my new query letter (shred, please?)

I’m starting to be happy with Blue Crystal. I’ve finished a new query letter, and as soon as I’m farther with 3.2, off it goes.

In the meantime, what do you guys think of this?

Agent Name,

Wyrren became a political hostage to save her father. Now her own life is in danger.

An investigation originally meant to give the king’s enemies political leverage has led to the remnants of a plague, a vanished city order, and a conspiracy that could destroy the city of Vastii. Someone in the palace will kill to see their secret protected. They already have. Between the threat of imprisonment, the court’s manipulated king, the corrupt nobility, and the rebellious commons, it’s hard to know who Wyrren’s real enemy is. Maybe Vastii deserves to die.

Blue Crystal is a novel of action, intrigue, and dark fantasy, complete at 96,000 words. As per your submission guidelines, I’ve included the first X pages.

Eliza Wyatt

starting to suspect my steampunk is ya…

Maxwell felt as if he had gone to hell. A hell with cows.

Though it’s… quirky at best.

The only ‘rules’ that I’ve been able to find for deciding between young adult and adult fiction tends to be 1) the protagonist’s age, 2) the style of writing, and 3) the length of the book. But surely, there must be more to it than that?

The project is something of an action/adventure maypole dance– I’m aiming for something light, fast, clever, and complicated. Probably much longer than my last book (which is short for a fantasy). I have teen characters, I have middle age characters, I have old characters. No absolute protagonists. My last book was dark and serious– this one is funny and forgiving. Victorian-esc expectations and manners, so quite clean as well.

Is there a reason to aim for YA over adult, or vice versa? It probably won’t make much of a difference, but I’ve started eyeing agents for the previous novel, and I’m wondering about the advantages or disadvantages once The Artificer’s Angels gets a little further on.

cover art preview!

Blue Crystal, proposed cover

This is the very rough sketch of the future cover, commissioned from the wonderful Nykolai. Go see her gallery. (Rough idea for) The back:

In a sunless ice-world where cities are built underground, Vastii is a corrupt, dirty metropolis ripe with gangs, mercenaries, rebellion, and scheming politicians. To suppress an uprising in the west, the king took his own niece, Lady Wyrren Jadis, as a political hostage. Officially, her presence will ensure her father’s loyalty to a king that he never cared for. The king never mentioned that he intends to use Wyrren to accuse her father of murder.

Forced into a strange city with only a few companions, the king’s niece is seen as an easy way to the king’s ear or a weapon against the monarchy. But Lady Wyrren loves freedom more than comfort, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to fight for it.

Anyone think this is noteworthy enough to pick up at a bookstore and flip through a few pages?

my (new and improved) query letter

Dear Mr. Example,

In a sunless ice-world where cities are built underground, Vastii is a corrupt, dirty metropolis ripe with gangs, mercenaries, rebellion, cannibalism, and scheming politicians. To suppress an uprising in the west, the king takes his own niece, Lady Wyrren Jadis, as a political hostage. Officially, her presence will ensure her father’s loyalty to a king that he never cared for. The king never mentioned that he intends to use Wyrren’s unwilling confession to convict her father for the murder of his late wife Arielii, the king’s beloved sister.

Amid evidence of loose assassins and the judging eyes of a hostile court, forced into a strange city with only a few companions, the king’s niece is seen as an opportunity for riches and power, an easy way to the king’s ear or a weapon against the monarchy. When the king’s secret police begins to track and kill men found in connection to an illegal press that Wyrren contributes to, her companions are left to scramble across the plague-ridden city to keep the police at bay while the lady seeks someone, anyone, in the courts who can protect her from her increasingly demanding uncle. Amid deal making and breaking, she finds the unassuming, charming, and ambitious Remerdii, a newly appointed lord and favorite of the king. Remerdii provides a much-needed crutch, but only in exchange for a price that increases the more she comes to need him. When an opportunity for power presents itself, Remerdii betrays the king and Wyrren both just as Wyrren finds the perfect time and place to kill her uncle: her real reason for coming to the city.

Blue Crystal is a completed 95,000 word novel written for an adult audience who enjoy action, intrigue, and low-fantasy. I’ve included the first three pages of my manuscript. Thank you!

Sincerely,

great query link

I found a community on livejournal that posts and critiques other people’s query letters (have a link) late yesterday afternoon. Since my query letter didn’t get put up on Query Shark, I thought that I’d try that.

I’m really impressed! The community is helpful, and when I reread my query I realized that they were absolutely right about its flaws, which my local writing group and in-person test readers didn’t point out. I’m adding them to my blog links, under ‘resources’.

(Also, I think I’ll go rewrite my query letter. 😉 )

a quick note…

I’ve posted a small piece of my second draft under the ‘excerpt’ page of my blog. Anyone who wants to read the very beginning of what I’ve been prattling on about can now do so.

I’ve also just posted my query letter to Janet at Query Shark, a blog that takes query letters and critiques them. I spent fifteen minutes nit-picking my already nit-picked letter, and it took pure force of will just to hit the ‘send’ button while I could feel my heart tightening with every beat. My hands are shaking, I can barely type, and I’m having difficulty breathing. This isn’t even a real query. How the heck do professional writers do this?

poor man’s copyright (doesn’t actually work)

A few weeks ago I’d found a discussion online discussing easy ways to protect writing before it gets sent out to be considered for publication, and the fellow who wrote the article advocated something called ‘Poor Man’s Copyright’. The basic idea is that if you take a copy of your manuscript, go to the post office, and mail it to yourself. The postal date will show that you wrote it first. Sounds pretty smart?

Except… it’s a writer’s myth.

Google the term. It isn’t protected by law. If you ever do need to prove that you wrote something first– which shouldn’t happen, but if you do need to– this won’t do a thing for you where a court is concerned.

I’m bringing this up because when I read the original discussion, I included a link to the government copyright page in my comment saying that the method was legally useless. The journal moderated its comments, and my remark was not approved. It seems to be a rather terrible way to make certain that ‘you’re right’, especially since the blog had a large number of younger authors following it.

I’ve heard some people in the publishing industry say that protecting your manuscript like this isn’t needed, because professionals would never rip you off. I’ve also seen others insist that getting a formal copyright is just a smart thing to do. Being the cynic that I am, I think I’d rather pay the small fee and agree with the latter. Anyone involved in publishing/editing/agenting can feel free to disagree with me on this.