Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

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Therapist_Writer
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Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

Post by Therapist_Writer » December 8th, 2009, 9:29 am

I've posted the revised version about 6-7 posts below. Many thanks, mighty critiquers!! I would love to get objective opinions on my query. I'm tough skinned, and interested to see how others feel about it. Thanks, in advance. TW

Dear Awesome Agent:
Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. When Wayne, a client’s abusive boyfriend, decides to make Letty pay for “conspiring” with his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must learn to protect herself, her client, and Letty’s own newly achieved sobriety. Wayne gets busy and files a (false) sexual misconduct allegation with the state licensing board, sends a flurry of perverted porn magazines registered in Letty’s name to the clinic where she works, and hijacks her utilities. When Letty steadfastly protects her client, she receives a mutilated doll and several freaky Shakespearean sonnets. Strange—Wayne seemed more of a “Beans, beans, the musical fruit” kind of guy. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life. He wasn’t even the worst. Who else has been watching Letty? And who is willing to kill for her again?

THE ENEMY WE KNOW, a traditional mystery set in Chippewa Falls, WI, is complete at 88,000 words. As a stand alone or as the first in a planned series based on Alcoholic Anonymous’ Twelve Step program, THE ENEMY WE KNOW could target audiences of Lisa Scottoline and Kathy Reichs, as well as more than two million reported members of AA. Also of interest, Publisher’s Marketplace listed a new deal by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt to Nancy Cleary at Wyatt MacKenzie for publication in September 2010. Although not a mystery, THE WOMEN’S GROUP is labeled as the “bookend” to Rebeta-Burditt’s legendary hit, THE CRACKER FACTORY and is likely to spur readers’ interest in AA and the life of recovering women.

I am a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling. I’m also a member of Sisters In Crime, the Guppies online chapter, and a local critique/writing group, which I helped organize.

I would love to work with you on this project. May I send THE ENEMY WE KNOW for your consideration?

Sincerely yours,

Therapist Writer
Last edited by Therapist_Writer on December 10th, 2009, 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jude Hardin
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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by Jude Hardin » December 8th, 2009, 10:10 am

Dear Awesome Agent:

Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. When Wayne, a client’s abusive boyfriend, decides to make Letty pay for “conspiring” with his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must learn to protect herself, her client, and her own newly-achieved sobriety. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life, or even the worst.

THE ENEMY WE KNOW, a traditional mystery set in Chippewa Falls, WI, is complete at 88,000 words.

I am a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling. I’m also a member of Sisters In Crime, the Guppies online chapter, and a local critique/writing group, which I helped organize.

I would love to work with you on this project. May I send THE ENEMY WE KNOW for your consideration?

I deleted everything I thought to be superfluous. You might want to add a paragraph about the conflict between Letty and the killer. Just an idea.

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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by ElisabethMoore » December 8th, 2009, 11:11 am

I'm just a newbie author myself, take with a grain of salt, etc.
Therapist_Writer wrote:I would love to get objective opinions on my query. I'm tough skinned, and interested to see how others feel about it. Thanks, in advance. TW

Dear Awesome Agent:
Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. I like this hook. When Wayne, a client’s abusive boyfriend, decides to make Letty pay for “conspiring” with his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must learn to protect herself, her client, and Letty’s own newly achieved sobriety. Wayne gets busy This phrasing made me wince. and files a (false) sexual misconduct allegation with the state licensing board, sends a flurry of perverted porn magazines registered in Letty’s name to the clinic where she works, and hijacks her utilities. I do think the specific examples can be useful, but I am worried that we are spending so much time on the story before what I think turns out to be the real story -- the worse threat.When Letty steadfastly protects her client, she receives a mutilated doll and several freaky Shakespearean sonnets. Strange—Wayne seemed more of a “Beans, beans, the musical fruit” kind of guy. Hmm, can you describe Wayne some other way? This "Beans, beans" thing doesn;t work for me. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life. He wasn’t even the worst. Who else has been watching Letty? And who is willing to kill for her again? Here we get to what looks like the main story. Don't worry about spoiling the ending, tell us more about this.

THE ENEMY WE KNOW, a traditional mystery set in Chippewa Falls, WI, is complete at 88,000 words. I would skip the rest of this paragraph and go right into your bio here. As a stand alone or as the first in a planned series based on Alcoholic Anonymous’ Twelve Step program, THE ENEMY WE KNOW could target audiences of Lisa Scottoline and Kathy Reichs, as well as more than two million reported members of AA. Also of interest, Publisher’s Marketplace listed a new deal by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt to Nancy Cleary at Wyatt MacKenzie for publication in September 2010. Although not a mystery, THE WOMEN’S GROUP is labeled as the “bookend” to Rebeta-Burditt’s legendary hit, THE CRACKER FACTORY and is likely to spur readers’ interest in AA and the life of recovering women.

I am a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling. I’m also a member of Sisters In Crime, the Guppies online chapter, and a local critique/writing group, which I helped organize.

I would love to work with you on this project. May I send THE ENEMY WE KNOW for your consideration? I would change this ending to more of a thank you for your time kind of thing, but that's just me.

Sincerely yours,

Therapist Writer

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Emily White
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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by Emily White » December 8th, 2009, 3:14 pm

Be warned that I am certainly not an expert on queries--just giving my two cents.

I agree with other posters that you can cut out all the information concerning who would be interested in reading your book. I would tend to think that if you did your query well enough, the agent would be able to figure out on his own who your readers would be.

However, I thought the "beans, beans" comment was rather funny and gave me a great idea of who the guy is.

That being said, as you can see, I didn't quote you and I'm having a hard time remembering anything else you had written. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it does tell you what stands out and what doesn't. I frequent the Query Shark and there was a spectacular query posted on there that I read a few months ago and still remember. It had an amazing voice that immediately engaged me and I'm still hoping I get to read the book some day.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not an expert, but my suggestion would be to read it aloud to someone. They should be able to tell you what's missing and what works, based on their gut reactions. But the perhaps far too childish side of me says to keep the "beans, beans" part! I'm still chuckling over that one!
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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 8th, 2009, 7:45 pm

Therapist_Writer wrote:I would love to get objective opinions on my query. I'm tough skinned, and interested to see how others feel about it. Thanks, in advance. TW

Dear Awesome Agent:
Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. When Wayne, a client’s abusive boyfriend, decides to make Letty pay for “conspiring” with his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must learn to protect herself, her client, and Letty’s own newly achieved sobriety. Wayne gets busy and files a (false) sexual misconduct allegation with the state licensing board, sends a flurry of perverted porn magazines registered in Letty’s name to the clinic where she works, and hijacks her utilities. When Letty steadfastly protects her client, she receives a mutilated doll and several freaky Shakespearean sonnets. Strange—Wayne seemed more of a “Beans, beans, the musical fruit” kind of guy. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life. He wasn’t even the worst. Who else has been watching Letty? And who is willing to kill for her again?

THE ENEMY WE KNOW, a traditional mystery set in Chippewa Falls, WI, is complete at 88,000 words. As a stand alone or as the first in a planned series based on Alcoholic Anonymous’ Twelve Step program, THE ENEMY WE KNOW could target audiences of Lisa Scottoline and Kathy Reichs, as well as more than two million reported members of AA. Also of interest, Publisher’s Marketplace listed a new deal by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt to Nancy Cleary at Wyatt MacKenzie for publication in September 2010. Although not a mystery, THE WOMEN’S GROUP is labeled as the “bookend” to Rebeta-Burditt’s legendary hit, THE CRACKER FACTORY and is likely to spur readers’ interest in AA and the life of recovering women.

I am a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling. I’m also a member of Sisters In Crime, the Guppies online chapter, and a local critique/writing group, which I helped organize.

I would love to work with you on this project. May I send THE ENEMY WE KNOW for your consideration?

Sincerely yours,

Therapist Writer
I really like that you have added lots of details in here, although I agree with others that perhaps some of the details might seem a tad superfluous and you lose the story. If the plot is that she has more than one person stalking/watching her I wonder if there's too much attention paid to Wayne, who by the end of the query seems like just one person of many.

Still, I think you have good flow here, just make sure that the main plot is the one that shines through.

I'd also be careful about using AA as a selling point. In queries it's really common for agents to be told thing along the line of "X million people love bunnies so this bunny novel is sure to be a hit!" This obviously isn't that blatant, but think that you might change that somewhat, and I wouldn't mention the book that just sold.

Good luck!

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SmurfHead
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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by SmurfHead » December 8th, 2009, 10:39 pm

I love this query! Great pacing and a really promising description of the plot. I'm also really impressed at how you've managed, even in this brief letter, to give us a good taste of your narrative voice. (It's probably the only time I've ever seen the phrase, "beans, beans, the musical fruit" actually WORK in a business letter.)

I agree with other posters that the AA theme might need to be approached with a bit of caution. I would still mention this, however I probably wouldn't say that this book could appeal to the two million people in AA--feels like you're saying that alcoholics are a marketing demographic, which I guess they are, but still... It just felt a little callous upon first reading, though it may not seem so to everyone. That was just my first impression. Also, I wonder if the Publisher's Marketplace bit could be cut entirely? It shows that you've done some research, but I'm not convinced that these lines need to be there. At first reading, it made me think, "Wouldn't an agent get kind of annoyed by me telling them what's of interest?"

One line that kind of confuses me is, "And who is willing to kill for her again?" Huh? Someone else killed for Letty? Who did that? I think I'm the only one who had some issues with this line, so take my confusion with a grain of salt, please.

Overall, though, I really like this query. It makes me want to read the novel, and I don't normally like mysteries. I'm convinced that my interest stems from how clearly your voice shows through here. I really feel like I get a good sense of the overall tone of the work as well as a good sense of its main character.
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Therapist_Writer
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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by Therapist_Writer » December 9th, 2009, 12:40 pm

Wonderful advise from everyone. I'm pondering it all and making revisions. I'll post the changes in a bit, but I wanted to say how grateful I am to everyone for their input. It's invaluable!
Donna Glaser/TW

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Re: Query Peer Critique TW

Post by rose » December 9th, 2009, 9:49 pm

I hope you keep the "beans, beans...." I liked it too!

Nice job.
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Therapist_Writer
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Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

Post by Therapist_Writer » December 10th, 2009, 10:43 am

Here's my revised version. I'm wavering on the "beans, beans" line. People either love it or hate it--so it might just be to iffy to keep in. On the other hand, if I take it out the query seems bland and de-sparkled. At any rate, I so appreciate everyone's comments and advice. If I didn't seem to take it in this draft that doesn't mean I'm not mulling it over.
Many thanks!
Donna Glaser (TW)



Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. When a client’s abusive boyfriend decides to make Letty pay for abetting his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must protect herself, the client, and Letty’s own newly achieved sobriety. Among other scare tactics, a mutilated doll and several freaky Shakespearean sonnets are left on Letty’s doorstep. Strange—the creep seemed more of a “Beans, beans, the musical fruit” kind of guy. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder and continues receiving frightening stalker “gifts” does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life. He wasn’t even the worst. Someone else has been watching Letty. Someone jealous of the men in Letty’s life. Someone willing to kill again.

THE ENEMY WE KNOW, a traditional mystery set in Chippewa Falls, WI, is complete at 88,000 words. As a stand alone or as the first in a planned series based on Alcoholic Anonymous’ Twelve Step program, THE ENEMY WE KNOW could appeal to audiences of Lisa Scottoline and Kathy Reichs.

I am a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling. I’m also a member of Sisters In Crime, the Guppies online chapter, and a local critique/writing group, which I helped organize.

I would love to work with you on this project. May I send THE ENEMY WE KNOW for your consideration?

Sincerely yours,

Donna Glaser
(writing as Gracie Daniels)

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Re: Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

Post by Hillsy » December 10th, 2009, 11:26 am

Hi Donna,

I thought Jude's tweak was brilliant, and the revision is a great balance between that minimalist style and Nathan's praise of the details....I think you've hit a perfect balance with the amount of content to include (aside from the first line - firstly psychotherepists are professional secret keepers are they? they're thereapist. Also you allude to Letty's secrets, then they play no further part in the query. Something like...."Letty Whittaker, Phsychotherapist and recovering alcoholic, is about to learn that no good deed goes unpunished")

My gripes, therefore, are purely on wording. So rather than try and suggest a gazillion different options I'll just highlight the passages I thought stuck a bit and you can decide if you want to reword or just leave then be...it's your decision after all and I'm not an agent...=0)

Psychotherapist Letty Whittaker, a professional secret keeper, has a few secrets of her own. When a client’s abusive boyfriend decides to make Letty pay for abetting his fleeing girlfriend, Letty must protect herself, the client, and Letty’s own newly achieved sobriety. Among other scare tactics, a mutilated doll and several freaky Shakespearean sonnets are left on Letty’s doorstep. Strange—the creep seemed more of a “Beans, beans, the musical fruit” kind of guy. Only after Letty becomes a suspect in Wayne’s murder and continues receiving frightening stalker “gifts” does she realize that he wasn’t the only danger in her life. He wasn’t even the worst. Someone else has been watching Letty. Someone jealous of the men in Letty’s life. Someone willing to kill again.

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Re: Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

Post by Therapist_Writer » December 10th, 2009, 12:09 pm

Whoops, just realized I named Wayne, but never said clearly who he was. I'll be substituting "the boyfriend" for "Wayne."
TW

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Re: Query Peer Critique TW REVISED

Post by Therapist_Writer » December 10th, 2009, 12:12 pm

Also you allude to Letty's secrets, then they play no further part in the query. Something like...."Letty Whittaker, Phsychotherapist and recovering alcoholic, is about to learn that no good deed goes unpunished")

Hi Hillsy,
Thanks for your input. Actually, Letty's secrets have to do with her recent sobriety. She is keeping her alcoholism and recovery hidden. I'll keep your points in mind.
Many thanks,
TW

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