Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 Query Letter #43

Query Letter #43
Author: Britt Leigh
Genre: YA
Title: Shot on the Wing

Dear Ms. LaPolla:

Calling foul is quick-witted17-year-old Angela Bennett's favorite part of being a reporter, but when she exposes a varsity basketball recruiting scandal, she finds herself out of bounds with the team, the public, and worst of all, her crush, the Ian, star of the JV team.Told entirely through varied media – class notes, bathroom wall graffiti, blogs, and even news scrawl – Shot on the Wing gives you the scoop from every angle.

Angela’s assignment: the BirchDown BullDogs basketball team. While the town glorifies the varsity players, covering them is not exactly how Angela envisioned launching her reporting career. But the adorkable and athletic Ian at least gets her romantic life on the court. When Angela accidentally leaves her still-hot tape recorder in the office after an interview with the varsity coach, she stumbles upon a college recruitment scandal involving sex, money, and drugs. Angela must find her voice to raise up the truth.

Shot on the Wing is a 33,000-word young adult novel, a project originated in the mentorship portion of the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children program at Simmons College. It draws upon my passions and studies from my degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. My writing for young adults has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting into College with the story “It’s a Sure Bet” and “Sweater Girl” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School, and online at I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.


Britt Leigh


  1. I remember reading this one before. It's looking good.

    Just a few things. You need a comma between witted and seventeen.

    Did you mean adorable? Or did you really mean adorkable (which isn't a real word, but I thought you might have made it up for voice).

    Enthusiastically doesn't sound professional. And considering how agents feel about the excessive use of -ly verbs, you definitely want to change this to the more formal Sincerely (okay, I know that's still a -ly adverb).

    You don't need to mention Ian is athletic. That's assumed since he's the star player. I would cut out that sentence, though. It seems out of place, like you through it in as an after thought.

    Good luck with it. The format sounds great. There's a book by Sharon M Draper (Tears of a Tiger) now out that uses the same kind of format for telling the story.

  2. I think the length here is good, not too long. There are parts you could condense, however, such as your acronyms. SCBWI and MFA are common enough for agents to recognize, so you don't have to spell them out. My other immediate comment is in regard to the word count: 33K is quite low for a young adult novel. That's more MG/middle grade word length. I've heard agents say that when a YA book gets closer to 40,000 words, they wonder if the plot isn't fully fleshed out. There ARE shorter YA's, but as a general rule, they run from at least 40/45K to 75/80K.

    The first sentence is pretty complete, tho it's slightly long. I think you have a typo--the "the" before Ian. I'd omit "quick-witted" too, to try to streamline the sentence a bit more. It's really interesting how the book is constructed, and it's good to mention how unique it is (told thru class notes, graffiti, etc.). I wouldn't say "you" though; omit that. "Adorkable"--did you coin that word?? I love it! :) Good luck!

  3. The two people ahead of me have pretty much hit on the items that jumped out at me: adorkable, Enthusiastically, length of the book. I think you could leave out the Angela's assignment sentence. We already know she's covering them. And the still-hot tape recorder--wasn't that an issue before, and people said it was confusing, to say still-running instead? Hot sounds like it was stolen.

    Sounds very clever with all the sports references, and the story being told in class notes, graffiti and such sounds interesting.


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