The Saturday Slash

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Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query.

I’ve been blogging since 2011 and have critiqued over 200 queries here on the blog using my Hatchet of Death. This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot me an email.

If the Saturday Slash has been helpful to you in the past, or if you’d like for me to take a look at your query please consider making a donation, if you are able.

If you’re ready to take the next step, I also offer editing services.

The boys of Asotin are dying. Great hook!

The golden boy, the popular boy, the loner boy––one by one, they’re being found dead in the small Washington town. At first, their deaths are ruled accidental: nothing more than >dumb boys doing dumb things. I'd rephrase to something more like *teens doing risky / dangerous things. You've got an array of descriptors for the boys above, but are all they all actually dumb? But as more of them start dying in increasingly violent fashion, it becomes clear there’s nothing accidental about what’s going on in Asotin.

Athena Briggs knows the boys that are dying. You arleady stated it's a small town, so just knowing them isn't that indicative of an actual relatinoship. As Asotin High’s star wide receiver, she’s competed side-by-side with them her whole life. Are all the boys athletes? Even the loner boy? And as the biggest player in school, she knows most of them off the field, too. Biggest player like her size, or player like with relationships / hearts? With the athletic references that come before, it lends context to the word player, so you might want to use a different one. The first time I read it I thought this meant she was a huge hulk.

Lila Perez also knows the boys that are dying.Again, just knowing them might not need to be stated, I'd go into the how of it right away instead. As the smartest girl in the town, she’s tutored most of them at one point or another. And as someone who can’t ever leave a puzzle unsolved, she wants to know why so many of them are dying.

Athena and Lila haven’t ever crossed paths before.In a small town? And apparently they have a class together? But when an English assignment throws them together, they find out that they have more in common than they first thought––including an interest in the recent deaths, and in each other.

With the local police force completely out of their depth, Athena and Lila take it upon themselves to find out the truth behind the boys’ deaths. Soon, they find themselves emerged in the secret, privileged side of Asotin­­––one that’s far more dangerous than either of them bargained for. It’s up to Athena and Lila to bring the killer to justice, even if the lines between right and wrong aren’t so clear anymore.

IS THERE SOMEWHERE is a YA psychological thriller complete at 65,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Kara Thomas, and ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus.

Overall, this is great. You've got an unlikely female crime-fighting duo, great comp titles and a good setup. Tweak some of your wording here and you're good to go!

The Saturday Slash

Slash.png

Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query.

I’ve been blogging since 2011 and have critiqued over 200 queries here on the blog using my Hatchet of Death. This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot me an email.

If the Saturday Slash has been helpful to you in the past, or if you’d like for me to take a look at your query please consider making a donation, if you are able.

If you’re ready to take the next step, I also offer editing services.

The Fall of the House of Erie is a contemporary fantasy aimed at young adults. A teenage witch hunter investigates a murder, discovers her best friend is a witch, and uncovers a plot to ruin a prominent magical family. It is complete at 62,000 words and has series potential. I know there is advice out there that says to put the title, genre, and word count first, but I have always felt like it's best to start with your hook. Everyone has a title, genre, and word count. What have you got that sets you apart? Your hook.

Sixteen year-old Jordyn Mielzynski longs for a typical summer following in the footsteps of the legendary Van Helsing as a Vatican monster hunter. Is it supposed to be tongue in cheek that you're using the word typical here? Instead, she has to survive summer school. Why is she in summer school? Isn't that typically a punishment? What did she do? Until the police ask Jordyn’s adoptive father to investigate the drowning of two boys in the city park during a summer heat wave. I'd combine these two previous sentences into one, for flow. When the Lex Legati, the wizard police, show up, it confirms her suspicions. These aren’t ordinary deaths. Then, Ted Erie, the only witness, runs away, becoming the prime suspect. Unfortunately, Ted is the younger brother of Jordyn’s best friend, Stephanie. Who Jordyn didn’t know was a witch. Getting a bit murky here. You don't need all the names -- When the only witness (who happens to be her best friend's brother) disappears, he becomes the main suspect. To make matters worse... then do the best-friend-is-a-witch-reveal). Now, Jordyn’s caught in-between helping Stephanie save her brother and bringing a murderer to justice. Unfortunately, justice doesn’t have best friends. Love the last line here.

Couple of things - is Jordyn operating in an official capacity? Is she a junior witch hunter of some sort? Is she trying to earn a badge? It also raises questions about how good she is at this if she doesn't know her BFF is a witch. More importantly - how does it make her feel? There's no real allusion above to whether she feels betrayed or foolish, or anything like that, just that she's torn between helping her friend and bringing the murderer to justice. Just a touch more emotion on how that reveal affects her would be good.

Overall, you get murky once you start throwing too many character names in, and you need a little more info on Jordyn's offical / unofficial involvement. Is she being encouraged to do this investigation? Or is she operating under the radar?

I studied at Wittenberg University, majoring in creative writing. The short story I wrote for my grandfather about his time in a POW camp during WWII is in the Library of Congress alongside his interview about the experience as part of the Veterans History Project. I currently write two weekly blogs.

Decent bio. If you have good traffic / followers on the blogs you should mention that. Also, what are their topics? Are they relevant to what you're querying? If the answer to both these questions is no, I wouldn't bother mentioning them.

The Saturday Slash

Slash.png

Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query.

I’ve been blogging since 2011 and have critiqued over 200 queries here on the blog using my Hatchet of Death. This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot me an email.

If the Saturday Slash has been helpful to you in the past, or if you’d like for me to take a look at your query please consider making a donation, if you are able.

If you’re ready to take the next step, I also offer editing services.

As the daughter of a doomsday prepper, Mara has alwayscut always been raised to prepare for the end of the world. Brought up with a basement full of canned goods and an exit strategy, Mara has retreated into herself, friendless and anxiety-ridden. She is in the midst of planning her escape from her family when tragedy strikes and her father is killed in an accident. I feel like there's the smallest bit of disconnect b/w her anxiety, and retreat into self and a plan to escape from her family. Wouldn't the anxiety be worse if she were out in the world on her own? Maybe some more about what is the inciting incident that drives her to make the decision to leave her family would help explain this.

Clinging to her remaining parent, Mara agrees to one of her mother’s crazy plans--to move to a luxury survivalist condo, 100 feet below ground. So, they're rich? While Mara only promises a month’s trial, she is surprised to find a place to belong there. Welcomed by a religious youth group and a close new friend, Mara acclimates to her surroundings, but still feels the pull of the real world above ground. In what way? Again, I feel like the idea of this girl who has lived such an alienated life doesn't parse with a pull from above. What about the real world calls to her?

After a terror attack, the leaders of the bunker prepare to seal off permanently from society--Mara continues to contend reads awkward with her anxiety while trying to figure out how to get out. same comment But there are secrets lurking above the surface that threaten her family and everyone else underground. I think we need to know more about what those secrets are, and how an isolated Mara would become aware of them. This last line might be too much of a tease.

With the complicated questions of faith and fabulism of A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS and the survivalist family dynamics of EDUCATED, GIRL UNDERGROUND is a 67,000 word contemporary YA novel that explores faith, mental illness, American extremism, and the need for belonging with a touch of magical realism. See, I never would have guessed there was any magical realism involved at all. How does it fit in? Mara’s journey will resonate with readers looking for an unconventional heroine and a setting they may have never seen before (unless they read this article:https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich).

I am currently the head librarian at an independent school in northern New Jersey and a former intern for the Bent Agency. I belong to and am an active member of a large network of independent school librarians who I see as an ideal marketing opportunity for this book. My writing on my personal experiences with mental illness has been published on The Toast and School Library Journal, and other work on parenting has appeared on LitHub and the Washington Post. I look forward to sending you the manuscript upon request. Absolutely dead bang-on bio. Nice.

I think your story sounds great and that Mara sounds like a fabulous character, but some of the bridges need to be built in the query yet, such as why she wants to leave her family and what is drawing her to the real world. Also - is she attending school and leading a somewhat normal life in the midst of prepping? Or is she entirely hermiting with the family? Knowing this might help answer my first question. Also, I wouldn't have guessed that the family was super rich, until I got to the line indicating that. It might be good to allude to sooner.