The Saturday Slash

Axe2 clip artMeet 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.

The first line of a query is your hook, and it really needs to work. You want it to punch your reader 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 intimidated by my blade, 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 blue.

KICKED THE BUCKET LIST is a Dumplin’ style spin on a Dear Evan Hansen-esque story of grief, love, and overcoming the past, I’d use an ellipsis here instead of a comma if you subtract characters breaking spontaneously into song and add a whole bunch more dead people.

Sixteen-year-old Mackenzie Quinn-Zislowsky has come a long way since her sister died a couple years ago. She’s more or less pushed grief aside by focusing on her anonymous Instagram account, Kicked The Bucket List, where she posts about fulfilling the last wishes of the newly dead. The kicker? I’d change the phrasing here as it almost feels like a side-wink to the agent like… yeah I know big deal – BUT! Maybe flesh it out more like — What she doesn’t share with her [however large] audience is that Each last wish is pulled from one of Mack’s nightly dreams about real life people who recently croaked.

One night Mackenzie doesn’t dream of someone dying. She dreams that her old crush, Colton Reyes, is contemplating suicide. Determined to help Colton see that there are parts of life worth living for, Mackenzie drags a less than enthusiastic Colton just use him here. The drags wording already shows his unwillingness along for Kicked The Bucket List escapades. However, Mack doesn’t tell Colton that she is the List’s creator or that she befriended him because she knows about his suicidal thoughts. If he finds out the truth, she is worried she will lose him for good. World building question – if Mack is the one making sure the wishes are carried out, isn’t it obvious that she’s the creator? Or is the list something that others contribute to in order to fulfill them? Worth mentioning, as it’s a plot pothole. 

But Colton’s life isn’t the only thing Mackenzie has to worry about. As Colton and Mackenzie grow closer, Mackenzie must find a way to protect her heart and her anonymity, or risk exposing the painful secret that would destroy the new life she’s built for herself. But what is the painful secret? Right now this just feels like a help others but guard your own feelings redemptive story with a small supernatural twist. A query isn’t a place to be coy, so we need to know what the painful secret is.

KICKED THE BUCKET LIST is a complete 70k word young adult novel. The manuscript has received multiple awards including the RWA Linda Howard Award of Excellence and first place in the RWA Pages from the Heart contest, and it was a finalist for SCBWI’s Joan Lowry Nixon Award for most promising manuscript.

This novel is personal for me having overcome my own struggles with mental health and body image. I am an active member of SCBWI and a mentee in the Nevada SCBWI 2019 mentorship program. In addition to being a writer, I am a hotel designer/developer, a human rights activist, and a world traveler.

Great bio, and lovely list of already-accumulated awards and accolades. Right now the query is good and I think you could get some bites with it, but in order to really pack a punch and give yourself the best possible shot, you’ll need to clear up the world-building question above, as well as put the crux of Mack’s secret out into the light. 

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