THE REMEDY - 3rd try at page 2 bottom - Women's Fiction

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pollymilton
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THE REMEDY - 3rd try at page 2 bottom - Women's Fiction

Post by pollymilton » September 28th, 2010, 4:05 pm

Dear Agent:

Maggie Cooper is smart and lucky; she’s so lucky that her heart is split and she doesn’t even know it. Will shows up one fall night and Maggie takes him in. If Will and Maggie can be together three times, Maggie will be safe and Will can be free of the idiot magic that holds him.

Three times isn’t much, unless you love the family you already have. Maggie is happy with her normal life—she has a devoted husband and two kids she loves—but Will is magic, and that’s a hard thing to turn away.

Will is ready to break all the rules that have protected him for as long as he can remember. But his two brothers don’t want to change and they already have over one hundred years of sex, trouble and hurt to fight about. Add Maggie to the mix and there’s more trouble than even Will can handle.

THE REMEDY is a modern fable about love, magic and the power of family ties. I wrote it for grown-up women who want something they can keep with them a long time; this story is sly, bighearted and sexy. THE REMEDY is complete at seventy-five thousand words. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Polly.
Last edited by pollymilton on October 10th, 2010, 5:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

sgf
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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by sgf » September 28th, 2010, 5:47 pm

Hi Polly,

Thanks for sharing your query. Below are my thoughts as I read through it.




Maggie Cooper is smart and lucky; she’s so lucky that her heart is split and she doesn’t even know it. This has the potential of being a great opener. But, when I read it I wondered what having her heart split meant; having your hear split and not knowing about it doesn't sound so lucky a thing.

Will shows up one fall night and Maggie takes him in. Consider being more specific here. I wasn’t sure what you meant… lets him in her house for a night? If so, why? Maybe saying something similar to “falls in love with him” would be better here,

If Will and Maggie can be together three times, Maggie will be safe and Will can be free of the idiot magic that holds him. Here I got a little confused what being together 3 times meant. I’m not sure if you mean physically, or they just need to spend time together or what. I think it’s a cool concept; consider being more detailed here about what this magic curse entails; just calling it “idiot magic” wasn’t enough for me.

Three times isn’t much, unless you love the family you already have. Maggie is happy with her normal life—she has a devoted husband and two kids she loves—but Will is magic, and that’s a hard thing to turn away. Here, consider stating what will is, exactly—a faerie, a ghost, something else? I really like the ideas here, but feel like there are too many generalizations, such as “Will is magic”. After all, isn’t some magic easy to turn away?

Will is ready to break all the rules what rules? that have protected him for as long as he can remember this is too vague to be very meaningful. Why not simply omit it? . But his two brothers don’t want to change why not? What are they afraid of losing? and they already have over one hundred years of sex, trouble and hurt to fight about. Add Maggie to the mix and there’s more trouble than even Will can handle. The first conflict you introduce is Maggie’s decision she has to make between staying with her family and going with Will; that’s good. Will’s brothers seem to be an added conflict. But consider being more specific as to how and why his brothers are trying to stop him from being with Maggie, and what Will needs to do to about it.

THE REMEDY is a modern fable about love, magic and the power of family ties. I wrote it for grown-up women who want something they can keep with them a long time; this story is sly, bighearted and sexy. THE REMEDY is complete at seventy-five thousand words. Thank you for your consideration.

hope some of this helps!
Last edited by sgf on September 28th, 2010, 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pollymilton
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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by pollymilton » September 28th, 2010, 7:01 pm

Thanks sgf - it's been driving me nuts and I haven't cracked it yet.
I'll keep thinking!
Polly

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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by Quill » September 28th, 2010, 9:20 pm

pollymilton wrote:
Maggie Cooper is smart and lucky
Fun opening.
;
I'd put a period here and start a new sentence. The semi-colon seems improperly used.

she’s so lucky that her heart is split and she doesn’t even know it.
1. What do you mean by "her heart is split"?

2. How could this be considered lucky?

Will shows up one fall night and Maggie takes him in.
He's a traveling salesman who needs a bed for the night? What.
If Will and Maggie can be together three times, Maggie will be safe and Will can be free of the idiot magic that holds him.
1. Do Will and Maggie know this? How? If not, how will they know to do this?

2. Safe from what?

3. What is idiot magic? Has it made Will an idiot?

4. What do you mean by "be together"? Is this a code phrase for intercourse? What sort of book is this, what genre?
Three times isn’t much, unless you love the family you already have. Maggie is happy with her normal life—she has a devoted husband and two kids she loves
1. Still unclear how she knows this is what needs to happen.

2. Awkward phrasing, "unless you love the family you already have".

a.Implies that Will is a family.

b. Implies that it would be okay if you had a family but didn't love them.

3. "Normal life" is so common in queries these days that I consider it a cliche. And it's not necessary here. You can just say she loves her family, her hubby, kids, dog, cat.

4. There is no need to say three times that she loves them: a) "unless you love..." b) "Maggie is happy with her life" c) she has hubby and kids she loves.

—but Will is magic, and that’s a hard thing to turn away.
I thought you said he was being held by idiot magic. Now you say he literally IS magic?
Will is ready to break all the rules that have protected him for as long as he can remember.
Not getting a clear idea of Will. You said he was being held by magic. Now you imply he is being protected by it. Unless "rules" is something else. If so, what?
But his two brothers don’t want to change and they already have over one hundred years of sex, trouble and hurt to fight about.
Not sure it's a good idea to introduce the brothers here. Doesn't seem like they are crucial to the query and bring up more questions instead of answering some of the existing ones. Why are we concerned that they "don't want to change"? Who's asking them to? In what way?

Add Maggie to the mix and there’s more trouble than even Will can handle.
I would rather not "add Maggie to the mix". I would rather hear exactly how she fits in. I would rather not hear that "there's more trouble". I'd like a clue as to what the trouble is. I would also like to know what at first it seemed Maggie was your main character and now it seems to be Will. And I'd like a bit better idea who these two are as characters and as people.
THE REMEDY is a modern fable about love, magic and the power of family ties. I wrote it for grown-up women who want something they can keep with them a long time; this story is sly, bighearted and sexy.
It is almost always better to show above than to tell below.
THE REMEDY is complete at seventy-five thousand words. Thank you for your consideration.
75,000 is the more commonly seen "spelling".

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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by pollymilton » September 28th, 2010, 10:03 pm

rrgh. Here's the deal. It's a fairy tale for grownups but it's not "airy fairy" in any way. Magical Realism.

Will and Maggie are the main characters. Will and his two brothers are magic. A long time ago, the oldest brother Charlie took a wedding night that wasn't his. That created a powerful but flawed spell. Charlie made his younger brothers do the same thing, because he could see that this would increase their magic. Once those girls died, their hearts were reborn in other girls and Charlie learns that all the boys have to do is disappear into different men for one night and take the wedding nights again. Track those hearts forever and the boys will be around forever. The problem for the young women involved is that their hearts are split by the flawed spell. A split heart means some kind of ruin is coming for her. If a brother returns to the same girl three times it will break the spell, but only Charlie knows it.

Present day: Will's finally found out Charlie's secret and he's ready to break the spell. Maggie's got one of those magic hearts and hers is split, but she doesn't know it. Will comes to Maggie and can change them both back to twenty year olds for their night together. His brothers guess what he's doing. If he breaks free of the spell, it will kill them too. They want to stop him. Will wants to be free. Having sex with Maggie three times will fix her heart. The last time he comes to her they both need to be just themselves, free of Will's magic tricks, for the spell to break. Does Maggie risk wrecking her family? Can Will's brothers get to him and stop him?

It sounds outrageous and I can't type "time traveling sex devils" in the subject line. It's a very "real" story, and we get to see Maggie and Will, Maggie and her family, and the messed up history of Will and his brothers. Just your average myth/fable/family hybrid.

Thanks for the line by line. I have the feeling I'm screwed.
Polly

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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by Quill » September 28th, 2010, 10:35 pm

You're not screwed.

You might have to work a little longer to get some of that across. Sounds like you've got a story that's plenty unique and special, and that can be tough to condense. I'm sure you can do it. Work in some of the stuff you just posted there.

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Re: THE REMEDY - Query - Women's upmarket fiction

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 29th, 2010, 12:43 pm

Quill wrote:You're not screwed.

You might have to work a little longer to get some of that across. Sounds like you've got a story that's plenty unique and special, and that can be tough to condense. I'm sure you can do it. Work in some of the stuff you just posted there.
Agreed. You're not screwed. You're here for one thing! Just kidding.

IMHO, I would re-write this from Will's point of view. It seems from your synopsis that Will is driving force in the story. And it might be easier to convey the nuances in the plot (in a succinct manner) by having it from his POV.

Also with your ending paragraph, I would be careful about describing the book as "sexy", etc. You want to convey that through the body of your query. It would be fine to say: "THE REMEDY is a modern fable about love, magic and the power of family ties. It is an Upmarket Women's Fiction and is complete at 75,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration."

Best of luck to you!

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THE REMEDY: new try at query. Upmarket women's fic.

Post by pollymilton » September 30th, 2010, 12:12 pm

NEW TRY:

Dear Ms. Agent:

Maggie Cooper is smart and lucky. She always makes the right decisions. Then Will shows up after 20 years and changes everything. He’s left flaming footprints in the street and she barely recognizes him; a sensible woman like her should turn him down. Maggie chooses one night with Will and she’s not sorry. She’s in love. There’s enough room for Will in her heart because it’s been split since the day she was born.

Will finds the women with hearts that match his so he can go on forever. Will’s lived inside the same pattern for so long he’s almost forgotten that he could be anything else. But he has to follow rules to stay like this, and he hates rules. He’s done living like this – all he’s ever wanted was to do things his way. It’s taken him this long to figure it out – three times with Maggie and her split heart is the charm he needs to slip free.

Will and Maggie need each other, but the cost is getting too high. Maggie won’t throw her family away. Old spells and patterns won’t change her mind. Maggie means more to Will than she should; he knows that and he still won’t let go. Will and Maggie are on this road together, but love, hurt, sex and magic don’t come with a map.

THE REMEDY is upmarket women’s fiction and is complete at 75,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by JMB » October 1st, 2010, 1:06 pm

I've only read the later draft and I am sorry to have to say I have no idea what is going on in this story. What is a split heart? What is wrong with Will's heart? What about Maggie will save Will? What about Will will destroy Maggie? Is this paranormal or do you mean Maggie's heart has been broken in two in the lovers sense? Did Will know Maggie 20 years ago and keeps his identity a secret from her now.

Flaming footsteps?? Do you mean literally? And what is the significance of 3 times? What do they have to do three times? Have sex?

Is Women's Upmarket Fiction a recognized genre, as opposed to Women's Fiction. What's the difference? Read the query again and I am thinking this is paranormal romance, but I could be wrong.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by pollymilton » October 1st, 2010, 1:56 pm

AGENTS WEIGH IN:


From Kristin Nelson's Pub Rants blog: "In terms of upmarket commercial women’s fiction, it’s all about the writing. Really, editors are looking for literary writers who can tackle the more commercial themes in a way that’s fresh and well constructed."

From the Folio Lit Web site: "We are aggressively seeking upmarket adult fiction that’s appropriate for book club discussion." Key words - book club discussion.

Polly.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by glj » October 1st, 2010, 4:50 pm

I read version one and version two, but not the synopsis, as the query should stand alone.

I agree with a previous post--I get a very blurry picture of what the story might be. You include wording that is, I suppose, supposed to create mystery and intrigue in the mind of the reader, but it doesn't tell about the story. I would try to avoid language like "the cost is getting too high". What is the cost? That would intrigue me.

"Then Will shows up after 20 years and changes everything." So they know each other? This is implied, and it is also implied that they might have some history. But you give nothing more, which I found confusing when I read the paragraph. If it is not important, then it would be better to not say "after 20 years".

The flaming footprints threw me, too. Is he a demon? That was my first impression.


Will finds the women with hearts that match his so he can go on forever. Will’s lived inside the same pattern for so long he’s almost forgotten that he could be anything else. But he has to follow rules to stay like this, and he hates rules. He’s done living like this – all he’s ever wanted was to do things his way. Good up to here, I found this intriguing, though I have no idea what "hearts that match" means. It’s taken him this long to figure it out – three times with Maggie and her split heart is the charm he needs to slip free. I found this too vague. Three times what? Don't hide the danger to Maggie. You want the reader to be rooting for her.

Will and Maggie need each other, but the cost is getting too high. Maggie won’t throw her family away. Old spells and patterns won’t change her mind. Huh? This confuses me. I have no idea how this relates to the story. Maggie means more to Will than she should; he knows that and he still won’t let go. Seems logical that he WOULDN'T let go. Also seems logical that she wouldn't understand why, which is a conflict you could build on here. She doesn't understand, as a smart woman who has always known the right choices to make, why she know is falling for someone who is all wrong for her, AND who seems to need her in a strange way. Will and Maggie are on this road together, but love, hurt, sex and magic don’t come with a map. This last sentence should be where you really set the hook, but for me this is just bland, vague words that only serve to taper off the paragraph, as if you are afraid to end the query letter too abruptly.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by pollymilton » October 1st, 2010, 5:18 pm

Thanks glj.
Specificity, right? It's a big story and I feel like I'm fighting to describe it in this catchy way, when really, it's not pink covered chick lit. It's more like Alice Hoffman's stuff, just less depressing.
Thank you and I'm not giving up.
Polly

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Re: THE REMEDY: new try at query. Upmarket women's fic.

Post by Remmik » October 1st, 2010, 5:43 pm

pollymilton wrote:NEW TRY:

Dear Ms. Agent:

Maggie Cooper is smart and lucky. She always makes the right decisions. Can you give concrete examples of how she's smart/lucky/able to make good decisions? Then Will Her ex-lover? shows up after 20 years Where has he been all this time? and changes everything. She's no longer smart/lucky/able to make good decisions? He’s left flaming footprints in the street This is a neat image but without some context I don't know if you mean it literally.and she barely recognizes him Because he's changed physically or on some inner level?; a sensible woman like her should turn him down Did he make an offer?. Maggie chooses one night with Will and she’s not sorry. She’s Still? in love. There’s enough room for Will in her heart because it’s been split since the day she was born. I don't know what this means.


Will finds the women with hearts that match his Is his heart also split?so he can go on forever How?. Will’s lived inside the same pattern for so long he’s almost forgotten that he could be anything else Is he considerably older than Maggie? If her heart has been split her entire life, and he knew her 20 years ago, and he's looking for people like her, why didn't he - I don't know - use her up back then?. But he has to follow rules What rules? What are the consequences if he breaks them? to stay like this, and he hates rules. He’s done living like this – all he’s ever wanted was to do things his way. Now he sounds petulant. It’s taken him this long to figure it out – three times . . . three times? with Maggie and her split heart is the charm he needs to slip free Of what?.

Will and Maggie need each other Why does Maggie need him?, but the cost is getting too high. Maggie won’t throw her family away But she will cheat on her husband. What's holding her to her family?. Old spells She has magic? and patterns won’t change her mind. Maggie means more to Will than she should; he knows that and he still won’t let go. Will and Maggie are on this road together It doesn't seem like it if she's not willing to change her life., but love, hurt, sex and magic don’t come with a map.

THE REMEDY is upmarket women’s fiction and is complete at 75,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time.
Is this really upmarket fiction? Maybe a publisher can market it as such, but for the sake of the query it might be more helpful to describe it as a modern day fairy tale or some such thing.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by elfspirit » October 1st, 2010, 8:23 pm

I agree pretty thoroughly with Remmik's comments. The main problem I'm having with this query is that, just as I'm getting intrigued, I get thrown off and confused. Part of it may be that the POV goes back and forth. Have you tried writing it exclusively from one or the other's POV?
Or one paragraph for Maggie and one for Will. That might inherently create a visceral sense of the conflict.

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Re: THE REMEDY -2nd try at page bottom- Women's upmarket fiction

Post by Moni12 » October 2nd, 2010, 12:10 am

After reading both queries I found that each one seemed to put in a lot of unexplained information. Obviously, you don't want to share too much and override the query with too much detail, but the reader is supposed to guess that there was something between Will and Maggie. However, what are we supposed to make of the split heart? What about the flaming footprints? Is that a metaphor?
Your query definitely caught my eye and despite some of the confusion I think your novel would make an excellent read.

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