David Powers King released a new YA zombie book THE UNDEAD ROAD. Here's a blurb:
Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he and his family has no choice if they are to survive the end of the world. And their survival may rest in the hands of a mysterious girl who might just turn on them at any moment. And here's a few links to find more information:
Here's a blurb of ALLISTAIR GRIM'S ODD AQUATICUM, Gregory's most recent book, from Goodreads:
When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel’s strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium’s power source for himself.
With the evil prince hot on their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium's crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade's magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin, sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.
But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy—a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.
So here's Gregory!
Writing A Successful Query Letter.
One of the most frequent questions I get from aspiring writers is, “How did you get your agent?” to which I always respond, “I wrote a good book.” You can imagine the eye-rolls and exasperated sighs of, “Well, duh!” that follow, because what people are really asking is, “How did you get your agent’s attention?”
If you’ve stumbled onto this post, you probably already know a little bit about how the publishing biz works, how a literary agent can help you, and what a query letter is. If you don’t, I suggest you take advantage of this new-fangled inter-web machine and school yourself on the basics. If after that you decide you still want (and even need) an agent to represent your work, you might find my insights on writing a successful query letter helpful. If not, well hey, as Bogie says in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”
Let me say up front that I am no expert on this—not at all—and consider myself a decent but by no means great writer. I am, however, a perfectionist and extremely stubborn (my friends say “driven,” but who are we kidding?) and rewrote my query letter many, many times before I finally took a deep breath and hit the “send” button. Is this the ultimate, super-duper-secret query letter formula you’ve been searching for? Probably not. But I can tell you that it attracted the attention of eight out of the twelve agents I queried, five of whom offered me representation after reading all or just a portion of my book (I ended up signing with Superman, aka Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman). That tells me I did two things correctly: 1) I wrote a good book; and 2) I wrote a good query letter.
There are basically three sections to the standard query letter: 1) The introduction/hook; 2) The synopsis; and 3) The bio/closing. How you choose to tackle each section is up to you (there are plenty of sites that give advice on this) so keep in mind that I am telling you what worked for me. In fact, I asked the agents who offered me representation what (other than my story idea) made my query letter stand out, and a common theme quickly emerged: they appreciated how professional, clear and concise it was.
I recently read about an agent who receives an average of 50-100 queries per day. She’s a pretty big deal, but even if we take the lower number as a baseline, that’s roughly 7 queries to read per hour (less an hour for lunch during a standard workday) on top of all her other duties. So, common sense would dictate that one should err on the side of brevity.
For example, in my query letter (see below) for Alistair Grim’s Odditorium (Disney-Hyperion, 2015) Odditorium I chose not waste the agents’ time trying to dazzle them with my “hook,” but instead began my query with a simple, one sentence introduction telling them the title, genre, and setting. Next, I split the synopsis section into two paragraphs. In the first, I tried to make the plot summary as economical and appealing as possible (I literally read dozens of book jackets to see what worked best). I then followed with a “comp” paragraph, in which I gave the word count, briefly highlighted the underlying themes, and compared Odditorium to other books from which I drew my inspiration. In the last section, the bio, I only mention facts relevant to my career as a writer (education, previously published works, etc.).
Of course, there is no “one size fits all” query letter—and you might even think mine is kind of boring—but for some reason it worked well for me back in the summer of 2012. What follows is my original query letter to Bill—well, most of it. Even three and a half years later, I couldn’t resist tweaking a few things.
I told you I was a perfectionist.
Dear Mr. Contardi:
Allow me to introduce you to my first middle-grade novel, Alistair Grim’s Odditorium—a steampunk influenced, sci-fi fantasy set in Victorian London.
For twelve year-old Grubb, life as a chimney sweep in the English countryside has always been hard. Apprenticed to a brutal master sweep named Mr. Smears, Grubb wants nothing more than a life free from toil and abuse. After incurring the wrath of a local innkeeper, Grubb stows away in a trunk belonging to one of the inn’s guests. Soon, the boy finds himself at the Odditorium—a flying house of mechanical wonders filled with supernatural beings and powered by a mysterious blue energy called animus. The eccentric owner of the Odditorium, Alistair Grim, allows Grubb to stay on as his apprentice, but when Grubb accidentally allows some of the animus to escape, he attracts the attention of Prince Nightshade, an evil necromancer who wants the animus for himself. After an intense battle and a narrow escape from London, Grubb and his friends set off in the Odditorium to defeat Prince Nightshade, during which time Grubb discovers the real purpose of Alistair Grim’s animus—a purpose as strange and nefarious as the evil necromancer who seeks to control it.
At 75,000 words, and layered with historical detail and world mythology, Alistair Grim’s Odditorium employs common Victorian themes such as hidden identities, unrequited love, and upper-class destiny in a darkly-fantastical Dickensian milieu. In the combined traditions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Water Babies, and the fantasy works of Lloyd Alexander (The Chronicles of Prydain), Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is not only a tale of adventure and mystery, but also the story of one boy’s magical journey toward acceptance and self-discovery.
In addition to being a published author, I am currently a professor in the School of Theatre & Dance at East Carolina University. My adult thrillers, The Sculptor and The Impaler (Kensington/Pinnacle, 2010, 2011), have met with both commercial and critical success, and foreign language rights have been sold in nearly a half-dozen countries. I hold an AM from Brown University, and an MFA from Florida State.
After three years as a client of John Hawkins & Associates, my agent there, William Reiss, is retiring. Thus, I thought you might be interested in taking a look at Alistair Grim’s Odditorium. I’ve pasted the first two chapters in the body of this e-mail. I hope it piques your interest in reading more.
Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear back from you soon.
You can find Gregory at:
Gregory has generously offered one book of the winner's choice in his Odditorium series. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.
Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. Find all the other participating bloggers on her blog.
Here's what's coming up:
On Monday I have an interview with debut author Sarah Ahiers and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Assassin's Heart.
Next Wednesday I have my new and first agent spotlight interview with agent Beth Campbell and a query critique giveaway.
Friday that week I'm participating in the Favorites Book Giveaway Hop.
The following Monday I have a guest post by debut YA author Heidi Heilig and a giveaway of her YA fantasy time travel THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE.
Hope to see you on Monday!