Author Topic: query for coming of age YA Revised  (Read 188 times)

Online Doris

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query for coming of age YA Revised
« on: August 28, 2019, 02:47:51 PM »
Hello all,
I have revised my book 4 times (or is it 5?), now working on the query letter. Please take a look.
Thanks for any input. Hard to believe that 1 1/2 years of work will be judged by this little letter!!
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Please see new revised query letter after the next 3 replies!!

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Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

Two sisters are alone. Their grandmother is alone.

Thinking they are homeless after their mother dies of a drug overdose, fourteen-year-old Jasmine and her younger sister are stunned to discover they have a grandmother named Bird. The only problem is, their grandmother doesn’t know they exist. When Bird travels to a secluded cabin in Maine, they decide to hitch a ride, without telling her.

After Bird’s new puppy sniffs them out of their hiding place, Jasmine wants to know why her mother ran away from Bird as a young teenager. She then blames Bird for her mother’s unhappy life and resists trusting her. The one person she does trust is Poppy, a 74-year-old undocumented immigrant she discovers hiding in a cave with his five-year-old great-grandson. They have nowhere to go and Jasmine knows how that feels, so she invites them to become part of her new family, if they don’t get deported.

Jasmine’s past won’t let her go as she realizes her mother’s no-good, drug dealing boyfriend has followed them to Maine. He’s still as evil as ever and she can’t figure out what he wants. Threatening to hurt all of them, he pulls Jasmine and her new family into a dramatic showdown.

In this coming-of-age adventure tale, Jasmine is chasing after a family and if she can’t find one, she’ll make her own.

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel [title here]. It is complete at 84,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 01:45:37 PM by Doris »

Online Tigerlily1066

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Re: query for coming of age YA
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2019, 04:50:58 PM »
Hello all,
I have revised my book 4 times (or is it 5?), now working on the query letter. Please take a look.
Thanks for any input. Hard to believe that 1 1/2 years of work will be judged by this little letter!!


It is amazing and agonizing, isn't it? So hard to boil a novel down to a few hundred words! Congratulations on finishing your revisions. :)
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Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

Two sisters are alone. Their grandmother is alone. I don't think these lines add much, so I would remove them to free up query real estate down below.

Thinking they are homeless after their mother dies of a drug overdose, fourteen-year-old Jasmine and her younger sister are stunned to discover they have a grandmother named Bird. The only problem is, their grandmother doesn’t know they exist. How do they make this discovery, such that they know about Bird and Bird does not know about them? When Bird travels to a secluded cabin in Maine, they decide to hitch a ride, without telling her.

After Bird’s new puppy sniffs them out of their hiding place, Jasmine wants to know why her mother ran away from Bird as a young teenager. She then blames Bird for her mother’s unhappy life and resists trusting her. The one person she does trust is Poppy, a 74-year-old undocumented immigrant she discovers hiding in a cave with his five-year-old great-grandson. They have nowhere to go and Jasmine knows how that feels, so she invites them to become part of her new family, if they don’t get deported. This paragraph is confusing to me. I'm with you at the start but then lose the thread when Poppy shows up. It's not clear to me what he has to do with the story of Bird and Jasmine. Also, is Jasmine living in the cave with him or with Bird? Does she ask him to move in with Bird? This is where I go agley.

Jasmine’s past won’t let her go as she realizes her mother’s no-good, drug dealing boyfriend has followed them to Maine. Why?He’s still as evil as ever and she can’t figure out what he wants. Threatening to hurt all of them, he pulls Jasmine and her new family into a dramatic showdown. So this is the ever-so-vital "stakes paragraph" and the stakes here are hinted at but not as clear as they could be. I think we need to know what the boyfriend wants and what Jasmine has to do to stop him and achieve the family she's longing for.

In this coming-of-age adventure tale, Jasmine is chasing after a family and if she can’t find one, she’ll make her own. This gets back to the idea of what specifically Jasmine has to do. Forgive Bird? Understand her dead mother? Find Poppy a permanent home? Defeat her mother's boyfriend in some fashion? I feel like your query needs more specifics on what actions Jasmine must take and what's at stake if she fails. Poppy gets deported? Do she and her sister end up in foster care? I'm not sure.

TITLE is a young adult novel of 84,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think you've got a good first draft here! Best of luck with your query. :)

Offline Marysia

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Re: query for coming of age YA
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 05:32:07 PM »
I like the sound of this story once Jasmine's mom's evil boyfriend shows up. :) Now I'm curious to see if the mother's drug overdose was facilitated by him somehow. One plot point that isn't coming across too clearly is Bird's presence in the story. How does she react to her grandchildren's presence? Does Jasmine want both Bird and Poppy in her life, or is she substituting Poppy for Bird? I realize it's hard to get all the threads of a story across in a compressed space when you must focus on your MC's actions. I'm currently trying to revise my own query and second-guessing everything in it, so please don't worry if my suggestions aren't making sense to you. These are just some questions I had as I was reading.  :)

Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

Two sisters are alone. Their grandmother is alone.

Thinking they are homeless after their mother dies of a drug overdose, fourteen-year-old Jasmine and her younger sister are stunned to discover they have a grandmother named Bird. [How do they find out? Also, where are they living before they tag along after their grandmother? Are they homeless now, in foster care? I'm guessing she lives in the same neighborhood since they hitch a ride with her?] The only problem is, their grandmother doesn’t know they exist. When Bird travels to a secluded cabin in Maine, they decide to hitch a ride, without telling her.

After Bird’s new puppy sniffs them out of their hiding place, Jasmine wants to know why her mother ran away from Bird as a young teenager. She then Not sure you need the word "then" blames Bird for her mother’s unhappy life and resists trusting her. Is Bird surprised by their presence? How does she feel about Jasmine's accusations? The one person she does trust is Poppy, a 74-year-old undocumented immigrant she discovers hiding in a cave with his five-year-old great-grandson. They have nowhere to go and Jasmine knows how that feels, so she invites them to become part of her new family,an em dash would make this punchier instead of using the comma if they don’t get deported.

But? Do we need some kind of transition word here? considerJasmine’s past won’t let her go as she realizes her mother’s no-good, drug dealing boyfriend has followed them to Maine. He’s still as evil as ever"He's still as evil as ever" reads kind of vague to me. Play around with phrases to get your plot point/antagonist's actions and/or motivations across and she can’t figure out what he wants. Threatening to hurt all of them, he pulls Jasmine and her new family into a dramatic showdown.

In this coming-of-age adventure tale, Jasmine is chasing after a family and if she can’t find one, she’ll make her own.

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel [title here]. It is complete at 84,000 words.

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: query for coming of age YA
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 06:37:52 PM »
Hello all,
I have revised my book 4 times (or is it 5?), now working on the query letter. Please take a look.
Thanks for any input. Hard to believe that 1 1/2 years of work will be judged by this little letter!!
=======
Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

Two sisters are alone. Their grandmother is alone. [I think these two lines are confusing and unnecessary.]

Thinking they are homeless after their mother dies of a drug overdose, fourteen-year-old Jasmine [Last name?] and her younger sister are stunned to discover they have a grandmother named Bird. The only problem is, their grandmother doesn’t know they exist. When Bird travels to a secluded cabin in Maine, they decide to hitch a ride, without telling her. [This paragraph left me with a lot of questions. How did they discover that they have a grandmother? How did they know Bird was going to this secluded cabin? And how did they hitch a ride without her knowing?]

After Bird’s new puppy sniffs them out of their hiding place, Jasmine wants to know why her mother ran away from Bird as a young teenager. [I don't think you need to say this; it doesn't flow with the next sentence.] She then blames Bird for her mother’s unhappy life and resists trusting her. The one person she does trust is Poppy, a 74-year-old undocumented immigrant she discovers hiding in a cave with his five-year-old great-grandson.[This does not flow with the rest of the paragraph; it caught me off guard (as if all of a sudden, Jasmine's been in a cave).] They have nowhere to go and Jasmine knows how that feels, so she invites them to become part of her new family, if they don’t get deported.[Did she ask her grandmother about this? Seems weird to just invite strangers into the home/family, and there be no push back from grandma. Also, you never address Bird's reaction to finding Jasmine and her sister. Does she (reluctantly) agree to care for them?]

Jasmine’s past won’t let her go as she realizes her mother’s no-good, drug dealing boyfriend has followed them to Maine. He’s still as evil as ever and she can’t figure out what he wants. Threatening to hurt all of them, he pulls Jasmine and her new family into a dramatic showdown. [What does this mean?]

In this coming-of-age adventure tale, Jasmine is chasing after a family and if she can’t find one, she’ll make her own.[This sentence makes the story have more of a middle grade feel. Also, I don't think it adds anything.]

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel [title here]. It is complete at 84,000 words.
[TITLE] is an 84,000-word young adult contemporary (or whatever genre it is).[Add two comp titles and your bio here.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Hope my comments help! Good luck! :)

Online Doris

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Re: query for coming of age YA
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 11:03:26 AM »
Thanks a million Tigerlily1066, Marysia, and TigerAsh! I have looked at this query so much I can't think anymore. And I have lost perspective on what I was trying to say in the first place. I see a lot of great suggestions and thoughts (some thoughts that I was expressing concern about also!).

I will work on this today and try writing a new query.

Thanks, again! Doris

Online Doris

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Re: query for coming of age YA
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2019, 01:42:21 PM »
New query letter!!

Thanks for all the help.
questions; should my character be 15 for a YA?

Can I reference The Secret Life of Bees (too old?) and Peanut Butter Falcon (it is a movie only?)


Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

Fourteen-year-old Jasmine Boyer doesn't have much of a family, but it's better than none. They all live in a run-down house; her addicted mother, her eight-year-old sister, and her mother's mean, drug dealing boyfriend, Randy. One day Jasmine finds her mother dead with a needle in her arm. She doesn’t know if her mother finally gave up or Randy killed her.

Randy dumps their Jane Doe mother at the hospital and leaves without telling anyone who he is or about the two sisters. They’re afraid of foster care and Randy doesn’t want the police to find out about his drugs so they coexist.

Since school is out for the summer, they want to be close to their mother so they hang out at her grave in the cemetery. Jasmine talks to a woman visiting their mother’s grave and finds out the woman named Bird might be her grandmother! But Bird doesn’t even know she has grandchildren. Bird tells Jasmine she is moving to Maine the next day. After Jasmine finds a hidden key attached under Bird’s SUV, she and her sister decide to hitch a ride. The SUV is cavernous and packed to the ceiling with boxes and clothes, the perfect place for the sisters to hide.

When the girls get to Maine, they’re not ready to trust Bird, so they hide out in the barn loft. But Bird isn’t their only worry, because they’ve taken something from Randy and he’s on his way to Maine to get it back.

I am seeking representation for my coming-of-age YA novel [title here]. It is complete at 84,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
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Offline slightlysmall

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Re: query for coming of age YA Revised
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2019, 02:19:47 PM »
This is so much better than the older version. I think you're close.

A few things about your comps: Isn't The Secret Life of Bees marketed as adult? (I don't know anything about Peanut Butter Falcon.) Also, between the voice, the story, the age of the MC, and the emphasis on family relationships, the whole thing reads more MG than YA to me. Is that something you've considered? (I love MG, FWIW. I'm just curious if YA, even lower YA, is really where this story belongs.

Oh, your last sentence can be simplified to [TITLE] is complete at 84,000 words. Agents know you're seeking rep, and I'm not sure the coming-of-age part is necessary.

Offline Marysia

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Re: query for coming of age YA Revised
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2019, 06:49:11 PM »
Hi again! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you.  :)

Fourteen-year-old Jasmine Boyer doesn't have much of a family, but it's better than none. They all live in a run-down house;use a colon when creating a list of items her addicted mother, her eight-year-old sister, and her mother's mean, drug dealing boyfriend, Randy. One day Jasmine finds her mother dead with a needle in her arm. She doesn’t know if her mother finally gave up or Randy killed her. I like this opening paragraph so far. Consider combining the last two sentences: When Jasmine finds her mother dead with a needle in her arm, she doesn't know if her mother finally gave up or if Randy killed her. Maybe others can weigh in on whether or not this technique works to create immediacy?

Randy dumps their Jane Doe mother at the hospital and leaves without telling anyone who he is or about the two sisters. They’re afraid of foster care and Randy doesn’t want the police to find out about his drugs comma hereso they coexist.

Since school is out for the summer, they the sisterswant to be close to their mother so they hang out at her grave in the cemetery. Jasmine talks to a woman visiting their mother’s grave and finds out the woman named Bird might be her grandmother! But Bird doesn’t even know she has grandchildren. Bird tells Jasmine she is moving to Maine the next day. After Jasmine finds a hidden key attached under Bird’s SUV, she and her sister decide to hitch a ride. The SUV is cavernous and packed to the ceiling with boxes and clothes, the perfect place for the sisters to hide. This paragraph answers a lot of our questions. :) Not sure you need to explain every little detail, such as the last sentence, but then again, people were wondering how Jasmine and co. hitched a ride without Bird knowing....maybe you can say: "decide to hitch a ride, hiding behind boxes of clothes" or something like that to condense this information. Similarly, you might consider eliminating the first sentence here and starting off with, "While visiting her mother's grave, Jasmine talks to a woman...." It's up to you. :)

When the girls get to Maine, they’re not ready to trust Bird, so they hide out in the barn loft. But Bird isn’t their only worry, because they’ve taken something from Randy and he’s on his way to Maine to get it back.

I am seeking representation for my coming-of-age YA novel [title here]. It is complete at 84,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I'll confess that I'm new to query letter writing myself. My opinion might not be the best one to consider, but I hope I've given you some food for thought in terms of word choice and tightening up your query. I'm impressed so far with how well you've incorporated the various feedback you received. Good luck! :)

Online Doris

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Re: query for coming of age YA Revised
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2019, 02:44:56 PM »
Yes, thanks to everyone. I knew it didn't sound right, but I didn't know why! Your suggestions, Marysia, will "tighten" it up. I think I'm ready to send it out into the frightening world of agents. This is my second book, I shelved the first book. But I learned so much from the first book after I tracked down why it was rejected from articles online. Thanks to all the QT query reviewers!!!! :up:

Offline Marysia

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Re: query for coming of age YA Revised
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2019, 09:44:04 PM »
Best of luck, Doris. I'm glad my comments were of some help. I hope your new query gets you far. Also, if that's your calico, it's adorable.  :yes:

Online Doris

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Re: query for coming of age YA Revised
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2019, 08:23:18 PM »
I am so glad everyone helped make my query letter so MUCH better. I have sent 15 queries out in the past week. I only received one rejection so far total but I'm glad to get the first rejection over with. Now hoping for a request!!!

Yes, my calico cat's name is Katy and she is fifteen years old. I adore her!!! She sits by my side everyday when I write. She wants to sit on my lap right now. So, off I go so I can spend some time with her.

Thanks, again Marysia.