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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Query Help!

Many of you have already read and commented on my query over at the Public Query Slushpile, but I'm posting it here one last time because I wanted to poll all of you regarding one sticking point.

I've been looking to find another successful female ruler before Hatshepsut- there are no confirmed prior Egyptian female Pharaohs who didn't plunge the nation into chaos- and I can't find any female rulers from Mesopotamia, Babylon, Sumeria, etc. Should I include something about Hatshepsut being the first successful female ruler in history or is that just the history teacher in me getting all excited at something being the first? I ask this because I want this book to come across as marketable and as a history nerd, this little factoid makes Hatshepsut even more cool than she already is. (It's hard to imagine that's even possible!)

Here's the query- any and all comments are helpful as I'll be querying in February.


Dear SuperFab Agent,

The gods taunt those they love most. And they absolutely adore Hatshepsut.

When her father dies, Hatshepsut is forced to marry her hippo of a half-brother to secure his royal claim as Pharaoh. She becomes the real power behind Egypt’s crown, but as a woman, remains relegated to the shadows of the Horus Throne. The Pharaoh’s death can’t come soon enough.

Her brother dies three years into his reign and Hatshepsut becomes regent to her two-year-old stepson, launching Egypt into its golden age. Then she does the unthinkable. Amid foreign wars and a palace coup, Hatshepsut proclaims herself Pharaoh of Egypt. Tormented by her love of a commoner and cursed with personal tragedies, Hatshepsut will face a choice: family or eternal glory.

HATSHEPSUT: FEMALE PHARAOH is historical fiction complete at 90,000 words.

With the recent discovery of her mummy, Hatshepsut has been showcased in National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Discovery Channel over the past three years. As a history teacher, I have traveled to Egypt twice to better tell Hatshepsut’s story and am currently at work on my second novel set in ancient Egypt.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


There you have it! Should I include something about her being the first successful female ruler or does it even matter? Also, I won't be around until New Year's Eve-ish as I'll be playing in Seattle. So if I don't see you all before then, have a fabulous and safe New Year!


Terresa said...

My gut tells me that is doesn't matter.

Your opening two sentences are fantabulous!!

Good luck & enjoy Seattle!

Natalie said...

AWESOME QUERY!!! I would totally request it if I were an agent. I love the story.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Terresa- Thanks! I love creating hooks- it's like a little game!

Natalie- I'm glad you like it! I hope agents feel the same way you do!

Tamika: said...

Great job Stephanie! Lovely query, the opening sentence grabbed you right away! I agree with Teresa, I don't think it matters.

Praying for all your success.

Have a Happy New Year!

Matthew Delman said...

Yeah, it's more one of those "huh, that's interesting" factoids than a "wow, omg, that is so freaking awesome!" factoid.

Therefore, it doesn't matter.

And I want to read this book even more now, btw.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Killer opening and I was fascinated by the query. I don't think it's necessary to say she was the first (And the reporter in me thinks you should question scholars, if you haven't already, to establish if that is true. But that isn't necessary until you're signed, which I have no doubt will happen).

Amalia T. said...

I'd skip it for now. I think this is a really strong query--it doesn't need the distraction :)

Katie Ganshert said...

I don't think it matters either. But wow - what a great query. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Very nice query! I agree with the others - I don't know if it will add much. If you do put it in, I'd be tempted to suggest putting it in the last paragraph. Good luck with it!

Guinevere said...

Love your query, and I look forward to reading your book someday when it hits shelves! This sounds brilliant.

I wouldn't add the bit about the first successful female ruler. I don't think it's relevant to the story, necessarily, and I think there's a lot of research required to make that claim.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I love your query. I agree with the others that you don't really need it. I like what Jemi suggested, "putting it in the last paragraph." If you decide to include it.

Judith Mercado said...

I guess I'm in the minority because I think that "Hatshepsut being the first successful female ruler in history" grabs me in a way that just knowing she was a self-proclaimed Pharoah does not.

Valerie Geary said...

Querying in February.... squeee!!! Yeah I agree with the above... I don't think you need to put it in the query that she was the first. It's exciting enough as it is!!

However... dare I throw a wrench? I had a hard time getting past the second paragraph (starts: "When her father dies..."). I loved the first line and everything after "Her brother dies..." but that second paragraph didn't sit right with me. I think it's the structure of the first sentence and lack of information in the second.

With the way the first sentence is written now it sounds like "H" (can I call her that for now? :) ) marries her half-brother to secure her royal claim, not the other way around. Which, I believe, is what you want it to say? That her brother wants to secure the royal claim and so marries "H"? Which leads to lack of info... why does he need "H" to secure his throne and how is "H" the real power behind the throne?

I don't think you need to add a lot more information... that would just bog down the query. But I do think these questions are important and will help build tension and character in the query itself. Which will make agents ask for pages.

For instance (I'm just pulling out something random here...) "Because of the Pharaoh's incompetency, "H" becomes the real power..." Something as simple as that.

Did any of that make sense? Feel free to email me if you want some clarification or whatever: valgeary@gmail.com

Also... it's your query. If you don't think my suggestions make sense or they just don't work for you, just ignore them. ;)

L. T. Host said...

Awesome query, Stephanie!

As to the debate at hand, I'd say you can include it if you want-- but maybe in the manner of "first documented female ruler". However, I, too, think the query stands on its own without it.

KatieGrrr said...

I say leave it out. It would only make me itch to disprove it.

Voidwalker said...

I wish I could give you help on the query, but to be brutally honest, I'm nowhere near qualified. All I can say is, check out some of the blog links of mine like 'Query Shark' and 'Query Ninja.' Maybe they can be of help! GOOOOOOOOD Luck.

Bane of Anubis said...

Yeah -- don't put it in the query. It flows quite smoothly right now. Short, sweet, and to the point. Very awesome.

V. S said...

I am jealous of your query! This was fabulous! I definitely want to read your book now.

Susan R. Mills said...

I love it! It is awesome. If I were an agent, I'd ask for more. Of course, I'm not, but if I were...

Rhiannon Hart said...

I want to hear more about how you tell this tale and why you are qualified to write it. The only clues that give away the tone of the book in the first paragraph are "hippo of a brother" which is a rather modern, Mean Girls-ish expression. This line "Tormented by her love of a commoner and cursed with personal tragedies, Hatshepsut will face a choice: family or eternal glory" is perfect as it captures exactly how you will portray Hatshepsut reacting to certain events. Rather than relating facts about the character's life, perhaps include more clues as to what makes your telling special. Also, I'd flesh out a bio at the end of the letter that includes the fact that you're a history teacher who is extremely passionate about Hatshepsut. The agent wants to hear about you as well as your book. Also put "This is my first novel" somewhere and whether you've got any writing credits. Definitely include this blog. It's a credit, and shows you can be active in promotion. It's rather a short query and I think you could get away with another 100-150 words.

And I like the bit about her being the first successful ruler. That's a great hook.

Good luck!!

Rhiannon Hart said...

(Sorry, just realised you did put in that you are a history teacher! Ignore that bit!)

Kelly Lyman said...

I loved the query and think it's fine as is. I can't wait to read this (I'm an ex-history teacher and taught this myself). Good luck!

Lorel Clayton said...

Great query. I agree you don't need the "first successful ruler" bit. You'd have to tone it down to "in recorded history" and then do tons of research to back it up, and it's not needed anyway. I'd get rid of "absolutely" in the second sentence (agents hate extraneous adjectives) and you've got a thing of beauty!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think it's great, Stephanie - I would request a full!

P.S. I have yet another award for you at my blog. Have you figured out I love this blog yet?! Ha ha ha! :-)