Holiday Query Blog Hop: THE SIX

REVISED QUERY (thanks to all for the feedback):

Dear Amazing Agent:

When six students at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Xavier Preparatory High School are blamed for an explosion in the chemistry lab, they’re given a choice. Be expelled or complete an internship for a technology mogul developing a new social media site called THE SIX.

Sixteen and pregnant, Rachel Benedict has no idea how she ended up in that lab with the student body president, swim team captain, all-star running back, yearbook editor and the school’s brooding loner, Daniel. But for the first time since the strip turned pink on the pregnancy test, Rachel’s found acceptance from a group of friends.

And using THE SIX is fun. At first. Based on the theory of six degrees of separation, the site is hailed as a place where what users do online happens in the real world. Rachel types, “I’m hungry,” and a pizza is delivered to her lunchroom table. She declines a dreaded English essay on the site and it’s instantly cancelled, leaving her weekend homework free.

But when one of the interns uses THE SIX to orchestrate the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Rachel realizes things have gone too far. She and Daniel race to a secured estate deep in the Kaibab forest where they plan to shut down the site’s servers. But first, they’ll have to do something about the army of killer cheerleaders, and the interns controlling them, who have them trapped inside the school.

My YA Thriller, THE SIX, complete at 70,000 words is TEN meets television’s Twin Peaks. The full manuscript, or partial sample, is available upon request.

Thanks for your time,

Kelly deVos

 


 

Hi there!! I am so thrilled to be participating in Michelle Hauck’s Holiday Query Blog Hop! Below is the first draft of my query and I’d love some feedback.

 

Dear Amazing Agent:

When six students at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Xavier Preparatory High School are blamed for an explosion in the chemistry lab, they’re given a choice. Be expelled or complete an internship for a technology czar developing a new social media site called THE SIX.

Sixteen and pregnant, Rachel Benedict has no idea why she ended up in that lab with the student body president, swim team captain, all-star running back, yearbook editor and the school’s brooding loner, Daniel. But for the first time since the strip turned pink on the pregnancy test, Rachel has a group of friends.

And using THE SIX is fun. At first. Based on the theory of six degrees of separation, the site is hailed as a place where what users do online happens in the real world. Rachel types, “I’m hungry,” and a pizza is delivered to her lunchroom table. Classmates cheer as she gets tedious assignments cancelled.

When one of the six takes their new power too far, the internship turns deadly. Rachel and Daniel race to shut down the site and discover the real force behind it. They’ve got to make it to a secured estate deep in the Kaibab forest. But first, they’ll have to do something about the army of killer cheerleaders who’s got them trapped inside the school.

My YA Thriller, THE SIX, currently in progress with an anticipated length of 70,000 words is TEN meets Twin Peaks. I would love to send the full manuscript or partial sample for your review, so please let me know if that is an option.

 

Thanks for your time,

Kelly deVos

 

And thanks in advance for feedback on my query.    🙂

  • Angela

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for letting me read your query! What a great concept and I think there isn’t enough YA scifi thrillers out there. 🙂

    I think you have a great setup, and character introduction. What I didn’t understand is The Six? It sounds like a website that makes wishes come true. “Rachel types, “I’m hungry,” and a pizza is delivered to her lunchroom table.” –I like this showing detail and maybe if you give a few more clues how this works you can delete the last sentence. –“Classmates cheer as she gets tedious assignments cancelled.”

    “When one of the six takes their new power too far, the internship turns deadly.” –power too far and turns deadly are a little cliche. Can you tell us what it means in your story? ie. When the star football players uses The Six to kill off the rival schools quarter back. Or something like that. 🙂

    You are on the right track here and with a few more tweaks I can definitely see page requests coming from this query.

    Good luck!
    Angela #37

    • kellydevos

      Thanks so much for the great feedback, Angela!! I agree that the “turns deadly” part is pretty lame. I definitely appreciate your suggestions. I’ve got to find a clearer yet concise way to restate the ideas you mention. 🙂

      • Angela

        I’m in the same boat. 🙂 Let me know when you revise and I’ll take a second read. I posted up my revision if you have a moment. 🙂

  • Kelly,
    I absolute agree with Angela’s comment that the line “when one of the six takes their new power too far, the internship turns deadly” needs explained. You are doing a good job of giving us good details. Keep that going! I want to know exactly how (and who?) takes the power too far and what turns deadly (does one of the group die? That’s very interesting!) I would also like to know a little more about how six works. I was also a little confused about the “army of killer cheerleaders.” Real cheerleaders? Brain washed cheerleaders? Army of robot/clone cheerleaders? Up until then I felt like this story was a little more contemporary than sci-fi. So maybe you want to mention that early in the query, too, so when we get to the end we aren’t completely surprised by these mystical/magical elements. Good luck!

    • kellydevos

      Thanks Janelle!! I appreciate the feedback. The challenge I’m having is that I’m hoping to avoid naming all six characters in the query, but I may have to identify at least one other character to be able to more specifically explain that one of them commits murder. This is definitely a contemporary book so I need to get rid of anything coming across as magical. 🙂

      • Committing murder is so intense you should definitely include that. Even a line like “when one of the students commits a murder…”
        That just ramps up the tension. Good luck!

  • Kay

    I think Angela and Janelle are right on the money with their remarks. As I looked over this a second time (after reading Janelle’s remarks about the cheerleaders), I started wondering why they were in the school and how that led to them being trapped. Is there a way that can be worked in? Also, is the forest somewhere near where the story is set, or is there going to be some travel involved? If it’s close by, you could just say, “…deep inside the nearby Kaibab forest…” and that would do it. I think this sounds really interesting, though, and I wish you good luck with it! 🙂

    • kellydevos

      Thanks Kay!! Great suggestion on the forest. I’ll definitely rework that a bit.

  • Bridgette Johnson

    Dear Amazing Agent:

    When six students at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Xavier Preparatory High
    School (totally reminds me of X-Men)are blamed for an explosion in the chemistry lab, they’re given a
    choice. Be expelled or complete an internship for a technology czar (not sure of the phrase “technology czar.” Is this a czar of the country who decided to do this or it’s a metaphor)
    developing a new social media site called THE SIX (And I’m in now. This sounds great).

    Sixteen and pregnant, Rachel Benedict has no idea why(maybe how is a better word choice here? Though i like why too) she ended up in
    that lab with the student body president, swim team captain, all-star
    running back, yearbook editor and the school’s brooding loner, Daniel.
    But for the first time since the strip turned pink on the pregnancy
    test, Rachel has a group of friends(Great last sentence here).

    And using THE SIX is fun. At first. Based on the theory of six
    degrees of separation, the site is hailed as a place where what users do
    online happens in the real world. Rachel types, “I’m hungry,” and a
    pizza is delivered to her lunchroom table. Classmates cheer as she gets
    tedious assignments cancelled(Umm, this sounds great. I wanna say “I’m hungry” and get Japanese delivered. It’s also completely believable that her classmates would be hanging on all these tedious things. It’s like a real-life Twitter).

    When one of the six takes their new power too far, the internship
    turns deadly. Rachel and Daniel race to shut down the site and discover
    the real force behind it. They’ve got to make it to a secured estate
    deep in the Kaibab forest. But first, they’ll have to do something about
    the army of killer cheerleaders who’s got them trapped inside the
    school(The last sentence was unexpected, but I like it. And, as others pointed out, “turns deadly” sounds a little lame, but I wonder if maybe saying exactly what went too far is. Did someone die?).

    My YA Thriller, THE SIX, currently in progress with an anticipated length of 70,000 words is TEN meets Twin Peaks. I would love to send the full manuscript or partial sample for your review, so please let me know if that is an option.(A note on your comps. You might want to include another book as Twin Peaks is a TV show.)

    Thanks for your time,

    Kelly deVos

    This is a great concept and something I would pick up off the shelves. Good luck!

    • kellydevos

      Thanks so much for this feedback, Bridgette!! I plan on posting a revised version later today. If you have some free time and want to check it out, I’d appreciate it. Otherwise, thanks for taking a look 🙂

  • jryates

    Oh my goodness. So, I loved this! So original and brilliant! At the end, instead of ‘please let me know if that’s possible’ stuck out for me. It should be, something like ‘available at your request’ or something similar. My only other nit – would be that for this sentence “Rachel Benedict has no idea why she ended up in that lab with the student body president, swim team captain, all-star running back, yearbook editor and the school’s brooding loner, Daniel. ” I would say, she has no idea how she ended with … Otherwise, I honestly thought – wow! Great job!
    My link is #42 if you have the time! Thanks!

    • kellydevos

      Thanks so much for taking a look!!

      I really struggled with the how/why issue. I ended up changing it to why because I worried that saying how might send the message that Rachel has amnesia or something. I’m trying to say that Rachel is surprised to find herself grouped with the high profile students. So I have some work to do.

      Thanks for hopping by!!

      • jryates

        HI Kelly,
        Then maybe just day that: Rachel is surprised to find herself lumped in with….
        My query link is now #41, I’d really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

  • Hi Kelly,

    Great concept that instantly piqued my interest.

    A few things for you to consider:
    • “technology czar”: the term ‘czar’ made me think of the leader of an empire. How about technology guru or technology wizard or wiz?
    • “But for the first time since the strip turned pink on the pregnancy test, Rachel has a group of friends.” She doesn’t have any friends because she is pregnant? Before she was pregnant? Also, is her pregnancy essential to the plot? If so, I would circle back to it later in the query.
    • “takes their new power too far, the internship turns deadly.” What power got taken too far? Did someone get killed? needs some clarification.
    • “the army of killer cheerleaders”: Are they actual cheerleaders who kill people? Or is it metaphorical?
    • “I would love to send the full manuscript or partial sample for your review, so please let me know if that is an option.” I would simply say: The manuscript is available upon request.

    These are just minor edits. You are pretty much there. Great job!

    Laurence
    I am at link #40 if you have the time. Thanks 🙂

  • Magali Frechette

    When six students at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Xavier Preparatory High School are blamed for an explosion in the chemistry lab, they’re given a choice. Be expelled or complete an internship for a technology czar developing a new social media site called THE SIX. {I don’t know what a czar is, but I like how it starts}

    Sixteen and pregnant, Rachel Benedict has no idea why she ended up in that lab with the student body president, swim team captain, all-star running back, yearbook editor and the school’s brooding loner, Daniel. But for the first time since the strip turned pink on the pregnancy test, Rachel has a group of friends. {I like the description of the character and how the plot is linked together}

    And using THE SIX is fun. At first. Based on the theory of six degrees of separation, the site is hailed as a place where what users do online happens in the real world. Rachel types, “I’m hungry,” and a pizza is delivered to her lunchroom table. Classmates cheer as she gets tedious assignments cancelled. {I feel like this is becoming more about the program than the main character – just my opinion though}

    When one of the six takes their new power too far, the internship turns deadly. Rachel and Daniel race to shut down the site and discover the real force behind it. {Oh! I like this!}

    They’ve got to make it to a secured estate deep in the Kaibab forest. But first, they’ll have to do something about the army of killer cheerleaders who’s got them trapped inside the school. {This threw me off a little – army of killer cheerleaders? Where the heck did they come from? Why are they trapping them there??? Also, the stakes aren’t very clear – what happens if they don’t shut down the program? Do they have a plan except for hiding out?}

    Hope this helps!
    Good luck! 🙂

  • Melissa Menten

    Excellent premise! Already it sounds like something that should be on a bookshelf. My
    comments:

    I think if the technology czar is an office under the US president in your story, then calling
    him the President’s Technology Czar might clarify that title (though I
    personally just assumed that was who this czar was). I think your second and
    third paragraphs are fine. (I think the pregnancy makes her more interesting.)
    I do agree in the fourth paragraph you should revise
    to state something like “When one of the six uses the site to commit murder,
    Rachel and Daniel race…” I am on the fence about the cheerleader line-they do
    spring up out of nowhere, but they are an interesting obstacle. A discrepancy in
    that paragraph that you might clear up is when you say they race to shut down
    the site in the forest, but then backtrack to say they are trapped in the
    school. Maybe you mean they realize they need to hurry and get to the forest,
    but then discover they are trapped, but it reads as though they left for the
    forest and then suddenly we’re back at the school, trapped.

    Overall, yes, I want to read it, and if your writing is as good as your premise,
    somebody should snap it up.

    Melissa,
    #43 on the Query Blog Hop, who also has a query set in Arizona

    • kellydevos

      Thank you SO much for your feedback! I really appreciate the excellent points you make. 🙂

  • jryates

    Hi Kelly

    Okay here are my thoughts….

    I think you have to put a colon here ..”they’re given a choice: be expelled or
    complete an internship for a technology mogul developing a new social media
    site called THE SIX.”

    I think Rachel is “stunned to find herself with” (or something like that), instead of “no idea”

    I prefer this line: “Classmates cheer as she gets tedious
    assignments cancelled.” The first time I read your query, this really set the tone for me. I thought, wow, that’s exciting.

    I also prefer the first version of the second to last paragraph. The first line in the first version is short and to the point – it leaves a tone of urgency. However, I get why you made the change – people are saying they want you to be more specific. How about something like this? “Things turn sordid, when one of the interns uses
    THE SIX to orchestrate the murder of her ex-boyfriend.” The point is, start the sentence with a hook, then explain. Just a thought. It gives more of the sense of urgency that way I think.

    This sentence: “But first, they’ll have to do something
    about the army of killer cheerleaders, and the interns controlling them, who
    have them trapped inside the school.” I would take out the interns clause. Again, I know people said be more specific, but it clunks it up. In the first version, you set the tone well. If there’s killer cheerleaders, that leaves me going : whoa, what’s with the killer cheerleaders? I want to find out. Overall, Kelly, I much preferred the first version of your Query.

    Great work. I hope to read this one day.

  • Michella

    Hey Kelly! I loved, loved, LOVED your query. Nothing to add. I hope White Lehua works out for you (fellow NOQS participant here and you cleaned up!), but if it doesn’t, I’m sure this query will snag a lot of attention.

  • Chelle Pike

    I agree you need a colon after “choice:” And, when you say that Rachel “has no idea why she ended up…” it feels forced, like you’re inventing a way to list the cast of characters. I’m very confused as to how blowing up a chem lab leads to interning for a technology czar. They seem like two completely unconnected things. Is there a way to connect them here so that it makes the set-up seem more plausible? The second paragraph feels like an ode to the breakfast club, which isn’t bad, but it feels like too much for a query. The next two paragraphs give a blow by blow of the events that happen next, which feels more like a synopsis. Is Rachel the only POV character? If she is, I’d like that to be clear from the start. If this is her story, then I’d want that first paragraph to be about her. If it’s an ensemble cast, then I don’t know that you need to focus that second paragraph on Rachel. Instead of listing all the actions in the supporting paragraphs, I think you can leave out the innocuous things the program can do and focus on how it’s bad, since that’s the focus of the conflict here. And, if this is Rachel’s story, then I think we need her goal stated in a way that makes that clear. What does she intend to do, what stands in her way, and what, specifically, happens to her if she fails. I think avoiding vague phrases like “things have gone too far” and “do something about” will make your query much stronger. Hope this helps and good luck.