Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Query Kombat Entry

Entry Nickname: Witch for Hire
Title: Wytchcraft
Word count: 101,000
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Updated Query:

Matilda Kavanagh is a witch for hire, just trying to pay rent and keep from sharing the same can of tuna with her cat. When a troll comes knocking at her door, looking to buy a spell to catch a fairy, Mattie can’t turn away his money. Little does she know, the fairy he intends to catch is the fairy princess, Rae of Dunhallow.

Just days before Rae’s brother, Roane, went missing. Thanks to Mattie helping the troll catch one fairy, they assume she must have helped someone catch the second. Now all eyes on are Mattie and her charms. The Lord and Lady of Dunhallow are holding Mattie responsible to bring Roane home, safe and sound. To force her to cooperate, the Dunhallows are holding the vampire she once loved hostage. And if that won’t work, they’ll just kill her.

Can Mattie find Roane and bring him home before the Lord and Lady lose their patience and kill her and her former, and possibly future, lover?

Updated first 250(ish) words:
I was almost out of vervain; I was almost out of a lot of my stores. Have to go visit Ronnie soon, I thought, but my tab was getting a little out of hand and I didn’t like the idea of adding to it. Closing the cupboard, I decided against starting the potion I was going to make; if I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face. Literally and I had just waxed my eyebrows, I wanted to keep them.
“Gonna have to find work soon, Artie,” I reached to scratch my black, smush-faced cat behind the ears as he purred on the kitchen table. “We’ll be sharing the same can of tuna if I’m not careful.” Artemis rolled on his back, four black paws stretching in opposite directions before he became boneless.

Opening the fridge, I poked through leftover take out containers. Just as I grabbed a cold eggroll, someone banged at my front door. A glance at the clock told me it was well after midnight. It wasn’t odd for someone to come by at this time of night, but I wasn’t expecting anyone. I bit off a bite of eggroll and nudged the fridge closed with my hip, grabbing my baseball bat on my way to the door. Sure, I could hex whoever it was or use my knockout powder, but if it was a friend they wouldn’t thank me for it in the morning. At least the bat was threatening enough to give someone pause and me a second to react.


Jamie Krakover said...

I really like the story but this sounds like a kidnapping story with a magical twist. Is there anything else in your story that sets it apart from others like it?

I have some questions in your query.

In the second sentence of your query who is they? Mattie and?

At the end of the second paragraph you say the vampire she once loved. Does she still have feelings for him? If so that’s important to mention because otherwise I don’t see why they would try to coerce her into helping with a guy she doesn’t even care about.

I would ditch the question at the end of the query agents don’t usually like those. Instead consider turning it into one clear statement that lays out the stakes clearly. Although you’ve done that pretty well in the query.

In the 250:
If you use italics, it’s assumed that its internal thoughts so you don’t need to specify that she thought.

Some of the sentences especially in the first paragraph are a bit choppy and don’t seem to be broken out correctly. Especially with the last two sentences in the first paragraph.

I like what you are setting up in first paragraph with her being low on supplies but after that I’m not convinced you are starting your story in the right spot. The rest seems like she is going about her day just worried about her circumstances. Instead of rehashing so much move on to what comes next.

I think your voice could use some work. You have some good lines in there like “if I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face” that give us some idea of her character but overall I think some tightening in your writing and using some stronger verbs instead of a lot of to be verbs will help punch up your first 250.

You also have a lot of telling instead of showing. She tells us she's out of supplies but it would be more compelling to show that her cupboard is bare and that she can't find anything she needs. You are sort of there with her closing the cupboard but I think you can play that up with empty bottles and bare shelves. Also you can add things like her eying the cats tuna when her stomach gurgles. Things like that are much more compelling than just saying to the cat we are going to be sharing tuna.

I think you've got a good start here and with some polish your work will really shine.

I wish you luck as you move forward with your manuscript.

Ann Noser said...


First paragraph is stronger than the second two. Love the humor of her sharing the same can of tuna as her cat.

I actually find the last two paragraphs of the query a bit confusing. I had to reread a few times to get a few of the sentences. Perhaps too much detail is included, which makes the query: 1) confusing and 2) seem a bit like a synopsis.


OPENING THE CUPBOARD I DISCOVERED I was almost out of vervain. IN FACT, I was almost out of a lot of my stores. Have to go visit Ronnie soon, but my tab'S GETTING OUT OF HAND AND I DON'T WANT TO MAKE THINGS WORSE.

TURNING AWAY FROM the cupboard, I decided against starting the potion I was going to make. IF I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face--and I had just waxed my eyebrows SO I wanted to keep them.

like the second paragraph

third paragraph could use a little tightening, especially since this is the first page

I see Jamie got here first and has some good ideas as well--good luck--this sounds like an interesting read!

Melanie Stanford said...

I still really like this query, I just have a couple of nitpicks. First, in the 2nd para, there should be a comma after "Just days before," otherwise it seems like half the sentence is missing. And like last time I read this, I'm still confused about the former and future lover. Does this mean the vampire? Or could her future one be Roane? This is just confusing and I'd find a way to reword, or just cut it out. What about something like this for the closing sentence: "Mattie must find Roane and bring him home before the Lord and Lady lose their patience-- and Mattie loses her life." Although that sort of disconnects the two things, but something like that!

I think I have the same nitpicks that I mentioned during QueryKombat, so I'm not going to mention them again. The only thing I will say, I don't mean to sound harsh, but your opening line doesn't grab me and it's awkward. Semi-colons are best used sparingly and it's a red flag to see one in the very 1st sentence. And the two "I almosts" just don't read smoothly. Just my opnion, obvs, but it's not a great first line and we all know how important first lines are!!!

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