Example Query: Renita Pizzitola 

Here’s another example query for you to feast your eyes on. Renita queried me with her NA manuscript The Unity of Opposites in October last year. 

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES is a New Adult Contemporary Romance complete at 70,000 words.

When nineteen-year-old Brinley Monroe runs into Ryder Briggs—an insanely desirable, tattooed bad boy and the other half of her disastrous first kiss—she knows she’s in trouble. Since that humiliating day four years ago, when she experienced a moment of Ryder-induced-bliss followed by nose-diving into a swimming pool, she’s hated him…every delectable square inch. Now in college, her past has reappeared and, by the looks of it, still hasn’t grown into his ego.

Despite their scorching chemistry, a guy like Ryder is the last thing Brinley needs in her life. As the product of a teen mom, who now loves vodka more than her own daughter, Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life. But while spending time with Ryder, she discovers there is more to him than the image he broadcasts. Though complete opposites, they share the same fear—repeating their parents’ mistakes. And as Ryder’s desire not to hurt her drives him away, her trust in him draws them back together.

But when Ryder’s involvement in a campus-wide scandal comes to light, the only person to pay is Brinley. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise, learning from her past means leaving people from it out of her future. Now, in order to protect her, Ryder must fix the mess he’s caused then do what he should have done from day one. Walk away.

I am a romance author currently published through Lyrical Press. (YA Paranormal Romance series—October 2012 and September 2013, and an Adult Urban Fantasy Romance—March 2013). I appreciate your time and consideration and sincerely hope to hear from you in the near future.

 Here’s what caught my eye:

The Title. Now, we actually changed it—more on this later—but I loved the title. It automatically intrigued me. (Maybe I always go for people who are my opposite, I don’t know).

That first paragraph gives a great set up. I love that Brinley and Ryder have a history and that it’s humiliating for her. A disastrous first kiss followed by a nose-dive into a swimming pool—and it’s made her hate him? That feels so very authentic. I still have a high school kiss that makes me cringe whenever I think of it. And if I ran into that guy now, oh I wouldn’t be a fan.

But what really gets me with that paragraph is that Ryder “still hasn’t grown into his ego.” This is such a great example of voice and characterization in a query. It’s a little detail, worded in a way that reflects exactly something that Brinley would say and it tells me so much about her and about the book.

The second paragraph sets up more conflicts. This is a book that is a romance but each of the characters have their own conflicts going on as well. Brinley’s relationship with her mom comes into play here. More than that though, I also love that “Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life.” This tells me that she’s a strong character, she might have history and family issues like all of us, but they’re not going to get the best of her.

And of course the tease of a campus wide scandal really got me too, but what I liked about the ending is that this feels like a romance that’s more than just a will they/won’t they—it sounds like a relationship story, something that requires working through every day conflicts and struggles. It feels so real and authentic to the college experience.

Of course Renita is a fabulous writer so when I started reading her pages I was totally hooked. And I wasn’t the only one. 

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES and two companion novels sold at auction to Random House Flirt. We changed the name to Just a Little Crush and now it comes out October 21st. That’s almost 12 months to the day that Renita queried me!


Freshman Fifteen Author Victoria Aveyard Talks Worldbuilding 


Freshman Fifteen Author Victoria Aveyard Talks Worldbuilding


I’m lucky in a lot of ways. 1) I got my hair ombré-d last September and haven’t had to touch it up since and 2) I can pinpoint the exact moment when I discovered my great love of creating stories. I was eight years old, flipping through a Legend of Zelda guidebook while my brother navigated through that god-awful Water Temple. Even back then, I was obsessed with maps, but I’d only had atlases to…

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Example Query: Rebecca Behrens 

In March, a few years ago, I got a fabulous query by Rebecca Behrens for her debut novel. I knew within just the first few lines that I had to read this book.

Here’s the query:

Dear Ms. Townsend, 

fump • \fəmp\ v. 1 slang a dump or desert one’s (platonic) friend ‘Keisha made the swim team so now she is totally going to fump Annie’ b get rid of unceremoniously ‘poor thing got fumped by her best friend’ c friend-dumped.

Think there’s nothing worse than getting dumped? Try getting fumped—at least when it’s some guy who’s breaking your heart, you can rely on your best friend for a shoulder to cry on and emergency fro-yo trips. When it’s said friend who’s doing the deserting, who can you turn to for support? Your pet hamster? Your parentals? In my young-adult novel Fumped (71,924 words), whip-smart sophomore Jocelyn Heller holds nothing back as she retells the story of how she got fumped by her best friend. 

Jocelyn and Alexis have been best friends their whole lives, although they’ve grown into two very different peas sharing a pod. By the start of sophomore year, however, Alexis has ditched Jocelyn to hang out with the popular, vapid Lacey and her soccer-playing boyfriend. Jocelyn is desperate to prove to her best friend that she can fit in with the new crowd, despite the fact that she cares more for books than for booze and has never had a boyfriend. Yet all of Jocelyn’s efforts to win back Alexis’s favor only lead to more cruel exclusions. Gradually, Jocelyn realizes that she’s more suited to new friends from her Art Metal class and the drama club (including the crush-worthy Peter) and that perhaps the BFF she’s fighting for isn’t really deserving of her loyalty and friendship. Equal parts introspective and angst-y, witty and heartbreaking, Jocelyn shows how getting fumped was both the worst thing that could happen to her and possibly the best. 

Fumped is my debut YA novel, and yes—I once had firsthand experience with the subject matter. I also have a BA from Northwestern University and an MA in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center (CUNY). I’m currently a textbook editor at Macmillan/McGraw-Hill in New York City, where I have focused on literature products for grades K-12. I am a freelance writer and have been published in American Cheerleader magazine, which has a readership of 1.2 million and is targeted toward the teen athlete, and its business publication, Cheer Biz News. I’m also an active member of the Association of American Publishers’ Young to Publishing networking group, through which I have formed relationships with editors at Knopf-Doubleday, Dial Books for Young Readers, and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 

I look forward to sharing Jocelyn’s story with you, and I know you’ll love her as much as I do. Hers is a fresh and quirky voice, and she tells her story with humor and raw emotion. Getting fumped might have sucked really hard, but you’ll see that it gave Jocelyn the catalyst she needed to start being herself. The first five pages of Fumped follow this query and the full manuscript is available upon request. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Rebecca Behrens

Now, here’s what I love about it.

Fumped. It’s a fabulous concept and term and I loved how Rebecca defined it before the query. It drew me in immediately, let me know what the story was going to be about—but it did so in a creative way. 

I also love the beginning of the query—that first paragraph has such a fabulous voice and is a (rare) example of rhetorical questions that work really well. (Trust me, I normally hate them). Right then and there it won me over and I requested it. 

Once I’d requested the novel, I read and loved it and offered Rebecca representation. Unfortunately at the time, Fumped was a little too sweet for contemporary YA (which was a pretty tough market), but Rebecca when on to write When Audrey Met Alice which we sold to Sourcebooks and comes out in February.

It’s a different story but it has the same fabulous writing and humor that I loved about Fumped.