Friday, January 31, 2014


Title: The Wizard and the Knight-Mare
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 62,000

Dear Agent,

Fourteen-year-old Frank Williams might be the last to disappear, but if he’s not careful, he’ll be the first to die.

When students from Lanphier High School go missing, authorities can’t figure out why or how. The only clue is a coppery taste in the air, and Frank seems to be the sole person who can sense it. As a result, the police have no leads.

But Frank does. He believes another teenager is abducting kids after catching him talking to a handheld mirror. The coppery taste resurfaces within Lanphier, and Frank follows it to discover more people have disappeared. After learning the suspect isn’t really a student, Frank goes to confront the culprit, who is nowhere to be found.

Instead Frank finds the mirror in a teacher’s desk, where he sees it act as a window to a golden realm. A voice from within the glass orders Frank’s death, and he is attacked by an enchanted suit of armor. Frank leaves the mirror behind to escape but continues his investigation, now with three goals: reclaim the mirror, show the golden realm to anyone who will listen, and find the missing people. But those objectives will incur the wrath of the enchanted armor…and the maniacal wizard who controls it.

I am a substitute teacher in Springfield, IL, waiting to begin grad school. When I'm not dealing with back-talking children, I'm at home with back-talking cats and a dog who'd lick me to death if I'd let her.

First 250:

Chapter I: Australia

August 28th

“Get everyone out of here. Now.”

It was a simple command. Simple in words, anyway. Its execution was much more complicated.

“What about you, Frank?” James asked. “Can you keep fighting?”

“What choice do I have?” Frank wiped blood as it gushed from a wound on his forehead.“This is my time.” He raised his sword, preparing to run back into the fray.

“But we’re losing. Look at us. The world…it’s dying.”

Frank looked to his cousin, both of them dirty, sweaty, wounded, and exhausted.

“I know. And it’s my fault.”

The gym was aglow with a flurry of colored lights: red, purple, and white. Wind blew with gale force as the floor – his battlefield - quaked violently. He brandished his weapon, ready to fight, but he fell. The hardwood floor cracked while he was on his hands and knees. He rolled away to prevent himself from falling into the crevasse.

The floor broke in several more places, and dazzling gold light filtered in. A wingless, snake-like dragon the size of a house, made entirely of golden particles, broke through one of the holes, exhaling black flames. The flame hit several people trying to flee. They fell over, their skin unmarked but their insides charred, dense smoke billowing from their mouths and nostrils.

Frank ran forward to confront the dragon. He raised the sword above his head, but felt pain and breathlessness when someone in a red hooded robe tackled him.


  1. No.

    Great Hook. But you lost me in the third paragraph. The explanation of the antagonist was a bit confusing, especially the line about him talking to a mirror--seemed random. The last paragraph read more like a synopsis than query. Make sure you outline the stakes as well as the antagonist.

    About your first 250: Be careful starting a novel in medias res. A lot of agents don't like it. Give us time to connect with the character before we're thrown into the action.

  2. (Entry #13)
    I connected with the MC right off the bat and found this a new take on wizards (which has been rare for me). I like where the story is going.

  3. The title makes me think of someone who is half Knight, half female horse. That immediately intrigued me, but I don't get the impression that's what you really want to convey. I would also change the last line of the bio. I get what it's supposed to do, but it sounds like you hate children, which makes me wonder why you want to write YA. There's a disconnect. I also love the hook, but feel like the rest of the query doesn't live up to it.

    The voice feels older than YA to me. I realize that you don't want to talk down to your audience, but some of the word choices don't feel like something a 14-year-old would use.

  4. No- cool idea but I started to gloss over when you got into soooo much detail/action in your query. Cut to the chase, I'd say. The opening is pretty cool. Obviously jumping right into the action. So rock on, on that front. Although, I get from your query that we might be jumping into the climax and then backtracking and that is not my fave way to go. It feels gimicky. (let me know if I'm wrong!)

    (Number Seventeen)

  5. #21 Sorry but it's a no. Great idea and I'm glad that you laid out the exact things the MC needed to accomplish. But you lost me with the enchanted suit of armor. Was it in the classroom? The school? The mirror? Also he wanted to show the realm to anyone that would look but didn't this that looked disappear?

  6. No. It's interesting, but then I felt bombarded by too many details. #10

  7. Just FYI, the bio I made specifically for this. I don't use a bio in my query unless they specifically ask for one.

  8. My take would have to be no. I liked the query but i got confused with the details.
    I loved the voice in the first 250 but you went right into action and it seems to me that it started in the middle. The action is well written but unless this is a prologue or him daydreaming, I felt like I missed a whole bunch before this. (#18)

  9. Query:
    Your intro line is confusing, so cut it. We have no context for it. Try to combine it with your first sentence, second paragraph.

    Near the middle of the query, you lapse into what I call synopsis mode, where you’re telling us what happens with no emotion. Queries need emotion to be successful. Make this exciting!

    Also, the wizard randomly thrown in at the end doesn’t add anything as, again, we have no real context. Maybe shorten the “ahh, kids are missing! Call the police” part and get to the magical mirror quicker. That’s where your story it.

    Overall, your query is decent, but I think you could cut much of the beginning and go right to the fantasy aspects.

    First 250:
    Your first 250 is well-written, but I have no idea what’s happening. Is there an epic battle with a dragon happening in a school gym? You’re dropping me right in the middle of the action and I’m disoriented. Either go back and start a bit earlier or start somewhere else entirely. I feel like you’re starting at the climax of the book, too. Like they do in TV shows and then say “48 hours earlier”. Don’t do that in a book.

    Verdict: No.

    I was tempted to say “yes” because your writing is good, but the first 250 and query are confusing at places. So I’m saying no. With a little work, it would be a yes.

    Good luck!
    -Tiff (#3)

  10. No--the writing is stiff and doesn't flow well.