Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 Query Letter #21

Query Letter #21
Middle Grade
Maddie & Mook And The Message In The Bottle

Dear Ms. LaPolla,
When young Maddie and her puppy Mook find a mysterious old bottle with a message inside, they begin an adventure to the Caribbean to find the boy who set the bottle into the sea.

The mysterious bottle crested the wave and glimmered in the sun, catching twelve year old Maddie’s eyes as it surfed the foamy water to the shore. Mook, her rambunctious little puppy barked and hopped in the water dodging the bottle that attacked him while he played with the crabs.

Salt water and seaweed splashed in Maddie’s face as she jumped for the bottle before the tide sucked her treasure back out to sea. It was an old message in a bottle and the treasure hunter in Maddie made her wonder where the bottle had come from. Who wrote the message?

The message inside the old bottle challenges Maddie to find the boy who threw the bottle in the sea, but all she has to go by are a few cryptic initials and the name Wendell Chinnery. A chance trip for her mother to do a tropical photography shoot brings the little girl to the Caribbean and her quest begins. With the companionship of Mook, the help of the internet and good detective work, Maddie is on an adventure that takes her across the ocean to find the boy who wrote her the message.

Maddie & Mook and Message in the Bottle is a middle grade adventure that will appeal to any young reader and is complete at 27,830 words. The story was inspired by a real message in the bottle. The message inside was written by a little girl who wanted to make a new friend. I currently write two online entertainment columns, freelance for regional magazines and am a member of the SCWW. Maddie and Mook is my third book.

Thank you in advance for your valued consideration.


RC Shivers


  1. Wow! What a great improvement from the first query bits we saw in this competition.

    The imagery of Maddie and Mook on the beach finding the bottle is great, though I think you can still tighten up the second and third paragraphs into one. Essentially, they both describe the scene on the beach and, while it's great for the book, I think you want to keep it tight for an agent query.

    I like the notation that it was inspired by a real note in a bottle. Maybe you could say just a bit more about that. Did you find it? Did you read about it somewhere?

    Also love the name Wendall Chinnery (this is the first time I've seen it), but you note in the penultimate paragraph that Maddie's looking for the boy who sent the note to her: Was it personalized and by some miracle found her, or do you mean sent the note she found? Just a little clarification.

    Overall, this is a fantastic improvement and a job really well done. Good luck!

  2. I agree, much improved from your initial query! Rah! I like the first sentence a lot; good hook. The next 2 paragraphs, however, sound more like an excerpt from the book to me, and they don't add much to the telling of what the conflict and plot are. Partly it sounds like an excerpt because it's written in past tense, whereas the rest of your query is in present. I would put "12-year-old" in the first sentence, too. ("When 12-year-old Maddie and her puppy Mook...")

    The first sentence in the 3rd paragraph repeats your very first sentence/hook (at least the first part). This is echoed yet again in the last sentence of the 3rd paragraph. I would begin the paragraph with the new info rather than repeat your hook sentence. Otherwise, that 3rd paragraph seems good as far as revealing plot and conflict.

    I'd omit "that will appeal to any young reader"--that's not needed. And a sure sign of a newbie writer is a word count that is not rounded off. Round off your word count to 28,000 words to look more professional. Lastly, if Maddie and Mook is not your third PUBLISHED book, don't mention it. I've written 16, all unpublished, but I never mention them! Only the published ones count; the rest are all practice or yet-to-be-published.
    Good luck! :)

  3. I agree with the other comments. I really like your log line. Like they said, combine the second & third paragraphs more like you had before. But I think the last paragraph of the pitch answers a lot of the questions we raised in prior comments. And does it concisely.

    Good luck.


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