Novelists are like football players. They work hard every day for years to hone their skills and keep their dreams alive, but only a few of them ever see the big time. Editors and agents sift through stacks of query letters for the next big novel while hopeful authors chew their nails and wait. Although it is a bit unconventional for the writing world, my persuasive query essay illustrates why On a Wing and a Dare should not be lost in the pile of submissions. This young adult novel shows how two teenagers approach their transition to adulthood, illustrates that change is hard, and appeals to a currently underrepresented market.
Coming of age is a common theme in YA literature; however, each young person experiences it in a unique way. In On a Wing and a Dare, sixteen year old Emma, only child of barn leader Hoel, is expected to ride one of the magnificent winged horses in her father’s barn. She, however, falls in love with the son of a rival barn leader and longs to ride for their barn. Davyd, also 16, must face his fear of heights to fulfill family obligation and become a winged horse rider himself. To make matters worse, he is in love with Emma, his brother’s girlfriend.
While growing up presents individual problems, the world has issues of its own. In Tremirson, where the winged horses have thrived for generations, tradition directs the lives of human and horse. Wealthy patrons expect their barn to do well in the annual Aerial Games, so parental and town expectations reflect what has worked well in the past. Then the horses start to die, and nothing is as it should be. Emma and Davyd must match their goals to a changing future.
Even though vampire or edgy paranormal novels may be the current trend, there are many other bestselling genres. On a Wing and a Dare appeals to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and romance. The winged horses capture the imagination, but the characters are as real as the person sitting next to you. In today’s market, authors must assist with marketing their books. I have a short story published in an anthology called A Visitor to Sandahl (2010), and I have edited two anthologies of my students’ work (Novel Central (2009) and Novel Central 2 (2011). To publicize them, I have written articles and blog posts, linked them to my website, and held author signings in area bookstores. I look forward to doing the same with On a Wing and a Dare.
Complete at 65,000 words, On a Wing and a Dare is a young adult fantasy that will appeal to readers of Robin McKinley’s Pegasus and Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books. The first chapter is posted on my blog (http://ulleseit.wordpress.com), and the full manuscript is available upon request.
This breaks all the rules for novel queries, but matches exactly the persuasive essay format my fifth graders use. Maybe some publishing professional will see it and decide it works! What do you think? If you were a publisher, would you want it?
On my Kindle: Escaping Fate by Delsheree Gladden