Blessed Assurance

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shalgia
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Blessed Assurance

Post by shalgia » June 16th, 2010, 11:42 am

Tiffany Bowman’s luck in life is next to nil. Coming of age meant running away from home, hanging around the wrong crowd, hustling men and excessive partying. After ducking out on an abusive, drug dealing ex-husband, Tiffany finds herself in a new city with old troubles. Swearing off men and vowing to change her circumstances, Tiffany rolls up her sleeves and focuses on walking the path of the straight and narrow; only to find that it too is a winding road of chaos!

Can a tigress change her stripes? Deception, confusion and manipulation make Tiffany Bowman’s mission as tough as nails to accomplish. Throw in two tall, dark and handsome Adonis’ each with agenda’s of their own, and it becomes next to impossible!

This is the foundation of my newly completed novel, Blessed Assurance, a powerful 75,000 word romantic suspense. Blessed Assurance is a novel of personal growth which will be well received by those who enjoy reading about triumph in the face of adversity.

Set in Boston’s historical Cambridge area, this is not your typical coming of age story. The constant battle between doing the right thing and reverting back to her old ways leaves Tiffany in a tailspin. After a horrific accident, Tiffany firmly takes control of her destiny, emerging as a woman who has found the true meaning of life. Proving once and for all, a Tigress can change her stripes.

Sincerely,
Shalgia

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JustineDell
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Re: Blessed Assurance

Post by JustineDell » June 16th, 2010, 3:39 pm

shalgia wrote:Tiffany Bowman’s luck in life is next to nil. Coming of age meant running away from home, hanging around the wrong crowd, hustling men and excessive partying. After ducking out on an abusive, drug dealing ex-husband, Tiffany finds herself in a new city with old troubles. <--Everything before this arrow is perfect! After that, you get very, very vague in the rest of the query. Swearing off men and vowing to change her circumstances, Tiffany rolls up her sleeves and focuses on walking the path of the straight and narrow; only to find that it too is a winding road of chaos! "Walking the path of straight and narrow" is very cliche and finding that life is a "winding road of chaos" sounds like everyone I know.

Can a tigress change her stripes? <--No offense, but what the heck does this mean? I mean, when I think of tigress I think of two thing: 1. a shapeshifter, or 2. a woman who is strong, independent, and cougar like. Deception, confusion and manipulation <--These three words are WAY vague and full of cliches. They could be anything, and mean anything. Specifics. We want specifics in queries. What is she going through, what does she have to do to overcome it? make Tiffany Bowman’s mission as tough as nails to accomplish. <--tough as nails is cliched.Throw in two tall, dark and handsome Adonis’ <--is this a person's name? each with agenda’s of their own, and it becomes next to impossible! And what "agenda" would said men have? Again, it's vague.

This is the foundation of my newly completed novel, Blessed Assurance, a powerful 75,000 word romantic suspense. <--Just say, BLESSED ASSURANCE (yes, in all caps), a romantic suspense is complete at 75,000 words. Blessed Assurance is a novel of personal growth which will be well received by those who enjoy reading about triumph in the face of adversity. <--DELETE all of this. The agent should be able to tell the theme by reading the query letter itself. Also, this should go at the end of the query (or beginning depending on what the agent prefers). DON'T ever stick it right in the middle.

Set in Boston’s historical Cambridge area, this is not your typical coming of age story. <--If you do a good job on the query, you shouldn't have to say this part. The agent should be able to tell the difference between your story and all the other ones out there. The constant battle between doing the right thing and reverting back to her old ways leaves Tiffany in a tailspin. <--One, by this point we have forgotten what Tiffany's old ways are (that's the first line of the query). Second, tailspin is another cliche. After a horrific accident, Tiffany firmly takes control of her destiny, emerging as a woman who has found the true meaning of life. Proving once and for all, a Tigress can change her stripes. <--Please don't take this the wrong way. I think you need to delete this entire paragraph. If you don't, you need to change the wording, A LOT. These last two lines especially tell us absolutely nothing about this story. It's all VERY vague generalizations and that won't sell a story. I've read a million stories that sound just like this one. That's not a bad thing, but it tells me that your query has no specifics. We need specifics. Then you need to end with a good hook!

Have you seen Nathan's query template? This is what is looks like:

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

Try it with you story. It does wonders, trust me.

Also, this doesn't really seem like a romance. Not only that, I don't see the suspense side, either. Romance is a story about the developing relationship between the H/H. All that other stuff (getting away from her husband, going back home, etc) is second in comparison to the relationship building. Your query focuses more on the Heroine and her vague life instead of the hero/herione and what they have to overcome to be together. Also, you've mentioned 2 men in the story, which I'm assuming are the love interest and 2 hero's don't really fly. Most importantly at the end of the romance, the H/H MUST be together and MUST have a happy ever after.


Sincerely,
Shalgia
I'm sorry if this seemed harsh, but I really don't know what your story is about at this point. I, too, write romance, and I'm not really seeing that shine through in the query.

Good luck on your revisions!

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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fivecats
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Re: Blessed Assurance

Post by fivecats » June 16th, 2010, 6:55 pm

shalgia wrote:Tiffany Bowman’s luck in life is next to nil.
If Tiffany is expecting luck to drive her life, that's part of her problem. It sounds like her story starts when she begins to take responsibility for herself. True?
shalgia wrote:Coming of age
This is a cliché that distances me from the character.
shalgia wrote:meant running away from home, hanging around the wrong crowd, hustling men and excessive partying.
The "hanging around the wrong crowd" and "excessive partying" don't sound like anything Tiffany would say. At the time, Tiffany would say she was "having fun". This sounds more like something a disapproving mother would say.
shalgia wrote:After ducking out on an abusive, drug dealing ex-husband,
I'm not sure "ducking out on" is what you mean here. Tiffany would "duck out on" him if she stole his drugs and money and then left town. Did she do this or did she escape an abusive relationship? Did she realize she needed to get away from the circumstances of her life before they killed her?
shalgia wrote:Tiffany finds herself in a new city with old troubles. Swearing off men and vowing to change her circumstances, Tiffany rolls up her sleeves and focuses on walking the path of the straight and narrow;
"rolls up her sleeves" and "the straight and narrow" are both clichés and diminish all the power of what she's doing.

the semi-colon should be a comma
shalgia wrote:only to find that it too is a winding road of chaos!
"only to find that it, too, is..."
shalgia wrote:Can a tigress change her stripes?
Tigress? Is there something in her story that makes her think of herself as a Tigress? (If so, show it in your query before using the name!)

"change her stripes" is another cliché.
shalgia wrote:Deception, confusion and manipulation make Tiffany Bowman’s mission as tough as nails to accomplish.
What "Deception, confusion and manipulation"? These are exactly the elements you need to have in your query to illuminate Tiffany's story and make the reader care about her.
shalgia wrote:Throw in two tall, dark and handsome Adonis’ each with agenda’s of their own, and it becomes next to impossible!
What are their agendas? How are they in conflict with Tiffany's? And what happened to her resolve to swear off men?
shalgia wrote:This is the foundation of my newly completed novel,
Since we don't query on incomplete manuscripts, delete "newly completed"
shalgia wrote:Blessed Assurance, a powerful 75,000 word romantic suspense.
Take out "powerful". We all want to believe our writing is powerful, but saying so in a query is frowned on by agents

Your query reads like you've written a standard Romance. Where is the Suspense? Suspense implies mystery -- is there a mystery here you haven't told us about?
shalgia wrote:Blessed Assurance is a novel of personal growth which will be well received by those who enjoy reading about triumph in the face of adversity.
All fiction is, essentially, about personal growth. We read fiction to learn how characters face changes, adjust to them and solve the problems that result from mounting
challenges. Saying your novel is "about personal growth" diminishes the power of the story. (Let the readers figure that out. Agents will already know it)

I know you're trying to tell an agent who your target audience is, but this is such a general, vague demographic that I don't think it helps you.
shalgia wrote:Set in Boston’s historical Cambridge area, this is not your typical coming of age story.


Is this a Romance? Suspense Romance? Coming of Age?

I don't understand how "this is not your typical coming of age story". What sets Tiffany's story apart from every other Coming of Age story? Doesn't Coming of Age entail taking responsibility for your life, learning from and turning away from past mistakes and moving on toward adulthood?
shalgia wrote:The constant battle between doing the right thing and reverting back to her old ways leaves Tiffany in a tailspin. After a horrific accident, Tiffany firmly takes control of her destiny,
It seems to me that this is the heart of your story and should be much more prominent in your query. Here, it is almost buried as an afterthought, listed after your word count and genre.

Also, as the heart of the story, you've given us no details. You're telling us what happens in terms so vague that they don't do Tiffany and her story justice!

shalgia wrote:emerging as a woman who has found the true meaning of life.
Another power-draining cliché.

And what is "the true meaning of life"? Are you suggesting there is a single, universal meaning of life or has Tiffany found that which gives her own life meaning?

shalgia wrote:Proving once and for all, a Tigress can change her stripes.
Another power-draining cliché.



Also, the title, "Blessed Assurance" strikes me as having religious and/or Christian overtones. If so, this should be included in your query. (You'll be sending your query to agents who either handle Religious Romance or Standard Romance and they will want to have your genre clearly defined)
______________________________________
Tom M Franklin
Franklin, Ink: Writing about Writing & Reading
http://tommfranklin.blogspot.com/

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Quill
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Re: Blessed Assurance

Post by Quill » June 16th, 2010, 8:12 pm

shalgia wrote:Tiffany Bowman’s luck in life is next to nil. Coming of age meant running away from home, hanging around the wrong crowd, hustling men and excessive partying.
These two sentences do not support each other. It looks like Tiffany has made her own bad 'luck' through her choices, for whatever reasons.

Also, "coming of age" is not a clear term to me. Does it mean turning 18? Turning 21? Simply starting to feel like an adult?

After ducking out on an abusive, drug dealing ex-husband,
Unclear whether this is before or after the hanging, hustling, and partying.
Tiffany finds herself in a new city with old troubles.
I would rather see specifics like "moves to Boston" and "can't stop partying."
Swearing off men and vowing to change her circumstances, Tiffany rolls up her sleeves and focuses on walking the path of the straight and narrow; only to find that it too is a winding road of chaos!
"Swearing off", "rolls up her sleeves", "straight and narrow" and (to a lesser extent) "winding road" are cliches, which are killers when one is trying to sell the originality and sparkliness of one's writing.

The entire sentence is very general when we need to see specifics, examples, and vivid images.
Can a tigress change her stripes?
Rhetorical questions are sometimes frowned on by agents who prefer the direct approach to info-giving.

And, why would a tigress want to change its stripes?
Deception, confusion and manipulation make Tiffany Bowman’s mission
Those general terms ^ would be, again, better illustrated than listed. Otherwise the query, and perception of the story, is generic.
as tough as nails to accomplish.
"Tough as nails" is a cliche.
Throw in two tall, dark and handsome Adonis’ each with agenda’s of their own, and it becomes next to impossible!
"Tall, dark, and handsome" and "next to impossible" are cliches. "Agendas" contains no apostrophe. "Of their own" can be omitted, as it is implied by "each with".
This is the foundation
Not sure foundation is the best word. It is the hook, conflict, and characters we want to see highlighted in a query, not the foundation.
of my newly completed novel,
Better to just say, "complete at 75,000 words" or something to that effect. We do not know it has just been finished.
Blessed Assurance,
BLESSED ASSURANCE,
a powerful 75,000 word romantic suspense.
Better not to editorialize with "powerful"; better to show how powerful it is through your description above.
Blessed Assurance is a novel of personal growth which will be well received by those who enjoy reading about triumph in the face of adversity.
Again, better to show through your description of the story than to tell about your story at the end.
Set in Boston’s historical Cambridge area,
This would be better worked in above.
this is not your typical coming of age story.
Omit, as it is more telling.
The constant battle between doing the right thing and reverting back to her old ways leaves Tiffany in a tailspin.
Omit as already been covered in your description. Better to strengthen your description instead.
After a horrific accident,
This would definitely be a plot point to include in your description above.
Tiffany firmly takes control of her destiny, emerging as a woman who has found the true meaning of life.
Something like this would be a good end line, after your description and before your word count, but without the cliches "takes control of her destiny" and "found the true meaning of life."
Proving once and for all, a Tigress can change her stripes.
I don't think this is an effective tagline. Again, why would a tigress (not capitalized) want to change her stripes? How could a tigress do this even if a tigress wished to?

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wilderness
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Re: Blessed Assurance

Post by wilderness » June 18th, 2010, 1:52 pm

Hi shalgia,

Basically, I have to agree with the others -- I have no idea what your book is really about! This is what I know: Tiffany moves to a new city and she meets two guys. That's pretty much all the detail you have put in. You're going to have to be a lot more specific than that. Throw out all vague sentences and give some specifics.

* What is her goal when moving to the new city? Something more concrete than "walking the straight and narrow".
* What does she do to try to accomplish her goal?
* She meets two men, each with their own agenda. What are their names? Describe the characters. What are their agendas? And what obstacles do they represent?

Hope that helps! There's a story in there somewhere, you just have to describe it!

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