#11 Query Corner: ‘Konadai’

Welcome to:

logo5

Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

KONADAI is a YA fantasy. When 17-year-old Hiromi’s island city is ravaged by a virus mutating people into Konadai-vicious undead things w/tentacle tongues, she’s willing to search beyond the city walls for a cure.

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

pexels-photo.jpeg

Overall Impression:

Solid query! There’s a lot you do right:

  • Starts off by establishing everything in the first sentence
    • location
    • character name
    • age-of-main-character which establishes it is YA
    • the main problem
    • with the reason for the Main Character’s involvement
  • Focuses on stakes and motivation
  • Personal flare to the bio, without being overly long
  • Query length
Things to fix:
  • Imply what role magic has in this world
  • Try not to use the same pronoun for more than 1 person in the same sentence
  • Put lists in order of severity

Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear Agent,

When a deadly virus ravages her island city, seventeen-year-old intern Hiromi works to cure it. [You start off with location, character name, and age, establishing it as YA] The virus mutates people into Konadai—vicious undead creatures with tentacle tongues. [Could be combined with first sentence, maybe?] Although she is safe behind the city’s walls, Hiromi is running low on the infected samples she needs for research. Desperate to gather more, Hiromi reaches out to her childhood friend Kenji, a city guardsman skilled with fire magic.[The magic is literally never mentioned again. But does establish this world has magic?] When Hiromi joins him and his unit on a mission to investigate a horde of infected, one of Kenji’s friends is bitten—but he doesn’t show signs of infection. [That’s a LOT of he/hims] It’s the breakthrough Hiromi’s been searching for. 

Soon Hiromi learns that the growth [is this THE growth – i.e. related to the infection? or A growth – i.e. not caused from this exact infection] inside the friend’s heart is the key to his immunity. But the research team isn’t sure how to extract the growth and keep him alive.[You present the problem very cleanly] Fearing for his friend’s life, Kenji refuses to let Hiromi take his friend back to the lab. With their friendship shattered and the virus running rampant, Hiromi is forced to choose between betraying her life-long friend and sacrificing an innocent life [I like to order these in level of severity and the plot suggests her friendship is more important than patients? Or am I wrong.] or surrendering a chance for a cure.

KONADAI is a YA fantasy novel with science fiction elements complete at 70,000. It is a standalone novel with series potential [NOTE: Only say this if a- the story truly can stand alone], and will appeal to fans of PARTIALS, ENCLAVE, and THE 5TH WAVE. 

I was born and raised in Arkansas where my biggest accomplishment in life was being an extra in my high school’s performance of High School Musical. That may not seem like much, but I bopped to the top of the extras list by being the only student who knew the original dance moves. [Cute! Should add some flavor to your bio] When I’m not writing, I indulge in role-playing games and way too much sushi.

 Thank you for your time and consideration.
Q11

The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent Name],

When a deadly virus ravages her island city, seventeen-year-old intern Hiromi works to cure it. The virus mutates people into Konadai—vicious undead creatures with tentacle tongues. Although she is safe behind the city’s walls, Hiromi is running low on the infected samples she needs for research. Desperate to gather more, Hiromi reaches out to her childhood friend Kenji, a city guardsman recruited because of his skill with fire magic [makes the magic more obviously accepted in their culture and more common, potentially]. She joins Kenji and his unit on a mission to investigate a horde of infected. When one of Kenji’s friends is bitten—without showing signs of infection—it’s the breakthrough Hiromi’s been searching for. 

Soon Hiromi learns that a different virus growing inside the friend’s heart is the key to his immunity. But the research team isn’t sure how to extract the growth and keep him alive. Fearing for his friend’s life, Kenji refuses to let Hiromi take his friend back to the lab. With their friendship shattered and the virus running rampant, Hiromi is forced to choose between sacrificing an innocent life and betraying her life-long friend or surrendering a chance for a cure.

KONADAI is a YA fantasy novel with science fiction elements complete at 70,000. It is a standalone novel with series potential and will appeal to fans of PARTIALS, ENCLAVE, and THE 5TH WAVE. 

I was born and raised in Arkansas where my biggest accomplishment in life was being an extra in my high school’s performance of High School Musical. That may not seem like much, but I bopped to the top of the extras list by being the only student who knew the original dance moves. When I’m not writing, I indulge in role-playing games and way too much sushi.

 Thanks for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[You!]

email
phone
twitter (if they’re that sort of agent)


 

With a few tweaks, you can really make a query shine!

Best of luck to Q11!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

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Bonus: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers to Trying to “Establish a Social Media Presence” Part 5a

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Ch@ractR

In my previous Starter’s Guide posts, I talked about establishing a presence, and how to get started on some of the well-known website: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit.

Today, I’m going to be talking about one of the less mainstream social media websites. It just got out of Beta but is growing fast: Ch@ractR at charactrRealms.com

This is a website for writers, artists, and fans of all kinds to share stuff.

Only catch? You can’t do it as yourself.

The premise of Ch@ractR is that you’re posting or following FICTIONAL CHARACTERS!

charApril1

Types of characters:

  • Established worlds
    • Disney
    • Harry Potter
    • etc
  • Created worlds
    • a book you’re writing/wrote
    • characters in your head
    • your DND game
    • etc

As usual, you create an account, with whatever username you want. Brand consistency can be useful if you’re planning on adding stuff you want associated with your name. Otherwise, (I can’t believe I’m saying this), you can use a different username.

When you do post, it will always be under [CharacterName]+[a random number]. Once you’ve posted to a character’s page once, your number will remain consistent.

But does everyone know everything you post? Not necessarily.

Privacy Options

  • Anonymous
    • You always post with the same number, but they are not tracked back to a profile, just a page that shows all of your posts for that character
  • Obscure – Custom
    • You DO link back to a profile page, but only for the selected characters. And you can set character sets to be invisible to each other.
      • For example, if you post cosplay pics of you as Disney character and you write dark memes about Marvel characters, you can self-define the groups. So, people following your Disney postings don’t see your Marvel postings on the profile page
    • You can share a custom profile with each set, linking external works, etc
  • Public
    • All posts and characters are shown on your profile page

Every character gets a new profile. And then you can add to their MYTH.

Types of MYTHS:

  • Selfies
    • Original fan art!
    • Cosplay pics
  • Diary Entries
    • Write as if you’re the character
  • Memes
    • You know what these are
  • Flash fiction
    • Add to their story

Then, the other people on the site vote.

Voting Options

  • ‘true-cannon’
    • This is for myth additions that ADD to the world the character is in
  • ‘true-multiverse’
    • This is for myth additions that don’t work in the original world but are AWESOME for the character, so could work in an alternate version.
  • ‘cute’
    • Basically ‘liking’, but not feeling that they add to the character
  • ‘vicious rumors’
    • Things that run counter to everything you believe to be true about this character. CLEARLY, made up by the character’s enemies.

For the VERY best posts? No matter the format, they go from the character’s MYTH page to their PROFILE page. And your post-name gets a star next to it, proving that you’ve permanently contributed to that character.

But how do they judge the BEST posts? Some characters have more of a following than others. They do it based on the percentage of active users following that character.

NOTE: There IS a review committee to try and validate the characters. Reports of ‘fake characters’ created to harass real-life people are taken VERY seriously.


Are you on Ch@ractr?

Who are your favorites? Are there any obscure ones you’re just waiting to go viral?

If you’re a public account? Share it an let me follow you!

Happy April 1st!

 

A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 5: Tumblr and Reddit (The Dark Side?)

Four weeks ago, I shared my descent into social media and my guiding philosophies for interacting on the internet. Three weeks ago, I discussed the generals about creating a website and starting a blog. Two weeks ago, I discussed Facebook, Twitter, and hashtags. Last week was all about the visual social medias, Pinterest and Instagram.

Today? I’ll be discussing DARK SIDE OF THE INTERNET: Tumblr and Reddit

Or are they?

lost-places-old-decay-ruin-162389.jpeg

Tumblr and Reddit are given a lot of grief about being breeding grounds for social justice mobs, trolls, and dank memes (in which dank means something between dark, cynical, and cool).

For older web denizens: they’re where the teens are, and honestly? Where 90% of the Facebook content comes from. Look at where all those reshared thought experiments, story inspiration, and other screen-shots come from. A LOT of them are screenshots from Tumblr. Or made popular on Reddit. Or both.

If you wait for them to come to Facebook, you’re gonna miss a lot of content and it’s gonna be old before you see it.


Tumblr

So what IS Tumblr? Is it a blog? Is it a quote sharing site? Or is it for reblogging memes?

The quick answer is… yes.

For the longest time, I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. I reposted stuff from my Instagram since Tumblr seems to like pictures, and I reshared my blog posts from here over there. (Or over here, if you’re reading on Tumblr…)

But, it’s just as much for resharing your favorite webcomics or your not-character-count-limited mental contemplations. And GIFs are super popular.

NOTE: It’s also very popular for…um… archives of adult imagery. Luckily, safe-search is a thing. I’ve yet to end up somewhere I didn’t intend. A big advantage to its compartmentalized set-up.

It’s a social media network, like Facebook, that’s not geared towards a specific media (unlike Instagram or Twitter), which can make it more visual, but it supports anonymity–which can make it more attractive to teens (or Russian troll farms).

There’s definitely a part of it that’s socially progressive. Tumblr’s the sort of place that encourages defining your pronouns and can be very accepting of any sort of identity that doesn’t espouse hate.  That said, the admins are struggling with censorship issues around LGBT tags as well as antagonistic alt-right groups gaining a presence on the site.

Tags are important here if you want people to find you. And if you look around, you can find Tumblrs groups to join (sort of like the ‘blog hops’ of olde…). The communities are like islands, but they share resources.

If you like something, heart it. Reblogging stuff is VERY encouraged, and shows support for the original poster — and also means that the original poster gets credit — very awesome for the artists and writers and singers on here.

Note: If you add a comment to a reblog, it’s now permanently attached to that reblog.

Like most social medias, you can follow people and their posts/reblogs show up on your feed. Don’t be intimidated, most people are quite welcoming on Tumblr.


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Reddit

Here, everything is a popularity contest. It’s like middle school.

No. Really.

Getting Started

You create an account, you join forums called ‘reddits’ and ‘subreddits’ (or ‘subs’), named /[whatever] that are organized by areas of interest, and then you either share text or links to content.

On your feed, you’re only shown links to reddits and subreddits that you subscribe to.

Then, as people read posts, they ‘upvote, ‘downvote’, or [do nothing]. Every upvote and downvote affects your karma.

The more upvotes you get, the more likely you’ll show up in the feed. You can check tabs of ‘Hot’, ‘Rising’, and ‘New’. And karma means a lot.

What is Karma

You earn karma for:

  • posting
  • commenting
  • getting upvotes

Posting new content or sharing external links are typically seen as more valuable contributions, but it depends on the quality of your comments.

NOTE: When you comment, you can reply to other comments — otherwise known as nested comments.

You lose more karma for every downvote. It’s a way of trying to keep people from being jerk-faces.

Unless the forum is about being a jerk-face. Then, friendly people get downvoted.

Although there is an overlying sense of ‘Reddiquette’, each forum has its own admins, moderators, and set of acceptable behaviors.

Overall, someone with higher karma is seen as being more of a contributor and potentially someone to watch for new, quality content. The best of them have been given Reddit Gold.

Reddit Gold

You can literally buy virtual gold that is only intended for rewarding, or ‘gilding’, OTHER people with posts you find valuable.

Being gilded (or buying that status) temporarily unlocks:

  • comment highlighting
  • ad-blocking
  • exclusive subreddits
  • a personalized Snoo (known as a “snoovatar”)

WARNING: Reddit values anonymity, tends to be hands-off, and doesn’t censor. There can be really dark reddits, and subreddits with a lot of either off-color or outright offensive content.

The communities are typically well-described though, so you know what you’re getting into before you click the links.

Like most social medias, you can follow people and keep an eye on their content.

So far, I’ve shared a little in /writing, /writing-tips, and /nosleep. /AMA (Ask Me Anything) is one you’ll see on the news on occasion, with scheduled visits for politicians or celebrities, as well as normal people with unusual experiences offering to talk about them.

Feel free to explore and I find it best to wade into a Reddit, watching the expected behavior before trying to contribute.

But I’m still learning my way around.


So… that doesn’t really sound that scary, does it? A little different, but not completely unfamiliar organizational structures.

Long form, images, links, these are the sites where content is created.

#10 Query Corner: ‘Invisible Me’

Welcome to:

logo5

Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

INVISIBLE ME is a YA. When high school senior Ana’s genius best friend, Isaac, turns her invisible to save her from his kidnappers, she has seven days to rescue him or be invisible forever.

pexels-photo-246367.jpeg

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

Fun story! Clear stakes.

There’s only a few things I would fix:

  • Agents are known for disliking rhetorical questions
  • Clarify who the characters are immediately
  • More specificity

The Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear [Agent Name],

When Ana turns invisible and Isaac is kidnapped, she has seven days to find him or be invisible forever. [Who is Issac to her? How old are these characters? How do we know she has 7 days? Did they give her a ransom note?] His abductors are after her next since she holds the key to invisibility. In her search for clues to Isaac’s whereabouts, she is surprised to discover a love note from him. Deciding on her own feelings will have to wait as she avoids the kidnappers’ traps, and the police who believe she’s responsible for Isaac’s disappearance.[Really? If she’s missing too, why don’t they think they ran off together? or she was taken as well?] Why does rookie cop Ben Cody, her crush from high school, act strange whenever she’s near? Is what she deciphered from Isaac’s notes true—that those who love her can see her? And if so, will Ben arrest her? Or will he help her in her mission, even if it means reuniting her with a romantic rival?[So many questions!]

INVISIBLE ME is a 64,000 YA about a high school senior who feels invisible. [Oh! Now I know what we’re dealing with.] When her feeling becomes reality, she finally attracts attention, but from the wrong people. [Spelling out morals can make agents think this is an ISSUE BOOK, rather than a story, that addresses certain issues. If it’s clear in the story, the story will speak for itself.] This book could sit on the shelf next to THE BLOOD BETWEEN US by Zac Brewer and OVERTURNED by Lamar Giles.

Q10

The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent Name],

When Ana spots her classmate-and-crush, Isaac, being shoved into a van, she finds herself safe, but invisible. Thanks to the ransom note, Ana learns she has seven days to find him or be invisible forever. His abductors are after her next since she holds Isaac’s key to invisibility.

As Ana desperately searches Isaac’s [locker/bedroom], she is surprised to discover, amongst the notes about the invisibility he’d been developing, a love note from him. The notes also claim Ana is only invisible to those who don’t love her. Unfortunately, the kidnappers have set out traps for her and the police think she’s a person-of-interest. And the rookie-cop on the case just happens to be Ben, her recently-graduated, former high school crush. Ben, who acts oddly when she’s spying nearby.

Time is running out. Ana must decide if she can trust Ben to help her rescue Isaac, or if he’ll simply arrest her.

INVISIBLE ME is a 64,000 YA about a high school senior who feelings of invisibility become a reality. INVISIBLE ME should appeal to fans of THE BLOOD BETWEEN US by Zac Brewer and OVERTURNED by Lamar Giles.

I write from the [location]. When not writing, you can find me [X] or [Y]. I am a member of [anything writing related? Nah, me neither. Although, I’m investigating the SCBWI ]

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[You!]

email
phone
twitter (if they’re that sort of agent)


My version didn’t quite mesh with her version of the story, but with a bit of back and forth, we’ve hammered out one we both are pretty pleased with.

Dear [Dream Agent],

When high school senior Ana’s genius best friend, Isaac, turns her invisible to save her from his kidnappers, she has seven days to rescue him or be invisible forever. His abductors are after her next, since she holds the key to invisibility. In her search for clues to Isaac’s whereabouts, she is surprised to discover a love note from him. Deciding on her own feelings will have to wait as she avoids the kidnappers’ traps and the police who believe she’s responsible for Isaac’s disappearance.

Rookie cop Ben, her crush from high school, acts strange whenever she’s near. Ana wonders if what she deciphered from Isaac’s notes is true—that those who love her can see her. She must decide whether or not to tell Ben her secret, not knowing if he’ll arrest her or help her in her mission, even if it means reuniting her with a romantic rival.

INVISIBLE ME is a 64,000 YA about Ana learning what she’s made of when it’s up to her to rescue not only herself, but also her best friend. This book should appeal to fans of THE BLOOD BETWEEN US by Zac Brewer and OVERTURNED by Lamar Giles.

[Insert Bio Paragraph.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Q10

[contact info]


Don’t be afraid to go a couple rounds. Building off what you’ve edited last time can lead to some pretty amazing things.

Best of luck to Q10!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 4: Visual Social Media

Three weeks ago, I shared my descent into social media and my guiding philosophies for interacting with others on the internet. Two weeks ago, I discussed the generals about creating a website and starting a blog. Last week, I discussed Facebook, Twitter, and hashtags.

Today? I’ll be discussing The visual social mediums!

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Instagram

On this social media, you share an image, with a short caption and some hashtags.

Once again, I recommend using the same name, profile picture, and short biography as you do on your Facebook and/or Twitter, for that all important brand consistency.

This is a good, low-intensity entrance to social media to anyone with a smartphone or iPad. Posting 1-3 times a week is a good rate of interaction.

You can also comment on and ❤ other people’s photos.

Typically, you share a photo that you’ve taken, but you can also create images or share memes here. It’s really not set up to let you add images from a computer, though, so a camera-enabled wifi/data enabled device is required.

It easily syncs with most other social medias, sharing the links for you.

  • Personally? I reshare to Facebook, but I copy and repost to Twitter and Tumblr, because I want people to see the image, not a link back to Instagram. I *think* you see the image on phones/etc, but they’re hidden on

Uploading Images:

screenshot_20180321-2046041643510782.png

Step One:

When you go to upload an image, your current camera gallery will load on default. Whichever image you select will be cropped into a square. You can pinch the screen, to zoom in or out and try to recenter the image, but if it doesn’t fill the square, preview images will clip the edges.

You can do multiple pictures, either in a collage or as a set people can scroll sideways through.

Or! You can upload a video.

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Step 2:

The app gives you a LOT of editing tools. I usually leave them alone, but you can swype to the left on the tools row for all the options.

You can change the color, saturation, brightness, focus, contrast, just for starters!

Step 3:

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The app provides a LOT of filters to select from.

They’re preset configurations for all the edit options from the previous tab. You can pick one, and then customize it by selecting the EDIT tab on the bottom left.

Typically, it’s suggested to find 1-3 filters you really like and stick with them, for that all-important BRAND idea. That way, when looked at en masse, your images will mesh well together.

NOTE: You can always hit the back arrow if you want to adjust the cropping.

Step 4:

post_instagram

This is where you add the details:

  • captions
  • hashtags
  • tag people (@username)
  • tag locations (if Location is turned on, it can auto-sense these.
  • select the social medias to which you wish to cross-post

Instagram Community: Hashtags and Photo Ideas

As with Twitter, it will show you the popularity of any hashtag you start to type and autocomplete your most commonly used ones.

Some recommended hashtags are (hat tip to Alejandras Life):

  • #writersOfInstagram (selfies, or pictures of your work)
  • #amWriting (pictures of your work, or you working)
  • #amReading (pictures of the book your reading)
  • #TBR (pictures of what you’re reading next)
  • #writersLife (selfies, behind-the-scenes shots)
  • #wordPorn (images of quotes– from others or from your own writing)
  • #writersBlock (pictures of what’re you doing while blocked)
  • #amEditing (you know, what 90% of your writing consists of…)
  • #writersFollowWriters – (a recent tag, to introduce yourself to other writers and find people to follow and support!)
  • #noFilter – a way to brag about a picture that turned out great, and didn’t need any help

Images Used Elsewhere

After I drafted this post, I went to look at my feed and saw that my local news channel had asked to use a photo I’d posted on Instagram, and cross-posted to Twitter today. And offered accreditation

I swear, I’d already drafted the rest of this post before she asked.

So… that’s a thing that can happen. And… she opted not to. Maybe she’ll use it later this week?

Pinterest

screenshot_20180321-213548600895362.png

This is a social media where, as you browse the internet and see pretty pictures, you can click to save them to a Pinterest folder.

You can ‘follow’ people and see what images they save, and they can do the same for your boards. There’s also a direct message option, but I haven’t been bombarded with spammers, so it’s relatively safe.

Once again, you’re going to want a pretty consistent name, profile picture, and bio. Then, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to organize your “Pins”, the images you’re saving.

So, you can create different ‘boards’ to pin images to. You can have private boards, friends only, or public boards. Many people use them for consolidating remodeling ideas, wedding planning, or suggested styles for clothing subscription services.

The general theme is that you’re “pinning” the images up, as if to a bulletin ‘board’, so you can see them all at once.

The Plugin

pinterestPlugin

How do you save all these images?

With the quick installation of the plugin (a bit of code that makes the Pinterest logo show up when your mouse is hovering over an image, or when you tap-and-hold an image for a touchscreen), all you have to do is select that logo and a pop-up will ask you which ‘board’ you’d like to save the image to.

Ways to Use Pinterest as a Writer

I set up boards for inspirational actors/models for my characters, locations, and clothing and left Pinterest alone for a year. These are helpful for ME when writing since I tend to be somewhat less visually focused.

I’ve recently got back into Pinterest. These days, I’m also posting and/or resharing:

  • memes
  • blog post images with link-backs to my posts!
  • pictures of books I’m reading

You can browse Pinterest, or anywhere on the internet, look for images you like, and pin them to your own boards.

Use hashtags as before, but the visual is what really sells things.


The internet, especially on smartphones, is a very visual place. It’s far easier to ‘like’ a picture than write a comment.

As entries to social media, Instagram and Pinterest involve the least amount of time and effort on your behalf. Plus, they’re both used (especially Instagram) by young adults.

So, for those of us who write YA, it’s a good idea to establish a presence on a media that your future audience actually uses.