword, hearing the soft crunch of my steel grieves as my wrist locks into place.

I’m going to gut you like a fish.

Last-minute instincts kick in as something gleams in my peripheral vision. I duck as an axe nearly takes off my head.

My Rejections now Out-weight my Fulls…

…and you know what? I couldn’t be happier. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel a bitter pang of disappointment at each rejection email, but it’s just that: a pang. Then I close the email and I get on with my day. I don’t let them get me down, and I don’t feel like I’ve done badly.

I still have three agents with the full manuscript and even if they all come back and say it’s not for them, I’ll still feel like I’m making progress. It’s strange. I never wanted to be an author. Something about writing for anything other than myself felt wrong, somehow. Maybe it was because I needed to write in a way I don’t need to these days, and it felt wrong to share. Maybe I just didn’t have enough faith in myself.

All I know is that it’s different now. I’m on a different path. And I’m loving the view.

Don’t Be This Guy

I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on agents and querying. But there are some basic things that will prevent your manuscript being rejected unnecessarily. So, unless you enjoy rejections, here are some dos and don’ts.

  • Do make sure the agent reps your genre.
  • Don’t forget to put things like word count, age range and genre in your query.
  • Do follow the submission guides.
  • Don’t use a generic form of address like Dear Agent or Dear Sir.
  • Do try and spell their name correctly.
  • Don’t react badly to a rejection. Especially with poetry.
  • Do be patient. Don’t chase agents about queries.
  • Don’t send a power-point presentation with your query. Let’s face it, no one likes power-point even when it’s necessary.

I highly recommend following agents on Twitter, and paying attention to hashtags like #tenqueries, #querylunch #500queries to get an idea what querying is like from the other side.