Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 Query Letter #51

Query Letter #51
Liz Heinecke
Title: MOONSTONE: MERLIN'S DAUGHTER
Genre: middle grade fiction


Attn. Ms. LaPolla,

Twelve-year old Jess has heard of Merlin, but she'd rather read about horses than King Arthur. If you told her she’d be torn away from a backpacking trip in California and flung into the aftermath of a spell cast by Merlin’s son, she'd look at you like you were crazy. If you said she'd be stuck on this adventure with her little sister and a teenage boy, you'd see the biggest eye-roll ever. The part about getting lost in a strange world where she'd have to battle monsters would get her attention though. She acts tough, but Jess would rather eat sand than take a risk.

From a granite slab where she's hanging out, Jess is transported to an ancient alter. She wakes up next to her sister Piper and a teenage boy named Will, who joined them just before they vanished. Standing stones surround them, but Jess is pretty sure they're not in England when they're attacked by strange wolves, stumble on Moonstone Castle and discover a society where the adults have been spirited away.

Teenage girls, led by a teen queen named Morgan, have taken over the stone fortress and forced the boys into servitude. Jess makes friends with an outcast named Sela and things are fine until Aisling, a black stallion coveted by Morgan, chooses Jess as a companion. Morgan exiles Jess and her friends to the mountains.

Sela admits that she’s Merlin’s daughter and that her brother took a magic stone California, where Jess found it and a second stone to King Arthur’s England, where Morgan stole it. The friends face a series of adventures as they search for the missing third stone that will take them to Merlin.

MERLIN’S DAUGHTER is complete at 41,500 words.

Thank you!

Liz Heinecke
http://kitchenpantryscientist.com

3 comments:

  1. Hi Liz,

    First, there are a few missing words or typos that grabbed my attention, so I'd go through it once more to sort that out.

    Then, I find this query quite long and meandering. I see the voice you were going for in the first paragraph but because of the many sentences, it doesn't come across as punchy. The fact that it involves second person is really jarring, as well.

    From there, it reads more like a synopsis - esp in the 2nd paragraph where we seem to get more of a blow-by-blow than the key elements of conflict. In the 3rd paragraph, I finally get an idea of where she's been taken, instead of just the fact that she's been taken to another world.

    By the end, I'm still rather confused as to what the adventures will entail and why they need to get to Merlin, at all.

    I hope these notes are helpful! Good luck!

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  2. I LOVE the voice in your first paragraph, but I agree that it putters out after that. Try to infuse the whole query with that strong sense of voice!

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  3. Twelve-year old Jess has heard of Merlin, but she'd rather read about horses than King Arthur. If you told her she’d be torn away from a backpacking trip in California and flung into the aftermath of a spell cast by Merlin’s son, she'd look at you like you were crazy. If you said she'd be stuck on this adventure with her little sister and a teenage boy, you'd see the biggest eye-roll ever. The part about getting lost in a strange world where she'd have to battle monsters would get her attention though. She acts tough, but Jess would rather eat sand than take a risk. (Nice set up.)

    (Jess wakes up after being knocked out? A flash of light? A big boom?) Jess blacked out while she and her sister were investigating a strange stone slab (?) and the next thing she knows, she's sitting up in the middle of standing stones, like those in England. And she's not alone, her little sister and a boy (she doesn't know ?) is with them. Attacked by strange wolves, she doesn't have time to figure out how they got here.

    With the wolves on their heels, they take refuge in a nearby castle run by a bunch of teenage girls. The adults had been spirited away (by ? to ?) and all the boys have been forced into servitude by the teen queen, Morgan. (does this mean that Will is forced into servitude when they arrive?) Jess and her sister get along all right until a black stallion, coveted by Morgan, chooses Jess as his companion. In retaliation, Morgan exiles them (Jess, her sister and Will? The stallion?) to the mountains, including a new friend who they discover is Merlin's daughter.

    (Merlin is the source of all the trouble? His son (as mentioned in first paragraph)? I assume the spell (gone awry?) is what spirited away the adults? Are they now trying to find the adults and set things right in the castle? Is Will trapped in the castle doing the girls' bidding? Can Sela perform magic? Do they need to find Merlin in order to get home? You need to end with what's at stake, what they need to accomplish and how. Your last paragraph is confusing as written.)

    I love tales about Merlin and this sounds like a fun read. Which brings up another question. Was King Arthur one of the adults spirited away? Like Bethany and Phoebe said, your first paragraph sets up the story and the voice well. I hope my rewritten paragraphs help give you an idea how to rewrite this to really do your story justice.

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