Query Critique 14

So how about that Twitter contest Saturday? I know I was impressed by some of the pitches. I’m also impressed by this query letter.

Dear Agent X,

Three years ago Sabina Delacruz walked away from her criminal family. Goodbye to breaking and entering, stealing, and confidence tricks. Hello to life on the right side of the law. Now Sabina’s life is filled with art history papers, roommate disputes, and preparing for her final year of college. But when an old friend from Sabina’s past shows up at her apartment, her new life is endangered before it’s barely begun. If the story is NA, I’d like to see that indicated in the first paragraph, either by mentioning her age or the fact that she’s a college student. Also, the friend is a little distracting. Are they just there to give her the news, or are they actually important in the story?

Sabina discovers her twin sister, Serafina, Sometimes having two names that are really similar (start with the same letter) can be confusing for readers. has gone missing. Complicating matters is the fact that she vanished while on a job. Not just any job either but the con of a lifetime: infiltrate a crew of thieves set on stealing a priceless artifact and then when the heist is complete, steal the score from underneath their noses. This sentence feels long. Is there to break it up without making the flow feel clunky? It would make sense to declare the con a bust except Serafina’s employer does not like being disappointed and there are bodies to prove it.

To protect both her family and the life she’s built, Sabina assumes her twin’s identity and rejoins the thieves. Not only does she hope to complete Serafina’s job and deliver the artifact, she also intends to locate her missing sister. But fooling her new partners is the easy part. As Sabina slips further back into the life she left, she finds it harder to face the prospect of saying goodbye a second time — especially when she finds herself dangerously attracted to one of her fellow thieves, who believes she’s someone else.

BAD GIRLS LIVE FAST is a 75,000-word contemporary are other subgenres like suspense or thriller appropriate? NA. I like to think of it as an older, multicultural Heist Society with the contentious family dynamics of The Curse Workers. This is really good.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The Infiltrator

No overall comments. This is looking pretty polished to me!



Query Critique 12

Hello lovely readers! Before I dive into this query, I just want to announce that I’ll be hosting a contest on Twitter soon. So follow me and keep up with Twitter and the blog so you don’t miss out on details.

And now the Kyratique. You know the drill.


Dear Ms. Nelson,

My manuscript, Piece of Your Soul, Put in all caps. is a feel-good I’d rather get the feel-good vibe from the tone of the letter, rather than having the author say it., small town love story aimed at college-aged kids, and therefore, I would place it in the New Adult Romance Just say that it’s New Adult. That implies that it’s aimed at college-aged kids.  category with approximately 57,350 words. Go ahead and round to 57,000. We’re not actually going to count. This story is told with two points of view, both the girl, and the drool-worthy boy. Drool-worthy is another thing I’d like conveyed through how he acts rather than being told he’s drool-worthy.

It’s the late 90s. This fact alone brings the reader back in time before everyone had a cell phone! This sentence seems unnecessary. Even the youngest people in agenting will remember the 90s. People (and couples) had to result in actually talking to one another on the phone. Oh the torture! Someone might actually get to know one another without texting back in forth all night!  And, of course, no social media to help you creep on someone before a first date! I feel like this is a lot of space devoted to talking about things that don’t actually tell me about the plot. It could be shortened to a single phrase, I think, and I also don’t think I would lead with it. 

Emily has just graduated from high school, and is desperately trying to start over and get away from her past. This might be more interesting if you were specific about what her “past” is. Is it just the ex? Other things? Her spirit is broken, as she feels used by her former boyfriend. But, she’s excited about her future when, due to an outrageous set of circumstances, she meets Landry. Landry is irresistible. And Emily has never felt so alive since that morning fate forced them to meet. He has this fun, joyful way about him that bleeds into all his words and actions. He’s a mix of bad boy and good ‘ole southern chivalry wrapped up in a package to salivate over.  Amidst fully clothed cannonballs, piggy-back rides, sultry kisses, and four-wheelers, This sentence has some of what I mean about showing rather than telling.I’d like to see more of that. Emily realizes her brokenness begins to heal with every second spent with this man. I think this could be shortened a little by condensing some of the sentences. I would also like to see more 

But, Landry is only home in Georgia for the summer, before he has to go back to the “land of the fields” to play football at his little college in Missouri. Really, fate must be playing a sick joke.  They have exactly two weeks together before Landry has to head back to the mid-west.  Fate surely brought them together, and fate is surely pulling them apart…

I am a young 30s wife and mom of two young children living in the suburbs of Atlanta.  But, I have held many titles other than “wife and mom”. I have been a schoolteacher, real estate agent, and theologian. Until recently, I held a day job as a children’s ministry director.  I got to make stories come to life on a weekly basis.  I may not be gifted in organization, but I can tell a story in a fun and exciting way.  My day job gave me the opportunity to mentor many teens and young college students over the years. This experience is why I felt compelled to tell a different story than what I see on the best-selling new adult novel list, and on goodreads. Though I read many of those books, Piece of Your Soul, is a story I needed to hear, and one many of my friends needed too.  In a world rampant with sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, suicide, bullying, and cutting beginning at such young ages, I realized that some of my past mistakes and decisions could possibly be used to help someone else.  The best way I know how to do that is to tell a story.  And so, I began writing…. In general, I don’t care about bios very much (unless the author has some fairly impressive credentials). I do think it’s interesting that you talk about how you became interested in writing the story. Yet like everything in the query, it needs to be shortened. It sounds like this might fall under the category of “clean” romance. Which is great, because there is a demand for that (consider submitting to Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line). If that’s the case, I would state it explicitly. So maybe just keep it brief by saying something like “My experiences as a wife, mom, schoolteacher, real estate agent, and theologian inspired me to write PIECE OF YOUR SOUL because I feel it’s a story people need to hear. In general, I recommend bio paragraphs be no more than one or two sentences.

Thank you so much for your time!


Warm Soul


This entire query letter needs to be condensed. The best way to do this is by doing more showing than telling.

If I’m trying to convince my friend to go on a blind date with a guy I know, and I say “He’s nice” she’ll probably be like “Eh. That’s not very convincing.” But if I say, “This guy spends his weekends volunteering for a soup kitchen and he also runs a non-profit dedicated to providing education to children in impoverished areas” my friend will know the guy is nice without me actually saying he’s nice. I’m using specific details to SHOW her. And that’s just a more convincing way to convey that he is nice.

You can do the same thing with a query letter (and a statement of intent or cover letter, I might add).  SHOW me. Don’t just tell me.