Okay, I finally got the query letter ready to go off to an agent. I will leave out the agentâs name and her companyâs name for now. This particular agent asks for a query letter, synopsis of the novel, authorâs bio, and the first ten pages of the novel.
Remember that different agents ask for different things. Always read carefully what the agent wants. They generally get a ton of queries; you donât want to get rejected just because you didnât follow their instructions. (There are plenty of other reasons to get a rejection!) My query, synopsis, bio, and first 10 pages follow in bold:
I am currently seeking representation for my fantasy novel for middle grades, WHEN KAYLA BECOMES A DRAGON. I note you have a particular interest in fantasy novels for the middle grades, so I thought it might be a good fit.
Kayla is an ordinary fifth grader–until she’s not. She is unusually logical and scientific. So logical, in fact, that when a dog threatens her little brother and she turns–poof! presto!–into a protective pink dragon, she denies it. Her brother Brian has to make her observe her scales and her wings and her tail before she accepts that she’s become a dragon.
Since her best friend has taken up calling her “weird,” Kayla really wants to fit in. She isÂ relieved the next morning when she sees she has changed back into a human. But fitting in is hard to do when you keep changing into a dragon at school. At least it finally pays off when she becomes a dragon when playing the bad fairy in her class’s rendition of “Sleeping Beauty.”
Why is this happening to her? Can Kayla stop becoming a dragon? What about her familyâare they dragons too?
WHEN KAYLA BECOMES A DRAGON is, at 12,250 words, the first in a five-book series calledÂ The Pride of Dragons. The manuscript is available in whole or in part upon request. I have included the first 10 pages. Thank you for your consideration.
Bio.Â Carol Kerney,Â as a veteran teacher, loves to write novels that instruct while entertaining. She also falls in love with her characters, therefore frequently writing series. She has thirteen completed novels for the middle grades. They are adventure novels featuring identical triplets whose archaeologist father takes them to ancient sites (tied to sixth-grade history); an historical and science fiction series calledÂ Time FliesÂ tied to fifth and eight-grade history; a fictionalized biography of Ben Franklin; a mystery series from the points-of-view of the four children in the Menlo family; and a mystery series featuring a dauntless young sleuth who can’t read.
Carol has two series of young adult novels, both with elements of science fiction: theÂ Intrepid GirlsÂ series features a girl who discovers she’s the clone of a very wicked old woman, a teenager who is part space alien, a âgarden variety genius,â and another teenager who saves the world from a madman. The second YA series is a frightening look at the world without the Bill of Rights and with loss of privacy alongside the increasing technology to guarantee that loss.
The novels can be found at /www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=carol+kerney. Her blog is carol.teamkerney.com.Â
WHEN KAYLA BECOMES A DRAGON (FIRST 10 PAGES)
Kayla liked to read. She liked to read so much she sometimes missed what was going on around her. Thatâs what happened the Monday Kayla became a dragon.
Her mother drove her and her brother to the grocery store after school.Â The store had a row of books for sale, and Kayla always checked out the books.
She also checked out whether she had enough money to buy one. She got her allowance on Monday, so she had her crisp new five-dollar bill with her.
Usually the shelves held grown-up books, and they were not a bit interesting. Kayla was about to turn away when she spotted an ancient-looking book behind the paperbacks. She tugged it out.
It had a real leather cover that was a faded red. The title was in gold letters. Kayla turned the book so the letters caught the light from the front windows.Â It was called The Pride of Dragons.
Kayla thumbed through the chapters. They were named things like âDragons â Real or Myth?â and âThe History of Dragonsâ and âDragons from Different Countriesâ and âDragon Families.â
âI wonder what this costs?â Kayla said aloud. âI only have five dollars.â
She flipped the book over and looked for the price sticker. When she spotted it, she thought it read $15. But when she looked closer, the numbers seemed to blur for an instant.
âItâs five dollars!â Kayla said.
A grandmotherly woman was sitting in a chair by the bookshelf. She smiled at Kayla.
âI can buy it!â Kayla said to her with enthusiasm.
âThatâs wonderful, dear,â the silver-haired grandmother said. âSometimes what we read can change our lives.â
âIsnât this a pretty book?â Kayla asked, turning the cover toward the lady.
âDo you know what a pride of dragons is?â the old lady asked.
âItâs a group of dragons, like a family.â
âLike a gaggle of geese? Or a litter of puppies? Or a pride of lions?â
âExactly right,â the grandmotherly woman said. âDonât forget that.â
Kayla had already forgotten it by the time they got to the car.Â She read her new book in the car on the way home.Â She held the book in front of her face, reading, when she walked into her house.
She was still reading in the middle of the kitchen when her mother came in, carrying heavy grocery bags.
âKayla?â her mom said. âKayla!â
âHmmm? What?â said Kayla.
âI asked you to bring in the groceries.â
âUse your head, daughter,â Mom said.
Kayla walked to the door with her head down to read the book. Her brother Brian came in, grocery bags stacked high in his arms. Kayla rammed into the bags with her head.
âI didnât mean to use your head that way,â said Mom, sighing.
A bag of groceries tore. Oranges rolled across the kitchen floor.Â Kayla set her book down on the counter and went down to find the oranges.
âI got all the rest of the groceries, Kayla,â he said, placing all the bags onto the table.
âThanks, Brian,â she said, tracking down the last orange.
âWhat are you reading?â asked Mom.
âItâs an interesting book,â said Kayla. âItâs about dragons. I donât believe dragons are real. Theyâre not logical. Theyâre not scientific.â
âI do,â said Brian. âI think dragons are real.â
âYou would,â said Kayla, teasing him.
Brian had a lot of dragon action figures. They were his favorite toys.
âThey canât be real,â Kayla said. âThey were big animals. They were too big to be aerodynamic.â
âWhoâs too big to be aerodynamic?â asked their father, coming in from the living room.
âDragons!â said Kayla. âThey canât be real because theyâre too big to fly.â
âAirplanes are big, and they can fly,â Brian pointed out.
Kayla put the oranges into the fruit bowl. As she turned around, she saw her parents give each other a look. It was the kind of look parents give each other when they donât want you to know what theyâre thinking.
What did that look mean?
It was Momâs turn to cook dinner. She sent Brian and Kayla to the backyard to play. Dad stayed to help her prepare the meal.Â Kayla had the feeling they wanted to discuss whatever that look meant.
The kids had a big swing set in the backyard. Kayla settled in the grass at the foot of the slide. She wanted to read her book about dragons. It had pictures of dragons in all different colors. The descriptions told who the dragons were, such as Englebert, the Dragon King.
She turned to the chapter called âThe History of Dragons.â
âInteresting,â said Kayla out loud.
At that moment something hit her in the back of the neck. She turned around and looked up.
Brian was in the playhouse at the top of the slide. He kept his dragon action figures there. The blue dragon action figure heâd named âMama Dragonâ was behind Kayla on the slide.
âQuit it,â she said. âDonât throw your dolls at me.â
âTheyâre not dolls,â protested Brian. âTheyâre action figures.â
âTheyâre dolls,â Kayla said, turning back to her book.
She heard her brother murmur, âBesides I didnât throw it.â
âRight,â muttered Kayla.
She read that many places on earth had legends of dragons. Then a purple dragon crashed into her shoulder.
âI said quit it!â she shouted.
âI didnât do it,â Brian shouted back.
Kayla slammed her book shut.Â All the rest of Brianâs dragonsâthe gold one, the silver one, the green, red, pink, and yellow onesâslammed down and hit her.
âOuch!â Kayla cried, spinning around to face her brother. âThat hurt. They hit my shoulder blades. And my shoulder blades are itching.â
Kayla reached back and tried to scratch her shoulder blades.
âI didnât throw the dragons,â Brian said again.
âSure you didnât. They just flew down by themselves.â
âThatâs what happened,â Brian said.
Kayla looked up at him, annoyed. She started to bawl him out. But then she saw his face.
Brian looked scared.Â Brian never looked scared. What was going on?
âWhatâs wrong?â she asked.
âI really didnât throw them,â Brian said softly.
âYou shouldnât lie.â
âIâm not lying. They flew down by themselves.â
Brian sounded like he meant it. But toys didnât move by themselves. It wasnât logical.Â Kayla walked to the gate.
âWhere are you going?â Brian called.
âTo Jenniferâs house,â said Kayla. âI want to show her my book. And I want to get away from you throwing things at me.â
Brian slid down the slide.
âIâll go with you.â
Her friend Jennifer lived one house away but across the alley behind her. Normally Kayla just ran through the alley and into Jenâs backyard. Today was trash day, and Mom didnât let them cross the alley on trash pick-up day.
She said it was because she didnât want them getting in the way. But Kayla remembered when they were much younger. Brian ran in front of the garbage truck. Mom barely grabbed him back in time.
It scared Mom.
For that matter, it scared Kayla. It scared her so much that she thought she saw something that she couldnât have seen. Mom was wearing a long-sleeved blue sweater. Kayla thought she saw Momâs arm stretch out in a flash and grab Brian.
She was a little kid then and full of imagination. She was more scientific now. She knew mothersâ arms couldnât stretch out long enough to reach across an alley.
Kayla walked down the many steps to the sidewalk with the book in front of her face. All the houses on their street had steep front lawns with steps up from the street.
Brian walked beside her. Their neighbors, the Clarks, had a big dog named Butterfly. It was the wrong name for him. Instead of a pretty butterfly, Butterfly was a mean dog.
For some reason he hated Kayla and Brian.
Kayla wasnât paying attention because she was reading. She stopped, lowered her book from her face, and said, âMy shoulder blades are itching. Brian, can you scratch my back?â
âThis isnât a good place to stop,â Brian pointed out. “This is the Clarks’ house.”
Just then Butterfly tore around the house from the back, barking fiercely. There was a chain link fence that ended at the sidewalk. It always stopped him.
But Butterfly had been digging. He had dug a hole under the fence. The dog wriggled under the fence as if he had been waiting for this opportunity.
Butterfly backed Kayla and Brian up against the fence. He snarled and lunged toward Brian.
âLeave my little brother alone!â shouted Kayla.
At that moment Kayla became a dragon.
Â First her itchy shoulder blades became big leathery pink wings that opened out above her. Kayla turned her head and looked at them in astonishment.
Brianâs mouth dropped opened.Â Butterflyâs jaws dropped open. He stopped mid-bark and stared at Kayla.
Next Kaylaâs legs turned pink, got bigger, and developed scales.
She suddenly dropped over onto her hands. Her arms became pink scaly legs. Her body stretched out and was a dragon body. She had a long scaly pink tail. Her face turned into a dragonâs face.
âKayla?â said Brian.
Butterfly remembered his job and snarled at Brian.Â Kayla-the-Dragon took a step toward the dog and growled. She blew a small hot flame out of her mouth. The flame nearly touched Butterflyâs back leg.
Butterfly yelped because it scared him. He hurriedly backed to the fence, scooted under it backwards, and started digging the dirt back to fill in the hole.Â Then he ran whining around the house to the backyard.
Kayla and Brian looked at each other.
âYouâre a dragon,â Brian said.
âI canât be,â said Kayla. âThatâs not scientific.â
âLook at yourself,â said Brian.
Kayla looked. She looked at her pink scales. She looked at her leathery wings. She looked at her long dragon tail.
âIâm a dragon,â she said. âDonât let anybody see me.â
Their mail carrier, Mr. Jenkins, came whistling down the street. He had a stack of mail in his hands and he was looking at it. Without glancing at the kids, he went up the steps to Mrs. Brownâs porch to put the mail in her mailbox.
âQuick, Kayla!â Brian whispered. âHide!â
âWhere?â Kayla asked.
âOver here,â Brian said.
He pointed to two concrete blocks. One stood on each side of the steps that led up to the Clarksâ house. The statue of a lion stood on the left side. The right-hand lion had broken last year and been hauled away.
âJump up on the block,â Brian ordered. âGet up there and look like a statue.â
They heard Mr. Jenkins whistling as he started down Mrs. Brownâs steps from her porch to the sidewalk. A tall hedge kept him from seeing them.
âHurry,â Brian hissed.
Kayla took a step and fell on her face.
âHurry up!â insisted Brian.
âI canât hurry. Iâve never had four legs and a tail before,â said Kayla.
Brian dashed to Kayla. The mailman came down the steps from the house next door. He would be out on the sidewalk soon. Then he would see a nine-year-old boy with his shoulder against a medium-sized dragonâs rump, pushing her.Â Brian helped his sister get up on the block.
âHold completely still,â Brian whispered urgently.
Brian saw that her tail was slipping. He leaned against the tail, holding it on the block, and casually propped his elbow on the dragonâs back.
âHi, Brian,â Mr. Jenkins greeted him, turning toward the Clarksâ house. âWhat do you have there? It looks like a rose-pink dragon.â
Brian said, âThe Clarks must have decided to replace their missing concrete lion with a dragon.â
âItâs funny looking,â said Mr. Jenkins. âWhy would the Clarks paint their dragon that absurd shade of pink?â
Kayla couldnât help herself. What she could see of herself was a very pretty shade of pink. She rolled her eyes.
Mr. Jenkins jumped back.
âDid you see that?â
âNope,â said Brian.
Mr. Jenkins leaned in and took a close look at the dragonâs face. Kayla held completely still. The mailman shook his head.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
âI must have imagined it. Well, these letters wonât deliver themselves. Ha, ha. Say hello to your parents for me, Brian.â
âOkay,â Brian said.
The mailman started up the steps to the Clarksâ house. Once he got past them, Kayla sneezed.
Mr. Jenkins turned back. He saw Brian sticking his head around the dragon statue. Brian was wiping his nose.
âExcuse me,â Brian said.
Shaking his head, Mr. Jenkins went up the many steps to the Clarkâs mailbox. After he tucked their mail into the mailbox, he turned around to descend the steps. He saw that Brian had disappeared.Â
What was odd was that the pink dragon statue was gone too.