Query Letter, Part 4

I brought my updated query letter to my monthly writer’s critique group last week.

(BTW, I highly recommend finding yourself a critique group. I found mine via the writer’s group at my public library.)

They gave me some great feedback that I incorporated. I’m pretty sure this is the final draft. See if you agree.

Mystics of Sonoduhl is a completed epic fantasy of 90,500 words with series potential. It compares with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted as well as classics like Terry Brooks’ Shannara series.

Maghrurio is a middle-aged nobody working for Abner, the Mystic of Decra. When a fiery explosion fatally injures the Mystic, he asks Maghrurio with his dying breath to find his assassin.

He also makes Maghurio the newest Mystic.

With no magical skills or training, Maghrurio has his work cut out for him. He must venture forth, uncovering the assassin’s true motives while avoiding the clutches of a power-hungry duke.

Accompanied by Abner’s housekeeper and an apothecary he barely knows, Maghrurio is forced to overcome his imposter syndrome and prevent the destruction of the Mystic order.

Along the way he uncovers a startling possibility–is the assassin a Mystic himself?

Along the way he uncovers a startling possibility–the assassin may be a Mystic himself…

UPDATE: I read someplace that some agents dislike rhetorical questions, so I’ve replaced the last sentence.

Query Letter, Part 3

It’s been another week. I ran the query by a couple more Facebook writing groups (I’m part of a lot of them…) and got some further feedback.

Some of the changes come from that feedback. Some come from me staring at the text for a while. Hopefully I’m getting closer to the “right” version.

Enjoy the journey!

Maghrurio is a middle-aged nobody working for Abner, the magical Mystic of Decra. When a fiery explosion leaves Abner fatally injured, he asks Maghrurio with his dying breath to find the assassin responsible for his death.

He also makes Maghurio the newest Mystic.

Maghurio never wanted the job. Hell, he never even imagined having it. But it was Abner’s dying request, so now he has to figure it all out.

With no magical skills and zero magical training, Maghrurio has his work cut out for him. He must search out the assassin and uncover his true motives, while avoiding the pursuit of a power-hungry duke and the assassin determined to stop him. 

Accompanied by Abner’s housekeeper and an apothecary he barely knows, Maghrurio is forced to overcome his imposter syndrome and lack of magical training to prevent the assassin from destroying the Mystic order.

Along the way he discovers the startling truth about the assassin and his connection with his fellow Mystics.

Query Letter, Part 2

In Part 1 I described what the query letter is and why I’m preparing one.

I belong to several writing groups on Facebook, so I posted my first draft for feedback. I got some.

  1. There was a question about the housekeeper. Who’s was it? If Maghrurio’s, then how does a common laborer afford one? Clarity and specifics are a good thing, so I needed to fix that.
  2. Another reader was concerned that Maghrurio seemed too passive – he was “aided and abetted, rather than active.” Another bit to fix.
  3. One reader complained that the first sentence was a mini-infodump and the whole thing didn’t sizzle enough. Fair point.
  4. One obvious question from the blurb – how did Abner appoint someone to replace him if he was dead? There is, of course, a logical answer, but it wasn’t explicit in the blurb.

Taking this feedback into account, I rewrote the blurb as follows.

Mystics of Sonoduhl blurb, take 2. Enjoy!

Maghrurio is a middle-aged nobody working for Abner, the magical Mystic of Decra. When a fiery explosion leaves Abner fatally injured, he asks Maghrurio with his dying breath to find the assassin responsible for his death.

Oh, and he makes Maghurio the newest Mystic.

With no magical skills and zero self-confidence, Maghrurio has his work cut out for him. He must search out the assassin and uncover his true motives, while avoiding the pursuit of a power-hungry duke and the assassin determined to stop him. Accompanied by Abner’s housekeeper and an apothecary he barely knows, Maghrurio also must overcome his imposter syndrome and lack of magical training to prevent the assassin from destroying the Mystic order.

Query Letter, First Draft

As an author, I have two basic approaches to getting a novel published.

I can do self-publishing, which (as the name implies explicitly states) means I do it all myself. Editing, copyrighting, cover design, interior layout, etc. all are my responsibility, as is marketing. I’d split the proceeds with distributors (such as Amazon.) A great many people do this, and to varying degrees of success.

The other option is traditional publishing. In this, I will partner with a publishing company that will assemble and print my novel and market/distribute it. This is the route I mean to try, and the first step is to secure an agent to represent me.

So how does an author find an agent? With a query letter, of course! It’s an introduction of the author and the work, sort of a hybrid resume/advertisement. There are many resources online for developing a query, but I thought it would be interesting to track my own work on my query letter here.

Since the lion’s share of the query letter is the book blurb, I’ll focus on that. So here is my first pass for the Mystics of Sonoduhl blurb. Enjoy!

Maghrurio is a middle-aged common laborer living in the small town of Decra. But when his employer – famed Mystic Abner – is murdered in a fiery explosion, he becomes the new Mystic and is charged by Abner to find the Assassin.

A Mystic in name only, Maghrurio has no magical skills and zero self-confidence. He’s pursued by a power-hungry duke and the Assassin determined to end his investigation. Aided by his housekeeper and an apothecary he barely knows, Maghrurio must overcome his imposter syndrome and lack of magical training to stop the Assassin from destroying the Mystic order.

An Origin Story

This is an updated version of the origin story of my debut novel (and my writing career as well.)

Part 1: The Why

A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. Some folks at work were talking about bucket lists one day and it got me thinking.

Editor’s Note: The reason for the conversation was that we were all huddled in a basement hallway for 90 minutes waiting out a tornado warning. Good times.

Now, when we were little kids, writing a Christmas list was as easy as copying down everything on the TV commercials and most of the stuff in the Sears Wishbook. Some people seem to take the same approach with their bucket list. 

In my mind, though, there are two steps to a bucket list:

  1. List things you want to do, and
  2. Do them

Too many people put ambiguous things on their bucket list (TRAVEL can mean anywhere, including the supermarket) or get too ambitious (how can you KISS JAKE GYLLENHALL when you never leave Indiana?) 

I wanted to add specific things to my list, and then work to accomplish them.

After some careful thought and soul-searching, I decided something I’d always wanted to do was to get published.

Editor’s Note: This blog doesn’t count. #Sorry

Part 2: The What

Over the years I’ve had some unusual dreams, and I don’t just mean the content. I often dream cinematically, with character development and foreshadowing and such. Also, some nugget of something will get stuck in my brain – a question, a premise, a character or setting – and I’ll build a whole dream around that.

So I had a dream one night based on a literary premise: In The Hobbit, Gandalf is the wise old man who rides into town and convinces a regular guy to go on an adventure that succeeds. Terry Brooks also writes stories featuring the wise old man that does the same. Even Star Wars to some extent follows this trope. So I wondered… what if the wise old man wasn’t actually very wise?

Enter my dream state, where I converted this premise into an interesting and humorous scene.

Which stuck in my brain for several months.

Part 3: The Catalyst

In chemistry, the catalyst is what makes the ingredients do what they do. So we have the dream stuck in the back of my brain, and the desire to get published. Enter the upcoming New Years Eve, where (reality alert!) we’re supposed to come up with a lie we tell ourselves about self-improvement that won’t last a week.

Well, this year I wanted to come up with a good one, one I’d actually do. And here I had this idea, and a strong desire to see it come to light.

So on December 10, 2018 I started writing. And, because it originally came from a dream I had, I decided to call it DreamWorld.

Editor’s Note: I recently discovered (i.e., I bothered to Google) that DreamWorld is the name of Australia’s largest amusement park. So I’ll probably need to change my title. 🙁

Status

I finished my first draft on July 7, 2019.

And now the long road to getting it published lies before me…