Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bright, Shiny and Revised Query

So tingly and excited to show off my new query letter!
I am so thankful for everybody's feedback this week (after I had a mini freakout Tuesday night). I played around with it quite a bit the past few days. Some suggestions were in for a time and then tossed later as something else changed. I also had just had a query critique from author Ashley Eliston that I had bid for on Kat Bauer's "Crits for Water"...which was so completely worth the smidgen I donated. Thanks again Ashley!

(There is one more day left for auctions and donations if any are interested. Kat ropes in agents and authors and other awesome publishing people for THREE WHOLE MONTHS, giving away "free" critiques of various lengths to authors who are trying to break in...and are willing to donate money to support building wells in third-world countries. If you miss it, keep tabs on Kat, because this is becoming an annual thing.)

Anyway, so with the wide spectrum of advice, I felt I got a good handle on what was working and what wasn't. So, without further ado, (except a pretty period illustration,) the revised version of my query letter. 

Dear Dream Agent,

I discovered your awesomeness on such & such website…etc. This manuscript was requested after a pitch session with a representative from Chronicle Books at the SCBWI-Arkansas conference.

Anna-Maria de Savonie’s first romance ended badly with drugged wine, daggers and quite a bit of blood. Unsavory rumors still swirl about, and there hasn’t been a nuptial nibble in nearly three years. Anna is grateful for her reprieve, but with her seventeenth birthday come and gone, her father isn’t. He offers her up as the matrimonial prize in a grand jousting tournament. Anna plays the demure princesa, but is determined to find one decent fellow among the strutting suitors.

Cornelius didn’t give a tinker’s patch for the crown of Verdebois, but after a series of suspicious deaths in his family, it’s his. Now, which task will prove more difficult, keeping the throne (and his life) or wooing a bride? He bungles the wooing bit, and Anna-Maria rejects him forthwith. Seething, he gallops homeward, but is ambushed by brigands. Cornelius crawls back to the Savonie castle, beaten, beggared and in disguise.

Letters soon arrive from the new regent of Verdebois announcing Cornelius’ death and demanding recompense – a crippling amount of gold, or the marriage of Anna to a cruel Verdeboyne noble. Cornelius, disguised as a down-on-his-luck fiddler, discovers Anna’s true nature and impulsively offers to hide her amongst the minstrel-folk if she marries him instead. His deception may ensure her safety and enable him to search for the villain who’s stealing his throne, but heaven help him if Anna ever learns the truth. She’ll finish the job the brigands started.

THE CHESTNUT MAID is a YA adventure/romance of 100,000 words with two alternating points-of-view set in the late medieval period. It is comparable to “Scarlet” by A.C. Gaughen.. It is a stand-alone novel with series potential. 

I received a degree in Fine Arts from BYU-Idaho, which helps in the medieval world-building of the novel. I am a member of SCBWI, MyWANA creative network, and participated in F2K writing workshops through Writing Village University.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Amelia Loken

All Right! So jump in and share! 
Are you hooked? 
Would you want to read more?
Or Not?

Thanks again everybody who participated. Appreciated all your help and feedback!


  1. Hi there! Query's generally looking pretty good, but here's some of my suggestions.

    Try starting with seventeen-year-old Anna-Maria and then later on say her birthday passed instead of seventeenth birthday.

    When I first read your query, I thought it was adult romance. It was the opening line and the three years of waiting to be courted suggested someone older. So having the age stated straight away clears up it's YA.

    The second paragraph starting with Cornelius threw me off. Maybe have a better lead in, like that first paragraph with Anna, perhaps mention Cornelius at the end, so we know he's the one of the suitors.

    As it is, you suddenly jump to talking about Cornelius and Anna rejecting him and we have to figure out the connection. If you don't mention Cornelius in the first paragraph, you can mention the connection straight away in the beginning of the second paragraph.

    I.e. Enter Cornelius, one of Anna's suitor......

    There's a lot of play-by-play of what happens and I'm not seeing what the big conflict is, what the stakes are. And that's really important to catch a person's interest.

    You have a fun, quirky voice. But I'm not feeling the urgency to find out what happens. I think it has to do with the stakes. You need to make us care and interested to find out more instead of thinking 'this is cute, but so what?'

    Being clear about the protagonist's goal would be really good. Right now it seems like Anna's it to find the perfect man, and Cornelius is to protect his throne, which I think has to be highlighted more.

    And one last final thing, "discovers Anna’s true nature". I'm still confused by that, what do you mean her true nature? The discovery she's a princess? Or....

    I hope I'm making sense! I'm doing my best to help. Good luck with your query :)

    1. Thanks, Rissa! Appreciate your feedback. I can see there are still some speedbumps that need to be smoothed out.

  2. Congratulations! You deserve it. This read really well and caught my interest. I like the changes you've made.


    1. Thanks Glacier! I'm glad this is on to the next revision! :)