Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Thalia » September 17th, 2010, 9:44 am

London, 1882. When Emil Aleric was a child, he was kidnapped. He and his mother survived. The rest of his family didn't. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Corwin James, the Scotland Yard officer in charge of the case.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, horrifically mutilated. But what throws everybody off are the notes quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. Certain that the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, Emil resolves to stop him at any cost. He even stands a chance of avenging his family—if the Hatter doesn't kill him first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by abc » September 17th, 2010, 3:46 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford,

I’ve been enjoying reading and learning from your blog for a few years now and I’d be delighted if you would consider my 40,000 word young adult novel, The Year of My Ghost.

Fourteen-year-old Anabel has big plans for high school. She’s going to kick butt in Studio Art, place well on the tennis team, and finally get a date with the boy she’s been pining for since the start of 8th grade. But when her professor father decides to move the family to Australia for a year, her life is turned upside down (under). Instead of joining her friends and major crush as a freshmen at City High, Anabel will be attending an all girls boarding school in the city of Adelaide and spending every weekend with her family in a small river town in South Australia.

Swan Reach, South Australia looks like a recipe for boring until she discovers her new house is likely haunted. What’s more, there is Simon, the dishy, rugged boy that lives down the road. With his help they set out to solve the mystery of the haunting. As her year in Australia unfolds, Anabel discovers there’s more to life than homecoming dances and big city experiences.

The Year of My Ghost explores the bittersweet experiences of growing up, leaving home, falling in love, and the adolescent longing for things to happen.

Thank you for any consideration. I appreciate your time.


Alison Coffey

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by taylormlunsford » September 24th, 2010, 2:22 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford

The night of their college graduation, Maggie McGregor broke Will Buchanan’s heart. She thought she was doing what was best for both of them. They had their whole lives ahead of them. Neither of them needed to be tied down by the expectations of someone else. They deserved a chance to live their dreams, not compromise them for the sake of each other.

Maggie McGregor is a strong, intelligent college student with her future all planned out when she meets Will Buchanan. He’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man; he’s handsome, funny, considerate, and he’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with her. In the safe, uncomplicated world of college, they thought happily-ever-after would be easy. But when faced with the real world, Maggie chooses to go her own way rather than changing her plans for Will. She has spent the past four years studying at Oxford and working to become a successful novelist. Now that she’s succeeded, it’s time to head home and face her past, specifically the man she rejected to pursue her dreams. But can Maggie find her way back to Will Buchanan or has too much time passed for either of them to return to how they used to be?

A modern day tale, A STEADY WISH tells the story of Maggie and Will and their journey back to each other. An adult Maggie's memories provide the history of her relationship with Will as she moves closer to being able to embrace an adult life with the man she loves. With the help of her friends and family, Maggie realizes that she doesn’t have to compromise her dreams to be with the man she loves.

This romance novel is complete at approximately 90,000 words. A STEADY WISH is a book not only about the love between Maggie and Will, but the problems facing many graduating college students and young professionals today: should I plan my life around someone else? How do I know what will and won’t work out? Am I ready to live with that regret?

I am a senior English major, feminist studies and religion minor, at Southwestern University, a small liberal arts university in Texas. I wrote A STEADY WISH over the course of three semesters, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. Other than a few articles in my school newspaper, I am unpublished. I also have a weekly blog, With A STEADY WISH complete, I am currently writing my next novel, a Regency romance.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Taylor Lunsford

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by jennthewriter » September 24th, 2010, 2:55 pm

My heart raced as I looked from the answering machine to my husband. I hadn't told him anything about John. Not even that they had made a mistake in identifying a body they thought was him. My first reaction was to say, "I can explain," but I couldn't even get that out before Trevor asked, "Still feel safe?"

Completed at approximately 57,000 words, Chance Happenings is a romantic mystery set in modern day Colorado. It’s the story of what happens when jealousy takes a dark turn and lives are lost. In the vein of authors like Nicholas Sparks and Elizabeth Brundage, the story keeps you on your toes as it tugs at your heartstrings... then shocks you with its revelations.

Read Chance Happenings to discover the truth behind John’s disappearance and whether or not Cate will survive until death do us part. Please call or e-mail me and I'll send you a copy. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.

Jennifer Harrison

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by geistwrite » September 24th, 2010, 11:15 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Anna’s vampire mother and werewolf father abandoned her as a young child in an effort to protect her from their feuding races. Her existence has been disputed for the last fourteen years since her parents’ brutal murders, as both sides have attempted to locate her. 18 year old Anna, however, has no idea what her genealogy includes. She only knows that with her unnaturally perfect memory and incapacitating fevers, she doesn’t fit into the human world she has grown up in. Because of her early abandonment and growing up virtually alone, she is labelled ‘damaged’ and pitied by everyone around her. Peter, a wolf who finds her after years of searching, upsets the subtle balance of control she has maintained over her memories and fevers. With Peter’s help, Anna begins unravelling the truth about her heritage, falling for him in the process.

But before the pieces of her past can fall into place she is left broken and alone in a violent wolf attack. Following a single note left behind by Peter, she travels to the town of her birth. There she discovers the story of her heritage when she meets Stephen, Peter’s vampire brother. But answers about her past can’t help her find the love she has lost or decipher her own combined nature. She will have to reconcile the two sides of her inhuman heritage if she is to find a new hope for the future.

FADING GREY is an 86,000 word paranormal romance with YA crossover potential.

Thank you for considering my literary work for further review.

Last edited by geistwrite on October 15th, 2010, 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by gsfields2004 » September 26th, 2010, 1:37 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Major Jarv Guerra knew his Air Force career was at an end when he was put out to pasture in a dead-end NATO staff job in Italy. Accepting his fate, he set his sights on retiring and mustering the courage to marry the woman he loved. But when he starts having dreams about disasters before they happen, all of his plans erupt into the night sky like Mount Vesuvius.

Metaphysically shanghaied by an ancient oracle cursed with eternal life, Jarv is led on a journey through past, present, and future realities to recover the Lost Sibylline Books, decipher prophesies that foretell of an apocalyptic event, and figure out a way to stop it from happening. If that wasn’t enough to push him outside the envelope of sanity, Jarv meets the Greek god, Apollo, who tells him to ignore the oracle and destroy the books.

Using a combination of brains, skill, and guts, Jarv performs modern day Herculean tasks to uncover the truth. And while he has help from a cheeky British petty officer, his old academy roommate, and a French ex-fighter pilot with ties to the mafia, he alone must decide if he’ll stop an event that could destroy mankind. His decision will depend on who he trusts; a cursed oracle bent on avenging her fate or a Greek god with a score of his own to settle.

THE ORACLE’S REVENGE is a fast paced 91,000-word fantasy novel set in present day Europe where ancient myths and legends come alive in modern day storytelling.

I am a retired United States Air Force officer who lived a total of nine years in Europe and travelled extensively throughout the continent. During that time, I was fortunate enough to experience many of the rich and diverse European cultures and learn some of their fascinating stories and myths.

Thank you for your consideration and time.


Gregory Fields

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by ted » September 28th, 2010, 4:11 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford,

…I fear I have been killed because of what happened today at Swains Lock.

So begins the dried-out note that Vin Illick finds while scavenging planks from an abandoned shed near the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. It's signed by canal-hand Lee Fisher and dated 1924. Vin reads on:

I may be buried along with the others at the base of three joined sycamores… one tree leads to the money, the second leads to the killers and the third leads to the dead. In your search for me you may find the truth. Be careful you don’t share my fate.

Vin should be finishing his software consulting project and looking for a full-time job -- that was the plan when he and his fiancee Nicky relocated to Maryland so she could start work as a veterinarian. But to Nicky's chagrin, Vin becomes determined to find Lee Fisher's joined sycamores. Was Lee killed and buried along with the others? What about the money? And what happened at Swains Lock?

Following threads in the note, Vin finds fresh clues that seem intended for him. His investigation turns life-threatening in the woods, and he suspects a young widow associated with two accidental deaths is stalking his search. Why? As Vin closes in on the sycamores, his obsession with "Lee Fisher's truth" may cost him his relationship with Nicky, but calling it off may cost him his life. Because the past that Vin pursues is also pursuing him, and a confrontation with destiny and vengeance awaits him at Swains Lock.

SWAINS LOCK is a 116,000-word work of mainstream fiction written for lovers of treasure hunts and scary myths told around a campfire. I'm querying you because you're looking for thrillers that explore a unique space and time, and SWAINS LOCK does that for the wild and scenic Potomac River and its canal era.

Thanks very much for your consideration, and for your tireless efforts to demystify the role of literary agent for so many aspiring authors.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Guardian » September 29th, 2010, 4:42 pm

Last edited by Guardian on October 1st, 2010, 9:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by suja12 » October 1st, 2010, 12:41 am

Mr. Bransford,

Sixteen-year-old Mala's decision to take up cudgels on behalf of the environment gets the attention of the local mine owner. People who get his attention usually end up dead.

When Mala's mother gets a job at the Calvert Mining Company, it offers both mother and daughter a chance to leave behind their old town and its bitter memories. Mala decides to try and fit in her new school and town with as little fuss as possible.

The image on the local news of a blazing car and a dead EPA agent is the first indication Mala has of the state of affairs in her new town. But it is only when her friend, Aiyana, dies that Mala realizes how murky the waters really are. Aiyana had been crusading against the rampant pollution caused by the Calvert mines. Both deaths are labeled accidents by the police, though Mr. Calvert had both motive and opportunity.

Bitter and angry, Mala takes on Aiyana's cause, determined to bring down the powerful mine owner. In this she is aided by Brad, a junior in her school, whose sparkling green eyes hide a secret - his own connection to Aiyana. While warm feelings stir between them, a cold reality faces them. Mr. Calvert is not about to let a couple of teenagers stop him – and murder comes easy to him by now.

My YA novel FLUTE MUSIC, complete at 54,000 words, is available for your review.

Last edited by suja12 on October 7th, 2010, 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Diana Shelton
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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Diana Shelton » October 3rd, 2010, 10:26 am

Dear Mr. Bransford:

Something about college student, Eliahna Shay, doesn't quite fit. Like her friends, she's hard working, fun loving, and wouldn't mind dating a nice guy for a change. But when handsome Professor, Aiden Klemenson, singles her out as a potential Chosen of the Gods and a slobbering demon tries to eat her, Eliahna's aspirations change. Aiden convinces her that in order to survive, she must accept her fate and learn to harness the fierce magic within her. Despite Aiden's better judgment, desire burns between them with an enchantment all its own.

The evil Gods of Destruction have other ideas. Cunning and deceitful, they will try to break Eliahna's heart and spirit before she can become the Chosen of her patron God or Goddess- someone her atheist upbringing insists does not exist. Eliahna learns that it's hard to argue about the reality of the supernatural when magic is the only thing that can keep you alive.

Eliahna never imagined college could be that transforming.

CHOSEN BY THE GODS is a completed 90,000 word urban fantasy with romantic elements, in the vein of Laurell K Hamilton and Kim Harrison.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

priya g.
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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by priya g. » October 8th, 2010, 5:29 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Agora Beckwith can't congratulate herself for being a superhuman- there are just too many like her out there. She can only hide in the shadows and hope that her destiny will lead her to save lives and serve the ultimate purpose of her creation. Being a fire protector doesn't come with many perks: fingertips that give off fire sparks are hardly worth showing off; an inexplicable hunger for flames that can never be satiated is labelled freaky, reincarnation is overrated and an obsession with making checklists doesn't always come handy in this world.

She follows the checklist titled ‘Life’ to the dot, but crumples the same when Dave Douglas enters her life. Falling in love with a water protector was never an option, for has a flame ever lasted on a layer of ice? Every rational thought is clunked into the dustbin- from the knowledge of who she is to how dangerous this relationship can be, if the rulers of their kinds find out.

Protectors are supposed to be selfless; each moment of their human lives are devoted to saving creatures of Earth from the fatal effects of water and fire- from drowning episodes at sea to evacuating residents of a burning home. To fulfil their purpose, they work in harmony, the Water and Fire Protectors, but never cross boundaries that nature has erected between them. Never will a day come that water and fire will stand on the same ground without destroying each other.

When Dave and Agora face the punishment of an untimely end, they have to make a choice- separation and forgiveness or an impending road to doom.

A LULLABY is a YA paranormal romance, complete at 150,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by pavloviandoggy » October 9th, 2010, 6:24 pm

Young Deccaura is smitten. From the moment they meet, exotic Piorri captivates Deccaura with his talent for art and archery. As Piorri teaches Deccaura about his tribe’s culture, mundane treks in her father’s groves become grand adventures. Then a foreign plague strikes Deccaura’s family and her childhood swiftly ends.

Still reeling from her father’s death, Deccaura is forced into a marriage to an aloof and bankrupted king that only wants her dowry. Her husband coldly dismisses her even after she bears him an heir. The king’s spiteful mistress turns the court against her. As the king’s advisors deny Deccaura access to her own child, she becomes increasingly despondent. Trapped by her own loneliness, Deccaura finally gains a spark of happiness when a childhood Piorri reenters her life.

Soon Deccaura’s old infatuation transforms into a new desire. Yet Deccaura is gambling with more than her own heart. It is prophesied that an unfaithful queen will bring the goddess’s curse upon her entire country. Deccaura could lose everything she holds dear—her homeland, her child, and her lover—for a few moments of pleasure.

THE BEACON is a high/epic fantasy complete at 120,000 words. I am currently unpublished. I have included the first five pages below. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by CraftyCreations » October 12th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Dear Mr Bransford;

One in three women in the Armed Forces is sexually assaulted or raped by her comrade in arms.

Since 2005 CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS have reported on rape in the military. The Pentagon investigates, unit commanders try to find a way to stop it but more and more victims still come forward.

I was one of them.

In 1976, at the age of eighteen and fresh out of high school I joined the Women’s Army Corps. I hated Congress’ decision to get rid of the WAC’s and make us a part of the Army. I wasn’t crazy about firing weapons or running but I loved the camaraderie, my work as a pharmacy technician and supply sergeant and the sense of belonging to something bigger than me. I loved my time in Germany with its parties and carnivals but hated Fort Riley with its almost nightly rapes while I was in the field.

Everyone equates rape with violence, but no one thinks about the coercion and threats, something as simple as not going before a promotion board, being stuck on guard duty alone in the middle of the night, or desertion. Not all rapes are violent.

Germany had the reputation for "making" or "breaking" a marriage. Fort Riley had the reputation for "making" or "breaking" a person. I didn't break until my second trip to Germany and the man I broke it on suffered four broken ribs, a broken foot, a black eye, and a massive goose-egg on his head! I still don't feel guilty. I was threatened with courts-martial for causing injury to a superior officer but luckily my commander managed to have everything dropped provided I agreed to get out of the service for being three pounds over weight. I served for twelve years.

I took my oath seriously but rape changed everything for me. It left me quiet, alone, in fear and angry at myself. No longer did I want to die for country, I just wanted to die. Haunted by memories I remained silent for over twenty years.

SILENT NO MORE: A SOLDIER’S STORY OF SURVIVING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA is a 100,000-word memoir of my career in the Army and how I went from victim to survivor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I can spell - my keyboard can't.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by robyn » October 13th, 2010, 8:57 am

Dear Mr. Bransford,
Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart. They’re lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching.
A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy.
The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other.
Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma?
An adventure novel for middle graders, SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is complete at 35,000 words. Fans of Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET and Daniel Defoe’s ROBINSON CRUSOE will enjoy some of the same elements of adventure, with a strong young teen voice.
I am a horse owner and veteran trail rider. I also have type one diabetes and have experienced the physical and psychological symptoms associated with insulin deprivation.
If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission.
Thank you for your time and consideration. As per the guidelines on your website, the first ten pages are included in the body of this email.
Robyn Campbell

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by arbraun » October 22nd, 2010, 4:04 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford:

Alex Benson just lost his wife to suicide. With his spouse’s death haunting his heart, he can’t live a peaceful life, so he goes to an Apostolic Pentecostal church hoping extreme faith will help him heal. But when an adolescent Wiccan hypocrite named Kaitidid Rogers develops a crush on him, pursuing him with psychic powers, being a widower is the least of his worries. Now he faces the fight of his life to get rid of an insane schoolgirl who thinks she’s in love with him.

When Alex finds Drucilla Powers, she fills the void his wife left behind. Also a Wiccan, she initiates him into her coven when he leaves Christianity. Fat lot of good church did him with an underage psycho on his heels. Upon coming clean about Kaitidid when Drucilla spies her in the background of a few pictures she’d taken of him, she rushes home to cast a counter spell on her to bind her.

Alex descends back into grief when Drucilla spontaneously combusts before she can cast the spell. He knows Kaitidid is behind the “accidental death,” and, not thinking, calls the police, who take her side. Lucky for him, God doesn’t. Alex repents with a contrite heart and begs Him for the strength to overcome.

Since Alex tattled on her and Kaitidid can’t break through with her powers anymore, she comes after him with a butcher knife. Now he’ll have to kill or be killed if he ever wants to live a normal life again.

BOOK OF SHADOWS is a completed 66,000-word horror novel similar to novels such as CARRIE by Stephen King and THE REACH by Nate Kenyon.

I’m querying you because you said you’re looking for not only the genres you favor, but also whatever you might like. I used to be a serious Wiccan, and I have a background in the Apostolic Pentecostal faith, so I’ve been on both Alex and Kaitidid’s sides. I have ten short story publications, plus a chapter of a guidebook soon to be released.

I also can’t stand the Lakers.

I appreciate your time in considering my query.

Best Regards,

A. R. Braun


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