Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Query for CLOSER THAN SISTERS

Get out the red pens! This is query version number... ack, I hate to think of it. The query has been making the rounds, but I can't leave it alone because it hasn't produced the expected result! Any and all (especially detailed) comments greatly appreciated. Looking forward to reading yours.

Dear M. Nificent:

Teen astrological time twins become closer than sisters until ghosts, guardian angels, and the charms of a boy force them to choose between bonds that unite and faith that divide.

Sixteen-year-old Laynie McAllister thinks her ditzy mom's paranormal beliefs are cracked. Then she meets Gwynne Rath, a newcomer born on the same day... at the same minute. The time twins share creepy, amazing life parallels. With this supernatural gift of the sister she's always wanted, her mom's New Age beliefs suddenly make sense.

Gwynne adores her new BFF, but not Laynie's weird supernatural theories. She doesn't know who or what to believe when haunting incidents uncover the truth about her parents' deaths years before. Confused, she writes off her remaining family and clings to the sisterhood. But still she falls for Declan Lake, the boy Laynie has loved forever. The love triangle tears the twins apart.

Laynie summons her guardian angel for counsel, but two show up. Laynie believes the lost one is Gwynne's. To restore their friendship, the twins need to confront Declan and reconcile the angels. Laynie insists transferring the lost angel will seal their sisterhood forever. Gwynne has adopted twinship, wondered about ghosts, and felt the feathers -- but she isn't sure a guardian angel is her thing. When Laynie talks her into a paranormal meditation, it becomes a dangerous showdown. Gwynne must decide if she can accept the beliefs that are not her own -- or lose the closest family she's ever claimed.

Thank you for considering CLOSER THAN SISTERS, Contemporary YA in alternating first person. The manuscript is 65,000 words. The opening is below.

Happy reading,
Lori Ehrman Tinkey

20 comments:

  1. I like this query. I would read it. Thanks for stopping by and your great advice on my query.

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  2. Lori- your advice/feedback on my query was really fantastic. Thanks so much! I am going to repost later in the week after I've implemented all the comments.

    Here's my standard disclaimer: I'm a queryshark devotee. Take all feedback with a grain of salt. I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat, but she's my query guru.

    Dear M. Nificent:

    Teen astrological time twins become closer than sisters until ghosts, guardian angels, and the charms of a boy force them to choose between bonds that unite and faith that divide. {I see where you're going, and I love a good tag line, but this is confusing. I'm not sure what teen astrological time twins are. I think the second paragraph is better at letting us know what the story is about.)

    Sixteen-year-old Laynie McAllister thinks her ditzy mom's paranormal beliefs are cracked. Then she meets Gwynne Rath, a newcomer born on the same day (, in the same year)... at the same minute. The time twins share creepy, amazing life parallels. (more telling than showing. can we get an example of this? ) With this supernatural gift of the sister she's always wanted (is the sister the gift, or does the sister have a supernatural gift that hasn't yet been mentioned? Not clear to me.), her mom's New Age beliefs suddenly make sense.

    Gwynne adores her new BFF, but not Laynie's weird supernatural theories (I thought Laynie didn't believe in her mom's new ageism? I think what you're saying is that she didn't, then she met Gwynne, and b/c of their twinship now she does, but it feels confusing I was doubly confused because you switched POVs. i thought immediately "wait, her mom's not dead" then I re-read the names). She doesn't know who or what to believe when haunting incidents uncover the truth about her parents' deaths years before. (a little vague. I know you don't want to give it all away, but a little more specific could pique interest in a stronger way.) Confused, she writes off her remaining family and clings to the sisterhood (I know you can't address everything in a query, but I had the impression that she's REALLY iffy about Laynie and her ideas. It would take a lot to write off all remaining family in favor of this new friend. I am sure there's more to it in the book, it would be nice to get a sense of what is motivating this). But still she falls for Declan Lake, the boy Laynie has loved forever. The love triangle tears the twins apart.

    Laynie summons her guardian angel for counsel, but two show up. Laynie believes the lost one is Gwynne's. To restore their friendship, the twins need to confront Declan and reconcile the angels (do you mean reconcile Gwynne and her angel? Or have the angels also had a falling out?). Laynie insists transferring the lost angel will seal their sisterhood forever. Gwynne has adopted twinship, wondered about ghosts, and felt the feathers -- but she isn't sure a guardian angel is her thing. When Laynie talks her into a paranormal meditation, it becomes a dangerous showdown. Gwynne must decide if she can accept the beliefs that are not her own -- or lose the closest family she's ever claimed.
    (This is a lot of information. Is there a way to focus on the main conflict? What are the stakes? It feels like Gwynne's main storyline may be about questioning her spirituality, but I'm not sure what's motivating Laynie. She's gone from disbeliever to zealot. Why?)

    I wonder if it's possible to focus on the main POV (which feels like Laynie to me).
    here's a great QS link that addresses multiple POVS
    http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2011/03/199-ftw.html

    CLOSER THAN SISTERS, a paranormal young adult novel, is told in alternating first person. The manuscript is 65,000 words.

    Happy reading, {I think it's better to err on the side of overly professional than a little informal.)
    Lori Ehrman Tinkey

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  3. The first para was a bit genric and all encompasing not sure it achieved much. Second para set the scene much better, imo.

    I started getting muddled between L and G. Whose story is this?

    Once the angel turned up I got a bit lost. L thinks her mother's theories are crackpot, but then she summmons her angel like a true believer. i couldn't really follow the story after that, lot sof things being thrown into the mix. Needs to be streamlined and focused, imo.

    Hope that helps.
    regards
    mood
    Moody Writing

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  4. I would either cut that first pitch line or make it clearer. Right now, there's a lot of sweeping generalizations and nothing specific. Also, it made me stutter b/c I don't know what astrological time twins are.

    What confuses me about this query is that it seems all the supernatural elements are, at first, either beliefs or subtle "haunting incidents." But then you bring in guardian angels. And you've got Laynie summoning these angels when, in the beginning, she didn't even believe in the supernatural. How was she able to summon angels who, from what I can gather, actually appear to become characters in the story? Is this really contemporary then?

    I hope that made some sense lol. And, of course, feel free to disregard if you don't agree! Thanks for stopping by my blog as well ^^

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  5. Thank you, everyone *sniff, sniff*. I'll grab a hankie lol and keep 'em coming! Honestly, I'll take tough love here over crickets chirping in the silence of my email inbox anytime. :-)

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  6. I love this premise and give the disclaimer that I am LOUSY at queries. I've written 9 books and only feel ONE of them has a decent query to it...

    I don't know that you need the first paragraph. Second paragraph rocks--perfect set up and nice use of voice.

    And then you seem to enter into a back and forth that I think is either too much or not enough. I THINK I would give more detail on maybe the two most important pieces of this and only very brief mention or nothing on anything else.

    Thank you so much for you careful feedback on mine! I wish I was better at this!

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  7. Well, I find the first line more confusing than hooking. Astrological time twins? Faith that divide? I guess if I'm just out of the loop on the time twins thing then fine, but faith that divide (different religions?) I do get the sense of it being paranormal and they are both crushing on the same boy, so that's good. And I see that it is explained in the next part, but I don't know about opening that way? The third paragraph is super confusing to me. It's like too much all at once. So, the goal for the main character is what? And what's at stake? Let's see, we have spiritual twins, a love triangle, a mystery about her parent's deaths, a showdown where Gwynne must decide on accepting belief or losing sisterly love. It works as a story, but it is kind of confusing to read. I don't really need all the story or details, just that the story elements are all in place. Hope this helps some, and good luck with it. I would definitely check out your first pages, but if they are confusing at all I'd probably lose interest.

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  8. I was very confused by 1st para/hook and only skimmed the rest. You have potential though! I would probably cut the hook and focus on below.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  9. Very interesting. Like some of the others I was a little confused about the first paragraph. I wondered if you were referring to astrological twins, like under the Gemini sign maybe, but the description in the next paragraph really helps. I do think the second one feels more like a hook to me because it gave me something interesting to latch onto while the first one was a little jumbled. One agent I saw at a conference said that the hook should take the conflict that is in the first 30 pages or so. With the rest of the query, it has some shiny points and a few others that feel more synopsis and a little less voice to them. The part about the love triangle does throw me off a bit in that sense and maybe the other commenter has good advice at trying to keep it with the one character as the focus instead of both.

    I liked the query overall, and having been an intern I would have at least checked out the first three chapters to see if we would be requesting more.

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  10. Good concept, though there's a lot going on in your query. I'm putting my notes in brackets. No expert on queries, but I hope this helps!

    Teen astrological time twins become closer than sisters until ghosts, guardian angels, and the charms of a boy force them to choose between bonds that unite and faith that divide.

    (Start here!) Sixteen-year-old Laynie McAllister thinks her ditzy mom's paranormal beliefs are cracked. Then she meets Gwynne Rath, a newcomer born on the same day... at the same minute. The time twins share creepy, amazing life parallels (like what?). With this supernatural gift of the sister she's always wanted, her mom's New Age beliefs suddenly make sense. (do you need that last sentence?)

    Gwynne adores her new BFF, but not Laynie's weird supernatural theories. She doesn't know who or what to believe when haunting incidents uncover the truth about her parents' deaths years before. Confused, she writes off her remaining family and clings to the sisterhood. But still she falls for Declan Lake, the boy Laynie has loved forever. The love triangle tears the twins apart. (I though the twins just met. How does Gwynne know Laynie's loved Declan forever? Boy, lots of names. A bit confusing, but it may just be me)

    Laynie summons her guardian angel for counsel, but two show up (is this the 'haunting supernatural' you spoke of before? if not, I'm confused). Laynie believes the lost one is Gwynne's. To restore their friendship, the twins need to confront Declan and reconcile the angels (what does Declan have to do with anything? I thought he was just a love interest. And 'reconcile the angels.' Do they need reconciling? To each other?). Laynie insists transferring the lost angel will seal their sisterhood forever. Gwynne has adopted twinship, wondered about ghosts, and felt the feathers -- but she isn't sure a guardian angel is her thing. When Laynie talks her into a paranormal meditation, it becomes a dangerous showdown. Gwynne must decide if she can accept the beliefs that are not her own -- or lose the closest family she's ever claimed. (Sorry, I'm really confused now. Meditation, to me, means relaxing, enchanting, quiet, so what's this about a showdown? Again, maybe just me, but I'm confused.)

    Thank you for considering CLOSER THAN SISTERS, Contemporary YA in alternating first person. The manuscript is 65,000 words. The opening is below.


    I'm not realy sure if the book is about the love interest (if not, no need to have Declan in the query at all) or the crackpot mom or the twins' relationship. I'm assuming the last, but you'll need to weed out the unnecessary items in your query. Short and sweet!

    Hope this helps! Thanks for sharing!

    Marie at the Cheetah

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  11. Hi Lori! First, thanks for your fantastic feedback on my query. Very helpful! Your story sounds very cool. The idea is quite unique, but I was a bit confused by a few of the bits in your query. Here's what I noted:

    -I'm not sure the tagline is working. It confused me because I had no idea what astroligical time twins were until I read your second paragraph.

    -I'd like to know more about why Gwynne writes off her family for Laynie.

    -I love the idea and conflict of the girls falling for the same boy, but I'm not sure I understand how he relates to the two gaurdian angels and their falling out.

    -The final paragraph of the story's summary seems too busy to me. I wonder if you could trim it down to include just the main conflict?

    -Finally, you refer to the story as contemporary YA, but to me it sounds more paranormal, what with the mention of ghosts and angels. I could be wrong, but this is something you might want to clarify.

    I hope this is helpful. :) Overall, great job!

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  12. The first paragraph adds nothing to the query except confusion, so I'd lose that and start with paragraph 2. This seems mostly focused on Laynie, which leads me to believe she's the protag. But then in the next section, you focus on Gwyn and I had to re-read it twice to figure out why her parents were dead all of a sudden when in the previous paragraph L's Mom had weird supernatural beliefs.

    I think you need to focus on whose story this is. Even if it has dual POVs, you need to pick one for the query. You can mention there are dual POVs, but pick one perspective to focus the query through.

    Hope that helps!

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  13. Hi Lori,
    I think this looks really interesting. I would definitely read it. It might be a little long, but it doesn't FEEL long (if that makes sense).

    The biggest thing that stuck out to me in this was the following line: "The love triangle tears the twins apart." This is Telling, not showing, and pushing on cliche. Is there another way that you could phrase this sentence so it sounds a little more Showy without adding to the length?

    I think I'm also with Kate on the dual POV thing. If you could reduce Gwynne's paragraph and keep only the "vital" info from it, and combine it the Laynie's POV, it'll help reduce the length, too, plus keeping one POV.

    It looks great overall. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for your comments on my query as well!

    Rosie
    East for Green Eyes

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  14. Hi,

    I totally agree with what everyone else is saying, the first paragraph is more confusing then a hook.

    There's a lot going on in this book and I don't know if you need all of it for the query. I'd cut the guardian angel paragraph out... you've got enough with the love triangle.

    Sounds like a great book though.

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  15. Sorry for my tardiness, but better late than never...

    First, thanks so much for your comments on my query! I'm not good at critique, but here's my two cents:

    I don't think you need the first paragraph - it seems a bit redundant, especially as we don't really know whar time twins are. Your second paragraph is MUCH better, and we find out what we're dealing with, so I'd start from there.

    I think your main problem is that it's way too long. My query was half the length, and even THAT is too long. Trim out everything except the absolute bare bones of the story. I can see that your'e trying to mention as much of the plot as possible, but you can save that for a detailed synopsis if and when you are asked for one.

    I think you need to mention only a few things - the time twin explanation, the guardian angels, the love triangle, and the theme of embracing unusual beliefs. Then a quick couple of sentences on conflict and overcoming it. They're your main plot points I think, and this is what an agent will want to see.

    Sorry I don't have anything more detailed, but as I said, I'm not much good at this.

    I love the sound of your book. I have a twin theme with fantasy/magical elements in one of my WiP, so this sounds like it's right up my street. Good luck!

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  16. The blog is very good!
    Congratulations!
    http://nelsonsouzza.blogspot.com

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  17. AHHHH!!! I just spent 20 minutes critiquing your query and it got deleted! ERRR. So, if you'd like, send it to my address, and I'll take a look at it in Word doc form. I'm a freelance editor and am writing my own novels. Let me know if you're interested. Jessievdlandersen@yahoo.com
    Therabidwriter.blogspot.com

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  18. Hi Lori, just letting you know I gave you an award here: http://lorimlee.blogspot.com/2011/04/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  19. Hi Lori,
    I agree with KO, she got all my thoughts on the query, so i won't re-write them.
    Good Luck with the re-write!

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  20. Dear M. Nificent:

    (I would delete this entire paragraph and start with the one below).Teen astrological time twins become closer than sisters until ghosts, guardian angels, and the charms of a boy force them to choose between bonds that unite and faith that divide.

    Sixteen-year-old Laynie McAllister thinks her (delete "ditzy") mom's paranormal beliefs are cracked. Then she meets Gwynne Rath, a newcomer born on the same day... at the same minute. The(se) time twins share creepy, amazing life parallels(, and suddenly) (delete "With this supernatural gift of the sister she's always wanted,") her mom's New Age beliefs (delete "suddenly") make sense.

    (Delete "Gwynne adores her new BFF, but not Laynie's weird supernatural theories." (But Gwynne) doesn't know who or what to believe when haunting incidents uncover the truth about her parents' deaths years before. Confused, she writes off her remaining family and clings to the sisterhood. But still she falls for Declan Lake, the boy Laynie has loved forever. The love triangle tears the twins apart.

    Laynie summons her guardian angel for counsel, but two show up. Laynie believes the lost one is Gwynne's. To restore their friendship, the twins need to confront Declan and reconcile the angels. Laynie insists transferring the lost angel will seal their sisterhood forever. Gwynne has adopted twinship, wondered about ghosts, and felt the feathers -- but she isn't sure a guardian angel is her thing. When Laynie talks her into a paranormal meditation, it becomes a dangerous showdown. Gwynne must decide if she can accept the beliefs that are not her own -- or lose the closest family she's ever claimed.

    My main concern is that this is too long for a query. Agents and publishers want a brief and conscience description. Try to condense the main points and questions into one paragraph and you're golden.

    Take care,
    Jennifer

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