Can Jim Taylor and his horse thwart a gang of murders and kidnappers? Only Jim avoids capture when the son of an oil and gas magnate and his party are held for ransom.
The way you've organized those sentences makes it sound like Jim's horse gets kidnapped. You need to start with "When the son of (etc)" to make it work.
Solitude Showdown follows Jim and his horse and their efforts to rescue the hostages and survive the rigors of the Wyoming wilderness.
This doesn't matter to the core of the plot, and doesn't belong in the query. What matters is why Jim feels like he has to thwart these guys on his own. Frankly, if someone kidnapped my merry band of godsends, I'd leave them and run off to Vegas. Well, ok, maybe not. But here we get no sense of why Jim feels a stake in the outcome. Why does he care? Fleeing a life he can't endure because that's not specific enough to be real is not specific enough for us to understand why he'd risk his life (and his horse!) to thwart the bad guys.
He and his horse, Buck, witness the murder of one camper and the taking of the rest of the party. Calling on his cell phone, Jim learns that the local sheriff is unable to help. Only he and Buck can save the hostages.
This is really awkward. Buck witnesses the murder? Well, ok, but really c'mon. "The taking of the rest of the party" Anytime you have an eight word sentence and three of the words are "the" you have textbook "needs to be revised"
"Calling on his cell phone": Jim reaches the sheriff by cell phone, and learns he is unable to help.
"Only he and Buck can save the hostages" Well, no. Paying the ransom probably can too. Right?
Outnumbered six to one, Jim exploits his horsemanship and his knowledge of the wilderness to even the odds. Seeking redemption for past failures, Jim risks his life repeatedly and kills again and again. He is horrified to discover a talent for killing.
The only interesting sentence here is that he's horrified to discover he has a talent for killing. Why is he horrified?
Relying on Jim’s calls for information, Sheriff’s Zeke Thomason comes to suspect that the man held for ransom is actually a willing participant. Doublecrosses and forces of nature create chaos for the kidnappers and for law enforcement. Even escape from the mountains does not end the ordeal for Jim and Buck.
Solitude Showdown is 65,000 words complete.
Let's start with one and see how it goes.
My guess is that the book is as full of awkward writing as the query. I see writers querying too early in their careers a LOT. I have a sneaking suspicion that's the case here.
this is a form rejection.
Word Count: 65,000
Title: Solitude Showdown
The name on your email, and this name do not match.
That's a HUGE red flag for me on queries.
My guess is you had your admin asst send this.
Use a dedicated email for your writing, NOT your biz email, and certainly NOT your admin's.
(street address redacted)
(evening phone redacted)
(day phone redacted)
I know you said you read and followed the directions, but I simply do not believe it after seeing this.
Do not start with the word count and the title. And REALLY don't start with your contact information.
My computer screen shows seven FEWER lines of your actual query when you do this. If an agent is reading on her Blackberry, Iphone or other small screen, it's even less: the first eight lines you've used with housekeeping details are the ONLY thing she sees.
Once more cause it's clearly not sinking in: start with what the book is about.
Can one man and his horse thwart a gang of murders and kidnappers? The son of an oil and gas magnate and his party are held for ransom. Only one man avoids capture. Solitude Showdown follows that man and his horse in their efforts to rescue the hostages and survive the rigors of the Wyoming wilderness.
The one man in the first sentence is not the son of the oil magnate in the second. The third sentence goes back to the "one man." This is tennis match writing: bouncing from one court to another. That's not what you want, particularly in a query.
Can one man and his horse thwart a gang of murders and kidnappers? Only one man avoids capture when the son of an oil and gas magnate and his party are held for ransom. Solitude Showdown follows that man and his horse in their efforts to rescue the hostages and survive the rigors of the Wyoming wilderness.
Jim Taylor has come to Wyoming fleeing a life he can no longer endure. He and his horse, Buck, witness the murder of one camper and the taking of the rest of the party. Jim struggles to overcome self doubt and the impulse to flee from the crisis.
And you'd be much better off to replace "one man" in paragraph one with his name.
There's an offputting inconsistency between the first and last sentence. Jim Taylor is fleeing a life he can no longer endure. That seems to show he's got some gumption to make changes in his life. The last sentence (struggles to overcome self-doubt and the impulse to flee from the crisis) undercuts our sense that Jim might be heroic.
Communicating by cell phone, Jim is enlisted by the local sheriff to follow kidnappers through the wilderness. Forced by circumstances, both man and horse kill members of the kidnap gang. Jim is shocked to discover how easy killing becomes. He wonders whether he is any different from the men he has stalked.
Here's you've sunk into telling us about situations, not choices. WHY does Jim elect to do this? What's in it for him?
Alerted by Jim’s call, Sheriff Zeke Thomason tries to organize a posse. He is immobilized by meddling politicians. Frustrated at being held up in town, he must await Jim’s calls for news. A savvy old lawman, the sheriff comes to suspect that the man held for ransom is actually a willing participant.
Whoa. Cell phones are a feature of the modern day. Posses are not. You're also getting bogged down in too much detail here, and you're burying the most interesting part of the paragraph: the man held for ransom is actually a willing participant.
Here's where I'd stop reading. There's nothing enticing or interesting yet, there's at least one "whoa" and the jumbled writing of paragraph one makes me think the novel will have more of the same.
Jim and Buck endure rain, snow, and cold and survive a violent electrical storm and a forest fire. Their shared ordeal strengthens the bond between them. After finally escaping the mountains they must once again defeat the gang leader at the trailhead.
The query is not the place for a complete rundown on the book. You don't need to do anything but set up the premise of the plot and introduce the characters. In fact, the more you tell me, the less likely I am to want to read it because in this very short form of the query letter you have to leave out all the stuff that makes the plot actually work. More is actually LESS ENTICING in a query.
None of this is a publication credential for novels.
Never ever ever do this. Never. It has nothing to do with querying for a novel.
My legal experience dovetails into my platform. I am well known and respected in my field throughout (region redacted) and have hundreds of former clients who stay in touch.
Well, emailing them you have a novel for sale is a good way to pare down the list of people who want to hear from you.
I am also an experienced horseman and for the past ten years have lived on a farm with nine of the beasts. I have developed an expertise in equine law and am a popular speaker at equine related meetings. I get calls from horse people throughout the state seeking advice and counsel.
There are millions of horses in the United States. The last figure I read was seven million. There are many millions more horse lovers and people who will ride or watch riding events. The horse, Buck, features prominently in the novel and will appeal to all horse people and horse lovers.
This is the worst abuse of logic I see in query letters: My book has horses, people like horses, people will like my book. Not only is that not true, it's so clearly not true, it's one of those phrases that triggers the rejection button.
There's now a baby boomer philosophy?
Look, you're trying too hard here. To use a riding metaphor, you're holding the reins with a death grip hoping to steer the query horse in the right direction. Ease up. Tell me what the book is about. That's all I care about.
This is an email query. If you've enclosed an envelope, I'll eat my cowgirl hat.
I get this kind of stuff every once in a while; mistakes that show you've written this for a paper query then just emailed it. It's not a big deal by itself but it shows you either aren't proofreading your queries, or you don't care. Neither of those are attributes I seek in potential clients.
This is a form rejection.
There are several excellent examples of good and enticing query letters on this blog. Read them.