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SusanB

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Hi,
I wasn't sure if this was an appropriate place to post a query feedback request for an MG book. I saw them on the YA section so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not a registered member yet so I think that means I can't use the critique section.  Along with feedback, I have two questions. 1.) Where do you put a tag line in a query? and 2.) Does my book qualify as light fantasy or is it considered high fantasy? One of the editors' coupons  I have from a SCBWI conference, states they don't take high fantasy.

Thanks,
Susan



“A splinter is a dangerous thing, especially when it comes from the wood in Blume House.”

Dear Ms. ?  ,

I attended the SCBWI Orlando workshop in June and with your permission I’m submitting Heart of the Wood, a 37,000 word MG light fantasy.

Quirky thirteen-year-old Dani Travers has a bucket full of worries. The Blumes, her new rural white step-family, seem a poor fit for a brown-skinned city girl, especially snarly Becca, the know-it-all leader of Dani’s step-cousins. Dani’s doing her best to stay out of Becca’s way when Grandpa Blume disappears. Then the splinter in Dani’s finger sucks her and her step-cousins through tree roots in a biologically advanced world. The trees, which guard the world’s eco-system, are being destroyed by the same dark magic that lured Grandpa astray and they expect Dani to save them. While the Blumes search for Grandpa, the trees toss Dani back and forth from their world to hers. Dani doesn’t know why she pockets a grungy watch from a thrift store, four brownies from the Garcia’s, and a pine cone from the high school but her instincts prove invaluable.

I’m a member of SCBWI, Florida Writers’ Association, and two SCBWI critique groups. My first children’s story submission, The Fog Lifts (for eight to twelve year olds) was one of the three winners of the 2010 Highlights Fiction Contest. This is a multiple submission. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Regards,
Susan Banghart

#1 - August 01, 2010, 07:39 AM


Your book sounds great! I think your query is strong overall, but I'd tweak it a bit, as follows:



“A splinter is a dangerous thing, especially when it comes from the wood in Blume House.” I would not start with this.  I think it would work better in the main body of the query (more about this below).

Dear Ms. ?  ,

I attended the SCBWI Orlando workshop in June and with your permission I’m submitting Heart of the Wood, a 37,000 word MG light fantasy. In my opinion this would be better at the end, but I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

Quirky Don't state that she's quirky, let the reader draw that conclusion thirteen-year-old Dani Travers has a bucket full of worries. The Blumes, her new rural white step-family, seem a poor fit for a brown-skinned city girl, especially snarly Becca, the know-it-all leader of Dani’s step-cousins. Good opening--lots of info and good voice.Dani’s doing her best to stay out of Becca’s way when Grandpa Blume disappears. Then the splinter in Dani’s finger sucks her and her step-cousins through tree roots in a biologically advanced world. The previous sentence seems awfully abrupt! I'd suggest prefacing it with a sentence that incorporates the "splinter" quote --something like "When Dani gets a splinter she thinks it's no big deal--but a splinter is a dangerous thing, especially..." etc. And then tell how it sucks them through the tree roots. The trees, which guard the world’s eco-system, are being destroyed by the same dark magic that lured Grandpa astray and they expect Dani to save them. While the Blumes search for Grandpa, the trees toss Dani back and forth from their world to hers. Dani doesn’t know why she pockets a grungy watch from a thrift store, four brownies from the Garcia’s, and a pine cone from the high school but her instincts prove invaluable. I think you could tell a little more here to give a hint at the resolution.

How about putting the description of the book here, before your bio/writing credentials?
I’m a member of SCBWI, Florida Writers’ Association, and two SCBWI critique groups. My first children’s story submission, The Fog Lifts (for eight to twelve year olds) was one of the three winners of the 2010 Highlights Fiction Contest. This is a multiple submission. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Regards,
Susan Banghart


#2 - August 01, 2010, 11:18 AM

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“A splinter is a dangerous thing, especially when it comes from the wood in Blume House.” I agree that this isn't your strongest lead, and I wouldn't put something like this above "dear ms.."

Dear Ms. ?  ,

I attended the SCBWI Orlando workshop in June and with your permission I’m submitting Heart of the Wood, a 37,000 word MG light fantasy. I would lead with the fact that you met this person at the SCBWI orlando. If you met them at lunch, or if you attended their workshop, or if they asked to see this in a critique, I'd be specific about that. If not, and you're just submitting because the eitor opened the door to anyone at the workshop, I'd just say "I attended the SCBWI Orlando workshop and have enclosed my mss., HotW, (I'd keep the word count and type of mss here,) for your consideration. (Or something like that)

Quirky thirteen-year-old Dani Travers has a bucket full of worries. The Blumes, her new rural white step-family, seem a poor fit for a brown-skinned city girl, especially snarly Becca, the know-it-all leader of Dani’s step-cousins. Dani’s doing her best to stay out of Becca’s way when Grandpa Blume disappears. Then the splinter in Dani’s finger sucks her and her step-cousins through tree roots in a biologically advanced world. The trees, which guard the world’s eco-system, are being destroyed by the same dark magic that lured Grandpa astray and they expect Dani to save them. While the Blumes search for Grandpa, the trees toss Dani back and forth from their world to hers. Dani doesn’t know why she pockets a grungy watch from a thrift store, four brownies from the Garcia’s, and a pine cone from the high school but her instincts prove invaluable.

I’m a member of SCBWI, Florida Writers’ Association, and two SCBWI critique groups. My first children’s story submission, The Fog Lifts (for eight to twelve year olds) was one of the three winners of the 2010 Highlights Fiction Contest. This is a multiple submission. I appreciate your time and consideration.I would mention the Highlights win before the rest. That is the most meaningful. I personally wouldn't mention the critique groups, but I don't think it's wrong. I just don't think it's of much importance.


good luck with it!
#3 - August 01, 2010, 11:31 AM

Kurtis

Guest
Along with feedback, I have two questions. 1.) Where do you put a tag line in a query? and 2.) Does my book qualify as light fantasy or is it considered high fantasy? One of the editors' coupons  I have from a SCBWI conference, states they don't take high fantasy.

1) I don't think a "tag line" as such belongs in a query. Remember it's a professional piece of correspondence. (But feel free to work that quote into the query as suggested above).

2) I think of "high fantasy" as one set entirely in the fictional world (Lord of the Rings, Eragon). If our world is in it at all (Gregor the Overlander, Harry Potter) I would just call it fantasy. "Light fantasy" would be humorous. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but yours sounds like light fantasy and not like high fantasy.
#4 - August 01, 2010, 11:36 AM

Kurtis

Guest
Also, "inTO a biologically advanced world"
#5 - August 01, 2010, 11:38 AM

I'll just comment on your credential line. I agree that the Highlights win is a big deal and to mention it up front (that's where I stick my 2009 win :), but I wouldn't mention it was your first story sale, which might mark you as a newbie. I would just say something like: My middle-grade story, "The Fog Lifts" was a 2010 Highlights Fiction Contest Winner. Then follow with your SCBWI membership.

This sounds like a very interesting book! Best wishes!
#6 - August 01, 2010, 01:38 PM

SusanB

Guest
Wow, thanks for all those great suggestions! I'm feeling better already about sending this query. I've read enough agent blog posts to NOT want to send a pathetic query attempt. I'm going right now to polish this up! And thanks Kurtis for explaining the fantasy distinction. Blueboarders are the best!
#7 - August 02, 2010, 07:35 AM

SusanB

Guest
Your feedback was especially refreshing since I just finished a class where I was told "portal stories are a dime a dozen" and "your one-sentence pitch needs work". Two pieces of advice that may be valid, but didn't help me one wit! In comparison, you four offered a wealth of constructive comments and encouragement. Thanks again.
#8 - August 02, 2010, 08:23 AM

Kurtis

Guest
I think you might be querying my agent. At least, she always says "no high fantasy." But she has represented portal stories, so you're fine. :-) (I didn't know they were called portal stories)
#9 - August 02, 2010, 07:09 PM

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