Thursday, February 9, 2012

QUERY-palooza: Day Four

As always, I used to choose the winner of today's query critique. Here's our winner!

A lightning rod for tragedy, Nox Sumner (has) lost every member of her family. She is haunted by the fear of who will be next. (If she lost every member of her family, it sounds like she doesn’t have anyone left to lose so who is she really worried about? Maybe be a tad more specific.) When the Grim Reaper turns up on her doorstep, answering her question with the name of her BFF, only her ghostastic older bro standing in the way stops her from kicking his hooded ass to the curb. 1. How does she recognize him? 2. Why isn’t she afraid? 3. What question does she ask? 4. I like her style. :)

Grim's in a bind. His boatman, River Crowe, is hiding out at Nox's high school. Loving life, he flipped (flips – Queries are written in present tense.) Grim the bird and refused (refuses) to return to his dismal existence as (an) exalted taxi service for the dead. Since River isn't on his list (what list?), Grim needs Nox to kill River and send him home. And if she'll do it, he'll (Grimm. Otherwise “he” refers back to River in the previous sentence.) spare her best friend. Make it clear in the first paragraph that her best friend is all she has left. That’s how you tweak that second sentence. Also, it occurs to me to ask who Nox lives with now that her family is dead. You can answer that in the first paragraph by identifying the doorstep Grim shows up on. “When the Grim Reaper turns up at her foster parents’ doorstep” etc.

The thought of killing anyone—let alone River—makes her want to vomit. Six feet of tall, dark and oh-my-god, he is a whirlwind of hedonistic pleasure.(This could just be a matter of personal taste, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’m uncomfortable with the phrase “hedonistic pleasure” in a query for a YA. Makes me think of adult paranormal romance instead. Maybe find a more PG way to describe this? Up to you.) Nox thought the loss of her brother (In the first paragraph, it sounds like she suddenly lost ALL her family members at once. If her parents died earlier and her brother is the recent death, you might tweak the first sentence to reflect that.) had extinguished any happiness left inside her until River's love affair with mortality reignites something she thought lost forever.

But that doesn't change what she has to do. The ranks of the reaped grow as a rash of drownings illustrate the danger in leaving souls stranded on the banks of the Styx. (The phrase “a rash of drownings illustrate the danger in leaving souls stranded…” feels a bit unwieldy. I think it’s the “illustrate the danger.” It puts distance between us and the heinous stuff that is happening. Make it more immediate. i.e. “The ranks of the reaped are growing as the souls stranded on the banks of the Styx __insert appropriate gruesome action here___”) Her quiet, corn-fed community is rapidly becoming a literal ghost town. With her closest friend's life hanging in the balance, her time is running out … and so is River's. Love these last two sentences. Nice job!

THE STYX is an 85,000 YA paranormal set in the real town of River Styx, Ohio and my debut novel. (You can cut the “and my debut novel.”) If you would like to read more, I would be delighted to send you sample chapters or the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sounds like a high stakes, interesting story! Best of luck to you with this.

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