Friday, April 26, 2013

Forging Fridays - The Dos and the Do Nots

Today is our fourteenth Forging Fridays Query! Wow...fourteen, this year is flying by. Yay! We love volunteers! As stated before, I won't be revealing the identities of the volunteers for Forging Fridays unless otherwise requested. If you feel like unmasking yourselves in the comments, be my guest. But, I won't mention anyone by name.

Here is our next volunteer! *applause* *cheers* *confetti*


Dear Agent, per our email I know the writer has a "why I queried you section" so we're good here. :)
WATERS OF OBLIVION is about a young woman whose life was finally on track  . . . or so she believed, until an unexpected meeting too vague here, a meeting with a person? an ancient artifact? a stargate? Tell us more. Side note: I'd switch this paragraph to present tense. It feels more immediate for a query and the first sentence of the next paragraph is present, so the change is a bit jarring. Also, I'd include the main character's name in the first paragraph. forced her to revisit the past. A past she thought she had left behind 500 years ago.
Reine Baldwin is a graduate student with a secret. She drowned in the Venetian lagoon on her honeymoon in 1498, having slipped from her husband Massimo’s grip into the cold, dark water. The next day she awoke stronger than ever. For over half a millennium she has lived on the run, keeping a low profile and moving on before anyone could notice her remarkable healing abilities and propensity against aging. Was she forced to do this? It seems odd that she survives drowning and then abruptly decides to run and escape her...husband that tried to save her?
During a freak D.C. We need a transition to when this is... and also, eye color shouldn't be mentioned in a query unless it is part of the plot snowstorm, Reine meets Gabe Moran – a handsome young journalist with arresting blue eyes – and she momentarily lets her guard down. We've seen no reason why she should run from her husband and have this constant guard up so far. What's she afraid of? What's the threat? In order to sympathize, we must know what she's up against. After a disastrous first date, she ends their budding relationship, but Gabe is persistent and she reluctantly gives him another chance. When someone subsequently breaks into her office, a busted pipe floods her classroom, and shadowy figures begin to pursue her, she finally When you put finally here, it makes it sound like she should've wondered this a long time ago and that you, the author, think she's dumb. That's never a good thing. wonders if meeting him hadn’t been coincidental.
Reine’s instincts prove to be correct when Gabe follows her to Venice and she mysteriously ...does she know how she ended up dead? As in, hit over the head...or whatever? Is this normal for her to forget? Mysterious sounds a bit...weak of a term for someone trying to kill you. And also, she's not really dead, right? She heals. The phrasing here makes her sound like a vampire... ends up dead – again.  Her only clues about what happened are a pounding headache and an ochre this detail isn't important to the query and is a little distracting, I'd take it out ball gown. But this time, dying will ultimately reunite her with the person she had once passionately loved and thought was long gone: Massimo – now known as Max. 
Caught between two men who at one point had both let her down, Reine needs to decide whether to reexamine her dormant feelings for her former beloved or to trust her heart to someone she will eventually lose to his mortality.  Her best friend Noor’s unlikely betrayal and the threat from an unknown enemy complicate her story of love and loss that has been centuries in the making. This last line feels out of place and is too vague. I'd lose it entirely and rework this. I wouldn't recommend introducing new characters in the last sentence.

Okay, let's focus on the story portion of this query before moving on. You have interesting details and a good voice here, but you don't have enough of the right answers and you have a lot of things that aren't necessary. You could boil down the entire Reine - Gabe paragraphs to something like - During a freak D.C. snowstorm, Reine meets Gabe Moran – a young journalist whose charm keeps forcing it's way through crevices in the walls she's built to protect herself and threatening to blast them wide open. When they end up in Venice and Reine nearly dies again, she begins to suspect Gabe may want to bring down more than just her walls. He may be after her healing as well... (or whatever...I have no idea where the story goes from here, but you get what I'm saying)

Choose your words and sentences with impact. Tell us why running from people she cares about and keeping them at bay is the answer. What is she afraid of? Why is that her first instinct? Is the main conflict about her picking a guy? Or is it about who is trying to kill her? Focus on that one, make it clear which is the primary plot and which is secondary. What does she lose if she chooses wrong/fails? We need consequences. We need to know what it all boils down to and understand her motivations. Also, we need to know more about this unknown nemesis. You don't have to say who it is, but you need to tell us what their goal is and what Reine has to overcome from them in order to succeed.

WATERS OF OBLIVION is a completed Paranormal Romance with 80K words and the first novel in THE BELOVED series, which will contain not only a trilogy I'd recommend against this. To have the best chance at finding a home, your first novel should stand on it's own and then if they want more, you're ready. I'd say, "WATERS OF OBLIVION is a Paranormal Romance complete at 80k words. It's a stand-alone with series potential OR a stand-alone that I have planned out as a potential series. All this other stuff makes it sound like you've decided where it's going and it's an all or none proposition. That makes you a MUCH bigger investment and makes it sound like you're not flexible. Neither are good things. that explores the evolving relationships between Reine, Gabe, and Max, but also could potentially take up any one of the other immortal characters’ back stories throughout history in their own spin-offs.
This is my first novel and it was a quarter-finalist (top 100 out of 2,000 entries) in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest in the Romance category. In my day job, I am a senior university administrator; however, like my protagonist, I have a graduate degree in visual culture from Georgetown University where I wrote my thesis on Venetian mosaics in Victorian England. This paragraph is good, if you ever need to trim, you could lose some of this, but there is nothing wrong with it and some agents/editors like to know these things. 
Thank you for your consideration. If you have a minute, please take a look at the short teaser trailer that I’ve made: *LINK REDACTED* Okay, I wouldn't do this at all. If you want it in the email, put the link down in your signature. This is a perfect stranger and you're asking them to click on a link. Doing so is not smart e-security and it's the main reason most agents prefer pages in the body of the email instead of as attachments. I'm not saying there is anything malicious about the link, I'm saying it's a risk you shouldn't ask them to take. I'd lose this.

Here is the deal. I know this sounds like a lot, but it's really not. You just need to hone in on the things that are crucial, tell us with impact and leave the rest out. What is this book really about? The romance or the healing/killing attempts side of it. Focus your energy and details around that then use the other half to fill it out and make us care. You can totally do this. :) Good luck!


Okay, that's it for today and this query. Thank you so much for volunteering, oh mystery writer! :) I really hope this helped you. It takes guts to send in a query, to me or an agent. Go you! You have awesome guts! :)

So, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree with my assessments? Discuss! May we all be tougher and stronger thanks to our days in the fire.


I'm officially calling for more query volunteers! Anyone feeling brave? Read here for more details and send them in!

1 comment:

  1. The story sounds interesting, but I agree that the query needs to be pared down to essentials. Get that down, answer some of the specific questions that Jenn's asking, and I would totally buy this and read it when it comes out!