Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Query

Here is the latest, trimmed down version of the query letter. Ack!

Sometimes, the aftermath of peace is war.

Things are back to normal in Belhanor after a violent civil war... or are they? The traitors were beheaded and their families dispossessed, but now some of those same families are plotting to seize back their land. They call themselves the Restorationists, and are working throughout the kingdom in a surprisingly organized fashion. Who is directing them? Could it be the King’s own son, who disappeared five years ago? Or could the King’s nemesis, Lord Synedd, be using them to try to seize the throne a second time?

It’s up to Faldur, a captain of the Rangers, to find out. When he and the remaining Prince discover a Restorationist plot which threatens the Prince’s bride-to-be, Faldur is given the task of escorting her safely to the capital. Accompanying them is the bride’s cousin Marenya. Her father, Faldur’s mentor, was killed in the course of duty and his death made Faldur vow never to leave anyone behind. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it) he is drawn to her, and she to him.

After narrowly escaping a surprise attack, Marenya takes her cousin's place as decoy. One of Faldur’s own men then betrays them and she is taken hostage. Soon both Faldur and Marenya realize that someone is using the Restorationists as a front for the real plot to murder the prince and overthrow the king. Marenya must navigate through a series of dangers for which she is completely unprepared, while Faldur is obliged to complete his mission before he can attempt to find her. In the process, he battles not only their enemies, but his own ideas about love and loss.

THE GOLDEN GRYPHON is a fantasy in 100,000 words aimed at the same teen/adult audience that enjoys other traditional fantasy. One reader has described it as having a "bottom of the forest floor, Tolkein-like feeling." The story explores how love and loyalty can pull us apart as well as draw us together, and how truth is essential in combating evil.

Christine Hardy is a writer and college math instructor. This will (hopefully) be her first published work.


Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

I'd bite.

Compared to your female LOTR idea this feels much more mature-- had more of a chance to properly "age" I imagine ;o)

Clicked through from Nathan's blog and pocking around since I'm writing fantasy too.

If you're looking for input I think it's the second para that slows things down-- mostly the last sentence.

I'd also think some more about whether "ranger" is the word you're looking for for this guy's job: since you're comparing it to LOTR I'm imagining a type of ranger from there, and this guy seems much more the following-orders type than the separate-allegiance type.

{shrug} For what it's worth.

Where are you at in your revising process? I wasn't sure how to interpret your word-count bars on the side.

Christine H said...

Hi there! Thanks for popping in. As far as Ranger goes, I am using the term as the dictionary defines it in both the sense of "a keeper of a park, forest or area of countryside" and "a mounted soldier." So, no, this isn't Aragorn. For one thing, in LOTR there was no king and in this case there is. So my hero is definitely following orders and has a sworn allegiance to the king.

When you say "last sentence of second paragraph" do you mean the Lord Synedd part, or the "drawn to her" part? I got the impression from Nathan that this frustrated romantic interest would be a good thing to mention in a query letter, but it's hard to do that without making it sound like a romance novel.

Christine H said...

P.S. The first draft is almost finished at 80,000 words. I was under the impression that this was the appropriate length, but then found out it should be longer. Which is a bit of a relief, to be honest, because I was struggling to tell the story in that framework.

Then I went back and started over, so I have about 52,000 words in the second draft.

Now I'm starting over again. So I have no idea what draft this is now. 2.5? 1-3/4? 4? (I completely discarded the very first draft and rewrote entirely from scratch.)

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Re: ranger-- I think I understood your intent, it just confused me a bit when you brought in Tolkien, since his name took me instantly to my image of his ranger.

I re-read the description and I'm struggling from "her father" to the end, thought the sentence with the parentheses is the hardest.

Oh-- and that last sentence should be revised, maybe to something like, 'this is my first book-length submission' (only prettier). Or you might leave it off altogether. There are those who say you needn't draw attention to your inexperience.

Are you querying to agents or directly targeting publishers?

re: length-- did you know about the "stats" link on amazon book pages? My favorite books in this genre click in in the mid-80,000s.

(I actually went and looked up word-count on many of the YA on my shelf and 82-86 seems to be the norm-- no first-timers over 100,000 besides Eragon-- so if you've got your story down in 80,000 I applaud you!

With the reference to Rangers you might want to be aware of The Ranger's Apprentice, a wildly popular series that (if the first two books are an indication) deserves to be.

Yours is distinctly different, but the association will exist nonetheless.

Another pair of books that this query reminds me of are The Seer and the Sword, and The Healer's Keep, both by Victoria Hanley. (Links above are to reviews I wrote of the books).

(And if you feel like ripping me back, I can show you my current summary-- though my hook is all that's on my blog just now-- #7 of that "7-quick-takes (vol. 10)."