Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). 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 us an email.
We all know the first line of a query is your “hook.” I call the last line the “sinker.” You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.
If you’re looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey – the query. My comments appear in green.
After the death of her older brother, eleven-year-old Riley Tompkins looks for escape within a mysterious book written by her grandfather. But when the book’s story begins to spill into reality, Riley discovers that its pages hide a dark secret: one that could help bring back her brother—or unleash a terrible power. Oooohhh. Good hook.
After Riley finds Summer in the Wood under a floorboard in her grandfather’s old house in Vermont, she follows its plot deep into the woods. You’re backtracking a little bit here, which is a waste of space in a query. There, she meets an enigmatic girl who let’s no apostrophe Riley in on the secret she’s been waiting for: Magic is real, and there’s a summer camp just up the Connecticut River where kids can learn it.
Riley enrolls at the Wheelock Institute’s Summer Program to study dunamis—the ancient art of using imagination to shape the world. But between lessons on Bookmaking, Cloudherding, and a host of other magical disciplines, Riley must unlock the secrets of her grandfather’s past and race to uncover a long-lost magical object—one that could change the fate of the entire world. By bringing back the dead? You’re teasing just a little bit here.
SUMMER IN THE WOOD is a 63,000-word middle-grade fantasy with series potential for fans of the PECULIAR CHILDREN series and Scarlett Thomas’ DRAGON’S GREEN.
Hello! I graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in creative writing and am currently an editor on Scholastic’s Science World, a magazine for grades 6-10. In addition, I have a nonfiction science book scheduled for publication next year with Scholastic library publishing.
Great bio, great query. With a little tweak on that corpse tease, you’re good to go.