REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: REVISION 5 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by Quill » September 1st, 2010, 10:50 pm

danielsmi wrote:REVISION 6

a little slicker

Dear Ms. Agent,

Recipe for Clandestine War

2 secret societies
1 arcane treasure
2 defenseless young holy women
1 Celebrity Chef w/ military experience

Mix the secret societies together then heat to a boil. Add the defenseless holy women and Celebrity Chef. Sprinkle with mayhem and peril. For extra flavor add havoc and spread across at least five North American cities.
What about the "1 arcane treasure"? Drink that while cooking?

#
Celebrity Chef Cameron Kincaid is a former Legionnaire who thought he traded peril for peace by swapping careers.
Still not digging all the word repetition. Your recipe start is cute but needlessly repeats "secret" and "defenseless" and "Celebrity Chef". And now we have a third "Celebrity Chef", plus another "peril".

When the Rex Mundi attempts to assassinate a UN dignitary and her entourage in Cameron’s New York restaurant, he is drawn into an 800 year old clandestine war.
Here we have another "clandestine war".

Typo: 800-year-old
Surviving are a young woman and her escort, members a faith thought exterminated in a 13th century crusade. The continuing goal of the Rex Mundi is to wipe out the Cathari and take their treasure.
Missing word: "of a faith"

Thought by whom to be exterminated?? Not by the RM, obviously, with their continuing goal. These two ideas fail to jive.

Also, why do they need to wipe them out? Why can't they simply take the treasure?

They believe the Cathari treasure can transform the world and that the women know its location.
This is the third "treasure" and fourth if we count the one missing from the recipe.
A race to outrun the Rex Mundi turns into a flight of car chases, shoot outs, and explosions through five northern cities, none safer than the last.
Omit "none safer than the last" as redundant to "flight of car chases, etc" and unneeded.
Relentlessly pursued,
Omit as redundant to "race" and "outrun" and "flight" and "chases".
Cameron commits to protecting the women he did not know hours before.
Time dissonance, unless this five-city chase takes place at warp speed.
Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure is a fast paced
Omit "fast paced" as redundant to "race""outrun" "flight" chases" and "relentlessly pursued".

CAMERON KINCAID AND THE PERFECT TREASURE
CAMERON KINCAID AND THE PERFECT TREASURE
CAMERON KINCAID AND THE PERFECT TREASURE
(ALL CAPS)
75,000 word
75,000-word
75,000-word
75,000-word
(hyphenated)

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: REVISION 5 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 2nd, 2010, 2:04 am

The beginning reads like a gimmick to me, and I don't find myself interested in reading about defenseless, young holy women. It also eats up your word count and it'll be the very first thing they see when they read your email. If they're not hooked by it then you're a goner and they won't even move into reading about your real story. It is an interesting approach, but I'm not sure it'll work for every agent (but then again, what does?).

Your story sounds interesting and I got the Dan Brown thing without you even saying it. However, you lose your MC in the second paragraph until the last sentence. You need to focus less on trying to sell your book to an agent--many agents don't choose to represent you because they can sell your book--they take it on because they love it. You need to make the agent fall in love with your story instead.

Here's what I think we need to see in your query:
1. Who is Cameron? All I know is that 1) he's a chef, 2) he protects these women without a good reason. This doesn't want to make me spend an entire book with him.
2. What are the stakes? I don't care about the Cathari treasure. You mention it might be able to transform the world but what if that's not a bad thing... You don't mention how it'll transform it at all.

I see the conflict, I just am not invested in them at this point.

I also think some of your earlier revision sold Cameron more. I also think you haven't been taking some of the suggestions people here have given you, like omitting 'fast paced' and capitalizing your story title. Is there are a reason for this? We aren't giving you suggestions because we want you to fail.
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
danielsmi
Posts: 27
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 2:53 pm
Location: Manhattan
Contact:

Re: REVISION 6 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by danielsmi » September 2nd, 2010, 1:35 pm

REVISION 7

Thanks to everyone for the awesome feedback. This would be impossible without other eyes. Writing a query is always tough, though it is a lot more fun in this genre than literary fiction.

First a note to D.S. Deshaw - You are absolutely right!!! No one wants to read about defenseless young women being protected by anyone. This is a good example to everyone about tunnel vision in your work. Of course I meant something different, as in these holy woman are bound by faith to not retaliate and therefore need protection. This is based on the actual history of the Cathar and knights that protected them. What it looked like in the query is a "TOTALY" different thing and even I might reject it based on that. ugh!

Now for the rest of the query, sure this recipe thing is a gimmick and not for every agent. I am sure the Reid disciples are rolling. My plan is to be judicious in sending the recipe and the 'marketing' section on the end. That is also why there is some langue reuse in the recipe and query proper. For those agents that might get the gimmick, I am crossing my fingers it will stick out in a good way.
(btw did you know that only 4% of the querysharks queries have ever been accepted and those on an average of two revisions. Bless her for the side business.)
As far as the 'fast paced' and the caps on the title. Nathan's example for a good query uses both lower case and fast paced, a query that was picked up and a book that was sold.

So here is a version with the changes

Dear Ms. Agent,

Recipe for Clandestine War

2 secret societies
1 arcane treasure
2 holy women
1 Celebrity Chef w/ military experience

Mix secret societies together then heat to a boil. Add arcane treasure. Add holy women and Celebrity Chef. Sprinkle with menace. For extra flavor add havoc and spread across at least five North American cities.
#
Celebrity Chef Cameron Kincaid is a former Legionnaire who thought he had traded peril for peace by swapping careers. When the Rex Mundi attempts to assassinate a UN dignitary and her entourage in his New York restaurant, Cameron takes it personally and is drawn by honor into an 800-year-old clandestine war.

Surviving are a young woman and her escort, members of the Cathari, a faith once thought exterminated in a 13th century crusade. The Rex Mundi believes the Cathari possess a treasure that can transform the world and that the women know its location. They intend to wipe out the Cathari and take their treasure. Committed to protecting the women, Cameron escorts them on a five city flight. Relentlessly pursued, shot at, and nearly blown up, Cameron chooses to confront the Rex Mundi, only then can he complete his quest to see the women safe.

CAMERON KINCAID AND THE PERFECT TREASURE is a 75,000-word adventure novel with potential for series mates, or even a sequel. The action is set in northeastern cities of America and Canada, which are diverse in culture and tradition. This novel will appeal to fans of Clive Cussler’s larger-than-life heroes, conspiracy buffs, and possibly foodies. French festivals, Dan Brown books, and an upcoming Johnny Depp film are fueling the popular resurgence of the Cathari and the Rex Mundi, making this Cameron Kincaid adventure propitious.

My expertise of Cathar and Rex Mundi history and beliefs stems from an education in philosophy and comparative religion. My knowledge of urban locales is from travel to over 300 cities in 22 countries and residences in Los Angeles, Kalamazoo, Prague, Crete, and my current home New York.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel.

Kind Regards,
Last edited by danielsmi on September 2nd, 2010, 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 2nd, 2010, 3:47 pm

Surviving are a young woman and her escort, members of the Cathari, a faith once thought exterminated in a 13th century crusade.
This sentence is a bit weak. What are they surviving from? Are they the UN dignitary/entourage or were they just there? I'm not getting their involvement with the assassination attempt; you're not making it clear if they were the targets or if the assassination attempt was so large-scale they could've died in it, too.

Also, it might be stronger in two sentences.
They intend to wipe out the Cathari and take their treasure.
This is flat. Also: what is so great about this treasure? How can it change the world? For good OR for bad--but obviously the Rex Mundi are going to use it for bad. BUT WHAT? I understand trying to make it a mystery but the mystery is how he succeeds or fails, not what this thing does...
Committed to protecting the women, Cameron escorts them on a five city flight.
Flight means flying. So they're going on an airplane trip to five cities? Exhaustive!
Relentlessly pursued, shot at, and nearly blown up, Cameron chooses to confront the Rex Mundi, only then can he complete his quest to see the women safe.
This also falls flat. Of course they're pursued. How does he choose to confront them? What does he do in the confrontation? That's the interesting part.
The action is set in northeastern cities of America and Canada, which are diverse in culture and tradition.
You've already told us it's set in five North American cities so this is just beyond redundant. Why don't you tell us which cities, IN YOUR QUERY, and not in the blurb at the end? Then we can picture it a bit better. Otherwise we don't know Cameron, we don't know these holy women, the Rex Mundi are evil (imagine that) and they're chased. Boring, typical, cliche. Where's your twist? Tell us the things that set your novel apart from other things like it.
French festivals, Dan Brown books, and an upcoming Johnny Depp film are fueling the popular resurgence of the Cathari and the Rex Mundi, making this Cameron Kincaid adventure propitious.
Really, your agent should know without you telling them if your novel is going to be 'propitious.' It kind of sounds like you're talking down to them--this is what I mean by trying to sell your book instead of make them fall in love with it.
My expertise of Cathar and Rex Mundi history and beliefs stems from an education in philosophy and comparative religion. My knowledge of urban locales is from travel to over 300 cities in 22 countries and residences in Los Angeles, Kalamazoo, Prague, Crete, and my current home New York.
This just sounds like you're bragging. And you don't even mention if any of the cities you've been to are in the book! What if you picked the 5 cities you've never been to--then it'd hardly matter where you've been to.
It would be an honor to work with you on this novel.
Obviously. This is why you're querying the agent.
Kind Regards,
Should be "Kind regards," which is standard letter etiquette.


So, the Cathari is a secret society and not a secret religion? You don't introduce it in your actual query as a secret society at all. If you're going to use your recipe, you might want to tweak with the grammar. Mix "the secret societies" and "bring" to a boil. "Slowly stir in the arcane treasure until dissolved. Add the holy women and Celebrity Chef until thickened. Sprinkle with menace before serving." There should be a comma after extra flavor.

Last: has anyone told you that your title is a bit pompous? Nothing's perfect--and you did not explain how it could be perfect in your query.
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
danielsmi
Posts: 27
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 2:53 pm
Location: Manhattan
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by danielsmi » September 2nd, 2010, 4:13 pm

The feedback about the treasure is insightful.

Here it its,the word perfect is a double entendre. It is the 'Perfect' treasure because a cathar holy person is called a 'Parfait' or 'Perfect'.

The whole twist to the book, (and factual history) is that the young woman herself turns out to be the treasure. I did not want to blatantly put that in the query. From the feedback maybe it is necessary. It is like putting the answer to a mystery or the Da Vince Code in the query.

Either way I am happy to take title suggestions as they are just for pitch. I am not married to it. It used to be 'Cameron Kincaid and the Treasure of the Cathar' and it could easily be the 'The Cathari Treasure' . I thought it was clever to use the double entendre as one of my research books about the 13th crusade was called 'The Perfect Heresy'. I understand that editors and publishers often change the title before publishing.

Good catch on propitious and flight. The dictionary definition of flight - noun - the action of fleeing or attempting to escape

I guess I can dumb it down and change it if you think it will confuse a 'literary' agent.

User avatar
danielsmi
Posts: 27
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 2:53 pm
Location: Manhattan
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by danielsmi » September 2nd, 2010, 5:38 pm

I do want to mention as well, particularly to D.S. Deshaw that a I am looking for a suggestive critic and a bit of professionalism. I know this public forum is far from my grad school critiques, still there is nothing beneficial with using sentiments like, pompous, boring, typical, cliche, bragging..etc. I can really use some constructive criticism that is well thought out. I assure you that if an agent at your education level decides to pass, I would be fine. A suggestion would be to only comment on the parts you are knowledgable otherwise you put your foot into your mouth. Also, if you are going to correct usage or grammar, please use a dictionary first.

So, in short, please play nice or don't play at all.

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 2nd, 2010, 7:26 pm

danielsmi wrote:The feedback about the treasure is insightful.

Here it its,the word perfect is a double entendre. It is the 'Perfect' treasure because a cathar holy person is called a 'Parfait' or 'Perfect'.

The whole twist to the book, (and factual history) is that the young woman herself turns out to be the treasure. I did not want to blatantly put that in the query. From the feedback maybe it is necessary. It is like putting the answer to a mystery or the Da Vince Code in the query.

Either way I am happy to take title suggestions as they are just for pitch. I am not married to it. It used to be 'Cameron Kincaid and the Treasure of the Cathar' and it could easily be the 'The Cathari Treasure' . I thought it was clever to use the double entendre as one of my research books about the 13th crusade was called 'The Perfect Heresy'. I understand that editors and publishers often change the title before publishing.

Good catch on propitious and flight. The dictionary definition of flight - noun - the action of fleeing or attempting to escape

I guess I can dumb it down and change it if you think it will confuse a 'literary' agent.
That's a very interesting reason to use the word "Perfect." I'm not opposed to you using it if you convey this double entendre in the work itself. You can't expect me to know this--I haven't thoroughly studied religion or cathars. I'm not sure how many of the agents you may seek representation from are going to know the intricacies of the topic that well, either.

I'm not saying that they're stupid by any means, but sometimes it's nice to have a little explanation for specifics like this. I don't think I'd expect an English major to know the latest news in Psychology or Mathematics. I wouldn't want to go into great detail, but a little sentence of explanation so they don't feel disconnected might be appreciated.

As you've pointed out, I'm not an expert, and you're free to take my suggestions with a grain of salt. I do really think that 'The Cathari Teasure' is more appealing, though. I think it's really good and has a nice ring to it.

It's an interesting twist that the woman turns out to be the treasure. Now that I know that, I would agree with you: I wouldn't put it blatantly into the query, either. I would, however, hint at it. Perhaps a line like, "they ladies know it's not a location, but a person." Then who the person is becomes the mystery--maybe it's Cameron, maybe it's one of the ladies.

I do realize you can use the word "flight" can mean escape or running from someone. However, the way you used it made me think more of a plane ride. Cameron escorts them on a flight just implies a plane ride to me. Maybe I'm the only one of this opinion, but that's the visual I got from your line. If you don't care, that's fine--if you think maybe you could reword or change escort or flight to make the sentence stronger, then I'm glad I could help you think a bit more deeply on your word choice.

I never suggested that you needed to dumb it down. Maybe the confusion comes from how you use words and the words that you've chosen, not so much the intelligence level of those reading your query.

danielsmi wrote:I do want to mention as well, particularly to D.S. Deshaw that a I am looking for a suggestive critic and a bit of professionalism. I know this public forum is far from my grad school critiques, still there is nothing beneficial with using sentiments like, pompous, boring, typical, cliche, bragging..etc. I can really use some constructive criticism that is well thought out. I assure you that if an agent at your education level decides to pass, I would be fine. A suggestion would be to only comment on the parts you are knowledgable otherwise you put your foot into your mouth. Also, if you are going to correct usage or grammar, please use a dictionary first.

So, in short, please play nice or don't play at all.
I'm sorry that I didn't come across constructive. I'm also not a grad student--nor a professional by any standards (unless I can be a professional student)--so I'm not quite sure how I would be able to efficiently critique you as if I was. I suppose if you were looking for that kind of feedback, you might want to try hiring an editor or an agent to look over your material instead.

I'm also not randomly pulling words out of a dictionary to be unprofessional or unhelpful in any way. It's a bit insulting that you'd think I wasn't thinking through my suggestions. I'm also a little insulted that you'd try to imply that I'm not smart enough to give you an opinion. Again, if you're looking for a certain kind of person to critique your work who is at your level, you should perhaps go somewhere else. Although there are a great many qualified people here who have great ideas and great critiques, we're writers critiquing writers. If you're going to discredit our opinions--or my opinions--simply because you think you're smarter, then I have no idea why you posted your query publically at all...

My point in posing the questions that I did, in calling your word choice and phrasing pompous, was to show you how your query might be perceived. I'm not sure you want this kind of perception. To me, you're coming across very arrogant in your query but if that's the effect that you're going for, then you've got it nailed.

I think your story has potential. I like the idea of using history like that. I just don't think right now that your query is doing your story any justice. This is why I've called it boring, typical, and cliché. I'm sure your story is different, but I need to know how it's different from your query.

My intentions for your query and your novel are all the best. If you think I'm not smart enough to help you then I'll humbly back away from the thread :)

I also appreciated your comment on my blog. I think you might benefit from reading this post by Miriam Goderich of Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency about critiques.
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
danielsmi
Posts: 27
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 2:53 pm
Location: Manhattan
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by danielsmi » September 2nd, 2010, 9:46 pm

D.S. did not intend to insult you. Just asking to play nice. My friend says there is a saying in the AA community that states 'if someone says you have a problem, by virtue of them mentioning it you do'..or something like that.. if you say flight is confusing than it is pure and simple, likewise if someone mentions your a bit harsh.. well.. Anyway, I think your critique is helpful, just ask that you remember that these queries mean the world to people. I do not want to derail this thread from my query because I need the insight. I will say that it is awesome that your writing team is working to figure this business out, I regret I put off writing so long... and I like your blog too, good stuff.

Now as far as title.. you see my conundrum, with blatantly explaining everything. any further suggestions?

GeeGee55
Posts: 173
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 11:01 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISION 7 – Cameron Kincaid and The Perfect Treasure –

Post by GeeGee55 » September 2nd, 2010, 10:29 pm

danielsmi wrote:REVISION 7

Thanks to everyone for the awesome feedback. This would be impossible without other eyes. Writing a query is always tough, though it is a lot more fun in this genre than literary fiction.

First a note to D.S. Deshaw - You are absolutely right!!! No one wants to read about defenseless young women being protected by anyone. This is a good example to everyone about tunnel vision in your work. Of course I meant something different, as in these holy woman are bound by faith to not retaliate and therefore need protection. This is based on the actual history of the Cathar and knights that protected them. What it looked like in the query is a "TOTALY" different thing and even I might reject it based on that. ugh!

Now for the rest of the query, sure this recipe thing is a gimmick and not for every agent. I am sure the Reid disciples are rolling. My plan is to be judicious in sending the recipe and the 'marketing' section on the end. That is also why there is some langue reuse in the recipe and query proper. For those agents that might get the gimmick, I am crossing my fingers it will stick out in a good way.
(btw did you know that only 4% of the querysharks queries have ever been accepted and those on an average of two revisions. Bless her for the side business.)
As far as the 'fast paced' and the caps on the title. Nathan's example for a good query uses both lower case and fast paced, a query that was picked up and a book that was sold.

So here is a version with the changes

Dear Ms. Agent,

Recipe for Clandestine War

2 secret societies
1 arcane treasure
2 defenseless holy women
1 Celebrity Chef w/ military experience

Mix secret societies together then heat to a boil. Add arcane treasure. Add holy women and Celebrity Chef. Sprinkle with menace. For extra flavor add havoc and spread across at least five North American cities.
#
Celebrity Chef Cameron Kincaid is a former Legionnaire who thought he had traded peril for peace by swapping careers. When the Rex Mundi attempts to assassinate a UN dignitary and her entourage in his New York restaurant, Cameron takes it personally and is drawn by honor [/color]-cut into an 800-year-old clandestine war. - I think the beginning is quite good now
Surviving are a young woman and her escort, members of the Cathari, a faith once thought exterminated in a 13th century crusade. The Rex Mundi believes - not sure this is the right form of the verb, believe? the Cathari possess a treasure that can transform the world and that the women know its location. They intend to wipe out the Cathari and take their treasure. What follows is a little too condensed, IMO Does he discover that one of the women is the treasure and that's what drives him to protect the pair? If so, you could wrap it up that way, that would be his quest, it would give him motive, and you don't have to use the word quest, just give it to us If he doesn't know, then it's different Committed to protecting the women, Cameron escorts them on a five city flight. Relentlessly pursued, shot at, and nearly blown up, Cameron chooses to confront the Rex Mundi, only then can he complete his quest to see the women safe. I really liked in the first versions when you gave the detail that he was taking them to the safe house, perhaps intending to dump them there, but then something happens and he flees with them to the first city (name it)...it would give more definite detail about the plot and about what makes your story different from others

CAMERON KINCAID AND THE PERFECT TREASURE is a 75,000-word adventure novel with potential for series mates, or even a sequel. The action is set in northeastern cities of America and Canada, which are diverse in culture and tradition. This novel will appeal to fans of Clive Cussler’s larger-than-life heroes, conspiracy buffs, and possibly foodies. French festivals, Dan Brown books, and an upcoming Johnny Depp film are fueling the popular resurgence of the Cathari and the Rex Mundi, making this Cameron Kincaid adventure propitious. - I think this is ok

My expertise of - I don't know if this is worded correctly, have you have expertise of something? shouldn't it be expertise in the Cathar and Rex Mundi history and beliefs stems from an education in philosophy and comparative religion. My knowledge of urban locales is from travel to over 300 cities in 22 countries and residences in Los Angeles, Kalamazoo, Prague, Crete, and my current home New York. - I have to agree that unless you have lived in the specific urban locales in the story this is probably not pertinent.
It would be an honor to work with you on this novel.

Kind Regards,


Good luck, Daniel. It's so hard to do a query - don't give up.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests