Holiday Query Blog Hop: High-Stakes, YA Paranormal

Happy December, everyone! In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m doing a Holiday Query Blog Hop (click the link for more details), in hopes of improving my query. I’m not quite at querying stage, but it never hurts to practice. 😉 I’m excited to see what feedback I’ll get for this! Enjoy my query, and I can’t wait to go out and give feedback on everyone else’s.

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Revision #1: 12/9/14

Dear Blog Hoppers,
If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice. So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated; she has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck. Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.

Phoebe is determined to fight back, and she’s willing to do it with or without Benjy’s help. Luckily, he agrees to give her the full Buffy experience. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when Emlen, the vampire that attacked her, reappears. When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, Phoebe is terrified that her friend will become his next victim. With Phoebe under hunter protection, Emlen turns his attention to the people Phoebe loves, smashing cars and locking them in coffins. Phoebe and Benjy work together to smoke him out and reduce him to dust, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular.

But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.

HIGH-STAKES, a YA paranormal novel, is complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Melanie Wozniak

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Original Query: 12/2/14

Dear Blog Hoppers,
If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to have to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice. So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated. She has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck. Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.

Determined to fight back, Phoebe takes up vampire hunting lessons with his family. Phoebe is a natural. If only she could stop butting heads with her insufferable instructor, Benjy’s older brother. It’d help if he stopped accusing her of playing Buffy and took her seriously. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when the vampire that attacked her reappears: rats in lockers and threatening notes galore. When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, things go from nerve-wracking to Scream-worthy. As he ups the ante, Phoebe matches him blow for blow, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular. If they knew the truth, it’d be even easier for him to sink his fangs into them.

But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Forced to play chess against the ultimate chess master, Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.

HIGH-STAKES, a YA paranormal novel, is complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Mel Wozniak

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19 thoughts on “Holiday Query Blog Hop: High-Stakes, YA Paranormal

  1. Hi!

    I really like this! Great voice. I understand who your MC is, what she wants, and what’s at stake if she doesn’t succeed. Your first paragraph let’s me know this is not the same kind of vampire novel we’ve become accustomed to–which is good.

    The only thing I would consider changing is in the second paragraph. Is the brother really important enough to mention in the query? Maybe a second love interest?

    Best of luck with this, really enjoyed it!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I took your advice and ended up cutting the brother out, which I think makes the query run smoother. I’m glad that you enjoyed my query, and that this stands out among typical vampire novels, because that’s exactly what I was going for. 🙂 Best of luck to you as well!

      Like

  2. Hello, Mel!

    This novel sounds quirky and exciting!

    I found the very first sentence to be a little bit confusing, Maybe simplify a little and add that Pheobe is a writer in profession or something.

    In the second to last paragraph, “But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Forced to play chess against the ultimate chess master, Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.” -I really like the last part of this but I think the first part could be reworded for better clarity.

    I will keep an eye out for this in the future. Looks right up my alley 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback and your compliments! I actually did revise parts of my query (just updated with my first revision) and hopefully it looks a little clearer now. I’m glad that my story caught your interest! 🙂

      Like

  3. Hello writing buddy 😀

    If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to have to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice. So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated. She has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck. Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.
    ->”…she’s going to have to” slows pacing, plus you don’t need it. “…she’s going to write another expose, preferably one that gets the front page this time.”

    Determined to fight back, Phoebe takes up vampire hunting lessons with his family. Phoebe is a natural. If only she could stop butting heads with her insufferable instructor, Benjy’s older brother.
    -> I think you can combine sentences one and two. For me, it gets a little wordy. However, I do like the long sentence then short sentence structure. Sadly, I agree with the above poster that Declan is unneeded. Their animosity is a cute subplot, but doesn’t need query-status. Plus, the next line about Buffy is filler and there’s no room for that here.

    It’d help if he stopped accusing her of playing Buffy and took her seriously. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when the vampire that attacked her reappears: rats in lockers and threatening notes galore. When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, things go from nerve-wracking to Scream-worthy. As he ups the ante, Phoebe matches him blow for blow, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular. If they knew the truth, it’d be even easier for him to sink his fangs into them.
    -> Proud buddy 😀

    But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Forced to play chess against the ultimate chess master, Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.
    -> I think this is semi redundant. It feels like the end of the last paragraph is starting this one. I’d tweak it to read: But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.

    Cheers!
    Mic

    Like

  4. If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to have to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice. —{I like the beginning – it works for me as a hook}—

    So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated. —{Love this!}— She has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck. Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life. —{Hooked so far!}—

    Determined to fight back, Phoebe takes up vampire hunting lessons with his family. Phoebe is a natural. If only she could stop butting heads with her insufferable instructor, Benjy’s older brother. It’d help if he stopped accusing her of playing Buffy and took her seriously. —{Awesome reference and gives readers an insight as to how Phoebe’s character works}—

    Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when the vampire that attacked her reappears: rats in lockers and threatening notes galore. —{I really want to read this!}—

    When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, things go from nerve-wracking to Scream-worthy. As he ups the ante, Phoebe matches him blow for blow, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular. If they knew the truth, it’d be even easier for him to sink his fangs into them. —{I really love the voice here! I feel like I already know Phoebe!}—

    But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. —{Did I mention I love the voice in this query? I did? Well, I love it more!}—

    Forced to play chess against the ultimate chess master, Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence. —{I love the stakes and everything, but I was taken aback by the play chess part as I took it literally (not sure if I was supposed to or not), but I know it could be a figure of speech…?}—

    All in all, I love the query, love the voice, characters, stakes – but that last ‘chess’ part left me a little stumped!

    Hope this helps!
    Good luck! 🙂

    p.s. When your novel gets published, I’ll buy a copy for sure!

    Like

  5. Hi there,

    In the first paragraph, ‘ that gets more notice.’ leaves me hanging. I want to know, ‘gets more notice than what?’ Then, in the next sentence, what is she vindicated from?

    I also assumed that if she was attacked by the vampire, that meant he bit her and she turned into a vampire. But then you skip to her being saved. So, I’m assuming she didn’t get bit?

    Also, “rats in lockers and threatening notes galore.” Do you mean the vampire reappears or threatens her with rats in her lockers (??) and notes.

    I think this is vague, ‘As he ups the ante, Phoebe matches him blow for blow,’ How does he up the ante? How does she match him? Are they having a fist fight?

    ‘If they knew the truth, it’d be even easier for him to sink his fangs into them.’ Why would it be easier?

    Sounds like a good story with some humor! Overall, great job on the query!
    Shari

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I took a lot of your advice into account with my revision (just added it to the post) and tried to clarify the vaguer parts of my query. Let me know if anything is still unclear or could be clarified! I’m glad to hear that you liked my query and the humor involved. 🙂

      Like

  6. I see plenty of voice in your query, but feel it could use more specifics. For example, in the first paragraph Bengy tells Phoebe she can’t tell the story, why not. Also it’s not clear where her exposes are appearing – school newspaper, blog, somewhere else?

    Like

  7. If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to have to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice.
    (“she’s going to have to” could be tightened to “she’ll have to”)
    So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated.
    (How is she vindicated? This implies she believed vampires existed before she was attacked, but I got the opposite idea from the first sentence.)
    She has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck.
    (Love this!)
    Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.
    Determined to fight back, Phoebe takes up vampire hunting lessons with his family. Phoebe is a natural. If only she could stop butting heads with her insufferable instructor, Benjy’s older brother. It’d help if he stopped accusing her of playing Buffy and took her seriously. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough.
    (Love how you’re adding complexity to the story here, and the insertion of the older brother for conflict is great! My only concern is Benjy seemed important, but he disappears after this mention.)
    It becomes almost impossible when the vampire that attacked her reappears: rats in lockers and threatening notes galore.
    (I think the rats sound creepy, although I wonder why a vampire is putting them in her locker, and notes don’t sound so threatening. If you’re aiming for tension, bring in bigger guns.)

    When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, things go from nerve-wracking to Scream-worthy.
    (While I love the voice in this, nerve-wracking and scream-worthy don’t sound very scary; they minimize the vampire’s threat, which is the opposite of what I think you’re aiming for; maybe use words that up the tension instead?)
    As he ups the ante, Phoebe matches him blow for blow, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular. If they knew the truth, it’d be even easier for him to sink his fangs into them.
    (For your stakes this sounds great, but upping the ante and matching him blow for blow are vague terms. What exactly is he doing, and how is she retaliating? And I’m not sure how them knowing the truth will make it easier for him to get to them.)
    But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Forced to play chess against the ultimate chess master, Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.
    (Love the last line! I think you have a great premise here. It’s unusual enough it will attract attention. And the voice is fantastic. All the best with it!)

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback and compliments! I took a lot of your advice and shifted up some of my words and phrasing to raise the tension. I also tried to clarify the stakes a bit more. Let me know if anything in the revision I posted still seems unclear or vague! I’m glad to hear that people are finding my premise unusual enough to attract attention. I hope that helps me out when I query. 🙂 Good luck to you as well!

      Like

  8. Hola Melly!

    Criting this on FB chat is not the same lol

    If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to write another expose about it
    -> What is “it?”
    If Phoebe has to listen to her friends squeal over cheesy vampire romance novels one more time, she’s going to lose it. Then continue on with what you have.

    Phoebe is determined to fight back, and she’s willing to do it with or without Benjy’s help. Luckily, he agrees to give her the full Buffy experience. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the (news)paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when Emlen, the vampire that attacked her, reappears.

    When he entangles himself romantically with her best friend, Phoebe is terrified that her friend will become his next victim. With Phoebe under hunter protection, Emlen turns his attention to the people Phoebe loves, smashing cars and locking them in coffins. Phoebe and Benjy work together to smoke him out and reduce him to dust, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular.
    ->When he entangles with person other than Phoebe and attention turning to people other than Phoebe both say the same thing. I think start this paragraph with: With Phoebe under hunter protection, Emlen turns his attention to the people she loves: entangling himself with her best friend romantically in between locking others in coffins. Then continue with Phoebe and Benjy…
    -> Also, use of friend twice in sentence one.

    But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.
    -> Don’t think you need the opening “But.”

    Like

  9. Hey,

    #9 here from the Holiday Query Blog Hop 😀

    My thoughts are capitalized below:

    ***

    If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice (I WOULD CUT THE LAST PART OF THIS SENTENCE SINCE IT RUINED THE SPUNKY TONE FOR ME). So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated; she has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck (LOL). Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell, according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.

    Phoebe is determined to fight back, and she’s willing to do it with or without Benjy’s help. Luckily, he agrees to give her the full Buffy experience. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when Emlen, the vampire that attacked her, reappears. When he entangles himself romantically (WHY DON’T YOU SAY “SEDUCES”?) with her best friend, Phoebe is terrified that her friend will become his next victim. With Phoebe under hunter protection, Emlen turns his attention to the people Phoebe loves, smashing cars and locking them in coffins (HE LOCKS CARS IN COFFINS? YOU SHOULD REWORD). Phoebe and Benjy work together to smoke him out and reduce him to dust, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular (THIS SOUNDS LIKE YOU JUST TOLD ME THE END OF THE STORY. YOU SET EMLEN UP AS THE BIG BAD, BUT THEN WERE LIKE “AND THEN HE DIES”.)

    But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence. (THIS IS VAGUE. WHY NOT END WITH EMLEN AS THE CRAFTY BASTARD PHOEBE AND BENJY HAVE TO FIGHT?)

    ***

    Vampire are a hard sell, but this sounds like wicked fun. Re-work the ending and you’ll have a great query.

    Best of luck,
    Tiffanie

    Like

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