Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Great Query Contest of October 2011

Welcome to the Great Query Contest! 
Please post your query below as a comment by midnight Sunday, October 16th. 

The rules:

Post a query for a novel-length work of fiction in any of the following genres: young adult, new adult, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, science fiction, and chick lit. Genre-crossing or mixed genres are fine, too, so long as your mix hits at least one of the listed genres. While you should never query agents until your book is complete and has been polished through several revisions, this contest is aimed at helping writers improve their work, so feel free to enter if your work is still at an early stage. 

By posting, you agree that I may re-post your query (in whole or in part) for the critique and the subsequent contest.  

You may post only one query per book, but you may post additional entries for additional books.  

No links or attachments, please! 

Your query may be in any style. You do not need to follow the query writing suggestions I posted earlier this week if you feel that your letter will be stronger if you write it another way. 

Your query letter must be suitable for online readers (high school age and older)--even if your book isn't.

Once the first round of the contest ends, you'll have a chance to revise and resubmit your query letter, and we'll put these newly-polished gems to a public vote.  The winner will receive a vicious mauling partial critique of the first 30 pages of his/her manuscript by yours truly.

Questions? Comments? Just ask below. You can also use the contact form at

Let the games begin... and may the odds be ever in your favor. :)


Janet Johnson said...

I remember this from last year and loved it! I don't have anything to enter this year, but here's my shoutout to any considering . . . Kate gives AWESOME and HELPFUL critiques. Take advantage!

Best of luck with this. :)

Disgruntled Bear said...

Thanks, Janet!

Deniz Bevan said...

Love this contest!
Er, I'm going to be one of those annoying people: can I post a historical romance query letter?

Disgruntled Bear said...

Hi Deniz, Sure!

K. L. Hallam said...

Would an upper middle grade mystery with supernatural elements count? (there is a wee romance in it too)

K. L. Hallam said...

this has got to be a lame question--but where do we post the query? In the comments section? thanks

Disgruntled Bear said...

Hi Karen, Sure! You can post it here or send it via the contact form--whichever you prefer.

Deniz Bevan said...

Okay, here goes, I'm posting mine...

Dear [Agent],
[Personal info stating why I chose the agent], you might find my historical romance, set in the 15th century during the Inquisition, a good fit for your interests.

OUT OF THE WATER, complete at 120,000 words, is the story of 18-year-old Rosa, exiled from her Spanish homeland by the Inquisition and separated from her family as they flee their home. Now her life is in the hands of a stranger, Baha, an artist from the Ottoman Empire. He is her one hope of reaching Constantinople and reuniting with her family. As they travel together, Rosa's drive to find her loved ones is matched by a deepening desire for the man at her side.

Despite her family's refusal to accept her marriage to a man of a different faith, when janissaries arrest her father and brother, Rosa and Baha risk everything to rescue them. Together they will prove that their love can withstand their differences.

If the Grand Vizier doesn't throw them both into the dungeons first.

I have lived and worked in both Istanbul and Kuşadası, Turkey. My non-fiction work, including travel articles, book reviews and personal essays, has most recently appeared in the trilingual (English, French, and Turkish) newspaper Bizim Anadolu. Initial drafts of OUT OF THE WATER were revised through participation in author Barbara Rogan's invitation-only Next Level Workshop.

Thank you for your consideration.

Deniz Bevan

Sheritha Singh said...

Dear Ms. Kate Kaynak

I am a huge fan of author Jennifer Armentrout and Spencer Hill Press. I believe my paranormal YA novel may be a good fit for your list.

All sixteen year old Sarah Parker has to do is attend a party Friday night, pretend she's having fun and hope to catch a glimpse of her long time crush, Marcus David.

Instead she saves the party's host from near death, battles an alien called an "Outsider" and wakes up in hospital. So much for kicking butt.

Even though the entire school thinks she's a freak, hunkilicious Marcus still hangs out with Sarah. Sarah hopes her crush will soon turn into something more...but soon discovers Marcus has a few secrets of his own. Like he's always around to protect her when the Outsiders return.

When Marcus is accused of murdering a fellow student, Sarah must decide whether love is worth fighting for while unravelling the mystery of her own destiny.

Spring Tide is complete at 55,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Disgruntled Bear said...

Hi folks, I've gotten the queries posted here up to this point, as well as the ones emailed to me. I'll post one per day until everyone is posted. Keep 'em coming!

Lora Palmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lora Palmer said...

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

Leah Ellis has a mission to save her homeworld--if the ones who unleashed the impending apocalypse don’t eliminate her first.

Leah’s gift as a MirrorMaster lets her travel to other places, even worlds light years away. That’s how she accidentally arrived on Earth thirteen years ago. At the age of fifteen, she discovers her otherworldly origins, and her ability, through a prophecy foretelling the return of a lost MirrorMaster. The youngest in her adoptive family, she’s always had others protecting her. Now, for the sake of billions of lives, she must protect an entire planet.

Knowing only she can wield the seven crystals needed to activate a device that will stop the apocalypse, Leah leaves behind everyone and everything she loves on Earth. On Jantyr she discovers a dying yet still beautiful world and a people who share all they have with each other. Through a desert of singing sands, to a bioluminescent jungle populated by thunderbeasts with razor-sharp teeth, to floating caverns that move unpredictably above a golden sea, she races to find the crystals before it's too late. If she's going to succeed in her mission, she must keep the ones responsible for the devastation from killing her first. But activating the device may require her to sacrifice not only her life, but her soul.

THE MIRRORMASTERS is a [word count] contemporary fantasy for young adults. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Lora Palmer

Kim said...

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

The travel brochure promised an ‘escape from reality’. Her sister promised it would be the best family vacation ever. But when seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor's ship glides into the Bermuda Triangle, her days become a blur of Twilight Zone episodes—and she's the star of the show.

She speaks to her dead father, fights with a stepbrother she doesn't have, and finds herself stuck in the middle of a heated love triangle with a coworker and his half-brother. Waking up with cancer pushes her to the edge of a mental breakdown, sending her to the ship's doctor for help. Dr. Hardy, the only person so far who knows Autumn isn’t crazy, warns her that any of these alternate lives could become permanent—after all, it happened to her during her own trip through the Triangle. Autumn tries to figure out what’s going on, but everyone on the ship, including her sister, accepts each day as if it were the norm. When Autumn returns to the clinic for more answers, she finds the doctor is not on the ship's registry and never has been.

Now, with no one to help her, Autumn has a few things to figure out: a way out of the Triangle, why she's the only one who's been affected by the strange occurrences, and why this is happening to her. If she can’t get her real life back on track, she may end up spending the next sixty years trapped in a life she was never meant to live.

TRIANGLES is a 59,000 word young adult urban fantasy. This novel is a standalone with series potential.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Kimberly Miller

Anonymous said...

Is YA/mature upper MG historical fiction an acceptable genre?

Disgruntled Bear said...

Hi Carrie,
Sure! Since it hits YA, it counts.

KimberlyFDR said...

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

The demon Liam has been hiding a romantic relationship with the angel Mikael for centuries. When a battle for Heaven places them on opposing sides, Liam must decide if a victory for Hell is more important than losing the one being who taught him good and evil aren't easily defined.

Liam enjoys being a demon. He gets to travel the Midwest on his motorcycle, chartering contracts for souls and feeding his addiction to coffee; a leftover need thanks to the body he now inhabits. He's got a right-hand man who follows his orders without question and who is more than happy to do most of the work on their assignments. This allows Liam to have more time for himself, and more importantly more time to spend with Mikael. Not even the minor annoyance of having to deal with archangel Gabriel's sworn vengeance can interrupt his life for too long.

Thus far, Gabriel's attacks have been weak and no real threat; more a source of mocking by Liam towards Heaven's less-than-competent solider. But now Heaven's in disarray, after God's gone AWOL, and Gabriel sees the opportunity to take the throne for himself. The death of Liam would surely prove his worth as a leader, so he takes a new approach to an old problem. The next soldier to go up against Liam will be trained by the best teacher in heaven—Mikael. Now the angel must decide how far he can go to protect Liam while serving Heaven, and Liam must save him from having to make the choice.

THE FORCES OF HEAVEN AND HELL ALIKE is an 80,000 word completed urban fantasy which stands alone, but has series potential. After following your blog and the books of Spencer Hill Press this year, I feel that my novel would be of particular interest to you.

I am a member of the Works in Progress critique group, as well as a beta for the Book Country site, and have learned valuable information from both resources. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001 with a double minor in Religion and Creative Writing and have always been drawn to the interrelationship of the two.

My complete manuscript is available upon request. I can be reached through email at [EMAIL ADDRESS] or by phone at [PHONE NUMBER]. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.


Kimberly Lynn Workman

Anonymous said...

So far I've only used this query at a Pitch University Pitchfest, and was advised to rework it so it reflects the fact that Max and Elaine are the double protagonists of the series. My first attempt only focused on Max.

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

Max Seward, Jr., thought the summer of 1941 would be the best summer ever. His summer vacation starts with his dream come true, the girl he’s always liked finally approaching him and becoming his girlfriend. But later that same day, Max’s father announces he’s divorced Mrs. Seward, who’s nowhere to be found. Everyone in town knows they never exactly had the greatest marriage, but that wasn’t a reason to do something so scandalous as get divorced.

To make matters worse, the very next day Max’s father brings home a strange woman with three young daughters and announces they’re getting married within weeks. Max, his siblings, and his cousin Elaine are scandalized when they learn Mr. Seward has been having a longterm affair with this woman. Not only that, but the girls are monsters.

Elaine, the new girl in town, is meanwhile having problems of her own. As hard as she tries to make friends, no one but Max’s new girlfriend wants to befriend her. She also quickly makes an enemy when she discovers another girl has long had her eye on her new boyfriend. This girl is convinced Elaine maliciously stole him from her, and even enlists his annoying little sister to try to break them up at every turn.

The nightmare culminates in being forced to pack up and take their first summer vacation together as a family after Mr. Seward prematurely comes home from his honeymoon. Max, his older sister, and Elaine can take it no longer and start a fight that gets them sent back home to fend for themselves.

But if Max and Elaine think the nightmare is finally over once they come home, they’re in for more rude surprises. Coming home to a locked mansion, having to enter through the chimney, and finding the water out are only the beginning of one of the most unforgettable summers of their lives.

MAX’S HOUSE #1: NEW BEGINNINGS, the first in a YA series combining historical fiction, humor, and social satire, is complete at 60,000 words.

I have a degree in history from [redacted] and worked in the production room of a local newspaper for five years.


Carrie-Anne Brownian

Melinda said...

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

The first night sixteen-year-old Camryn Brock sneaks out, she runs across a group of drunks hoping to cop a feel. She’s relieved when a stranger named Christian saves her, but relief turns to panic when, instead of taking her home, he claims her as his own prisoner.

Trapped at his family’s secluded Maine estate, Camryn discovers Christian is a lot to take in: sixteen, stubborn, sizzly hot, and oh, yeah—in charge of the elite chosen to fight evil.

Camryn shouldn’t trust them. Shouldn’t fall in love. Shouldn’t want to stay.

But she does.

Camryn must figure out what the Remainders are hiding, what Christian wants with her, and how she’s gonna get her butt back home.

But mainly? Why she fits in so damn good.

REMAINDERS is a YA paranormal romance complete at 85,000 words.

All the best,

Unknown said...

Dear [Agent],

If Junie Baltimore had spent more time listening to the transistor radio in her family's restaurant, she would've heard the song and known that it was always meant for her.

Junie, a Bon Jovi-obsessed eighteen-year-old, is the next Food Network star waiting for her chance at fame. To pass the time she bakes in her parent’s restaurant, The Baltimore. When her gorgeous boyfriend dumps her for the former prom queen, her parents whisk her away on a family vacation to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There she stumbles into an adventure chased by a boy from her childhood, Robert Montgomery, and a single song --- a song about her. A song filled with lucid, beautiful, perfect notes.

By the end of the week, Junie has to make a choice. She wants to hear that song with all perfect notes, the one that might change her life forever, but when her ex-boyfriend comes calling she wants to rekindle that old flame, too. Junie has to discover that heart is more reliable than it seems, and that with a little help from Bon Jovi, sometimes it’s now or never. She ain’t gonna live forever.

THE SECRET LIFE OF LEMONS is a Young Adult romance with a zest of Anna and the French Kiss and Audrey, Wait! --- a kissing kind of book that, at the heart, becomes about those roads not taken, and where they might have led. It is complete at 78,000 words, a semi-finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Competition in 2010, and a Top Pick on

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ashley Poston

Disgruntled Bear said...

That's it! We're closed to entries at this point. However, I'll keep posting the critiques for another week or so, and then the voting starts!

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