Saturday, December 13, 2008



Dear Query Shark:

London's most notorious house of ill repute might not be the ideal sanctuary for a young woman of gentle breeding, but it's certainly the last place anyone will think to look for her. And all Blaire Glendow needs for a few months is a place to hide.

It seems ideal: Blaire's got the disguise, the guts, and the ingenuity to pull it all off. Unfortunately, she's also got a love of mischief that can't help but rear it's (its)conspicuous head from time to time. So when Jack Crafton, a sardonic viscount who sees little to admire in the cheerful house of sin, catches on to one of her quirks, it seems that Blaire may have to give up her ruse and place her trust in the one man who sees right through her facade.

Jack doesn't know which is the stronger motivation behind his actions: his urge to succumb to Blaire's impish charms or his repulsion at what he thinks is her entanglement in the brothel's seedier activities. Either way, he finds himself playing the errant white knight to one of the most ungrateful, opinionated, obstinate—and enchanting young women he's ever known.

Tapping into the fast-paced folly and fun frivolity redolent of Heyer's Regency England, Handsome Jack is my first novel. I would be happy to submit my completed 107,000-word manuscript for your review.

Thank you so much for your consideration and for all that you do for the online writing community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yup, that works.
Nicely done.

Of course I don't need to tell you that spelling mistakes are not a good thing. You know that.


Dear Query Shark:

It's hard to stay upbeat when you've got no money, nowhere to go, and no one to turn to—oh, and an evil guardian hunting you down. Never one for adopting missish airs, Blaire Glendow does what any gently-bred young lady would do in her situation. She runs to the nearest brothel, where, amid dazzling beauties and a proprietress with a deep love of drama, she
fabricates a persona that has everyone fooled.

Is this a satire? Are you making fun of the category? I'm not sure what to make of this.

Except for Lord Crafton. A notorious society bachelor who comes complete with inexplicable scar and brooding nature, he sees right through Blaire's facade. And he wants what he sees.

And I'm still confused.

Prey to a mischievous nature that can't help but rear its fun-loving head at the most inappropriate intervals, Blaire suddenly finds herself whisked away to London, where she she meets an amusing cast of characters with Lord Crafton's best interests at heart. Her heart isn't
far behind, and as she softens toward the indomitable man with his wry punctuating smiles, her body soon follows.

There's a lot of description here and not much else. And I'm still confused about whether this is a joke or not.

When a society scandal forces Lord Crafton's hand in the direction of his best friend's sister, there is only one person able to provide a solution that keeps friendships and a burgeoning love intact. Blaire accepts the challenge and is launched into the role of a lifetime—provided the curtain isn't closed for good when the limelight places her in the direct path of her guardian's rage.

He's mad because of the punctuating smiles isn't he?
Or that brothel adventure?

Tapping into the fast-paced folly and fun frivolity redolent of Heyer's Regency England, Handsome Jack is my first novel. It fuses my love of all things fiction with a successful professional freelance writing career that has placed my blog on the list of Top Ten Blogs for Writers for the past two years running. I would be happy to submit my completed 107,000-word manuscript for your review.

"all things fiction" You don't really want to say that. Unless this is a joke.

Thank you so much for your consideration and for all that you do for the online writing community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regency romances may be frothy but they aren't satires, and they aren't ironic. Your tone and word choice here make me think you're making fun of things, not having fun with the tropes of the category.

I'm not sure what exactly to make of this, and that's really not the response you're looking for in a query letter.

If Blaire were to write about her situation, how would she describe it? Writing the first draft in her voice might help you get the tone right. Don't write the final version in her voice, that's too gimmicky for serious consideration, but there's a real problem with tone here that is getting in the way of being taken seriously.

Let's all remember too, that Regency romances aren't my forte. Anyone else who reads these more regularly than I should feel free to offer an opinion in the comment section.


Jinxie G said...

He's mad because of the punctuating smiles isn't he?
Or that brothel adventure?

LOL You crack me up.

To be honest, I'm a bit confused on this one, too. But, it isn't my forte, either.

talpianna said...

Some Regency writers can be quite satirical--consider, for example, Jane Austen. And even some of the modern ones, like Barbara Metzger and Marion Chesney, make fun of the genre.

This said, I'm not at all sure what's going on here either.

WV: breicar--an automobile that runs on cheese, manufactured by a company without a spellchecker

none said...

Eh, uh, what? A gently-bred young lady of the Regency period may know what a brothel is, in general, perhaps, especially if she has brothers or her father's a rake. But she certainly wouldn't know where to find one, and she wouldn't go in if she did!

Also, she'd stand out a mile, and I find it hard to believe she'd be able to convince anyone she was something other than what she is. She wouldn't have either the education or the life experience.

Now if she turned in desperation to a friend who's fallen on hard times and the friend smuggled her into the brothel and taught her how to hide herself, that I might believe. Then you'd have something along the lines of what Sarah Waters writes, a bit seamy but basically romantic (although her work is set in a later period).

I'm fond of Regency romances myself, but they only hint at the dark underside, don't embroil the protagonists in them--remember, Blaire would entirely lose her reputation once her brothel adventure came out. And that isn't like being put on the front page of a tabloid newspaper. It's social death in a society where social connections were, well, everything.

none said...

Oh, yeah, and the most she could expect from Lord Crafton (who makes me think of Sydney Carton--now THERE'S a romantic hero!) is a carte blanche, not quite the HEA that Regency romance readers are looking for.

It's a satire, right?

About Me said...

I agree it sounds like a satire, but regency romance isn't my forte either. If it's not a satire, the author should go back and look at word choices.

Liana Brooks said...

Is this a serious query or not? I honestly can't tell.

For a spoof of regency romances this would be fun. If it isn't a spoof, I think a rewrite is in order.

Lehcarjt said...

I thought this was hilarious, but I stopped reading Regency Romances years ago when they lost all connection to historical accuracy.

I love the idea of a satire to make fun of the 'fantasy land' that has become Regency England. I actually think that if the satire is intentional it would be a really, really fun book.

Tamara said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

To clarify: the book is NOT a satire, but it definitely has its satirical moments. I can see now where the confusion is coming in and how the lack of details makes the letter, well, useless.

I'm excited to rewrite the query more clearly, AND to consider actually doing a satire next time. It seems like it could be really, really fun.

Amie Stuart said...

As a reader, I can't help but think a regency outside the norm woudln't be a bad thing--did I say that right? Otherwise I have to go with Talpianna...a little clarification would def help here and good luck!

none said...

Obviously the Regency novel has moved on while I was still reading Heyer! lol

talpianna said...

Amie, there's at least one lesbian Regency romance that I know of!

WV: prons--dances for pronouns

Stephanie Barr said...

Oh my God! As a huge Heyer fan, no no no.

Heyer is witty, humorous and charming, with quirky characters, but no sex, certainly not one that would find a home (even temporarily) in a brothel and expect to have a happily ever after.

I wish people still wrote Regencies like that (there's a reason she's still in print even though she died in 1974). She was meticulous in research and diction. They call her the Queen of Regency Romance even though you could hardly recognize her in most of the Regency published today.

Please choose a different author to compare yourself to. There are plenty of Regency writers still out there where that plot might not even throw anyone. But not if it's compared to Heyer.

I wrote a novel trying to emulate the Heyer style as my first novel. Tough as hell to do and it's going to stay under my bed until I'm willing to take the time and effort to rework it. And I won't claim it's like Heyer either. She was genius.

I'm not trying to be mean, but, if I was an agent that knew Regencies (and it's something I've read a great deal), that plot with that name would immediately turn me off.


Anonymous said...

If I had only read the revised query, without any knowledge of the original, I would have a hard time understanding what Blaire's motives are for hiding in a brothel; however, I might be wrong because, like several here, this genre isn't my forte.