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  1. #1
    Michele Bass
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    2nd attempt for Betrayal Query - Any feedback will be appreciated.

    Here is my second attempt at a query. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    The fire cocktail breaking Ashlyn Shea's window has her on her feet in an instant. She knows that most likely Dimitri Cassadine is trying to kidnap her again. As a rare half-vampire/half-witch, her blood is extremely valuable. Anyone consuming it will become invincible, allowing them to take over the supernatural world. For this reason, Ashlyn has lived a sheltered existence; her faimly isolating her from the outside world in an attempt to protect her.

    Dimitri Cassadine, the leader of the rival Stratton Coven, is driven by an insatiable hunger for power. In his quest to conquer all, he is relentless in his attempts to abduct Ashlyn. In his most recent attack, he kills Ashlyn's parents and kidnaps her cousin to use as a bargaining tool.

    Ashlyn has never been on her own before and quickly realizes that she cannot go about finding her cousin alone. She reaches out to the only family she has left, an estranged cousin and his circle of friends for help. They start planning the rescue. Ashlyn becomes close to this band of travelers, which she finds both exciting and terrifying. She has never been allowed to choose the people she has contact with and she is unsure if her jundgment is sound. This rings especially true when she learns that Cole Stratton, the one friend to whom she feels powerfully drawn, is in fact the true heir to the Stratton Coven. Putting her fears behind her, she goes along with their plan. The night before the scheme, Ashlyn overhears Cole describing his plan to hand her over to his stepfather, Dimitri. Ashlyn is enraged. She trusted Cole and his friends and now they are betraying her. She quickly forms a plan of her own and reaches out to the remaining members of her coven and they move in and apprehend the traitors. Only after they are locked in the dungoen at the Shea Compound does Ashlyn learn that she only heard half of the story. Cole was never planning on harming her. It seems that the real betrayer is Ashlyn.

    Betrayal is a 101,000-word fantasy novel.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Correct the misspellings.

    Watch out for writing such as:

    For this reason. In his most recent attack. They start planning the rescue. This rings especially true. The night before the scheme. Is in fact. It seems that.

    In the third para. you use never three times, quickly twice, which is unneccessary in both instances, and reaches out twice. I don't think you want to do that.

    I get that she's lived a sheltered life when you first mention her sheltered life. But then her family has isolated her, she's never been on her own before, never chosen her own friends, or contacts, and she's unsure of her judgment.

    There's the Stratton Coven and then comes the Shea Compound with its dungeon.

    What I got from your query is that Ashlyn is a half-witch/ half-vampire with blood that makes one invincible when drunk. The dastardly leader of the rival coven wants her and her blood to become all-powerful. He kills and kidnaps to get her/it. Ashlyn joins forces with her cousin and his friends to rescue her kidnapped other cousin. A friend named Cole Stratton isn't a friend, after all, but a betrayer, or so she believes, because she didn't know the whole story. She joins forces with her own coven members to get these evil doers. She's the real betrayer, or so it seems. Sheesh, terrible summary, but that's what you've told me.

    Maybe others will disagree, but I'd rewrite this again and include only what's needed to tell the tale in the short amount of space you have to do so. Give it some pizzazz. Your story sounds interesting and full of action. Just trying to help. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    JUST MY OPINION, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE:

    Dimitri Cassadine

    The Cassadines are a fictional aristocratic family on the soap opera General Hospital. Dimitri Cassadine was one of them. If I were you, I would change that name. Many people are going to think of that soap opera character the instant they see it. I did.

  4. #4
    Member Lawrence Tabak's Avatar
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    I'm new to this site and have enjoyed reading through this thread. However, most of these letters and responses have produced more puzzlement than insight. I've been writing successful queries for my magazine work and my fiction writing for some time. Perhaps I've missed out on something by not studying query samples and guidelines. But perhaps I've actually benefited from avoiding cookie cutter formulas. I approach each as separate enterprise and construct query letters on the basis of form and function. It also appears I may have benefited from looking at these as marketing exercises; after all, I am pitching a business, whether it be a publisher or agent. As an example, I'm puzzled by this opening; "The fire cocktail breaking Ashlyn Shea's window has her on her feet in an instant." Isn't this sort of stating the obvious? Wouldn't it be more interesting if someone slept through a Molotov cocktail tossed through a window? If the floor is afire, as I picture it, wouldn't jumping barefoot onto the floor be unfortunate? In any case, no one reading this opening sentence cares a whit about this stranger, Ashlyn Shea, or her response, odd or not, to being fire bombed, because she is, perforce, a stranger, and a fictional one at that. I've tried to translate the approach of this query to another familiar project, we'll call this the Unpublished Potter:


    Harry has no idea why the owl keeps coming to his house. He lives under the stairs in his aunt's house. He is a wizard, which is extremely rare. If he learned how, he could use a magic wand. Voltamort is a really bad guy. He would like to kill Harry. Except he is dead and has to come back from the dead. He will do anything to come back and get Harry. Harry has to get out of his aunt's house and luckily a giant comes to get him and they go off to school where he makes friends and finds out that some people who he thought were his ememies are really OK in the end. For example, this teacher named Snape is really scary and seems to be out to hurt Harry, but in the end he's a hero.

    I am an unpublished writer with a 700,000 word manuscript that describes all of this and more. Let me know if you would like to see the complete manuscript.

    It appears to me you are trying to sell a vampire or semi-vampire story into a completely saturated market. In other words, you are selling ice to eskimos. It better be tasty ice. You can't hope to get any attention with the approach you present. I'm not particularly fond of vampire stories, and would never consider writing one, but if I were trying to sell a product into a cramped market place, I'd want to create somethng special and then lead with my uniqueness.

    It might be interesting to see a couple pages of the opening manuscript to help you craft that message -- or perhaps not, should the writing not be up to the necessary hype.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Lawrence, you're right, it is a little different to write a query for a manuscript.

    I am an unpublished writer with a 700,000 word manuscript that describes all of this and more. Let me know if you would like to see the complete manuscript. Were you to submit a query for help from us with these sentences at the end, someone here would immediately let you know that you don't need to say you're unpublished. The fact that you're not listing previously-published works will already say that. Also - where's the genre? And you don't have to ask anyone to let you know if they want to see the MS, the fact that you're submitting a query already tells the agent that you're hoping they will ask for your MS. You wouldn't submit a query if you were hoping they wouldn't want to read the rest of your work - would you?

    Lea

  6. #6
    Member Lawrence Tabak's Avatar
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    Lea, I'm perplexed. Perhaps you read my post too quickly -- my little query example was offered as an absurb pitch guaranteed to fail, not a as a paradigm of excellence. Allow me to repeat the crux of my message to the OP: "It appears to me you are trying to sell a vampire or semi-vampire story into a completely saturated market. In other words, you are selling ice to eskimos. It better be tasty ice. You can't hope to get any attention with the approach you present. I'm not particularly fond of vampire stories, and would never consider writing one, but if I were trying to sell a product into a cramped market place, I'd want to create somethng special and then lead with my uniqueness."

    If you would like to see a more positive suggestion, I would suggest to Michele something more like this:

    "As an avid, perhaps even compulsive, reader of vampire novels, I've always faced one disappointment. Not one of these many dozens of books has satisfied my deep desire to see XYZ. As you read my 100,000-word novel, Betrayal, you will see how the massive readership for these books will finally find that missing ingredient. At least for one page-turning night as my story opens with the hair-raising kidnapping of Ashelyn Shea, our heroine, and continues to the heart-rending ABC on the final page. In between, (plot summary.)

    While some have suggested that this genre is oversold, I believe this to be true only for novels which repeat the same tired ground. I prefer to think of this audience as trapped in a deep,deep slumber, waiting only for just the right formula to start them upright and begin turning pages again. I've pasted into this message the opening chapters, and am looking forward to sending you the rest."

    Of course this presumes that the OP has the goods. If not, then I think all of us in the writing community would benefit from a shift from query writing back to novel writing.

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