Monday, September 26, 2011

Query, round three (ish)

I send query letters to agents in small batches, usually batches of four or five.  I haven't sent out many letters hence far, and I haven't sent out any that require a synopsis, or summary of the entire plot.  Each time, I've revised my letter, and each time I've felt unsatisfied with what I've come up with.

Until now.

So here is my query, for the brave or the curious.  It's supposed to make an agent want to read on, sort of like the back of a book cover plus a business letter, and it is jolly difficult to write.  But I'm posting it, for good or ill:

Dear Blog Readers,

Tricia wakes at dawn on her thirteenth birthday—and discovers her parents and little sister have been taken by a monster now creeping toward her room. Tricia barely manages to run out the front door.  Suddenly she finds that she’s glowing.  Weirder still, she can see the supernatural creatures who hide from human sight.  They say she has magic.  They’re drawn to her gift, yet none will help her save her “ordinary” family. 

But Tricia’s mom loves embarrassing her microbiology students with slides of rotting body parts. Tricia’s dad hums so tunelessly that “Happy Birthday” can sound like Nirvana. Tricia’s little sister drags her to the pet store every Saturday to sneak the guinea pigs carrots and apple peels.

People like that can’t be replaced, even with magic.  And Tricia remembers a week before her birthday she’d dreamed of Lillian, a stranger who smelled of oranges and fire and spoke as if she knew the future.  Lillian claimed to have magic, and warned monsters would come for Tricia when her own magic awoke.

Turns out that dream told impossible truths.  So Tricia searches for Lillian, who’s as real as the fingerprint blisters she left on Tricia’s wrist. But Lillian’s known as the Swindle Witch for a reason. Tricia’s trust may be woefully misplaced—and a mistake against the monster could cost Tricia her childhood laughter, her taste for chocolate, or the people she loves the most.

Swindle Witch is a 76,000-word YA contemporary fantasy. I have a Master’s degree in English from the University of Utah, and I’m the recipient of several writing awards, including a 1999 Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Award in the fantasy category.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Brenda McKenna

p.s. Here is a music video I've attached, except it doesn't come with the real queries.  Because that would be weird.  And my three-year-old calls it a "mean song" and doesn't like me listening to it...although I do, when he's not around!


  1. Ooooh, this looks great! Tricia's voice really shines through - my favorite part is the paragraph about her family. I'll bet you get a lot of requests off this.

    And I love Florence! Kiss with a Fist is a great song.

  2. Thanks, Becky! Kiss With a Fist is one of my favorites, even if I'm not allowed to listen to it when the boys are up! And I hope you're right about the requests--I've certainly had enough drafts of the query at this point. :)