Saturday, August 30, 2008



Dear Query Shark

Dr. Abigail Wade is a gifted virologist. Her only true confidante is a Great Dane named Extra and she hasn't has a date since Poison was popular. She is sanctioned by a major pharmaceutical company to find a cure for the deadly Gemini virus.

Sanctioned? This is an odd word choice. Sanctioned means directed to, or to give approval for (it also means other stuff too of course). It doesn't fit here unless the pharmaceutical company controls the virus, and thus who gets to do research about it. If that's the case, you still don't want to use that word cause it gives the game way. And the second sentence has NOTHING to do with anything that follows.

Once the vital antidote is discovered, instead of being celebrated, she finds herself on the run from corporate assassins. Everyone else that had been working on the project turns up missing or dead. Dr. Wade learns that the owner of her company, Dalton Taggart, is bartering with terrorists and if she does not stop them, innocent people will be intentionally infected. If the demands of the terrorists are not met, treatment will not be granted to the sick. The situation is compounded when the cure suddenly no longer works. Dr. Wade must solve the puzzle and overtake Taggart’s henchmen before the terrorists come to collect.

This is a mishmash. I know it makes sense to you cause you know what you want to say, but it doesn't make sense to me at all. She discovers the antidote, then she's on the run. Well, there are a couple connecting points missing there. And when does everyone on her team die or disappear. You're starting at the wrong point. Start when the problem starts-when she discovers the people on her team are turning up dead or missing. Does she know why? She obviously doesn't want to join them so what does she have to do -specifically- to keep that from happening. And what bad thing will happen if she does do it?

PROJECT GEMINI is a medical thriller that wields a mix of suspense, science and a touch of humor. This novel is complete at 80,000 words and would be appealing to those who enjoy the works of Robin Cook and Michael Palmer.

I am a Pharmacy Technician and Pre-Med major. I have worked as a Medical Assistant inside of a Laboratory for twelve years and have done extensive research, as well, to maintain accuracy.
I am seeking representation for this novel. I would be happy to provide you with a partial or the entire manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Form rejection

Dear Query Shark

I am a Pharmacy Technician and Pre-Med major, and my recently completed 80,000 word thriller PROJECT GEMINI follows a female virologist who is trying to cure a seemingly unstoppable disease. Soon everyone working on the project is either missing or dead and she finds herself on the run from corporate assassins while fighting to keep the vaccine out of terrorists’ hands. PROJECT GEMINI wields a mix of suspense, science and a touch of humor. It is a woman’s take on the genre pioneered by Robin Cook and Michael Palmer.

This is an unholy mess. If someone presented this to you as a list of symptoms cause they were feeling poorly you'd make them stop, and start again. Just think of what follows as an intervention:

First, "female virologist" sounds like you're describing a lab project. What's her name?

"seemingly unstoppable disease" could be the common cold. It could be AIDS. It could be racism, alcoholism, or (my favorite) stupidity. Be specific.

Everyone working on the project is missing or dead? I gotta tell you, any normal person would take that as a sign to get the HELL out of the lab, move to Wichita, Kansas and enroll in the Ag program there. At least those guys aren't trying to kill you. Of course, I'm being sardonic here but if someone is going to be this hellbent on doing something no one in their right mind would, there better be a reason. And it can't be cause the terrorists/corporate assassins kidnapped her son/husband/boss/mom/cat.

Are the corporate assassins and the terrorists the same people? If they aren't you've got too much going on here.

"A woman's take" just offends the hell out of me. I don't think you as a lady author, and I don't think of Michael Palmer's book as "a man's take" on anything. I think of his books as page turners written by a ripping good novelist. So shoot me, I'm sensitive on the subject, but then I'm sensitive about how language is used in general.

I would be honored to provide you with a partial or the entire manuscript on an exclusive basis. If you are interested, please respond and I will send it via email or snail mail at your request.

Please can the crap about honored. Of course you want me to read your pages, and face it, you think I'm an idiot if I don't request them. I understand and accept that.

And "if you are interested, please respond" is like saying "please breathe in through your nose as you read this". Stating the obvious is best left to direct testimony in front of the grand jury, and teaching three year olds how to use the bathroom (first take OFF the pants).

And don't get me started on offering! OFFERING!!! an exclusives in a query letter. Have you not read my blog?? Exclusives stink. Don't do this. Not now, not ever.

Thank you for your time , patience and consideration.
Let's hope I don't actually NEED patience when reading your query, ok?


Lehcarjt said...

Brownie points for being concise. There is a part of me that prefers an overly short query to the long rambling ones. However, the danger in short is that you don't give us anything to really care about. I want to know what is it about this character and/or story that is so fabulously different/exciting that I will want to read it. I want to make some kind of connection with the story that hooks me in. I'm not getting any of that here.

I'd also recommend spending some time reading blogs. A number of the things you wrote (and Janet grabbed) have been covered over and over and over by agents in their blogs. (exclusives, 'if you are interested,' 'thank you for you time,' etc.)

Just_Me said...

This story has been done before. The plot, the idea, the female protag... all done!

If you want this to stand out you need to tell us what makes this special. You don't do that here.

John the Scientist said...

On top of all your points, she doesn't seem to have picked up enough background knowledge from her education to set the stage correctly. The big clue is the use of "antidote" for a "virus" - poisons have antidotes. There are vaccines and anti-viral agents. No viral antidotes.

I'm betting the rest of the medical details in the book would make me snort, too.

mommyneedscoffee said...

John, I apologize...that was an incorrect word. The drug is an antiviral that is administered along with a steroid regimen. My heroine finds that the body is able to fight the virus if it is weakened and the immune system is boosted. I do not believe you would "snort". I got too carried away with finding other words and should have just said "antiviral" but I fear an agent would consider it jargon. My mistake.