Thank you very much for trashing my terrible query several months ago (Face-Lift 1061). It really made me realize how little about the actual book I'd conveyed. I ended up scrapping most of the query and starting over. Finally, I have finished a version that may actually convey the conflict of the story. History has shown that I'm far too close to the story to be able to tell, however, so I would appreciate if you would also maim this new version and tell me whether it's crap. For one, I'm pretty sure it's too long, but I can't tell what to cut without making it a confusing mess like the last one.
Dear Evil Editor,
When an alien girl is stranded in a foreign land, she joins the military, intending to desert for home when the army marches north. She doesn't expect to become a Host's only engineer or to find herself questioning where she belongs while waiting on a spoiled harem in the shadow of a waking volcano.
Querrl's physical deformities have always made her feel an outcast, even among her loving family. An accident sweeps her downriver, into the middle of a war for resources between a tribal nation and an advanced civilization that has invented writing, domesticated animals, and black-powder guns. Her deformity lets her pass as a different caste, one of the non-fertile drudges, so the Julagnan, her new caretakers, do not send her to join their females in the mountain city of Alvita. They throw her in with a group of enemy war-orphans instead. The orphans treat her like an outsider, and the Julagnan offer her an education, but siding with the violent, arrogant Julagnan still feels wrong.
As Querrl grows to adulthood, out of place and unhappy, she plots to return home and take the Julagnan's advanced skills with her. When their army assembles to invade the country south of her birth nation, she enlists, planning to desert and ride north alone. But suddenly, Querrl finds herself actually fighting a war, and a Julagnan faction that claims Alvita sits on a sleeping volcano wants her aid in staging a coup. She just wants to go home, and she thinks she's willing to take any route to get there. But as she gains responsibilities and friends and realizes that people might need her help to even survive, she finds that loyalties aren't always easy to decide.
The Waking Mountain is a work of low-tech science fiction with a fantasy feel. It is complete at 109,305 words.