Thursday, April 4, 2013

How I Wrote a Successful Query for The Charge by Sharon Bayliss + Giveaway

My Successful Query Journey

Querying my novel almost drove me insane. A slight exaggeration perhaps, but I think there should be some additions to the DSM for query-related disorders. Perhaps "Acute query psychosis" or "E-mail refreshing compulsion disorder," and of course, "Rejectaphobia."

I suffered from all of these disorders and have almost 50 drafts of my query saved on my computer... and that's just the drafts I saved. I really hated the whole process. But through all that trial and tribulation, I did rise victorious. I finally wrote a query that got me a full request from a publishing house.

Here is the unaltered query for The Charge that got me a full request and ultimately a publishing contract:

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Dear Curiosity Quills Editor, 

Eighteen-year-old Warren King has been protecting his brother, Isaac, from bullies ever since Isaac decided to wear a top hat to the third grade. So when Isaac is kidnapped, Warren heads out to bust some faces. But Warren didn’t expect the bully to be the King of the Texas Empire. Warren’s mother confesses that Warren and his brother are some of the last members of the Texas royal family. The new King is hunting down his relatives before the true heir decides to say, “Hey man, you’re in my seat.”

Warren must save his brother and avoid capture himself armed with nothing more than a fifteen year old Camry and MapQuest directions to Texas. He gets help from a spirited Texan named Lena who is first girl that ever made him want to do things like iron creases in his pants. She’s ready to help him take on the King, but since she’s an anti-monarchy activist dating the son of the President of the United States, he’s not sure if she’s going to kiss him or shoot him. Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now he must embark into a West that stayed wild and choose to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.

The Charge is an 80,000 word New Adult science fiction adventure set on an alternate timeline where a dictator took over the Republic of Texas in 1836 and built his own empire in the West. It can stand alone, but I have outlined it to be the first book in a five part series.

Sharon Bayliss

Thank you so much for sharing this exclusive look at your query, Sharon! I'm so happy for you; your determination truly paid off!

Click "Read more" to find out more about the book, read the first chapter, and enter a giveaway JUST for Books à la Mode readers...

From Curiosity Quills Press...
When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.

He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who's itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can't stay away from. Convincing her he's not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.

A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.

Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.

Chapter One

When Warren arrived outside his mother's apartment, he saw Luke Skywalker's face plastered against the window. For some reason, his mother had taped his old Star Wars comforter over the patio glass. He didn't pause too long to wonder why. His mother suffered from what his brother called severe eccentricity, a condition that sometimes included blacking out windows with old sheets for no obvious reason.

Warren always came home when his mother asked, in part because she tended to do things like make bacon in the toaster and start fires. However, if she called him today for anything less than a toaster fire, he would head right back to campus to enjoy the first day after finals the way he had intended to—drunk and poolside.

He wiped his feet like his mother taught him, even though the revolting brown carpeting didn't show much. He kind of missed the crappiness of the apartment he grew up in, although he didn't know why, because crappy also described his new apartment in Eugene. Still, to him, home smelled like pine trees intermingled with pool chlorine and exhaust from the laundry room.

His mother stood in the kitchen beside their yellow nineteen-eighties stove and a refrigerator that always looked too small next to Warren and his other too-tall family members. She held a box of uncooked spaghetti and didn't respond to his presence right away. The box of spaghetti looked worn and crushed, as if his mother had stood there and squeezed the box for a while. The wrinkle between her eyes had grown deeper, and a few more strands of gray had found their way into her waist-length black hair.

Warren took the box of spaghetti out of her hands.

"I will make you dinner," she said.

"I'm not hungry."

Two Red Bulls churned in Warren's hungover and now worried stomach.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

Please don't say cancer. At six-foot-five, Warren had grown too tall for most childish things, but losing his mama still felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen.

"It's Isaac," she said.

Warren's hands began to sweat.

"What's wrong with him?"

Okay, maybe losing his little brother felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen.

His mother took Warren by the hand and led him into their apartment's only bedroom. She had slept on the couch for fourteen years, and Warren and Isaac had shared this room. A bleach-stained towel hung over a broken window. Through the gap, Warren saw the courtyard full of pine trees where they had played as kids—the courtyard where Isaac collected specimens to look at under his microscope while Warren hit mud balls with his baseball bat.

Glass surrounded a brownish-red smudge on the carpet. Blood.

"What is this?" Warren asked.

"Someone took him."

Warren's breath caught in his throat.

"He came home to visit. Said he felt sick. I tried to get off work, but I couldn't find anyone to cover my shift." Her voice took on a higher, more urgent pitch. "When I came home, he was gone."

"You mean someone actually broke in and took him?"


"He's sixteen years old and freaking six-foot-four. You don't just abduct a guy like that for no reason. What the hell for?"

She shook her head, her eyes on the spot of blood.

"Did you call the police?" His voice got higher and louder too.

"Yes, I called 9-1-1, like you told me to for an emergency. Isaac put the numbers on the phone so I wouldn't forget. They came and asked me questions and took pictures."

"What did the police say?" Warren asked.

"Just to call if anything new happens."

"It doesn't make sense. He's nice to everyone. Keeps his head down. This is bullshit." He realized he had yelled. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to curse."

"It's okay."

Warren knelt to get a better look at the blood smudge, careful to avoid the glass.

His mother sat on the floor next to him and took his hand.

He didn't notice his hand shook until she held it firmly.

She pulled him into a hug and squeezed tightly.

"I love you," she said.

"I know. I love you, too, Mom."

"I think you should go."

"What? No. I'm not going anywhere." She got confused at the grocery store on her best days. She needed him now. And he needed her.

"They'll come for you, too," she said in a near-whisper.

He pulled away from her. "What aren't you telling me?"

"Nothing. I'm just worried. I don't want to lose you, too."

She didn't lie well, and only one topic caused her to act this evasive.

"Does this have anything to do with my father?"

She paused for what seemed like a full minute, and then finally gave the same answer she always gave when they asked about their father.

"No. Your father is dead. He died in Waterloo when the bomb hit Texas."

About the Author

Sharon Bayliss is a native of Austin, Texas and works her day job in the field of social work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living in her “happily-ever-after” with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening).


Sharon has a lovely giveaway organized just for you guys! Woohoo! :)

One lucky winner gets a print copy of The Charge; if you're in the US, Sharon will personally autograph the book for you!

Another winner will receive a swag package for the tour. Two winners total, yay!

To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Here's a fun comment prompt from Sharon for extra entries:
Have you ever suffered from rejectaphobia or email refreshing compulsion disorder? What was the incriminating experience and what was it like? Share with us!
Yes, yes, and YES! I've never sent out queries before (although I can imagine how nerve-wracking it could be!), but I recently did go through an excruciatingly tiring application process to return to school in the States. I had to wait five months to hear back from most universities, and facing my two rejections (and one waitlist) was really tough. It was definitely an experience though, and my ego isn't completely bruised, thanks to my six acceptances :D Rejection is inevitable!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway runs through 19 April 2013 at 11.59 pm (your time).
Open to anyone in the world! However, only United States, Canada, and Great Britain residents are eligible to win the print book. Only US for the autographed book.
Although I do select winners via (Rafflecopter), I am not responsible for the prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries! ;)
Good luck!