Query: The Enemy Within - Final Take, Page 3

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Query: The Enemy Within - Final Take, Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 28th, 2010, 10:48 am

Okay, I added more into the final paragraph that I hope ties things together a bit better. Comments are welcome and most helpful. Thanks in advance!


Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

It's 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from priviledged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her an orphan. Risking her life to gather information against the enemy, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.

But Julienne's success as a spy makes her a target of the Union Secret Service. Forced into retirement and trapped by the stifling society of Frankfort, Kentucky, boredom turns to interest when a mysterious stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town. Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she hastily marries him, it is only to find out that he's not the businessman he claimed to be. Instead Alex works for the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.

Now Julienne's on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away from the war torn United States. She works to re-build her family's horse stock--and tries to forget about the husband that betrayed her. When Julienne's connection with an English lord goes from friendship to something much more complicated, she must decide if becoming a part of England's glorified aristocracy is worth giving up her dream of returning to Kentucky. And when Alex finally tracks her down, Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards,

OHJ
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on September 8th, 2010, 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by thewhipslip » August 28th, 2010, 11:17 am

I like it.
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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 28th, 2010, 11:20 am

Thanks WhipSlip! I *think* I might have finally hit it. And that's definitely thanks to you. Your edits really helped me focus!

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by chris13 » August 28th, 2010, 4:15 pm

Hi,
Sounds great, and I think agents are looking for historicals for teens. Just a couple of comments, which you probably deal with in the book.... The red(s) are deletes, the blue adds.
Chris

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

It's 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from priviledged privileged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her an orphan. Risking her life to gather information against the enemy, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.

But Julienne's success as a spy makes her a target of the Union Secret Service. Forced into retirement and trapped by the stifling Kentucky society of Frankfort, , boredom turns to interest when a mysterious stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town. Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable. , and But when after she hastily Haste sounds like something undesirable; wonder if the speed of the marriage matters in this query marries him, it is only to she finds out that he's not the businessman he claimed to be. Instead Alex works for the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.

Now Julienne's on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away from the war torn United States. She works to re-build her family's horse stock--and tries to forget about the husband that who betrayed her. When Julienne's connection with an English lord goes from friendship to something much more complicated, she must decide if becoming a part of England's glorified aristocracy is worth giving up her dream of returning to Kentucky. And when Alex finally tracks her down, Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences. How can she become part of the aristocracy (and only by marriage) when she already is married?

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards,

OHJ[/quote]

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by Quill » August 28th, 2010, 5:01 pm

Please don't edit the first post or start new thread for new versions. Simply put the new versions in line in the thread and edit the thread title to say which version is the latest up. That way the comments go with the versions above them, and all is clear for those who wish to follow the progress. Thanks!

(I'm having a devil of a time keeping up, and I'm interested in your query. I was about to comment this morning, and I see that version is gone.)

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by a3writer » August 28th, 2010, 5:50 pm

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

It's 1863 and the Civil War is raging. It might seem like a minor point, but in the idea that less is more, do we need to know the exact year? We know it's the Civil War because in the next sentence you talk about a Southern Bell and Confederate spy, so we know it's the Civil War. Not to mention the Union appearances down below.Nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from priviledged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her an orphanIs a nineteen year-old really an orphan? I would just end after the murder. Risking her life to gather information against the enemy, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.

But Julienne's success Maybe be more specific, what did she do that was the last straw for the Union? as a spy makes her a target of the Union Secret Service. Forced into retirement I don't know why, but this just sounds odd to me. How is a spy forced into retirement? Or do you mean she just has to lay low for now?and trapped by the stifling society of Frankfort, Kentucky, Love this part boredom turns to interest when a mysterious stranger This has almost become cliched. What's so mysterious about him? Why can't he just be charming? , Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town. Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she hastily marries him, it is only to find out that he's not the businessman he claimed to be. Instead Alex works for the Union, and he's been sent to capture her. I'm just not sure about the wording here, and the events. Does he know she's the spy he's looking for? Are they just taken with each other and then a Mr. and Mrs. Smith unfolds? I guess I'm just not sure why the pretense of marriage. Why doesn't he capture or kill her outright?

Now Julienne's on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away from the war torn United States. She works to re-build her family's horse stock--and tries to forget about the husband that betrayed her. When Julienne's connection with an English lord goes from friendship to something much more complicated, she must decide if becoming a part of England's glorified aristocracy is worth giving up her dream of returning to Kentucky. And when Alex finally tracks her down, Why is he tracking her down? Surely half a world away she's no longer a threat to the Union. Shouldn't he be spending his time spying on the Confederacy or tracking down other, active, spies? There has to be more reason to it than Julienne used to be a Confederate spy. Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences Like what? What's at stake here? Be specific..

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon. The reality is, you may not hear from them. More and more agents are doing "no response means no" and quite a few don't like it when you assume that the agent must respond.

Best Regards,

This sounds pretty darn interesting. The only thing I'm a little concerned about is that it seems like these are mini novels, and everything is episodic. Spying on the Union. Stop. In Kentucky and marry Alex. Stop. Life in England. Stop. I don't know if the novel is that way, but that's a sense I'm getting from the query.

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by thewhipslip » August 28th, 2010, 7:03 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:Thanks WhipSlip! I *think* I might have finally hit it. And that's definitely thanks to you. Your edits really helped me focus!

Let me know if you ever need a beta. Sounds like an interesting story.
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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by Quill » August 28th, 2010, 8:23 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote: It's 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from priviledged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her an orphan. Risking her life to gather information against the enemy, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.
This opening paragraph is much improved, is packed with info, and gets things off to a fast start.
But Julienne's success as a spy makes her a target of the Union Secret Service.
Omit "But" as unneeded.
Forced into retirement
Awkward. Odd words "forced" (by whom, or what? Forced by the USS? How? Does the Russian KGB force American spies to retire? How does the enemy force this?) and retirement (from spying? It's unclear. A 19-yr-old retiring? Retirement has such a connotation to age 65 and a regular job).
and trapped by the stifling society of Frankfort, Kentucky,
You might be compressing things too much in this paragraph. Does the Secret Service force her to live in Frankfort?

And is she literally trapped, or is she feeling trapped?

Trapped by the society? Or trapped in the society?
boredom turns to interest when a mysterious stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town.
Good, but the compression of three things in one sentence is stretching the sense of it. Forced to retire and trapped in the town where she retires, boredom turns to interest. You are saying the boredom is forced and the boredom is trapped.
Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she hastily marries him, it is only to find out that he's not the businessman he claimed to be. Instead Alex works for the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.
Again, I'm liking the plot, and God knows I love a good Civil War yarn, but it stretches credulity for me that he would wait, let alone legally tie the knot, if his only mission is to haul her in. And if he knows where she is to find her to begin with, why do not the government send a large party to arrest her? Isn't Kentucky a border state, chiefly in Union hands by 1863?
Now Julienne's on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away
Good.
from the war torn United States.
This can be omitted, which will improve the sentence.
She works to re-build her family's horse stock--
HOW?? Did she bring some horses with her on the ship? Some vials of semen?
and tries to forget about the husband that betrayed her.
Husband who betrayed her.
When Julienne's connection with an English lord goes from friendship to something much more complicated,
Omit "much". Better yet, find a more specific way to say "something" and "complicated".
she must decide if becoming a part of England's glorified aristocracy is worth giving up her dream of returning to Kentucky.
This is good. Not sure about "glorified" though.
And when Alex finally tracks her down,
It is unclear whether Alex is tracking her down because his government has the money and determination to chase a young female ex-Confederate-spy across the Atlantic, which seems hard to believe, or because he wants his wife, which would be interesting, but we have no prelude to any such feelings on his part. Please clarify.
Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences.
Good!
THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards,
I'm sold on the story! But not on the query. Doesn't seem like there's a lot to clean up, some small sentence structure things and some clarifications. Good luck with the project!

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 29th, 2010, 1:08 am

Thanks Quill! I appreciate the comments, and I want to integrate them. You raise a lot of questions, things that I myself would think if I was reading this query, but I hesitated to tackle for fear that things would blow of out of control again. Let me see what I can do, and I will post again tomorrow...or rather later today. :-)

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by TessB » August 29th, 2010, 5:16 am

HI I've added a few edits ( am new to the system) The story sound great - I'm not too sure about the horse fram dream getting two mentions. If it is that important maybe tell us why? - Just a thought. The last sentence is stellar - I would keep that for sure. It looks like you're whipping this into shape - good job. Tess

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

It's 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from priviledged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her an orphan. She risks her life to gather information against the enemy, her only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.

ButJulienne's success as a spy makes her a target of the Union Secret Service. Forced into retirement should this be hiding? and she feels trapped by the stifling society of Frankfort, Kentucky, boredom turns to interest when a mysterious stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town. Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she hastily marries him, it is only to find out thatshe'sdiscovers he is not the businessman he claimed to be. Instead Alex works for the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.

Now Julienne's on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away from the war torn United States. She works to re-build her family's horse stock--and tries to forget about the husband that betrayed her. When Julienne's connection with an English lord goes from friendship to something much more complicated, she must decide if becoming a part of England's glorified aristocracy is worth giving upsacrificing her dream of returning to Kentucky. And when When Alex finally tracks her down, Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards,

OHJ[/quote][/quote]

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 29th, 2010, 12:44 pm

I finally caught up on all of the replies from yesterday, and thought I would answer some of the questions that were posed. Perhaps you all can help me get the important parts into the query. There are a lot of missing pieces that tie many of the events mentioned in the query together.

Why Frankfort?The book is set in Frankfort, Kentucky, from the start. It's where Julienne was born and raised. Her family's horse farm is located about 20 miles outside of the city, but they have a strong connection to Frankfort because her father sits in the House of Representatives--or did until the war started and he resigns because he was a Southern sympathizer. (Kentucky was tried to be neutral originally, but they ended up siding with the Union)

How does Alex not know that he's marrying the person he's out to capture?After Julienne starts spying, she actually adopts a male alias to protect herself and the few friends she has left. But her main motive is that she wants to be able restore the family's horse farm to its former prominence once the war is over, and so it's important that no one knows she spying. (And Quill, yes, Kentucky was tied down by the Union by 1863. But being a border state, there was a lot of guerilla warfare going on, as is mentioned in the plot. There were a lot of Confederate sympathizers because of the slavery issue--not so much that they felt it was right, but because their economic livelihood would be destroyed.)

Is the novel episodic? No, not really. I think the query is making it sound that way. And I have no clue how to fix that without turning 250 words into 500 words.

Why is the whole restoring the horse farm idea so important? Julienne feels like it's her duty to her father. He taught her from a young age how to manage the farm, and so it's very important to her to keep their legacy alive. When she goes to England, she starts buying up horse stock to take back with her (and no, Quill, she doesn't take a vial of horse semen..LOL). It's always her intention to go back to the States.

What about the English lord? How can she marry him while she's married to someone else? Well, it would be very easy for her to marry someone else. She was married in the States, so she could have easily married the English lord and moved on. Historically, bigamy happened a lot more often than we think. But Julienne's not a despicable character. After she confesses her past to the English lord, he starts pushing her to pursue an anulment on the grounds that Alex did not tell her who he really was (an English viscount and heir to a large fortune). Of course, Alex could also sue for an anulment because Julienne abandoned him. Abandonment and false identity were both legitimate reasons for pursuing an anulment in the 19th century.

Ok, and now I'm going back to the drawing board to incorporate some of the comments made. :-)
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on August 29th, 2010, 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by a3writer » August 29th, 2010, 1:15 pm

The explanations are good, but they're also problematic. None of these questions has a quick, easy answer that you can throw into a query. They're major plot points, and the trick is to find a way of incorporating the things you need in there with the things you can readily keep the agent from going "huh?" It's a delicate balance, especially with your book. I don't envy you the task, but hope we can all help you out.

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 29th, 2010, 1:29 pm

Okay...is this any better? I've incorporated some additional information, and interestingly enough, I came in at 240 words. Shocking! Thanks to you all for hanging with me on this. Your comments have been ridiculously beneficial.


Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

With the Civil War raging, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from privileged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her with a thirst for vengeance. Disguised as a man, she risks her life to gather information against the enemy. But secretly, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.

After a daring escapade makes Julienne the target of the Union Secret Service, her superiors order her to remain at home in Frankfort, Kentucky. Feeling trapped by the stifling society there, Julienne receives a reprieve from her boredom when a charming stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town. Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she marries him, it is only to find out that he is employed by the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.

Julienne is on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away. In anticipation of returning to Kentucky, she begins assembling a stable of horses, while trying to forget the husband who betrayed her. When Julienne's friendship with an English lord becomes complicated, she must decide if becoming a part of England's aristocracy is worth sacrificing her dream of returning to Kentucky. When Alex reappears wanting to reconcile, Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences. I don't know if I like the first part of this last line. I was trying to get through that he wants his wife back, and not that he's going to haul her back to the States. Any suggestions?

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction, and is complete at 100,000 words. I appreciate your consideration.

Best Regards,
OHJ

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by Quill » August 29th, 2010, 2:24 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:
With the Civil War raging, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton goes from privileged Southern belle to Confederate spy after her father's murder leaves her with a thirst for vengeance. Disguised as a man, she risks her life to gather information against the enemy. But secretly, Julienne's only consolation is the dream of restoring her father's horse farm once the war is done.
I liked your previous first paragraph way better. The first sentence here wanders and contains too many thoughts. "Disguised as a man" is not salient to the story and adds nothing. Julienne's only consolation is not the dream; you have already demonstrated that the foray into spying functions as consolation as well (presumably, since it answers a thirst for vengeance). And since you haven't said it was the Union army or agents that killed him, we aren't privy to her motive. Finally, the beginning ("With the Civil War raging") and end ("once the war is done") just aren't as crisp, dramatic, or authoritative as before.
After a daring escapade makes Julienne the target of the Union Secret Service, her superiors order her to remain at home in Frankfort, Kentucky. Feeling trapped by the stifling society there,
Okay.
Julienne receives a reprieve from her boredom when a charming stranger, Alexander Caulfield, turns up in town.
Awkward in the word agreements of the sentence: "Feeling trapped, she receives a reprieve", which reads like this: as she feels trapped she gets released. Both can't happen at the same time.

Awkward in the alliteration of "receives" and "reprieve".

Awkward in the image of "receiving a reprieve from boredom" as though boredom is her usual mode of being, to which she will soon return; however, she does get a brief break from it (a reprieve) (when the dude arrives).
Julienne's attraction to him is instant and undeniable, and when she marries him,
This was better before, about doing so "hastily". As it is, it either seems like lots of time has gone by between meeting and marriage, or she's a total airhead who marries anyone she's attracted to. Either way, it's unclear or too compressed, or something.
it is only to find out that he is employed by the Union, and he's been sent to capture her.
"it is only to find out" bespeaks either inaccurate writing or dumbness on her part. Like that is all she finds out, or she marries him for the sole reason of finding out. As written, that's what comes across.

Again, why must/does he marry her instead of simply arresting her on sight?
Julienne is on the run, and when she finally settles, it is in a small English village half a world away.
Good.
In anticipation of returning to Kentucky, she begins assembling a stable of horses,
Whoa, Nellie. How is this young lady financing all this, and from where does she have the business savvy to do this? Was there money still in the family and was she able to get it out of the country? Does she buy land? Hire people? Understand horse buying? The monetary rate of exchange? Not a problem? This all seems a bit pat, a bit easy.
while trying to forget the husband who betrayed her. When Julienne's friendship with an English lord becomes complicated,
Becomes complicated? That's it? Do you mean regarding business transactions regarding the horses? A private banking arrangement? Love? Clue us in.

"Complicated" doesn't even seem like a nineteenth century word, for her to put what happens to her in terms of.
she must decide if becoming a part of England's aristocracy is worth sacrificing her dream of returning to Kentucky.
Why would she even consider becoming part of this? You've made no case for this choice other than the enigmatic word "complicated". I don't feel her pain.
When Alex reappears wanting to reconcile,
This seems out of left field. What, the poor guy is thinking better of his deceitful ploy to marry her to arrest her, and now thinks he loves her? Shoot the bastard.
Julienne's decision sparks deadly consequences.
Hopefully she shoots him and goes back to America. I honestly don't see where any case has been made here for any other choice, or even a moment's thought regarding anything but adhering to her horse farm dream.

I think you might need to up the tension regarding her decision by strengthening some of the other options, if this is the crux of your pitch.

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Re: Query: The Enemy Within (Take 2 or maybe 3)

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 29th, 2010, 2:29 pm

AHHHH Quill!

So apparently I don't know what I'm doing. Could I PM you a synopsis? Maybe you could help me pull out the important points, and how to get things across better.

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