Pub Rants

Tuesday Query Madness

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Sara on the office blue couch with the ever helpful Chutney.

STATUS: A good day and I’m ready to relax. I’m off to the Tattered Cover in Cherry Creek tonight to see a friend read. Bill Henderson is a wonderful writer so take some time to get a copy of AUGUSTA LOCKE just out by Viking.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? SAIL ON by the Commodores

First things first.

Time to introduce my new assistant—the lovely Sara Megibow.

Brief Sara Bio
On a rainy day in 1985, a young Sara picked up THE HOBBIT and was hooked. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in American History. Sara has worked as a corporate trainer for GE and most recently has spent two years working for the Boulder Weekly newspaper. After a fun year as a full-time mom, she’s ready to get back in to the world of words, large mugs of coffee, and a new passion with the Nelson Literary Agency.

Of course we spent the day in Query madness (and we have read and responded to all queries up to April 1).

Much to Sara’s relief, I didn’t just open the query email inbox and set her loose. We basically worked together on all the queries today. That way she could get the feel for what I look for in query, what works, and what are the very obvious passes.

We even got a form query letter like the one Dan ranted about on Friday. That was hilarious because Sara hadn’t read that blog entry yet and even she said, “what’s up with this query?”

I just knew she was going to be good.

When you read a lot of queries at one sitting, a trend always emerges. I’m not sure how or why but it does (weird synchronicity in the world or something). Today’s trend was characters being bought, abducted, or otherwise coerced into slavery, white slavery, and whatnot.

Genre didn’t seem to matter. We saw the plot device in romance, fantasy, commercial mainstream etc. but none in a Civil War historical (where such an element would be expected).

After the fourth or fifth query with this device, Sara turned to me and asked if it was a popular plot? I had to shrug. I have no idea. Conflict du jour? We didn’t ask for a partial from any of them though.

The Katie count: We must have scared the masses because I haven’t seen a Katie (or derivative) in a while. On the other hand, my partial inbox is scary and I really plan to tackle a good portion of it this weekend.

However, I do have another title entry that keeps popping up.

A Look through My Rose Colored Glasses

Or a variation of this theme. Very popular.

I’m out.

21 Responses

  1. GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming said:

    The book that hooked me on books was A Little Princess, then The Secret Garden. Then it was Stephen King, and then Les Miserables… the list goes on and on and on! Do you find that your literary taste buds to be as eclectic as well?
    GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming

  2. GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming said:

    Now you’ve got me thinking about all my favorite books. In college, I read a short story in a fiction class called The Yellow Wallpaper. That one hooked me onto short stories, as well as another about a guy who turned into a cockroach. I can’t remember the title of that one and it’s driving me crazy, somebody help me with that title!! Was the guy’s name Gregory something? Augh, how frustrating!

  3. Eileen said:

    At last an opportunity to use that English lit degree! I’m almost positive the story you are thinking of was called Metamorphis by Kafka. The character in that was Gregor I think. Cost of an undergrad degree 30k, knowing an obscure reference- priceless!

  4. MTV said:

    Big Hi and Welcome to Sara – Kristin needs the help – that’s for sure!

    Eileen – you are definitely on my “A” list -:)!!! Nice call! 30k – that sounds like deal. That won’t even get you a year at Harvard or Yale.

    I Need to check out your site some more too.

    Slightly off topic here –

    Girlgrownup – think of the emotional intensity you could bring to a scene where a certain vase is broken … between hubby fixing it … and your emotional connection … wow! Write what you know, right? – I know it could fit as a key scene somewhere – maybe even where a plot turns.

  5. nathanjfealko said:

    So, out of curiosity, how far are you still behind on query letters? I’m impatient for my rejection letter and want to get it as soon as possible. 😉

  6. Eileen said:

    MTV- I did not account for inflation. However, it was a deal so let’s give it up for Michigan State. Non of the glory of Harvard- but smaller debt.

  7. Debby G. said:

    Just yesterday, I decided to change a major character from a male to a female. “Steve” was almost going to be “Kate,” until I remembered your blog post. Thanks! S/he’s now “Evie.”

  8. MTV said:

    Yeah, inflation is the deal buster isn’t it?

    Harvard and Yale – so much for name recognition. You do State proud. I am a fan of value.

    State – Wow! Go state!

    And I thought you were a “real” Canadian eh…

  9. Kristin said:

    “The Yellow Wallpaper” is disturbing. In fact, I remember seeing a PBS short based on the story, and it freaked me out. Yikes!

    There is a book that I ordered from the Scholastic Book Club when I was about 9 or 10. I re-read that sucker a billion times, and it’s a book that probably nobody has ever heard of…but I still think it’s brilliant: The Mystical Beast by Allison Farthing.

    Then, of course, I started looking for all books that were about magic or kids getting transported to other worlds. Anyone remember “Half Magic” and all the other books by Ruth Chew??

  10. Anonymous said:

    Oh my Gosh, your dog looks just like my niece’s dog, Spike. Her dogs are Spike and Chica. And they are without a doubt, THE SMARTEST DOGS IN THE WORLD. Just had to shout that out. I have five year old twins, but my dream is to add a couple of little dogs like that to my brood. When the kids get older I say, because you know who will be taking care of them. Mommy.

    You and the hubster are a cute couple, but chutney is drool worthy.

    Big Hi and welcome to Sara! Looks she’s going to love her new job.

    The book that got me hooked: And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, Seuss ( I was a sadly overimaginative child that got into trouble) short story that hooked me on SciFi. And He Built a Crooked House, Heinlein (I was 7)

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  11. Andrew said:

    Hi, Kristin. Today’s entry about trends popping up in your queries finally prompted me to post something.

    The same thing happens with my literary magazine. Every so often the in-box will be filled with stories following a similar trend. One time it was stories about dogs. Then it was stories where the narrator spoke with a southern dialect. And so on.

    It got so bad that we had to ask submitters to refrain from sending us stories with those themes. The ideas were no longer new, and each time we got one, it was with a feeling of, “Oh no, not ANOTHER one!” instead of something more positive.

    It’s weird how people seem to tap into a collective pool of ideas all at once. And sometimes, it’s not a good thing.

  12. Anonymous said:

    What do you think of the current plagerism allegations against the Harvard writer who wrote “How Opal Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life?”

  13. joanr16 said:

    Welcome, Sara! I’m one of Kristin’s newer clients, hoping for that sale one day soon….

    Hmm, those queries. “Today’s trend was characters being bought, abducted, or otherwise coerced into slavery, white slavery, and whatnot.” Could it have anything to do with the recent weather report re erotica? Yikes.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I have noticed quite a few about a friendly ghost sheparding the troubled heroin through life’s tragedies. Yuch! Ghost was enough.

  15. December Quinn said:

    Anonymous, I read “heroin” in a completely different way than I think you meant! 🙂 I’m sure it was just a typo.

    Unless it’s a book about a ghostly drug mule who grows particularly attached to one particular batch, and instead of passing it on he decides to keep it and take it with him everywhere, teaching it about life and love and the joys of chocolate.
    Sort of a fable for today’s youth.

  16. Stephanie said:

    girlgrownup–I loved “Yellow Wallpaper,” too. I don’t know why, but I get into the whole madness in literature thing–Hamlet, Jane Eyre, and so on. So cool. (Perhaps that says something about me. Eek!) My favorite short story was always Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby.” Such a sad story. I always wanted to avenge Desiree somehow. Anyone else like that one?

    Welcome aboard, Sara! Great to see Kristin has some help, and someone Chutney obviously approves of from the pic.

    I’m also glad to hear the partial pile is still big, Kristin, because I was wondering if perhaps mine just never made it to your doorstep. I’m also pleased you make time for blogging in your hectic schedule, because I look forward to finding out what the latest news is every afternoon. (And, I’m not just sucking up.) Thanks for your helpful and entertaining info.

  17. McKoala said:

    Thanks for posting the pictures. If you don’t mind my saying you both look very normal – and that’s a good thing! You look like you would be a fun pair to go out for a pizza with. I’m thinking I might send you a query on those grounds alone, even though my novel has a minor character named…Katie. Oh yeah, and I’m a Brit, living in Oz, but apart from that, it all makes sense…