Query: Silent No More

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CraftyCreations
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Query: Silent No More

Post by CraftyCreations » August 24th, 2010, 1:26 am

I am extremely new at this. I couldn't critique a bird on how to fly but I would be VERY grateful for any words of wisdom on what I need to change or take out or whatever.

Thanks so much,
Candy
===================================================================================================================================================
Dear Mr. Agent;

One in three women in the Armed Forces is sexually assaulted or raped by her comrade in arms.

Since 2005 CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS have reported on rape in the military. The Pentagon investigates, unit commanders try to find a way to stop it but more and more victims still report.

I was one of them.

I loved the discipline, my jobs, and the sense of belonging to something bigger than me. I loved the Army and took my oath seriously. I was ready to die for my country.

SILENT NO MORE: A SOLDIER’S STORY OF SURVIVING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA is a 98,000-word memoir of my career in the Army and how it totally ignored my safety and well-being.

My proposal is available at your request.

>Nice words, nice words, nice words<



Sincerely,
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

Hyaline
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by Hyaline » August 24th, 2010, 8:38 am

First off, you deserve huge kudos for your courage in writing about this--hats off to you.

I think the first three short paragraphs are great--I read without stopping through "I was one of them" which was very gripping. Only nitpick would be that The "Pentagon investigates, unit commanders try to find a way to stop it but more and more victims still report" is structured as a run-on--punctuation would resolve the problem if you went with: "The Pentagon investigates and unit commanders try to find a way to stop it, but more and more victims still report" (I might also say report--what? victims report incidents? victims come forward?)

However, I felt that the fourth paragraph was a little weak--it felt a little loose, unmoored; I wasn't sure what it connected to. Can you use it to bring the story full circle? I honestly think you could make this summary longer--usually not the case in query critiques!--but if it helps to flesh out the arc or make this even more compelling, by all means. I keep hearing memoir is hard to sell, so while you've got a great start and clearly have a unique and important story, think about ways to make it stand out and give it even more clarity.

The fifth paragraph does its job--tells us the title and word count in a simple, clear way. However, I'm a little concerned about this last line: "how it totally ignored my safety and well-being." This may be 100% true--I don't know, having not read your story. But it also makes what sounded in the first paragraphs like a personal, insightful, and well-rounded memoir sound more like a diatribe or exposé of the Armed Forces--to be honest, it would make me less inclined to read the book, as I'm far more interested in people's stories and how they overcome than I am in exposés. But this may not be the case for others--it's just my opinion. I guess my advice would be to pick a tone and stay consistent with it--make it match the tenor of the memoir as well as you can.

Thank you for having the courage to share your story--I hope this atrocity will cease to be an issue for future generations of women in the military, and individuals like you who are willing to say something are a huge step toward that. Best of luck.

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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by thewhipslip » August 24th, 2010, 8:41 am

I don't know anything about non-fiction proposals, but just from reading this I understand what the topic of your book is about but not about what's in the book. Beginning, middle, end.
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by Emily J » August 24th, 2010, 8:51 am

I agree with Hyaline that you could actually make this a little longer. It is concise and gets the point across but perhaps a bit more specificity? Where you were stationed, what age you went into the army? These are just suggestions but it reads a bit short to me. However what you have is good.

On a content note, 1 in 3 is an appalling statistic. I think that your story is one that should be told to bring this issue to the forefront.

Best of luck to you and again I agree with Hyaline, that writing this memoir has shown you possess amazing courage and fortitude.

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wilderness
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by wilderness » August 24th, 2010, 12:37 pm

CraftyCreations wrote: Dear Mr. Agent;

One in three women in the Armed Forces is sexually assaulted or raped by her comrade in arms.

Since 2005 CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS have reported on rape in the military. The Pentagon investigates, unit commanders try to find a way to stop it but more and more victims still report.

I was one of them.

I loved the discipline, my jobs, and the sense of belonging to something bigger than me. I loved the Army and took my oath seriously. I was ready to die for my country. OK, so instead of this line, I think you want to make it sound like a story. When did you enter the army, why, where did you go, what were some of your assignments. Maybe have an entire positive paragraph about your positive experiences. Then have another paragraph about what happened and how the Army ignored your safety. Was there some specific act of negligence that led to it?

SILENT NO MORE: A SOLDIER’S STORY OF SURVIVING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA is a 98,000-word memoir of my career in the Armyand how it totally ignored my safety and well-being. I would explain how your safety was compromised above.

My proposal is available at your request. A proposal would indicate you haven't finished it, but you have since it is 98,000 words. In any case, this line is implied. You can simply thank the agent for their time instead.
Just want to echo the others--it's great that you are speaking out about what happened to you.

Hyaline
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by Hyaline » August 24th, 2010, 1:16 pm

Whoops--forgot to mention--I think I've mostly read that, unlike most other forms of nonfiction, you query memoir like you query fiction--that is, unless the agent specifies otherwise, you need a complete manuscript rather than a proposal. Sorry for missing that detail--anyone know anything else about querying memoir?

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wilderness
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by wilderness » August 24th, 2010, 1:20 pm

I was assuming CraftyCreatins had finished it because she gave the word-count.

But yes, as far as I know, a memoir should be shopped like a novel, with the entire thing written before it is queried.

CraftyCreations
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by CraftyCreations » August 24th, 2010, 1:31 pm

Thank you very much for your help. I truly appreciate it. And here I thought it was too long! Good to know that I have a little playing room.

I'll keep the first three paragraphs. (At least the first line of the second one.)

This is background only, I'd like to add it all but it's definitely too long.

I don't know when the first Pentagon investigation started. I think it was after the deaths of Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England (I'm sure there a couple more and I just can't think of them) and the parents raising serious Hades may have started the Pentagon and Congress investigations. The investigation may have started sooner - it's been awhile. They say they investigate but I honestly feel that they find a way to cover things up. Company commanders find ways to punish the victim rather than the perpetrator. My favorite was "willful destruction of government property." One of the women in my group therapy went to the bathroom - roughly 50ft away - she didn't have her weapon. She was raped and her commander threatened her with being out of uniform if she made a report. When I got out in '88 the Army was just starting to have classes on sexual harassment.

In 2000 Congress I know that they changed the Uniform Code of Military Justice on rape. When I was in, the perp may have been reduced in rank, forfeited some money and may have even spent a few months in the brig. NOW, if they're convicted they can face the death penalty and there's no statute of limitations. With no statute of limitations and the introduction of SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Reporting Office) this is a good thing. SAPRO allows victims to make two types of reports. Restricted - nothing is really done but a copy of the report is made. Unrestricted - the military police and unit commanders are allowed to investigate. So if a person (I'm starting to hear of men being raped as well) files a restricted report, they could in essence go ahead and retire from the military and then change the report from restricted to unrestricted and the company would have to investigate. It would make it harder but it could be done. In 2008 there was just over 1700 reports made. In 2009 it just just over 3200 - an increase of 190%, if I did my math right. The Pentagon says that just because there has been an increase in reporting doesn't mean that the number of assaults has increased. Don't you love military thinking?

Don't get me wrong - I loved the Army. I had a blast. I spent 12 years in and I'd go back if they'd let me. The Army isn't all bad. I had a lot of fun, but like any big organization there's a few bad apples. Back when I was in, if a man was facing jail time for whatever reason he was given the choice of going to jail or joining the military. I met quite a few who joined the military. Now supposedly this doesn't happen however, the Army has waivers that they use to let people in. I can't speak for the other branches but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have them as well.

Women make up approximately 15%of the Armed Services. There's just over 2 million people in the military, so roughly 300,000 are women. (3 women for every 20 men)

I joined the Women's Army Corps in 1976. I was 18 and fresh out of high school. I started as a WAC and just before Basic was over Congress got rid of the female services so I became a soldier. Then I was raped a few times while I was in and when I got out and through lots of therapy and medication I became a survivor.

I worked as a pharmacy technician and medical supply sergeant. I loved those jobs. Especially being a medical supply sergeant. I traded small bottles to an air cav unit for rides in helicopters. I traded large bottles of aspirin for learning to drive a tank. I got drunk with a buddy of mine one night and we took a wrong turn and ended up on the live firing range for tanks. I got to see some of the biggest names of the times in concert for free.

wilderness - I was under the impression that nonfiction required a proposal. I've read some agent blogs that say they want proposals while some say that memoir is done exactly like fiction and I don't need a proposal but a finished ms. I'm doing both. My ms is finished but I'm editing it and hopefully making it better. Can't believe I forgot to thank the agent. Smack me with a wet noodle! Thanks for pointing that out.

Again, thanks so much for your help.
Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

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wilderness
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by wilderness » August 24th, 2010, 2:21 pm

I guess it doesn't hurt to have a proposal as well as the completed manuscript (but make it clear that it is completed in the query). Here Miss Snark says memoirs are the exception to the rule about nonfiction books having proposals: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/04/n ... ok-is.html

In any case, when you query, I think the focus should be on YOUR story. After all, it is supposed to be a memoir, not a history of rape in the military. Hope that helps!

CraftyCreations
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by CraftyCreations » August 24th, 2010, 2:31 pm

wilderness wrote:I guess it doesn't hurt to have a proposal as well as the completed manuscript (but make it clear that it is completed in the query). Here Miss Snark says memoirs are the exception to the rule about non-fiction books having proposals: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/04/n ... ok-is.html

In any case, when you query, I think the focus should be on YOUR story. After all, it is supposed to be a memoir, not a history of rape in the military. Hope that helps!

Thanks for the link. I hear so many things that I stay confused. :)

It's definitely not a history of rape in the military. Oddly enough that's really just starting to come to light. The first book that I found that was similar to mine was published in 1998. The author interviewed some women and then based everything on two fictional characters. The next one was in 2002 and the latest is 2009. I've only been able to find 5 books. To me they're like "close but no cigar."

So it would be best to close the query with: Thank you for your time and consideration.? Leave the proposal bit out and just giving the word count would let the agent know that I've finished the ms. Right?

Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

Hyaline
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by Hyaline » August 24th, 2010, 2:36 pm

Agreed with wilderness when it comes to how to submit--can't hurt to have a proposal for those agents who might want it. I also agree that this should be your story, not a history, but--I do think any facts stated in the book should be as well-researched as possible. So, if a certain court case or policy change makes its way into your book, it should be as accurate as possible. Makes you look good :)

I do think that condensing your background info and including that in your query would be a good move--it would flesh out the story and give a better idea of your voice and the tenor of the book.

Best of luck!

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wilderness
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by wilderness » August 24th, 2010, 3:06 pm

CraftyCreations wrote:
So it would be best to close the query with: Thank you for your time and consideration.? Leave the proposal bit out and just giving the word count would let the agent know that I've finished the ms. Right?


Yep that sounds good.

CraftyCreations
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by CraftyCreations » August 24th, 2010, 3:49 pm

Thank you. I'm off to figure out what to put in the other paragraphs.

I make a lot of things with beads and I know that it takes a certain person to buy my stuff. My memoir deals with rape and I have a feeling that it's going to take a certain agent to handle my book.

Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

CraftyCreations
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Re: Query: Silent No More (#2 at the end - post #14 - I hope)

Post by CraftyCreations » October 11th, 2010, 4:20 pm

Dear Agent;

One in three women in the Armed Forces is sexually assaulted or raped by her comrade in arms.

Since 2005 CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS have reported on rape in the military. The Pentagon investigates, unit commanders try to find a way to stop it but more and more victims still come forward.

I was one of them.

At the age of eighteen and fresh out of high school I joined the Women’s Army Corps. I hated Congress’ decision to get rid of the WAC’s and made us a part of the Army. I wasn’t crazy about firing weapons or running but I loved the camaraderie, the work as a legalized drug pusher and supply sergeant and the sense of belonging to something bigger than me. I loved my time in Germany but hated Fort Riley with a passion.

I took my oath seriously but rape changed everything for me. It left me quiet, alone, in fear and angry at myself. No longer did I want to die for country, I just wanted to die. Haunted by the memories I remained silent for over twenty years.

Everyone equates rape with violence, but no one thinks about the coercion and threats. Not necessarily threats of violence, but something as simple as not going before a promotion board, being stuck on guard duty alone in the middle of the night, or desertion. Not all rapes are violent.

SILENT NO MORE: A SOLDIER’S STORY OF SURVIVING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA is a XX,XXX-word memoir of my career in the Army and how I went from victim to survivor.

>Nice words, nice words, nice words<

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hopefully this one is better and I greatly appreciate any comments.

Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

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androidblues
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Re: Query: Silent No More

Post by androidblues » October 11th, 2010, 5:06 pm

Much better. I never knew that sort of stuff happened in the army.
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