Dear Query Shark:
Jack Talbot, ex Navy SEAL, is a successful New York Attorney, devoted husband and grandfather, as well as an avid diver. While on vacation in Florida, Jack goes diving with Sam, an old friend/client, who owns a salvage vessel called “The Scavenger”. One of Sam’s employees recently discovered a mysterious amulet consisting of twelve precious gems along with a strange shipwreck with similar mysterious markings off the Florida Keys.
You've taken an entire paragraph, pretty much the only words on my screen if you send this via email, to say one thing: Someone discovered an amulet. You don't even mention who.
This does not bode well.
When Jack helps Sam and his crew investigate the wreck further, they discover a strange box with the same mysterious markings. Within the box is a secret compartment hiding a parchment written in Ancient Hebrew containing an old prophetic clue connected with the lost treasures of King Solomon’s Temple.
Yawn. Mysterious treasure map. What you're missing here is that when the trope is old (and this one is ancient) it's the characters who must be compelling. If the plot is as utterly predictable as this one is, you've got to give us a reason to care about the people. So far you haven't done this.
Jack’s search leads him on a global adventure from the seas off the Florida Keys, across the Atlantic, and finally to Israel where an ancient Jewish-Roman settlement is discovered overlooking Old Jerusalem and the site of the Ancient Temple.
Wow, I'm stunned that map in Hebrew leads him to Jerusalem. STUNNED I tell ya. Ok, that's being snotty, but honest to godiva, this kind of obvious brings out that kind of response.
A private cartel intent on uncovering and stealing ancient artifacts, as well as valuable gems and treasures, learns of the amulet’s discovery when an unscrupulous lab employee overhears one of Sam’s men discussing the find at the CMRC (Caribbean Marine Research Center) while attempting to discover its origin and significance.
At least it's not an evil twin or a Nazi. But still, this is just boring.
The cartel dispatches one of their top agents, a Russian ex KGB assassin, to recover the amulet and the treasure they believe will be associated with it. Jack’s five year old granddaughter is captured by the assassin and a cat and mouse game unravels as Jack tries to outwit the assassin, recover the treasure, and rescue his granddaughter with the help of his friends and an ancient secret Hebrew society intent on protecting the treasures of the old Jewish Temple.
I don't understand why you'd send an assassin on a jewel stealing job, but maybe that's cause I love Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief. And why does the assassin kidnap the kid? Nothing good comes with a five year old.
STONES OF FIRE, taken from the twelve precious gems signifying the twelve tribes of Israel and embedded in the breastplate worn by the Jewish High Priest in the days of the Temple, is complete at 105,000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Remember when I told you to write another novel and let this one have a good snooze under the bed? I wasn't kidding.
There is nothing enticing here. You've cleaned up the form, but the content is formulaic and frankly boring. The problem isn't the query. It's the novel.
Dear Query Shark:
Leave all this out. It's useless.
So, they discover it....then what? It's not like they hoist a flag and say "we found an ancient artifact, bring on the bad guys." There has to be a reason that the bad guys get involved. What is it?
Along the way Jack is chased by a Russian ex-KGB assassin and a private cartel intent on recovering the ancient artifact and the treasures associated with it.
The trail leads Jack to the Knight’s Templars and an ancient Hebrew society intent on protecting and recovering the lost treasures of the ancient Jewish Temple. The novel
This isn't a historical thriller. Historical means it takes place at least 100 years ago (give or take). What you have here is what we call a DaVinci Code knock-off thriller. As you might imagine that is not a term of endearment. I encourage you strongly to find something fresh and new to entice the bad guys (ie agents). Ancient artifacts, Knights Templar really doesn't do that.
None of this matters at all.
I would like to embark on a career as a novelist and believe that my first novel has a market waiting to read it.
Thank you for considering this proposal.
This is a query letter, not a proposal. Proposal is a term reserved for non-fiction. One of those industry specific usages that writers don't know at first.
Very truly yours,
You're querying too soon. Write another novel, get into a brutal critique group, and find YOUR voice, and story. You're over writing, and under imagining. This is not a character flaw. It's simply a sign that you're making your first foray into writing novels. Keep at it. Generally speaking you'll need three novels under the bed before you've got something ready to go. There are exceptions to that, but this isn't one of them.