NEW - 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: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by CVCort » July 9th, 2020, 11:57 pm

Query: When Happily Ever After Fails

Dear Agent:
Abigail Gardner was the kind of person who could feel alone in a crowded room. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it – because said tree’s parents were dead and twentysomething friends can only provide so much support – does it still make a sound?
Tired of feeling sorry for herself and trying her hand once more at teaching, a skill that came easy for her father, Abigail sets out to rewrite the rules on endings. Tragic endings, to be exact. Motivated by an assigned reading list full of death and destruction and strong-armed by her prep school’s headmistress into helping the drama club, Abigail begins to realize that tragedies don’t have to stay that way.
But can revising a few sad endings really prevent her fifth and sixth graders from experiencing such negative themes so early on? More importantly, can her exercise in revisionist history help her write her own happy ending, or was her fate doomed from the start?
When Happily Ever After Fails is a 94,000-word women’s fiction novel with series potential. It is available, in part or in full, upon request.
I am a full-time freelance writer who contributes to print magazines, online publications and broadcast segments. I hold Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and sociology from UC Irvine, and a Master of Arts in journalism from USC. I also spent a semester studying British literature at Cambridge University (Pembroke). Like Abigail, I know what it’s like to go through life as an only child with two deceased parents, a theme I have previously explored in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
I thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by BrendaHaas » July 11th, 2020, 5:49 pm

Dear Agent,

After reading your #MSWL listing and noting your interest in unique settings, I am submitting sample pages of SUTTON’S CHOICE, a contemporary women’s fiction. Complete at approximately 80,000 words, the story explores the ties binding us to our roots.

When Charlotte Sutton’s estranged father, a retired baseball player and prize-winning author, is thought to have early onset Alzheimer’s disease, the 28-year-old writer returns to her hometown of Lakeside, Ohio, to face her past and the Lake Erie life from which she fled 10 years prior.

Since her hasty departure from the vintage, waterfront community of ivy-covered cottages with unlocked doors, Charlotte has snagged a city job and mostly—barely—stepped out from behind Chuck Sutton’s shadow. Still, she struggles to bury memories of her parents’ pre-divorce brawls, the chatter of small-town gossips, and the “Three strikes, you’re out!” with every bat, ball, and glove the charismatic patriarch of the family thrust into her hands when she was a child. Upon her homecoming for the first time since her high school graduation—one of many life events Chuck did not attend—Charlotte is greeted by a teenage half-sibling she didn’t know she had and a father who has lost all but a glimmer of his former swagger. The family newspaper is failing as quickly as its editor’s health. Charlotte must decide to embrace the Sutton legacy or leave for good, as she comes to understand Chuck’s life choices and her own misconceptions about what it means to plant family roots in small-town Ohio.

I am a past reporter and columnist for Penn Franklin News Publishing Company (a Pittsburgh press). My writing has also appeared in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and The Beacon newspapers, in addition to Leisure Living Magazine and My Outer Banks Home magazine. Now living in Lakeside (a real Chautauqua community attracting hundreds of thousands of annual vacationers), I run a writing program at the library, am a member of a critique group, and maintain a writing advocacy website with blog at

Thank you very much for considering my manuscript, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Brenda Haas

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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by LeaSloan » July 15th, 2020, 12:57 pm

Dear (Name of Agent),

I am seeking representation for my middle-grade fantasy-adventure with a climate theme: THE POLAR BEAR KING. It’s a story with heart and humor that will appeal to kids who love science, magic, adventure and animals, and I hope to you too.

Siblings Pan and Tari are swept into a mission: to save the Polar Bear King. Called upon by their friend and adventure partner, Jasper the invisible purple dog, they magically rocket to the Arctic. The King has set out to find new lands for his animal subjects as the changing climate threatens their way of life. They must find him and persuade him to return, before he drowns or the native hunters find him, and the kingdom loses its beloved leader.

Pan’s a skeptic. How could he help save the King? He can’t even make his parents proud of him. But his sister Tari leaps at every hurdle, sometimes rashly. She’s passionate about saving the animals. Pan thinks the Inuit need to help determine the outcome. Jasper wants to be a worthy mentor and earn his Wizard robe.

They confront escalating challenges. They find a magical muskox horn and call together a quirky animal team. They have to negotiate with the local fishermen but earn the friendship and help of the Inuit Captain’s son, a boy their age. Woven through the story are legends told by the Inuits and the animals that shed light on solving problems they face and using the mystical tools that come their way.

The book is planned as the first of a fantasy-adventure series for kids in the context of a changing climate. My expertise in those areas was enhanced by a decade as head of communications at (--), promoting kids programming that included addressing difficult issues in an entertaining way, and since then with a national environmental nonprofit (---) . I also serve as a volunteer with (---) on their national Forests and Climate Team.

The completed manuscript, 57,800 words, is available upon request. Thank you for considering it.

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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by kimharnes » October 26th, 2020, 12:25 pm

Thank you, Nathan!

Dear Agent,

Miriam’s boyfriend has been murdered, and she’s placing the blame on God. Hell-bent on rebelling against anything that has to do with church, including her hypocritical mother and the peer counseling that’s been forced upon her for showing up to youth group drunk, she has put up walls even the trumpets at Jericho would have trouble bringing down.
Though her peer counselors have the best of intentions, Miriam is perfectly content to be perfectly miserable, and she flings scripture back at them like Satan at the Last Temptation of Christ. One by one they count her a lost cause—an unrepentant sinner—until only her last option remains, but this new guy is not taking the same tactics as the rest of the counselors who came before him. Miriam can’t exactly trash his logic and deny his reasoning if he won’t debate Christianity with her like the rest.
Though he is effective in his unorthodox tactics and making progress where no one else could even scratch the surface, he is genuinely charming and handsome. Miriam, in addition to being angry at everyone for everything, is crippled by feelings of betrayal to her dead boyfriend when she even thinks about the possibility of moving on.
Especially with a Pastor’s Kid.
Desperate to have someone make sense of her wretched existence, she finally turns to God—waiting impatiently for answers as to why He lets bad things happen to good people. But when she finally does hear His voice, He asks her to do the impossible. He asks her to forgive: her boyfriend’s murderer, her alcoholic mother, and ultimately, herself.
Complete at 62,000 words, SECOND CHANCE is a YA Contemporary Christian novel that answers some tough questions about free will, forgiveness, and God’s hand in it all.
My debut novel, a YA Psychological Thriller titled STILL PHOTO, was released by Evernight Teen in 2014. It jumped to the top 5 in sales almost immediately after publication, and spent 11 months at #1. It has received excellent reviews, and was a finalist for ET’s Best YA and Killer Nashville Reader’s Choice awards. I am also an active member of the SCBWI, and have led the local critique group and taught several workshops on the craft of writing.
The first three chapters of SECOND CHANCE appear below for your consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or if you would like to see more of the manuscript.
Thank you for your time.



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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by TheSoundAndFury » October 26th, 2020, 1:01 pm

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent's Last Name,

My name is John, and I'm excited to share my debut novel with you because of your interest in adult science fiction and thrillers. I believe your interest in (MSWL quote) would make my novel a perfect fit. Complete at 86,000 words, NEON FEVER will appeal to fans of Ghost in the Shell, and The Bone Collector.

Kain Forsyth is broken. After an attack while serving a tour off world with the United Offworld Special Forces, Kain finds himself unable to receive any cybernetic enhancements. No new organs, no new limbs, no second chances. His struggles leave him resentful and bitter in a world where everyone and everything is connected via neural implants.

Reckless and hostile, His struggles leave him resentful but Kain finally finds his calling when a hyper-advanced A.I begins to infiltrate the neural network, hijacking the bodies of its victims and forcing them to commit horrible murders. Kain’s illness makes him one of the only people immune to the attacks, but also puts him at a disadvantage against the dangerous semi-robotic citizens the A.I sends after him.

With the help of a talented hacker with a personal tie to the hunt, Kain must put his PTSD and self-loathing aside in order to out smart the killer. As he closes in on the mastermind, Kain discovers this killer might not be seeking vengeance but trying to save the world.

I’m currently a programmer for the State of Florida. My short fiction has been published in Daily Science Fiction. I’ve also had a strong love for everything Science Fiction and I am currently seeking a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by JasonOkan » October 28th, 2020, 12:56 am

"Don't go in, my dear. Don't go in."

Layla Akins heard these words repeated to her over and over in the same dream every night. The words were always spoken by her mother whose death had left her shattered less than a year ago.

Unhappy with her father and his new girlfriend, she accepts the nomination along with some other students to represent her school at the historic Model United Nations Conference taking place for the first time in Lagos, Nigeria.

Peace is all she was searching for and she believed that time away from home was what she needed. But the peace she desperately sought was non-existent as strange things begin happening at the hotel.

Other students that came to the conference start to go missing from the hotel. A malevolent entity walks the grounds bringing darkness in its wake. And a mysterious boy, a boy who may be more than any boy she’s ever met, could pull her into a world of wonder and intrigue if she lets him.

As tensions begin to run high among the conference attendees, Layla will have to decide if, despite her grief and weakened mental state, she is strong enough to resist the call of the entity or be taken into the darkness forever.

Complete at 71,000 words, THE VALLEY AT DUSK is a Young-Adult speculative fiction novel with elements of horror and fantasy. The character-driven plots with multiple POVs will appeal to fans of Stephen King’s IT, Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows trilogy, and the Netflix TV show; Stranger Things.

I am currently a lawyer living in Lagos, Nigeria with over a thousand followers combined from both my Instagram and Twitter handles @thejasonokan.

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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by AndrewStiller » October 29th, 2020, 4:15 pm

If you are familiar with THE STATIONERY SHOP, by Marjan Kamali, you may be interested in representing THE PROMISE which shares similar thematic elements.
In the late summer of 1961, a young German couple, Willie and Mina, are forced to live on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. Willie finds himself trapped in East Berlin. With no resources at his disposal, he must find a way to remain undetected in order to escape and reunite with Mina who has been living with friends in the West. After months of careful planning and preparation, he makes his way through the sewer system to freedom, but not before being seriously wounded in a shootout with a pair of guards. Upon his recovery he asks for Mina and learns that, in his long absence, her fashion career has successfully launched and she is no longer living in Germany.
Willie promises to find Mina and begins his search with little information to guide him. His travels take him to the colorful fashion district of Paris where a chance encounter with an older gentleman, Pierre, holds the key to reuniting the young couple. But before Pierre can help, he must first come to terms with the demons from his own past that have estranged him from the people he loves.
THE PROMISE is upmarket fiction at 71,300 words. The story is inspired by my travels through Eastern Europe during the height of the Cold War and is a tribute to three generations of women in my family who are accomplished dressmakers.
I would be grateful if you would consider THE PROMISE for representation. Thank you very much, and I hope to speak with you soon.
Andrew Stiller

Neil Larkins
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Neil Larkins » October 30th, 2020, 9:58 pm

From: Neil Larkins
To: [Agent name]

Dear [Agent name]

I've seen several books you have represented and you indicate that you welcome memoir. Following is a query for my double memoir, The Last Time You Fall: Three Weeks When Love Meant Everything and Acceptance Meant More. This is a double memoir, so also features the words of Teresa, told in vignettes and reminiscences by "Me" or "Her."
It began amid a critical period in my life, September, 1964 at a college dance where I met a cute, blonde Coed. After a rocky start - I was smitten by her looks and smile; she loathed me - we became an item. From there our lives intertwined and traveled in parallel while we attended classes, wrangled precious time together, and learned about love and acceptance. Love, because we wanted it. Acceptance, because we needed it, especially Teresa. Born handicapped by cerebral palsy, she'd craved it all her life.
Yet we were very different. I originated from a lower-middle class family, while Teresa was from money and privilege. Our only commonality was that we each came from a small town and loved art, music and dance. We did have similar goals: we both wanted to escape our restricted lives growing up: I aspired to be an architect; Teresa to become a Special Education teacher. I was naïve in many ways; she disarmingly street smart, savvy - and charming. She was crippled - her word - and I didn't care; I fell totally in love with everything about her. She expressed the same to me and gave her best advice to polish the "sterling character" she said I had. All this was out in the open to us both and by week three I was ready to ask her to marry me.
Yet everything was not as it seemed. My life had started to coalesce, while Teresa's life was torn to shreds as threats of expulsion crushed in on her. Teresa hid this deterioration from me and then suddenly cut off our relationship. She confessed that her words and actions had all been a lie, that she'd only been playing with me in response to a dare from dormmates. Besides, she was promised to another.
What happened after that, what I did and most importantly, what she almost did and why is the rest of the story.

This work is complete at 81,600 words.

Thank you for considering this. Profile for me under separate cover.

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