Sunday, February 28, 2010

#148-Revised thrice to a win!

Dear Query Shark,

Space isn’t the final frontier; death is.

In 2093, on a colonised planet, Homicide Inspector Paul Blake breaks under the strain of his son’s death and slits his wrists in a bathtub. After two days dead, he wakes up in a hospital without so much as a scratch. And life will never be the same again.

A year later. Blake investigates the brutal murder of a woman who worked for the world’s most powerful organisation, the GCMRD. Soon after, a colleague of her confesses to her murder and commits suicide.

Still reeling from the events, Blake receives a mysterious call from someone who calls himself Lazarus, and is suddenly exposed to the GCMRD’s most recent scientific achievement:

Bringing back the dead.

As the bodies begin to pile up, Blake finds that he is more involved than he originally thought – or remembered. Lazarus has a plan that seeks to make a new world on the ashes of the old one, a new world inhabited by those he brings back from the dead. And he couldn’t have done it without Blake’s help.

LAZARUS is a sci-fi thriller, complete at 70,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Yup, that'll do it.

Send pages!

---------------------
Dear Query Shark,

Space isn’t the final frontier; death is.

In 2093, on a city of a colonised planet, Homicide Inspector Paul Blake breaks under the strain of his son’s death and slits his wrists in a bathtub, straight after his surprise birthday party. After two days dead, he wakes up in a hospital without so much as a scratch. And life will never be the same again.

Take out every single thing you don't need. Unless the birthday party is key info, it goes. Read your sentences out loud to get a sense of the rhythm of them.

A year later, Blake investigates the brutal murder of a woman who worked for the world’s most powerful organisation, the Global Committee for Military Research & Development. But Before the hunt even begins, the victim’s colleague turns himself in and confesses to the murder before committing suicide.


This needs to be more crisp. It feels mushy. It feels that way because your sentences are really really long. Remember, you don't need to follow all the rules as long as you break them artfully. You CAN have incomplete sentences.

Thus: A year later. Blake investigates the brutal murder of a woman who worked for the world’s most powerful organisation, GCMRD. Before the hunt can begin, one of the victim’s colleagues turns himself in. He confesses to the murder before committing suicide.

Still reeling from the events, Blake receives a mysterious call from someone who calls himself Lazarus, and is suddenly exposed to the GCMRD’s most recent scientific achievement:

Bringing back the dead.

As the bodies begin to pile, it becomes clear that Blake is more involved than he originally thought –or remembered. Lazarus has a plan that goes far beyond a simple murder case; a plan that seeks to make a new world on the ashes of the old one, a new world inhabited by those he brings back from the dead. And it wouldn’t have happened without Blake’s help, who soon discovers is that the only way to fight the dead is to die himself.

LAZARUS is a sci-fi thriller, complete at 70,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

I'd read the pages on this one but I'm worried that it's not polished up enough yet. When I see mushy writing in a query, I'm confident I'll see mushy writing in the novel. Take out every single thing you don't need. Read your sentences out loud. Develop an ear for pace and rhythm.

------------------------
FIRST REVISION



Dear Query Shark,

Space isn’t the final frontier; death is.

Very very rarely does a quick log line grab my attention. Mostly they sound forced or silly. This one works.


In 2093, on a city of a colonised planet, Homicide Inspector Paul Blake breaks under the strain of his son’s death and slits his wrists in a bathtub, straight after his surprise birthday party. After two days dead, he wakes up in a hospital without so much as a scratch. And life will never be the same again.

Normally I screech about leaving out backstory and set up. Not here. This works.

A year later, Blake investigates the brutal murder of a woman who worked for the world’s most powerful organisation, the Global Committee for Military Research & Development. But before the hunt even begins, the victim’s colleague turns himself in and confesses to the murder before committing suicide. Still reeling from the events, Blake receives a mysterious call from someone who calls himself Lazarus, and is suddenly exposed to the GCMRD’s most recent scientific achievement:

Bringing back the dead.

Meanwhile, Blake fights his personal demons while trying to cope with his wife in a mental asylum, struggling to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter, dealing with his boss and his own secrets, and evading his only friend, Inspector Bobby Mallow.

There are very few uses for a paragraph that begins "meanwhile" in a query letter. Plus, the phrase "personal demons" used like this is a cliche.


As the bodies begin to pile, it becomes clear that Blake is more involved than he originally thought –or remembered. Lazarus has a plan that goes far beyond a simple murder case; a plan that seeks to make a new world on the ashes of the old one, a new world inhabited by those he brings back from the dead. And it wouldn’t have happened without Blake’s help.


Disturbing secrets of a double life emerge, buried under the haze of a drug habit and Blake becomes suddenly aware of his own, forgotten involvement in the plot. It’s not long before Blake’s past catches up to him and the rest of his world. While the city burns, Blake must make a desperate attempt to stop Lazarus and his Children, who are calling him to rejoin them. But what Blake soon discovers is that the only way to fight the dead is to die himself.

LAZARUS is a sci-fi thriller, and is complete at 69,945 words. I would be delighted to send you a partial or full manuscript for your consideration. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


This is pretty much a 180 turn, and in the right direction.
This is a CLASSIC example of why you don't want to try to be too clever in a query (the original) and just tell us about the novel (the revised query).

I think of queries as a bit like what figure skaters used to have to do in the Olympics: compulsory figures. Skaters were required to perform a series of figures, and were judged solely on accuracy not artistry. There is a photo somewhere of a judge measuring a line in the ice with a ruler!

The resemblance of queries to compulsories is this: you have to get the basics down in the query. Your artistry shows in your pages. Yes your voice comes through in your query. Yes there is style there. But mostly you've got to communicate some basic info: what the book is about, and the stakes involved.


This revision works. I'd read pages.

--------------------------
Dear Query Shark:

Whatever I write will be deemed pretentious; that much I know.

And it would be so na├»ve on my behalf to disguise this as more than it is; ‘tis a novel pitch, and my solemn duty is to make it stand out above the rest.

Without being pretentious.

So, this is my novel, LAZARUS (70K words). I’m supposed to call it a “sci-fi thriller”, and if it ever sees the light of publication that’s what they’ll probably end up calling it. But, personally, I refer to it as a scream; a scream in written format because I don’t know any other way to do it.

It’s about death and near-life experiences. It’s about a cop who gets mixed up in a plot with bombs, drugs and human cloning. It’s about the awful rain that falls and washes nothing away.

I wonder if you’d like to read it, and if so, I’d be thrilled to send you a partial or full manuscript. For your convenience, I submit a synopsis below.

Synopsis:

(redacted)


Well, no, a synopsis isn't for my convenience, thanks anyway. A synopsis is what I read after the query letter and the pages I ask for. A synopsis shows me a novel has a beginning, middle and end, and that it doesn't veer totally off track somewhere past page 100. A synopsis is many things but it's not enticing and it's not a query. This isn't enticing and it's not a query either. You've conveyed nothing about the book. This isn't pretentious, it's lazy. I'm both; I know which is which. Form rejection, probably accompanied by a blog post ranting about "queries have to tell me what the book is about."

#147

> From: (redacted)
> Subject: Query Shark

> Date: Monday, July 27, 2009, 3:04 AM
> Dear Query Shark,
>
> In the modern world, it’s getting harder and harder to
> keep track of everything that’s going on. Enter orphaned
> teenager Alexis Crane, the tag-along assistant of the Four
> Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She constantly has thoughts
> running through her head, evaluating what has happened in
> the day. She’s learned to live with it and with the Four
> Riders as well.
>
> One day, these thoughts stop. People stop dying, disease no
> longer exists, nobody suffers from starvation, and mankind
> is at peace. What could ever go wrong?
>
> The Four Horsemen try to convince Alexis to find a way to
> fix everything. They themselves cannot interfere directly,
> so they must depend on Alexis to figure out how to return
> the world to normal.
>
> There’s a problem: Alexis doesn’t want to change the
> world back to the way it was before. She’s become
> convinced that this is humanity’s utopia.
>
> In another part of the world, two mortals feel that
> something is very wrong. Along with a rag-tag wizard, they
> work to destroy the false reality Earth has become.
>
> It is the start of a deadly race that will forever change
> the world. Alexis save fix everything before the unlikely
> trio destroys it.
>
> FOUR FADING is a fantasy/adventure novel complete at 71000
> words. I have the complete manuscript should you request
> it.
>
>
>
>
>

This is what your query looks like when you forward it to me. Plus, it's in blue, just in case I don't notice the little > thingies.


Don't forward your queries. It looks sloppy. I hope it conveys the wrong impression of you.

------------------

Here's the version I copied, removed the >, and adjusted the line breaks. I promise you I will NOT do that for your query.

Dear Query Shark,

In the modern world, it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of everything that’s going on. Enter orphaned teenager Alexis Crane, the tag-along assistant of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She constantly has thoughts running through her head, evaluating what has happened in the day. She’s learned to live with it and with the Four Riders as well.

You've taken a kick ass idea and killed it.


The opening sentence sounds like an advertisement for DayTimer.
We all have thoughts running through our head about what stupidities we've committed (or want to.)

Your concept: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have an assistant. I'm sold. Try not to shoot yourself in the foot by not leading with that.

One day, these thoughts stop. People stop dying, disease no longer exists, nobody suffers from starvation, and mankind is at peace. What could ever go wrong?

Well, what you mean is: what's the problem.

The Four Horsemen try to convince Alexis to find a way to fix everything. They themselves cannot interfere directly, so they must depend on Alexis to figure out how to return
the world to normal.

And you lose me here. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are harbingers of doom. They're not the cause of it. Of course they can't interfere. Basically, if this is utopia, the guys are out of work.

There’s a problem: Alexis doesn’t want to change the world back to the way it was before. She’s become convinced that this is humanity’s utopia.

Yea. And the Horsemen want to return to the way things were...why? Maybe they really want to retire and move to Florida. Go to the horse races.

In another part of the world, two mortals feel that something is very wrong. Along with a rag-tag wizard, they work to destroy the false reality Earth has become.

Why? Who are they?

It is the start of a deadly race that will forever change the world. Alexis save fix everything before the unlikely trio destroys it.

And we're done. This literally doesn't make sense. I can overlook a lot of stuff but query letters have to actually make sense. My guess is you didn't proof read. You have NO idea how much I hate that. Loathe with a capital snarl. I've got clients who are lucky to be alive after sending mss without running spell czech. I snarl at them. Queries just get a form rejection.

FOUR FADING is a fantasy/adventure novel complete at 71000 words. I have the complete manuscript should you request it.

Of course you have the complete manuscript because you don't query without one.

You've got a GREAT concept here. Everything else is a mess. Rethink what you're doing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

#146-Revised

Dear Query Shark

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING is a completed fantasy of 101,000 words. It has the potential to be the first part of a trilogy.

Potential is VASTLY over rated as an enticement in a query. It's bad enough to include it; you certainly don't want to lead with it.

When your childhood is taken, when all those you care for and trust cast you aside, when the one person who stands by you is taken also what do? Especially if one of you is human, and one a dragon. Especially if you both happen to be dead...

And I'm done reading here.
For starters, improper use of the punctuation mark ellipses (...) drives me BONKERS. I've received query letters that are essentially one run on sentence due to improper ellipses.

Need a quick tutorial on ellipsis? Here's the Wikipedia mention

Also the prose is hyperbolic, not to mention purple. Get real. Be specific.

You find the damn dragon. Because two heads... and claws and fire... are nastier than one.

Sonea Finder and Sephiranoth ShadowSeeker. One has two legs and long blonde hair, and one has four legs, scales and wings. But deep inside... well, deep inside they are still a woman and a dragon. What they are not any more is scared children.

You realize of course we have no idea who is who. And using invented names that both start with S further confuse any hope we have of remembering.

Sephiranoth. Despised for a birth that caused his mother's death, his older twin brother MorDin is the treasure of the clan. Sephiranoth will discover that same brother stealing the life force of younglings and leaving them dead. For MorDin wishes to live forever. But Sephiranoth, the worthless one, will not let that happen.

And we're still confused. Plus, none of this has anything to do with what happens. It's backstory. Hyperbolic, purple backstory.

Sonea will grow up wounded and abused by dragon magic. She will lose her mind, to be cured by an old dragon many think mad. A dragon who has lived many lives seeking an old evil. An old evil that destroyed her childhood. An old evil she will not let continue.

Still confused. Still backstory. WHAT HAPPENS?

Only together can they end what was begun. But the price of their meeting will be their deaths.
Yet in the land of Istaria, some are chosen. Chosen to set death aside.

Despite having written together for many years, neither of the authors has killed the other as yet, nor appear to have any intention of doing so. They have shared experience in game environments both as players and developers of game lore and history.

This, finally, has some life to it. Too bad it's about the authors not about the book.

Our thanks in advance for your time and attention. We enclose the first five pages and a short synopsis of Thunder and Lightning for your consideration. On request we can provide a partial or the full manuscript.

Leave out what you're willing to do. It makes me want to ask if you'll stand on your head and sing Greensleeves but that's just cause I'm annoyed you can't get out of your own way here and write a query letter that tells me what choice (ONE choice) the main character faces, and what the consequences of that choice are. I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time I've written that phrase today, this week, this month, on this blog.

Sincerely

This is a complete and utter mess. Form rejection.

(and I know you can write, I've seen you do it. Not here, of course, but in that intro below.)

--------------------
First, if I may, allow me to introduce myself. I'm an idiot.

This would not be news to anybody that knows me, apart from my mother. She believes me to be an incredible idiot, and would be amazed I had been able to improve to just ' idiot'. Her view is probably more accurate, as she's known me longer.

Fine. We have that out of the way.

Second, it would also appear I am a masochist. At least, it appears that I have talked my co-author into allowing me to take us swimming with sharks. Or, at least, _a_ shark.

As is likely to be rapidly obvious, we have written what we believe to be a novel. A Fantasy. And, having done so, we dare to believe that others might agree with us.

Having come to this conclusion, we spent some time investigating. As neophytes we took a swim through descriptions of those coral reefs that are agents, and publishers. Beauteous to look at from a distance, there are sharp edges to those corals. And amid them lurks the Shark...

Herewith we offer a potential query letter. Or rather two. Two forms of the same base letter. It may be that in setting them both here we do indeed already break the rules of submission, but I could not find such a specific restriction among those rules.

It may also be that I have erred in the Subject line. In your ' Instructions for submitting work to the Shark', bullet 5, you say that the title I have used is acceptable. Indeed, it appears to be commended. In your ' Read before sending query' sidebar, you say ' You MUST put Query Shark in the subject line to have it be considered for the blog. Don't put anything else in the subject line...'. Likely I have chosen wrong, and likely am even more at fault for pointing out the seeming conflict.

Both forms of the query fit precisely on a one inch margin page if set in 12 point Times Roman when the address blocks are included as offered. We have left the address blocks in as indicated in your postings. If nothing else, it shows some page use. We understand, expect and express our thanks for their redaction should you choose to use them for feeding on in public.

The (redacted) email address was established some time ago. We have considered that it might appear too much like a publisher itself and thus put off any agent or publisher. As a consequence of this thought, we have also purchased (redacted) and are in the process of setting up a revised contact email address.

One comment I will offer, to be accepted or rejected as you choose. We have noted your dislike of random capital use. One of the forms here uses the word Ancient. Capitalised. While Ancient is not commonly a proper noun, in the context of this work, Ancient is in fact a grade and rank of dragon. Hence the capitalisation.

While neither query seems to match those common standard forms we have seen displayed, one has slightly higher level of non-conformity. Or at least less eld-style phrasing. Our own feeling is that the first has a little more bite and flavour, the second is possibly more ' comfortable' to read. We accept the decision of the Shark's teeth in the matter.

We have read and at least believe we understand the samples offered at queryshark. We believe we have at least tried to avoid the most frequent of the misjudgments on which you have chosen to comment. We now throw ourselves into the water, fully aware of the nearby cruising fin. Should you choose to ignore our frantic splashing text, we of course understand. Should you choose to come closer, and after feasting set their torn and bloodied remains for all to see, that would at least help others avoid our neophyte errors.

As I said above, I am an idiot. Any merit on what follows is to the credit of my co-author. Any fault is mine entire.

On with the motley... if scattered words may be considered the jester's tatters:


So, this is hilarious, right? Fresh, insouciant, a delight. Idiot or not, someone here can write a fine letter. And then look what you do:
-----------------------
Actual Query:

Dear Query Shark:

Did ye ever hear tell of the Thunder and Lightning? The Fool and the Fair?

You missed the part about rhetorical questions right? Or is this intended to be invoke the start of a ballad or epic poem? Whatever you intend it to be, what it IS, is gone.

Sonea Finder. Lightning to the Thunder. Warrior and mage, a crafter of wonders. Her smile would put the sun to shame.

cliche!

But that smile hides dark secrets.

cliche!
Scars from wounds made by her own mother's knife. Cast aside by those she cars for.

I'm pretty sure you mean cares for. I'm not calling the query police for typos, but yes I do notice. And truthfully, I care. My choice for clients are the people who obsess over this kind of thing. I have to drag pages from their clutching fingers as they mewl about just a bit more time to make sure they've dangled no modifiers.

The way to avoid this caring for cars thing is to let a query sit overnight, or for a week. Or have someone else read it. Or print it out and read it. Figure out which way helps you most efficiently and use it. On EVERYthing. Me, I use the commenters on the blog. They love to catch me out on this kind of stuff. Public humiliation is sauce for the shark as well!

Cast mad by the forced lust of one called friend, mind-healed by one who will be friend and more. Sonea, who comes to know that none of this was chance...

And this is all tell, no show. We don't need to know about her smile, her scars, her lusts or any of that stuff. We need to know what HAPPENS.

She will find those who took what she lost. She will make them pay. For she is Sonea, and she is Finder. And not death itself shall bar her finding!

I'm sorry but this just makes me laugh. This kind of overwrought drama is out of place in a short form like a query letter. You don't have enough time in a query to build up to that kind of drama. It's like opening an opera with the climactic scene. You need time to build up to that.

Sephiranoth ShadowSeeker. Thunder to the Lightning. A dragon. Old beyond age and Ancient in Primal magic. Who never speaks one word where ten may be spoken... and each one more puzzle than the last. Driven to bouts of madness by some past cruel magery, he screams of stolen young. A dragon bound to a secret punishment. Bound by judges he cannot name, for a deed he cannot speak. Who finds one who shares more with him than she knows. One he must watch die, and lose.

Same thing here. All smoke and simile, no substance.

But he is Sephiranoth, who has lived more lives than one. And that which he seeks... he finds.

Can he find a plot? I need one of those.

The Lightning. The Thunder. The Fair. The Fool.

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING: STORM RISE, STORM WAKING is a completed fantasy of 101,000 words. It is the first of a three part series. The second book is currently under development.



Despite having written together for many years, neither of the authors has killed the other as yet, nor appear to have any intention of doing so. They have shared experience in game environments both as players and developers of game lore and history.

Our thanks in advance for your time and attention. As required in your submission guidelines, we enclose the first five pages and a short synopsis of Storm Rise

I thought the title was THUNDER AND LIGHTNING? I thought that because those are the first words preceding "is a completed fantasy of 101K" I suspect you mean THUNDER AND LIGHTNING to be the name of the series you contemplate. Don't do this. One book at a time,
one title at a time.


for your consideration. On request we can provide a partial or the full manuscript.

Sincerely

And here's the second form of the query referenced above:


Did ye ever hear tell of the Thunder and Lightning? The Fool and the Fair? Sonea Finder, Sonea Fair. Lightning to the Thunder. Warrior and mage, a crafter of wonders. Her smile puts the sun to shame. But that smile hides dark secrets. Scars from wounds made by her own mother's knife. A lost young woman cast aside by those she cares for and turned insane by the forced lust of one called friend. Sonea, who comes to know that none of this was chance... Sephiranoth ShadowSeeker. A dragon. Thunder to the Lightning, who calls himself Fool that walks among the Wise. Old beyond age and ancient in Primal magic. Who never speaks one word where ten may be spoken... and each one more riddle than the last. Riddles that hide old secrets, and an older shame. Bound by judges he cannot name, for a deed magic bars his tongue from speaking. In bouts of crazed anger and loss, he screams of stolen young. Lost in madness and the mountains, she will find him. Sonea, who shares more with him than she knows. What dragon made broken, a dragon may heal. Yet for all things there is a price. Clan wings will block the sun, dragon fire will burn and death will take the Fair One from the Fool. But in the land of Istaria, some are chosen. Chosen to set death aside. And what may stay lost for one called Finder? THUNDER AND LIGHTNING: STORM RISE, STORM WAKING is a completed fantasy of 101,000 words. It has the potential to be the first part of a trilogy. Despite having written together for many years, neither of the authors has killed the other as yet, nor appear to have any intention of doing so. They have shared experience in game environments both as players and developers of game lore and history. Our thanks in advance for your time and attention. As required in your submission guidelines, we enclose the first five pages and a short synopsis of Storm Rise for your consideration. On request we can provide a partial or the full manuscript. Sincerely



Notice the Big Bloc O'Text?
Unreadable.

It doesn't mean instant rejection. I usually can struggle through a couple sentences before my eyeballs need GPS to figure out where to go. It's NOT in your best interest to send a Big Bloc O'Text however because you don't want me reading only a couple sentences, or skimming.
Don't shoot yourself in the query by doing this.


And both queries are form rejections. All tell, no show. And no bloody plot! What happens?

The interesting thing about this is the cover letter to the Shark. It shows absolutely without a doubt that you can write, and write well with a fresh voice.

So what the hell happened between that and the query.

You got tense. A query Has to Grab Attention! It Has to be Dramatic! It Has to be Bold!
Crap.

A query has to be well written. It has to be enticing. It has to be as elegant and strong as a gossamer spider's web, as much about what is NOT there as what is.

I strongly suggest, no actually I BEG you to start again, and just pretend you're writing to me like you were in the cover letter. Show me what happens. Entice me.

I know you can do it cause you already showed me.

This kind of thing happens more than you'd think in queries. Usually I see the disconnect between the query and pages. Great query, dreadful pages. Breaks my cold little heart. What warms it right back up again is when it goes the other way: dreadful query, great pages. It's one of the reasons I always want to see pages with a query.

Monday, February 1, 2010

#145-Revised

Dear Query Shark

I would like to offer for your consideration STC- Sexually Transmitted Crime- an 80,000 word contemporary crime thriller set in Australia and Europe.

This title has got to go. How about BLUES SINGER.

After two years, four months and twelve days in prison for what her former lover had done, Isabella Lucas is out and he is the prey now/……../ delete the dots.

Having left the country, Isabella’s former lover Richard O’Reilly is likely to be keeping a low profile. But there is one thing that will bring him out: his complete vanity regarding his musical talents. Isabella needs to find a way to appeal to his desire for international recognition as a Blues Singer.

Blues Singer is not a proper noun. No caps.

You don't need "regarding his musical talents" because you have blues singer in the next sentence. Taking it out also helps the sentence sound less awkward.


The attempted murder charge is still pending, if only she can get him on Australian soil again, then he’ll see the hell prison is!

If she can get him on Australian soil again, where the attempted murder warrant is still outstanding, he'll see what hell prison is.

You have to start the sentence with the "if clause" or it looks like the murder charge is only pending if she can get him to Australia. The charge IS outstanding. She can get him arrested IF he returns.

See the difference?

With few employment options available to a convicted criminal and money running out, Isabella agrees to work as a bookkeeper and business partner for a fellow former inmate in a less than desirable industry. The steady income enables her to hire a private detective and together they hunt Richard down.


When she learns he is now married, her plans change from just seeing him in jail to all out revenge. Consumed with bitterness that his life seems so perfect, she sets about destroying his marriage first. She surprises herself at the joy she feels in succeeding.

Wow. She sounds like a real prize. The thing about anti-heroes is we, the readers, have to feel some sympathy for them. I don't feel much for Isabella right now. I would IF you mention she's in prison for something Richard did, and he purposely let her take the fall.

And you've got entirely too much of the plot here in the query. All we need to know is the choice Isabella faces, and what the consequences are.

She can choose to track Richard down and have revenge OR she can...what? You want to entice me to read the book, not tell me everything that happens so I don't actually need to read it.

His marriage collapses, his life in Europe is destroyed, now is the perfect time to set about the final step. An unexpected offer from a record producer in Australia, orchestrated by Isabella, is made to him. Even though he has reservations about returning, desire for fame and with seemingly no future in Europe he agrees to meet with the producer.

Once through customs, Richard sees Isabella. She cannot resist being at the airport. It feels like she had been planning a major performance and today is opening night. She is confident and smiling, Richard knows something is wrong. As he looks around him he can see police coming toward him. There is no time for him to think, nowhere to run. Savoring in his downfall she watches with satisfaction when the police escort him away.

His imprisonment is her freedom; or so she believed. She had been consumed with revenge for more than four years and now it’s over. The court system and even her prison cell where not her longest ordeal, her blackened heart was. Blind faith leads her into a life she could not have imagined but revenge lead her to a darker side of herself that only now she sees reflecting back at her. She thought she would feel free and satisfied, all she feels is empty.

She is finally ready to begin her own life; ready to work at being a free woman.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

Form rejection


-------------
Dear Query Shark

I would like to offer for your consideration STC- SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED CRIME- an 80,000 word contemporary physiological thriller set in Australia and Europe.

That's the worst title I've seen in a long time. For starters, my spam filter is going to take a good long look it, and probably say no. Second, unless you're writing erotica, this is the wrong tone.

After two years, four months and twelve days in prison for what her former lover had done, Isabella is out and he is the prey now……..

This is a much better place to start. You've got the character and a sense of conflict all in one.

ISABELLA LUCAS

I'm not sure what reference text you all are reading that says to put character names in all caps but I hope you find it and burn it. This is a holdover from the movies. Don't do it in a query.

is a successful city accountant who believes life is close to ideal. A thriving business, a beautiful apartment and a loving boyfriend, even if he seems to be getting no-where with his musical aspirations. That all changes with a knock on the door.

This is back story. You had me interested in the revenge thing earlier, so we know this ends badly.

After her boyfriend RICHARD leaves for Germany on what she believes is a recording deal her home is raided. She hears words like attempted murder, drugs, illegal weapons and Richards name is constantly repeated. Her mind is fogged with confusion but clarity hits when the raid uncovers drugs and illegal weapons hidden in her home.

Without a credible reason why there are drugs in her home and Richard no longer contactable, she is charged with possession, the attempted murder charges being dropped due to lack of evidence implicating Isabella.

Consumed with anger and bitterness; after almost two and a half years in prison Isabella is released on parole. Her business gone, as are most of her friends, only her family and her loathing for Richard remain. Where once she felt love she now feels revenge. This is what kept her motivated throughout the sentence. This emotion sustained her through endless body strips, mindless raids on her cell, pointless prison programs and therapy sessions. And now she’s out.

With nine months of parole ahead of her and void of feeling anything but the need for personal justice, she plans her revenge on Richard. The attempted murder charges are still pending and he is a person of interest.


Having left the country Richard is likely to be keeping a low profile. But there is one thing that will bring him out, his complete vanity regarding his musical talents. Isabella needs to find a way to appeal to his desire for international recognition as a Blues Singer.

She agrees to be a business partner with a fellow former inmate in the unsavory Escort industry.

and here's where you lose me completely. I'm sorry but I just don't believe this. A successful city accountant leaves prison and becomes a hooker. No.

She needs the money and has few other immediate employment options. With a steady income Isabella hires a private detective and together they hunt Richard down. When she learns he is now married, her plans change. Consumed with bitterness that his life seems so perfect, she sets about destroying his marriage first. She surprises herself at the joy she feels in succeeding.

His marriage collapses, his life in Europe is destroyed, now is the perfect time to set about the final step. An unexpected offer from a record producer in Australia, orchestrated by Isabella, is made to him. Even though he has reservations about returning, he agrees to meet with the producer.

Once through customs, Richard sees Isabella. She cannot resist being at the airport. She is confident and smiling, Richard knows something is wrong. As he looks around him he can see police coming toward him. There is no time for him to think, nowhere to run. Savoring in his downfall she watches with satisfaction when the police escort him away.

His imprisonment is her freedom. She had been consumed with revenge for almost four years and now it’s over. The court system and even her prison cell where not her longest ordeal, her blackened heart was. Blind faith lead her into a life she could not have imagined but Isabella Lucas is finally a free woman.
******************************


why do you have a line of stars in a query? Don't do that.

Also, this plot is pretty hackneyed. The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon was the first novel I read with this plot. It wasn't the last.

You can use an old plot if you want but what you MUST do is add something fresh and new to it. I don't see that here.


I am a qualified accountant who has experience with inmates, working with them in prison programs and on a one-on-one basis. I also have experience with the parole process. Additionally, I have worked along side both social workers and physiologists in after-release programs.

You don't need qualifications to write a novel.

Taking my varied experience I have created a story dealing with the social and emotional struggle of being completely consumed by revenge and of feeling true freedom again.

This is telling, not showing. It's as bad in a query as it is in a novel.

Synopsis and complete MS available on request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,


IF this makes it through the spam filter, it's a form rejection.

#144-Revised Thrice

Dear Query Shark:

Hurled twenty years into the future, young Jakorus is confronted with a horrifying truth: his world has changed, and it’s his fault.

His home, the island of Cybraxas, teeters at the brink of civil war. Magical creatures have secretly co-existed with humans for centuries, but the illusion of peace crumbles when a rebellious faction fights to overturn their primary law: Humans are not food.

Why? What changed? Are they hungry? Hungrier? Did humans destroy their normal food? What happened to create the rebels?

And "civil war" implies a country or a place fighting itself. This doesn't sound like that. It sounds like the alligators have come out of the NYC sewers and are looking for some payback. That's not a "civil war", even to this reptilian NYer.

Trapped in a time loop, many versions of Jakorus have tried to change the future, but they only make things worse. In order to restore the original timeline, Jakorus learns he must murder innocents, betray friends, and repeat the same immoral choices that the original Jakorus made. If he fails, the rebellion could blossom into civil war.

And so, what's the problem here? If he made the immoral choices the first time, surely it's easier the second? You've missed the key part of the story: Jakorus has had some sort of transfiguring moment, and has renounced his earlier evil self. (Think Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven-he hangs up his guns and becomes a farmer)

But through it all, Jakorus has his own problem: in the future there are two of him, and they both love the same girl.

This part I do like a lot.

TIME TOURISM is a YA urban fantasy novel of approximately 123,000 words. It stands alone as a single book, but has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Big Love meets Portnoy's Complaint, ok. (alright I'm just teasing you here)

Best Regards,


better, but still needs work.

------------------------
Dear Query Shark,

Hurled into the future twenty years, young Jakorus is confronted with a horrifying truth: his world has changed, and it’s his fault.

Hurled twenty years in to the future, young

The island of Cybraxas teeters at the brink of civil war. Mythical creatures have secretly co-existed with humans for centuries, but maintaining an illusion of peace becomes increasingly difficult when a rebellious faction wishes to overturn their most strictly enforced law: Humans are not food.

We don't know what the island of Cybraxas is. Is it young hurler Jakorus' home? If so, it's better to name it "young hurlers home island" so we know. The name of the place is the least helpful identifier here.

Also, if a creature is mythical it doesn't exist. If it exists, it's not mythical.

And you're burying the most important part of the story: creatures want to eat people.

His older self, haggard and worn beyond his years, warns Jakorus against the seductive power of manipulating destiny. Altering the outcome of events has been repeatedly attempted by previous Jakorus’ trapped in the time loop that was created, but all efforts make things worse. To prevent the rebellion from blossoming into civil war, Jakorus learns of innocents he will murder, friends he’ll be required to betray, and the immoral choices that he must repeat in order to restore the original timeline.

This paragraph is as convoluted as the time loop you're describing. What you want to say here is that the Hurler isn't the first Jakorus to come forward, or go backward in time to try and fix things. All that travelling through time has only made things worse. Now, he not only has to fix the problem, he has to un-convolute the mess his previous selves made. And that means murder, betrayal, and best of all, immoral choices!

Returned to his own time with strict instructions of what must be done to save his people, Jakorus has his his own problem own agenda: to prevent one of the most unusual love triangles in history: In the future there are two of him, and they both love the same girl.



Set in modern day, TIME TOURISM is a YA fantasy novel of approximately 125,000 words. It stands alone as a single book, but has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Your Chum
1313 Query Hell Lane
Craptastic, BS 12345-6789

this address still cracks me up


You're getting better, and it's sounding more like something I'd actually look at but it's still not there yet.


------------------------
Dear Query Shark,

Azomyn Jakorus is a young being from an immortal race that lives secretly among humans. One day he is magically catapulted through time twenty years. His older self is there waiting for him to tell him about the dangers of trying to change the past, something that had been tried again and again by other Jakorus’ trapped in the time loop that was created. He is shown what is meant to happen in his life; people he has to murder, people he cares about that he needs to betray, and the wrong choices that he must repeat, otherwise his world and everyone he knows will suffer for his cowardice.

What's an immortal race? Are the beings immortal? If so, they better not get too old or you'll have a real problem.

And I'm not sure the "people he has to murder" are going t much care that if they don't die "everyone he knows will suffer for his cowardice." Suffer and be damn quick about it I say.

In other words, this isn't the real conflict. You need a real problem and a real choice in the first paragraph.

While in the future, Jakorus makes many unusual friends and trains with his older self and Master Kale, a member of the Council of Elders, trying to become the creature of fortitude and resolution they need him to be. Yet, he often questions himself and their decisions, worried that he is not strong enough for the task. Reluctant to leave his friends, but determined to do what is best for his people, he is returned to his true time with a mission to make things right.

yea yea yea. This is the montage scene in every heroic quest movie ever made. It's boring then. It's boring now. Leave it out.

However, against all advice and fierce pressure, he has his own agenda: to prevent the most unusual love triangle in history. The decisions he makes on his own are foolhardy at best. Perhaps this was to be expected from one so young, but at seventeen he was headstrong, independent, and absolutely positive that what he did was right.

The conflict is "to prevent the most unusual love triangle in all history." Lead with that. And sadly, you're going to need to spell out what it is. What you've got right now is telling not showing.

Time cripples confidence.
This is a pithy phrase, but it doesn't actually mean anything.

Set in modern day, “Time Tourism,” is a YA fantasy. The manuscript is 125,000 words in length. It can stand alone as a single book, but it is meant to be the first in a series. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Your Chum
1313 Query Hell Lane
Craptastic, BS 12345-67

this just cracks me up.
I think we have a new address for ALL the Chum.


Still a form rejection but it's getting better.
------

Dear Query Shark,

I am seeking representation. My completed manuscript, “Time Tourism,” is a fantasy-adventure-romance chapter book with a target audience of young adult readers,

whoa baby! "Chapter book" is a phrase used to describe books for early readers. Having chapters doesn't make it a chapter book. "Fantasy-adventure-romance" is not a category. Romance is. Fantasy is. They're also two very DIFFERENT categories. Just because a novel has elements of fantasy, or adventure, or romance doesn't mean it's in the romance or fantasy category.


but will also appeal to older adults. The manuscript is 125,000 words in length. It can stand alone as a single book, but it is meant to be the first in a series.

Given your word count, this is a YA fantasy novel. Anything else and the word count is a problem.



Set in modern day, a young immortal from a secretive race accidentally travels forward in time twenty years. Trapped there, he makes friends and trains with his elders, trying to become what they need him to be. Upon learning what tragedies have transpired in his own world and ours, he is returned to his true time with a mission from the elders to make things right. However, he has his own agenda: to prevent the most unusual love triangle in history.

This is generic and boring. Start with the characters name. Then be specific about what he has to do. What choices he faces.

I must tell you however that a book that is largely abut a young man learning from his wise elders doesn't sound like something the YA audience will much like. YA novels are generally about characters finding their own way in the world, and thwarting the best intentions of their elders.

I have included the first five pages of “Time Tourism” and a synopsis beneath my query. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Form rejection