Monday, July 7, 2008

#51-revisions

Dear Ms. Query Shark,

One woman, eight centuries, one spell binds them together.

I hear the theme music from Lord of the Rings here. You have to be really careful about phrases that do that. "where no man has gone before; I am your father; pernicious cranium sucking zombie...oh wait, that's just the last IM I got from a disgruntled querier, never mind)

Mallory O’Malley thought she had life figured out. Sure, her fiancĂ© had broken their engagement a year ago, but she’d gotten over him, didn’t hate her job, and had a best friend who thought she could read palms, so life was good. Right?

Not so much.
Everything changes when Mallory travels to Ireland for a second reading of her grandmother’s will and finds she’s inherited a run down castle, believed by the town to be haunted. Not a problem since there’s already a buyer interested. But there’s just one catch. She must live in the gatehouse for six months or she’ll lose it all.

At this point you've lost me cause of the cliches. You'll do MUCH better to bring Trevor Riley up sooner. That's where it gets interesting. And it's also the main plot.

Sounds easy enough, until the DVD the solicitor gives her from her dead grandmother begins to play by itself. Her Grams is not only asking her questions, but waiting for a response. She tells Mallory about a blood spell her ancestors are stuck in and she’s the last in the line that can break it, only she can’t give her any clues on how to do so..

Waking up in the middle of the night to find she’s standing outside the castle complete with fog wrapping around her, much like a boa constrictor, and an unknown voice telling her she’s going to die, wasn’t exactly what she had in mind either. But you might say it was the words GO HOME, etched into the damp mirror after her shower, that really made her question her sanity.

And what’s a girl supposed to do when she finds out the man who broke off their engagement is actually hundreds of years old—800 to be exact. If you’re Mallory O’Malley you decide to stay and break the spell. Besides, Karma can be a bitch sometimes.

Insert Mr. Trevor Riley, acquisition expert for Thad International Reality, who seals deals, big deals, not caring who he hurts along the way. His motto, wine them, dine them, gain their trust, and just don’t get emotionally involved.. And Trevor thinks he’s just the man to schmooze the owner into selling her estate until he walks into the solicitor’s office finds she’s the beautiful redhead he’d stolen a taxi from on his way back to Ireland. A woman who’s none to happy to see him.



As strange occurrences continue to happen, Mallory will have to decide if she wants to stay and claim what’s hers, or leave the place to the evil inhabitant, dooming the castle and its past to the blood spell. And Trevor Riley is caught between protecting a woman he hardly knows from the very place he wants to buy, or leaving her on her own, making the deal of the century.

I’d like to submit for your consideration my paranormal manuscript, After Thoughts and Before, which is completed at 110, 000 words.


I’m currently writing the next stand alone novel, After Thoughts of Darkness, in which the characters multi cross from this manuscript. I’ve written back cover story blurbs for puzzles which are sold in Barnes and Noble. I’m the acting president of Tampa Area Romance Writers and a member of RWA.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


You don't need to describe all the set up. Pare down to the interesting parts. I'm always in favor of leaving out the part about the next book but that's just me.

And how fast can you do the NYT crossword puzzle? (insert sound of competitive cackle here)

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#51 - Revision

Dear Query Shark,

Mallory O’Malley, apprentice at Passion Soule Art Gallery, thought she had life figured out. She had a job she liked, friends, and in general life was good.

Everything changes when she travels to Ireland for a second reading of her grandmother’s will and finds she’s inherited a run down castle, believed by the town to be haunted. Not a problem since there’s already a buyer interested. But there’s just one catch. She must live in the gatehouse for six months or she’ll lose it all.

"Must live in haunted house under terms of the will" is a very very overused device. Yawn. And there's a failure of logic too. So what if she loses it all? Before she goes to Ireland she didn't even know she'd inherit. She doesn't want it or need it, so let the city have it.

Insert Mr. Trevor Riley, acquisition expert for Thad International Reality, who seals deals, big deals, not caring who he hurts along the way. His motto, wine them, dine them, gain their trust, and just don’t get emotionally involved. And Trevor thinks he’s just the man to schmooze the owner into selling her estate until he walks into the solicitor’s office finds she’s the beautiful redhead he’d stolen a taxi from on his way back to Ireland. A woman who’s none to happy to see him.

He took a taxi back from Ireland? Wow. Again, you've used cliches. The big bad businessman is boring.

Someone or something doesn’t want her there and will do whatever necessary to get rid of her. Even death. As strange occurrences continue to happen, Mallory will have to decide if she wants to stay and claim what’s hers, or leave the place to the evil inhabitant, dooming the castle and its past to the blood spell. And Trevor Riley is caught between protecting a woman he hardly knows from the very place he wants to buy, or leaving her on her own, making the deal of the century.

Greed will get you every time. There's a reason it's one of the seven deadly sins. You're missing any compelling reason for Mallory to undertake this, starting with the fact she likes her life as it is.

I’d like to submit for your consideration my paranormal manuscript, After Thoughts and Before, which is completed at 110, 000 words.

I’m the acting president of Tampa Area Romance Writers and a member of RWA.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

I don't think the problem is the query letter. I think the problem is the novel.

9 comments:

Southern Writer said...

Not bad. I have to agree with Janet's edits, though, otherwise, it's just too long. At least you told us what's at stake for each of them. The one thing I don't like is Trevor's name. I don't actually read romances, mind you, but I've read a few back covers, and it seems Trevor is an overused name in them (from the nut who wants to call her male protag "Bubba.")

Just_Me said...

Not my genre but it's interesting. I'd like more details about the curse I think....


Note to Southern Writer: My town's mayor is Bubba. It amuses me whenever they mention local politics on the front page and use "Bubba" as his formal name :o)

benwah said...

"But there’s just one catch. She must live in the gatehouse for six months or she’ll lose it all."

Isn't this trope repeated in half the episodes of Scooby Do?

Mallory O'Malley. A tongue twister, to be sure.

The idea of her ex-fiance being 800 yrs old and being tied up in this is intriguing.

Lehcarjt said...

I thought that the opening line gives the wrong 'tone' for the book. It made me think this was going to be an epic fantasy.

I also didn't understand this line: And what’s a girl supposed to do when she finds out the man who broke off their engagement is actually hundreds of years old Trevor is the 800 year old man, right? But he isn't the man she was engaged too because they just met, right? I must be missing something.

However, the number one reason that I would not pick this is up is because of the volume of story cliches. The will requiring her to do something odd. The enchanted castle. The fiance who dumped her. Ireland. (How come no one ever inherits a castle in Sweden or Serbia?)

What does hook me is the hero. I like the idea of him trying to con her out of her property.

Vicki said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I really appreciate them. :) I'm going to revise and resubmit.

lehcarjt – the antagonist is the 800 yr old man, only she did not know that when they were engaged or when he broke it off a year ago.(which actually happened before the book starts) He is the one who will kill and has killed those who try to claim the castle. I’m not sure if that helps, but hopefully in the rewrite it will make more sense.

Lehcarjt said...

Okay. That does make more sense. I had no sense of the antagonist at all.

Bad Author said...

Dag, Janet. I thought Tony Manvel had kidnapped you. I haven't seen a post in...Anyway, so much for the pleasantries.

Mallory O'Malley immediately makes me think of some awful B-Movie.

I like the title: Afterthoughts and Before. It catches you by surprise.

What is a "second reading of a will"? Did someone mess-up on the first read-through? Perhaps an editor got ahold of the will and demanded a new premise?

I say- rewrite, revise, and resubmit.

talpianna said...

A Parliamentary measure requires a first and second reading before it can be voted into law; but I can't think of any reason for a second reading of a will unless some of the named heirs were unable to arrive in time for the original reading.

And what about the DVD? Usually that's used for the about-to-be-deceased's own reading of the will, with messages to the heirs. Is this something different?

Beth said...

I have to agree with the Shark. Why oh why would Mallory not simply turn her back on this silly, cliched, haunted castle and return to her nice, simple, satisfying life? She'd have to want or need something very badly to put up with all the hocus-pocus. What, exactly, would that be?