QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can YOU Query a Tune? A Query Contest!

Okay my little QT-patooties, it's contest time again!

The inspiration for this contest came when I inadvertently composed a query song.

I have a mock-up book trailer for my novel, The Edge of Memory. For the background music, I used the song with the lyrics snippet that inspired me with the novel idea. UMG has approved personal use of the song on youtube. However, if I ever published the book, I wouldn't be able to use Half Acre any more. Which has caused me to ponder on odd occasions what I would use instead.

A few weeks ago, a tune* popped into my head (This happens to me from time to time. Usually, I forget them.) When I have access to a piano keyboard, I plot them out and write them down. Sans keyboard, though, the only way I'll ever remember them later is to make up lyrics to them.

With lyrics, I'll remember the tune indefinitely. As evidence, I submit my full recollection of the pop tune I wrote in the 80's titled It's a Fantasy Which is GRIPPING, I tell you.

So I wrote lyrics to the tune. About my book. A musical query, so to speak.

In her hands unfolded is a letter unclear

The search for its meaning will take her from here

When she follows the train tracks to places unknown

She'll uncover dark secrets and make them her own.


As haunted now as haunted then

Still haunted by "Remember when..."

Truth doesn't always set you free

At the razor's edge of memory.

As someone who bursts into song without provocation, I love the idea of musical queries. And what better way to get musical queries than a QT query contest?

So here are the rules:

1. The contest will run for one week. Submissions will be accepted until 6 pm EST on 5-5-09
2. Your song should include at least one verse and a chorus.
3. An actual tune is optional (but STRONGLY encouraged)
4. Parodies are totally cool with me, so you can just say "To the tune of ___".
5. Since this is not an agent contest, query songs for unfinished (or
completely imaginary) manuscripts are acceptable.

Post your query lyrics as a comment on this thread. If you have an actual tune of your own, you can upload it to imeem.com or similar and include the link. And I wouldn't discourage any youtube performances, either.

My favorite entry will receive a fabulous prize!

A copy of Agent Demystified by Authoress of Miss Snark's First Victim.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the query process and the hunt for an agent, this is the book for you!

*Please bear in mind that the only music-writing education I had was a 4-week special lesson in third grade, so I wasn't able to transcribe the tune perfectly, and the timing is a smidge off in this sample.

H. L. Dyer, M.D. writes women's fiction and works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. In addition to all things literary, she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family. Click to visit her personal blog, Trying to Do the Write Thing.


Stina said...

I watched High School Musical 3 the other day. Aaah the life of a YA author. The research we must do. :) I thought afterwards that maybe I should break out into song and dance whenever I receive a rejection. Of course the number will outshine HSM 3 if an agent ever offered to rep me. LOL.

But then I remembered my lack of musical talent when it comes to singing and dancing (trust me on that one). So I think I should skip out on the grand musical . . . not to mention the contest. Sounds cool though. Lots of luck to those who enter. Can’t wait to read them.

Suzette Saxton said...

I can't wait to give this a try! How fun!

Anonymous said...

This does sound like fun. Can we do more than one (for different books, of course)?

H. L. Dyer said...

Stina... the tune part is optional and we certainly won't force you to sing (although we'd love if if you did) so please don't bow out for that reason!

And selestial-owg... YES! Enter as often as you like. The more amusing query tunes, the merrier!

JPM said...

To the tune of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett:

Need to have an agent see my novel and grab it
Sent my query nearly seventy ways
Using stamps up at speeds, let them know it’s my book that they need
Thinkin’ soon I ought to be big news, interviewin’ all day
But at night I write these wonderful things
Some kind of literary feat
Not Meyers, J.K. Rowling or Stephen King
But a real cool book that’ll be a big treat

My Query letter is paradise
Heaven on Earth, an advance would be nice
Not too particular, not too precise
It’s just that, my query letter is really nice

JPM said...

To the tune of “Copa Cabana” by Barry Manilow:
Her name was Lola, she was an agent
With yellow cushions on her chair and many manuscripts over there
She would make sales and writers moola
And while she was looking for a star, she got my query from afar
Across five states or more, she wanted chapters 1 through 4
His writing was so fun, but could she take on yet another?
And yet she asked for more!

It was the query, query I sent her
A great idea put in the letter
It was the query, query I sent her
Format and action had caused a strong reaction
To my query….she fell in love

Anonymous said...

The best lyrics I could come up with do not describe my book as well as the lyrics to a real song, which I love, by the way. Are we allowed to use real lyrics here, or should they be our own?

H. L. Dyer said...

Hi, Sharon!

These should be your own lyrics. And believe me... Half Acre's lyrics are a lot more awesome than the ones I came up with.

The goal with this contest is sheer entertainment, so feel free to be as serious or as silly as you want to be. ;)

raggedynan said...

She sat on the bus avoiding the stares

And if someone knew her she wasn't aware

She took out the note that fell from her book

And thought, just once more I must take a look

Girl, don't you sacrafice yourself

Not for love or future wealth

You may not find true love, much to your sorrow

Just remember it's never today

It's always tomorrow

Stay where you are, tomorrows just too far


Golden shackles on my wrist

Telling tales it can't resist

Colors my life for all to see

Golden shackles betraying me

She folded the note, was it meant to be mine?

Then thought to herself, its all about time

Should she stay on the bus and go back home

Or was her life now, really her own?

Golden shackles on my wrist

Telling tales it can't resist

Colors my life for all to see

Golden shackles, betraying me.

Danyelle L. said...

There was no moon
No roses
No wine
No shooting star
To show you were mine


Just an emerald necklace
And the promise of a frog
Just an emerald necklace
Emerald necklace and a song

When I looked at you
White feathers
A beak
Surely a jest
For birds cannot speak

I had no promise
Of your heart
Just the
Word of a frog


Now I see you
Bird outside
Girl in
In the game of my life
I'm going to win

Chorus (repeat twice)

Taryn7 said...

Sing along with me to the tune of "Thriller" at Youtube. Link is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OL5o7rp2Pk - unfortunately,the link doesn't seem to be working at present, but the video can also be found on Youtube as "Thriller with Snake for Query Contest"
Thank you.

Angels, Demons, and Beauty Queens*
* With Michael Jackson clawed hands swaying back and forth to the tune of “Thriller.”
(Lots of wolf howls)
It’s close to mid-night and Linny’s on a very scary plane
Out of her body, she sees a sight that makes her want to faint
She wants to run, but Elvis imp-er-sonators take the plane
She starts to scream, but Lycra stares her right between the eyes
She’s mortified!

Cause it’s a thriller, a real bone chiller
Agents jump to read it, oww
And publishers scream for it, yoww
It’s a diller, a real thriller yarn
But my query really sucks
I’ll have to rip it up
(Jackson howl)

Back on the airplane, Mary melts the bomb with laser beams
Annette raises a dead man and wonders if her powers are a dream
They want to run, but the FBI believes they’re double agents,
They strategize, but an evil demon stalks them from the skies
They’re terrified!

Cause it’s a thriller, a real bone chiller
Agents please, please read it!
And publishers scream for it(in a good way)
Cause it’s a thriller, a real genuine chiller
I want to win that book cause’
I need another, another, another hook!!
(Jackson howl)

by Taryn L. Hook

Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

My story is about a rock star who left home at 18 with a terrible secret.

Of course, there's a song and a video.

Here's my entry:


H. L. Dyer said...

Update: Deadline extended to 6 pm 5/5/09, as I will be away from my computer during the day tomorrow. ;)

Unknown said...

Oh this is so up my alley! I wish I'd noticed it earlier! The following is to the tune of "The Riddle" from the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel and depicts my novel "Power's Touch". -

See the dreams pass before her eyes
See the youth stripped clean with the lies
Angels speak no words
In a land so cursed

Just trace a portrait of darkness
You'll have an image of yourself
Betray the night
Gain a sense of right

Oh we all can taste bitter-sweet scars
Like moonlight spilling 'cross falling stars
I need more
One thing that is sure

The power, glitter, they lead us
In a dance trapping away trust
We cast our lot
And with luck it will pay off

That was extremely fun! I wish I knew how to use the computer well enough. I would totally sing the tune!

ALS said...

Here is mine, I did it to the tune to the Led Zeppelin song "Tangerine"

Living through an average day,
but soon he found it changed it's ways,
to do him in again.
Run away,
run and hide,
living in a world far between.
I was alive,
It was all clean.
why cant they just forget the thing.
(instrumental verse W. guitar solo, repeat chorus then end on a tonic or diminished chord.)

Suzette Saxton said...

Wow, we have some great entries. I did mine to the tune of Three Blind Mice. Alas, it was too sucky to see the light of day.

NancyGoldberg Levine said...

I can't believe I missed this contest (and that I've had to type this twice) I'm pretty good at this -- most recently I wrote two songs when we got furloughed at work and sang them on our last day...

Here's my song to Harlequin (I've been trying to sell to them for years). To the tune of "I Can't Get Started"

My characters have been around the world in a plane
they haven't been to Spain
But they're broken hearted
cause I can't get started with you

At the golf course, my hero's under par
on The Bachelor, they want him to star
He's got a house that's a showplace
but I can't get noplace with you

You're so supreme
books I will write for you
scheme just for a contract with you
dream both day and night of you
but what good does it do?

I've shaken hands with Bill and Hilary C.
Michelle Ohama's asked me to tea
but I'm downhearted
cause I can't get started with you!
he's got a