Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 Query Letter #39

Query Letter #39
Carrie Dair
Control Line
YA Contemporary

Dear Ms. LaPolla,

In an interview you did with the YA Highway I noticed that you were looking for older YA, as well as strong characters and a coming of age. In CONTROL LINE, seventeen year old Kate McCormac struggles with a new home, old dreams, and a firefighter who will do anything to help her overcome her fear of fire. Even if it means putting her own life on the line.

When her fire fighting father is killed in a house fire, Kate knows her life is in ruins, confirmed when the government questions the means to his death and challenges her family’s claim to financial compensation. Emotionally and financially drained, Kate’s family is forced to leave the lush beaches of California to the barren desert of Panaca Nevada where her mother’s childhood home promises to do more than give them a fresh start. It threatens to reveal a secret that Kate has held for nearly a year. A secret that could destroy what’s left of her life.

Betrayed by the government and the decisions of her mother, Kate fights against moving on; battling with nightmares and past memories, as well as the one person who can give her hope. Grant is the young smoke jumper who has known Kate forever, and is now willing to do whatever it takes to make her well. Even to the point of risking her life. Now Kate must choose. Accept Grant and the dangerous future he holds, or reject his love and risk being trapped in the past forever.

CONTROL LINE is a contemporary YA, complete at 120,000 words. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Carrie Dair


  1. This sounds like a really good story, though you might find it extremely tough to land requests with your word count. That's pushing it for YA fantasy, and that's way too long for YA contemporary. You're going to get a lot of rejection because of that. Just a warning.

    Betrayed makes it sound like there's some kind of conspiracy going on with the government.

    You might want to review semi-colon use. It is supposed to separate two independant sentences. That's not the case here. You second sentence doesn't make sense on it's own. It should if you used a semi-colong.

    I'm not sure how Kate will be freed from the past by risking her life. That stems from us not knowing the secret. In all honesty, I would cut the last paragraph. I think "A secret that could destroy what's left of her life" is really strong. After that, the query loses steam. Also, I'm confused why Grant is a firefight in the hook, but a smoke jumper in the third paragraph.

    I realize you want Grant in your query because he's important to the story, but you need to tighen the third paragraph. It's long and confusing, which makes me wonder if your ms is too--hence the excessive word count. Does that make sense?

    Good luck! :D

  2. My biggest note is that this doesn't sound like a YA novel. I'm not sure if it's the voice, the fact that finances and government play such a role in the pitch or the fact that Grant is a firefighter - which automatically makes him a certain age...

    I'd agree that it seems a little overwritten, which I've been guilty of (most of the time).

    "Betrayed by the government and the decisions of her mother, Kate fights against moving on; battling with nightmares and past memories, as well as the one person who can give her hope." How are nightmares and memories keeping Kate from moving on? What would moving on be? Is she afraid of fires? Is that the secret? There are elements of the story here but not enough to give me a clear indication of what the book is really about.

    I hope this is useful and good luck!

  3. Thank you both for responding and for offering up some great feedback. Stina: a smoke jumper IS a fire fighter, just a specialized one. Didn't realize I had to go into that in the query. Not to mention the fact he's a volunteer fire fighter in the town he's in. As well, Bethany I wonder how much of the story I should be giving away with saying how her memories are keeping Kate from moving on. I mean, that is the crux of the story that is supposed to make the reader wonder. So perhaps the query succeeded in making you wonder and would have you asking for more pages to read? :)

    And maybe someone can clarify for me, but I didn't know that all the characters in the book had to be in high school. Can't Grant be 18 and in love with someone a year younger? Yes, 18 is an adult, but that too plays a part in the story. And trust me, he's plenty old enough to be fighting fires in the town I've placed her in. Just wondering...

    Thank again!


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