Monday, July 26, 2010

Queens of the Query

Last night Laura and I were lucky enough to critique a friend's query, and we were reminded about how much we love a good pitch. For the uninitiated, queries are basically brief teasers overviewing a manuscript that writers use to convince agents and editors that they absolutely must read their book. Queries are like puzzles. You put all the right ingredients together to create a picture of your manuscript and if your picture is compelling enough, agents should, in theory, want to read more.

It's a beautiful thing.

So, we thought we'd celebrate our love for queries by hosting a little contest. Query season is upon us and we're guessing lots of you are ramping up to query agents in the fall. Considering we still send our
own agent queries for new WIPs, we thought maybe it was time to give her a break and (hopefully) help you instead.

Here's the deal:

  • Write a one sentence pitch about your WIP in the comments section.
  • We'll choose our favorite. 
  • Winner gets a LiLa query critique which involves Laura and I spending an hour on the phone reading your query back and forth until we figure out exactly how to make it sing. 
  • The contest is open until midnight EST.
  • We'll announce the winner tomorrow.
Let's conquer the query!


Tabitha Bird said...

No pressure being the first or anything. One sentence???? Really???

Okay... can I come back later...(just write it Tab!) Okay, finished fighting with insecure self... on to the pitch.

The little girl inside me must grow wings and rise from the ashes of an abusive past or I will remain a fractured woman, only facing the beast of pain within and the truth about my father brings me to the edge of my life, literally.

Yeah, I know. Very long. But damn if it isn't hard to sum up my memoir in one sentence. As you can see, I need help. Please can I win? Pleasepleasepleaseplease? (Extra points for begging right?) :)))

Well, the challenge was fun anyway :)

Christina Lee said...

Would this be the time to thank you publicly for all the query help you've given me? YES!!!!!!!

The winner will be lucky to have your help! xo

Matthew MacNish said...

You guys really are awesome at these things, and I would love your help, but my MS is not ready since it is in the middle of a massive re-write. I'll share my pitch here anyway just for fun (and assuming the re-write doesn't end up changing the plot enough to change the hook):

Fifteen year old Lee is a reluctant juvenile delinquent who arrives at reform school fearing the worst but soon discovers magic and mysticism beneath the hard-knock surface.

Anne Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne Gallagher said...

Let me try that again.

Genna never thought returning home after so long an absence would be hell, if she had, she would have brought her handbasket.

Stina said...

I'll play. I'm planning to start querying sometime this upcoming query season. Hmmm. Is that like duck season, when ducks get shoot and roasted? Doesn't sound promising.

When a terrifying secret puts her best friend’s life at risk, seventeen-year-old Calleigh has to live a lie, and keep her new boyfriend from discovering the truth.

Candyland said...

I don't want to enter! Just want to say great contest! Everyone needs a good query and you two rock at it.

Jamie Manning said...

Thanks for this opportunity! Here goes...

Waking up in a coffin hungry for blood is only the beginning for sixteen-year-old Everly Blue; things are about to get a lot worse.

Charity Bradford said...

Fun! Here's mine. It's science fantasy for adults.

"As her nightmares of invasion and death become reality, a lonely scientist embraces forgotten magic to save her world from an ancient evil."


Steena Holmes said...

How did you know that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this exact same thing!!! Perfect timing for me, since I thought up the perfect pitch at 3am, only to lose it at 6am ... grrr.

How about:
Megan knows she sees her missing daughter, and won't give up trying to get her back, even when that child turns out to be someone else or when her husband threatens to leave her.

Kerri Cuev said...

Yea for lila! You gals rock! I'm in. This is for a MG.

Oatmeal cookies are so sweet, sabotage could be a delicious treat, but revenge makes the recipe complete.

Jared Larson said...

Thanks for the opportunity. Love your blog btw.

An optimistic boy has to confront a nefarious bully to gain back the schoolyard jungle gym, only to discover the bully's mom –the lunch lady– is far worse, when she unleashes her vengeance on the school with her poisonous gingersnaps.

Creepy Query Girl said...

omg, I suck at this. It's like you've asked us to practice THE break dance move that I always screw up. Like the crawl. But here goes it- pitch for YA Romantic comedy 'Love Potion N° NOT!':

After drifting beside her mission-driven Pagan Priestess mother for the last six years, seventeen year old Avery Desjardins might finally have a place to call ‘home’ but her hopes for a normal life are turned upside down when she’s deemed a ‘freak’ before her first day of school, makes friends with Coventry’s token albino, and is stalked by the high school jock Craig Savoey.

Jessica Love said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica Love said...

Nevermind :-)

Unknown said...


"A teenage girl is recruited by a top secret government agency when an educational initiative at her school evolves into a maniacal plot to use mind control to take over the world."

O.K. ladies, what's it going to take to get my sentence selected? Chocolate? Flowers? Phone calls to your hubbies/significant whatnots with foot massage/back rub orders? Signed Robert Pattinson undies?

O.K., that last one kind of made me nauseous just thinking about it ... But I think you can see that I'm serious here! I'll go fetch a lock of The Bieber's hair if that's what it'll take!

Just joking about the above (except for the chocolates ... I know a guy). Seriously, thanks for giving me something fun to do this morning, and for the donation of your time/talents.

Hope I get picked, because I really want some help with the quasi first person-omniscient-dystopian-pine scented-allegorical-pentametric query letter I've been agonizing over. (Another joke ... it's a normal letter. I think?)

Miles McG said...

Wow, pitches are kinda hard. But I'm game.

Here goes...

The words 'party,' 'fun,' and 'freedom' typically ring unconventionally within the minds of every teenager on every Friday following school, but for seventeen-year-olds Claire and Max, it’s the words 'death,' 'hunt,' and 'traitors' that haunt their minds—which may be due to their being trapped in a subterranean world while being pursued by a murderous hunter.

Sara B. Larson said...

I'm not entering, but just wanted to say this is a fun idea for a contest! I may have to steal it someday... ;)

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome! Thanks, ladies, for hosting a great contest!

My MS is a YA dystopian.

After being kidnapped, beaten, stabbed, tortured, and bitten, all seventeen-year-old Justin wants to do is die, but the bloodsucker who wants his blood to get high has other plans.

Good luck, everybody! :D

Jessica Bell said...

Wow! Thanks for this! :o)

Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian ex-rocker Jane was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter, so she's decided to run - straight past the pickled octopus to plot her return to the stage.

Marsha Sigman said...

Here is mine:

Mattie Burns discovers she can slip into any story, but if she wants to keep her freedom and save her friends she must fight the Council of creepy old dudes that control the story-worlds.

Jennifer Rummel said...

thanks for the opportunity:

Emily, a shy girl, can't wait arrive for her first year of college, even if it means attempting to find happiness on her own terms and stop waiting for her life to begin.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Ooh how fun. I'm so bad at summing things up in one sentence though. Pretty much as bad as I am at writing amazing queries, so we'll see how this goes...haha


Alex didn't care about being a teen father, but he never expected Annabelle to run away and leave him alone with one-year old son, Ryan, and roommate, Eoghan, who just may be his happily-ever-after...if only Annabelle didn't reappear.

Wow, that was tough.
-Lauren :)

Donna Gambale said...

I've spent hours on my query, but a LiLa-fied version... oh this I'm dying to see. It'll be like my query + spirit fingers, aka a bazillion times improved.

Maddy, Nina, and June have always been til-death-do-us-part, epic best friends -- until junior year, when one sexy secret, two destructive sisters, and three little lies force them to fend for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Cassie’s dad has been in jail her whole life, but now he’s back to finish the job he started.

Unknown said...

Okay, just one sentence. Well, here it goes:

After discovering she's part-vampire and being deemed too dangerous for society Scar is taken to reform school for the most dangerous creatures, and after students start disappearing she becomes the prime suspect, but the only problem is, she's not entirely sure she's innocent.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Wow, what a great idea! My family suffered through a week of me throwing ideas around while I tried to form some semblance of a query. :) I know YA is probably the norm here, but...

When the king of Stoyria sentences his son and heir to death, the country is torn in two; those who are loyal to the king and those who are loyal to his radical, charismatic son.

Thanks again!

Vincent Kale said...

Stina's post about "Query Season" cracked me up. I think I need a bulletproof vest for my query this fall.

And I really want to read Jared Larson's WIP just from that one sentence alone. Hilarious!

Here goes:

"Blackwatch: Order and Chaos"

When 15-year-old Lamarr Jeffers messes with a strange watch in his Uncle's pawn shop, he accidentally pauses the world and opens the floodgates for an invading army of nightmarish creatures, all of which he must vanquish before dinnertime.

Thanks for running this contest and good luck to everyone!

Riv Re said...

Does it have to be a finished query? I haven't actually written a query yet xD
After learning a secret that could mean the difference between winning and losing, 14 year old Becca Lancedaughter joins the rebellion as a spy, working to overthrow a tyranical government.

rae said...

Great contest! You guys should do this more often. I might then actually write the beginning of something so I could officially have a WIP to query about... (and win this contest with, obviously).

mgp3 said...

Hello, i´ve been following your blog for a while now and think you are fantastic, well, here´s my sentence.

The fog kills in the sleepy town of St. Helena and now that Laura´s imaginary friends are back, she must fight to save all she loves before the town´s past comes to haunt them all.

K. M. Walton said...

Hi ladies. I'd like to throw my hat in the ring...

For my MG thriller:
Theodora discovers she’s half alien, ending her “normal” life; now hunted by evil aliens, she goes on an international adventure to save, well, everything.

Miranda Hardy said...

Wow! So many great ones. It's hard to sum it up in one sentence, but here it is:

(YA Historical Fiction)

Princess Nitokerti breaks free from her sheltered life and now has to decide between the family she’s loved from birth and the man that’s swept into her heart unexpectedly.

Unknown said...

Ah! So many entries! Here's what I have:

When people are born with an existing knowledge of their fates—Angelyn Bowmoore, a sixteen-year-old first-of-her-kind knight, struggles with an untimely relationship while being hunted by fate-resisting Outcasts.

Kelly Polark said...

Thanks for a great contest!
Here's my MG:
Rockin’ sixth grader Stefani Lucas grows tired of being pushed aside at home and being taunted at school for her Goth-like clothing; she knows something’s gotta give, and it’s not going to be her.

Hayley Lovell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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