Meant To Be---another new version

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Re: Hybrid of earlier queries---Meant To Be---Comm. Fic

Post by Quill » August 29th, 2010, 5:41 pm

cheekychook wrote: Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he’s always thought of himself as a bit of a dork. He loves teaching literature at his alma mater, NYU, and his favorite escape is reading. His wife, Justine, is beautiful and brilliant, the kind of woman most men only dream of having, but she’s obsessed with success. When Justine insists they move to Highland Park, New Jersey so she can oversee her new women’s spa, he reluctantly agrees, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.
"Daniel reluctantly agrees" instead of "he reluctantly agrees"?
Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception. Frank only wants what he can’t have, and since he already has her, his interests lie elsewhere. She compensates for his emotional distance by indulging her two passions, drawing and cooking.
Indulging in drawing and cooking, if anything, seems too healthy a response. Not doing them to excess, not getting overweight cooking or neglecting her job with the drawing, this minor point detracts from the drama of her predicament. Don't know if anything can be done about this. It just doesn't seem that cooking and drawing instead of intimacy is suffering too much.
When the two couples meet as neighbors they become fast friends. While Frank and Justine spend hours discussing the stock market, Daniel and Marienne share a penchant for good books, bad movies and homemade brownies.

Daniel and Marienne soon discover they have more significant connections. An intoxicating attraction builds between them, but before either of them gives in to temptation, Marienne learns she’s pregnant.
Good. I keep wondering if these two paras should be combined, and then I wonder if the second should be combined with the next one below. Basically it reads okay, though.
She’s excited, but worried she’ll be a horrible mother, like her own. Frank is turned off by her changing body and spends even less time at home. Justine is repulsed by the realities of pregnancy and decides motherhood isn’t for her. Daniel finds himself even more drawn to Marienne and realizes how desperately he wants children of his own.
Good. My only quibble would be about Justine. As written it almost sounds like she's pregnant, too. Any way to make that clearer by saying "...realities of Marienne's pregnancy..." or "...is repulsed by seeing the realities of..."
As their marriages unravel, Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another.
Seems they are already gravitatin'. How about saying, "...one another even more."
Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their minds. Even when events conspire to make them available, they struggle, terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they’re truly Meant To Be.
Good job on the pesky last line. Suggestions:

1. Comma after "depend on" so it doesn't sound like they are depending on on the friendship to discover if they're meant to be.

2. Not sure about capitalizing Meant To Be. Just don't know.
MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
Nice. A very solid query.

If there's anything but a nitpick here or there, it might be that these folks seem a bit too well adjusted to the limitations of their marriages. Not as much angst there as there could be, which tends to lessen the drama. If you don't get a stellar response from this well-written letter, you might try amping up the angst, if possible. Otherwise, great job, and don't let my comments to tweak this or that throw you.

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Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 11th, 2010, 3:57 pm

Okay folks, I've been on the query-go-round for a little over a month now with mixed results. I got 2 partial requests and 1 full request---which turned into a partial rejection and a full rejection and one still pending. And I've accumulated a bunch of rejections. I still have about 15 out that I am waiting to hear from, too. I have been using the version that you can find above---the most recently updated one.

While I'm waiting for responses I've been researching other agents and I have a list of several who have different requirements for a query letter---they specify that they want to see a logline type first sentence, a hook, a single line that tells them what the book is about....then they want ONE PARAGRAPH about the book...then they want to know the details (word count, genre) and WHERE IT WOULD FIT IN THE MARKETPLACE (including comparisons to other authors or a description of who will buy/read the book).

I'm not kidding. There are agents who are that specific as to what they want. So here's my attempt at "that version" of a query. Comments please. Those who know me know I prefer the longer, more detailed stuff---but if this is what they want, this is what I'll have to give them...or something similar to this if you all tell me this particular one sucks.

Thanks in advance for the input---please keep the guidelines (above) that I am trying to conform to in mind.

Dear Secret-agent-man/woman,

Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced for years---Daniel’s divorce, Marienne’s widowhood, the challenge of single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Their camaraderie fills the voids in each of their lives. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Even when events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle, terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they are truly meant to be.

MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 106,000 words. It will appeal to Twi-Moms who yearn for a more adult, all-human romantic tale, and fans of Nicholas Sparks who appreciate hearing a love story told, in part, through a man's point of view.

I have (personal credentials worth mentioning to those who ASK for a bio line). I've chosen to query you because I thought you might appreciate a character-driven story with an unconventional tale of friendship and a strong romantic arc (or other miscellaneous personalization depending on who the agent is).
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by androidblues » October 11th, 2010, 4:58 pm

I don't know much about this type of query. I don't like them, but I like your previous query. Maybe drop the line referring to twi-moms or Nicholas Sparks and pick someone more obscure? Some agents don't like comparisons to New York Times Best Selling Authors.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 11th, 2010, 5:10 pm

androidblues wrote:I don't know much about this type of query. I don't like them, but I like your previous query. Maybe drop the line referring to twi-moms or Nicholas Sparks and pick someone more obscure? Some agents don't like comparisons to New York Times Best Selling Authors.
I don't like this kind of query either, as I said, I have multiple agents on my list who specify that this is the breakdown of what they want in a query.

Notice I am not comparing myself to either Stephanie Meyer or Nicholas Sparks...I am saying adult women who enjoy both of those author's types of stories might also find my novel appealing. Naming obscure authors does no good because if the agent doesn't know who the author is it tells them nothing about the product placement for your book. I would never directly compare myself to another author anyway. However, Twi-moms who like a drawn out love story filled with denial and yearning, and people who like to hear a love story told from the male pov will probably enjoy my novel. Basically I'm trying to use their demand (compare to someone I know of so I know what you've written) to get across something relevant about my book. No idea if it'll work or not.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by JMB » October 11th, 2010, 5:17 pm

What is a Tri-Mom? I;ve never heard that expression?

By the way, I did one of these for my contemporary YA and I found it very therapeutic. It landed a request for a full, followed by an invitation to Revise and Resubmit, which I am working on now.

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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 11th, 2010, 6:55 pm

JMB wrote:What is a Tri-Mom? I;ve never heard that expression?

By the way, I did one of these for my contemporary YA and I found it very therapeutic. It landed a request for a full, followed by an invitation to Revise and Resubmit, which I am working on now.
Twi-moms are the women who don't generally read young adult fiction but managed to get obsessively sucked into the the love story of Twilight. It's an enormous market of female readers and the most common complaint among them is that the books, while enjoyable as a light love story, did a tremendous build-up of sexual tension with a very minimalistic payoff at the *cough* climax. That's what happens when women with adult expectations read young adult books (although many YA novels go into much greater detail than Ms. Meyers chose to). Regardless, that's why I use the example of the audience---and why I point out that my audience is among those women who were left wanting "more" in that aspect of the story.

Kudos to you for finding anything therapeutic about the querying process---it has been the opposite of therapeutic for me from the first time I thought the word query in my head.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by Quill » October 11th, 2010, 8:23 pm

cheekychook wrote:
Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced for years---Daniel’s divorce, Marienne’s widowhood, the challenge of single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss.
Not sure we need names. Or quite so many words.

"Their friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced---his divorce, her widowhood and single parenting---now each secretly wonders if it could survive a first kiss."

~or

"Their friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced. Now each secretly wonders if it could survive a first kiss."

I've streamlined the next paragraph in a cutthroat manner, which may give you some ideas for how to do it more gracefully..

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner's career-obsessed wife's moves them to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design work but not her growing isolation created by her husband’s indifference. Sparking a powerful bond between them is a penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies. Passion simmers. They resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle in another way, terrified now to risk their friendship to find out if they are truly meant to be.

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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 12th, 2010, 12:49 am

Hmmmm....so few words, so many choices. I like choices, but I prefer them at a buffet. Why does it always come back to food with me? Should I be concerned? I think after I post this I'll have a snack and mull it over...

Thanks for the suggestions, Quill---I tried to split the difference with this attempt---how's this:

Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced---his divorce, her widowhood, single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle with different issues, terrified to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be.

I'm still not sure about the "they struggle" clause in the last sentence....and I'm still debating the "his divorce, her widowhood, single parenting" specification in the first sentence (leave it in, or take it out...). I deleted the camaraderie line because that's redundant to the first sentence info.

Opinions anyone??
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by ABFTomioka » October 12th, 2010, 2:20 am

Hello!
First of all, I LOVE the premise of this book. The characters sound great and they have a beautiful story to tell, one that many of us can relate to, I think. Also I like how short and to-the-point your query is. It gives all the information we need in a clear way that also hints at the story's progression. Great stuff! I have only a few grammar suggestions:

Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced---his divorce, her widowhood, single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss. This is WONDERFUL!!! It sets up the conflict right away!

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job but must contend with a growing sense of isolation and her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Maybe here you might add a sentance about how they support one another in the life difficulties (divorce, widowhood, parenting, etc) that you mention in the hook. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. I like the idea in this sentance, but it reads a bit awkwardly...maybe "giving in to their desires only within the bounderies of imagination," or something like that. When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle with different issues, terrified to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be. I'd try something more like this... "When unrelated events leave them both single, they struggle with the most terrifying question of all - whether to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be."

This looks like a fantastic query and a really wonderful book. Best of luck with everything!

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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 12th, 2010, 7:23 pm

Thanks for the kind words ABFTomioka, and for the suggestions.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by Quill » October 12th, 2010, 8:01 pm

cheekychook wrote:
Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced---his divorce, her widowhood, single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle with different issues, terrified to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be.
Both the tagline and paragraph are improved. Not saying they couldn't be honed further, but I can't think how. They are fully acceptable.

Nitpicks:

How about remove comma after "brownies".

Why not "her widowhood and single parenting" to eliminate a comma and make it clear that it is her child/situation.

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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by Down the well » October 13th, 2010, 10:48 am

Hi Cheekychook,

I don't read a ton of women's fiction, but that won't stop me from giving a few suggestions. :)
cheekychook wrote:Daniel and Marienne’s friendship has helped them weather every hardship they’ve faced---his divorce, her widowhood, single parenting---now they’re both secretly wondering if it could survive a first kiss.
Just a suggestion, but what about this:

Daniel and Marienne's friendship helped them weather the hardships they've faced -- his divorce, the death of her husband, and the difficulty of single parenthood -- and now they both secretly wonder if their relationship could survive a first kiss.

cheekychook wrote:Twi-moms are the women who don't generally read young adult fiction but managed to get obsessively sucked into the the love story of Twilight. It's an enormous market of female readers and the most common complaint among them is that the books, while enjoyable as a light love story, did a tremendous build-up of sexual tension with a very minimalistic payoff at the *cough* climax. That's what happens when women with adult expectations read young adult books (although many YA novels go into much greater detail than Ms. Meyers chose to). Regardless, that's why I use the example of the audience---and why I point out that my audience is among those women who were left wanting "more" in that aspect of the story.
Based on this quote of yours, and given the fact that many women agents might actually fall into this category, I'm wondering if we couldn't see a little more sex in the query?

cheekychook wrote:When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle with different issues, terrified to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be.

1) Not sure people want to read about resisting the lure. People want to believe they'll get together. I think I would cut that. Maybe: Passion simmers. Hands accidentally touch, eyes connect from across the room, but fear/guilt/whatever won't allow them to give in to the attraction/temptation beyond the seclusion of their own minds. You can write it better than I did, but I think you want to build that sexual tension in your query. If it's in the novel, it should be in the query.

2) Giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Okay, this line right here. Can we see a peek into the fantasies? Does Daniel see Marienne's face when he makes love to his wife? Does she undress him with her eyes when they're in public? That sort of thing? Otherwise, the query is giving off a bit of a platonic feel, IMO.


Please feel free to disregard everything I've just suggested.

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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by cheekychook » October 13th, 2010, 12:10 pm

Downthewell---Thanks for the comments.
While I understand what you’re saying about bringing some more “sex” to the query, I think I need to be very cautious about doing so.

My comparison involving the Twi-moms and their expectations was relating to the overall content of the book as being more mature (it’s not YA) and to the ending being far more, uhh, shall we say satisfying.

The book in itself is not about sex. It’s a relationship story. It’s a love story. It’s about what happens when you’re married to the wrong person when fate finally brings the right one.

The book is largely about resisting the lure between them----they are both married, they do not cheat on their spouses, this is a story about choices and destiny and friendship. The fact that there is amazing heat/chemistry/lust between the characters is just a facet of their complex relationship. They are soulmate level friends and that is the overriding factor for the first 7/8 of the book.

I do not want to give off the impression that my characters are adulterers or are ruled by their attraction---because they’re not. They resist it, at significant personal cost. And when they do indulge the fantasies for a moment it is only in their mind. He doesn’t see her face when he makes love to his wife, he sees it when he’s alone. She doesn’t undress him with her eyes when they’re in public, she imagines he’s there with her when she’s alone.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by androidblues » October 13th, 2010, 12:20 pm

cheekychook, that's really respectable. I hate it when characters are seen as right for having affairs. A simple divorce would solve their problems. I can respect your love story though and I actually think you should leave it the way it is. Those last two sentences are pretty good, you should include them in your query. He doesn’t see her face when he makes love to his wife, he sees it when he’s alone. She doesn’t undress him with her eyes when they’re in public, she imagines he’s there with her when she’s alone. That really brings a depth to their relationship, that's why Nicholas Sparks is so popular. That there is gold. For me at least.
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Re: Meant To Be---Comm. Fic---new "special request" version

Post by Down the well » October 13th, 2010, 2:20 pm

cheekychook wrote:Downthewell---Thanks for the comments.
While I understand what you’re saying about bringing some more “sex” to the query, I think I need to be very cautious about doing so.
Ah, well, it was worth a try. Darn it.

cheekychook wrote:He doesn’t see her face when he makes love to his wife, he sees it when he’s alone. She doesn’t undress him with her eyes when they’re in public, she imagines he’s there with her when she’s alone.
Yes, this. This is showing me something more about their feelings. It's much more intimate than "passion simmers." And if you followed it with a line about how important fidelity is to them then that really creates some tension. EMOTIONAL tension.

Yeah, it's hard to give advice about other people's queries when you haven't read the actual novel, but I think you could delve deeper into those emotions you just showed in your reply. I learned something more about your approach to your story from that, which I'm not sure I was getting before.
cheekychook wrote:When events conspire to leave them both single, they struggle with different issues, terrified to risk their friendship to discover if they are truly meant to be.
The "different issues" part is where I think you could state a little more clearly what those stakes are. Whatever it is they are so afraid of -- guilt, happiness, lonliness, whatever...

Anyway, I know you've had some good results already, so keep on doing what you're doing. It's working.

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