Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

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BethC
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Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by BethC » June 21st, 2010, 2:45 pm

Friends,

After a month of being one with my computer, I am ready to start the query process once more. Below are two versions I'm considering. Please tell me what you think. My MS has gone through a major revision. Now my query needs to be on the spot.


CHOICE ONE:

Dear (Agent of choice),

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.

A serial killer isn't the only man thinking about Presley, though having a killer on your trail should be enough. Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years, is having visions of her abduction and murder. When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture. When the killer escapes from jail, determined to add her to his collection of victims, Reid is unable to stop him. This time, saving Presley, will take all Reid's magic, love, and more.

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 90,000 words. I am prepared to send a partial or full manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel.

Sincerely,

(name and contact information)

CHOICE TWO:

Dear Agent of choice,

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.

Receiving a letter from a serial killer is just the first of unexpected events. Presley is able to connect to the inner emotion of others, but no matter how hard she tries, she can't find the one person harboring murderous thoughts. And then, there is the matter of Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years. He's having visions of her abduction and murder. Reid's visions are a result of a 400 year old spell. Now all first born sons use the visions to find their soul mates. Seeing her in the vision, he realizes that is exactly who she is.

When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture. When the killer escapes from jail, determined to complete the job he intended at Christmas, Reid is unable to stop him. With Presley literally under the killer's knife, Reid knows saving her a second time will take all his magic, love, and more.

(Last paragraph same as above.)

The second one has 263 words, still acceptable length. I'm stessing big time over this. Any all comments and suggestions are appreciated. Beth

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by clara_w » June 21st, 2010, 3:15 pm

Hi Beth!

I have to say I really liked both queries, but n. 02 appeals a tad more to me. It explains things under a different and interesting light.

I´d just cut the word "magic " on the last sentence though as his powers seem to be something more supernatural then magical...

Could you also help me out with my query? I´s Jade´s Hurricane.

Thanks and good luck!

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by Quill » June 21st, 2010, 4:57 pm

BethC wrote:Friends,

CHOICE ONE:

Dear (Agent of choice),

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.
A decent opening. Suggest a few tweaks:

1. Consider changing "senior year" to eighteenth year, to give "senior picture" more punch.

2. Consider changing one of the "expects" to another word, a synonym.

3. Consider omitting "on her eighteenth birthday", as you are already using "birthday" in the same sentence.

4. Consider saying "senior picture mutilated" rather than. "mutilated senior picture"; it is probably more accurate (she would first see that it is her pic, and then that it is mutilated) (and also is written to give a surprise and hopefully a jolt in the reader).
A serial killer isn't the only man thinking about Presley, though having a killer on your trail should be enough.
I don't agree. If her father is thinking of her, for instance, I would consider that a plus.

Enough for what? You seem to imply that it is a burden to have others thinking of her.
Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years, is having visions of her abduction and murder.
This seems to be apart from the preceding. It reads as something only he knows. It feels like a point-of-view change. Actually the second. We seem to have already gone from Presley (she expects) to narrator omniscient (having a killer should be enough) to Reid (is having visions). Not sure that technically that' s what's happening, but it's feeling jumpy.

When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her.
A bit awkward, maybe break into two sentences. "When the killer moves, Reid arrives just in time." There are two descriptions of time there, actually three with Christmas Eve. Maybe remove either "when" or "just in time."
The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture.
First sentence good. Second borders on cliche. Third is vague. Also, we lack context for the progression. Is this all happening "immediately" on Christmas Eve? As it is, it feels a little unreal.
When the killer escapes from jail, determined to add her to his collection of victims, Reid is unable to stop him.
This is a lot for one sentence. It is also awkward with time-frame again. When the killer escapes, Reid can't stop him. Upon the killer's escape...Reid probably wouldn't even be aware of the killer at that point.
This time, saving Presley, will take all Reid's magic, love, and more.
Magic? This is out of left field. The paranormal element enters only here at the end? Couldn't we know something of this earlier, to give it some credibility?

And, Reid comes off as the main character. Are they meant to be co-main characters? She is coming across passive.

Also, a little odd saying Reid can't stop him, and yet saves her. Does she die?

What is "and more"? It's better to omit or be specific.

All in all we may be getting too deep into this story for a query. Is there any way to end it with the killer's escape?

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 90,000 words. I am prepared to send a partial or full manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel.
Omit "I am prepared to send a partial or full manuscript upon your request" as being implied and understood.


CHOICE TWO:

Dear Agent of choice,

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.

Receiving a letter from a serial killer is just the first of unexpected events. Presley is able to connect to the inner emotion of others, but no matter how hard she tries, she can't find the one person harboring murderous thoughts. And then, there is the matter of Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years. He's having visions of her abduction and murder. Reid's visions are a result of a 400 year old spell. Now all first born sons use the visions to find their soul mates. Seeing her in the vision, he realizes that is exactly who she is.

When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture. When the killer escapes from jail, determined to complete the job he intended at Christmas, Reid is unable to stop him. With Presley literally under the killer's knife, Reid knows saving her a second time will take all his magic, love, and more.

(Last paragraph same as above.)

The second one has 263 words, still acceptable length. I'm stessing big time over this. Any all comments and suggestions are appreciated. Beth
I like the first version better.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by Holly » June 21st, 2010, 5:12 pm

BethC wrote:Friends,

After a month of being one with my computer, I am ready to start the query process once more. Below are two versions I'm considering. Please tell me what you think. My MS has gone through a major revision. Now my query needs to be on the spot.


CHOICE ONE:

Dear (Agent of choice),

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.

A serial killer isn't the only man thinking about Presley, though having a killer on your trail should be enough. Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years, is having visions of her abduction and murder. When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture. When the killer escapes from jail, determined to add her to his collection of victims, Reid is unable to stop him. This time, saving Presley, will take all Reid's magic, love, and more.

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 90,000 words. I am prepared to send a partial or full manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel.

Sincerely,

(name and contact information)

CHOICE TWO:

Dear Agent of choice,

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.

Receiving a letter from a serial killer is just the first of unexpected events. Presley is able to connect to the inner emotion of others, but no matter how hard she tries, she can't find the one person harboring murderous thoughts. And then, there is the matter of Reid Montgomery, a guy she's crushed on for three years. He's having visions of her abduction and murder. Reid's visions are a result of a 400 year old spell. Now all first born sons use the visions to find their soul mates. Seeing her in the vision, he realizes that is exactly who she is.

When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture. When the killer escapes from jail, determined to complete the job he intended at Christmas, Reid is unable to stop him. With Presley literally under the killer's knife, Reid knows saving her a second time will take all his magic, love, and more.

(Last paragraph same as above.)

The second one has 263 words, still acceptable length. I'm stessing big time over this. Any all comments and suggestions are appreciated. Beth
I prefer the first query. It tells enough to whet our appetite, but doesn't tell too much. The one and only thing I would change: This time, saving Presley,take out this comma will take all Reid's magic, love, and more.

Also, I try to avoid repeating words from sentence to sentence, but it's okay when they play off each other. The "expect" and "senior" in the second sentence are playing off/answering those words in the first sentence, so they seem fine -- I wouldn't change them.

Good luck!

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by bigheadx » June 21st, 2010, 5:42 pm

FWIW: Very impressed with these observations!
Quill wrote:
BethC wrote:Friends,

CHOICE ONE:

Dear (Agent of choice),

Presley O'Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn't expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.
A decent opening. Suggest a few tweaks:

1. Consider changing "senior year" to eighteenth year, to give "senior picture" more punch.

2. Consider changing one of the "expects" to another word, a synonym.
.....
Last edited by bigheadx on June 22nd, 2010, 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by cheekychook » June 21st, 2010, 6:34 pm

I think Choice One is a stronger letter. It's concise yet detailed and it has a good flow to it.

The use of "expect" in the first two sentences seemed appropriate. If (and only if) you wanted to eliminate the repetition of the word "senior" you could say last year of high school instead. I wouldn't change it to eighteenth year because then you'll be repeating "eighteenth" and not everyone is eighteen during their senior year, so it doesn't help to clarify the time period in your character's life.

"A serial killer isn't the only man thinking about Presley, though having a killer on your trail should be enough." This sentence feels a little off to me. I think I know what you're trying to say---a serial killer has her on his mind, but so does Reid--- that's not quite how it comes across. It made me think that some other nefarious person was also thinking about her. Maybe even just switching around the order within the sentence--- "A murderer (to not say "killer" and "serial killer" in same sentence) on her trail is enough, but a serial killer isn't the only man thinking about Presley." (I switched the "your trail" to "her trail" because I didn't think you really wanted to address the reader. If you did, just ignore that change!)

The only other thing I would question is the line "The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful." I'm assuming that the intensity of this situation makes them fall in love, right away. I'm guessing that they already know each other (you've told us she's been crushing on him for three years) so that makes the word "immediate" seem odd. Is it a realization they both have immediately following the intense experience? Is it the "connection" rather than "love" that is immediate? Does a powerful love develop as a result of the shared traumatic moment? Can I ask any more questions while managing to still not get my point across? (Unfortunately the answer to that last one is "Why, yes, I'm sure I can....")

Overall I think this query reads very well. It also made me want to read the book (even though YA paranormal romance would not be a genre I'd generally choose).

Hope you'll continue to post modifications if you make them. And congratulations on getting through a major revision---that's a great accomplishment!

Best of luck to you!
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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by BethC » June 21st, 2010, 7:16 pm

As I replied to earlier posts, several more suggestions came my way. If you will, now take a look at this new second paragraph. It takes a whole new slant and doesn't focus as much on Reid. I've also explained a little more in the paragraph below this one to let you know a little more about the story.


I keep struggling to get Reid into the query in the right way. He's three years older...away at college...and someone she had a major crush on when he was a senior. they know each other but never really had a relationship. the story now begins with the arrival of the letter. that night she has a nightmare...in which there are two pair of eyes. One of course represents the serial killer and later the reader will learn the second pair are Reid's. (Presley is only aware of the 2nd eyes, she doesn't know who or what they represent at the time ) During this part of the story, Reid's name comes up several times...each time she has a strong reaction. At Christmas when the killer tries to grab her Reid is there to save her (having seen this in a vision). At the time neither of them share their little psychic abilities. (yes, Presley also has the ability to connect physically to others' emotions...it's how she know Reid is hiding something) Reid has just begun having visions and he's still trying to come to terms not only with visions but the reason his family has them. The reader will find at a later time that the visions are a result of a spell placed on the family 400 years before when the family line was threatened with extinction. the vision leads the first born sons to their one true love (as a little twist, every 4th generation has triplet sons and of course Reid is the next in line) so when he saves her the immediate bond is due to the spell...the finding of ones true soul mate. At the end, when the jail break takes place, Reid is working on the family ranch and is too far away to get to Presley before the guy gets her. His vision shows him what is happening and where she is....(also woven thru the story is a secondary character the reader will first believe is responsible for the letter, then sees that he isn't, then finds out in a twist at the end his involvement.) Just didn't think I should go thru all the twists and turns in a query. Presley and Reid are the main focus.

what do you think about this: First paragraph basically the same. I like the change from mutilated senior picture to senior picture mutilated.

Second paragraph: A different approach.

Believing the threat is a sick joke from a classmate who doesn't like her, she keeps the letter's existance from her parents. When the killer makes more threats, her fear forces her to tell. With the police involved and her friends staying close by, the killer must bide his time. He finds his opportunity on Christmas Eve as Presley walks to her car from a spur of the moment shopping trip. Presley is saved by Reid Montgomery, a friend of her older brother and someone she's had a crush on for three years. The chemistry between them is explosive. But Reid is keeping a secret. He has visions. Its something he hasn't come to terms with yet, and its a secret that almost destroys their relationship. In the ultimate test of love, Reid must uses his visions and more, to save Presley a second time.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by Quill » June 21st, 2010, 7:49 pm

Beth,

I do like your story, and I sympathize with the difficulty of getting the query right.

I think you need to work on emphasizing the main points and avoid getting too detailed or into a blow-by-blow account of events, like what might be more appropriate for a synopsis.

You start well with the intro of the girl and then the threat.

Then we aren't quite sure who this guy is and what their history is. Especially the paranormal aspect.

Then there's a major incident where he saves her and they fall in love. That's clear.

But we're not sure how that progresses; we lack some time context and don't know his feelings.

By now we are also not quite sure who the main characters is. By your intro, we assume it's her, but by now he seems to predominate the story.

Then there's a fairly abrupt advance to the killer escaping and a vague climax; not sure if she dies, not sure what his powers are, what he does.

We actually don't need to know the climax (I think you even give the denouement; he saves her). What we really need to know is the conflict (the big problem) and the stakes. Can you build the tension by telling us clearly about them and the situation and without giving us the release?

That will have agents asking for pages.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by mfreivald » June 21st, 2010, 9:54 pm

Of the three, I like the first the best.

The explanations in the other two don't build the tension for me, and they only confuse the main thrust of the query. I don't need to know why Reid has visions for this to work, and I don't think you need to give us all of the soul-mate stuff. Leaving that question open will add to the tension you build in the query.

I would probably try to build the tension this way:
1) Establish that a prank turns out to be a real threat, which Presley barely escapes due to the visions of her long-time crush.
2) Show how their relationship is just starting to bloom when the shocking new vision comes in.
3) Hint at the desperation of their plight.

Just winging it here:
It had to be someone's sick idea of a prank. A letter wishing Presley a "Happy Last Birthday" included her photo, eyes pierced, a slash through the middle, and covered in sticky red goop she thought was paint. Her own second-sight fails her, and only the psychic vision of her long-time crush, Reid, saves her from the serial killer who sent it. As their attraction draws them close, their first kiss is interrupted by another shocking vision where Reid sees himself helpless to stop the serial killer go after Presley again. Reid must risk everything and draw upon all his power to break the bonds of prophecy and save his love.
For the second paragraph, I'd try to relate the internal struggle to the plot, but that seems to be my canned way of doing things right now. I'm not certain of its wisdom, yet. Still--here goes:
My YA 90,000 word paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, explores the power of unrequited love against the inaccessible powers of the paranormal, and follows what two people are willing to do against those who seek to destroy them.
Everything after the title I pulled out of the air just to demonstrate. You would need to find something more appropriate for your book.

I see a lot of potential in what you've described here. Good luck!

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by BethC » June 21st, 2010, 10:36 pm

how many ways can I say thank you for the suggestions. Your ideas/comments give me another way to approach this. I swear, even taking a year to get my MS in the shape I want it has been easier than this. I think its because so much rides on my letter. I'll post revision soon.

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Re: 4th revision, yes, no, I would have loved....

Post by BethC » June 22nd, 2010, 12:13 am

Okay, last comment really gave me something to consider. I felt stuck, trying to tell enough, without too much, and you all know the pitfalls. anyway, I've made another go at it using some of the suggestions to fit my story. So....yes or no?

Dear Agent of choice,


When Presley O’Connor receives a letter wishing her a happy last birthday, she believes it’s a classmates attempt at sick humor. Even her senior picture, eyes missing, red slashes crisscrossing her face doesn’t convince her it’s anything more. At least not until another girl goes missing, and a second threat, more ominous than the first, is received.

When her own psychic powers fail her, it is the quick action of her long-time crush, Reid, which saves her from a serial killer. Drawn together by such a traumatic event, their relationship fast forwards to love. But love, even when you’re psychic, is complicated. Presley soon realizes Reid is more than the blue-eyed hunk she’s adored from afar, and Reid, unable to cope with his secret visions, believes it’s best to leave her.

Presley’s nightmares of a second attempt on her life, and Reid’s admission that living without her is a sacrifice he’s not willing to make, bring them back together. When Presley’s nightmares become a reality, she fears not even their combined powers will be able to save her.

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 90,000 words. The story leads the reader through the horror of a kidnapping and the power of true love, as two people are willing to risk all to save those they love.

Sincerely,

(name and contact info)

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Re: 4th revision, yes, no, I would have loved....

Post by Quill » June 22nd, 2010, 12:43 am

This query feels much more on the right track. It feels properly weighted, for lack of a better term. It feels like it stresses the most important things.
BethC wrote:When Presley O’Connor receives a letter wishing her a happy last birthday, she believes it’s a classmates attempt at sick humor. Even her senior picture, eyes missing, red slashes crisscrossing her face doesn’t convince her it’s anything more.
"Classmate's" with apostrophe. The second sentence, though not quite grammatically correct (picture, eyes missing...), has a winning immediacy.
At least not until another girl goes missing, and a second threat, more ominous than the first, is received.
1. Maybe omit "At least not" and start with "Until..."

2. "is received" is passive. How about "...than the first, arrives."
When her own psychic powers fail her, it is the quick action of her long-time crush, Reid, which saves her from a serial killer.
This is good, but might be made stronger and tie-in better with a different order: "It is the quick action of her long-time crush, Reid, that saves her from a serial killer, when her own psychic powers fail her." Just a thought.
Drawn together by such a traumatic event, their relationship fast forwards to love.
"Drawn together by such a traumatic event" is a little awkward. How about "after sharing this trauma, their relationship..." Or "after joining in trauma, their relationship..." Something to that effect.
But love, even when you’re psychic, is complicated. Presley soon realizes Reid is more than the blue-eyed hunk she’s adored from afar, and Reid, unable to cope with his secret visions, believes it’s best to leave her.
It's good info but I think you can state this better. The weak phrases "is complicated", "is more" and "his secret visions" need more specificity. Also, these secret visions sound a bit unrelated, the way you've written it.
Presley’s nightmares of a second attempt on her life, and Reid’s admission that living without her is a sacrifice he’s not willing to make, bring them back together. When Presley’s nightmares become a reality, she fears not even their combined powers will be able to save her.
This is quite well stated, and is not a bad way to end it.
My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 90,000 words.
Good.
The story leads the reader through the horror of a kidnapping and the power of true love, as two people are willing to risk all to save those they love.
This final blurb encapsulating the theme is probably not a good idea. It's far better to have shown this above, even if you need to add words, than to state it here.

Overall, I like all the things you are saying. I think you could refine how you say some of them, to get the maximum effect. Good work.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by BethC » June 22nd, 2010, 1:03 am

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do feel like I'm getting there. It's exciting to be so close.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by mfreivald » June 22nd, 2010, 1:09 am

I'm at the end of my energy, but I will comment on this:
The story leads the reader through the horror of a kidnapping and the power of true love, as two people are willing to risk all to save those they love.
This section of the query is difficult because it should clearly relate back to the previous paragraphs, but it should also offer something fresh. What you have pretty much repeats what we already know. (This may be in contradiction to a comment I made for another query--but I think the error is over there, not here.) What does it mean to "risk all?" What kinds of difficult decisions will the characters face that will make their problems even harder? Will they be faced with temptations to betray each other? Will they be tempted to do something evil in order to save their lives and/or save their relationship? Dig deep and find something that hints at meaning that transcends their love and their problems.

All in all, it seems to flow a lot better now, but I'll try to revisit at a more lucid hour.

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Re: Will grovel for feedback. I Would Have Loved You Anyway.

Post by cheekychook » June 22nd, 2010, 2:09 am

I will comment on the rest of your revision when I have time to give it a little more thought, but I had to make one comment now. Regardless of what version of this query you wind up sending I think you have hit upon the perfect tag line for the back cover of your book. "Love, even when you're psychic, is complicated." Write that down someplace permanent because, even if it doesn't make it into the final draft of the letter, it's a great line that seems to perfectly suit your story. I know I live in fear of accidentally editing out my best lines, so I wanted to make sure I mentioned this in case query-wise you decide to leave this sentence on the cutting room floor!
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