Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING - edited

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Laura516
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Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING - edited

Post by Laura516 » March 30th, 2011, 1:41 pm

THIS IS THE ORIGINAL. PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR SECOND DRAFT. THANKS :)

I'm preparing to send a second batch of (hopefully more successful) queries for my first novel. Any feedback you can give is much appreciated:


Banished from her teaching career after a botched attempt at lovers’ vengeance, newbie journalist Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. But second chances don’t come easy in steeple-dotted Stockhill, where everything unflattering is off the record.

Those domestic violence reports? Misunderstandings. That underground swingers culture? Just rumors about good friends. The he-man woman-haters club disguised as a seniors group? Nothing but feminist paranoia.

Then a young woman mysteriously turns up dead and the police – finding an out-of-town address and no next of kin – hastily cry “suicide.” No one can argue except Cole Parker, a local cop who knew the victim and turns to Liz for help. But just as her broken heartstrings begin to quiver again, Liz’s investigation points to both Cole and the town’s reigning political family. Refusing to let another dishonest man send her back to square one, Liz sets out to expose the dirt beneath Stockhill’s silken fabric without getting buried six feet beneath it.

Women’s fiction with a twist of mystery, UTOPIA UNRAVELING is complete at 98,000 words. I spent five years as a journalist serving Connecticut’s Gold Coast, and have contributed to Westchester Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. My writing has earned awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

The full manuscript is available. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Last edited by Laura516 on March 30th, 2011, 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Quill
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Re: Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING

Post by Quill » March 30th, 2011, 3:36 pm

Laura516 wrote: Banished from her teaching career after a botched attempt at lovers’ vengeance, newbie journalist Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. But second chances don’t come easy in steeple-dotted Stockhill, where everything unflattering is off the record.
Excellent.
Those domestic violence reports? Misunderstandings. That underground swingers culture? Just rumors about good friends. The he-man woman-haters club disguised as a seniors group? Nothing but feminist paranoia.
Omit this. You've already made the point and will again below, and this section slows the action to a crawl.
Then a young woman mysteriously turns up dead and the police – finding an out-of-town address and no next of kin – hastily cry “suicide.”
I'd consider trading the dashes for commas. Clearer and less intrusive.

I'd rewrite "hastily cry". "Hastily" is a dreaded adverb, while "cry" is not something easily associated with police. How about "pronounce the case a suicide." Or some such.
No one can argue except Cole Parker, a local cop who knew the victim and turns to Liz for help.
Really? Why is he the only one who can argue? How about "No one argues (or, disputes this) except Cole"?

I'd put a period after "victim", as that completes the idea. And then say "He turns to Liz..." As is, it is awkward sentence structure, "who knew the victim and turns".
But just as her broken heartstrings begin to quiver again,
The metaphor doesn't work; broken strings seemingly cannot quiver. How about frayed strings, or some such.
Liz’s investigation points to both Cole and the town’s reigning political family. Refusing to let another dishonest man send her back to square one, Liz sets out to expose the dirt beneath Stockhill’s silken fabric without getting buried six feet beneath it.
Excellent.
Women’s fiction with a twist of mystery, UTOPIA UNRAVELING is complete at 98,000 words. I spent five years as a journalist serving Connecticut’s Gold Coast, and have contributed to Westchester Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. My writing has earned awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.
Good.
The full manuscript is available.
Definitely omit, as this is a given by dint of you querying and stating that the ms is complete.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Good.

I like the voice, the plot and setting. Good luck with the project.

fishfood
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Re: Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING

Post by fishfood » March 30th, 2011, 3:45 pm

My suggestions are based on if you discarded the opening paragraph. Or instead of saying "botched lover's vengeance," decide if it's necessary to give a 2 liner about what happened and why it got her fired. Or you can try a different, more simple angle in describing her character. Like how she ends up at Stockhill. Hope the suggestions help a little. It sounds like a really fun story and definitely something I'd love to read!
Laura516 wrote:I'm preparing to send a second batch of (hopefully more successful) queries for my first novel. Any feedback you can give is much appreciated:

Banished from her teaching career after a botched attempt at lovers’ vengeance, newbie journalist Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. But second chances don’t come easy in steeple-dotted Stockhill, where everything unflattering is off the record. I think this is a bit wordy and includes so much information it makes me go, "...come again?" I'd simplify and try: "Former teacher Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. Too bad she has to work her way up in the journalist world (or however you'd state it) by starting out in steeple-dotted Stockhill." Something like that...

Those domestic violence reports? Misunderstandings. That underground swingers culture? Just rumors about good friends. The he-man woman-haters club disguised as a seniors group? Nothing but feminist paranoia. I like this. :)

Then a young woman mysteriously turns up dead and the police – finding an out-of-town address and no next of kin – hastily cry “suicide.” I'd leave it at that or try inserting something after this like: "It's much easier on the eyes and ears than the word "homicide." "It obviously reiterates the theme of the town unable to accept bad news. No one can argue except Cole Parker, a local cop who knew the victim and turns to Liz for help. But just as her broken heartstrings begin to quiver again, Try: But just when Liz is about to believe him (and fall for him in the process), Liz’sthe investigation points to both Cole and the town’s reigning political family. Refusing to let another dishonest man send her back to square one, Try: Refusing to be outsmarted, Liz sets out to expose the dirt beneath Stockhill’s silken fabric without getting buried six feet beneath it. Nice ending.

Women’s fiction with a twist of mystery, UTOPIA UNRAVELING is complete at 98,000 words. I spent five years as a journalist serving Connecticut’s Gold Coast, and have contributed to Westchester Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. My writing has earned awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

The full manuscript is available.Thank you for your time and consideration.

Laura516
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Re: Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING - edited

Post by Laura516 » March 30th, 2011, 6:01 pm

Thanks so much to Quill and fishfood for your help. Below is the first revision. I added a bit to paragraphs one and two and broke the first sentence of paragraph two into two sentences; not sure whether it's better. Please let me know what you think. Thanks so much!

(Also, I believe "easy" is technically supposed to be "easily" in paragraph one, but I think "easy" is accepted and sounds better. Thoughts?)


QUERY:

Banished from her teaching career after a botched attempt at lovers’ vengeance, newbie journalist Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. But second chances don’t come easy in steeple-dotted Stockhill, where nonresidents are shunned and everything unflattering is off the record.

Then a young woman mysteriously turns up dead. Not eager for homicide headlines over an outsider with no next of kin, the police quickly rule “suicide” and move on. No one dares argue except Cole Parker, a local cop who knew the victim. Despite thinking he’s haughty, rigid, and dangerously handsome, Liz accepts his request for help. But just as she starts to feel for him, Liz’s investigation points to both Cole and the town’s reigning political family. Refusing to let another dishonest man send her back to square one, Liz sets out to expose the dirt beneath Stockhill’s silken fabric without getting buried six feet beneath it.

Women’s fiction with a twist of mystery, UTOPIA UNRAVELING is complete at 98,000 words. I spent five years as a journalist serving Connecticut’s Gold Coast, and have contributed to Westchester Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. My writing has earned awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

AllieS
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Re: Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING - edited

Post by AllieS » March 30th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Banished from her teaching career after a botched attempt at lovers’ vengeance, newbie journalist Liz Mitchell wants to change the world with her pen. But second chances don’t come easy in steeple-dotted Stockhill, where nonresidents are shunned and everything unflattering is off the record.

I like this new beginning. It's got flavor, and tells me what I need to know.

Then a young woman mysteriously turns up dead. Not eager for homicide headlines over an outsider with no next of kin, the police quickly rule “suicide” Are the quotation marks necessary? and move on. No one dares argue except Cole Parker, a local cop who knew the victim. Despite thinking he’s haughty, rigid, and dangerously handsome The whole "dangerously handsome" thing is very cliched. Try finding a fresher way to state that he's attractive., Liz accepts his request for help. But just as she starts to feel for him Hmm...maybe saying "feel something for him" wouldn't make it seem as though she feels sympathy, when I know she is getting more romantic feelings for him., Liz’s investigation points to both Cole and the town’s reigning political family. Refusing to let another dishonest man send her back to square one, Liz sets out to expose the dirt beneath Stockhill’s silken fabric without getting buried six feet beneath it. Good ending.

Not many issues with this query. It's good. Hope this helps!

writermorris
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Re: Query - UTOPIA UNRAVELING - edited

Post by writermorris » April 5th, 2011, 11:32 am

I agree with all of the suggestions posted above. So as not to repeat, the one I will add is that I feel that "botched attempt at lovers' vengeance" is both too vague and too strange to work. What did she do?
writermorris
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