WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
idanelly
Posts: 9
Joined: December 19th, 2011, 1:53 pm
Contact:

WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Post by idanelly » July 2nd, 2012, 10:59 pm

Any help you could give me on the following query will be much appreciated.

Dear xx:

WILD SUNFLOWERS is a 75,000 word historical novel set on the South Dakota prairie in the 1940s. On a train platform, Mennonite charity worker Helen Janz meets the dashing red-jacketed Frank Warkentin and falls shoulders over ears in love. Unfortunately Frank's prodigal past tells him Helen is too conservative for him. But when she gets into a shouting, hair-pulling fight for his affection, he decides she's his kind of woman after all.

Helen walks the aisle in a satin gown and soon feels as blue as the wallpaper in her kitchen. Life on Frank's farm is lonelier than she expected, especially after she discovers she was wrong in thinking he shared her Mennonite faith. When he mocks and shuns Mennonites, Helen is torn between her heritage and her husband. A lost baby and an old flame strain the marriage to the splitting point, forcing Helen to reconsider deep-rooted beliefs about God, love, loyalty, and commitment.

WILD SUNFLOWERS was inspired by my Russian Mennonite roots in a community like Frank and Helen's. [here I'll put info about my previously published writing]

macaronimagpie
Posts: 5
Joined: July 6th, 2012, 11:44 am
Contact:

Re: WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Post by macaronimagpie » July 6th, 2012, 12:05 pm

I don't even, I just love this. Your writing is brilliant. The only suggestion I have is that from my query shark reading I know she likes to suggest that you start with your main character right off the bat, but you spend your first sentence giving details like title, setting and word count, then start the next sentence with a prepositional phrase. I would suggest moving the details to the end and maybe rearranging the first sentence a little so you show off your writing right from the start.

GeeGee55
Posts: 173
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 11:01 pm
Contact:

Re: WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Post by GeeGee55 » July 12th, 2012, 1:47 am

idanelly wrote:Any help you could give me on the following query will be much appreciated.

Dear xx:

WILD SUNFLOWERS is a 75,000 word historical novel set on the South Dakota prairie in the 1940s.

On a train platform, Mennonite charity worker Helen Janz meets the dashing red-jacketed (is the red jacket significant to the story in some way?) Frank Warkentin and falls shoulders over ears in love. Unfortunately Frank's prodigal past tells causes him to think Helen is too conservative for him. But when she gets into a shouting, hair-pulling fight for his affection, he decides she's his kind of woman after all. Very entertaining writing and choice of phrase
I get the sense that the marriage happens very quickly before they really know each other, perhaps some phrase here to make that clear Helen walks the aisle in a satin gown and soon feels as blue as the wallpaper in her kitchen. Life on Frank's farm is lonelier than she expected, especially after she discovers she was wrong in thinking he shared her Mennonite faith. When he mocks and shuns Mennonites, Helen is torn between her heritage and her husband. A lost baby and an old flame strain the marriage to the splitting point, forcing Helen to reconsider deep-rooted beliefs about God, love, loyalty, and commitment. You've got good conflict here and a good summary of the choice she's facing

WILD SUNFLOWERS was inspired by my Russian Mennonite roots in a community like Frank and Helen's. [here I'll put info about my previously published writing]
You've got a good story here. I think I'd enjoy reading it.

User avatar
LurkingVirologist
Posts: 97
Joined: July 9th, 2012, 11:04 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Post by LurkingVirologist » July 12th, 2012, 5:08 pm

I've highlighted a few places in blue and then put my comments in []

"WILD SUNFLOWERS is a 75,000 word historical novel set on the South Dakota prairie in the 1940s. On a train platform, Mennonite charity worker Helen Janz meets the dashing red-jacketed Frank Warkentin and falls shoulders over ears [is this a colloquial phrase from that time/community? for some reason it makes me picture her head spinning upside down] in love. Unfortunately Frank's prodigal past tells him [this makes it sound like 'Frank's prodigal past' is a character - I get what you are trying to say, and I like the characterization, but the wording is clunky] Helen is too conservative for him. But when she gets into a shouting, hair-pulling fight for his affection, he decides she's his kind of woman after all [nice - tells us a lot about both of them].

Helen walks the aisle in a satin gown and soon feels as blue as the wallpaper in her kitchen. Life on Frank's farm is lonelier than she expected, especially after she discovers she was wrong in thinking he shared her Mennonite faith [context? did he actively deceive her? if not, it makes her sound like an idiot for not checking something that important before she married him]. When he mocks and shuns Mennonites, Helen is torn between her heritage and her husband. A lost baby [do you mean she miscarried? gave a kid up for adoption? the phrasing is ambiguous - was he under the sofa the whole time?] and an old flame strain the marriage to the splitting point, forcing Helen to reconsider deep-rooted beliefs about God, love, loyalty, and commitment. "

The last sentence sounds a bit like a log line - if you could add in something specific about what deep seated beliefs she's questioning that would be helpful. Unless you are targeting a very specific niche market, assume that your reader is not familiar with mennonite beliefs and may not be religious at all - so if we're going to emotionally identify with Helen, you'll need to connect her crisis of faith to a universal emotional experience, some kind of gut-wrenching decision or realization that everyone in a committed relationship has probably experienced at one time or another.

Overall it sounds interesting. Not my cup of tea genre wise, but I'm always interested in authors who can take a subject or community with which I am unfamiliar (snarky atheist from one of those squiggly states on the left), and weave it into a story that I can identify with, and come away feeling like I learned about someone or something new.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

jenad
Posts: 14
Joined: August 5th, 2012, 10:08 pm
Contact:

Re: WILD SUNFLOWERS historical women's novel

Post by jenad » August 6th, 2012, 1:41 am

A good query but I would recommend making the opening sentence a bit more eye catching. Unfortunately, there are agents who will be judging the letter on those first few sentences. There needs to be a hook! I think you should rearrange it so the opening line isn't providing the information about genre and word count.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests