Monday, September 14, 2009

Query Help Needed

I'm nervous about doing this but I'm stuck. And what good is having writer friends if you can't ask for help? (kidding--you're good for lots of other things!) So are these things to be kept secret? Not sure about all the rules so maybe I'm breaking one.

I'm talking about how much I'm driving myself nuts writing my query. I want it good--wait--not just good-- I want it to jump out at whatever agent I finally get the nerve to submit it to and have them say, "Send me more."

I've changed it a dozen or more times. I know at least one of my critique partners probably thinks I'm a pain. But here it goes. I'm going to write a part of it here. I am asking for all and any critiques from you about it. Here's your chance to get back at me for any I've done for you. I do realize queries are subjective. You just might not like this style of book --but pretend you're an agent and blast me if needed. Give me what you like and what you hate.Please?

Yeah. I'll cry. But I won't be alone. My crybaby husband will be there too.:)

Lizzy Batron sleeps with a bottle of pills. Maybe it’s because she believes she killed her husband in a freak car accident. Or maybe it’s because he won’t leave her alone even though he’s six feet under. But it could be because she met a romance writer named Paul who opens her eyes to the possibility of life after grief but she can’t go there yet. Whatever the reason; she’s juggling too many roles: writer, mother, girlfriend and self-proclaimed murderess. And yet God expects more. It seems to Lizzy donating her husband’s heart should be enough but it isn’t. Now she’s supposed to donate her sixteen-year-old son’s heart, too---to the new man in her life.
A SPRINKLING OF PROMISES is a story of hope, living again when all seems lost, and about digging deep down into your heart to trust God with all the outcomes.


Stephanie Faris said...

I love the beginning. Very strong. But about halfway through it doesn't seem quite as powerful. This may not be much help...but in the part about her donating her son's feels like there should be more emphasis. More soul...more drama. Does that help at all? Probably not. Like I said, the first few sentences really got my interest.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I like the beginning. Only you could change "believes" to "is convinced she killed her husband." "Because" and "believes" in the same sentence may sound like alliteration to some picky editors.
I love the line "life after grief," and you should end the sentence there. Start "But she can't go there yet" as a new sentence: it's punchier all by itself.
I'm lost on "And yet God expects more. It seems to Lizzy donating her husband’s heart should be enough but it isn’t. Now she’s supposed to donate her sixteen-year-old son’s heart, too---to the new man in her life." That confused me.
The ending is great. Except, take out "about" and change "all the" to "every" so it reads: A SPRINKLING OF PROMISES is a story of hope, living again when all seems lost, and digging deep down into your heart to trust God with every outcome.
Hope you aren't crying too hard.
I want to read it! Sounds intriguing!!! You go, girl!
Love you,

Janna Qualman said...

I agree with what Stephanie says about the strong beginning, and I think you've got a really great premise. But I almost wonder if mentioning the possible donation of the son's heart is too much too soon? Don't want to give it all away, because then that gives nothing to want. Know what I mean?

Embee said...

I'm not at the point of writing queries yet, so haven't started researching how to write a good one, but this one sounds good. I agree with the other comments so far.

I know I'm not much help, but I'm all in for the moral support!!!

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Terry,

I think your opening lines are fantastic, and the whole thing is quite good. I like the idea of your book, and I'm intrigued to read more.

Two small suggestions: I think the fourth sentence feels like too much information was crammed in.

My suggestion: "But it could be because she met a romance writer named Paul. He has opened her eyes to the possibility of life after grief, but she can’t go there...yet." (Or something like that.)

Your last sentence is wonderful, but I think dropping the word "about" makes it tighter, stronger.

I'm so excited for you, Terri. I look forward to reading "A Sprinkling of Promises" soon! :)

Cindy said...

That's some good advice! Your critique partners don't think you're a pain--they think you're very gifted and are soooo excited to see A Sprinkling of Promises find its home :D

But I do have an opinion--if you want to hear it. Again. Lol.

I agree that the beginning is strong and I particularly like that you got specific with saying she met a romance writer named Paul. I think it might be good to break up the block of writing. You could start a new paragraph with "Whatever the reason..." I also feel like the part about donating her sons heart is a little confusing, too. It's going along smoothly but then gets caught up there. You could still put "Now she's supposed to..." but change what she's supposed to do. Now she's supposed to face tragedy again and somehow sustain her faith? Now she needs to decide which part of her past is worth holding onto and which part is better left behind? Or something like that, but with stronger verbs :)

Natalie Bahm said...

I think Jeanette's advice is right on. I love the beginning but I think the bit about the son's heart was confusing. I don't think you need to mention that in the query. I read somewhere that you can write a query like the back cover copy of a book (not giving away anything after about page 50). I think that might be a good idea here.

I think you've given us a great hook with her husband's death and her addiction to pills and maybe you just don't need the stuff at the end.

Lazy Writer said...

I agree with the above comments. The beginning is strong. I'd like to read more and can't wait to. I think the rest would read smoother with sentence breaks and some addtional punctuation. Also, and I could be wrong here, I think people are confused by what you mean about giving the son's heart away. I'm taking it as the son is falling for the man just like Lizzie is. But it seems to me that the commenters before me think it is an actual physical thing, as in the son dies. Maybe they would feel differently about that sentence if it was clarified a bit. If I am correct about the meaning, I would leave that info in because it is (in my opinion) an important part of the story. Best of luck in your query writing!

Lin said...

well, you have more than enough suggestions for change. but the story sounds fascinating.

T. Anne said...

Hi Terri, It's really too late at night for me to offer proper advice but I will say I am hooked and cannot wait to read this. The last tag line confused me a bit, she's giving her sixteen y.o. son's heart to another man? But I will say, I love the premiss and it sounds like a book I would definitely pick up.

Jody Hedlund said...


I'm not sure that I could add anything to what's already been said. It sounds like a great story! I always put my "hook" sentence first in my query. That's the 40 words or less that grab the reader. You're off to a great start! Happy querying!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Great comments here and I second Cindy!
~ Wendy

Greg C said...

I'm with some of the others. I liked the beginning but I got lost somewhere in the middle. I think there was TMI.

Analisa said...

I got lost when you said she would have to donate her son's heart too. I couldn't get past it. She lost her son and her husband? What happened?

Either it can be thought of as a teaser or maybe put in there what happen to the son?

I think I would kill the line...

Now she’s supposed to donate her sixteen-year-old son’s heart, too---to the new man in her life.

Analisa said...

How brave of you to see advice and plese know from what you wrote it is a story I would want to read.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

This is what happens when you’re commenter 16—all the good stuff has been said. Some feedback I got from a publishing insider who deals with this stuff is, “Grab them quick in the first sentence or two. Show the oddity, or the humor, or villainy, or whatever it might be, but stick them in the first two to three sentences with the heat of your book, or, they might stop reading.” If you think you’ve done that…mission accomplished.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

I like this way better than the first one you sent me. It sounds like you, is more interesting and draws me in without being abrupt. You do pack it with alot of info, though. Perhaps slow down the middle sentences a bit. Just an educated opinion. :>) Best Wishes.

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

I meant uneducated opinion. OYE. I need a comment editor for when I comment on your blog. LOL.

Nancy said...

I don't mean to be different, but I thought the summary was good. I'd like to read a book about a woman turning her life around when all seems lost. Great job.

Warren Baldwin said...

I wonder if the phrase "six feet under" is overused? Would it be better to just mention he's been gone x number of years, or that he is lying in the local cemetary? Don't know, just a thought.

Helen Ginger said...

I think it's a fascinating hook. Being the editor I am, I'd tell you to work on the grammar. In the manuscript, you should avoid starting sentences with words like "and" or "but," so, avoid them in the query or the agent will think you over-use them in the manuscript.

As an agent, I would wonder whether this would be a downer book, even though you say it's a story of hope. Losing your husband and then your son sounds pretty dang sad.

Overall, though, the blurb would attract my attention.

Straight From Hel

Kathryn Magendie said...

as the other's said, the beginning was strong and then it was a little weaker -
But it sure sounds intriguing to me -- I admit I'm not sure about the "God" parts -- I'm always leary of reading something I'm afraid will be preachy or religiousy - however, if that is your audience and the agent you will search for, then it fits! :)

I do want to know more about this woman and her dilemma- and that's a very good sign!! I wish I had time to really critique it, but then again, I am horrid at queries!

momma's heart said...

I'm not in the writing business but hope to be when my children are grown. I can't offer anything professional--only practical.

I read a bit of your story on the Wanna Be Published blog. It's phenomenal. Your writing talent is stunning; I hope to be capable of that caliber of work someday.

That said, this has problems with flow, smoothness, confusion, wordiness, grammar and punctuation. It seems like you've worked too hard on it. You're failing to see the obvious. Step away and do something fun for a week. Are you on a deadline to get it done?

I just did this for fun, as a practice exercise. It seems smoother and less confusing. I can't think of any good verbs and I don't know if you're allowed to use paragraph breaks.

I don't see a problem with "and" and "but" beginnings. I thought real writers were the only ones allowed to use those? I sure see them in a LOT of books.

Lizzy Batron sleeps with a bottle of pills. Maybe it's because she's certain she killed her husband in a freak car accident. Or maybe it's because he won't leave her alone....even while six feet under. It could be because she's met a romance writer, Paul, who opens her eyes to the possibility of life after grief. But she can't go there. Yet.

Already juggling the roles of writer, mother, girlfriend, and self-proclaimed murderess, Lizzy feels God stretching her more--reworking her as a writer does a manuscript. Can she trust him? Will she be comfortable with the outcomes?

A Sprinkling of Promises is a story of hope, of trusting God, and of living again after all seemed lost.

Bless you! I can't wait to read your book! Such talent WILL BE NOTICED!