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 1 
 on: Today at 08:22:38 AM 
Started by abauthor - Last post by MsGretaGreen
Hello! Here are some quick thoughts on ways to tighten your query:

Dear Ms. Agent:

Johnny Williams decides a quick death, if that is to be, is preferable to another day of Louie beating the crap out of him. When Louie is the only terrorist I’m not sure what you mean here. Is he calling him a terrorist because he is a bully, or because her is an actual TERRORIST?in the room, Johnny attacks. He is gutshot, but manages to shoot Louie and grab both his gun and his car keys.

The terroristsOk, so he is an actual terrorist. Maybe you should set up the inciting scene better, and before your second sentence?. I.E. Louie and his fellow terrorists have held Johnny captive ever since he blew the cover on their plans to move to the nation’s capital. They want to know who tipped him off...etc.etc. tortured Johnny to learn how he knew to announce in his political blog that a new terrorist cell was moving into the nation’s capital. Doing so, they gave credence to Johnny’s anonymous tip that these assholes are plotting the overthrow of our federal government, possibly with support from inside the United States Congress. This is scary as hell.

Johnny is burdened with fearful knowledge, but he has no proof what about the proof that they kidnapped and tortured him???that the terrorist cell even exists, and his source no longer communicates with him. Then, disaster, his informer is shot to death.

Being a black resident of Baltimore, Johnny has an innate distrust of authorities.and this is why he doesn’t go to the police with his info, but broadcasts it online? Also, the cops have issued a warrant for his arrest for car theft and assault with a deadly weapon.Is he a criminal? This makes him less appealing or sympathetic to the reader Soon they’ll find Louie’s body. wait. Louie died?When they do, the charge will escalate to first degree murder.

Johnny has broken ribs and a serious stomach wound. The terrorists hunt him, hoping to kill him. The cops want to toss his ass in jail. People around him that might have helped are shot. Unless he comes up with a plan, odds are that he’ll be either in prison or dead before his twenty-sixth birthday.

Six of my short stories have been published. My first novel, a mystery entitled, When the Rabbit Screams, was just released by Blue Stone Media.

Brotherhood is a thriller, complete at 80,000 words. I’ve attached the first chapter and a short synopsis below.

Okay. I think your first sentence is good, minus the crossed-out portion. The order of events I find unclear. Perhaps, you can set up why he is being tortured, where he is, who the terrorists are, etc. Then move to the moment when he is alone with Louie and has a chance to attack. Then Louie dies and Johnny is really screwed. He has no proof of this terrorist cell groups existence, he cannot reach his informer, a body is hiding in his trunk, and the cops are after him for criminal behavior.  On top of it all, he is injured and time is running out.

 2 
 on: Yesterday at 11:03:45 PM 
Started by serenawinter - Last post by serenawinter
So, after rewriting my query, I am still struggling to get requests for my manuscript. I'm starting to worry that it might be my first chapter that is creating hesitation for agents. I would greatly appreciate feedback! Thank you for any help.

Chapter One
The ancient power of Zodiac Turning was abolished long ago, but the tales following had been etched into our minds since we were children.

Possessing the ability to change someone’s Sign was too powerful, too manipulative. The existence of the Zodiac Turners was centuries before I was born, the craft removed by their bloodshed. It was only a story within my generation, but an intriguing one.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts as I stared down at the tiny relic in my hand. The necklace was coated with silt from being washed up by the creek, and its pattern barely distinguishable. It appeared to be a tarnished silver pendant in the shape of a Zodiac wheel, with an aged crystal embedded inside. A blue hue flickered over it when I tilted it in the Sun; it must’ve been enchanted in the war. The enchantment seemed to be fading.

I draped the necklace into my palm and stuffed it in my tattered satchel. It was a remarkable find, and would make for a pretty necklace if restored.

For a moment, I basked in the peace of the forest. Thick foliage and trees were nestled around the creek’s banks and shielded me from the Sun. Through all my exploration work, I hadn’t let myself take the time to venture on my own. It was worth the risk of losing a day mapping for Gardian.

I started walking back the way I came. It had to be late in the afternoon, and I didn’t want to be late for the ceremony. The Officials and Ceremony Master would become suspicious.

My thoughts swallowed me as I traveled and I took in a deep breath to calm myself. The excitement of the night was buzzing in my mind. It was finally approaching the time of the ceremony.

I picked up my pace. After all, I didn’t want to be in the middle of Conviction Woods after sundown. I could feel the gazes of creatures slicing into my back as I walked. I shivered and hurried, pushing the sense away.

“Akira!”

My head jerked up at my name. The voice was boisterous, aggressive, and definitely not soft. I understood who it belonged to. No one other than my sister would have a voice like that. I must’ve been close to my house.

Our meager cabin-like home was ahead, squatting in the forest beneath the canopy. Sunlight cast upon the wooden roof, the shadows on the building shifting as leaves danced above.

My attention was snatched as the bushes rustled to the back of the house. A dim shape of a person sulked around it, sticking to the sides to hide their presence. Fear coursed through my body, and I ducked into the cover of the woods, shielding myself behind a tree. No one ever visited us.

I couldn’t make out anything about the person. They were a silhouette of black, face covered by a hood. My body ran cold as my eyes directed to their hip, their gun flaring as sunlight caught the metal.

We didn’t do anything wrong. Right? What in the world could we have done to have an assassin sent to our house?

I instinctively reached for the sword that usually rested on my back, but I grasped air instead. The satchel was empty. I must’ve left my katana inside so that I didn’t have to lug the weight around the woods. Even three pounds could be a struggle for my small body.

My mind spun as I debated running into the house, but I didn’t know how fast the person was. They could’ve been a trained killer, for all I knew. Why there would be a trained killer at my house, I hadn’t a clue.

I gasped before charging forward and crashing through the woods. My heart felt as if it would pound out of my chest as I sprinted to my door. The person in black shrieked, causing me to jump and collapse to the ground while my breath was knocked away. As fast as I possibly could, I turned to face the person, but had no time to recover.

To my disbelief, a gun was shoved to my forehead. Terror engulfed my body.

But they didn’t shoot. Instead, they sighed. Their shoulders relaxed, and they placed their handgun back into the satchel on their hip.

“Don’t do that, Akira,” they muttered, and relief washed over me as I recognized the voice. They slid their hood off and I heaved myself up with legs that wobbled from the experience. The person’s dirty blonde hair tumbled out of her hood, and her shimmering tangerine eyes met mine. I relaxed as I recognized my sister in black fabric.

“You snuck up on our house!” I hissed, and made my way inside. I corrected my emotions, forcing myself to calm down. I drew in a deep breath and fixed the tone of my voice. “What were you doing?”

“I got back from a spy mission,” she explained. “The Officials told me to go investigate Societal’s base and not to reveal myself until I was completely back inside my home.”

I closed the door quietly. “You didn’t have to be sneaking around the house.”

“It’s more fun that way.”

As soon as I entered, I set my map down on a paltry wooden table that was scratched and bashed up from all the years we had used it. Even with only my sister and I living in the house, it was still in poor condition—the walls creaked with every gust of wind, a January chill leaked in from the defectively-sealed windows, and the furniture was unkempt and dusty. Neither of us had time to clean during the day, with Avia a spy and I an explorer. We both chose hard-working jobs to earn enough money to keep ourselves alive.

“Look what I found by the creek today,” I said, withdrawing the necklace from my satchel as I sat down in a creaky wooden chair that once was the same shade of brown as the table. “Must’ve been washed up. No one really goes down to that creek, except for us.”

“Oh, that’s cute.” She poked at the necklace. Her attention was quickly lost as she glanced back up at me. “Today, the Ariesian Leader came to me for my mission.”

I perked up. The Leader was certainly a big deal. “Oh, what’s-his-name Fulbright?”

“Atlas,” she corrected. “He didn’t say much, but still pretty cool.”

I leaned over in my chair to catch a glimpse of what it looked like outside. The Sun was about half-arc in the sky, meaning sundown was to occur in approximately an hour or two. We had time to burn before we had to travel to the clearing where we’d go through the Zodiac Ceremony.

Avia sat across from me and delicately set her handgun down on the table. Its barrel was pointed directly at me, cocked, but I wasn’t afraid. Avia would never pull that trigger on me, no matter what I did. She was the only person I had left, and I was the closest she had to herself.

“I suppose I should get something to eat.” I stood up from my chair.

“No, don’t.” Avia stopped me, and I met her eyes. “I was told that the Ceremony is going to have a feast. And trust me, when the Officials throw a feast, they mean it. As in, lots of food. I like food.”

“You seem focused on food,” I said, running my index finger across my map on the table. It was only intricate in the sections of Conviction Woods, where we lived. I kept exploring its mass over and over again, despite wanting to explore the other Unions. But the Conviction Officials wanted me to work in Conviction, so I wasn’t going anywhere for a long time.

Avia growled something underneath her breath and slammed her head down onto the table. I didn’t flinch; I was used to her doing idiot things. She always had a tendency to be abrupt and sudden with her actions. I adjusted.

She jerked back up and slapped her hands down on the table. “Can you shapeshift my dress for tonight? That’ll pass some time.”

I got up from the table without a word and made my way down the hallway. She rose from her chair so quickly that she sent it skidding against wood, and bolted past me to her room. I grumbled at her high spirit. Typical Aries.

When I entered the bedroom, she had already started scrounging through her closet to find something her size. I didn’t have to look in the closet to know what was in it. It was filled with only black dresses and shirts. We’d learned it would be easier and cheaper to buy low-quality clothing, then later have me shapeshift them into something apt.

Avia yanked out a worn dress and placed it on top of her bed. “Okay, I want something golden, not yellow. Golden with sequins—that’s the prettiest. If you could add in some swirls with red, that’d be cool. Aries-like. I don’t want the Officials thinking I’m a Libra if I’m wearing gold.”

“I would’ve done that anyway,” I reassured, stepping forward to put one hand on the black dress. “You’d be in big trouble, that’s for sure. Plus, yellow and red match you. You shouldn’t be wearing gold at all.”

“Make it gold, they don’t care,” she fought, and I gathered in a deep breath. I knew better than to argue with her. “It’s a shade of yellow.”

“Whatever.”

I closed my eyes and focused all my power on the dress in front of me. I pictured what she wanted, exactly how she told me. It didn’t take much for me to
shapeshift the dress, as I was used to the procedure for our other clothing. The shapeshifting light pooled out of my hands to the dress.

“Perfect!” Avia expressed before I even opened my eyes. “Now, shoo, go do yours. I need to change.”

I caught a glance of the stunning dress before walking to my room. It was one of the works I was prouder of. My shapeshifter skills kept advancing as I used them more often.

I entered my room and headed straight for my closet. It was the same as Avia’s, coal-colored dresses, all the same size. Mine were slightly longer than Avia’s, but only because I was barely taller than her. We were close in height, despite her being a few months older than me.
I used the same process as I did on my sister’s dress—closed my eyes, touched my hand to the dress, and summoned my power. It was quicker since I had a clear vision of what I wanted.

A dress, black and red in color, was in front of me. It wasn’t nearly as flashy as Avia’s dress and rather pretty, being fairly simple. It was embroidered with ornate red spirals and patterns. Scorpio colors. I wasn’t going to risk it, unlike Avia.

I slipped into the dress quickly. I was graceful and agile, allowing me to get into the dress fast. But my muscles were weak, and I didn’t have the training to gain strength. My legs had adapted to all the walking I did with exploring, but that was about all the muscle strength I had in my body.

Avia was the opposite of me. She had Ariesian training that made her more muscular than a regular teenager. She, however, was incredibly clumsy and tripped over every single thing in sight. I learned over time that a person either had agility or strength.

“Akira! What could you possibly be doing in there that would take you so long?”

I jumped at her booming voice. Shaking my shoulders, I hurried out of my room and into the hallway where Avia was waiting for me. She looked stunning in the dress as it stuck close to her body and flowed with her stride. I was a bit afraid that she’d trip and mess it up.

“You look amazing,” she complimented, and I glanced down at myself with a half-smile. “Your hair and eyes go well with your outfit.”

I leaned into the bathroom to check her statement. My long, sleek raven hair blended well and made the outfit sharp. My one scarlet eye, one golden eye made the outfit pop out and the red in it shimmer. I allowed a tiny smile to slip onto my face.

“Well, that killed twenty minutes,” I muttered, walking out of the bathroom to collapse on the living room couch. Dust puffed into the air. “What do we do now?”

“We could start walking down to the place where they’re conducting the Zodiac Ceremony,” she suggested. “It’s in Conviction Woods.”

That caught my attention. “Around here? Why’d they choose it for us?”

“It could be any reason,” she pointed out, leaning against the wall, “but I’m guessing it’s because there’s another Convictionist attending.”

“What? How do you know that?” I asked. “How many people are going to be there? It’s not like there could be a million other sixteen-year-olds all becoming Zodios at the same exact time.”

“Three others, I think.” She put her hand to her forehead as if she was trying to remember the facts. “A Convictionist and two Societalists, all siblings. One of them waited a year so that they’d become a Zodio at the same time as their siblings. I don’t know much, but that’s what I was told by a couple of other Ariesians.”

I paused to process her words before standing up. “Well, if you know where the spot for the Ceremony is, you can lead. I suppose we can get going early.”

She sprinted toward the door with an eager nod. We were off to the Zodiac Ceremony.

 3 
 on: Yesterday at 09:46:45 PM 
Started by Munley - Last post by Patrick
Munley,
I don't send out questionnaires. I tried something like that in the past, but not enough agents replied to make it worthwhile. Often it would sit in their inboxes which, as all querying authors know, can get extremely full and take months to hear back.  Instead, I manually collect the information direct from agent's websites and social media accounts.

 4 
 on: Yesterday at 09:08:02 PM 
Started by sparrow - Last post by paddler
I think the R&R should remain between you and the agent who you are dealing with. Write it up on a copy of the original and see if it seems better to you. If it is, and that original agent falls through, use it later. If any of the agents with your full then ask for some edits, discuss with them.

 5 
 on: Yesterday at 09:03:15 PM 
Started by beckygilbert - Last post by paddler
For a long time, I thought bios in queries were just to recount published credits. Recently an agent convinced me that it can help an agent decide if they can work with you. You know, the kind of person that suits their personality some and doesn't suck their toes in public.

It can also show your writing chops a bit more, and we need all of that we can get. Explain that you are a dog person who was shanghaied by cats or something.

 6 
 on: Yesterday at 08:35:45 PM 
Started by Pyrrhonist - Last post by rivergirl
Ok, there's text there now. Wasn't before.

 7 
 on: Yesterday at 03:37:19 PM 
Started by jreo513 - Last post by Pyrrhonist
Quite a few agents don't have websites and instead just use those listings. As you can see from the stats, they suffer no shortage of submissions.

 8 
 on: Yesterday at 08:12:19 AM 
Started by abauthor - Last post by abauthor
Louie used a fingernail to flick the last of the dried blood from his two-foot length of garden hose. Then, hearing the toilet flush, he grinned and pulled his Beretta from its shoulder holster. He walked toward the bathroom, stopping six feet from the door. Twice that distance would have been prudent.

Johnny Williams had gone beyond caring, A quick death, if that was to be, was preferable to Louie’s continued torture. He erupted from bathroom break a crazed animal and crossed to Louie in three seconds flat. There were muzzle flashes. Johnny heard gunshots, but it would take more than a day for him to realize two-nine mm slugs had ripped into his body.

Although dreadfully wounded and bound with handcuffs, Johnny managed to grab Louie’s gun and twist it back toward him. An explosion. The acrid smell of gunpowder. Blood splashed into Johnny’s eye, his mouth, tasting metallic. Then everything went dark.

Johnny woke sprawled on a concrete floor. A chubby guy, unmoving and drenched in blood, lay next to him. Johnny felt crushed in a vice, but he didn’t know he’d been shot, nor did he realize that much of the blood was his own. And it took several seconds to recognize Louie as one of the bastards who’d been beating the crap out of him for the last…well for however many days it had been.

Louie’s rubber hose was what jump-started Johnny’s memories. He’d received an email about a new terrorist cell moving into the nation’s capital. Johnny’d announced their arrival in his political blog and included their name. That’s all he gave, but it was enough. Louie with help from Roger, who might be the terrorists’s leader, grabbed him on Christmas morning—a day that now seemed so long ago. They enjoyed taking turns torturing him to learn his source of information.

Johnny shuddered and returned to his present predicament. He needed to get out of there. He used his fingers to close Louie’s unseeing eyes. Then, with the asshole no longer staring, he rummaged in Louie’s pockets for keys to the handcuffs. He found a set, but they were car keys only. He was about to continue his search, when he heard voices.

“Son of a bitch. Roger.”

Johnny grabbed Louie’s gun and crept to the doorway. He lay on his gut on the metal catwalk and looked down into the cavernous expanse of the warehouse. He couldn’t see anyone, but he heard Roger talking and then his shout.

“Louie. You up there?”

After a moment, “Clyde, go find out what the hell’s going on.”

Johnny scrambled to his feet, hurried along the catwalk, and turned toward the back of the building. He found a door there. As he opened it and stepped outside, someone clanged onto the catwalk behind him.
A fierce wind whipped at Johnny, and the stairs to the alley were slick with ice. It was a slow descent, but he made it down and to the front of the building. He clicked Louie’s car key. A dark sedan parked at the curb blinked to life. Johnny hurried over. Folded himself inside. As he inserted the key into the ignition, Roger and another man stepped into the street.

Johnny scrunched down. He had Louie’s gun and aimed it at the driver’s window. He prayed nobody would show and wondered if he’d have the balls to shoot if they did.

He heard Roger and the other person talking but then nothing. After several minutes, Johnny sat up. He spotted someone in his rearview mirror, half a block away but close to a streetlight. Roger. The other guy was the same distance but in front of the car. Clearly, they were looking for him. If they found him, he would die.

Johnny started the car, whipped the wheel to the left, and accelerated. He smashed into the pickup in front of him, reversed, and hit the car behind. He finally had the clearance to race into the street but being handcuffed had so slowed his maneuver that Roger was there, grabbing the rear door handle.

Johnny stomped the gas. Roger held on for several seconds but then disappeared from view. The second terrorist stood in the center of the street. He was pulling something from his pocket. It had to be a gun. There wasn’t room to drive around him, and Johnny damn well wasn’t going to stop. He hit the guy doing well over thirty per. There was an audible “whoomp” and a body flew up and into the windshield. Seconds later he heard gunshots. The rear window exploded, but then Johnny turned the corner. Tears ran down his cheeks as he realized he had made it. He was free.

Johnny had no destination. He only knew he needed to get away. He was groggy and confused and undoubtedly driving as if he was drunk. Fortunately, it was five in the morning, and the streets were nearly deserted. Still, it was miraculous that he stayed on the road, hit nobody or anything, and wasn’t spotted by the authorities.

At some point the car engine sputtered and died. Johnny had no ability to try to find the fault, not even to check the gas gauge. He suspected he was no longer in Baltimore but had no idea where he was. He stumbled from the car. Shuffled across a four-lane road, unaware that snowflakes stung his face or that the pavement was rough and cold beneath his bare feet.


 9 
 on: Yesterday at 07:57:27 AM 
Started by abauthor - Last post by abauthor
You guys have been most helpful. One final look would be appreciated if you are so inclined. I've changed the protagonist's name for reasons that aren't important here. Should I include the title of my published mystery? What about the name of the publishing company? Thanks again.

Dear Ms. Agent:

Johnny Williams decides a quick death, if that is to be, is preferable to another day of Louie beating the crap out of him. When Louie is the only terrorist in the room, Johnny attacks. He is gutshot. But he manages to shoot Louie and grab both his gun and his car keys.

The terrorists tortured Johnny to learn how he knew to announce in his political blog that a new terrorist cell was moving into the nation’s capital. Doing so, they gave credence to Johnny’s anonymous tip that these assholes are plotting the overthrow of our federal government, possibly with support from inside the United States Congress. This is scary as hell.

Johnny is burdened with fearful knowledge, but he has no proof that the terrorist cell even exists, and his source no longer communicates with him. Then, disaster, his informer is shot to death.

Being a black resident of Baltimore, Johnny has an innate distrust of authorities. Also, the cops have issued a warrant for his arrest for car theft and assault with a deadly weapon. Soon they’ll find Louie’s body. When they do, the charge will escalate to first degree murder.

Johnny has broken ribs and a serious stomach wound. The terrorists hunt him, hoping to kill him. The cops want to toss his ass in jail. People around him that might have helped are shot. Unless he comes up with a plan, odds are that he’ll be either in prison or dead before his twenty-sixth birthday.

Six of my short stories have been published. My first novel, a mystery entitled, When the Rabbit Screams, was just released by Blue Stone Media.

Brotherhood is a thriller, complete at 80,000 words. I’ve attached the first chapter and a short synopsis below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Name
Address


 10 
 on: April 24, 2019, 09:13:35 PM 
Started by jreo513 - Last post by Munley

I think what's likely happening is the agent is going to shop your story without a contract. When you think that some agents report getting in the tens of thousands of queries every year, it wouldn't surprise me if a ton of them do this under the table. Do they really want to take risks on writers and then not sell the book after repping them? Think about it. It's probably happened to them a hundred times and they can't just kick the writer to the curb afterwards because word gets out on the internet and it gives their agency a bad name.

The agent probably sends multiple jacket blurbs to their connections (Editors they've worked with or whoever). They get the editors opinion on the premise and marketability and make their decision after that.

Slightly unethical? Yeah. But I can't see any other reason why this agent would be asking you for this when you're not officially "working together."



Granting that we don't know whether this agent is doing this, I'll speak in general.

I'd say that it is extremely unethical for agents to secretly shop a manuscript before offering.

Writers are told never to submit to agents and publishers at the same time for what I think is a good reason: any publisher who has already seen your work and rejected it won't be an option for any agent you you do get. So you tie your agents hands, having spoiled your chances with an editor who might have been interested had you waited till an agent helped you get the manuscript into a better submission package better tailored to particular editors.

In the case of the writer pre-shopping the manuscript with publishing houses, at least the writer knows who the all-used-up editors are. And, yes, the agent should be told about them.

If an agency does this, the writer has no idea what editors have already said no. A huge disadvantage for the writer. And those rejections might not have even happened had the agency put in the same proper and thorough effort they would have for an author they had committed to represent.   Angry

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