Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm Enlisting Your Help . . .

If, of course, you'd like to help me. This is completely voluntary.* If and when you do decide to be oh-so-very helpful, you'll be met with lots of grateful hugs and virtual cookies. So thank you in advance!

*Unless you wish to suffer the wrath of a bookworm with a pile of 400+-page hardbacks.

**Just kidding.

I've been querying my YA contemporary romance, Beneath the Moon and Stars, for quite some time now, and while I did receive a full manuscript request, that agent eventually passed, and I've had no other bites since. It's always hard to tell what the exact reason for this is since most rejections are form letters, but taking a look at the query letter is a good place to start.

I'd love it if you blogger extraordinaires could take a look at my letter and tell me what works, what doesn't, what you think could be improved, etc. Pretend you're picking my book off the shelf of a bookstore or library and reading the back cover. Does it interest you? Why or why not? What's missing?

Kya and Lane weren’t exactly “meant to be.” 17-year-old Kya lives with her mother and abusive stepfather in a flea-ridden apartment above a guy who grows weed. She’d never dream of the luxury of a healthy relationship. 18-year-old Lane lives in a ritzy house with maids and cooks and constantly butts heads with his mother, who accuses him of falling in love too quickly.

One day at the grocery store, Kya and Lane meet at the checkout line, bonding over their shared disgust of Miley Cyrus music. They become fast “just friends,” discussing everything from books to whether or not eating caviar is ethical. But their friendship holds the possibility of something more. That is, it could be more if Kya’s tyrannical stepfather and Lane’s manipulative mother don’t break them apart.

But with the help of Kya’s mother and Lane’s older sister, they’ll find a way to beat the odds. If the odds don’t beat them first.

Hugs and virtual cookies await! Just leave a comment. :) Thank you!


Jimmy said...

A few thoughts, but first realize I would read this book no matter what simply because I know you can write. So don't take this personally, they are just the thoughts of a cynical middle-aged man dealing with his own mediocrity...

Thought: It sounds like it does work out in this book. Too easy to predict? Rich boy falls in love with poor girl. Rich boy's mom thinks her son is too good for poor girl. Rich girls mom doesn't have a clue what true love is. How did such a pure heart come from such a stone cold mom?

Thought: Caviar doesn't sound legit to me. Why would someone raised in such dire circumstances like Kya have any familiarity with caviar at such a young age? Potted meat? Yes. Vienna sausages? Yes. Ramen noodles? Sure. Caviar? No way.

Thought: Kya's stepfather--why does he care? He shouldn't care. The parents I know who are not good parents--what makes them not good is that they don't care about their kids and have no clue into what's going on in their kids' lives and minds. What's different about this guy that he cares about his stepdaughter?

And I repeat--I will read the book as is because I've read your other stuff and I know you've got interesting things to say. So please please know that I'm a fan all the way!

Boquinha said...

I love your gifs for this post. So funny. I think the formatting is off on your 3rd paragraph of the description, by the way. I believe I helped you with this before, yes? Or read a a big section of this book? Anyway, I'm going to sit this one out and let others chime in. I'm a bit biased because I've read a bunch of it. I'm already enjoying reading Jimmy's take on it. Though, to play devil's advocate, sometimes girls like Kya are super smart despite their circumstances, so I suppose they could have some knowledge and opinions re: the ethics of caviar. I think teens today are far more engaged politically and socially. But yeah, her focus is probably more on survival, so point taken. I have thoughts on the 3rd thing you posted, too, but I can't say because I know too much!! Shutting up now . . . :P

The Magic Violinist said...


Aw, thank you! :) I always appreciate what you have to say.

Hmm, interesting. I'll have to consider how easy it seems in the letter. Not saying if it does or does not work out in the end, but there are definitely some twists that don't happen in a lot of YA romances.

LOL, you make a good point. She definitely hasn't eaten any, at least.

More stuff to ponder! I haven't had many people read the query letter who hadn't read the book, so it's especially interesting to see what thoughts you have because they're probably similar to the thoughts an agent will have. Thank you!


How is a blog post ever truly complete without a funny gif? ;)

Ah, yes, it is. Blogger likes to mess with the formatting sometimes. It's fixed now, I think.

Yep! Wayyy back when. I think you read the first fifty pages (which have now been totally redone).

Who knew the caviar thing would be the most talked about portion of the letter?

Jesse Porter said...

Glad to comment. If I were a busy agent,I would probably stop at the first paragraph. My advice would be, brevity is better. To make a prospective agent want to read your book, your letter would be better served by abbreviating the synopsis to, "Kya and Lane meet at the checkout line, bonding over their shared disgust of Miley Cyrus music. They become fast “just friends,” discussing everything from books to whether or not eating caviar is ethical. But their friendship holds the possibility of something more. That is, it could be more if Kya’s tyrannical stepfather and Lane’s manipulative mother don’t break them apart." Rich guy-poor girl smacks of worn cliche at first glance. A budding relationship based on varied shared opinions is more intriguing, and disgust of Miley Cyrus's music and ethics of eating caviar represents quite a range of shared interest. I'm sure that your treatment of attraction of opposite backgrounds is as intriguing as your juxtaposition of shared opinions, but harder to represent in a brief synopsis. You only get a few seconds to capture an agent's attention.

The Magic Violinist said...


Thank you so much for your insight! That's a really good point and I will definitely be doing some paragraph rearranging now that you mention it. :)

Megan said...

To me, this sounds so good! I'd love to read it one day! <3
Megan @ http://wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk/

The Magic Violinist said...


Aww, thank you! :)

c. sciriha said...

First of all congratulations for reaching the querying stage. The fact that someone asked for your full is also something to celebrate. If I may add my 2c worth, I like the query but shortening it might help. I would especially consider deleting the final paragraph. We'd get to know who is on their side by reading the book. The query needs to show what conflict they face.
Not sure you need 'flea-ridden' either as it made me wonder about the hygienic habits of the adults.
You might also consider deleting or editing 'She’d never dream of the luxury of a healthy relationship.' What teenager doesn't?
Hope this helps. And good luck!

Mary Smith-Hansen said...

Hi! Just dropping by to say that I would read your book. However, agents are looking for a little snap in the letter. Try removing most if not all adjectives. That should tighten it up. Have you used Hemingway editor? It's quite helpful.
Remember, snappy prose gets agents to take a second look. Good luck! Can't wait to see your book in print.

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

Eeep, querying is really hard! One good piece of querying advice I received was to write the letter in 1st person by your character, and get their voice into it. Then go back and put it in 3rd and format it like a letter. I thought it was pretty helpful advice! I think maybe your first sentence could be a tiny bit more hooky? :D :D GOOD LUCK! I actually had two versions of my letter going out when I was querying, just to test out different styles haha.😜

The Magic Violinist said...

@c. sciriha

Thank you! :) It's a slow, long, painful process, but I think I might be making some progress.

That's great advice, thanks so much! I'll definitely be making some changes.

@Mary Smith-Hansen

Thanks, Mary! :) I've never heard of Hemingway editor, but I'll be looking it up now. Thank you for your advice!



Ooh, that's a really cool exercise. I'll have to try that. Hooky first sentences are always good.

Wow, TWO versions??? One is hard enough, so kudos to you. xD

Thanks for the help!