Cowgirls Don’t Cry
Query letters can make you break that rule, though.
I think I finally have the query letter close.
Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,
(Personal note about why agent is being approached.)
I’m seeking representation for PALADIN’S PRIDE, my 135,000-word epic fantasy about a sixteen-year-old girl who dreams of qualifying for her aunt’s elite cavalry unit.
Allies who joined forces thirty years ago to defeat the demon armies are now poised to destroy each other, which is exactly what the demon lord and the sorceress planned when they kidnapped the king. Gentyl just wants to get through military school and apply to her aunt’s Horse Guards. It’s going to be a long two years in an academy that doesn’t want women and especially not M’eiryn women, since the king’s M’eiryn guard was blamed for the kidnapping. Hope of advancement dies when she’s assigned to guard a senile sorcerer with a penchant for irritating nobles, botching spells and livening things up with fireworks. She realizes he isn’t as demented as he acts after he recruits her to help him solve a string of murders and find the king, but each new clue only leads to another body.
Now someone is trying to add them to the list of unsolved murders.
I was a journalist with ABC magazine for seventeen years and I’ve owned and raised Quarter Horses for years. This gives the horse aspects of the story a firm foundation. I also directed XYZ Prison Ministries for six years and wrote inspirational short stories for the bi-monthly newsletters. I was a lady bronc rider, which has nothing to do with writing, but it proves I am eccentric enough to be a writer.
I think that’s close enough I am going to stop worrying about it.
Now, I need to overhaul the synopsis and the opening.
I finished one chapter that I’m flipping to the front of the book this weekend. One more to go in the front and I am done flipping chapters to get the mystery elements in sooner.
I finished one of the final chapters this weekend. I love, love love it.
Not sure if you all remember the crypt scene or if I even posted it, but at the time I wrote it I thought it was important. In revising and cutting stuff, I almost axed it, but I still felt it was needed. This weekend the puzzle piece linking it to the end fell into place. I felt like dancing. Whoo hoo!
How close am I? One complete chapter and four partial chapters. When I cut the other chapters and started rewriting the end, I felt like crying. Now that I see how much stronger it is, I am floating.
One sad note for the day. I was upstairs when Will called today and missed the call. I called him back immediately, but his phone was off.
He’s still in Kuwait, I think, so the phone isn’t a danger, but it will soon be gone. I am so irritated with myself.
The query is solid. I looked over it for misspellings and so forth, but nothing caught my attention.
I checked your site last night, and you only had a Youtube video up. I was confused, but I watched it. Ha ha.
Sorry you missed the call.
Good luck with the contest at Jenny’s.
Hey, congrats on all the good stuff happening with your work — or (heh) at least your sense that it’s good stuff. I didn’t know you were an Xyzist but now that you mention it I guess it makes sense.
And I still love that last sentence in your query.
Years and years ago, my first wife and I had a nurseryman take care of the trees on our property. When I first met with him to discuss service levels, prices, and so on, I was charmed by the thing he’d rigged up in those pre-cellphone days to keep from putting the remote phone down somewhere and forgetting it.
Basically, he bought a pair of ski mittens — ones with a little metal clip. He clipped one to a belt loop and it functioned as a phone holster.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawsy, I think it’s time to take a nap and I have to leave for work soon.
I tried looking Xyzist up in the dictionary.
Well, the work is probably not as good as I think it is, but it’s new so that makes it more attractive.
I thought about getting some kind of necklace for my cell phone. I was sleeping when he called and I had it plugged in. However, on weekends I run around in my jammies half the day so I don’t have a pocket for it.
I’m glad you like the last sentence. I could fiddle forever, but at some point you have to put it down.
Please tell me you were kidding about looking up Xyzist in the dictionary.
Jammies dilemma resolved.
Personally I’d leave off the flattery – it’s a business letter – but your mileage may vary. I’d also tighten the segue between the first few “hook” paragraphs and add paragraph breaks like so:
I’m seeking representation for PALADIN’S PRIDE, my 135,000-word YA epic fantasy. [Brief flattery here if you must.]
Sixteen-year-old Gentyl just wants to get through military school and apply to her aunt’s elite cavalry unit, but events are *closing off* that possibility. The king has been kidnapped, and the Allies who joined forces thirty years ago to defeat demon armies are now poised to destroy each other.
It’s going to be a long two years[… and the rest as you had it] .
While this version leaves off the identities of the bad guys, it has the advantage of sticking tightly to the girl’s POV of the action, which should sink the hook deeper and play up the mystery format. As long as your synopsis and pages show that you can do the form, it should sell.
NOTE – The words “closing off” need work to align with your voice and theme and to avoid cliche. Is there a cavalry term?
Also, I’d suggest you cut the bio in half, or at least organize it so that all the horse stuff is together and the writing stuff is together. Perhaps:
My nonfiction has appeared in ABC magazine, and several of my inspirational short stories have appeared in XYZ Prison Ministries newsletters. I’ve also owned and raised Quarter Horses and been a lady bronc rider.
Please tell me you were kidding about looking up Xyzist in the dictionary.dictionary.
Umm, yeah, just a joke. Did you know a xyster is a surgical instrument for scraping?
No idea where I learned that.
Can you tell I’m tired?
Hi, Dal. Welcome.
Personally I’d leave off the flattery – it’s a business letter – but your mileage may vary.
Well, I don’t usually flatter agents as it sounds pretty phony and I’m just me for better or worse. I do tend to explain why I chose them so they:
a. Know it isn’t a shotgun query.
b. Know I’m familiar with their agency.
However, I might flatter Janet Reid and someone else to see if I can get a monkey knife fight started. It sounds pretty interesting to me.
I’ll take a look at your suggestions. I did have the bio cut down to just the line about being a staff journalist for the magazine for seventeen years. Barbara Rogan asked me to add some unique details about me.
Her theory is; agents are human. Throw something unusual at them and it piques their interest. Then they look at the first few pages and I have it nailed.
I really appreciate you offering me your opinion on this.
I love this version – it’s really gripping, moreso than I remember from when you were first working on it. The only tweak I might suggest is:
Now someone is trying to add them to the list of unsolved murders.
I would use Gyntle’s name… it makes it more personal and a bit more powerful.
I love the last line in your bio. My figuring on this is that some agents will like the familiarity and if they’re really interested in your work it’s not going to be a deal breaker… seems like I heard something similar at Janet’s.
Oh, and as a side note, I really stopped by to tell you I heart you! After getting to read your comments at moonie’s economic blog that turned into capitalism bashing and then seeing your comments at Janet’s that turned into God bashing… well, I’d have lost my temper over at Janet’s if I’d seen it earlier, and I so hate to do that in professional blogs.
I just don’t understand that, though. I don’t denegrate people of differing faiths and views, I don’t see why people of no faith feel it’s acceptable… and more so, these are all fiction writers… shouldn’t they be more open to understanding other people’s views? How do they expect to create characters that differ from themselves?
Anyway, I thought your comments in each were stellar.
I hope you get to catch Will’s next call and it comes soon.
Ah, Merry, I heart you, too.
My comments will be breif because I am at the library.
My laptop crashed last night. So, Big Blue, my faithful computer is dead and now my laptop is dead.
Well, you have been with me through this whole disaster called query writing. This is much better, I think. What a difficult process. I just hope it gets easier as a person does it more.
Barbara Rogan suggested I add some more personal tidbits about myself when I finished her workshop. It’s something that makes a tired agent wonder if this might be an interesting person to work with.
I’m sure it will turn some agents off, but the ones it does probably won’t be a good fit for me anyway. I am fairly laid back and I am who I am. No apologies offered.
RE the comments. I
Love your query!
Kimberely (from the forum)