THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

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akila
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by akila » June 30th, 2011, 5:13 pm

So, I haven't read any of the old ones so I'm taking a completely fresh look at this:

As a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night, nineteen year old Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, while her father lies dead at her feet. She will settle for nothing less than revenge, but Julienne is surrounded by the Union enemy she despises. Their presence is a constant reminder of what she has lost, making her stubborn attempts to restore the family’s ruined horse farm seem futile.
I would switch around that first sentence to "Nineteen year old Julienne Dalton watches her home burn and her father bleed to death [or whatever] as the trotting of hooves recede into the cold Kentucky night. She will settle for nothing less than revenge but Julienne is surrounded by the renegade Union soldiers who destroyed her life [or something less dramatic.]"
With a battle brewing just miles from the city, Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements. Proving herself useful as a spy, she doesn’t think twice before accepting an offer to join a ring of Rebel agents. But risking her life becomes less appealing when Julienne meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. Handsome, worldly, and rebellious, he tenaciously pursues her. She stubbornly resists his charm, unwilling to lay her heart bare. But a brush with death sends her flying into his arms—and to the altar.
Okay, I'm a bit confused by this - why is risking her life less appealing when she meets him but then she continues to resist him? Why would she resist someone she finds appealing?
When a fellow contact is apprehended, Julienne discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies. Fearing she'll be betrayed, and that her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, she flees Kentucky. To survive, Julienne must forget Alex, but this task proves near impossible when she is forced to settle in a secluded English village.
I would delete the "When a fellow contact is apprehended" because it really isn't important how she discovers his business. I'm confused about the settling in a secluded English village, as well. Why does the English village make it impossible for her to forget him? Is she living next door to his family?

Overall, I really like the idea of a female Southern spy - very cool idea. But, I'm having a hard time understanding the romance element. Why does she resist someone she finds appealing? Do they actually fall in love? Why does she decide to flee Kentucky and wind up in England? It seems that you might be forcing the romance and drama ---- which I'm sure you're not --- but I think it's because there's too many details about it so you don't get to the real heart of the issue/novel.

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 1st, 2011, 10:17 am

Thanks for your comments, Akila. I've made a few changes to the newest version. Apparently, I left out some important stuff at the end and I've fixed it. Hopefully that will answer your questions.

Thanks again!

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Quill
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by Quill » July 2nd, 2011, 2:59 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote: As a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night, nineteen year old Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, while her father lies dead at her feet. She will settle for nothing less than revenge, but Julienne is frustrated by the Union enemy that surrounds her. Their presence is a constant reminder of what she has lost, making her stubborn attempts to restore the family’s ruined horse farm seem futile.
Unclear what she does exactly. You say she will settle for nothing less than revenge (awkward sentence construction, btw; any way to say it more directly?) but then have her stubbornly attempting to restore the farm instead.

Also, there's subject non-correspondence between "enemy" (singular) and "their presence" (plural).
With a battle brewing just miles from the city, Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements. Proving herself useful as a spy, she doesn’t think twice before accepting an offer to join a ring of Rebel agents. Julienne begins to regret her decision when she meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. She is enamoured by his rebellious attitude towards society, and his charming attentions begin to win her over. But Julienne is unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt. When a brush with death shakes her to the core, she flies into his arms—and to the altar only to discover that Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies. Fearing her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, Julienne flees Kentucky and settles in a secluded English village. She tries to forget Alex, but this task proves more difficult than she ever imagined—she is with child and must protect her secret at all costs.
Unclear why laying her heart bare will entail getting hurt. If this is simply a fear of hers, then say so, and why.

She only fears his faltering love, not the possibility that he will feel obligated to turn her in as a spy??

Why does she choose an English village as a hiding place. One would think England would be the last place to go, being that the man she is fleeing is English. Why wouldn't she flee to the American West, for instance?

A nitpick: Not sure it's a good idea to use the word "settle" twice, with different meanings, in such a short query blurb. Any way to find another way of putting it, in one or the other instance?

_________


The language you have chosen for this query does not paint a picture of the strong, empowered, daring, courageous, independent (for those times), resilient woman I think your story is about:

"Julienne watches"
"Julienne is frustrated"
"She will settle for"
"she has lost"
"her stubborn attempts seem futile"
"Julienne stumbles"
"she doesn't think"
"Julienne begins to regret"
"She is enamored" (your typo: enamoured)
"She flies into his arms"
"Fearing her husband's love"
"Julienne flees"
"She tries to forget"

Quite the opposite. Choosing stronger verbs, altering some sentence structure, and offering positive rather than negative viewpoint, will help.

Also, look at many of the sentences that predicate on "when" and "while" and maybe change up some for variety:

While soldiers disappear, Julienne watches, while her dad lies...
While a battle brews, Julienne stumbles...
While proving herself, she doesn't think...
When she meets, she begins to regret...
When a brush shakes her, she flies...
When she fears his love, she flees and settles...

I know you've worked hard on the ms and the query. I would like to see you put your best possible foot forward, selling the project. Good luck!

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 5th, 2011, 12:39 pm

Thanks Quill! I was hoping you would weigh in again since the query has changed so much from last time. And thanks for picking up on the details that no one else seems to notice. :-)

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 6th, 2011, 4:44 pm

I probably should just quit nitpicking, but receiving feedback is so addictive!

Dear Agent,

As a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night, nineteen year old Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, her father lying dead at her feet. Now an orphan, she is determined to restore the family’s ruined horse farm. Her unwavering efforts pay off however she cannot be content until she has sought vengeance for the atrocities committed against her.

When Julienne overhears crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she confides the details to a Confederate sympathizer. She is invited to continue spying for the Rebel cause and the daring missions she undertakes slake her thirst for revenge. But her peace is shattered after meeting Alexander Caulfield, a handsome businessman visiting the city. Enamoured with his charming, yet rebellious ways, Julienne cannot reconcile her longing for his love with the treasonous life she leads.

After a brush with death shakes her to the core, Julienne discards her misgivings, flying into Alex's arms and to the altar only to discover the greatest betrayal of all—he is hunting down Confederate spies for the Union Secret Service. Heartbroken and fearing incarceration, she flees the country and settles in a secluded English village. Julienne resolves to forget Alex, but the task proves more difficult than she ever imagined. She carries a child within her and this secret must be protected at all costs.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction with romantic elements and is complete at 99,000 words. I chose to query you because [personalized info]. I am employed by the [redacted] and author a blog entitled “Caroline Wilson Writes” which chronicles writing, researching, and all things historical.

Sincerely,
Me

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 12th, 2011, 1:17 pm

I thought I would update you guys on my progress. I took comments from here and re-wrote and then posted in another forum for some fresh eyes. I must have finally hit the sweet spot because I got a request for a full yesterday! I wanted to thank you all for the comments and help you have provided along the way. I couldn't have done it without you all! And for those of you still trying to eek out a good query, don't give up! You're on the right track by being here.

Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, her father lying dead at her feet, while a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night. Orphaned at nineteen, she is determined to restore the family’s ruined horse farm and seek justice for the atrocities committed against her.

When Julienne overhears that Union troops are preparing to confront the Rebels in a nearby town, she delivers the details to a Confederate spymaster. She is invited into a ring of agents, charged with gathering information for the Cause. Julienne charms unsuspecting Union officers into giving away important secrets and her success is a balm to the fury within her. But a host of conflicting emotions arise upon meeting British expatriate Alexander Caulfield. The visiting businessman is unlike any man she has met, for he seems captivated by her love of philosophy and chess. Julienne is puzzled by his
attentions and yet longs for his love; however she must close her heart to him if she wants her treasonous activities to remain secret.

After escaping imprisonment in a Union camp, Julienne discards her misgivings, and marries Alex only to discover the greatest betrayal of all—he is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union Secret Service. Fearing that her treachery will be uncovered, she flees the country for France, intent on forgetting Alex. Julienne is travelling through England when she learns that the sickness plaguing her is something else entirely. She is forced to remain in a secluded village in order to protect the life of the child she carries, but remaining in her husband’s homeland is dangerous—for Alex could find her at any
moment.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction with strong romantic elements and is complete at 99,000 words. I chose to query you because [personalized info]. I work for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and author a
blog entitled "Caroline Wilson Writes" which chronicles writing, researching, and all things historical.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

And now to wait... The agent said that it would take up to 60 days, which I figure is a fair amount of time. I also queried two other agents with this revised copy, so I'm waiting to hear from them as well. I might try to query a few more agents this week to see if I can stir up more interest.

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Quill
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by Quill » July 12th, 2011, 2:47 pm

Good work! That is a really fine query, and I'm not surprised it got you a request for a full. Good luck!

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 12th, 2011, 4:04 pm

Thanks Quill! You've definitely done your time babysitting me through this process--I am truly indebted to you.

glj
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by glj » July 12th, 2011, 6:04 pm

Congratulations! I am happy to see that your hard work paid off. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Let us know if you hear anything back.

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wilderness
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by wilderness » July 13th, 2011, 12:52 am

Congrats and good luck!

ellisshuman
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by ellisshuman » July 13th, 2011, 7:04 am

Way to go Caroline!

Did the agent request an exclusive look at your manuscript?
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Ellis Shuman
http://ellisshuman.blogspot.com
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 13th, 2011, 5:12 pm

ellisshuman wrote:Way to go Caroline!

Did the agent request an exclusive look at your manuscript?
Not an exclusive. But she did ask for a full right off the bat, which threw me for a loop. I spent about two hours doing another once over on the whole manuscript and sent it off. I looked up the agent's stats on QueryTracker, and it seems that she has a penchant for requesting fulls instead of partials. So that brought me back down to earth!

And thanks everyone for the well wishes. I certainly need them! :-)

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