Ambitious Senator Carinna knows something must be done: erratic young Caligula Caesar, the new Emperor, needs a companion and confidant. Carinna’s older son, groomed for the job, is dead – leaving only bad-boy Marcus, who has just returned from the German frontier trailing minor clouds of glory. And a hostage.
Marcus is persuaded that honor requires him to atone for his brother’s treason. But after painfully earning the Emperor’s trust, he is horrified to learn that Caligula himself uttered the statement for which Marcus’s brother took responsibility – and that the scheme to switch the blame was their father’s, devised to ensure the survival of the youthful Caligula, then heir apparent.
Aurima, the stubborn and bitter German hostage with whom Marcus has fallen in love, sneers at him for not seeking vengeance and tries to kill Caligula herself. Unless Marcus turns her in, the enraged Caligula vows to punish him by demanding the suicide of his dishonored father. In the end, Marcus achieves what he desired – to prove himself a better man than his father – but realizes that in protecting Rome from Caligula, he can rely on no one but himself.
ROMA AMOR, 160,000 words, is the richly plotted product of many years of research and revision. I appreciate your consideration, Ms. Shark, and will be glad to send a full or partial ms. if you’re interested.
This is a damn good revision.
The word count is still a problem.
Go through it one more time with Cntrl-F (find) for "that" Take out every single "that" you don't need.
Then check for was -ing verb forms. Replace with verb-ed forms. (was washing to washed)
Then just read it line by line and take out every single word that doesn't have to be there.
My bet: you'll chop 5000 words off this.
When you do, let me know. I'll read it.
Dear Query Shark,
Marcus Carinna, a young Roman aristocrat, was a womanizing scoundrel until his brother’s suicide drove him to become an officer in a Danube legion. There, as a convert to the Sun God Mithras, he dedicated himself to upholding truth and order. Now his father, a powerful Senator, wants him to take his brother’s place as a companion of the inexperienced new Princeps of Rome: Caligula Caesar.
You've introduced four characters in one paragraph. This isn't even the start of the story. You've saved that for paragraph 3.
In ROMA AMOR, my 190,000-word novel, that decision will force Marcus into a wrenching choice between “Amor” (love) and “Roma” (duty) – the words every Roman legionary used to carve on opposite sides of his battle knife.
Here's where I stop reading and say "form rejection." 190,000 words. It simply cannot be done. Not right now anyway. And before you start hurling examples of The Thorn Birds, all of James Clavell, and Gone With the Wind at me (books I read and loved) let me just say this: I'm not sure I could sell those books, at that length, today. I'm not guessing at this. I know for a stone cold fact that wonderful novels over 120,000 words get glowing rejection letters. Glowing. REJECTION. Frankly I'm not in this for rejection letters glowing or otherwise. I'm in it for sales.
Though it galls him to obey his father, Marcus feels that family honor requires him to make amends for his brother’s treasonous behavior, which endangered the young Caligula.
This is actually the interesting part. Leave out all those generalities. Get to the next paragraph which also has interesting stuff.
Too late, Marcus discovers why Caligula told him when they met, “The point, O Theseus, is not to learn what waits at the heart of the maze. The point is to escape alive.” Reeling from what he has learned, he must choose between his reckless love for the German hostage Aurima and his duty to everything he holds sacred.
Be specific. What did he learn? And by duty to everything he holds sacred do you mean the duty to family mentioned above?
None of this matters a whit.
This is telling not showing.
A synopsis of the plot follows. If you’re interested, Ms. Shark, I’d be pleased to send you a partial or complete manuscript.
Of course you would. You don't need to say so.
Thanks for considering ROMA AMOR. I look forward to hearing from you.
Form rejection due to word count.