QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

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Quill
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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART * REVISION #?*

Post by Quill » November 8th, 2010, 10:27 am

Erin wrote:And ... one more time ...


Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, she retreats to New York in seek of solace from her only family.

Driven by grief, survivor’s guilt, and fears for her surviving child, Emily engages in the legal fight. As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges an unlikely friendship with her neighbor. As their connection deepens, an attraction develops. But Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship--even though she’s tempted to break them.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the trial date is set. But when Conway Duke staggers into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

(Name & Contact Info)
I like this query. It is straightforward and clear. My only suggestion (besides wondering if "seeking" might be better than "in seek") is to vary the sentence structure a bit more. You have several sentences with the same basic framework:

After a driver kills, Emily is left
Shadowed by the memory, she retreats
Driven by grief, Emily engages
As she begins pulling, she forges
As connection deepens, an attraction develops
After eighteen, the date is set.
when Conway staggers, the case changes

I know this can happen when one is trying to compress one's story into a small space. But maybe break up some of these into two short sentences, for variety.

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART * REVISION #4*

Post by cheekychook » November 8th, 2010, 10:40 am

Excellent job with your revisions!

Three minor things (all just my opinion) you might consider changing:

"seeking" or "in search of" might flow better than "in seek of" (in seek made me pause)

"...an attraction develops, but" instead of "...an attraction develops. But..." (it just seems to me that's all one sentence and it would reduce the number of times you begin a sentence with "But")

"This work of women's fiction..." instead of "The work..." (this may just be a personal preference but "The work" doesn't sound right to me)

Like I said, just minor, nitpicky comments---overall I think this sounds great. Best of luck querying!
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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART * REVISION #4*

Post by Erin » November 8th, 2010, 12:36 pm

Thank you all for your suggestions. Hell doesn't quite describe the query writing process. ; )

My query was posted on Phoenix Sullivan's site this morning and she gave some great feedback as well. I will be posting an alternative query tomorrow and I'd love your comments.

I think I see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel ...

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by Erin » November 9th, 2010, 9:27 am

That damn sliver of light at the end of the tunnel was only a shard of glass stuck in a rock! <grin>
Based on additional feedback, I created version B. I have to be honest and say I'm at a loss deciding which way to go, so I'm throwing it out there for additional critique and feedback.



*** VERSION A ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, she retreats to New York in seek of solace from her only family.

Driven by grief, survivor’s guilt, and fears for her surviving child, Emily engages in the legal fight. As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges an unlikely friendship with her neighbor. As their connection deepens, an attraction develops. But Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship--even though she’s tempted to break them.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the trial date is set. But when Conway Duke staggers into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


*** VERSION B ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, guilt for being released by his death, and the devastating loss of her children, she moves to New York and engages in the fight for justice.

As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges a friendship with her neighbor, Nicholas Travane. As his support deepens, an attraction develops, but Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship; even though he’s a complication she’s beginning to believe in.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the criminal trial is set to begin. But when Conway Duke walks into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment. He is seriously ill and wants Emily’s support for a plea bargain with the prosecutor, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by Fenris » November 9th, 2010, 10:27 am

Hi Erin,

The second one seems to be a better choice, but there are still a few issues:
Erin wrote:** VERSION B ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, guilt for being (you could be more specific. Perhaps "feeling" rather than "being?") released by his death, and the devastating loss of her children, she moves to New York and engages in the fight for justice. (Pretty long sentence here, but I think it's okay)

As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges a friendship with her neighbor, Nicholas Travane. As his support deepens, an attraction develops, but Emily still struggles (Perhaps "is still struggling") with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship; even though he’s a complication she’s beginning to believe in (Can you believe in complications? I see what you're trying to say here, but it's an odd word choice).

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the criminal trial is set to begin. But when Conway Duke walks into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment. He is seriously ill and wants Emily’s support for a plea bargain with the prosecutor (this could be explained a bit better. Why would he suddenly turn to his opponent for help? Is he terminally ill? Brevity is important in queries, but you may want to develop this a bit more or reword it), leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Again, you're getting there (and quicker than I ever did!). Keep up the good work!

Good luck,
Fenris
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by karenbb » November 9th, 2010, 10:28 am

Erin,

Poor thing--I feel your pain on this whole entire process! Such a pain in the neck (and other places).

Here's my take--the first one is better. It feels more polished and I also like the balance of specifics and questions you leave us with in the last paragraph. That being said, there are some elements you could grab from the second version. I think it's good to name the neighbor, but maybe just use his first name for simplicity, so we don't end up with too many names to think about. Makes him real, rather than just random guy next door, maybe add a detail or two about him, why she's attracted to him...he's a cat lover, he's sensitive and bakes her muffins, he IS a muffin and fixes his car with his shirt off...that sort of thing ;) I like the idea of some variation of the "complication she can believe in". It sounds good, although I'm not totally sure I know what it means. Maybe something like he's a "complication worth considering" (or something, that's totally off the top of my head).

I still don't get the part about the abusive husband, or maybe it's the placement of that information in the query. I think it might work well in the section where she's picking up the fragments of her life, because that leads into the thing with the neighbor. You can contrast the two...She's picking up the fragments of her life but she's still haunted by the memories of the years of abuse she suffered while married. When she meets Nicholas and an attraction develops, she wonders if she can afford another complication in her life and whether a man could actually treat her well. (again, totally off the top of my head).

Otherwise, I think you are extremely close. Best of luck with revisions...I'll be curious to hear what others have to say.

Karen


Erin wrote:That damn sliver of light at the end of the tunnel was only a shard of glass stuck in a rock! <grin>
Based on additional feedback, I created version B. I have to be honest and say I'm at a loss deciding which way to go, so I'm throwing it out there for additional critique and feedback.



*** VERSION A ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, she retreats to New York in seek of solace from her only family.

Driven by grief, survivor’s guilt, and fears for her surviving child, Emily engages in the legal fight. As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges an unlikely friendship with her neighbor. As their connection deepens, an attraction develops. But Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship--even though she’s tempted to break them.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the trial date is set. But when Conway Duke staggers into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


*** VERSION B ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, guilt for being released by his death, and the devastating loss of her children, she moves to New York and engages in the fight for justice.

As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges a friendship with her neighbor, Nicholas Travane. As his support deepens, an attraction develops, but Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship; even though he’s a complication she’s beginning to believe in.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the criminal trial is set to begin. But when Conway Duke walks into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment. He is seriously ill and wants Emily’s support for a plea bargain with the prosecutor, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by cheekychook » November 9th, 2010, 10:37 am

I prefer version A. It feels tighter and the writing is smoother. I agree with Karenbb--- the one thing you could add to A would be some details about the neighbor. I think his name and one sentence about him would suffice and would perfectly round out that part of the story. Tell us a good characteristic or two about him---make us see why she's so drawn to him, what he offers her (it should make a stark contrast to what we know she had with her abusive husband, which will make us root for him, and for her, all the more). Other than that I think it's in good shape. Great job!
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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by Erin » November 9th, 2010, 4:44 pm

Fenris wrote:Hi Erin,

The second one seems to be a better choice, but there are still a few issues:
Erin wrote:** VERSION B ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, guilt for being (you could be more specific. Perhaps "feeling" rather than "being?") released by his death, and the devastating loss of her children, she moves to New York and engages in the fight for justice. (Pretty long sentence here, but I think it's okay)

As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges a friendship with her neighbor, Nicholas Travane. As his support deepens, an attraction develops, but Emily still struggles (Perhaps "is still struggling") with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship; even though he’s a complication she’s beginning to believe in (Can you believe in complications? I see what you're trying to say here, but it's an odd word choice).

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the criminal trial is set to begin. But when Conway Duke walks into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment. He is seriously ill and wants Emily’s support for a plea bargain with the prosecutor (this could be explained a bit better. Why would he suddenly turn to his opponent for help? Is he terminally ill? Brevity is important in queries, but you may want to develop this a bit more or reword it), leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Again, you're getting there (and quicker than I ever did!). Keep up the good work!

Good luck,
Fenris

Excellent points. I will rework.

Yes, Conway Duke is terminally ill, but I was told that by saying that - I could be giving too much away. Also, the reason he goes to Emily is because as the surviving spouse/mother, her support goes a long way with the prosecutor. It's as much a moral dilema as an internal/emotional one. The story delves into the need for justice - to right a wrong - which can be flamed by other things (emotional abuse? guilt?) and when need becomes obsession, at what point does nothing else matter, but seeing it through to the end. Where and when, if ever, do you draw the line and make a different choice?

Needless to say, it's an emotional story. <grin>

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Re: QUERY - TRIAL OF THE HEART - Which one?

Post by fishfood » November 9th, 2010, 9:19 pm

Erin wrote:That damn sliver of light at the end of the tunnel was only a shard of glass stuck in a rock! <grin>
Based on additional feedback, I created version B. I have to be honest and say I'm at a loss deciding which way to go, so I'm throwing it out there for additional critique and feedback.



*** VERSION A ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, she retreats to New York in seek of solace from her only family.

Driven by grief, survivor’s guilt, and fears for her surviving child, Emily engages in the legal fight. As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges an unlikely friendship with her neighbor. As their connection deepens, an attraction develops. But Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship--even though she’s tempted to break them.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the trial date is set. But when Conway Duke staggers into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


*** VERSION B ***

Dear (Specific Agent),

Emily Hennas has the power to ease one man’s suffering--the man responsible for murdering her family.

After a drunk driver kills her husband, eldest son and daughter, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. Shadowed by the memory of her abusive husband, guilt for being released by his death, and the devastating loss of her children, she moves to New York and engages in the fight for justice.

As she begins pulling together the fragments of her life, she forges a friendship with her neighbor, Nicholas Travane. As his support deepens, an attraction develops, but Emily still struggles with the past, and doesn’t want any more complications in her life. She declares "rules" for their friendship; even though he’s a complication she’s beginning to believe in.

After eighteen agonizing months of postponements, the criminal trial is set to begin. But when Conway Duke walks into the room, pale and drawn, the case changes course in one explosive moment. He is seriously ill and wants Emily’s support for a plea bargain with the prosecutor, leaving Emily with the most difficult decision of her life: continue fighting for the justice her children deserve, or forgive the man responsible for causing their deaths.

TRIAL OF THE HEART explores the depth of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. I am querying you because (insert reason).

Thank you for your time and consideration.
I'm casting my vote for version A. The reason is, I think you leave to much room for questioning in version B. On the other hand, you actually answer the question posed in your hook. We know how she can ease Conway's suffering. In version B, is she really faced with forgiveness vs. justice or is she rather faced with mercy vs. justice? I think you can still forgive someone, but they deserve consequences for their actions. I suppose you could argue that forgiveness and mercy might go hand in hand, but just a thought.

My overall impression of your query? I think you will get requests with what you have. None of us are sitting here scratching our heads wondering what your story is about and in the end that is what matters. I've read blogs where many agents will say, query wasn't so great, but the concept was intriguing enough to request pages. You could probably post this query 100 times with little changes here and there and never get a unanimous consensus where NO one can find something for you to tweak.

So you were mistaken. I think it was a sliver of light that you saw. ;)

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