And now for our fourth brave soul. For clarity, my comments are in purple.
Emma cuts herself off from everyone until her friend, Gabriel, comes home for the summer. Despite spending four years apart Hmm – random – where has Gabriel been? College?, their connection is stronger than ever and his calm presence quiets the storm of emotions in her head. Their friendship kindles into a
deeper relationship I’d rephrase into “something deeper” to do away with the “ship” echo, but Emma’s growing conviction that her friend isn’t resting in peace threatens to tear them apart. How? If he’s quieting the storm of emotions this feels a little contradictory. It’s not a query-killer by any means, but this entire para feels calm. We’re talking about happy things, a romance, and clarity for Emma and then we get the “tear them apart” line. I’d consider striking it entirely, as we get the idea of discord and love triangle issues out of the next para.
Emma meets Patrick, who promises to free her from her ability and erase her traumatic memories. Lots of “hers” in this first sentence here, I’d rephrase. You’re a strong enough writer to find a way. Also, I think you need a better transition from the first para into the second.
She soon discovers he is responsible for her friend’s death and that she may share the same fate. This feels a little too “tell” for a query, I’d strike it, as the next sentence does a good job of establishing Patrick as the “bad guy.” When Patrick’s obsession with Emma turns dangerous, Gabriel risks his life to protect her and she realizes she must embrace her ability if she wants them both to survive. “Both” as in Gabriel as well? How is Patrick a threat to Gabriel? With her own Strike it as unnecessary – “her soul” is the same as “her own soul” soul on the line, she I’d use her proper name here to get away from so many pronouns in one sentence must decide how much of herself she is willing to risk to destroy Patrick and find rest for her friend’s tormented soul. This is a decent sinker, but I need to know why her own safety is bound up in destroying Patrick? “How much of herself” implies that by getting rid of her ability, she can possibly destroy Patrick but I’m very fuzzy about how she’d do either one of those things. Also, is she looking for revenge for her friend, or truly looking to find “rest for her tormented soul?” Because if it’s the latter that implies more of a paranormal element than I was previously getting from the query.
After earning my B.S. in journalism from Kent State University, I followed my husband to Los Angeles, where I now work as a grant writer for a non-profit that teaches music in inner city neighborhoods. That’s great, but I’d strike it as not being pertinent to the query, with the possible exception of the BS in Journalism – and Woo Hoo! Kent State! Along the way, I have co-written two independently produced short films and published articles in two weekly newspapers. I am active in several online writing communities and workshops, including Ladies Who Critique and WriteOnCon. Everything here is great though, I’d use these facts in the bio.
My overall thoughts: We immediately know that we’re in YA because of the age of our protag, and that there is a paranormal bent to it because of her ability. The idea of a murder adds mystery and intrigue, however the lingering question of her friend’s soul makes me wonder if it’s heavier with paranormal than my first impression led me to believe. How does she know her friend’s souls is tormented, and not at rest? Is she communicating with a ghost? Having weird dreams? I think this needs to be clarified, as an agent might me turned off by heavier paranormal element if that’s not what they thought they were requesting.
Also, the fact that there are two boys makes my mind immediately go to “love-triangle,” however, the only indication of interest here is that Patrick is into Emma, not necessarily the other way around. The way it stands is potentially misleading, as I’m unclear on what her feelings for him are (pre discovering that he’s a killer, anyway).
And lastly, I need to know how Emma can go about destroying Patrick in the first place. By using her ability? By banning her ability? By eating his soul and flushing it down the toilet in vomit form? The query you’ve got here is decent, but I need these details that make it distinctive from every other paranormal love-triangle YA that’s out there. I DO think the idea of touch-thought is very interesting and original, but I need more details about how this plays out in the plot to be fully drawn in.
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