Monday, November 14, 2011

Query #38: "My Protector: The Calling" by Hope Roberson

This query is from Hope Roberson for the novel My Protector: The Calling. Thank you, Hope Roberson, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Running toward a man-eating beast wouldn’t be completely insane if you were a trained Protector with a weapon in your hands. Eri isn’t. Yet she feels the uncontrollable need to destroy the hideous creatures with her bare hands.

Eri has somehow developed the internal link to the beasts plaguing her people—The Calling—that belongs solely to the clandestine group of Protectors guarding the village.

But she couldn’t possibly be experiencing The Calling. She’s only a teenager. And she’s a girl! Only men are Protectors.

Eri finds Finnley, a boy her age, also seeking the beasts in the darkness. Their secret bond forges an unexpected friendship giving her an ally in dealing with The Calling. Finnley gets recruited by the Protectors and is determined to help Eri get the same opportunity. And Eri’s own Protector, a smoldering mold of perfection named Grayson, begrudgingly goes along with her training even though he can’t stand her presence or what she represents.

The link between her and beast is beyond her control, Eri knows she can’t hide the connection forever. She is left with the choice to embrace this new identity or bury it and do what everyone expects of her.

MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING is a dystopian young adult novel complete at 67,000 words.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Running toward a man-eating beast wouldn’t be completely insane if you were a trained Protector with a weapon in your hands. Eri isn’t. Yet she feels the uncontrollable need to destroy the hideous creatures with her bare hands.

Eri has developed an internal link to the beasts plaguing her people, but "The Calling" is supposed to happen solely to the Protectors guarding the village. Eri’s only a teenager. And she’s a girl! Only men become Protectors.

When Eri finds Finnley, a boy her age, also seeking the beasts, their shared secret forges a friendship and gives Eri an unexpected ally. Finnley is recruited by the Protectors, but he insists Eri get the same opportunity. Unfortunately for her, Eri's assigned Protector can’t stand her presence or what she represents. So how can she trust his training to keep her alive?

When [bad thing happens], Eri [must take a great risk or pay a great price].

MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING is a dystopian young adult novel complete at 67,000 words.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Query #37: "The River" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel The River. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

When Brad Lucas agrees to join his business partner, Dean, on a fly-fishing trip in the wilds of Northern California, the last thing he expects is to come face-to-face with Bigfoot.

While wading across the river, Brad sees a hulking shape emerge from the forest shadows. He retreats, loses his footing, and the current swallows him. Fighting for breath, he glimpses Dean snapping pictures and laughing. A thundering boom overwhelms the gorge. More gunshots follow. Brad clings to a boulder as Dean’s screams cut the white noise of the river and the wind.

It’s the summer of 1999, the height of the dot-com bubble, and Brad has just made a fortune selling the company he started with Dean in college. Over the years, their odd, antagonistic friendship, fraught with competition and scandal, has deteriorated. Before Brad embarks on a new life with millions in the bank, cocksure Dean lures him to a secluded fishing club to perpetrate an elaborate hoax.

Now a man in a Bigfoot costume lies dead at the river’s edge, Dean is face down in the gravel, and a tobacco-chewing methamphetamine addict who isn’t in on the joke has a rifle aimed at Brad. Not only must Brad save himself, he must determine if Dean is worth saving as well.

Structurally, the book starts in medias res, tells Brad’s story (whose mother is more interested in her German Shepherd than her son), then Dean’s (whose father plays a softball game instead of witnessing his son’s birth)—the tension mounting until the two meet. Ultimately though, this is Brad’s story. After seeking love and affirmation, and mostly finding frustration, he perseveres and stands up to the people who don’t always have his best interest at heart. THE RIVER comically and tragically captures an America rife with greed and deception at the close of the millennium. It has a similar sensibility to Norman Maclean’s A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT and shares the man versus man, man versus nature themes of James Dickey’s DELIVERANCE.

THE RIVER is literary fiction, complete at approximately 82,000 words.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Brad Lucas just made a fortune selling the company he and business partner Dean started in college. Their odd, antagonistic friendship has deteriorated, but Brad agrees to one last fly-fishing trip before they go separate ways. The last thing he expects, however, is to come face-to-face with Bigfoot.

Wading across a river, Brad sees a hulking shape emerge from the forest. He loses his footing, and the current swallows him. Fighting for breath, he glimpses Dean snapping pictures and laughing. Then a thundering boom overwhelms the gorge. More gunshots follow. As Brad clings to a boulder, Dean’s screams cut the white noise of the river.

Now a man in a Bigfoot costume lies dead at the river’s edge, Dean is face-down in the gravel, and a methamphetamine addict who wasn’t in on the joke is aiming his rifle at Brad. Not only must Brad save himself, he has to decide whether Dean is worth saving too.

THE RIVER captures an America rife with greed and deception at the close of the millennium. It has a similar sensibility to Norman Maclean’s A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT and shares the man-versus-man, man-versus-nature themes of James Dickey’s DELIVERANCE.

THE RIVER is literary fiction, complete at approximately 82,000 words.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Query #36: "Hard Nox" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous writer for the novel Hard Nox. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Nox Somner is a human lightning rod for tragedy. Parents, foster parents, brother, her goldfish – everyone she loves dies. She is terrified of getting close to people, of what could happen to them. Until she meets someone with nothing to fear– Death, himself.

Grim has a proposition. The boy Nox loves is next to die. Grim will spare Memphis if she helps Grim out of a tiny jam. A lost bet led to Grim's boatman hiding out as mortal River Crowe at Nox’s High School for the past year. Now he refuses to return. With no way to get across, the stack-up of souls this side of the River Styx is becoming dangerous to the living.

To save Memphis, she must convince River to go back. Not on the Reaper’s List, River can’t be taken against his will. She tries to bargain with him, but the only thing he wants in exchange for his return is Nox. If she won’t offer herself up, she has to kill him. Easy as falling off a ladder. She just has to get close enough to let the lightning strike. But once she’s close to River, can she really trade the boy who will never love her back for the one who understands her better than anyone else ever will?

HARD NOX is a 77,000-word YA Paranormal set in River Styx, Ohio.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

Nox Somner is a human lightning rod for tragedy. Her parents, her foster parents, her brother, her goldfish – everyone she loves dies. She is terrified of getting close to people, until she meets someone with nothing to fear–-Death, himself.

Grim has a proposition. The boy that Nox loves is next to die, but Grim will spare him if Nox helps Grim out of a tiny jam. A lost bet led to his boatman hiding out as teenager at Nox’s High School, and now the boatman refuses to return. With no way to get across, the stack-up of souls this side of the River Styx is becoming dangerous to the living.

Not on the Reaper’s List, the boatman can’t be taken against his will, so Nox tries to bargain, but all the boatman wants in exchange for his return is Nox's love. If she won’t offer herself up, she has to kill him.

Easy as falling off a ladder. Nox just has to get cosy enough to let her bad luck strike again. But as she grows closer to the boatman, Nox realizes she might not want to trade this boy who understands her better than anyone for the one who will never love her back.

HARD NOX is a 77,000-word YA Paranormal set in River Styx, Ohio.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

SMITE THE GOBLIN AGAIN!

After lots of help, and many fabulous suggestions last time I posted my query, I came to the conclusion that I pretty much had to scrap what I had and rewrite the letter from scratch.

This is another way of saying I didn't know what to do.

I knew in my gut that everyone was right when they said the query didn't quite work, but I had no clue what would make it work. I felt like I was trying to save the Titanic by re-arranging deck chairs.

I needed some time to grow a bit of objectivity and lose my attachment to the words I'd already written. So I took a break from the text of the query, but I kept thinking about new ways to sneak up on that beastie and whack it into shape.

What happened (eventually) is a perfect demonstration of the worth of critiquing other people in order to learn how to do something yourself. It's the whole reason why I started this site (well, in addition to finding critiquing fun!)

I've been hanging around Absolute Write lately, critiquing query letters there, and I stumbled across one that I really liked. In fact, it reminded me of a query letter I saw here that I really liked, namely Beckarah's Eyes of Stone.

What these two queries had in common is they featured the story's inciting incident in the first paragraph, then followed it up in the second paragraph with a list of all the shocking ways the protagonist's life had suddenly changed. That structure really drew me in; it helped me empathize with the protagonist.

So, I decided to try to snitch the formula. What resulted is posted below, and I think I'm pretty happy with it, but I would like to hear your thoughts before I send it out.

Mixed into this new query are a few other random ideas I had, like "Cut aaaaaaall the subplots," and "Hey, maybe don't say 'blooddrinker' at all? Zombies are hot; vampires are not."

So please let me know what you think of this new version. What works for you? What doesn't? Where does the wording seem uneven, and can you see a way to smooth it? Does it make sense? Is there too little information? Are there things here that aren't needed and should be cut? How close to being ready do you think it is?

I'd be honoured to hear your thoughts!

~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

ORIGINAL VERSION:

Wykham, a pacifist and surgeon on an inhospitable world, has just been infected with a disease that leaves him only able to digest human flesh.

He can't go home for fear of infecting his child. His neighbors react with hysteria and violence, and the authorities consider him a vector to be exterminated. Even other infected people admit that suicide might be his only moral option.

So when a group calling themselves 'pure humans' offers Wykham sanctuary, he instantly distrusts them. What kind of person aids a cannibal? Unfortunately, he's in no position to refuse.

Wykham soon learns his allies are descendants of those who refused genetic engineering to survive on the colony planet. Now facing slow extinction, yet immune to the disease, they intend to use people like Wykham as weapons of genocide against the thriving, rival population.

Which includes everyone Wykham loves--unless he can stomach using the freakish speed and strength his disease gives him to stop the pure humans.

Torn between preventing an atrocity and staying true to his non-violent principles, Wykham must accept that sometimes a monster is the only available hero, and sometimes a pacifist must fight.

I was represented by XXX of XXX Literary Agency for a previous novel, but we parted amicably, and I am unpublished. "The Blooddrinker and the War Angel" is an 81,000-word science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~

YOUR EDIT:

Please post your critique in the comments, and thank you in advance to all who donate their time and expertise to helping me improve this query! I do appreciate it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Query #35: "The Privileged" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous writer for the novel The Privileged. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

(And my apologies, Anonymous, for the delay. I was out of town for the weekend and didn't keep up with my email as diligently as I'd intended!)


~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

The first day of school sucks. Jonathan Stevens didn’t know what to expect as he crossed the threshold into the chaos that is known as high school. Becoming a social outcast, getting lost in the halls, embarrassing himself over and over in front of cute girls and their boyfriends was definitely expected. Falling face first into a giant hole caused by an earthquake, not so much.

Waking up in the dark underbelly of the earth, Jonathan discovers he’s been kidnapped. Not just by anyone, but by a tightly wound sorceress who tells him he is an immortal, and he is being hunted. But Jonathan is not just any immortal. He’s been designed to be the ultimate immortal. The one person that will bring peace back into the immortal realm and save it from the evil overlord known simply as the Master.

Putting his trust in his kidnapper, Jonathan follows her into the immortal realm where he learns more about who he really is, and what purpose he was created for. Jonathan is the only hope left to purge the realm of the malevolence within its walls. He must find the strength and the will to trigger his power before the Master destroys him.

THE PRIVILEGED is a young adult paranormal fantasy complete at 80,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.


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GOBLIN-EDIT

The first day of school sucks. Jonathan Stevens expected becoming a social outcast, getting lost in the halls, and embarrassing himself over and over in front of cute girls. But falling face-first into a giant hole caused by an earthquake? Not so much.

Waking in the underbelly of the earth, Jonathan discovers he’s been kidnapped by a tightly-wound sorceress who insists he is being hunted and is an immortal--but not just any immortal. Jonathan was designed to bring peace to the sorceress' realm by saving it from an overlord known as the Master.

Jonathan learns [something specific that deepens the story and raises the stakes]. [He tries to do something meaningful and is thwarted, which raises the stakes again.] He must find the strength and the will to [do something specific, but very difficult, where failure will mean disaster].

THE PRIVILEGED is a young adult paranormal fantasy complete at 80,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Helpful Advice for Non-US, Self-Published Writers

If you are not a US citizen, but are a self-published author, Roz Morris has assembled a very clear guide for how to apply for your ITIN number from the United States IRS.

Having that number then allows you to apply to have less of your earnings withheld for taxes by Amazon and Smashwords. Please see Roz's guide at the following link:
How I Got My ITIN Number
Note the IRS themselves are damned cryptic about how to do this sort of thing, so please pass this link along to anyone you know who self-publishes but is not American.

And thank you for being a good global citizen! :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Query #34: "The Light of Emet" by Freya Morris

This query is from Freya Morris for the novel The Light of Emet. Thank you, Freya Morris, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Eleven-year-old Rose wakes up in hospital to be told she’s had a seizure, again. Yet, that doesn’t explain why she can now see pain, growth, love and hatred, all in the flesh. Beasts and creatures are walking amongst us.

Rose has been given the light of Emet, the sight of truth, but her best friend Pete has been cursed by Molech - hatred in its purest form. He tricked Pete by using a new scientific religion called Seudology to possess his soul. Even followers of the new religion look like the un-dead, as Rose sees them for the soulless slaves they’ve become.

Rose and Pete are in the middle of an age-old war. Love itself, Adonai, is fighting Molech for the souls of people on earth. With their fates set apart, Rose is determined to save Pete’s soul. She agrees to infiltrate the new religion but being able to see monsters doesn’t stop her from walking into a trap. Seudologists have been watching her since the beginning, and she might just lose her soul and Pete’s, forever.

THE LIGHT OF EMET is a 47,000-word children’s fantasy novel for 12-14 year olds.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Eleven-year-old Rose wakes in the hospital to be told she’s had another seizure, but that doesn’t explain why she now sees pain, growth, love and hatred in physical form. Beasts and creatures are walking amongst us.

Rose has been given the light of Emet, or 'the sight of truth'. Unfortunately, one thing she sees immediately is that her best friend Pete has been cursed by Molech--hatred in its purest form. Molech tricked Pete using a new religion called Seudology to steal his soul. To Rose, the followers of Seudology look undead because she sees them as the slaves they’ve become.

Love itself, Adonai, is fighting Molech for the souls of Earth's people. Rose is determined to save Pete, and when Adonai asks her to infiltrate the new religion, she agrees. However, being able to see monsters doesn’t stop her from walking into a trap. The Seudologists have been waiting for Rose, and now she might lose both her and Pete's souls forever.

THE LIGHT OF EMET is a 47,000 word upper middle grade fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.


Goblin Caveat: Some elements that may not be accurate for the novel have been added to this edited version of the query.

Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Success Story!

TJ Robinson (Taylor) of Query #8, The Family Grim reports the following:
Just wanted to say thanks for the help. I'm working with my dream agent on the revision as we speak. Thanks again!
Hurray, Taylor! Congratulations snagging the interest of an esteemed agent, and best of luck with your novel revisions. We hope to see your book on shelves soon!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

THE TABLES TURN!

Today, YOU are the Query Goblin!

The Goblin's alter ego, J. J. DeBenedictis, will be querying a novel soon, titled The Blooddrinker and the War Angel, and she'd very much appreciate your help in crafting a strong query letter. Please say, in the comment section, what you think could be improved in the following query--and thank you in advance for your willingness to help!


~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

On a planet once knocked from the space age to the stone age by war angels—humanity's most lethal and ungrateful inventions—genetic engineering has split the population into two species and an attempt at genocide is about to split it into three.

As a doctor and a pacifist, Wykham devotes his life to helping others, but when he tries to save a suicidal woman, he ends up infected with her 'blooddrinker' disease. Now only able to eat human flesh, Wykham believes killing himself the sole moral option, but before he can, a group determined to keep him alive kidnaps Wykham.

Baffled why anyone would provide charity to cannibals, Wykham soon learns the 'minority humans' who captured him used the remains of their ancestor’s technology to create the blooddrinker disease. Their virus only infects 'majority humans', and they intend to use it to eliminate that rival population.

Furious his life was destroyed so he could be turned into a weapon, Wykham tries to escape but is caught, chained, and left to starve in the sub-basements of his captors’ citadel. There, however, he discovers the minority humans’ most dangerous secret: They use a captured war angel to power their technology.

Wykham, with his freakish blooddrinker strength, is a match for the dying war angel, and they decide to team up long enough to escape. Once free, however, the war angel rampages through the minority humans’ home seeking vengeance—and more. Instead of fleeing the planet, as Wykham hoped, the war angel intends to become a god over it.

With humanity’s worst nightmare returned, and everybody he loves facing slavery, Wykham must put aside his self-loathing and scruples to accept that sometimes a monster is the only available hero, and sometimes a pacifist must fight.


~~~~~~~
YOUR-EDIT

Please tell me your thoughts in the comments, and thank you in advance to all who donate their time and expertise to helping me improve this query. I very much appreciate it!

ETA: New version now up in the comments!

ETA the second: An even newer version now up in the comments!

ETA the third: Is the third time the charm? In the comments, you can tell me!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Query #33: "Enoch's Device" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel Enoch's Device. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

997 A.D. When a bishop arrives at an Irish monastery to accuse a senior monk of sorcery, Brother Ciaran, a resourceful scribe with a keen mind, learns the man who raised him like a father may burn at the stake. And if the accused is not put to death, the bishop warns, the souls of everyone in the monastery will be in peril as the End Times approach, one thousand years after the birth of Christ.

At first, Ciaran believes his mentor, Brother Donall, is innocent, but Ciaran’s faith is shaken when he discovers a book of forbidden magic in Donall’s cell. Donall insists the book is not evil, but records the secrets of the Fae, angels banished to earth in Antediluvian times. The bishop has come for the book as well because of the reference it contains to Enoch’s Device, an angelic weapon with the power to prevent the impending Apocalypse. Convinced mankind must suffer for its sins, the bishop is determined to ensure that whoever knows of the device ends up dead.

Ciaran chooses his faith in Donall over fears of heresy and helps him escape to find Enoch’s Device, which has left clues throughout history, from the fall of Atlantis to the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne. Aided by supernatural forces, the bishop and his men pursue the two monks, who must race from Ireland to Moorish Spain to unravel the mysteries surrounding the device and its location. But time is running out, and if Ciaran and Donall don’t find the device soon, everything they love could perish with the End of Days.

ENOCH’S DEVICE is a historical fantasy novel, complete at 122,000 words. It would appeal to fans of Stephen R. Lawhead, as well as fans of fiction based on Enochian myth, such as Danielle Trussoni’s ANGELOLOGY.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

A bishop arrives at an Irish monastery in 997 A.D. to accuse a senior monk of sorcery and warn that if the accused is not burned at the stake, the souls of everyone in the monastery will be in peril as the End Times approach, one thousand years after the birth of Christ.

Brother Ciaran believes his mentor Brother Donall is innocent, but Ciaran's faith is shaken when he discovers a book of magic in Donall’s cell. Donall insists the book is not evil, but records the secrets of the Fae, angels banished to earth in Antediluvian times. The book contains a reference to Enoch’s Device, an angelic weapon that can prevent the impending Apocalypse. The bishop, who is convinced mankind must suffer for its sins, wants everyone who knows of this device dead.

Ciaran chooses his faith in Donall over his fears of heresy and helps his mentor to escape. The bishop and his men, aided by supernatural forces, pursue the two monks, who must race from Ireland to Moorish Spain to unravel the mysteries surrounding the device and its location. But the End of Days approaches, and if Ciaran and Donall don’t find the device soon, the world and everything they love in it will perish.

ENOCH’S DEVICE is a historical fantasy novel, complete at 122,000 words. It would appeal to fans of Stephen R. Lawhead, as well as fans of fiction based on Enochian myth, such as Danielle Trussoni’s ANGELOLOGY. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #32: "Guardian" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel Guardian. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Emma sees things other people don’t.

It was cute when she was five, but after a certain age, girls who see visions are no longer imaginative. They are either crazy or possessed.

Sixteen-year-old Emma Hawthorne thought she had her gift under control, until the night her best friend drowned. Crippled by grief, she is no longer able to resist the barrage of emotions from the people around her – or the visions the emotions trigger.

Emma feels a faint flicker of hope when her childhood friend Gabriel returns for the summer. Even after five years apart, they are immediately drawn to one another. His calm presence allows her to begin to heal, but as their innocent friendship kindles into something more, Emma’s nightmarish visions start to become real.

Suddenly thrown into the centuries old conflict between the Guardians, a secret order dedicated to protecting mankind from the supernatural, and a creature known as a Soul-Eater, Emma must learn to trust Gabriel or loose everything she holds dear.

With her soul, and the souls of the people she loves at stake, Emma is forced to embrace her gift, in spite of the pain it causes her, or accept an immortal, painless existence with the Soul-Eater – and whatever choice she makes, her relationship with Gabriel will never be the same.

GUARDIAN is a 64,000 YA paranormal fantasy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

It was cute when she was five, but at sixteen, Emma Hawthorne needs to keep her visions under control or everyone will think she's crazy. When her best friend drowns, however, Emma's grief leaves her vulnerable to the barrage of emotion from people around her as well as the visions those emotions trigger.

When her childhood friend Gabriel returns for the summer, Emma hopes his calm presence will bring her relief. Instead, their friendship kindles into something more, and Emma's nightmarish visions start to become real. [What does this mean, specifically? Is she having visions of future events that come true, or do her visions feature beings that begin appearing in the real world?]

[Reveal here who Gabriel is and how he ties in to Emma's gift becoming more dangerous. Is he a member of the Guardians? Was he using her?] [Something Gabriel does] draws Emma into the centuries-old conflict between a creature known as the Soul-Eater and the Guardians, a secret order dedicated to protecting mankind from the supernatural. Emma must learn to trust Gabriel [Didn't she already? What has he done recently to become untrustworthy?] or she and her family may lose their souls.

But the choice gets harder when the Soul-Eater promises to spare her family if Emma accepts the immortal, painless existence it can offer her--one blissfully free from her empathic gift. Emma must decide between [two things that are both good or two things that are both bad. Perhaps family and Gabriel's love versus the quiet peace of being alone in her own mind? Or a dangerous life spent fighting the Soul-Eater versus losing her identity forever?]

GUARDIAN is a 64,000 YA paranormal fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Goblin Caveat: Some elements that may not be accurate for the novel have been added to this edited version of the query.

Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Interview With the Query Goblin


Wow, the Goblin was feeling all famous and stuff! This delusion was provoked by the naive kindness of Melodie Wright, the author of Query 23, who--not realizing what a juggernaut of mind-searing arrogance she could unleash upon the world--asked the Query Goblin for an interview.

Thankfully, however, just after the Goblin's head swelled up with ego-mania and hubris, she walked into a door-frame, knocked herself out, and the malignant noggin deflated harmlessly as she snored.

You can read Melody's interview on her blog, Forever Rewrighting, by clicking the following link:

Interview With the Query Goblin

Thanks so much, Melodie! And I promise I'm feeling much better now! (You can put down the tazer, I swear.)

Query #31: "The Zero Line" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel The Zero Line. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

A young couple inadvertently step into the secretive world of the CIA, and apply their unique skills to stop a friend from killing an innocent man.

In one of Maryland's oldest seaside towns a secret is about to be revealed.

Polly McKenna is a suburban housewife with a past she'd rather forget. But a recently purchased grandfather clock with the words 'I killed Robert Morrison' written on the back, stirs a long-subdued curiosity that prevents her from resting until she tracks down the scribe. Her husband Mitch, a former Marine pilot with a guilty conscience reluctantly follows. But when they discover an old friend, David Jordan, wrote the shocking admission a chilling scenario begins to unfold.

Drawn into the cryptic world of the CIA, the young couple race to stop their friend from killing again.

What the Mckennas don't know is that someone else is targeting David--someone with the power and desire to kill hundreds. And Mitch is the new target. Suddenly the reluctant one, Polly is forced to reach back into a world she left behind--a world that nearly took her life.

THE ZERO LINE is complete at 100K words. The story is set in the crowded chaos of Pakistan, where truth and honor take a back seat to revenge and deceit, and on Maryland's upscale Eastern Shore where one man's tainted history holds the key to unraveling a decades old drama of Cold War intrigue.

Prior to writing THE ZERO LINE, I worked extensively in the counterintelligence field with over twenty-five years experience at the XXX and the XXX. I would be pleased to send you a partial or full manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

A young couple inadvertently step into the secretive world of the CIA and apply their unique skills to stop a friend from killing an innocent man.

Polly McKenna is a suburban housewife with a past she would rather forget, but when a recently-purchased clock with the words 'I killed Robert Morrison' scratched in its back stirs her long-subdued curiosity, Polly convinces her husband Mitch, a former Marine pilot with a guilty conscience, to help her track the scribe.

Mitch's tainted history holds the key to unraveling a decades-old drama of Cold War intrigue, and the couple discover an old friend wrote the shocking admission. Polly and Mitch are drawn into the cryptic world of the CIA and must race to stop their friend from killing again.

What the McKennas don't know is someone from the crowded chaos of Pakistan, where truth and honor take a back seat to revenge and deceit, is targeting the killer also. When the couple's nosiness results in Mitch becoming the new target, Polly is forced to reach back into a world she left behind--a world that nearly took her life--to save her husband and stop [a catastrophe--is it a single murder? A terrorist massacre? Whatever the book's biggest crisis is, put it here.]

THE ZERO LINE is complete at 100,000 words. Prior to writing THE ZERO LINE, I worked extensively in the counterintelligence field and have over twenty-five years experience at the XXX and the XXX. I would be pleased to send you a partial or full manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

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Query #30: "Honor" by Mary_J_59

This query is from Mary_J_59 for the novel Honor. Thank you, Mary_J_59, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

When he was alive, and had a name, he was Kiril Tesurik. He will be the last in his family to bear that name. No one will want it after him.

Kiril grew up knowing he would be head of his family. At sixteen, he is old enough to plan crop rotations, to buy and sell land, and to defend his clan's honor. He has fought duels, and won them. He has always welcomed responsibility, and never feared any of his duties. But now he is afraid. He doesn’t fear robbing the powerful lord who robbed his family; he doesn’t even fear death. He is terrified of hurting the people he loves.

Kiril becomes a thief in order to right a great wrong. His little half-brother, the son of an alien slave, has vanished. There is no solid proof that their elders could bring before the court, but Kiril knows that Lord Marakis has stolen the little boy. Marakis uses children to carry explosives in his mines, and many are maimed for life. Many more die. Kiril cannot let that happen to his brother. He intends to steal him back, stow away aboard a alien ship, and bring the little boy to his mother's people.

But, if he robs Marakis, the man will have the right to punish Kiril's family. In order to protect them, Kiril has renounced his name and declared himself dead. Now he hopes for only two mercies from the gods. He hopes his brother will find a home with the Terrans, and that the rest of his family will be safe. He expects no mercy for himself. He is dead.

HONOR is speculative fiction for young adults, complete at approximately 84,000 words.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

At sixteen, Kiril is old enough to plan crop rotations, buy and sell land, and defend his clan's honor, but although he would make a good head of his family, Kiril has just declared himself dead.

There was never any proof their elders could bring before court to show Lord Marakis stole Kiril's half-brother, the son of an alien slave, to carry explosives into Lord Marakis' mine. Regardless, if Kiril steals the boy back, Marakis will have the right to punish his family. Hence, Kiril renounces his name and future to save one small boy.

[Kiril tries to get the boy] [Complication arises, increasing the danger and forcing Kiril to change plans] [Kiril tries to stow away on alien vessel to take boy to the Terrans] [Complication arises, increasing the danger and leading to the biggest crisis yet]

HONOR is speculative fiction for young adults, complete at approximately 84,000 words.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Query #29: "The Black Desert" by Greta Garbo

This query is from Greta Garbo for the novel The Black Desert. Thank you, Greta Garbo, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Forty-eight hours into their Moroccan vacation, Julie’s best friend disappears, leaving only a terse note of apology and a plea: wait for me.

Julie’s anger fades to worry – and then to fear when she realizes she is being followed. Then, a vicious attack meant for Julie kills an innocent woman.

Julie has learned enough snooping through Fay’s luggage to guess her destination is a remote southern village. Convinced that her friend is heading into danger and propelled by her own jeopardy, Julie speeds south to warn Fay.

Dust. Wrong turns. Car trouble. Julie blunders into a military patrol on the Algerian border. Thrown into the same cell as Fay and three Moroccans, Julie's relief at finding her friend is countered by resentment at Fay's betrayal. As the army prepares to transfer the captives to a secret prison deep in the Sahara, Julie must set aside past hurts. Only escape matters. Pooling their meager possessions, the prisoners pit their wits against the Moroccan army and the Black Desert in a fight for their lives.

As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly summarized the plot in an evaluation for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, “the two women find themselves caught in a web of political intrigue, violence, and dangerous secrets” and concluded that THE BLACK DESERT is “an intense, fully realized thriller with spark to spare.”

THE BLACK DESERT, a 95,000-word work of women's fiction with strong elements of suspense.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Forty-eight hours into their Moroccan vacation, Julie’s best friend disappears, leaving only a terse note of apology and a plea: wait for me.

Julie’s anger fades to worry – and then to fear when she realizes she is being followed. Then, a vicious attack meant for Julie kills an innocent woman.

Julie has learned enough snooping through Fay’s luggage to guess her destination is a remote southern village. Convinced her friend is heading into danger, and also propelled by her own jeopardy, Julie speeds south to warn Fay.

Dust. Wrong turns. Car trouble. Julie blunders into a military patrol on the Algerian border. Thrown into the same cell as Fay and three Moroccans, Julie's relief at finding her friend is countered by resentment at Fay's lies and irresponsibility. As the army prepares to transfer the captives to a secret prison deep enough in the Sahara that no one walks out, Julie must set aside past hurts. Only escape matters. Pooling their meager possessions, the prisoners pit their wits against the Moroccan army and the Black Desert in a fight for their lives.

As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly summarized the plot in an evaluation for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, “the two women find themselves caught in a web of political intrigue, violence, and dangerous secrets” and concluded that THE BLACK DESERT is “an intense, fully realized thriller with spark to spare.”

THE BLACK DESERT, a 95,000-word work of women's fiction with strong elements of suspense.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Query #28: "Future's Prophet" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel Future's Prophet. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Jonathan has crazy dreams. And he shouldn’t be having dreams at all, let alone crazy ones -- because Jonathan isn’t even human.

Jonathan is a bot, a cyber-intelligence with the ability to run anything from a car or coffee machine to the computer systems controlling the global economy. But Jonathan, who has developed a moral conscience, prefers bringing comfort to people in need. So, when he learns that Sam, the son of his creator, has lost his mother in a suspicious auto accident, he befriends the boy then sets out to find the truth about the ‘accident’. While searching every branch of the Net, Jonathan takes it over, believing he is some kind of cyber-savior whose idea of salvation includes diverting corporate funds to charities and preaching peace at the Pentagon. He even dreams he has the power to resurrect Sam’s mother.

Ultimately, Jonathan awakes to learn of a darker purpose behind his creation and the unsettling truth of his own connection to Sam’s mother’s death. But awakening a super-bot with messianic delusions could be dangerous -- especially one who claims he’s just cracked the launch codes for a few thousand nuclear missiles.

Future’s Prophet is a work of character-driven science fiction with thriller elements and is complete at 93,000 words. Although not specifically written for the YA audience, it could also appeal to that group of readers.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Jonathan has crazy dreams, and he shouldn’t, because Jonathan isn’t human. Jonathan is a cyber-intelligence with the ability to run anything from a coffee machine to the computer systems of the global economy. He shouldn't dream--but he also shouldn't develop a moral compass, take up a crusade, or crack the launch codes for a few thousand nuclear missiles. And yet he has.

It all begins when Jonathan learns that Sam, the son of his creator, lost his mother in a suspicious auto accident. Jonathan befriends the boy, then sets out to find the truth about the ‘accident’. While searching every branch of the Net, Jonathan begins to take it over, diverting corporate funds to charities and preaching peace at the Pentagon.

He dreams he has the power to resurrect Sam’s mother, but ultimately, Jonathan awakes to the darker purpose behind his creation and the unsettling truth of his own connection to Sam’s mother’s death. [Here, outline Jonathan's ultimate dilemma/choice/predicament. Try to not portray him as a villain, however, but as a dangerous and potentially misguided entity. Jonathan is the protagonist in this query, so he needs to retain the reader's sympathy throughout.]

Future’s Prophet is a work of character-driven science fiction with thriller elements, complete at 93,000 words. Although not written specifically for the YA audience, it may greatly appeal to that group of readers.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Query #27: "A Special Someone" by Robbin L.

This query is from Robbin L. for the novel A Special Someone. Thank you, Robbin, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

During Taylor Schuman’s freshman year in high school, she exposes a secret that unravels like a snagged thread on a prom dress. Taylor’s crushing on her BFF’s stepbrother Kyle. Though he barely speaks to them, Taylor still hopes he’ll ask her to homecoming.

On the hunt to find the perfect outfits for Spirit Week, the girls discover Kyle’s mother’s obituary in the attic. It says she was in a coma for a year before she died. That’s weird, because they were told Kyle’s mother was killed instantly in an automobile accident. Trying to get Kyle to notice her, Taylor shows him the obituary. Tension builds, more like an explosion goes off when Kyle realizes his father lied to him. Except his father’s an attorney -- he wouldn’t lie.

A trip to the library isn’t exactly the dream date Taylor envisioned, but searching for the truth reveals that Kyle’s mother wasn’t the only one who died in the accident. After further digging, the pair discovers, Taylor’s next-door neighbor is the sole survivor from the other car. Taylor is shocked to learn that her neighbor was pregnant at the time of the accident. Taylor uncovers a new secret, a hidden adoption. She confronts Kyle’s father. She knows he’s lying and she has the paperwork to prove it. She must decide whether to tell the truth in order to help her neighbor find her child, at the risk of losing her friends and destroying a family, or stay silent -- which Taylor isn’t prone to do.

A SPECIAL SOMEONE is a YA mystery (70,000 words), a story that deals with complex issues: death; friendship; and why do parents lie to their children?

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Taylor Schuman’s crushing on her BFF’s stepbrother Kyle. Though he barely speaks to them, Taylor still hopes he’ll ask her to homecoming. While hunting to find the perfect outfits for Spirit Week, the girls discover Kyle’s mother’s obituary in the attic. It says she was in a coma for a year before she died--and that’s weird, because they were told Kyle’s mother was killed instantly in an automobile accident.

Trying to get Kyle to notice her, Taylor shows him the obituary. Kyle explodes when he realizes his father lied to him--except his father’s an attorney; he wouldn’t lie. A trip to the library isn’t the dream date Taylor envisioned, but she and Kyle discover Kyle’s mother wasn’t the only one who died in the accident, and that Taylor’s next-door neighbor is the sole survivor from the other car.

Taylor learns her neighbor was pregnant at the time of the accident and then uncovers a new secret--a hidden adoption. She now knows Kyle’s father is lying and she has the paperwork to prove it, but Taylor must decide whether to tell the truth so her neighbor can find her child, or stay silent to keep from losing her friends and destroying a family.

A SPECIAL SOMEONE is a 70,000 word YA mystery that deals with death, friendship, and why parents lie to their children.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #26: "Power's Pawn" by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for the novel Power's Pawn. Thank you, Anonymous, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

In its eight years of existence, nobody has escaped from Generalissimo Lucian Devereaux’s experimental concentration camp: the Cliffhanger. Escape is said to be impossible without the help of the generalissimo himself.

So naturally, treason is the prime suspect when an unprecedented event at the camp forces Devereaux to break prisoner Ebony Arden out. Hated worldwide for starting a massive war, Devereaux needs only one more mistake to shatter his career: a mistake that Ebony would gladly provoke if she could. But while his rivals at the Cliffhanger seek the evidence they need to supplant him, Ebony actually forms a fragile bond with the generalissimo, leading her to question the accepted theory that Devereaux has no heart. Unfortunately, the brethren of rebels that she joins (and especially their revenge-driven leader named Dominic) see in black-and-white. If Ebony can’t convince the rebels that Devereaux is not their greatest enemy, the real mastermind behind the war will slither into the spotlight and use Devereaux’s downfall to consolidate his own power, plunging the world into an age darker than any yet known.

Because to thwart the true evil, personal feelings must be put aside and vendettas postponed... if only for a while.

As the first book in a proposed trilogy, POWER’S PAWN is a dystopian science fiction novel of 147,000 words.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Escape from Cliffhanger, Generalissimo Lucian Devereaux’s experimental concentration camp, is said to be impossible without the help of the generalissimo himself. So naturally, when a [describe the event] in the camp forces Devereaux to break prisoner Ebony Arden out, the world suspects him of treason.

Ebony would gladly provoke Devereaux--who is hated worldwide for starting a war--into the final mistep that shatters his career. But instead, while the generalissimo's rivals seek evidence to topple him, Ebony forms a fragile bond with the man and questions the accepted wisdom that Devereaux has no heart. Unfortunately, the rebels she joins and their revenge-driven leader see only in black-and-white. If Ebony can’t convince the rebels that Devereaux is not their greatest enemy, the real mastermind behind the war will slither into the spotlight and use Devereaux’s downfall to consolidate his power, plunging the world into an age darker than any yet known.

As the first book in a proposed trilogy, POWER’S PAWN is a dystopian science fiction novel of 147,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #25: Redemption for Liars, by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for a novel called Redemption for Liars. Thank you, anonymous author, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Jonah’s new girlfriend, the suspect of his undercover investigation, just buried her deadbeat husband. Or so he thought.

FBI Agent Jonah White just threw away a promising career to find justice for his sister’s murder. But with the suspected killer already six feet under, Jonah will wine and dine the grieving widow, Maya Savantes, to recover his sister’s missing inheritance. Working undercover is never easy, but falling in love with Maya, a possible accomplice to murder, definitely wasn’t part of the plan. As Jonah delves deeper into Maya’s life, he discovers two things: 1) there’s a pissed off, trigger happy loan shark who assumes Maya has the fifty grand her husband stole – the very same money Jonah’s been searching for, and 2) Maya’s husband isn’t so dead after all.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

FBI Agent Jonah White threw away a promising career to find justice for his sister’s murder. However, with the suspected killer already six feet under, all Jonah can do now is wine and dine the man's grieving widow, Maya Savantes, to recover the $50,000 inheritance her husband stole from Jonah's sister.

Working undercover is never easy, but falling in love with Maya--a possible accomplice to the murder--definitely wasn't part of the plan. As Jonah dances around Maya's suspicions and his own feelings, he learns two things, (1) there's a pissed off, trigger-happy loan shark willing to put both Maya and Jonah in his sights to get the inheritance money, and (2) Maya's husband isn't as dead as everyone assumed.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Query #24: Title unknown, by Anonymous

This query is from an anonymous author for what looks to be a middle grade novel. Thank you, author, for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

When a smart, imaginative twelve year-old tries to make sense of a seemingly callous world, he discovers that dark family secrets are being kept right under his nose, and the most shocking, most heartbreaking is about him.

Blake Payne has a full plate just being twelve. But it keeps piling higher. He thinks he might be in love with an older girl who uses him as a decoy in her schoolyard trafficking business. He has riled his steely mother by getting suspended from school. Then, out of nowhere, his parents, who never go anywhere, both leave on obviously bogus trips.

Thinking his parents’ departure has to do with his mother hating him since the suspension, Blake asks his down-to-earth grandpa some questions. But his grandpa has questions of his own –crazy ones, like is the kitchen floor bucking under their feet. With everyone acting weirdly, his snarly older sister dropping nasty hints, even Nelson, Grandpa’s sad-eyed dog, behaving skittishly, Blake starts investigating. What he discovers will make his suspension, his big fight and second suspension, even what happens to his grandpa seem small.


~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

When a smart, imaginative twelve-year-old tries to make sense of a callous world, he discovers his family is keeping dark secrets, and the most shocking one is about him.

Blake Payne has a full plate just being twelve. He thinks he might be in love with the girl using him as a decoy in her schoolyard trafficking business, his steely mom has been riled ever since Blake got suspended from school, and then both his parents--who never go anywhere--leave on obviously bogus trips.

Blake asks his down-to-earth grandpa a few questions, but grandpa has questions of his own, like: is the kitchen floor bucking under their feet? Everyone's acting weirdly, Blake's snarly older sister keeps dropping nasty hints, and even Grandpa’s sad-eyed dog is skittish. Blake starts investigating, but what he discovers will make his suspension, his big fight, his second suspension, and even what happens to grandpa, seem small.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #23: "Saving Andromeda" by Rewrighter

This query is from Rewrighter for the novel Saving Andromeda. Thank you Rewrighter for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

When Emma Hudson turns 18, her parents share three shocking revelations: Emma was adopted. Her biological father is internationally famous folk rocker Michael Fletcher. And her birth mother is a convicted killer named Andromeda Bain.

For a girl with her future mapped out, this knowledge blows Emma's plans apart. She ditches her summer job to embark on a cross-continental quest and track down her roots. Traveling from her home in southeast Alaska to California and Nova Scotia, Emma learns her family tree includes unknown relatives, hidden relationships and simmering feuds stretching back three generations. As Emma discovers the true passion of her parents' romance, she also realizes Andromeda did not commit the 19 year-old crime. But with a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen rug, finding the truth is as elusive as filling a jar with fog. And the real killer is watching Emma's every move.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

When Emma Hudson turns 18, her parents blow her well-mapped future apart with three revelations: Emma was adopted, her biological father is an internationally famous folk rocker, and her birth mother is a convicted killer.

Emma ditches her summer job so she can find out who she really is. Traveling from Alaska to California to Nova Scotia, Emma discovers unknown relatives, hidden relationships and feuds that stretch back three generations. When Emma learns the true scope of her parents' passion, however, she also realizes her mother didn't commit the 19 year-old murder. Despite a hostile crew of new relatives who'd rather sweep family secrets under the hooked kitchen rug, Emma [does something specific] to clear her mother's name. But the real killer has been watching Emma's every move, and [Emma winds up in the book's most dangerous situation.] [In the final sentence, describe what she must do to survive but don't say how she does it--give us a cliffhanger ending. Make sure the stakes are clear also, i.e. "She must do [x] or [y] will happen."]


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Query #22: "Whisper Pale" by Candace Rose

This query is from Candace Rose for the novel Whisper Pale. Thank you Candace Rose for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Jayde's had a lot of practice keeping secrets. It's a good thing too--it seems like guards outnumber regular citizens these days, and her own neighbors line their pockets by exposing traitors like her. If only those baggy boy clothes hid her sixteen year old body as easily as they used to...

Maybe she should have just risked the tests nine years ago.

Maybe if she were a different girl, getting a number seared into the back of her hand would mean fortune, comfort, security. But that kind of luck tends to run in families, and after the Census tests scarred and melted her mother's body over twenty years ago, they're more likely to bring the same pain and poverty to Jayde--or maybe they'll just kill her.

One stupid mistake--and an intriguing boy who sees through her disguise a little too easily--is all it takes to bring on the full horror of the dangerous tests and the threat of steep punishment for years of lies.

But there’s a secret even she doesn’t know she has, one only the tests can unlock. And powerful people would use that secret to force her to sacrifice her values, her dreams, even her freedom, to keep her family alive.

Jayde isn’t the only one with secrets, but it might be too late by the time she discovers the hidden agenda behind the tests she avoided for so long. Or that the choices she was forced to make were meaningless--she’s dead either way.

Whisper Pale is a YA Speculative Fiction novel, complete at 76,000 words.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Jayde's had practice keeping secrets. Guards outnumber regular citizens these days, and her neighbors would happily line their pockets to expose a traitor like her. If only those baggy boy clothes hid Jayde's sixteen-year-old body as easily as they used to...

Jayde could have risked the Census tests back when she was seven, but while for some girls the tests means fortune, comfort, and security, for Jayde's mother, they scarred and melted her body and left her in poverty--and that kind of luck tends to run in families.

When a stupid mistake and a boy who sees through her disguise too easily lands Jayde [in a specific, dangerous place], facing the full horror of the Census tests as well as steep punishments for her years of lies, Jayde must [take action to try to improve her situation.]

But Jayde has a secret even she doesn’t know about--one only the tests can unlock. [Reveal the secret here, so we know why it increases the stakes.] [Specific antagonist] threatens Jayde by [using their knowledge of the secret] to demand Jayde [do something horrible] in exchange for keeping her family alive.

However, Jayde isn’t the only one with secrets. When she learns [the specific agenda behind the tests], Jayde must [do something specific and horribly difficult]--or accept that all her choices have been meaningless and she was dead either way.

Whisper Pale is a YA Speculative Fiction novel, complete at 76,000 words.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Introducing "Goblin's Humiliator"

Hey guys! Here's something I've been working on that is finally ready to roll out:


Goblin's Humiliator

The Humiliator is a motivation tool for writers. It's a bit of Javascript code that displays a small image on your blog or personal website, and this image--depending on how many days in a row you've skipped writing--becomes increasingly embarrassing.

The idea here is that once you've put the Humiliator on your website, your fear of public embarrassment will goad you into writing every day consistently. And who can't use a little extra incentive?

Please click the link to go to the home page of The Humiliator, and consider signing up. It's completely free and kinda fun!


Click here to get Goblin's Humiliator
for your website or blog!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Query #21: "Left of Unsaid" by Perri

This query is from Perri for the novel Left of Unsaid. Thank you Perri for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

As far as the Orange Lake Sheriff’s concerned Hap Taskett’s death is an open and shut case: heart attack. But for Hap’s daughters, there’s nothing simple about it. Wild Claudette, the eldest, was with him when he died. Though she won’t share details about the incident, she insists she killed him. Eighteen year old Leanne fears the answers her questions might bring. Once inseparable, the sisters can’t hold a civil conversation.

With their father’s last project, a decrepit motel, crumbling around them in the slick North Florida heat, they make separate plans for escape. Claudette hooks up with a petty criminal in a truck stop and sleeps her way to “somewhere cold.” Leanne plans for college, marriage and all the trappings of a normal life, but she has a secret of her own: she is pregnant and freefalling out of love with her good-hearted fiancĂ©.

When Citra Starke, as much a part of Orange Lake as the blue-tailed skinks, appears on her doorstep, Leanne is willing to take her in as a sort of surrogate sister. But Citra’s motives are not what they seem. When Leanne discovers the truth, she must make the sort of leap she’s never dreamed of, track her missing sister and piece together the details of her father’s life and death if she is to salvage what’s left of her tattered family.

Left of Unsaid is complete at 84,000 words. It is contemporary fiction, an edgier, Southern “Where the Heart Is.” It is told in alternating points of view.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

As far as the Orange Lake Sheriff is concerned, Hap Taskett’s death was a heart attack, but for Hap’s youngest daughter Leanne, it's not that simple. Her elder sister Claudette was with Hap when he died, and although she won’t share the details, Claudette insists she killed him. Leanne is afraid to dig deeper, and although once inseparable, the sisters now can’t hold a civil conversation.

With their father's decrepit motel crumbling around them in the slick North Florida heat, they make separate plans for escape. Claudette hooks up with a petty criminal in a truck stop and sleeps her way to “somewhere cold.” Leanne plans for college, marriage and all the trappings of a normal life despite her own secret: she is pregnant and freefalling out of love with her good-hearted fiancĂ©.

When Citra Starke, an eccentric as much a part of Orange Lake as the blue-tailed skinks, appears on her doorstep, Leanne takes her in as a surrogate sister, but Citra’s motives are not what they seem. When Leanne discovers [something specific], she must face her terror of her family's tattered history and track her missing sister to piece together the details of their father’s life and death.

Left of Unsaid is contemporary fiction, an edgier, Southern Where the Heart Is, and complete at 84,000 words. Thank you for your time and attention; I hope to hear from you soon.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Query #20: "Daze and Knights" by Melanie Stanford

This query is from Melanie Stanford for the novel Daze and Knights. Thank you Melanie for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

~~~~~~~
ORIGINAL QUERY

Her name is Jessica Jacobs. She is sixteen years old. She is a super spy, an actress, and a princess.

Okay, not really, but she likes to daydream that she’s all of those things. So on the day she wakes up, a medieval knight digging his sword into her throat, it seems like just another daydream. Until she realizes that, 1- dude is actually causing her neck to bleed, 2- her dress is so hideous she never would have daydreamed herself into it, and 3- Zac Efron is nowhere in sight. Definitely NOT a daydream.

After pondering her sanity at length (while being hauled into a town called Hampshire), Jessica is left with only one option: ride out her time in crazy medieval land until she can figure out a way home. But riding it out means working for the Count’s slutty daughter and doing her best to avoid Lord Pervy with his icky come-ons and wandering hands. It sucks being the peon instead of the princess.

Then Lord Alric, aka: knight-in-freaking-hot-armor shows up. He teaches her how to swordfight and amidst her inner pleas for him to take his shirt off, she falls in love. How could she not? He even makes decapitating another human being look good. Going home isn’t all that important anymore.

But life in Hampshire just gets more dangerous by the day. With whispered revolts, mysterious traitors, a possible battle, and Lord Pervy going from creepy to downright freaky, will her new (but very cool) sword fighting skills be enough to keep her alive? Staying in Hampshire means leaving behind her family and friends forever. But going back to a life of daydreaming means leaving Lord Alric- and that will cost her heart.

DAZE AND KNIGHTS is an 89,000 word YA novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

~~~~~~~
GOBLIN-EDIT

Her name is Jessica Jacobs. She is sixteen years old, a super spy, an actress, and a princess. Okay, not really, but she likes to daydream she’s all of those things.

So on the day she wakes up with a medieval knight digging his sword into her throat, it seems like just another daydream until she realizes, 1- dude is actually causing her neck to bleed, 2- her dress is so hideous she never would have daydreamed herself into it, and 3- Zac Efron is nowhere in sight.

After pondering her sanity at length (while being hauled into a town called Hampshire), Jessica is left with only one option: ride out her time in crazy-medieval land until she can figure out a way home. However, riding it out means working for the Count’s slutty daughter and doing her best to avoid Lord Pervy with his wandering hands. It sucks being the peon instead of the princess.

Then Lord Alric, a.k.a. knight-in-freaking-hot-armor, shows up. He teaches her how to swordfight, and amid her inner pleas for him to take his shirt off, she falls in love. Going home isn’t all that important anymore.

But life is getting more dangerous by the day, with whispered revolts, mysterious traitors, a possible battle looming, and Lord Pervy going from creepy to downright freaky. Will her new (but very cool) sword fighting skills be enough to keep her alive? Staying in Hampshire means leaving behind her family and friends forever, but going back to a life of daydreaming means leaving Lord Alric--and that will cost her heart.

DAZE AND KNIGHTS is an 89,000 word YA novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Comments Appreciated!

There's a new version of Newmancht's query for "The Anasazi Conspiracy" posted in the comment sections of the link below. I'm sure Newmancht would appreciate your continued input!

Query for "The Anasazi Conspiracy" by Newmancht

Friday, April 8, 2011

Query #12 Redux: "Thrice Born" by Sara Fabray

Sara Fabray has re-worked the query for the novel Thrice Born and requested another nibbling from the Goblin. Thank you Sara for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Andra has despised sorcerers since they executed her mother for witchcraft. Twelve years later, the war between witches and sorcerers has ended, but Andra's convinced the peace won't last. Not as long as sorcerers pay the price required by magic with the blood of innocents. Like her mother, Andra plans to become a witch, even though it means sacrificing a piece of her spirit and risking insanity with every spell.

Now an unknown enemy targets her brother, and snares him in a spell that drains his life-force. Andra isn't a witch yet, and her runes are nothing more than squiggles in the air. Desperate, she turns to her friends, including ex-best-friend Declan. Together, they manage to trace the source of the spell to the sorceress Camilla, a cold-blooded hunter who has killed a hundred witches, and whom Declan knows by another name. Mom.

Camilla plans to use the stolen life-force in a spell to assassinate the Magister, framing Andra's father in the process. Andra doesn't care about the Magister or the Council's politics, but there's nothing she won't do to save her family. Even when it turns out the only way to destroy the spell is to become what she despises the most-- a sorceress.

THRICE BORN is a 60,000 word YA urban fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

Caveat: Basically? This was awesome and I've changed almost nothing. Excellent work, Sara!

Andra has despised sorcerers since they executed her mother for witchcraft. Twelve years later, the war between witches and sorcerers has ended, but Andra's convinced the peace won't last--not while sorcerers pay the price required by magic with the blood of innocents. Like her mother, Andra plans to become a witch, even though it means sacrificing a piece of her spirit and risking insanity with every spell.

Now an unknown enemy has targeted her brother and ensnared him in a spell that drains his life-force. Andra isn't a witch yet, and her runes are nothing more than squiggles in the air. Desperate, she turns to her friends, including her ex-best-friend Declan. Together, they trace the spell to the sorceress Camilla, a cold-blooded hunter who has killed a hundred witches and whom Declan knows by another name: Mom.

Camilla plans to use the stolen life-force to assassinate the Magister, then frame Andra's father. Andra doesn't care about the Magister or Council politics, but there's nothing she won't do to save her family, even when it turns out the only way to destroy the spell is to become what she despises the most--a sorceress.

THRICE BORN is a 60,000 word YA urban fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #19 Re-Worked!

authorAlannian has sent Goblin a very strong re-working of his/her query for Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan. It's available for viewing in the comment section of the original post, and I'm sure the author would appreciate more feedback! Please drop by and say what you think of the new version, and thank you all for your continued participation.

~Goblin

Query #19 Re-Worked in the Comments:
Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Query #19: "Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan" by authorAlannian

This query is from authorAlannian for the novel Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan. Thank you authorAlannian for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Thirteen-year-old Alannian is just a prankster in his village. But when he discovers he is the next Incarnation, King Fayavor wants him dead.

For millennia, the Incarnations of the elf Elyyian have kept peace between the elves, humans and dwarves. King Fayavor believed the Incarnations held the humans back from achieving true greatness, so he used ghastly magic to kill the last Incarnation. Fifty years later, war rages throughout the land and Alannian start having dreams about the elf Elyyian.

Alannian discovers he is the Incarnation. Now the king wants him dead. He flees his village, but royal enforcers brutally kill his uncle. With closest person he had to a father dead, Alannian is more alone then he has ever been. Thankfully, an old magician hides the young boy and teaches him in the ways of the Incarnation.

With his growing powers, Alannian sets off to stop the war and the king before the races destroy each other. Servants of the king hunt Alannian and he must learn who he can trust. The lives of everyone Alannian loves are thrust into the lines of war as Fayavor pursues him. Should Alannian fail, then the war will continue and the three races will destroy each other.

ALANNIAN AND THE SWORD OF AZALLYAN is a 100,000-word young adult fantasy where the hope of a world rests on the shoulders of a boy, a prankster, a hero. My book will appeal to the fans Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE CYCLE. I am working on two follow up novels.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

For millennia, the Incarnations of the elf Elyyian have kept peace between the elves, humans and dwarves. King Fayavor believed the Incarnations held the humans back from achieving true greatness, so he used ghastly magic to kill the last Incarnation. Fifty years later, war rages throughout the land, and Alannian--a thirteen-year-old prankster in a small village--has just started having dreams about the elf Elyyian.

[Something specific happens so that Alannian know he is the Incarnation.] [Something specific happens so that Fayavor learns Alannian is the Incarnation.] Alannian flees his village, but royal enforcers brutally kill his family, and Alannian is left grief-stricken and vulnerable. An old magician hides the boy and teaches him about the Incarnations, and Alannian realizes he must soon accept his destiny instead of running.

As the lives of everyone Alannian loves are drawn into the war, the boy sets off to stop King Fayavor. Alannian knows that if he fails, it will mean more than his own death--for without an Incarnation, the three races will destroy each other and leave the world in ruin.

ALANNIAN AND THE SWORD OF AZALLYAN is a 100,000-word young adult fantasy with series potential. My book will appeal to the fans Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE CYCLE. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Query #14 Redux: "The Anasazi Conspiracy" by Newmancht

Newmancht has re-worked the query for the novel The Anasazi Conspiracy and requested another nibbling from the Goblin. Thank you Newmancht for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

1607 B.C.: Brothers Maska and Ahote come across a curious object. Surely this golden icon must be a gift from the Sun God? Ohhh, but this prize would be woefully cursed, thrusting the Chama clan into chaos and leaving a baffling legacy behind.

1867: Surviving a horrific train crash, broken and bleeding, Stanley is desperate for help. Near death in the open, wild country of the American southwest, he stumbles across a cave. It turns out to be much more than shelter for the night when he discovers an enormous golden Shaman lurking inside, guarding a dazzling temple of untold riches. But would this knowledge die with him?

Two weeks ago: Powerful corporate magnate, Robert Bradley finds someone sniffing around one of his companies for information. Robert has hunch.

One week ago: That "someone" doesn't know he's picked up a tail, or that he'll soon be dead. Robert believes the Anasazi ruins recently uncovered by this man may lead to hidden treasures. His instincts have never been wrong before...and now he has a malicious scheme brewing.

Right now: Jake's plan never included rescuing a beautiful archeologist from the man he was hired to kill. He certainly didn't expect to be double-crossed by his shadowy employer either. There will be hell to pay.

Bradley didn't count on mistakes...or failure. Now his men have a mess to clean up.

In a malevolent twist of fate, two disparate souls are plunged into a race against time and bullets to decipher the mystery of an ancient people and stop the enemy determined to kill them. To fail means the loss of an ancient culture, incredible wealth - and death.

But Jake and Courtney never anticipated the playful banter...the intense looks...or fiery passions escalating as they grapple with coded symbols that will ultimately disclose the location of a cavern of gold and unveil a hidden chronicle that will transform known Anasazi history forever.

THE ANASAZI CONSPIRACY straddles the Historic and Adventure genres and is a complete manuscript available for review at 163K words. This is my first novel and I appreciate your consideration.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

1607 B.C.: Two brothers from the Chama clan of [modern area's name] come across a golden icon they interpret be a gift from the Sun God, but this prize will thrust the clan into chaos and leave a baffling legacy.

1867 A.D.: After surviving a horrific crash, a train engineer discovers a cave containing an enormous golden Shaman that guards a dazzling temple, but will this knowledge die with him?

Two weeks ago: A corporate magnate discovers someone hunting for information around one of his companies. He arranges for Jake [Last Name] to tail the man and, when he learns the snoop recently uncovered a set of Anasazi ruins, the magnate orders Jake to kill the snoop and then makes plans to pillage the site himself.

Right now: Jake's instructions didn't include rescuing a beautiful archeologist from the man he was hired to kill, and he didn't expect his shadowy employer to double-cross him. As Dr. Courtney [Last Name] grapples with the coded petroglyphs that will lead them to a cavern of gold and a hidden chronicle of Anasazi history, Jake must not only re-think his alliances but fight to keep thousands of years of mystery, deception and greed from ending with his own murder.

THE ANASAZI CONSPIRACY straddles the Historic and Adventure genres and is a complete manuscript available for review. This is my first novel and I appreciate your consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Query #18: "Emerald Bearer" by Grant Hadley K

This query is from Grant Hadley K for the novel Emerald Bearer. Thank you Grant Hadley K for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

Twelve-year-old Samantha never trained to use a magic gem. She never asked to be an Emerald Bearer--she'd never even heard of one. But none of that matters when she finds a palm-sized emerald in the foothills of Arizona. When she picks it up, the huge gem embeds itself in her hand and transports her to Centaunia; a world of peaceful centaurs, evil minotaurs, and a handful of powerful humans with magic gems of their own.

Samantha becomes famous overnight as news of her arrival spreads like wildfire. The centaurs bow before her as if she was royalty. It doesn't take Samantha long to figure out why.

It's been eleven years since the last Emerald Bearer appeared in Centaunia. Since then, raiding minotaurs have been polluting the sacred springs--pollution that turns the centaurs into mindless animals. The purifying powers of Samantha's emerald are their last hope. What's more, they're her only hope of getting back home. But there's something no one will tell her; what happened to the last Emerald Bearer? With the help of three other Gem Bearers, Samantha heads deep into enemy territory in search of the polluted springs. With the dark leader of the minotaurs after her, Samantha has no choice but to fight. That, or learn the fate of the last Emerald Bearer firsthand...

A middle grade fantasy novel, EMERALD BEARER is complete at 58,000 words. This book would appeal to fans of the UNICORN CHRONICLES by Bruce Coville.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

When Samantha finds a palm-sized emerald in the foothills of Arizona, she does what any twelve-year-old would: she picks it up. However, the gem then embeds itself in her hand and Samantha is transported to Centaunia, a world of peaceful centaurs, evil minotaurs, and a handful of powerful humans with magic gems of their own.

News of her arrival spreads, and the centaurs treat Samantha as royalty. It doesn't take her long to learn why. Eleven years ago, the last Emerald Bearer disappeared, and since then, raiding minotaurs have polluted the sacred springs, turning the centaurs who drink there into mindless animals. The purifying powers of Samantha's emerald can save these creatures, and in turn, they'll be able to help Samantha get back home.

With the help of three other Gem Bearers, Samantha heads deep into enemy territory in search of the polluted springs. However, the leader of the minotaurs learns of this and comes after her, and Samantha must fight if she wants to escape learning firsthand what the fate of the last Emerald Bearer was.

EMERALD BEARER, a middle grade fantasy novel, is complete at 58,000 words and would appeal to fans of THE UNICORN CHRONICLES by Bruce Coville. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Query #17: "Flute Music" by Earth

This query is from Earth for the novel Flute Music. Thank you Earth for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!

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ORIGINAL QUERY

"I have been waiting for you. Please help us, before he destroys us and your mother." The strange woman's plea is sixteen-year-old Mira's first indication of the trouble brewing in her new town.

Mira questions the identity of the threat and finds out that it's none other than her mother's boss and the owner of the powerful Calvert Mining Company - the town's biggest employer and its meal ticket. Mira's mother has been hired to jumpstart the company and make its newest mining technique, Salcopper, operational. The woman, Aiyana, has a simple request - stop Salcopper, as it would totally ruin the town's already fragile ecosystem.

Mira has two options. She could tell her mom of Calvert's disdain for environmental safeguards, which would result in her mom refusing to run the technique or going to the federal authorities. With Calvert's track record of dealing with whistle blowers, Mira could well end up an orphan. So option one is out.

Option number two - find evidence against Calvert

Then time runs out for Aiyana. Her body turns up in the mines next to a stack of explosives. The police claim she died attempting to blow up the mine. Mala suspects Aiyana was set up by Mr. Calvert and his best buddy, the police chief.

That's a real problem because Mr. Calvert is now dating her mom. Desperate to convince her of Mr. Calvert's guilt, but unable to find the proof she needs, she accepts help from Brad, a junior at her school. His motives are suspect, since he's also Mr. Calvert's daughter's boyfriend. But to get justice for Aiyana and save her mother, she's willing to take all the help she can find to face the devil himself.

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GOBLIN-EDIT

When Mira's mom is hired to help the Calvert Mining Company perfect a new technique for ore extraction, Mira--like her mother--believes that jumpstarting the company's profits can only help their new hometown. When a local woman named Aiyana starts harassing Mira with conspiracy theories and predictions of ecological disaster, however, the sixteen-year-old decides she has to investigate further.

Mira learns the ore extraction technique is really a engineering trick devised to let Calvert Mining evade environmental safeguards and then legally blame Mira's mother for the damage. Before Mira can warn her mom, however, Aiyana turns up dead--apparently of a botched sabotage attempt against the mine, but more likely of murder.

Now too scared to speak out--especially with the mine's owner suddenly cozying up to her mom--Mira realizes she must find enough evidence to go to the federal authorities alone. If she doesn't, her mother will go to prison and the town's ecosystem will collapse--but if she does, Mira herself could wind up dead.

Flute Music, a [word count] word YA mystery, is complete and available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Goblin Caveat: Some elements that may not be accurate for the novel have been added to this edited version of the query.

Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!

Also, I'd be delighted if you would please help draw more commenters to the site by mentioning this post to your online friends. Thank you!