Monday, October 11, 2010

WINNING QUERY #1 - Captive Magic

NOTE FROM THE BLOGGER:  This is the first in a series of posts about queries which were successful in nabbing an agent.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions (I'm happy to ask the authors if questions are specific), but lets keep our observations positive. 

Whatever you might think about the letters in this series, the reality is, they worked!  Maybe that's because of amazing query writing.  Maybe they reached just the right person at the right time.  Probably it's the solid story they represent.  Regardless, these are people who have achieved what I'm aiming for, so my hat goes off to them.  Derogatory comments will be deleted.

The first 'winning' query comes from Elle Stone who is repped by the esteemed Rebecca Strauss at McIntosh and Otis. You can find Elle here and here

You'll also find an interview with Elle here.

Now, without further ado...The Query

Dear Agent:

Growing up in an enchanted museum should be heaven. For Violet, it’s a prison sentence. She’s done with charms, spells, and all that magical nonsense. She wants a normal life in the outside world and will do close to anything to break free.

When her latest escape scheme collapses, Violet’s left in the rubble with Oriel--a green-eyed sorcerer on the hunt for a lost charm. His love spell entrances Violet long enough for him to override her judgment and wake a host of imprisoned statues. Now Violet has to baby-sit a pack of freed royals while she combats the creatures loosed into the corridors. A tiger stalks her footsteps, an unknown force opens doors that can’t be opened, and a plague goddess infects her world’s foundations.

As friends disappear and charms rampage, Violet will have to overcome dark magic--and her own murky past--to survive. It’s her against all comers, and magic demands sacrifice. Is Violet willing to surrender her dream of life outside to protect the home she despises?

Captive Magic was completed as my thesis in the MFA in popular fiction program at Seton Hill University. The completed manuscript is 66k words targeted to a teen YA audience--a mix of Night At The Museum and the quirky magic of Harry Potter.

Thank you for your time & consideration.


Elle Stone

READER QUESTION:  Do you have a successful query letter you'd be willing to share?  Please email me, tweet me, or note your intended generosity in the comments and I'll contact you!


  1. Wow, great letter. The hook is captivating, "Growing up in an enchanted museum should be heaven." What kind of person would grow up in an enchanted museum? And just what happens to make it anything less than heaven? Makes me want to read the rest of the letter, and after reading it, makes me want to read the book.

    Could I hire her to write mine?

  2. Ha! I know what you mean, Melanie. I feel the same way. As far as hiring Elle, you'll have to stand in line - I'm asking first!

  3. Thanks, ladies : ) Wish you could see the original drafts! They were confusing as anything because I kept trying to put in waaaay more information than the query could fit. I got great suggestions from my writer friends and the fine folk over at yalitchat's query kick around. It's all about the revision process!