Azrael's Curse

Cindy and Anica are home now, which is totally awesome. It also means I'm alternately busier than ever and totally bored/napping (much more the former). And for whatever reason, I don't feel like blogging much about writing. Life just feels a lot bigger right now. Don't worry, I'll get over it.

So I'm cheating today and pasting my query for Air Pirates, also known as Azrael's Curse. Feel free to fill the comments with criticism or praise if you like. Just don't be a meanie head.

Dear Agent:

For Hagai’s twenty-first birthday, his mother sends him a stone that gives visions of the future. But why did she send it, and how, since she was killed eighteen years ago? Hagai’s not exactly a hero -- the bravest thing he’s ever done is put peppers in his stew -- yet when the stone shows his mother alive and in danger, he sets out to find her.

Air pirates and sky sailors are also after the stone, and Hagai soon loses it to a wanted sky’ler named Sam. Sam wants the stone to help him avenge his father, but it only shows him one thing: his own death. Hagai, he learns, receives many visions. So when Hagai tracks Sam down and demands he give the stone back -- politely, of course, because Sam has a knife -- Sam offers him a job instead.

Now Hagai, who grew up wanting nothing to do with sky’lers, is crew to one and fugitive from both pirates and police. He’s not sure he can trust Sam, and the stone haunts Hagai with visions of his own death. Nonetheless, he’s determined to change the future and find his mother, if it’s not already too late.

AZRAEL'S CURSE is a 90,000-word science fantasy novel, available on request. It's written to stand alone but has series potential. My short story, “Pawn's Gambit” -- set in the same world as AZRAEL'S CURSE -- is due to be published in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Adam Heine

I noticed at least one agent wanted the story described in one single paragraph. So here's the super-condensed version. I think I might like it better, but I'm still too close to it to tell (what with having written this version like 20 minutes ago):


For Hagai’s twenty-first birthday, his mother sends him a stone that gives visions of the future. But why did she send it, and how, since she was killed eighteen years ago? Hagai’s not exactly a hero -- the bravest thing he’s ever done is put peppers in his stew -- yet when the stone shows his mother alive and in danger, he sets out to find her. Hagai joins a crew of wanted sky sailors, becoming fugitive from both pirates and police. He's not sure who he can trust, and the stone haunts him with visions of his own death. Nonetheless, he's determined to change the future and find his mother, if it's not already too late.

15 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I had to go and have another little "Aw" over at the pictures of Anica.

Oh, and the queries look good to me, too.

Adam Heine said...

You know what, fairy? You go right ahead and check out Anica's pictures. In fact, here's a couple more.

Matt Heppe said...

I like the first version more. The short one just doesn't give me enough info. I haven't seen the one-paragraph advice anywhere. You don't want one big blog-o-text, but you haven't done that.

Congrats on the baby.

Matt

Adam Heine said...

Thanks, Matt. It wasn't general advice so much as one particular agent saying (paraphrased), "I prefer a single, well-written paragraph about the story and no more."

Ian said...

Sorry to be contrary, but I like version two. I think it's a bit punchier and tells me the basic elements of what your story is about.

Don't get me wrong though, query one is great too.

Tahereh said...

hmmm i also much prefer version 2. version 1 confused me a little bit -- because the more information you give, the MORE information you need to give in order to explain what you just said.

version 2 is concise enough to be succinct and simultaneously sufficient. it's also interesting. my favorite line: "the bravest thing he’s ever done is put peppers in his stew"

well done.

also: omggggggg how ADORABLE is Anica?? that first picture is to. die. for.

love it.

great blog! best of luck with everything!!

Lyla said...

I think I like the second one better for the same reason as Tanereh. I like knowing about Sam and the fact that Hagai doesn't like sky'lers, but honestly what hooks me is his dead mother sending him a birthday present and the stone telling him he's dead meat. Sam and the sky'lers aren't really necessary, IMO.

I like the line about the stew!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the extra pictures of Anica.

I like the first one better. From what I've read on your blog, Sam is rather necessary, and the more details and conflict you throw in, the more I want to read it. Also, I like your change in title. Now I want to know what Azrael's curse is . . .

fairyhedgehog said...

Those pictures are lovely. I love the one of her asleep with the pink blanket.

Susan Quinn said...

Congrats again, Daddy!

I'm voting for the single paragraph version as well. I think the first one wanders a bit, but the second one kept me understanding the basics but wanting more.

You could try each and see what different response rates you get?
Just an idea.

Asea said...

The questions in the second sentence feel awkward to me - the information is good, but the format of questions there feels like you're stepping out of the narrative voice (if that makes any sense). The rest of the query is really solid, though, and makes me really really want to read this (even more than I already do!).

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

A G-mail tip (that likely applies to most e-mail services/programs): When composing an e-mail, just above the body are buttons for bold, italic, underline, bullets, hyperlinks, justification, and other stuff. To the right of these formatting buttons is a link that says "« Plain Text".
Seriously, Adam you hit hero status with this useful clear information; you may have saved me a lot of trouble.

Congratualtions on the addition to your family.

Adam Heine said...

Thanks for the great feedback, everybody. Now, do any of you happen to be agents or editors?

Susan Quinn said...

*crickets*

Leanne said...

I should qualify this post with by saying I am no expert on query letters (having never done one myself) but as a reader I can give you my impressions:

· Definitely prefer the second query, gives you the overall feel for the story without being bogged in detail. Reads like a blurb. I found the first query difficult to follow.

· “Hagai joins a crew of wanted sky sailors, becoming fugitive from both pirates and police.” This sentence confused me, I needed to re-read the first query in order to understand it. If it was me I’d re-write it to show that air pirates and sky sailors are after the stone and because Sam has been forced to throw his lot in with the fugitive sky sailors he is now trouble with the pirates and the police – preferably in a clear, concise sentence ;-).

I hope this helps, please feel free to disregard. Love the twist at the start about his mother being dead for 18 years.