Author Topic: Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite  (Read 85 times)

Offline apcross13

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Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite
« on: April 05, 2021, 08:29:18 PM »
Ugh. I hate queries. I'm sure I'm the only one. Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Dear ,

I am submitting my middle grade paranormal mystery EMMA IN THE WIND (39,000 words) for your consideration.

Something is very wrong in the old house Fiona has moved into. Fiona is first startled by ominous bangs and dragging sounds in the ancient cellar and the phantom smell of... apple pie? When the wind begins to whisper a name, Emma, Fiona can’t keep pretending there is a logical explanation. Worse still, her mom doesn’t seem to notice anything strange. Fiona is on her own.

Something is very wrong in the little village of Mill Rapids, too. Fiona is convinced that she is the only lesbian in her new middle school, and maybe even the only member of the LGBTQ+ community in the whole town. She misses her friends. She misses the gifted classes where she could have actual conversations about stuff that matters instead of listening to girls gossip about boys all day. She misses living her life comfortably out to the world.

When their history teacher partners Fiona and Atticus, a fellow seventh grader, for a school project, they find themselves deep in the ghostly mystery of Fiona’s house. Luckily, Atticus is just as smart as she is. If Fiona and Atticus can’t solve the mystery of Emma, more than one ghost may never find their rest. And if Fiona can’t figure out how to appreciate Mill Rapids and the people who live here, she may never find her place.

EMMA IN THE WIND would sit comfortably on a shelf with City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage, and Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh.

When I am not writing middle grade tales, I keep busy working as an audiobook narrator, a storyteller, and a teacher of first-grade authors.

Offline ctheokas

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Re: Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2021, 09:56:06 PM »
Hi apcross13,

You are right about queries. As the great philosopher Jean-Ralphio said, they're the worst. But let's see if anything I have here can help...

I don't think you should start with your title and word count. You have a really intriguing opening to your synopsis, and this gets in the way. Put that at the end where you're doing your comps. Something like this:

"My middle grade paranormal mystery EMMA IN THE WIND (39,000 words) would sit comfortably on a shelf with City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage, and Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh."

Dive right into the story, because "Something is very wrong in the old house Fiona has moved into" hooks me better than your word count. It's intriguing. It piques my interest. Maybe start it with something along the lines of

Fiona knows something is very wrong with the house she and her mother have just moved into. Ominous bangs (from the attic? From the hallway? the bathroom?) startle her. She can hear something, or someone, being dragged across the floor of the ancient cellar. And she can smell... apple pie?

In your second paragraph, you have "She misses her friends." Where are her friends? You have "little village" to describe her new home, but did Fiona come from a big city (like NYC or London or whatever?) I think that kind of comparison would help and wouldn't take up too much real estate. It would give the reader a sense of scale, if that makes sense. And what specifically is "stuff that matters," because then the reader may have a deeper sense of who she is without taking up too much real estate. (Caveat: there's a part of me that thinks that extra information may bog down your query, so if it does, draw the long knives and cut it away). Also, I think here you can mention her grade level. She's convinced "she's the only lesbian in seventh grade."

In your third paragraph, you introduce Atticus, which is great! Fiona needs a friend. However, is Atticus part of the LGBTQ+ community? An ally? Someone whose mind Fiona changes? If you mention 7th grade in the second paragraph, you don't need to mention it here. I also think you need a better adjective than smart. It reads too broad. Maybe something like "curious," or "inquisitive." If those don't work, something more pointed as to their personalities (I know a lot of smart people and they express it in different ways, which is how I would describe them before I got to smart).

Finally, and I think most importantly, you have a line, "If Fiona and Atticus  can't solve the mystery of Emma, more than one ghost may never find their rest." There's missing information here. What's going on with Emma!?! How do we know what she needs? What will happen if she doesn't get it? The reader needs to get a sense of Emma's situation before we get here. While I get the stakes, I don't get the context of the stakes, so it renders them a little toothless here.

Anyway, I hope this helps. I think this sounds like it's a great book, and I'd love to see it in print so I can brag to my parent friends that I had a small hand in getting it published.

Offline apcross13

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Re: Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2021, 08:10:31 PM »
Thank you, ctheokas! Here's another swipe at it:

Dear ,

Fiona knows something is very wrong in the old house she and her mom have moved into. Ominous banging in the ancient cellar and the sound of something, or someone, being dragged across the floor are her first clues. Then she begins to notice the phantom smell of... apple pie? When the wind whispers a name, Emma, Fiona can’t keep pretending there is a logical explanation. Worse still, her mom doesn’t seem to notice anything strange. Fiona is on her own.

Something is very wrong in the little village of Mill Rapids, too. Fiona is convinced that she is the only lesbian in the seventh grade, and maybe even the only member of the LGBTQ+ community in the whole town. She misses her friends and the liveliness of the city she has left behind. She misses the huge school with the gifted classes where she could have actual, intelligent conversations about important stuff, like global warming, instead of listening to girls gossip about boys all day. She misses living her life comfortably out to the world.

When their history teacher partners Fiona and classmate Atticus for a school project, they find themselves deep in the mystery of Fiona’s house. Atticus may lack empathy and imagination, but with his scientific brain he’ll make a great ghost-hunting partner. Of course, Fiona will have to convince him that the haunting is real, first. If she can’t, she’ll be stuck living with more than one restless and terrifying ghost. And if she can’t figure out how to overcome her own prejudice about Mill Rapids and the people who live here, she’ll never find a friend.

My middle grade paranormal mystery EMMA IN THE WIND (39,000 words) would sit comfortably on a shelf with City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage, and Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh.

When I am not writing middle grade tales, I keep busy working as an audiobook narrator, a storyteller, and a teacher of first-grade authors.

 

Offline heathcliff4

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Re: Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2021, 12:55:37 PM »
ctheokas gave you some great advice, so I'll give some feedback on the first paragraph of your revised query. The rest is really strong. Good job.

Dear ,

Fiona knows something is very wrong in the old house she and her mom have moved into. (is there a street to describe the house? ...in the old house on BLANK STREET might work better)Ominous banging in the ancient cellar and the sound of something, or someone, being dragged across the floor are her first clues. Then she begins to notices the phantom smell of... apple pie? When the wind whispers a name, Emma, Fiona can’t keep pretending there is a logical explanation. Worse still, her mom doesn’t seem to notice anything strange. Fiona is on her own.

Something is very wrong in the little village of Mill Rapids, too. Fiona is convinced that she is the only lesbian in the seventh grade, and maybe even the only member of the LGBTQ+ community in the whole town. She misses her friends and the liveliness of the city she has left behind. She misses the huge school with the gifted classes where she could have actual, intelligent conversations about important stuff, like global warming, instead of listening to girls gossip about boys all day. She misses living her life comfortably out to the world.

When their history teacher partners Fiona and classmate Atticus for a school project, they find themselves deep in the mystery of Fiona’s house. Atticus may lack empathy and imagination, but with his scientific brain he’ll make a great ghost-hunting partner. Of course, Fiona will have to convince him that the haunting is real, first. If she can’t, she’ll be stuck living with more than one restless and terrifying ghost. And if she can’t figure out how to overcome her own prejudice about Mill Rapids and the people who live here, she’ll never find a friend.

My middle grade paranormal mystery EMMA IN THE WIND (39,000 words) would sit comfortably on a shelf with City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage, and Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh.

When I am not writing middle grade tales, I keep busy working as an audiobook narrator, a storyteller, and a teacher of first-grade authors.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 01:02:48 PM by heathcliff4 »

Offline apcross13

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Re: Emma in the Wind MG paranormal Rewrite
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 08:03:08 PM »
Thanks, Heathcliff4 - I like your suggestions. The query process is a lot less painful with a little help.