Wednesday, October 19, 2011

QUERY CRITIQUE #7: THE MESSENGER'S HANDBOOK


Dear Ms. Kaynak:

I read you are interested in historical fiction and YA. The Messenger's Handbook is a YA romantic time travel thriller complete at 62,000 words.

I suggest starting with the hook.

After teen Madeline is pushed onto the subway tracks, she wakes in 1675 during King Philip's War, the sole survivor of a Native massacre on a colonial settlement. She's rescued and taken back to the colonists' garrison, but she's a modern girl and doesn't fit in. Fanatics would happily hang her as a witch, or for a crime she does commit - falling into a forbidden love with her soulmate, a Native boy. The only way she can get home and save their lives is to confront her fears, train with the Medicine Woman and earn her destiny as a Messenger, a time traveler. But the Hunters, dark souls who are skilled predators as well as time travelers, seek to either recruit or kill her.

"Teen" doesn't strike me as a good descriptor, probably because I don't think current teenagers would use it to self-describe, so it jars against the YA narrative voice. Speaking of narrative voice, this doesn't convey it. The plot sounds compelling, but since this is a YA novel, try to bring a younger feel to this query--a sample of what the book will sound like. I've also added a little specificity of setting, guessing Massachusetts because of the whole puritanical witch-hunt thing.

After sixteen-year-old Madeline is pushed onto the subway tracks, she wakes in 1675, during King Philip's War--the sole survivor of a Native massacre of a settlement in colonial Massachusetts. Rescued and taken back to the colonists' garrison, as a modern girl she knows more about texting than weaving textiles. Her weird behavior starts rumors of witchcraft, and the crime she does commit--falling in love with a Native boy--could also get her killed. The only way she can get home and save both of their lives is train with the Medicine Woman and fulfill her destiny as a Messenger, a time traveler. But the Hunters, dark-souled predators as well as time travelers, are closing in... and they'll kill her if she doesn't join them.

Krill Press published my novel, Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, a comedic mystery, in November 2010. I marketed the book to over six hundred bakeries, baking and reader sites. Mystery Scene Magazine gave it a shout-out. Although Cupcakes has little bookstore distribution, to date it has sold approximately 7500 copies. I’m working on the next Cupcake novel and additional novels in The Messenger’s Handbook series.

I love this bio info. It really makes you stand out as a published author who will put the effort behind marketing your book. I've made a few minor adjustments and removed the question from the end.

Krill Press published my novel, Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, a comedic mystery, in November 2010. I marketed the book to over six hundred bakeries, as well as to baking and reader sites. Although Cupcakes has little bookstore distribution, to date it has sold approximately 7500 copies. I’m working on the next Cupcake novel and additional novels in The Messenger’s Handbook series.

I read on your blog that you are interested in historical fiction and YA. The Messenger's Handbook is a YA romantic time travel thriller complete at 62,000 words.

Thank you for your time.

With this query, I'd request a partial to gauge both the YA feel of the narrative voice as well as the sense of how you handle the logistics of time travel. I hope you'll query Spencer Hill in December. 

4 comments:

Pamela DuMond, D.C. said...

Thanks Kate. Good call on your comments. I truly appreciate your help. And I will be querying you in December.

Best,

Pam DuMond

Disgruntled Bear (Kate Kaynak) said...

Thanks, Pam! I love the premise, and I want to read more.

Deniz Bevan said...

This one sounds great! Love it with the corrections. Of course, I'm a sucker for historicals.

Keisha Azzalea said...


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