Monday, October 25, 2010

Reader Query #1 - A Safe Place in Hell

Fasten your seatbelts - and offer feedback in the comments! 
(I'm also looking for 2-3 more submissions,  If you're interested, email me)

I'm going to give each Author a tag. But if you want to be in touch with them, please email me your details.  I'm happy to pass it on to the author so they can contact you if they wish.

Now... go to it!  What can AUTHOR#1 do to improve the hook and query letter below?


There is no safe place for Eddie after he makes the mistake of shooting a vindictive militia captain. But he isn’t sure he can survive in a world where the temperature is never below one hundred and justice is decided by the one with a bigger gun. 



The alarm Eddie Watson woke to could signal any number of things: the air conditioner overheated, a computer malfunction, another storm—problems he could fix. But it was the worst, the worst of the worst: people were breaking into his house. Why they’d mess with a small place in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains he didn’t know, but only Marauders are stupid enough to be out stealing in one hundred twenty degree heat. And that belief is what could get Eddie killed.

Had his father not been taken up to Canada by the government, he could have stopped Eddie. He would have realized the men were too organized and too well-trained to be desert dwellers. He would have stopped Eddie from firing on soldiers sent by the militia that just seized power, and maybe Captain Logan wouldn’t be demanding his head on a pike.

Eddie isn’t a fighter. He grows plants and fixes motorcycles. Running is his only option.
To his relief, he doesn’t have to go alone. Plenty of friends (specifically, adult friends) decide to go with him, helping him fight off the soldiers sent to apprehend him.

Unfortunately, his escape further vexes Logan. Demoted and humiliated at his failure to secure the land he oversaw, he wants to bring Eddie back and prove his competence. As the hunt goes on, first east and then south, he realizes obtaining Eddie won’t fix his career. Nothing will. And all he has left is revenge.

All this under the glare of an unforgiving sun. For Eddie, freedom is South America. And the price is every person he calls “friend.”

A SAFE PLACE IN HELL is a 76,000 word dystopian/YA novel. Thank you for taking the time to look at my submission. The full manuscript is available on request and I am submitting it to other agents at this time.


Rules of engagement:  Let's keep comments constructive - i.e. offer encouragement as well as helpful advice or gently identify areas for concern.  Derogatory comments will be deleted.


  1. The second sentence of your hook is the interesting part. I don’t really understand why it would be a ‘mistake’ to shoot a vindictive militia captain’ (who sounds like a villain). Maybe instead tell us what’s at stake in two points: What does Eddie have to achieve, and what is at stake if he doesn't OR what obstacle does have to overcome.

    Re Query: I think you've got a potentially GREAT query here, but you're trying to achieve too much storytelling. All you need to do is whet our appetites.

    Key pieces of information I can see are: We're in the future, the world is very hot, Eddie takes a shot at militia man and becomes the target of someone power. He's about to get chased across the country and if he can reach South America he'll be safe - but he or the people he loves might die in the process.

    Whammo! A query should give just enough information to make me curious, without answering any questions that lower my tension.

    You've got a really good start here, just cut it back. Check out blurbs for bestsellers on Amazon, they're a good way to figure out structure for summarising the hook of your story.

  2. I was impressed with it all except for "the worst, the worst of the worst." I would change that first worst into another word if possible.

  3. The hook could be fixed just by eliminating excess words. "after he shoots" as opposed to "after he makes the mistake of shooting". In hooks and queries, removing excess verbiage is a must. Make it clean and startling.

  4. Thanks for stopping in Jill / HBIC - good advice!