Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FLASH Query

Abby Stevens requested to see my query for FLASH. Keep in mind that this isn't the same book as PARANORMALCY, but it is the book that got me my ridiculously fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson. So, here you go. (Incidentally, this was one of three versions--all of which got requests to see further material.)

Dear Ms Wolfson,

I would love to work with you, and hope you'll be interested in my 77,000 word YA novel Flash.

You’d think a girl who can see the future could avoid being kidnapped. But eighteen-year-old Sarah hates her confusing and painful flashes of the future, triggered by a personal connection or skin contact, and is trying desperately to suppress them.

However, when Keane Industries recruits her at gunpoint, she has to figure out how to use her abilities to give them a competitive edge or they’ll destroy everyone she loves. Imprisoned in a secluded house, she meets intelligent and caring Will. He's in charge of training her to control the flashes, but she's seen him before: every night in her dreams for the last three years she’s been in love with him. Devastated to finally find him under such horrible circumstances, Sarah is nonetheless drawn in, unable to resist the future she’s seen.

But the trust she's slowly placing in Will shatters when she flashes on him telling the President of Keane Industries that he’s got her completely under control. One touch is all it would take to know how he truly feels, but with increasingly violent reactions to the flashes, she worries that she’ll lose her grasp on reality completely. Her future hangs on one choice: accept her fate as the pawn of powerful men, or risk losing everything—including her sanity—to find out if Will really is the man of her dreams.

My novelette, Tangle, was featured in the May 2008 issue of Leading Edge magazine. I graduated in 2004 with a BA in English, and have been freelance writing and editing ever since. I would be happy to send you a partial or the full manuscript of
Flash. Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

Your future favorite client in the whole entire world*


So there it is. I didn't touch it at all, tempting as it may have been. FLASH is obviously a very different novel than PARANORMALCY, a little older and without as much humor. It's also third person where Para is first. But man, I still love that book. Hopefully I can go back to that series one of these days.

Besides which, FLASH got me Michelle, and we all know how well that turned out!

The hardest part of writing this query was deciding which details to include. I left out one of the main characters--James, my darling, darling James--entirely; I couldn't figure out a concise, snappy way to include him. And in the end it's a story about Sarah learning to deal with her abilities and deciding whether or not to let Will in. So that's what the query focused on. Since I couldn't find much about Michelle to personalize it, I kept the intro short and sweet. And the bio paragraph is why I recommend trying to get some short fiction published--I got far more requests for material when I had a published story to mention than when all I had was a degree and freelancing.

Would you guys be interested in a mini-query workshop? It might have to wait until next week since I'm nose-deep in The Sequel edits right now, but it could be interesting. I'm a lot better at fixing other people's queries than I ever was at fixing my own.


*Not the actual signature

50 comments:

Michelle Wolfson said...

Dear FFC*,

I like the way this sounds. Would you please email me the first 50 pages and a 1-2 page synopsis? Thanks.
Michelle

*Not the actual greeting

Jill Wheeler said...

I'd be interested in a mini-query workshop.

This is a timely post... I was just thinking about drafting a query for my WIP. It's so interesting to see yours.

Renee Collins said...

Ah, Flash. Brings back some good memories. :)

Kristan said...

Thanks for sharing that, Kiersten! For the record, if I were an agent, I totally would have asked to see more of FLASH. In fact, Can I see more of FLASH?! Hehehe. :D

Kiersten White said...

Dear Future Fabulous Agent,

I would be thrilled to send you more material. Please find enclosed the first fifty pages, plus the twelve other books I've written in the meantime that you're going to have to read as well.

Sincerely,

Current Favorite Client

Jill--Cool! I'll get something in the works then.

Renee--I know. I miss it.

Kristan--Ha! You're cute.

Candyland said...

You make it sound so easy! My query is formatted a bit like that (minus the storyline) and yet, I haven't landed my dream agent as of 11:41 am this morning. (Sorry, 11:42...)

Ms. Wolfson sounds amazing. LUCKY!

Mini-query workshop-YES please!

Liz Czukas said...

I would definitely have asked to see more of this if I were an agent. It's a nice, concise letter that doesn't overtell the story.

I sure hope Flash sees the light of day down the road, it sounds like a great read!

kristycolley said...

Query workshop sounds awesome.
FLASH sounds fun. Return to it someday!
K thx

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for sharing! I always love to see successful queries.

SM Blooding said...

A query workshop sounds fabulous! I can help others write successful queries, but so far, mine is butchered beyond belief and just SUCKS! Well, the one for my YA. The one for my paranormal thriller is still relatively unbutchered and reads well. GAH! Very frustrated!

And your query is AWESOME! I can't wait to read you!

Frankie

Abby Stevens said...

Thank you so much, Kiersten! I would be really, really, really interested in a query workshop! And I really hope once PARANORMALCY is published it will make way for FLASH to see the light of day. :-)

Geoff said...

Sounds pretty cool. Will FLASH ever see the light of day???

Kiersten White said...

Geoff, my friend Whirl has a cat named Geoff, and every time you comment I think it's his cat.

And only just now have I realized how weird that sounds. You'd have to know the man. And his cat.

But yes--I'm hopeful that we'll be able to go back to that series, fine-tune it, and find the right publisher.

owlandsparrow said...

Add me to the list of those interested in a mini-query workshop! (Rather, I'm interested in a mini-workshop about queries, not a workshop about mini-queries!) ;)

Thanks for sharing! FLASH is intriguing, sounds like a good read.

Patti said...

Would totally be interested in a query workshop. The more help the better.

Natalie Whipple said...

Oh, James. Mmm. And I know you claim that FLASH isn't as funny, but it's still PLENTY funny, thanks to your trademark witty banter.

Kiersten White said...

Oh, the banter...the banter...

Must resist urge to go read and edit FLASH instead of editing The Sequel...

Marybeth Poppins said...

Query workshops are fun! And seriously...Flash does sound really good!

Bane of Anubis said...

Thanks for sharing. Interesting premise.

lora96 said...

YES PLEAAAAASSSE!

:)

and i really hope someone publishes Flash bc it sounds awesome.

Whirlochre said...

I'm guessing there's a lot of agents out there who are now kicking themselves — even though most of them probably aren't gymnasts and/or athletic.

Be nice if this project could see the light of day — but I'm guessing you'll be too busy modelling all the Paranormalcy regalia.

There's still going to be hats, right?

Kayeleen said...

I love the idea of a query workshop. And the idea of Flash. And, heck, I just love you!

beth said...

What do you do with the bio paragraph if you have no fiction publications? I guess, just mention the degree and published articles? I'd be interested in a mini-workship.

Melanie Avila said...

Wow! I'm new to your blog so don't know your backstory, but Flash sounds incredible. I agree with the others -- I hope Flash sees the light of day.

Valerie said...

I would love a query workshop! This was a great letter, you packed a lot of info in there without making it feel wordy or rushed. I could definitely use some insight in that area.

PS - FLASH sounds awesome!

Mariah Irvin said...

You have to make sure FLASH is published one day. I really want to read it!

Steena Holmes said...

Now I need to get my hands on Flash!

I think the idea of a workshop is fantastic! go for it!

Marsha Sigman said...

YES, please on the query workshop! I am working on mine at the moment and extra help is always needed!

Susan Quinn said...

I vote for the query workshop! Also, thanks for sharing the tidbit about having a publication. That's very helpful to know!
Thanks!!

Tawna Fenske said...

How fun! Thanks for sharing this, Kiersten.

Lovely Agent Michelle, if you're out there lurking, maybe you could comment on which aspects of this query really hooked you? I know I always love seeing the agent's perspective on these things.

Tawna
(who hopefully ranks somewhere on Agent Michelle's favorite client list!)

Suze said...

Would totally be interested in a workshop - you're the best!

Falen said...

a query workshop would be great, because i'm like you and much better at fixing other queries than fixing my own...

Geoff said...

Hmm... I like that I man who goes by Whirl (a less than obvious human name) named his cat Geoff (a less than obvious cat name). Did you make all that up?

:P

G

Heidi said...

I'm not really at querying stage yet but it's something I've been thinking a lot about because my plot is complicated, and I've got to somehow attempt to explain the gist in a short page! I'm up for the workshop :)

Peggy said...

That was awesome! I definitely hope it sees the light of day sometime. And a huge YES on the query workshop.

lotusgirl said...

great query. It makes me think mine might be too short.

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Thanks for sharing, Kiersten. Good query letters, especially ones that actually landed an agent, are always instructive to read.

Quick question: You say you got more requests after you published some short fiction than before - so did you publish that short fiction while you were querying FLASH, or had you queried other projects, too?

Deborah Blake said...

I'd read that book--it sounds great! Are you actually saying it hasn't sold yet? I can't believe it.

E.H. Adams said...

Flash sounds awesome. I would buy it in a bookstore and read it that night. I hope it gets published someday.

Myrna Foster said...

I can see why that query attracted an agent; I'd want to read the full too. I hope we get to read it eventually. And I'd love to participate in a query clinic, but do wait at least another week. Thanks!

Kelly Bryson said...

I want to read flash. Now. And I am wrestling my query, so yes please mini query workshop!

*begins stalking Kiersten's agent since Flash sounds comprable to my novel. *

Elizabeth Poole said...

To quote Natalie, Sweet baby kittens, yes! A query workshop! I am soooo much better at critiquing other people’s queries than my own. I hate writing queries with a passion that rivals a thousand suns (which is pretty hot). And if you could somehow convince your beautiful, talented, lovely agent to give us her side of the query story in tandem of this lovely query series…I would forever be in your debt, in the embarrassing little sister way of always following you around, and wanting to know what you are doing, and where you are going, and could I bring you some tea?

Also, your Flash query emotionally moved me. I felt a little tremor inside when I read the part about Sarah flashing to Will selling her out to the President of Keane Industries…I have to read that book! I need to know what happens! So…umm, good query then.

;)

Adam Heine said...

Hey, I totally remember this from Evil Editor! Why am I still weirded out when that happens?

I really want to read this. Protagonist age is a lame LAME reason for an idea this cool not to sell.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I love reading queries that made it. Thanks, and I think a query workshop would be awesome.

Kiersten White said...

Tawna--That was MY claim, not Michelle's : ) I know for a fact she adores you.

Everyone else--you are all so sweet. I really hope we'll find a home for Flash someday.

And Michelle has graciously volunteered to talk about why this query worked for her, so I'll post that when she emails me.

Guinevere said...

I love the query. I'd love to read Flash, too. Are you listening, publishing industry?

inthewritemind said...

That was a great query! I want to read it :)

Very true about trying to get some short stories published. All I have is an English degree too; perhaps I ought to focus on writing short stories for publication.

52 Faces said...

42nding the query workshop.

Sigh. Short stories. I've heard this before, and my question is - what to do when you hate short stories?

I hate them with vigor - do I have to just force myself to write and submit a bunch for publication credit? Am I screwed without any publication?

Kiersten White said...

52--If you hate them, don't bother. I got requests on the first book I queried for without any pub credits. Does it help? Absolutely. Is it essential? Nope.

Anonymous said...

So I'm finding this post about 8 months behind the eight ball, but I was impressed with the query and had to vent. I can't understand how I've written an entire novel, which I love, but I can NOT for the life of me summarize it in a fashion that doesn't SUCK! I've torn apart and re-written my query letter so many times, I am convinced my computer is making fun of me each time I open it. This is honestly harder than writing the book, because it's your only chance to get an agent's attention, and when you know it sucks, they will too. Hoping I can get my act together and come up with something more like this. Oh, and by the way, reading Paranormalcy right now, and loving it. Congrats!