Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Winning Query!

  CANDACE GANGER wins the query contest 
                        for her YA novel

                         "9:59 REWIND"

Here's Candace's query, with our comments in red, and specific elements changed to blue for emphasis.

Ms. Maldonado,

At 9:58 pm, a national broadcast of The Next Big Rock Band airs sixteen-year-old Thursday Night Scum starlet, Caty James Greyson, catching a bullet to the chest, but at 9:59 pm, she presses rewind. Nice opening paragraph! Succinct, detailed without being wordy, every word counts to hook the reader. Nothing to change with this opening.

Between her bio dad's mysterious death and pain-in-the-ass brother's kidnapping, both by someone she knows, it's no wonder C.J has issues. Funny! When she almost, sort-of, kills herself (totally on accident), We love this C.J.'s (and Candace's) voice! it's only through a rockin' granny and her love of music with a sweet-as-icing kindergarten crush, nice word juxtaposition does she find the courage to live in the now, instead of the past. Strong paragraph, strong voice, excellent use of words to give us the idea of the story & characters to come.

Just moments before her shooting, at 9:59 pm, C.J comes full circle with the one person responsible for it all, erasing her chance to rewind, forever. Here's the weak spot. This sentence doesn't say much, only reiterates the shooting in the first paragraph and hints at the ability of C.J. to rewind events. It's confusing and needs work. It should tell the defining moment when everything changes for the MC. Who rewinds. What is the event that changes everything for C.J.? That she can't rewind? Or that she gets shot?

Loosely inspired by true events, Again, we love this strong voice here. This is funny. my dark, edgy  Our editors love dark and edgy young adult novel, 9:59 REWIND, is complete at 57,000 words really good length for YA and tells of one girl's determination to uncover the truth, and her dreams, not sure what this means, what truth & what dreams? at all costs.

I’m a freelancer and daily blogger whose work has been featured in various web and print articles. I'm also a winner in the 2010 Sourcebooks/Teenfire Writing Competition. My five-year experience as a professional musician and small town socialite provides the foundation for 9:59 REWIND's track-inspired chapters.Good closing paragraph, shows an involved, dedicated writer who knows her genre and is out there blogging and entering contests. Overall, despite the weak middle, Candace has given us enough to make us believe she can write, has a strong voice, an intriguing idea and we want to see more.

Thank you for your time and consideration. The full manuscript is available at your immediate request. Good, because we want to see it!

I look forward to hearing from you!


Candace Ganger
(contact information has been removed for this post)

Congratulations Candace!! Here's what makes her query a winner:

1. A strong voice. A must for a query. If your voice doesn't come across in a query, how will it come across in a manuscript?  Being professional is good, but don't be stiff and without personality, or your query will be dull and not accomplish its purpose-- to hook an editor or agent.

2. Useful biographical information at the end. Winning a writing contest, active in social media, and with the background (being a musician) to make her story & character authentic-- excellent info to include.

3. Intriguing main character. Funny,  edgy, "sixteen-year-old Thursday Night Scum starlet, Caty James Greyson" sounds interesting, and her character comes across in the query.

4. Compelling story idea. How does the rewind work actually? Our acquisitions editor wants to know more.

Candace blogs at The Misadventures in Candyland. She included the link in her query, and Allie went to the blog to check it out. She liked the look of it, she liked the bio, and it only reinforced her desire to see more of Candace's work, especially this manuscript.

Candace, submit your first three chapters electronically to Allie ( for her review. Congratulations on your win! And thank you to all who entered. There were over 30 queries submitted!


  1. WTG, Candace! Congratulations!!!! It sounds like a great YA novel!

  2. HOLY FREAKING CRAP! This made my day (dealing with a grumpy 3yo had me frazzled).
    Thanks Allie and Karen!!!
    (P.S. I also see what you mean about the weak spots now that it's been pointed out. Thanks!)

  3. Congratulations Candace!! An intriguing premise for a novel and an eye catching query letter! Brilliant!

    Thanks KarenG and Allie for this fab competition and what learning curve too!

    Take care

  4. Congratulations, Candace! Great query.

  5. Excellent query, Candace. I just went into your blog and read the prologue. I love the last line: "The storm’s brewing, baby. Hope you brought your umbrella."

  6. Congrats, Candy! Love the query. ;-)

  7. Congrats. I love the query! You're right. All those things are true about it.


  8. Congrats Candace! Awesome. I'm so happy for you!

    Hurry and get published so I can read your book. :)

  9. Congrats Candace! Thanks for the example of a winning querry!

  10. Congrats, Candace! Thanks for letting us learn through your query! :o)

  11. Congratulations! That sounds like such an intriguing book! Best of luck.

  12. Awesome query Candace - congrats on a well-deserved win! :)

  13. Congratulations, Candace. You definitely deserved it!

  14. w00t for you! Great query from a great blogger.

  15. Congrats, Candace! That's fantastic! :o)


Comments are welcome!