Holiday Query Blog Hop: THE MIRRORMASTERS

(A huge thank you to Michelle Hauck for organizing this lovely blog hop and to the wonderful critiquers who so generously offer their feedback! You have all been so tremendously helpful, and I love the feedback you've given. Hopefully this incorporates most of it and adds a bit of clarity. )

REVISED QUERY:


Dear Amazing Agent,


Leah Ellis never knew why she was found abandoned on the beach at two years old. Content with her adoptive family and small town life, she hadn't thought much about it over the years. That is, until her life takes a bizarre turn when she begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen beaches on another world beneath a purple sky. 

She practices mirror-gazing, driven to understand these images and their possible connection to her forgotten past, and discovers that it’s kind of addictive with its wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to control what the mirror shows her.


When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers for the people in her visions. According to Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes, and his father, she is a MirrorMaster--an alien with a gift that lets her travel through mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Her birth parents sent them to take her from Earth back to her homeworld of Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for her ever since she disappeared.  


But Leah’s long-lost birth sister, a sorceress, activated an ancient device to trigger a cataclysm on Jantyr as a bid to consolidate her own power. Leah must return to Jantyr, master her newfound ability in order to locate and wield crystals that will disable the device, and thwart her sister’s plans. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy, including Earth and everyone she loves.

THE MIRRORMASTERS is a 98,000-word science fiction/fantasy for young adults. I have earned a graduate degree in Psychology from Widener University and work at a local residential facility serving autistic children and teens. My short story, "Unfinished," was published online on author Samantha Mabry's website, Flash Paranormal Fiction. My short science fiction/apocalyptic story, “Defying the Darkness,” is published through Novelty Fiction. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Warmest Regards,


Lora Palmer



-----------------------------------------

PREVIOUS VERSION:

Dear Amazing Agent,


Leah Ellis never knew her origins, or why she was found on the beach
at two years old, all alone. Now fifteen, she has always focused on
her life with her adoptive family and best friends in their small town
of SeaCliff Heights. The past hasn’t mattered. That is, until she
begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures
using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen
beaches on another world beneath a purple sky. As she practices
mirror-gazing, she finds out that it’s kind of addictive with its
wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to
control what the mirror shows her.


When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers
for the people in her visions. Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes,
and his father, were sent by her birth parents to take her from Earth
back to Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for
her ever since she disappeared. According to them, she is a
MirrorMaster, an alien with a gift that lets her travel through
mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Because of this rare
ability, Jantyr needs her help to locate and wield crystals that will
stop an impending cataclysm, a cataclysm triggered by a device on her
homeworld. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy,
including Earth and everyone she loves.


THE MIRRORMASTERS is a 98,000-word science fiction/fantasy for young
adults.Thank you so much for your time and
consideration.

Warmest Regards,


Lora Palmer

Comments

  1. Love the concept of the MirrorMaster - very cool!
    I think your first sentence could be tightened to read simply Leah never knew why she'd been abandoned on a beach when she was only two years old, but she hadn't thought much about it over the years. She was content with her adoptive family and small town life.

    The second part of that paragraph could be tightened too -- and be a little clearer that this is the catalyzing incident - her life goes from predictable to bizarre when she starts seeing images in the mirror that aren't her own face. It would also help to transition more clearly into the fact that she's so curious about what she sees that she keeps doing it -- thats when she discovers she has the ability to direct the mirror to show her things. Then you can tell us the power feels wild and boundless and addictive, etc.
    I think it would help also to tie the new neighbors to the mirror gazing right away - otherwise it's hard to follow why you're talking about neighbors now instead of continuing the mirror theme. Queries are more about motivation and stakes than physical descriptions -- so I think it would be a stronger query if you tell us more about her stakes - why she cares.
    Your last line is almost there - we see that the galaxy will be destroyed, but I think it's a little abrupt -- why does a crystal stop the cataclysm? Why is Leah the only one who can find the crystal? Why was she put on Earth on the first place?
    I know you can't answer everything in a query, but I think a bit more emphasis on hooking us on Leah and her quandary would be good.
    Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oooh. Very interesting premise. I was wondering where the sci-fi elements came in and then bam! There's an alien. Lol.

    I was going to say the same thing as Heather about the first sentence. "Leah Ellis never knew why she was abandoned on a beach at two years old," sounds much more dramatic and eliminates the redundancies.

    In the second paragraph, by "visions" I'm guessing your talking about what she sees in the mirror. I would be consistent with what you call the images. "Visions" to me implies something she can't control, or glimpses of the future. Is she controlling the future?

    The way you've ordered the second paragraph makes it seem, at first, like Leah's always known she wasn't from earth. Could we get the line about why they want to take her back (because she's a MirrorMaster) first? Something like:

    When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked to discover they're dead ringers
    for the creatures she sees in the mirror. According to Brian, with his gorgeous blue eyes, and his father, she is a MirrorMaster—an alien with a gift that lets her travel through
    mirrors, even to worlds light years away... then give us some VOICE! :)

    Really great start, girl! The premise comes through the query BIG TIME! Best of luck with this and Happy Holidays :)

    @AshleyHearn

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOVE YOUR NAME! Twin Peaks FTW.
    As for your query, I don't have much to add. This is solid and I think if you tighten a few of the sentences mentioned above, you'll be set. I like Ashely's suggestion for the second paragraph. And just to clarify, is Earth her homeworld? Or is it Jantyr? And tell us a bit about yourself in the query! Agents want to know who you are!

    ReplyDelete
  4. full disclosure, I've developed a critiquing technique that doesn't translate well in blog comments, so let me know if my translation (without my good friend HTML) is too hard to understand.

    Dear Amazing Agent,


    Leah Ellis never knew [her origins, or]*delete* why she was found /alone/ on the beach
    at two years old[, all alone]*delete*. Now fifteen, [she has always focused on
    her life with her adoptive family and best friends in their small town
    of SeaCliff Heights. The]*delete* /her/ past [hasn’t]*delete /doesn't/ matter[ed]*delete. That is, until she [begins]*delete* see/s/ images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen
    beaches on another world beneath a purple sky. [As she]*delete /P/ractic/ing/
    mirror-gazing[, she finds out that it’s kind of]*delete /is/ addictive/,/ [with]*delete* its
    wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to
    control what the mirror shows her.


    When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers
    for the people in her visions. Brian[, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes,]**not really necessary?**
    and his father[,]*delete* were sent by her birth parents to take her from Earth
    back to Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for
    her ever since she disappeared. According to them, she is a
    MirrorMaster, an alien with a gift that lets her travel through
    mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Because of this rare
    ability, Jantyr needs her help to locate and wield crystals that will
    stop [an impending cataclysm, a cataclysm triggered by a device on her
    home*space*world.]**super super vague. doesn't draw me in or make me care. Give specifics** Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy,
    including Earth and everyone she loves. **Great that you include the tie in back to earth! Will talk about this below**

    Overall, I really like this query. Most of my suggestions are just tightening up/nit picking things. I was upset a moment when I felt like you were giving me a bunch of backstory and then suddenly, at the end of the query, you get into the real story (of the aliens etc.) Adding that tie-in back to earth sold it for me, but be careful, others might not see it the same as I do. In my opinion, if you're going to spend that much time on earth, earth had better matter. If Earth isn't as important to your story, try starting your query later, and tell us more about her journey to Jantyr etc. (if that happens at all, and only if its more important than her time on earth).

    If you feel this is an accurate representation of your story (more earth, less Jantyr), then this is very close to perfect! I definitely want to read more!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lara - I think you have a good start to your query. I agree with what the others are saying about tightening things up for clarity. You might try to play with some of the order to see what works best. One possibility would be start the query with the part "When Leah Ellis begin to see images in mirrors...," and then go into the lack knowledge about her past. That's a good image to bring the reader into the query.
    Good luck! Polish some things up and you have a really solid query for a cool story.


    ReplyDelete
  6. Leah Ellis never knew her origins, or why she was found on the beach at two years old, all alone. ---{interesting, did grab my attention}----


    Now fifteen, she has always focused on her life with her adoptive family and best friends in their small town of SeaCliff Heights. ---{I'm not sure how to explain it, but the sentence reads awkwardly - I had to re-read it twice. I'm also not sure you need to name the city in the query - I was told that unless it's very important in the main plot, don't name more than you have to}----


    The past hasn’t mattered. ---{This reads awkwardly again...maybe it's a verb tense thing?}----


    That is, until she begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen beaches on another world beneath a purple sky. ---{I like this - makes me want more}----


    As she practices mirror-gazing, she finds out that it’s kind of addictive with its wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to control what the mirror shows her. ---{How does she control it exactly? Using her powers of thoughts and her mind? Magic from her hands?}----


    When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers for the people in her visions. ---{Oh! Love this development!}----


    Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes, and his father, were sent by her birth parents to take her from Earth back to Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for her ever since she disappeared. According to them, she is a MirrorMaster, an alien with a gift that lets her travel through mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Because of this rare ability, Jantyr needs her help to locate and wield crystals that will stop an impending cataclysm, a cataclysm triggered by a device on her homeworld. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy, including Earth and everyone she loves. ---{stakes are clear, but I'm not sure I'm understand what exactly is the impending cataclysm - is is someone/something who/that will set it off? Is there something wrong with the device?}----


    I like the idea of the story, but I feel like the query reads more like a synopsis than a query - I'm not getting a sense of who Leah is, what kind of personality does she have. I think that if you can add that missing voice, it'll read more like a query

    Hope this helps!
    Good luck! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Lea,
    I like the premise and I think for a draft QL you’re well on your way.
    Here’s my comments. First, I’m not a big fan on too many “hasn’t/didn’t” in the beginning, that is, too negative, so keep that in mind with my notes.

    Leah Ellis never knew her origins (here is where I got stuck, because who knows their origins at 15?), or why she was found on the beach at two years old, all alone (all alone is supposed – don’t waste the word real estate).
    Also I got confused about her practising to control the mirror & found myself re-reading.

    MY SUGGESTION for para one:
    For fifteen year old Leah the past didn't matter, not even that she was found abandoned on a beach when she was two (by the way, if she was abandoned how does she know she was two?) She had her friends and her adoptive parents and nothing too frightening ever happened in SeaCliff Hieghts – yep, life was pretty close to perfect – until she started seeing images reflected back in mirrors of purple sky’s and cloaked figures.

    And then go on to tell the rest. I’m not sure how to help with the next but because I’m still not 100% clear what she is seeing/doing/able to do & I don’t want to suggest some thing that is way off, but I do love the neighbours bit. If you could tighten the first para. Make the second clearer & keep the tension & eerie feeling of the third, you’d be one to a winner I think 

    Hope this helps

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like your opening, instantly grabbed my attention. Except reduce some of the redundancies like some of the other commenters have suggested.

    I found your second paragraph a little hard to follow. There are a lot of details about her neighbors as well as her own origins and her quest to locate the crystals and stop the cataclysm clubbed together. Maybe it would be an easier read to separate them out for clarity.

    A minor nitpick: you mention that according to her parents she is an alien, which somehow did not sound right to me. You may want to word it a little differently.

    Overall though, you have a really interesting concept. I would definitely love to find out what happens in your story :)

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Others have made great suggestions for tightening up your first paragraph. I think the real meat of your story is in paragraph 2 when it’s revealed she’s a MirrorMaster (such an excellent concept!), and the sooner you can get to it, the better. While I love the imagery of what she sees in the mirror in para 1, I’m more interested in what she can do with her power after the reveal. Right now, almost half your query is spent describing what she learns to do with the mirror on her own. But, if your MS focuses more on all the cool stuff she does to locate the crystals to save Earth, it might be good to use your query space to show a little more of that instead.

    All the best with it! I really love the idea of using mirrors to travel to other worlds. It’s a unique concept.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Lora!

    First of all - this sounds SO MUCH FUN. Mirror travel? I love it! You definitely have a cool concept and clear stakes - I just feel your query could benefit from some restructuring.

    In the first paragraph we get a great sense of what she's seeing, and how this is different from her average day, but what I don't get is a sense of what she wants/must do. Perhaps you are best starting with how she's never cared about her past until she starts seeing strange things in mirrors, and how she begins to wonder if the life she's forgotten or could have had might have anything to do with this cool new power. The fact she's enjoying using the new power doesn't tell us whether or not she wants to control it, or what is driving her at this point in the story.

    As others have mentioned I feel like your real story comes from the neighbours next door - the cloaked figures manifesting, and hitting her with news that rocks her world. So this could be the focus of your second paragraph. (The whole 'But When' idea :))

    You might then want a third paragraph highlighting the stakes (which are really high, which is excellent!). Something along the lines of how if she can't master her new power and rejects returning to Jantyr, the galaxy will be consumed. If of course that's what happens i.e. she struggles with the idea...I don't know what happens specifically in your MS :)

    Because I haven't read your MS, I can't be any more specific than this in terms of how your story unfolds. But I think this sounds really cool and with a bit of restructuring this query will be great! Obviously all my points are subjective, but I hope you can take something from them!

    Best of luck with this!

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  11. What a great premise! Good luck with your query!

    ReplyDelete

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