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Query Series: Lee Bross & Mandy Hubbard

In this new Saturday series, YA Highway writers share the query letters that landed their agents -- and why the queries worked, from the agents themselves. Next up...

Author Lee Bross
Agent Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Agency

from Lee:

Writing queries for me is the easiest part of the process. Mainly because I have "Movie Announcer Guy" in my head who constantly blurbs everything I do. I know, my brain is a scary place. After I left my previous agent I had the daunting task of figuring out which of the 3 other books I had written were best to query with. I settled on my UF one, Dormant, and worked and polished the query, sent it out and waited. That's when Mandy answered it with an R -- and a P.S. at the very end that said feel free to send blurbs of the other books.

the queries:

Project A: Seventeen-year-old Casslyn Raine doesn't believe she can suck the emotions out of people, even if Max — the hottest guy ever — insists it's true. And even if it were remotely possible, her Gran definitely would have told her about something that life-changing.

But when Cass is attacked in a Rec Center bathroom and her classmates are taken hostage by creatures straight out of a nightmare, she starts to think maybe Max isn't so crazy after all. He tells her they're Dormants, inhuman monsters that feed off people’s fear, and Cass’s ability to channel emotions is a commodity they will do anything to get. Now she has no choice but to trust Max, a Hunter who knows how to kill them, in order to find the monsters' nest before daybreak — but that’s exactly where they want her.

Trust, betrayal, and redemption all play out over just one night, although the latter comes at a price. Cass can save her friends if she fights the demon inside herself, but temptation is sweet and giving in is always easier.

I have recently parted ways with my agent and am looking for new representation for this and other completed novels. DORMANTS is a 50,000-word Urban Fantasy YA novel that has not been seen by publishers and is available on request. The blurbs and/or fulls of the other projects are also available.

I belong to YA Highway, a group blog that celebrates writing for young adults and have a website of my own. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Project B: A thousand years ago the heir to Alcaria disappeared and the throne stood empty. Over time the entire kingdom succumbed to The Sleep of Stone, the silent death of a leaderless faery realm. Now that the Passed of Time has reached its end, the laws of the fey state that the one who awakens the land on Midsummer’s Eve may lay claim to the throne and all within the kingdom. It is the night evil has been waiting for.

The fate of the Alcarians lay in the hands of Kalian, the lone faery who escaped into the world of humans, but who is cursed to return to The Sleep of Stone at each daybreak. Disguised as a gargoyle, he has wandered the Earth at night for almost ten human years watching and waiting for the ruler of Alcaria to return.

Finally on a starless night in the slums of New York City in the year 2008, he finds sixteen year old Mercedes Hope, a strung out drug addict who has given up on life. But now time is fast running out and he must convince this belligerent, jaded girl to embrace her destiny and come back to fight for Alcaria and for her people, when all she wants to do is fade into nothingness and be forgotten forever.

Merci has been fighting her own monsters for as long as she can remember. They lurk in the shadows waiting and if not for the voice in her head telling her what to do, she wouldn’t have survived. But her addictions have taken their toll and she has no memory of who she is or where she came from all those years ago. All she knows is that the shadows go away when she is high, so the choice has always been an obvious one.

Until the night she looks into a gargoyle’s eyes and her life is changed forever.

from Mandy:

I originally passed on "Project A" because I see dozens and dozens of paranormal or urban-fantasy queries every week. I know how tough this market is, and how important it is that a project stand out. I liked "Project A" enough to waffle for a minute, but given my time constraints and the sheer volume of queries, I decided to pass. Since Lee mentioned having other projects, I sent her a form with a simple PS: Feel free to send me pitches for the other projects you mentioned" at the bottom. I don't normally do this, but her query was professional and well written and like I said, it had been close.

She sent me pitches for what she had, and I was immediately drawn to Faery Borne-- firstly, because she described it as "gritty" which is totally up my alley, but secondly (and more importantly) I was drawn to the character. Faeries are anything but new, and yet Lee made her story sound fresh and exciting to me, by focusing on her character's struggle and internal conflict. Once I actually read the full, I discovered the grittier voice she'd pitched in the query, and I was sold. I think Lee could have had her character cutting every blade of grass in Central Park with a pair of scissors and I would have gone along with it.

Want to query Mandy Hubbard? Guidelines can be found at her agency's Publishers Marketplace listing.
Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. I love when agents/authors do these. It's incredibly helpful to get an inside view of the process, but it's also encouraging to see an author and agent connect.

  2. Echoing the previous commenter.

    And I love that you have the movie voice-over guy dude in your head :)

    Really great queries, and LOL @ the cutting blades of grass line by Mandy :)

  3. Thanks for posting these queries and Mandy's response. So I take it Book A was shelved in the end?

  4. That's so awesome (and helpful) to see what attracts an agent's eye! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Fantastic post!!! Very interesting to get an inside look at the whole process.

  6. Really interesting! Also, like Stina, I'm interested to hear what happened to project A?

  7. Project A is on the back burner for now. I have one book on sub and another in Mandy's hands and yet ANOTHER that I'm working on right now. Who knows, maybe one day it will get its chance!

    Also, I want to say that when I talked to Mandy on the phone, the day she offered rep actually, she told me that little pink ponies could be dancing across her living room and she wouldn't have stopped reading. I LOVED that.

    It pretty much made my mind up. Who wouldn't want that kind of enthusiasm behind you!

  8. Hee! Just read Lee's comment about Little Pink Ponies. Totally true. :-)

    Basically, I love anything and EVERYTHING Lee writes. The slush pile is SO hard because you have your 2 minutes to shine. Once I truly delved into Lee's writing, I was 100% won over.

    I used to say "no portals to fantasies worlds." That was my ONE rule. And yet the one I requested from Lee? Portal to a fantasy world. The amazing thing is I was WELL past the portal before it dawned on me that there even was a portal! Lee is an example of how amazing writing can win you over time and time again. :-)

    In the end, I just want to point out: she was a complete slush pile pick. No referrals, no publishing credits, etc. The slush pile works. At least, from my perspective!


  9. No offense, but both of these queries suck. Just my opinion, I guess.

  10. So cool - thanks Mandy and Lee! Love hearing all this inside info.

    And thank YOU, anon - I've been anxiously awaiting your arrival after having ordered you from Trolls Inc so very long ago. Hooray! :D

  11. LOL Michelle.

    I'm loving this series. It's great seeing both perspectives and what it takes to catch an agent's eyes.

  12. I'm enjoying this series as well. It's great to have an insider's perspective on how to grab an agent's interest.

  13. Also.

    Are you the troll from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone? Can I have your autograph?

  14. Love the queries, Lee, and I'm glad Mandy did too. You know how I adore your writing <3

  15. Anon - Not sure why you felt the need to post anon, because your opinion is your opinion. Whether or not "you" thought it was good or bad is irrelevant.

    This blog series is meant to show people what worked for us and what made our agents want to rep us. To give the people who are interested a behind the scenes look.

    And not everyone loved that query. I did get a few R's, but I also got 5 full requests and 3 offers of rep in under a month, so despite the "suckiness" of it, it worked.

    And the second one wasn't a query. If you read, Mandy asked for the blurb. There is a big difference between the two.


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Item Reviewed: Query Series: Lee Bross & Mandy Hubbard Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard