Dear Ms. Resciniti:
Fourteen-year-old Evan Bradley’s day just got a little more interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed museum exhibit, Evan discovers a golden band in the shape of a serpent biting its tail. It is the Chrysopoeia, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, Evan, has awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, the land of ancient gods.
Before Evan can grasp what has happened, the “Chryso” is wrenched from his hand by an enormous bird and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea! Furious at mankind for polluting his oceans, Aegir, plans to use the Chryso to unlock Jormundgand’s teeth from its tail. If he succeeds, the immense power of the sea will be released and all the lands of Earth will be flooded. Evan and Claire must retrieve the Chryso and stop him.
There will be many trials and tribulations in this quest: bull sharks, three headed trolls, mini-polar bears, draugars (ghost-like sailors), Bergkonge (a caped man who transforms into a dragon), Huldra (a beautiful woman with the tail of a cow), waves with faces – even devious spies. Luckily, along their way, Evan and Claire acquire new powers, new friends, and a new appreciation for one another.
The Chryso has endowed Evan the power of telekinesis – great for flying old Model T’s through the tangerine skies of Sagaas or maneuvering Viking ships through jutting rocks. Claire has acquired the power of transfiguration, handy for building glass ships from sand or submarine whales from ancient gold doubloons. Their faithful friends Dunkle and Barfel (both mohawk-sporting imps), the brave dragon “re-locater” Sigurd, and the young violet-haired mermaid Lazonia encourage them, protect them, and guide them. Of course they now possess the “58 minute locket,” a gift from Vor (the Norse goddess who knows everything); pastries that multiply unless eaten in a single bite; and breathing bubbles that allow Land Dwellers to experience a few of the many miraculous civilizations under the sea.
Not only is there adventure, humor, and even a little romance, the reader can get more actively involved by decoding the decorative runes at the bottom of each page or by whipping up a batch of Evan’s “Poppin-Droppins” or “Woofout Bars,” magical dessert recipes can be found in the back of the book.
Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien are masters of their own universes; they created entire worlds through their writing. Their talent inspired me to create new places for teens and “tweens” to visit. Chrysopoeia is the first book in the young adult-fantasy series The Relics of Mysticus. Though this book is based loosely on Norse mythology, the full series will explore myths and pantheons of many diverse cultures.
The completed manuscript for Chrysopoeia is approximately 59,000 words. My goal is to open the minds and imaginations of the next generation of young readers. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.
P.S. Although it is not customary for a writer to also draw his/her illustrations, because of my background as an AP art teacher, it was hard to do one without the other. Captivated by the simplicity of the drawings from The Spiderwick Chronicles, I have illustrated each chapter header in black ink. I would be happy to send examples as an attachment, and you are welcome to visit my website heidibolton.com
This query is very long (579 words) and spans more than a page. I would cut out the PS and include it in the query itself if it’s important. Try to cut this query down to the meat of your story. Don’t give a synopsis, give a taste of your world so that the agent is intrigued enough to want to read more.
I agree it’s too long describing the plot. What I love is the reader involvement in decoding. Way to go!
Hey Heidi, I think you have some great description in here, but it is reading as more of a synopsis to me than a query. I wonder if you might be able to grap the really important parts of this to condense?
After reading some of the other queries, I have to completely agree with the above comments. I will go back and revise my query – shorten it. I’m so glad I entered this contest, it’s great to have feedback. Thanks!
Your enthusiasm comes through in this query fantastically – and that plays for a lot.
I am lost in the names and places and creatures and … whatnot.
I think you can get rid of most of what starts from “There will be many trials and…” almost through to the end. An exception might be the kids’ powers, as these seem important to survive in this alternate world.
I really do think the interaction stuff is very cool as well as the illustrations, but I’m not altogether sure that it should go into the query at this point. If nothing else, it feels like you were more excited about that part than the rest of your story, and you want to make sure your story grabs full attention.
You mention the series… can your book stand alone? This will be important to an interested agent.
My goal is to open the minds and imaginations of the next generation of young readersThis is all writers’ goals, fundamentally. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.“
I’m taking notes and am ready to hack at the query! Thanks for the suggestions.
It’s a lovely query overall, and like you already said, you’re planning to trim it down. I think paragraph 3 can be removed entirely, and 4 only keep what are the plot essentials.
Maybe trim this down to: I’d love to see an interactive reading experience, where the reader can decode decorative runes at the bottom of each page, and I’d like to include magical dessert recipes in the back of the book.
I’d trim this to: Chrysopoeia is the first book in the young adult-fantasy series The Relics of Mysticus. Though this book is based loosely on Norse mythology, the full series will explore myths and pantheons of many diverse cultures. (and then say how many books planned in the series and if book 1 works as a stand alone!)
I love how your story is sounding! Heck, I’m excited to read it:) But to echo everyone else, it’s on the long side. When you wrote at the end it’s only 59,000 words (which is a perfect length, btw), I was surprised based on your query. Also, you only mention Evan in the 1st paragraph so Claire seems to come out of nowhere in the 2nd paragraph (or am I missing something?).
Yep, what they said. Claire popped up out of nowhere, the complex names were thrown at me a little too fast and furiously, and by Odin’s Hammer…way too long! 🙂 Pare it down to Evan’s story in this book only and you’ll be grand. This is a fantastic idea and your love and enthusiasm for it sparkle here. Good luck – you can do it!
The title stopped me. I think the story sounds fun, but there are a lot of details in the query that might overpower/confuse a reader. Personally, I think the worldbuilding is fantastic. It illustrates your imagination and attention to detail, but in keeping with a more traditional query approach you may want to trim this down a tad for other submissions.
Your book sounds wonderful–such a fun fantastical world.
While you’re following the excellent advice you got above, keep in mind that ALL you need in a query is 1) a character we can relate to (protagonist(s)), 2) what that character wants (motivation), 3) what stands in his/her way (antagonist), 4) what happens if s/he fails (stakes). The extra details of your world are fun, but agents will stop reading very quickly so they can move on to the rest of the 300 they received that day. You have to hook them and keep them hooked. Stick to the meat of the story.
Also, watch out for these basic “rules” and general tips:
-250 words max
-No exclamation points! 🙂
-Don’t spout facts about other authors unless you’re saying that your book will compare favorably to theirs and therefore attract their audience
-Don’t include your goals–especially if they match the goals of just about every YA author out there. That sort of thing will be assumed.
-It’s VERY difficult to sell your debut novel. It’s harder to sell a series. So it’s best to talk exclusively about the first book and MAYBE mention that it has “series potential.” The first book must be able to stand alone: if it doesn’t sell, your publisher won’t be publishing the others.
-The drawings sound awesome, but they’re essentially garnish. If the story is bad, the drawings won’t matter. I’d advise leaving them out of the query completely: if a publisher buys your book, they might not want them or might want another artist to recreate them. Tell your agent about them when they call to offer representation.
Hi Heidi! You’ve already gotten so many great suggestions. One thing I’ve learned in querying my fantasy last year…. stay away from the made up words, or as one agent called it…”fantasy word soup.”
Also, Claire came out of nowhere for me too. You really have to narrow it down to 250 words or close to, hard I know… and you’ve got so many great ideas before mine. Keep in mind the formula: MC+goal+conflict+stakes. Throw in some voice and you’ve got a winner.
I will say, tho… that I LOVE the sound of this. Your book sounds amazing and once you get your query tightened, you will be getting all kinds of requests. Just be sure to query only those agents who like high fantasy. Good luck! 🙂
I just pasted all of the comments into a separate file. They’re so helpful. I feel like I just took a mini-class in writing the perfect query.
Thanks to all of you!
Not much to add here since everyone else said it all already. Yes, it’s way too long. I started off that way, too, months ago. It can be difficult to get to the heart of the conflict and leave all that other stuff you know is important out, but you must.
Try to keep your query under 200 words. And watch the tense. Your first paragraph has past tense when it should all be present. But, man, do you have an imagination! I’m so jealous!! One thing though, I haven’t a clue how to pronounce that title. Something to think about.