THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 13 Jun 2011, 13:00

Thanks Wilderness! You've given me a lot to think about.

I think one thing that might tie some of this together is that Julienne ends up pregnant after she leaves Alex. So she never fully severs her tie to him emotionally. I think that is why it is so easy for her to go back to him in the end.

Richard is only complication--something to keep Alex and Julienne apart when Alex does come back around. I think maybe I'm going the wrong way with this one. There's really no decision for Julienne. As soon as she knows that Alex wants her back, she chooses him. The reason I put in the other stuff is that I did not want the novel coming off as a historical romance. I am very firm on the genre--it is historical fiction, and while the romance is central, it is so much more.

Personally, I think the query is a bit sterilized. I think in general, I wanted to go your way and develop the characters more. I thought I was doing that in the original but then many people commented that it didn't make sense. I guess this is where subjectiveness gets confusing!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby Hyaline » 14 Jun 2011, 08:40

Hi! This has really developped nicely from the first go, so I only have a couple of nitpicks. Ignore at will :)

oldhousejunkie wrote:I tried to iron out a few things in the last paragraph. But I wonder if it's more confusing or overkill. I could use some thoughts on this.

I sent this query out to five agents on Thursday and have already gotten two rejections (albeit very positive and polite). Both rejects were on my "B-list" meaning they represent historical fiction but don't have any current titles in their list. So I'm not sure what to think.
Two rejections--no worries! Honestly--a PERFECT query can get a rejection if it doesn't catch an agent's fancy for one reason or another. Maybe they're not into Civil War. Maybe they're not interested in taking on new histfic right now. Maybe this story just didn't appeal to them. When you get 20 rejections and no requests...start to be concerned :) (I don't think that's going to happen :) )

When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. Great intro--I really like how you've given us great setup so concisely. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she seizes it. I think you could pep this up a touch--give us some more by paring down--perhaps "Frustrated in her attempts to rescue the farm, she jumps at the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents" or something... Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge, but risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. I disagree with above posts that this wasn't convincing--falling in love can change things. But--maybe make that clearer. Is it just that she doesn't want to put herself in danger anymore, or is revenge less appealing with the prospect of moving on in the picutre? She is drawn to him and they marry after a whirlwind courtship. Only then does she discover Alex is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers. This is where I'm a touch unclear--does he know that SHE'S a spy? If not...couldn't she just bury her past? That's the breaking point on believability for me--why run away if he never needs to know? Or is it more of a "I can't be with you, you're Union scum" sort of thing?

Fearing imprisonment, Julienne flees the country, and settles in a small English village. She lays plans to rebuild her family’s horse stock and attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past Actually--is the deadly past important here? I noticed its mention got some "just tell us" comments--I wonder if you could leave it out and let the reader discover that there's more to the story in the MS itself. The conflict is there and defined without mention of the dark secrets.. He offers his love and protection, but it comes with a price. She will have to suffer through a potentially scandalous divorce and surrender all hope of returning to her family’s farm. I might lead this sentence out of the last one.... "comes with a price: a scandalous (ditch potentially) divorce and never again returning to her family farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She will have to choose between the two men and her choice will bring about fatal consequences. I can appreciate what you've done with the last sentence--set up a final choice for her. Unfortunately, it reads rather clunky, and I can't quite get behind "fatal consequences." To be honest--the conflict is set up quite nicely without the last sentence.


This is really shaping up beautifully, Caroline--I love what you've done with it and these are more reader reactions than anything else. I know I'm no query expert :) Good luck!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 14 Jun 2011, 11:45

Thanks Rowenna! I appreciate your comments.

In general, I think I am concerned about blowing 20 chances with a mediocre query. I've been putting some major research into queries the last 24 hours, and have drafted something that is a lot like the formula I have seen. It's not as in depth, and I hope it doesn't suffer as a result.


When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decided to avenge her father’s murder, she did not count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from war torn Kentucky to the idyllic fields of England.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Kentucky, but Julienne is determined to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father. Now a orphan, she joins a ring of Confederate agents, and buries her pain in daring escapades. She meets Alexander Caulfield, a charming British ex-pat who is secretly employed by the Union Secret Service. Giving her heart to him is not easy, and when Julienne's contact is apprehended, she fears Alex's love for her will falter in the face of her crimes. Now she has to stay one step ahead of her husband and keep the death bed promise she made to her father all while convincing herself that she no longer loves Alex.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is complete at 102,500 words and stands alone. I chose to query you because you represent this totally awesome author that I love. I am currently employed by the (redacted) and have a degree in historic preservation from (you get the point). Thank you in advance for your consideration.

So am I on the right track? Should I use this format and put in more details? Did I screw up by dropping the original intro (because it seems that most of you like that)? The new format seems kind of vague to me. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby michelleimason » 14 Jun 2011, 12:00

I'm coming at this without reading the earlier versions to give you a fresh eye. So, without having read the previous, I think you are on the right track with this format. You don't want to give too much away in the query - just enough to get them interested and want to read more. That being said, I do have a few questions.

When nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton decided to avenge her father’s murder, she did not count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from war torn Kentucky to the idyllic fields of England. This sentence is a little long. I think you should either break it up or simplify in. In particular, the last phrase is what throws me off, especially since there's no mention of going off to England below.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Kentucky, but Julienne is determined to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kills her father. Now an orphan, she joins a ring of Confederate agents, and buries her pain in daring escapades. She meets Alexander Caulfield, a charming British ex-pat who is secretly employed by the Union Secret Service. Does she know that when she meets him? The way it's phrased implies that she does, so you probably just need to rephrase if she doesn't. Giving her heart to him is not easy, and when Julienne's contact is apprehended, she fears Alex's love for her will falter in the face of her crimes. Did the contact turn her in? Also, I'm still getting the impression she does know his loyalties, in which case I'm surprised she's with him. Now she has to stay one step ahead of her husband (didn't mention they got married) and keep the death bed promise she made to her father, all while convincing herself that she no longer loves Alex.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is complete at 102,500 words and stands alone. I chose to query you because you represent this totally awesome author that I love. I am currently employed by the (redacted) and have a degree in historic preservation from (you get the point). Thank you in advance for your consideration.

The main thing that confused me is whether she knows Alex works for the Union or not. Is the idea that they're secret agents on opposite sides and neither knows the other works for the opposition? If they get married, it seems he'd know about her families loyalties. Then she seems worried about him finding out what she's done, but what specifically are the crimes? And how does she end up in England? What does the death-bed promise entail? These are just a few questions that occurred to me. But it definitely sounds interesting. Good luck!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 14 Jun 2011, 14:03

Thank you for your comments, Michelle. I have tried to incorporate more details (without going overboard) to answer some of the questions you had.

When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decided to avenge her father’s murder, she did not count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from war torn Kentucky to the idyllic fields of England.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Kentucky. But Julienne Dalton is determined to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father. As the sole owner of her family’s ruined horse farm, she made a promise to restore the business, but her desire for revenge burns brighter. She joins a ring of Confederate agents, and buries her pain in daring escapades. She meets Alexander Caulfield, a British businessman who wins her over with his charm. Giving her heart to him is not easy, but his persistence pays off, and Julienne marries him despite their short courtship. When a fellow contact is apprehended, she discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union. Fearing that she'll be betrayed and her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, Julienne flees Kentucky and settles in a small English village. There she must learn to forget Alex—a task much harder than she ever anticipated.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is complete at 102,500 words and stands alone. I chose to query you because you represent this totally awesome author that I love. I am currently employed by the (redacted) and have a degree in historic preservation from (you get the point). Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and patience. I'm surprised I haven't been pelted with rotten tomatoes yet!
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on 15 Jun 2011, 08:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby michelleimason » 15 Jun 2011, 07:38

That definitely clears up my questions. The only thing I noticed in this one is that you can drop "his" before "Alex's business." Just a side note, doesn't it bother her that her husband works for the Union, or is she only after the renegade band that killed her father?

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 15 Jun 2011, 08:39

michelleimason wrote:That definitely clears up my questions. The only thing I noticed in this one is that you can drop "his" before "Alex's business." Just a side note, doesn't it bother her that her husband works for the Union, or is she only after the renegade band that killed her father?


Thanks Michelle! Yes, it does bother her that her husband works for the Union. She's not interested in taking down the band of troops specifically. She just wants to do her part to help the Confederacy win. In her mind, that is retribution.

Generally speaking, she believes that Alex betrayed her by not telling her about his affliation, and if he's capable of lying about that, wouldn't he be capable of turning her in to the authorities? So that is why she leaves him.

What the reader knows, however, is that Alex threatens to kill the apprehended contact if he ever tells anyone else about Julienne's involvement in the spy ring. He knows, of course, that if anyone found out, that he would be responsible for turning her over to the authorities, which he doesn't want.

Thanks again for your comments!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby wilderness » 20 Jun 2011, 21:02

oldhousejunkie wrote:Thanks to everyone for your comments and patience. I'm surprised I haven't been pelted with rotten tomatoes yet!

Your persistence will pay off in the end! :)

oldhousejunkie wrote: Fearing that she'll be betrayed and her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, Julienne flees Kentucky and settles in a small English village.


I think this sentence is great; it explains Julienne's motivations so much better than the previous version.

As with previous versions, I like your straight-forward writing style, but ultimately I feel we are missing the details about Julienne and Alex that make them stand out. I think it would be nice if you instilled your query with Julienne's voice and thoughts. Let us get to know her a bit. Is she plucky, willful, funny, stubborn, pragmatic, flaky, etc ?

Also, I went back and viewed your previous thread. One detail that stood out to me was that Julienne had masqueraded as a man while working for the Confederacy. I thought that was a fun detail that you might still include.

Just one opinion of course. Hope it helps ;)

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 21 Jun 2011, 17:05

Thanks Wilderness! I was hoping you would comment on this new version, and in fact, you echo the same sentiments my writing partner had. I am having an extremely difficult time conveying the essence of the characters. I guess I take for granted that the actions described throughout the query indicate character traits. For instance, Julienne is trying to restore her family's farm (determination), seeking revenge for her father's murder (audacious/stubborn), and eventually falling in love (vulnerability). But perhaps I need to just come out and say it? I think Alex's character suffers the most because I am writing from Julienne's perspective.

To answer your question--I actually took the part out about her masquerading as a man. That whole plot trail changed!

It's so frustrating!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 23 Jun 2011, 14:48

Ok, I've worked this over a little more. See what you all think. As always, thank you for your comments, help, and patience!

When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decides to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father, she doesn’t count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from the war torn landscape of Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Frankfort, Kentucky. Julienne Dalton’s desperate need for revenge burns bright, overshadowing her determined attempts to restore her family’s ruined horse farm. It was her father’s last wish, but carrying out her promise cannot assuage the pain of his murder. When Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she becomes a courier for a ring of Confederate agents.

Risking her life becomes less appealing when Julienne meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. Handsome, worldly, and intelligent, he tenaciously pursues her; she stubbornly resists his charm, unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt. But a brush with death will send her flying into his arms—and to the altar. When a fellow contact is apprehended, Julienne discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union. Fearing that she'll be betrayed and her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, she flees Kentucky. Settling in a small English village, Julienne must forget Alex if she wants to survive, but the task may be much harder than she ever anticipated.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction of 100,000 words. I work for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and author Caroline Wilson Writes, a blog about writing, researching, and all things historical. I chose to query you because (insert personalized info.) I appreciate your time and consideration.

I broke it into four paragraphs although it is still roughly 280 words. I hope did a little better with Julienne, although I'm still having trouble conveying Alex's character since this in Julienne's POV.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby glj » 23 Jun 2011, 19:59

Hi Caroline. This is steadily improving. Comments and suggestions below.

When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decides to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father, she doesn’t count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from the war torn landscape of Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England. This last part seems unnecessary, and jumps ahead in the story. It is better shown below, so I would suggest that you cut it.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Frankfort, Kentucky. Julienne Dalton’s desperate need for revenge burns bright, overshadowing her determined attempts to restore her family’s ruined horse farm. Seems like this needs something along the lines of "after her father is killed by Union scouts/thieves/spies" or something, so that Julienne has motivation to help the Confederacy (and doesn't come across as helping the Confederacy for the wrong reasons). It was her father’s last wish, but carrying out her promise cannot assuage the pain of his murder. When Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she becomes a courier for a ring of Confederate agents.

Risking her life becomes less appealing when Julienne meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. Handsome, worldly, and intelligent, he tenaciously pursues her;. She stubbornly resists his charm, unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt. But a brush with death will send sends her flying into his arms—and to the altar. When a fellow contact is apprehended, Julienne discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union. That he works for the Union is kinda implicit here. Fearing that she'll be betrayed, and that her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, she flees Kentucky. Settling in a small English village, Julienne must forget Alex if she wants to survive, but the task may be much harder than she ever anticipated--she is pregnant.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction of 100,000 words. I work for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and author Caroline Wilson Writes, a blog about writing, researching, and all things historical at "author Caroline Wilson Writes". I chose to query you because (insert personalized info.) I appreciate your time and consideration.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 24 Jun 2011, 08:40

Glj—

This first paragraph was serving as my log line, so that’s why I mentioned going to England, etc. I have three options: Leave it vague, expound upon it, or drop it altogether. I chose the log line method after reading an article on Agent Query, but now that I think about it, it seems that a lot of people aren’t doing that anymore.


(Option 1)
When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decides to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father, she doesn’t count on falling in love with the enemy.

(Option 2)
After her father is killed by renegade Union soldiers in 1862, Julienne Dalton wants vengeance, but she doesn't expect that her journey will take her from the war torn landscape of Frankfort, Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England, or that she will fall in love with the enemy.
(As provided by one of faithful blog readers)


Loyalties are divided in 1862 Frankfort, Kentucky, and (the previous line would be dropped if I went with a log line intro and the query would start here) Julienne Dalton is desperate for revenge after a band of Union soldiers murder her father. Though she throws herself into restoring her family’s ruined horse farm, her determination cannot assuage the pain of his death. When Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she eagerly joins a ring of Confederate agents.

While serving as a courier slakes her thirst for revenge, risking her life becomes less appealing when Julienne meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. Handsome, worldly, and rebellious, he tenaciously pursues her. She stubbornly resists his charm, unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt. But a brush with death sends her flying into his arms—and to the altar. When a fellow contact is apprehended, Julienne discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies. Fearing she'll be betrayed, and that her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, she flees Kentucky. Settling in a small English village, Julienne must forget Alex if she wants to survive, but the task may be much harder than she ever anticipated—she carries his child. (Or “…she ever anticipated as she now carries his child.”)
(Should I drop that bomb? And if I do, I thought it should be more dramatic, thus the re-wording.)

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction of 100,000 words. I work for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and author a blog about writing, researching, and all things historical at "author Caroline Wilson Writes". I chose to query you because (insert personalized info.) I appreciate your time and consideration.

Thanks again! I really value your comments.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby glj » 24 Jun 2011, 15:16

This first paragraph was serving as my log line, so that’s why I mentioned going to England, etc. I have three options: Leave it vague, expound upon it, or drop it altogether. I chose the log line method after reading an article on Agent Query, but now that I think about it, it seems that a lot of people aren’t doing that anymore.

(Option 1)
When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decides to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father, she doesn’t count on falling in love with the enemy.

(Option 2)
After her father is killed by renegade Union soldiers in 1862, Julienne Dalton wants vengeance, but she doesn't expect that her journey will take her from the war torn landscape of Frankfort, Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England, or that she will fall in love with the enemy.
(As provided by one of faithful blog readers)


One of the hardest things I have found about trying to be a writer is knowing which advice to heed and which to ignore. In doing research, I have found a wide range of opinions, advice, and rules, and often the advice is conflicting.

Ultimately, the format of the query is your choice. Some agents like loglines and others don't.

The reason I called your attention to it is that several agents who dislike them point to the fact that a one-sentence description of the story essentially gives the same information (but much more sparingly) than the rest of the query. So essentially a query with a logline tells the story twice. And reveals the beginning and ending, then the rest of the query does it again. So it can present an awkward time warp.

I don't know if it can be constructed to avoid this trap. I guess my basic advice would be to research each agent and try to find out if they like or dislike loglines, and have more than one version of your query. However, many agents do not reveal this, so a large percentage of queries will be shots in the dark.


Yes, I think you should drop that bomb. Or some bomb, at least, so that the reader is left wanting more. If you end with Julienne trying to get over Alex, well, that is not very compelling. At least, not to me. But with her being pregnant (and you might even want to create an issue of there being two or more possible fathers), there is an explosive event coming soon. The reader will implicitly understand that when the baby arrives, Julienne has a lot of 'splainin' to do!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby wilderness » 25 Jun 2011, 15:28

oldhousejunkie wrote: I guess I take for granted that the actions described throughout the query indicate character traits. For instance, Julienne is trying to restore her family's farm (determination), seeking revenge for her father's murder (audacious/stubborn), and eventually falling in love (vulnerability). But perhaps I need to just come out and say it? I think Alex's character suffers the most because I am writing from Julienne's perspective.


Hello again! Actually, I agree that you have conveyed some character traits via Julienne's action. And, no, I don't think you should just come out and say that she is stubborn, etc. What I really meant is that I think you should try to instill your query with that elusive thing called "voice."

It's so hard to do. I'm struggling with it in my manuscript, and it's even harder to do in a query. One technique you might try is to initially write your query in first person to get that voice in there, and then change it back to third person.

Hope these quotes and links help:

Nathan Bransford wrote:Especially for fiction I highly recommend that you try as much as possible to write the query so that it embodies the spirit of your project. If your book is funny, write a funny a query. If your book is written with beautiful lyrical prose, write your query accordingly. An agent is looking at your query to determine whether they want to read more and whether they think you can write professionally.

How To Write A Query Letter
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08 ... etter.html


Some query letters that I think have voice:
http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2010/01/ga ... etter.html
http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2010/08/172-ftw.html
(Okay, so these are easier to do with comedic writing)

Blogs:
http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2011/0 ... ripts.html
http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... voice.html

===================

PS: I do think the content/plot details in your latest version are really good. I like that you focus on her time before she moves to England. Good luck!

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Postby oldhousejunkie » 29 Jun 2011, 13:19

Thanks Wilderness! Those links were excellent. After cogitating over the advice in them, I put together this. I think it shows a bit more of Julienne's voice. I think it's hard to capture: she's a southern belle with proper manners, but she also has a slight sarcastic edge to her. She is unique in her society and it is hard to get that across (for me at least) without losing the feel that the query needs since it is a historical fiction.

As a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night, nineteen year old Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, while her father lies dead at her feet. She will settle for nothing less than revenge, but Julienne is frustrated by the Union enemy that surrounds her. Their presence is a constant reminder of what she has lost, making her stubborn attempts to restore the family’s ruined horse farm seem futile.

With a battle brewing just miles from the city, Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements. Proving herself useful as a spy, she doesn’t think twice before accepting an offer to join a ring of Rebel agents. Julienne begins to regret her decision when she meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. She is enamoured by his rebellious attitude towards society, and his charming attentions begin to win her over. But Julienne is unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt. When a brush with death shakes her to the core, she flies into his arms—and to the altar only to discover that Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies. Fearing her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, Julienne flees Kentucky and settles in a secluded English village. She tries to forget Alex, but this task proves more difficult than she ever imagined—she is with child and must protect her secret at all costs.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction and is complete at 99,000 words. I chose to query you because [personalized details and my information.] Thank you your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Me
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on 01 Jul 2011, 07:50, edited 6 times in total.


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