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  1. #76
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I'm probably giving you more advice than is desired -- just take anything you find useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek View Post
    Kat,
    As usual, you are right. I dodged the abuse angle because it isn't "in" with so many in the publishing industry.
    I don't know what you mean here. Publishers put out dozens of stories which include abuse or child abuse, not to mention memoirs, so I don't know why you are under the impression that they shy away from the topic. If it's the major component of the story, then ignoring it is probably not going to serve you well. Walter's quest in a sense is his redemption of that abuse, yes? His strength to overcome the obstacles placed in his path. You don't have to particularly emphasize it if you don't want to, as that might make some think it is a horror novel, but if it's a critical element to the plot, you might want to at least mention it. They're going to discover it when they read it, if they do, so there's no sense in playing peekaboo.

    It is both a stand-alone and part of a series as each novel deals with a phase of the boy's life and how the abuse affects him later on. This could be read as one book, though the later books may take understanding of what comes before because the world is increasingly complex.
    I'm sure that philosophically this is true, but that's not the issue. A standalone in the market means a one-shot book, for which there are no sequels planned. Whereas a series means it's the first book in a possible series. If you say it's a series and a standalone both, you will confuse them. (Authors do often go back and turn standalone novels into series, or start what is suppose to be a series but then ends up being a standalone, but your current intentions will do fine to start.) It seems that you do plan sequels, so just call it a first book in a series, I would advise.

    I've written query after query, but none captured the feel of the
    novel.
    Well now, Sheepie brought up having atmospheric query letters, so I won't go against that idea. But I can tell you as a former agent and editor that the tone of the query letter was a matter of total irrelevance to me and to everyone I worked with. I did not read a query letter description to get a "feel" for the tone of the novel. To get that, I read the text, which is much more trustworthy for that sort of thing than the author trying to describe the text.

    What I want to know in the query letter is what is the story about, what is its emotional context, main characters and main conflicts. (And this information in turn gives me a very good idea of the tone of the story.) And I don't want to be confused by the description. I don't want to be intrigued, seduced, or any of that other stuff, because you won't be able to do so. (Although attempts to do so have often caused great giggles in publishing offices.) I want information. I want the author to sell me on his story, not his writing style, because the only way his writing style is going to sell me is from his actual prose, not his description of his prose.

    You write well. You can go out with this and see how they react -- there is enough information to attract attention, though I think you may run into some confusion as to whether you are writing YA or epic or dark fantasy or horror. I just think you might get more response if you offer more details about Walter's journey and the war that goes on in his homeland. Of course, it has to be brief in a query letter, and so it might be best for you to attach a 2 page plot synopsis to the query letter, since you're having trouble describing the book.

    So much of a book stems from voice, and more from the overlying thematic elements that add weight to the events.
    That's true, but you're not trying to reproduce the book in the query letter. And in talking about events, you can imply the thematic aspects of them, especially if you describe the emotional conflicts. If I asked you in a conversation, what is the book about -- and I didn't want just a thematic description about the passion of man, etc. -- what would you tell me?

    The story is pre-industrial (in Walter's original world), and in Temeres, there is a "technology", but it is driven from Craft. So, epic might best describe it, though dark definitely is closer. Still vague, though... lol
    I'd try dark fantasy maybe. But with everything pre-industrial, you can call it epic with a dark tone.

  2. #77
    Go ahead and eviscerate this one, too. . ..

    -------------------

    Dear

    I am requesting permission to submit my manuscript for your evaluation. Dragon’s Trail is a 100,000-word high fantasy novel, the first of a planned series concerning contemporary Earth dwellers who are recruited to serve as advisors for warring nations in the world of Sirrea, which is inhabited by magic-wielding humans and creatures from Earth’s mythical past. Dragon’s Trail is my first completed novel, though I am well into writing the second book of the series, The New Magic.

    This series is aimed at readers of the high fantasy and heroic saga genres. Dragon’s Trail combines aspects of military adventure and high fantasy, and places contemporary characters and concepts into a setting with which fantasy readers will be familiar. Dragon’s Trail delves into the mechanics of Late Dark Ages warfare, and also deals with both the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in modern society on Earth, and the sociological implications of war upon a fantasy world. The book ends with the conclusion of the first major combat campaign; the main protagonist returns to Earth while the others choose to remain in Sirrea.

    Synopsis, 54-page partial, and letter SASE enclosed.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Very Truly Yours,

    -----------

  3. #78
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malik View Post
    Go ahead and eviscerate this one, too. . ..

    -------------------

    Dear

    I am requesting permission to submit my manuscript for your evaluation. Dragon’s Trail is a 100,000-word high fantasy novel, the first of a planned series concerning contemporary Earth dwellers who are recruited to serve as advisors for warring nations in the world of Sirrea, which is inhabited by magic-wielding humans and creatures from Earth’s mythical past. Dragon’s Trail is my first completed novel, though I am well into writing the second book of the series, The New Magic.

    This series is aimed at readers of the high fantasy and heroic saga genres. Dragon’s Trail combines aspects of military adventure and high fantasy, and places contemporary characters and concepts into a setting with which fantasy readers will be familiar. Dragon’s Trail delves into the mechanics of Late Dark Ages warfare, and also deals with both the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in modern society on Earth, and the sociological implications of war upon a fantasy world. The book ends with the conclusion of the first major combat campaign; the main protagonist returns to Earth while the others choose to remain in Sirrea.

    Synopsis, 54-page partial, and letter SASE enclosed.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Very Truly Yours,

    -----------
    My thoughts (not that I am the guru of query letters, having my own problems):

    First, the highlighted passages are too passive and wordy. Second, too much dry plot summary and not enough about the (I assume) very interesting characters that your readers will love. Third, no agent is going to care that this is your first manuscript or the twentieth. An unpublished manuscript is not a selling point. If you have no publishing credits as yet, then I'd leave this sort of stuff out and use the space to focus more attention on your compelling story. Fourth, I would put the stuff about the treatment of the genre (the sociological implications, et al.) into the last paragraph of the synopsis. The query letter should be all about the great characters and story.

    Having said all that, tonight if I get time I will post my latest version of the query letter. Sorry I've been away form the keyboard for a bit lately, Real Life Issues y'know.
    Last edited by BrianC; December 21st, 2006 at 07:32 AM.

  4. #79
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I shall have to eviscerate after the holidays, but I will be happy to do so at that later date.

  5. #80
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Well, here it is, short and sweet because I've left myself room for a third paragraph more closely tailored to the agent's personal tastes (to the extent that such can be discerned).

    Frankly, I've come to believe that this publication game is entirely random, that rules exist solely to give agents and editors boilerplate for rejection letters, and that patience and persistence are the writer's only weapons. Hence, it almost doesn't matter what your query letter actually says, so much as the tone and (most important) the mere fact that it crosses someone's desk on the way to the bin.

    Dear [Inscrutable]:

    Please consider reading my manuscript of RoseThorn, a 160,000 word epic fantasy novel. RoseThorn tells of a betrayal of love and trust, and of a terrible hatred and thirst for revenge that shatters families, destroys cities, and imperils the world.

    When Cenith, a prince of the city-state of Adan, betrays his people and delivers his city into the hands of the barbarian people of the Skeld, he sets in motion a maelstrom of events that will end with the utter destruction of the Adanae and his own family. Caladon, the young brother of the traitor, escapes the annihilation with Feah, a young woman of Adan. Together they flee into the wilderness to find what they believe will be a refuge in which to rebuild their lives. Cenith, however, fears his brother and sends spies to hunt them down. When Feah dies at the hands of Cenith’s assassins, Caladon finally returns to Adan with only one reason left to live, revenge.

    [mythical third paragraph.]

    Thank you in advance for your consideration. I have enclosed [whatever random stuff you require] and a SASE for your reply. An e-mail response would suffice, however, if such is your preference. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,



    Brian Malone

  6. #81
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I am requesting permission to submit my manuscript for your evaluation. Dragon’s Trail is a 100,000-word high fantasy novel,
    Suggest not using the word "high." This sounds more like a military fantasy anyway. If you must use a word, use epic, probably best, or heroic or adventure.

    the first of a planned series concerning contemporary Earth dwellers who are recruited to serve as advisors for warring nations in the world of Sirrea, which is inhabited by magic-wielding humans and creatures from Earth’s mythical past.
    Okay. Not much detail, but gets the main premise out there.

    Dragon’s Trail is my first completed novel, though I am well into writing the second book of the series, The New Magic.
    Suggest cutting this sentence, as it will be of little interest to them.

    This series is aimed at readers of the high fantasy and heroic saga genres.
    Yeah, they guessed that, so you can cut this sentence.

    Dragon’s Trail combines aspects of military adventure and high fantasy, and places contemporary characters and concepts into a setting with which fantasy readers will be familiar.
    Since most high fantasy involves military adventure, it's not really combining anything. Fantasy readers who read contemporary fantasy will not be familiar with the setting. Don't make the mistake of including all fantasy in epic fantasy. Sending Earth folk to a fantasy realm is not a new idea, either, so suggest cutting this sentence altogether.

    Dragon’s Trail delves into the mechanics of Late Dark Ages warfare, and also deals with both the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in modern society on Earth, and the sociological implications of war upon a fantasy world.
    Ooh, now we're getting into the interesting stuff. I sense themes.

    The book ends with the conclusion of the first major combat campaign; the main protagonist returns to Earth while the others choose to remain in Sirrea.
    The military stuff isn't until the end? What happens in the rest of it then? Who is the main protagonist? Why does he go home to Earth? This isn't giving me much useful information.

    Synopsis, 54-page partial, and letter SASE enclosed.
    Aha, there's a synopsis that will give me more detail. Still, a little more information in the letter would be good, as they might decide not to read the synopsis. Make sure it's okay to send a partial ms. to the agent or publisher, that you are following their guidelines.

  7. #82
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianC View Post
    Well, here it is, short and sweet because I've left myself room for a third paragraph more closely tailored to the agent's personal tastes (to the extent that such can be discerned).
    LOL, dude, don't do that when I'm drinking water at the keyboard, okay? You do realize that the assistant is probably reading this letter first, right?

    Frankly, I've come to believe that this publication game is entirely random, that rules exist solely to give agents and editors boilerplate for rejection letters, and that patience and persistence are the writer's only weapons. Hence, it almost doesn't matter what your query letter actually says, so much as the tone and (most important) the mere fact that it crosses someone's desk on the way to the bin.
    I'm curious to hear what tone you think the query letter needs to have to be effective. Or are you assuming there's a magic tone out there?

    Now, let's get down to it: why does Cenith deliver his family's kingdom into the hands of the Skeld? Seriously, I'm tired of you skirting around this issue. What is up with this man?

  8. #83
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    LOL, dude, don't do that when I'm drinking water at the keyboard, okay? You do realize that the assistant is probably reading this letter first, right?
    Naturally, but even they must sometimes desire to see something more than a 'copy-n-paste' query letter. Boilerplate goes both ways.



    I'm curious to hear what tone you think the query letter needs to have to be effective. Or are you assuming there's a magic tone out there?
    No magic, just professional and to the point.

    Now, let's get down to it: why does Cenith deliver his family's kingdom into the hands of the Skeld? Seriously, I'm tired of you skirting around this issue. What is up with this man?
    *sigh* It is far too complicated for a query letter. The psychology of why a seemingly good person would make a seemingly evil choice--and whether the terms good and evil makes any real sense--comprises a major theme of the book, and it took 160K words to do it. But the short answer is that it was part avaricious ambition, part sibling rivalry, part long-nurtured resentments, and part influence of supernatural forces.

  9. #84
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Okay, so the Skeld are coming. Allied with the goblins of the Dark. With her husband murdered on the eve of war, Queen Amaryl of the long-lived Adanae fears that this battle will be more than a skirmish between ancient enemies. She sends her youngest son, Caladon, to seek a promised weapon and the scroll to find it. But Caladon's brother, Cenith, is driven by old resentments and strong ambitions, shaped/twisted by (supernatural forces.) When Caladon's mission proves fruitless, he returns to find the kingdom of Adan betrayed into the hands of the Skeld, with his brother (ruling and possibly doing very bad things, including the annihilation of his people?) He escapes the malestrom with the help of Feah, (a family friend, former girlfriend, a helpful barmaid, whatever she is,) seeking refuge in the wilderness. But when Feah is killed by Cenith's assassins, Caladon returns to the shattered city, seeking revenge. For a rose always grows with thorns -- two natures in one being, the Light and the Dark together, and from them, the world may form anew or be utterly destroyed.

    Or at least that's what I've gotten so far from what you've put down and reading the first chapters. Now, you've got some room there, because you really don't need that mystical third paragraph. So I would wonder: 1) why Caladon's mission proves empty; 2) what Cenith does in betraying, killing, taking over the city kingdom (I'm guessing he killed daddy but it's the big dramatic stuff that's probably more important,) and 3) how exactly Caladon goes about his revenge. But you don't absolutely have to put that in if you don't want to, of course.

    What is Light and what is Dark does seem to be a theme, or that they are together and not so easy to separate because they make up the world together (shaped by the Will -- Gary will love this.) The Adanae are hiding old secrets that they themselves have forgotten, and their past has bearing on the world, yes? And Cenith is the villain, yet not necessarily totally the villain. The Skeld have a legitimate grievance, but maybe hanging with goblins wasn't their best idea. And Caladon giving into revenge isn't purely a knightly hero, either. I like that he goes on the big quest and doesn't get anywhere. But little of this inner conflict is coming to light. You will have to decide whether you want them to know you've got it or not.

    Consider -- who is more important to you, Caladon or Cenith. From the inner conflict of the slightly more important one, try building the description of the story and its main themes. And when you have dazzler stuff -- the fireworks of action -- mentioning that it occurs is not a bad idea.

    Malik has not returned -- I hope my comments on that letter were okay, and maybe helped.

  10. #85
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    (T)he Skeld are coming. Allied with the goblins of the Dark. With her husband murdered on the eve of war, Queen Amaryl of the long-lived Adanae fears that this battle will be more than a skirmish between ancient enemies. She sends her youngest son, Caladon, to seek a promised weapon and the scroll to find it. But Caladon's brother, Cenith, is driven by old resentments and strong ambitions, shaped/twisted by (supernatural forces.) When Caladon's mission proves fruitless, he returns to find the kingdom of Adan betrayed into the hands of the Skeld, with his brother (ruling and possibly doing very bad things, including the annihilation of his people?) He escapes the malestrom with the help of Feah, (a family friend, former girlfriend, a helpful barmaid, whatever she is,) seeking refuge in the wilderness. But when Feah is killed by Cenith's assassins, Caladon returns to the shattered city, seeking revenge. For a rose always grows with thorns -- two natures in one being, the Light and the Dark together, and from them, the world may form anew or be utterly destroyed.
    Shesh! Hey can I use this! It's better than what I have right now. Ultimately, Cenith is more important to the story and more than any other character he embodies the idea that light and dark are inextricably entwined. Hmm, dammit! Now I got more thinking to do . . .

    Aside:
    What is Light and what is Dark does seem to be a theme, or that they are together and not so easy to separate because they make up the world together (shaped by the Will -- Gary will love this.) The Adanae are hiding old secrets that they themselves have forgotten, and their past has bearing on the world, yes? And Cenith is the villain, yet not necessarily totally the villain. The Skeld have a legitimate grievance, but maybe hanging with goblins wasn't their best idea.
    Amazing how prescient this is.

    BTW, Gary has enough to do what with finishing #5.

  11. #86
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianC View Post
    Shesh! Hey can I use this! It's better than what I have right now. Ultimately, Cenith is more important to the story and more than any other character he embodies the idea that light and dark are inextricably entwined. Hmm, dammit! Now I got more thinking to do . . .
    Yes, you can. That's why I wrote it. Take it and do with it what you will. What I put together, I took from the opening chapters I read and the plot information we were able to drag out of you, inch by inch, (and you can see that I didn't have some of the main details.) I thought it might make sense in your query letter to explain the title a little, which is a big theme and which might seem a tad mysterious otherwise.

    Aside:Amazing how prescient this is.
    No, I just read those first few chapters, and you have the Queen explaining it all to Caladon right there. I thought it was a neat trick actually.

  12. #87
    Ranke Lidyek
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    latest query, etc.

    [QUOTE=KatG;363916]I'm probably giving you more advice than is desired -- just take anything you find useful.


    Kat, absolutely not! Your advice (all of it) is VERY appreciated! I nod my head to most of what you say to myself and to others. Brian C's novel sounds promising and I think you really nailed what he needs to distill in query form. The idea of the thorn and rose as one is central to his theme and the drive behind the narrative.

    I hope the publishing game is not random (I tend to think it is more insular: a nebulous cultural version of nepotism, provincial and otherwise). I've read snippets of Brian's writing--enough to know he can write and I hope he finds publication.

    As for my query. Here's the latest, though again it doesn't delve into the abuse subtext. There is a disturbing element to the novel, but I would not call it horror (because I've never been a fan of horror, to be honest). Some would, though. A reader mentioned that it felt like Poe imagining a twisted version of the Chronicles of Narnia. Who knows. It's finished and I'm polishing/repolishing and working on a new SF novel, On Raven's Wings.

    Again, I thank you for all comments and for the time you give to help out the blind (me). Thanks again! On a side note, at least the novel website is coming together and I'm gathering quite a form-letter rejection collection!

    Ranke

    QUERY:

    HER DRESS IS DARKNESS

    (94,000 words, dark fantasy with epic overtones)

    www.darkwoodchronicles.com


    How far would you go to keep a promise?

    Eleven-year-old Walter's truest friend is a girl named Lydia. Together, they explore the innocent woods of their quiet valley and make up stories about a huge, brown blade left in a hidden copse. To Walter, Lydia is sunlight in his troubled world, a lone, caring presence in the face of his unstable mother and missing father. He feels protective of her, but also sad; unworthy.

    When a strange, black frog bites Lydia in the wood, Walter discovers an evil lurking beneath the shroud of the old Priory, an evil rooted in magic and Making, buried in his forgotten bloodline. Secrets conspire to return him to a lost world, a world belonging to a terrible Queen of ancient lore. Lydia has been taken, her soul trapped within the Queen's far tower. But nothing—not the Pale Queen, nor her hunger, not her Darklings or her beast and the Drum of its Heart, not even her cursed, immortal Knight—will keep Walter from fulfilling his promise.

    He will find her. And he will bring her back.

    In the world of Temeres, nothing is as it seems. Dead gods stir in the Groves of the Deep, preparing for a return to the world of light, while an eleven-year-old boy, a wooden knight, a glass dragon, and an ancient warrior strive to protect what remains of innocence.

    Her Dress is Darkness bears a structure rooted in Slavic and Russian myth: a dark, unrelenting tale of how love blinds the hearts of men. Described as Poe imagining The Chronicles of Narnia for an adult audience, this novel bears similarities to seminal works such as The Golden Compass, and Perdido Street Station with a dash of Roger Zelazney's Jungian aesthetic.



    Author information: Born in November, 1975, Ranke Lidyek spent his years reading too much and fumbling with handwritten stories in notebooks before joining the military at seventeen. Six years later, having served as a nuclear operator in a naval submarine, Ranke returned to the "real" world (where he works for a power company) and remembered his first novel—written at the ripe old age of fourteen. He knew his heart lay with fantasy and SF and determined to finish other stories. Several scripts and novels later, he finished Her Dress is Darkness in hopes of sharing it with a broader audience. Ranke’s current SF work-in-progress, On Raven’s Wings, won an editor’s choice on onlinewritingworkshop.com (link: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com...etter--2006_07 ).



    The full novel is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  13. #88
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    I actually like this a good bit. Just a few minor suggestions from me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek View Post
    QUERY:

    HER DRESS IS DARKNESS

    (94,000 words, dark fantasy with epic overtones)

    www.darkwoodchronicles.com


    How far would you go to keep a promise?

    Eleven-year-old Walter's truest friend is a girl named Lydia. Together, they explore the innocent woods of their quiet valley, making up stories about a huge, brown blade left in a hidden copse. To Walter, Lydia is sunlight in his troubled world, a lone, caring presence in the face of his unstable mother and missing father. He feels protective of her, but also unworthy of her friendship.

    When a strange, black frog bites Lydia in the wood, Walter discovers an evil lurking beneath the shroud of the old Priory, an evil rooted in magic and buried in his forgotten bloodline. A secret conspiracy seeks to return him to a lost world, to a terrible Queen of ancient lore. Lydia has been taken, her soul trapped within the Pale Queen's tower in the land of Temeres. But nothing—not the Pale Queen, nor her hunger, not her Darklings or her beast and the Drum of its Heart, not even her cursed, immortal Knight—will keep Walter from fulfilling his promise.

    He will find her, and he will bring her back.

    Nothing is as it seems in the world of Temeres. Dead gods stir in the Groves of the Deep, preparing for a return to the world of light, while an eleven-year-old boy, a wooden knight, a glass dragon, and an ancient warrior strive to protect what remains of innocence.

    Her Dress is Darkness bears a structure rooted in Slavic and Russian myth: a dark, unrelenting tale of how love blinds the hearts of men. Described as Poe imagining The Chronicles of Narnia for an adult audience, this novel bears similarities to seminal works such as The Golden Compass, and Perdido Street Station with a dash of Roger Zelazney's Jungian aesthetic.

    Author information: Born in November, 1975, Ranke Lidyek spent his years reading too much and fumbling with handwritten stories in notebooks before joining the military at seventeen. Six years later, having served as a nuclear operator in a naval submarine, Ranke returned to the "real" world (where he works for a power company) and remembered his first novel—written at the ripe old age of fourteen. He knew his heart lay with fantasy and SF and determined to finish other stories. Several scripts and novels later, he finished Her Dress is Darkness in hopes of sharing it with a broader audience. Ranke’s current SF work-in-progress, On Raven’s Wings, won an editor’s choice on onlinewritingworkshop.com (link: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com...etter--2006_07 ).

    The full novel is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  14. #89
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Ranke Lidyek;371182]
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    I hope the publishing game is not random (I tend to think it is more insular: a nebulous cultural version of nepotism, provincial and otherwise). I've read snippets of Brian's writing--enough to know he can write and I hope he finds publication.
    Nope, that would be Hollywood, the insular, nepotist, provincial, closed guild, etc. People often get them confused. Fiction publishing is random -- which seems to be the thing that scares folks, but can also provide a great deal of opportunity. It's national and international in its scope mostly, except for smaller presses that concentrate on regional authors, and even they aren't very rigid about it. But it is also a relatively small industry, if global, servicing a small but steady customer base, and though it puts out a lot of product, unable to accomodate the hordes of us who for some reason want to write novels. (There have been estimates that there are more people writing novels than actually buying them.)

    Contacts can help maybe get you a reading -- but many times such contacts are made at things like conferences, not purely by who you know. And readings are all you get, which quite a few query letters get too. What gets a sale is someone liking what you wrote, believing that others will like it and convincing key other people of this idea. Which is tricky, subjective and offers no easy answers. It is not a measure of the goodness of your writing, as in the literary dazzlement of your style or the soundness of your grammer, your plot ideas, whether you've filled the story with formula cliches or studiously avoided every cliche in the book. It's just that somebody liked it and felt it would work and was worth the effort.

    It can be a very long process to get to that point, or a short one. There's no guarantee of anything.

    Okay, let's tackle the query:

    How far would you go to keep a promise? (Good, good.)

    Eleven-year-old Walter's truest friend is a girl named Lydia. Together, they explore the innocent woods of their quiet valley and make up stories about a huge, brown blade left in a hidden copse. (A what in the copse? A sword blade? A plow blade? Not sure what this is or how it relates to the story.)

    To Walter, Lydia is sunlight in his troubled world, a lone, caring presence in the face of his unstable mother and missing father. He feels protective of her, but also sad; unworthy. (Good.)

    When a strange, black frog bites Lydia in the wood, Walter discovers an evil lurking beneath the shroud of the old Priory, an evil rooted in magic and Making, buried in his forgotten bloodline. Secrets conspire to return him to a lost world, a world belonging to a terrible Queen of ancient lore. Lydia has been taken, her soul trapped within the Queen's far tower. But nothing—not the Pale Queen, nor her hunger, not her Darklings or her beast and the Drum of its Heart, not even her cursed, immortal Knight—will keep Walter from fulfilling his promise. (Okay, clear but poetic.)

    He will find her. And he will bring her back.

    In the world of Temeres, nothing is as it seems. Dead gods stir in the Groves of the Deep, preparing for a return to the world of light, while an eleven-year-old boy, a wooden knight, a glass dragon, and an ancient warrior strive to protect what remains of innocence. (Still would like to know what these things helping him are, but I guess the description is getting a tad long, so it'll do. This seems much stronger to me. Though you don't have the darkness threatening Walter's world aspect while he's on his quest. But you might not need it. This is definitely cooking much stronger, I think.)

    Her Dress is Darkness bears a structure rooted in Slavic and Russian myth: a dark, unrelenting tale of how love blinds the hearts of men. (Okay)

    Described as Poe imagining The Chronicles of Narnia for an adult audience, (I like the description but it does sort of work as a double-edged sword for you. First, if you bring up Poe, you bring up horror -- there's no getting around it, even though some of Poe's stories are definitely more dark fantasy than horror. And since you don't want this to be seen as horror, but as dark fantasy, which it does seem to be, then the question is whether that works for you. Second, Narnia brings up children's fiction, which is also a direction that you don't want to go in, as this is written for adults and is too violent and harsh for kids or teens. If the book is horror, they don't necessarily think kids off the bat, but if it's dark fantasy that is like Narnia -- they may be confused. This is where mentioning the abuse angle could come in handy, as that's clearly adult material, but I can see how it would be hard to work it in the description.)

    this novel bears similarities to seminal works such as The Golden Compass, (Again, tricky because while I do indeed see the Golden Compass as an adult series, it was sold as a YA series -- because Pullman started off as a kids author -- so we're back to the children's issue again with your eleven year old protagonist. Mixing it with other titles in mention may work though.)

    and Perdido Street Station (which indicates noir suspense with sf elements -- not sure that works for you,)

    with a dash of Roger Zelazney's Jungian aesthetic. (Getting too cute here maybe. It's not a dissertation.)

    Author information: Born in November, 1975, Ranke Lidyek spent his years reading too much and fumbling with handwritten stories in notebooks before joining the military at seventeen. (Good for the author bio in the back of the book -- not the query letter.) Six years later, having served as a nuclear operator in a naval submarine, Ranke returned to the "real" world (where he works for a power company) and remembered his first novel—written at the ripe old age of fourteen. He knew his heart lay with fantasy and SF and determined to finish other stories. Several scripts and novels later, he finished Her Dress is Darkness in hopes of sharing it with a broader audience. Ranke’s current SF work-in-progress, On Raven’s Wings, won an editor’s choice on onlinewritingworkshop.com

    Again, your aspirations are of necessity of little interest to them. Everybody wants to write and get published -- that's why you are querying them. What they want is basic professions, hobbies of relevance to your novel, and any writing credentials that you may have -- journalism, editing, published stories. If you don't have such credentials, fine, but don't try to fill it in by telling them you dusted off a novel you started at fourteen. So, so far you've got:

    "I joined the military at seventeen and served as a nuclear operator on a naval submarine. Six years later, I returned to the "real" world and went to work appropriately enough for a power company. Her Dress is Darkness is my first novel."

    Short, simple, and as good as anybody else's -- and much less wince-inducing, believe me.

  15. #90
    Ranke Lidyek
    Guest
    [QUOTE=KatG;371244]
    Quote Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek View Post

    "I joined the military at seventeen and served as a nuclear operator on a naval submarine. Six years later, I returned to the "real" world and went to work appropriately enough for a power company. Her Dress is Darkness is my first novel."

    Short, simple, and as good as anybody else's -- and much less wince-inducing, believe me.
    Kat,
    Thanks again. I agree. I'll use those suggestions on the query, though I'm done sending anything out for a while.

    I think on agent level it is insular (and all of the above). Though, I feel that editors look for what they enjoy. The nature of an agent is to anticipate what an editor "might" enjoy.

    Either way, thanks again.

    Ranke

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