May, 2010

Query letters

>For the semi-finalists, if you’ve changed your query letter and/or first 250 and would like me to post a revised version for SA feel free to email me at secretagentcontest (@) gmail (.) com.

Now as for my ongoing query letter critiques.  I’ll be starting that this Monday. 

Here are the Temporary rules (I will post a page with the OFFICIAL RULES by Monday):

1) FICTION QUERIES ONLY.  If you send me non-fiction/memoir I will not post or comment on your query.

2) make sure you include:
a. word count
b. title
c. genre

3)  NO ATTACHMENTS!  I will only accept entries that are pasted in the body of the email.

4)  By emailing your submission to me, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.  While I’ll be honest, I will not be harsh or cruel.  My goal is to give you advice you can use and learn from.

Policy on comments

Comments are moderated.

Comments that are overly harsh or not beneficial in any way, will NOT be posted.

Comments that disagree with my opinion are usually posted, unless they are overly harsh or unbeneficial.

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List of entries that made it to the next round


Today is the day.  And I mean THE day.  The one you’ve all been waiting for.  The ones that made it to the next round.  This was a really hard decision for me, but I’ve come up with a list, based on your choices and mine, of who was going to the next round.

I want to spend a little bit of time to tell you why I picked these entries over the others. I’ll start on how I narrowed down the list.  First I went through and read all the entries.  Even if I didn’t comment because I ran out of time, I did read all of them.  I checked marked each one I felt should go to the next round.  Which was a LOT.  LOL.  Then, I went through and marked down all the ones that people specifically told me should go to the next round.  So, I was now down a few  entries, but there were a ton left, so I went back over the list, picking entries that best fit what SA was looking for.  And of course, the biggest consideration was, was it ready?  The actual sample of course.  Of course, the query WAS a consideration, but I felt the biggest emphasis should be placed on the sample as the determining factor.  So you may notice that there are a few entries where you felt the query wasn’t really all that good, but the sample was kick @SS.  Some entries were removed before I could make a decision.

So now we’re down to 25.  SA has asked for me to give her until June 1 to let her go over these 25 and make a decision.  She may or may not give me a short list as she goes of which ones didn’t make the cut.

However, in the meantime, I’ll be doing query critiques.  So, if you’ve made it to the next round you can relax and cross those fingers!  If you didn’t, why don’t you take those suggestions that were given to you and fix those queries!  Send them back to me and I’ll critique them (I’ll try to do one a day) and then post them on the site to let the others do it as well. Rules for this will go up in another post. Similar to how Query Shark does it, only of course, I’m not an agent.  😀 Also, the SA contest will be ongoing.  I’m working on lining up another agent as we speak.  So just because you didn’t make it this time, doesn’t mean you won’t next time.  Same goes for the ones that don’t win this contest.  As long as you don’t place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.  Please feel free to resubmit. 

And, please remember, just because you’re not on the list that went forward doesn’t mean your stuff wasn’t great, a lot of the decision just came from whether or not it was something I felt the agent would like to see more of.

Congratulations to the following(in no particular order)!

1) #5 Sublime

2) #4 Destined

3) #6 Lure

4) #7 Perfection

5) #8 Benches

6) #9 Broken


8) #13 PREYERS


10) #16 The Faithful

11) #17 TEMPEST


13) #20 Everything That Matters

14) #21 Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride




18) #28 LARCH

19) #30 The Beautiful People


21) #32 VITILIGO

22) #33 Secrets Revealed


24) #37 Dying to See You


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Launch day for Oasis for YA!


Just a quick break from the contest from a word from our sponsors.  😀  

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Oasis for YA. A collaborative blog between YA authors A.E. Rought, Jessie Harrell, Nikki Katz, S.A. Larsen, and myself. It’s a place we’ve designed for YA writers (or all writers really) for those times when you really just need to get away from it all. To an oasis maybe. 🙂 Every day there will be something fun and exciting up to help with the processes of writing, revising, and submitting. Daily topics will include: Monday’s Sanctuary (easing the stress), Tuesday Tunes (check out our favorite tunes for the week and post your own), Writer’s Wednesday (writing tips), Thankful for Thursday (let’s share our good news for the week), Friday Freestyle (including interviews, reviews and/or give-aways). Stop on by and make yourself at home.

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And they’re up!

>Wow, guys, I’m impressed!  These are some really great queries and stories.  Now remember, please critique a minimum of 5 entries.  And please, give more than just a “wow this is great” response.  Thanks.

You will have until next Tuesday at 8 am EST to get those critiques done and I’ll choose, with your help the 25 that will make it to round to and which ones will be seen by Secret Agent.

You may not be able to scroll down and see all the entries.  But if you go to the side bar, you’ll see a list of titles and their entry numbers.  Simply click on the ones that interest you and critique away.

ETA:  I’d like for every entry to have at least 5 different critiques, so please start critiquing the ones that have less than 5.  Once we get 5 on all posts we can go back and start critiquing any and all that you want.  As always thanks for all that you’ve done. 

Also, in case you’re wondering what happened to #34, she got some great news and asked to be removed from the contest.  Congrats to you, Dear Author.  And good luck with your big things.  😀

Oh, and if you notice that there are a few comments on an entry, go to the next.  Let’s give every one a chance to get a critique. 

Good luck!


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>Dear Secret Agent,

Stuck in a loveless engagement arranged by her uncle, Lady Evelyn “Evie” Newbury struggles with her decision to obey her uncle or follow her heart.  Orphaned at a young age, she had vowed to be the perfect picture of a dutiful niece; yet Evie soon discovers that, with her future at stake, she must do what she can to find her own happiness.  As she plots her escape, Evie soon finds an ally in the mysterious stranger in her uncle’s dungeons. The only problem is how to get her out…

Soccer practice, babysitting, chasing off her mother’s latest boyfriend, and going on trial for being a witch; junior year is not starting off very well for Toni DeWitt.

As an average teenager, Antonia “Toni” DeWitt has never placed much importance in history.  Yet when she’s suddenly transported back to the past with a mysterious necklace, she soon finds herself wishing that she had stayed awake during her hours at school.  Her strange looks and speech along with her smart aleck comments soon land her in the dungeons quicker than she could say “homecoming queen”.

FATED MISHAPS, (92,000 word young adult fiction) follows the adventures of two girls from different time periods as they unexpectedly find a friendship that gives them the strength needed to do what they must to survive betrayal, love, and life.  Told through the eyes of the quirky and proud Toni and the caring and naive Evie by alternating chapters, this novel is a mixture of humor and adventure that shows readers that some friendships can survive anything through time, even in its most extreme form.

This novel is a stand-alone book but has potential to become a serious. Enclosed is the first 250 words. I’ll be glad to send you my complete manuscript for review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.



I will never be Lady Hakebourn.

He will never speak to me. He will never touch me.

These reassuring thoughts repeated themselves in my mind as the maid continued fastening the buttons that ran up the back of the wedding dress. With every button, the laces beneath the dress pushed tighter against my skin, gradually squeezing the air from my lungs, making it harder to breathe-all to please the godforsaken realm of fashion.

The day’s fitting was in preparation for next week’s wedding. Since it was a hasty engagement, the dress had only arrived from the seamstress this morning.

Yes, a hasty engagement. Baron Hakebourn’s second wife recently died of unknown reasons, though the gossips swore that he had simply beaten her too harshly one time too many. Of course, they stopped their mutterings as soon as I came within earshot, so I haven’t heard more than a whisper of that.

And unfortunately, given my recent luck, the dress seemed to fit perfectly, meaning that I couldn’t send it back and have another few days of freedom. As tempted as I was to secretly rip out the seams, I knew that would only be a temporary solution. And a cowardly one at that, to place the blame on the maids. My parents would be disappointed in me if they knew. Of course, if they were still alive, I wouldn’t be stuck in this predicament.

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