Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Querymas

my true Genn gave to me: past-life memories, hot guys and cake, one confused rocker, a sick girl, two switched witches, and a role-play game that turns deadly.

Dear Ms. Albin,
For Taylor Anderson, even death can’t quiet erase the memories of her final weeks on earth.

She is hHaunted by the words her classmates whispered to her as she walked down the hallways of her high school (whore, whore, whore), and she Taylor can’t shake the painful ache left in her gut after Sunny, her now ex-best friend, did The Horrible Thing that caused it all.  I'm pretty interested in the story thus far.  Who doesn't remember being the subject of whispered gossip?  Or is that just me?  My concern with this paragraph is that it's verbose.  I think you can clean these sentences up just a bit, making it shorter and snappier.

Death should make the memories disappear, but when Taylor is hit by a car she doesn’t get an afterlife filled with harp-playing angels and peaceful thoughts.  This feels a bit too much like a rehashing of the last paragraph.  We do get new info in here, but we get a lot of repeat information.  My advise is to excise a lot of this and combine the new info with the next paragraph.

When a car accident kills Taylor, she doesn't escape any of it.  Instead she appears in front of a staircase that climbs up into the sky, with no end in sight and nothing to keep her company but except the ghosts of her past. But the staircase is more than the empty relic it first appears to be.  Within it lies a second chance to uncover the true value of everything Taylor thought she wanted to leave behind, but first she must face Sunny’s betrayal and the week that nearly broke her head-on. 

Unless the stairs break her first.  Ok, this really intrigues me, because as writer it makes me wonder what really happens on the stairs.  I'm wondering about giving us more about this in the query, because I'm guessing it's where the actions is.  As this query stands I'm torn between whether this sounds literary or commercial.  I'd love a clear delineation.  

THE STAIRS AND THE FLY is a 54,000 word YA novel; a look at friendship, jealousy and what happens when we die.  It will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.  Your title really makes me assume this is lit fic.  It's a bit obtuse for a YA novel, imo. 
I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to share my manuscript with you.

I think you have an intriguing concept.  Just temper the line between withholding information to intrigue the reader and withholding the information to frustration the reader.  Best of luck! 


  1. Awesome story! I am very intrigued but agree with Gen's critique. Especially the title comment. If I Stay and Before I Fall sound like YA titles and I think you could evoke more of the same feeling if you just shortened your title to something like "The Staircase" or "On the Stairs".

    Though, of course, you can always wait and get title help from your publisher.

  2. Hi Stacy! Looks like you plumped this up a little :)

    Good query.

    Genn--I'm learning so much from your critiques. Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge.

  3. You're welcome Margie!

  4. Gennifer - thanks so much for taking the time to review this. I really appreciate your input and will take your comments to heart. Happy holidays, and thanks for taking the time to do this for all of us aspiring writers! :)