Author Topic: Is this query Pitchwars ready?  (Read 875 times)

Offline writersnook

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Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« on: July 18, 2018, 10:15:14 PM »
Thank you so much to anyone who has time to take a look at this and give me any advice about my query! This is my 3rd time entering Pitchwars and 3rd different story, but for some reason, writing the query letter is harder than the story each time.

Dear [Agent's name],

The conquistadors are coming. Swords. Enslavement. Small pox. No one is safe.

Only one tribe still survives: the Maleku.

But seventeen-year-old Araceli has a more immediate problem—her supposed betrothed thinks life, and love, is all competition and conquest. Outrunning him and refusing his headdress of feathers, one feather at a time, won’t change who she is—a mestizo of Maleku and Spanish ties. She’s a restless loner who wants to find her own corner in the world, not his hearth, before the Spanish invaders conquer all.

Driven by her stubborn refusal and a curiosity to see the enemy who spawned her, Araceli seeks to know what lies beyond the jungle. But when her mother sacrifices herself to save her from the conquistadors, Araceli realizes life is one hostile race to survive. She enlists in a series of tests to become the first female Maleku warrior, irked to find her betrothed matching her stride, and learns to use the jungle as a weapon. But all that earned worth is volcanic ash in the rain when her actions result in murder and enslavement of those she loves. Left with no choice, Araceli must orchestrate a war between the conquistadors and the jungle before her tribe ceases to exist and the Spanish slave ship sets sail with her betrothed onboard.

I’m seeking representation of THE RED ARA, a YA historical fantasy complete at 90K where SWAN LAKE is set to the pulse of APOCALYPTO. For fans of WILD BEAUTY, FLAME IN THE MIST, and CARVE THE MARK, THE RED ARA is based loosely on the only indigenous tribe that eluded and survived the Spanish conquistadors in 18th century Central America.

I have an M.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Secondary Education. I’m the author of two award-winning short stories, former editor of a digital literary magazine, and a member of AWP and SCBWI.

Thank you for considering THE RED ARA.
Sincerely,

Offline mgmystery

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Re: Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 08:17:19 AM »
Pitchwars is a fantastic opportunity, but the YA competition is fierce. I think this query could use some clarification.

The conquistadors are coming. Swords. Enslavement. Small pox. No one is safe.

Only one tribe still survives: the Maleku.

But seventeen-year-old Araceli has a more immediate problem—her supposed betrothed thinks life, and love, is all competition and conquest. Outrunning him and refusing his headdress of feathers, one feather at a time, won’t change who she is (I'm not sure what you mean here. Is she competing with him to make him lose interest? Or does he think she's a prize to be won by the strongest competitor?)—a mestizo of Maleku and Spanish ties. She’s a restless loner who wants to find her own corner in the world, not his hearth, before the Spanish invaders conquer all. (Nice description of her personality!)

Driven by her stubborn refusal and a curiosity to see the enemy (One of the invaders?) who spawned her, Araceli seeks to know what lies beyond the jungle. But when her mother sacrifices herself to save her from the conquistadors, Araceli realizes life is one hostile race to survive. She enlists in a series of tests to become the first female Maleku warrior, irked to find her betrothed matching her stride, and learns to use the jungle as a weapon. But all that earned worth is volcanic ash in the rain (I get where you're going with this, but it doesn't fall in with the rest of the query. I'd rather see a specific sentence about her loved ones being punished since she's trying to do a man's job or whatever.) when her actions result in murder and enslavement of those she loves. Left with no choice, Araceli must orchestrate a war between the conquistadors and the jungle before her tribe ceases to exist and the Spanish slave ship sets sail with her betrothed onboard. (I like this hint that she's become attached to him, but I wonder if it's something that should have been mentioned. Hopefully someone else will weigh in on that.)

Offline clutzattack

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Re: Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 04:10:28 PM »
Dear [Agent's name],

The conquistadors are coming. Swords. Enslavement. Small pox. No one is safe. Good hook.

Only one tribe still survives: the Maleku. "still survives" or "survived the last visit from the Spanish"?

But seventeen-year-old Araceli has a more immediate problem—her supposed I think "supposed" weakens the relationship. betrothed thinks life, and love, is all competition and conquest.   This line makes me think that her betrothed is someone who will want to take on the conquistadors and who will want to fight a losing battle where all the Maleku are going to die as the others before them. Do they know for sure the Spanish are coming back or will it be a surprise event later in the story? Outrunning him and refusing his headdress of feathers, one feather at a time, won’t change who she is—a mestizo No idea what this word is? Half-blood? Should it be italicized because it's foreign?of Maleku and Spanish ties. She’s a restless loner who wants to find her own corner in the world, not his hearth, before the Spanish invaders conquer all. I kind of feel like she’s undermining her own argument here with this last sentence. The betrothed thinks life is all competition and conquest, and the Spanish have come to conquer all… She wants to be a loner, so is she essentially saying she just wants to run away from the imminent threat rather than face it? I’m not connecting to her motivation/goal. Maybe it's just the preview sentence where we know what's coming later and it seems she does as well, but in the story's timeline, she doesn't know the Spanish will be coming?



Driven by her stubborn refusal and a curiosity to see the enemy who spawned her, Araceli seeks to know what lies beyond the jungle. Does she have any negative experiences related to the fact that she's enemy spawned? Is she an outcast in the village which is why she's a loner? I like how this sentence gives me insight into her character. But when her mother sacrifices herself to save her from the conquistadors, Araceli realizes life is one hostile race to survive. She enlists in a series of tests to become the first female Maleku warrior, irked to find her betrothed matching her stride for stride , and learns to use the jungle as a weapon. But all that earned worth is volcanic ash in the rain odd metaphor. Is it muddy, is it dirty rain, is it all useless? when her actionsmaybe specify her actions of venturing outside the jungle. Or does her actions of training result in the murder/enslavement? result in murder and enslavement of those she loves. Left with no choice, Araceli must orchestrate a war between the conquistadors and the jungle before her tribe ceases to exist and the Spanish slave ship sets sail with her betrothed onboard. Why does she care about the betrothed? I thought she wanted to go live alone first, and then she doesn’t value him as someone she wants to be protected by because she seeks to be stronger than him. Does she actually care for him?

I’m seeking representation of THE RED ARA, a YA historical fantasy complete at 90K where SWAN LAKE First thing I think of is the ballet, and I'm not sure what similarities there would be to draw between them. is set to the pulse of APOCALYPTO. For fans of WILD BEAUTY, FLAME IN THE MIST, and CARVE THE MARK, THE RED ARA is based loosely on the only indigenous tribe that eluded and survived the Spanish conquistadors in 18th century Central America.Nice, concise, summary.

I have an M.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Secondary Education. I’m the author of two award-winning short stories, former editor of a digital literary magazine, and a member of AWP and SCBWI.

Thank you for considering THE RED ARA.
Sincerely,

   Sounds like a cool premise and kudos for writing something historical!



Offline writersnook

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Re: Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 07:46:44 PM »
Thank you so much mgmystery and clutzattack for your help! I see how the areas you pointed out can be confusing so I'll work on them. Your questions and ideas will be very helpful, so thank you!

Offline slightlysmall

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Re: Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 09:59:21 PM »
I'm not here for a line edit, but I was thrown for a loop when I saw "historical *fantasy*" and McLemore comps. I didn't see evidence of anything beyond the history in the query itself. What makes it fantastical?

Offline Eloisia

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Re: Is this query Pitchwars ready?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2018, 12:02:56 PM »
I think this query starts well. I would combine the first two paragraphs. I would omit the word but before seventeen--stronger that way. "Learns to use the jungle as a weapon" is very good . I don't understand "earned worth is volcanic ash." I think you seek representation FOR [not of]. For me, most interesting part of this whole query is that it's about the only indigenous tribe to survive, Et cetera. Is there any way you could bring this up to the top of the query?