Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

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OneChoice1
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Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 22nd, 2010, 10:36 pm

Salut! If you can/want to help, it will be much appreciated. *The revised version (#11) is on the 4th page.*


Dear [Agent’s name]:

Teenager Rachel McSwain is convinced she has only thirteen months left to live when she is compelled to be an experiment for the US government. Being forced to live in a remote town in Western Washington is not how she pictured spending those months. Even worse, she becomes the target of a menace.

Alan Pierce, local pastor’s son and fellow lover of raspberry crumbles, seems to be set out on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel could not care less, angry that everyone is seeing her as their personal project. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes allure Rachel to take a chance in love. The problem is, those eyes of his are fixed on someone else.

Keeping her heart problems and experimental issues to herself, Rachel has no idea how she is going to enjoy the time she has left.

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,


:) It's time to mold this thing into shape.
Last edited by OneChoice1 on July 14th, 2010, 9:49 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by Meredith » June 22nd, 2010, 11:49 pm

OneChoice1 wrote:

Dear [Agent’s name]:

Teenager Rachel McSwain is convinced she has only thirteen months left to live when she is compelled to be an experiment for the US government. I find this sentence confusing. Teenager is pretty unspecific--it covers everything from 13 to 19. Can you say, "At sixteen, Rachel . . ." instead? Why does she have only 13 months? The way this sentence is worded, it sounds like the gov't experiment is the reason. Or is she in the experiment because of what's killing her? I think these are two places where you could be a little more specific. Being forced to live in a remote town in Western Washington is not how she pictured spending those months. Even worse, she becomes the target of a menace. Is Alan really a menace, or just a pain in the neck? I'm assuming this is Alan.

Alan Pierce, local pastor’s son and fellow lover of raspberry crumbles, seems to be set out on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel could not I would use the contraction. care less, angry that everyone is seeing her as their personal project. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes allure Probably lure, rather than allureRachel to take a chance in on? love. The problem is, those eyes of his are fixed on someone else.

Keeping her heart problems and experimental issues to herself, Rachel has no idea how she is going to enjoy the time she has left. This leaves me thinking that Rachel is just going to sit around feeling sorry for herself. What choice does she face? You've presented conflicts/problems that are out of her control. What can/does she do to help herself? And what are the stakes or consequences of her choice?

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Hope this helps.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 23rd, 2010, 12:13 am

Thank you Meredith! Yes, you did help


While I don't have a whole rewrite for the query, I do have one for the last paragraph.

Do you think I'm going in the right direction with this:
Not letting her heart problems and experimental issues get the best of her, Rachel takes back some control and creates a list of things to complete before she dies. One of them being to get back at those who handed her over to the government.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by mfreivald » June 23rd, 2010, 12:29 am

Teenager Rachel McSwain is convinced she has only thirteen months left to live when she is compelled to be an experiment for the US government.<--This confuses me. Does her illness compel her, or something else? Being forced to live in a remote town in Western Washington is not how she pictured spending those months. Even worse, she becomes the target of a menace.<--This is a bit vague, and you don't revisit it, so I'm not sure it's relevence.

Alan Pierce, local pastor’s son and fellow lover of raspberry crumbles, seems to be set out on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel could not care less, angry that everyone is seeing her as their personal project. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes allure Rachel to take a chance in love. The problem is, those eyes of his are fixed on someone else.<--Again, this is vague. You're hinting at problems instead of articulating them.
I'm not sure what this story is mostly about. The query would work better for me if it focused upon the potential romance first (because of the genre), then tell me how the menace, the proselytizing, and the other love interest interfere with it.

For example:
<Specific Illness> has given Rachel McSwain only thirteen months to live. The US Government provides a long shot experiment that places her in a remote Washington town. Resigned to isolation in her final months, she finds new hope when she meets the pastor's son, Alan Pierce, and loses herself in his turquoise eyes, hopelessly in love. But Alan is more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and, what's worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another. As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles, <whatever the menace is> arrives and threatens to ruin it all.

I hope that's helpful. Thanks for the opportunity to learn from your work.

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by mfreivald » June 23rd, 2010, 12:41 am

Not letting her heart problems and experimental issues get the best of her, Rachel takes back some control and creates a list of things to complete before she dies. One of them being to get back at those who handed her over to the government.
That clarifies the confusion in the first paragraph a little, but I think the clarity belongs at the beginning.

If her resentment is central to the story, I think it should be expressed strongly as an obstacle of the romance. (If it's not an obstacle, maybe I have too many wrong assumptions about the genre to be valuable.) Her taking back control, however, might be giving too much away. It releases tension in the query, rather than builds it. I'd drop the paragraph completely, and integrate what you think is important in the preceding paragraphs.

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 23rd, 2010, 1:32 am

To clear up some confusion...

1) Meredith was right in guessing that the government experiment was the cause of Rachel believing she has thirteen months to live.
2) The menace is Alan in Rachel's POV.

Thank you mfreivald :D I will be working on expressing Rachel's resentment more, and fixing the first sentence, especially.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 23rd, 2010, 2:30 am

*This is version 2*


Dear [Agent’s name]:

Seventeen year old Rachel McSwain is serving a life sentence for murder and identity theft when she is handed a deal from the US government. In exchange for only three months in prison, she agrees to be experimented on. The government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months to test the effects of the chips they inserted under her skin.

Or should it be:To test the effects of the chips they inserted under her skin, the government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months.

Rachel is determined to live these months in peace when she becomes the target of a menace. Alan Pierce, local pastor’s son and fellow lover of raspberry crumbles, seems to be set on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan's more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles, someone from her past arrives and threatens to ruin her.

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Last edited by OneChoice1 on July 4th, 2010, 4:47 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 26th, 2010, 3:29 am

*This is #3*



Dear [Agent’s name]:

Rachel McSwain never wants or asks for help. The first time she accepts it she winds up serving a life sentence. The second, she’s being implanted with a cerebral microchip by the government and shipped across the pond to a remote Washington town.

Disturbed and bitter, she determines to live in peace. But messages from a secret admirer—going by Prince—keeps finding its way to her. Too bad for his hand as Rachel stopped reading his mail after the first one, discarding the rest in a desk drawer.

When Rachel has a near death experience with a skateboard, she meets it owner, Alan Pierce, fellow lover of raspberry crumbles. He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and seems to be set on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles, her admirer decides it’s time for them to meet. He did let her know in his last letter.

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Last edited by OneChoice1 on July 4th, 2010, 4:45 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by Quill » June 26th, 2010, 10:33 am

OneChoice1 wrote:
Rachel McSwain never wants or asks for help.
A bit of a sweeping statement, as in fact we pretty much all require help every day.
The first time she accepts it she winds up serving a life sentence.
So, now she's dead?
The second, she’s being implanted with a cerebral microchip by the government and shipped across the pond to a remote Washington town.
A little confusing, she's being shipped across the Atlantic to a remote town in the Pacific Northwest? Or somewhere around Washington, D.C.?
Disturbed and bitter, she determines to live in peace.
How can one live in peace if one is disturbed and bitter?
But messages from a secret admirer—going by Prince—
Maybe "signed Prince"? I don't think messages can "go by". You probably intent the "going by Prince" to modify "secret admirer" but that isn't clear by your sentence structure.
keeps finding its way to her.
"keep finding their way to her" would be grammatically correct, but the structure is awkward, passive, sounding like the messages are doing the finding, like they are sentient beings.
Too bad for his hand as Rachel stopped reading his mail after the first one,
What do you mean "too bad for his hand"? Is that like a hand in poker? Can you think of a clearer phrase to describe his situation?
discarding the rest in a desk drawer.
"Discarding" seems like an odd word for the act of retaining them in a drawer.
When Rachel has a near death experience with a skateboard, she meets it owner, Alan Pierce, fellow lover of raspberry crumbles.
Very awkward.

1. When she has this experience she meets (Alan) sounds like simultaneously. Does she meet him during? Or after. After she has a near death...

2. "She meets its owner..." sounds tacked on, since the main action is the experience, and then you tack on a modifying clause (with a skateboard) and then branch off the modifier (its owner), and then branch off that, too (fellow lover...) . You go from death experience to raspberry crumbles in one sentence, and it doesn't work, especially with the elongated timeline (from having the experience to finding out he is a fellow lover of raspberry).

3. Typo: its owner, not it owner.
He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and seems to be set on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ.
1. These two thoughts do not seem related.

2. You can safely omit "set on" as it does little work.
But Rachel couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles,
Not sure "break through these obstacles" accurately describes her dilemma. Do you really see his proselytizing and his love for another as her obstacles, like, stones in the road? It seems to me more like she is on the wrong road altogether here.

her admirer decides it’s time for them to meet. He did let her know in his last letter.
That last sentence seems like an afterthought to this query, like, oops, better let people know that he had said that before. It would be better to create this tension earlier, I would think.

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by mfreivald » June 26th, 2010, 12:50 pm

I like the previous one better, so I'll look at that one after I've handled this one.
Rachel McSwain never wants or asks for help.<--I'd go for the affirmative statement, e.g.: "Rachel McSwain hates asking for help."--<< The first time she accepts it she winds up serving a life sentence<--"the first time" strikes me a little strong--she's never accepted help in her whole life? "Winds up" seems too inactive. I also think the specific reason for the life sentence would be helpful.--<< The second, she’s being implanted with a cerebral microchip by the government and shipped across the pond to a remote Washington town.<--A little cumbersome, and "across the pond" disorients me about the setting. (Suddenly I think I should know where she is, but I don't.)--<<

Disturbed and bitter, she determines to live in peace. But messages from a secret admirer—going by Prince—keeps finding its way to her. Too bad for his hand as Rachel stopped reading his mail after the first one, discarding the rest in a desk drawer.<--This seems a bit long for what essentially says: She ignored a secret admirer's notes. I don't think the name is necessary. It clutters the query, but if you keep it, I would use it below with something like: "Prince decides to reveal himself."--<<

When Rachel has a near death experience with a skateboard, she meets it owner, Alan Pierce, fellow lover of raspberry crumbles.<--Yeah, this is awkward, and whereas the raspberry crumbles lover was smooth before, it's clunky now. I'd try compressing it considerably, like: "A narrow escape from an errant skateboard introduces her to its owner, a fellow lover of raspberry crumbles named Alan."--<< He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and seems<--I'd avoid "seems" and say he's on a mission--<< to be set on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less.<--In this version, it's unclear whether his attraction to her sarcasm is part of what she couldn't care less about.--<< Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles, her admirer decides it’s time for them to meet. He did let her know in his last letter.<--The main problem with the secret admirer is that it doesn't build any tension in the query. There's no indication that he has anything to do with anyone, or that he's a threat to anything, or that he will cause any kind of complication. I assume this is the "someone from her past" from previous queries, but even then the vagueness of the threat reduces the potential impact. Is there some way you can make this development more immediate to the previous section?--<<
Now on to the previous one. (My participation in the forum will be sporadic, so a delayed response may occur from time to time.):

First--I noticed you dropped the 13-months-to-live bit. Was that an exaggeration of how she felt, or was that a reality? It seems like something pretty huge to drop.

Also, I don't know if this is a big deal, but I had a "hey wait a minute" moment with the life sentence. In America I don't think a 17 year old would receive such a sentence unless she was tried as an adult. (Ignorance alert: I only know what I read in the papers and see on TV, so I could be off on this.) But if she's "across the pond" (which we don't know in this version), maybe it's different. My personal thoughts are that this stuff can easily be explained in the book, so my issue isn't that it's wrong, but that it distracts me with a bunch of questions that have little to do with your query.
Seventeen year old Rachel McSwain is serving a life sentence for murder and identity theft when she is handed a deal from the US government.<--This is so much better, but it leads to other issues I'll discuss below.--<< In exchange for only three months in prison, she agrees to be experimented on.<--As with the crime, more specificity would give this more impact.--<< The government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months to test the effects of the chips they inserted under her skin.<--Does she know what the chips are supposed to do? Are they related to her illness?--<<

Or should it be:To test the effects of the chips they inserted under her skin, the government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months.<--I think this is better--<<
This murder colors everything, the reader's sympathy for her, the love interests, the experiments--was she rightly convicted? If not, we should probably know. If so, the circumstances and a reason to sympathize might help.

A possibility for the latter case might be: "An odyssey of trouble thrust upon her by a simple request for help earned seventeen year old Rachel McSwain a life sentence for murder and identity theft."
Rachel is determined to live these months in peace when she becomes the target of a menace.<--I was glad when you dropped "menace" in the later version. It clutters and slows the flow.--<< Alan Pierce, local pastor’s son and fellow lover of raspberry crumbles, seems to be set on a mission to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less.<--Although it didn't at first, the more I read this, the more the cliche bothers me. The point could be expressed better.--<< Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan's more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

As Rachel tries to break through these obstacles, someone from her past arrives and threatens to ruin her.<--Again, some hint about how this is going to disrupt what you've laid down above would greatly increase its impact. If it relates to why she was convicted, there might be some good things to mine from that.--<<
Overall, I get the sense that you are holding back some things that could add interest to the query. The experiment could be a much more formidable or hopeful thing. Is it dangerous? Could it cure her? (There doesn't seem to be much tension gained from it as the query progresses.) Is there something sinister about it? Was the person from the past or the admirer involved with her conviction? Was she protecting someone with her conviction?

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 26th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Thank you Quill and Mfreivald for your in-depth critiques and thorough explanations. I'm sure you know how much it helps.


*This is #4, but the latest rewrite is on the 4th page*


Dear [Agent’s name]:

Seventeen year old Rachel McSwain is serving a life sentence for murder and identity theft when she is handed a deal from the US government. In exchange for three months in prison, she agrees to be implanted with a cerebral microchip which obstructs her from harming anyone physically without experiencing neurological pain. To test this out, the government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months.

Disturbed and bitter, she determines to move on and live these months in peace. But Rachel starts receiving messages from a secret admirer who knows too much about her. Not responding to a single letter, she resolves to discover his identity by means of connecting with the right people—her kind of people.

A narrow escape from an errant skateboard introduces her to its owner, Alan Pierce. He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and opts to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less about his speak of forgiveness and repentance. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

She attempts to make Alan fall in love with her—taking advice from romance novels, magazines and movies—which distracts her from the goal of finding out who her admirer is. Nevertheless, he hasn't forgotten about her and decides it’s time for them to meet. How is Rachel supposed to defend herself with her crippling chip?

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Last edited by OneChoice1 on July 14th, 2010, 9:50 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by Meredith » June 26th, 2010, 4:17 pm

Better! Things make much more sense now.
OneChoice1 wrote:Thank you Quill and Mfreivald for your in-depth critiques and thorough explanations. I'm sure you know how much it helps.


Here's version #4


Dear [Agent’s name]:

Seventeen year old Rachel McSwain is serving a life sentence for murder and identity theft when she is handed a deal from the US government. Personal preference, but I'd use contractions for both "is" verbs, certainly for "she is". It sounds less stilted. In exchange for three months in prison, time served? she agrees to be implanted with a cerebral microchip which obstructs prevents? her from harming anyone physically without experiencing neurological pain. To test this out, the government places Rachel in a remote Washington town for thirteen months.

Disturbed and bitter, she determines to move on and live these months in peace. But Rachel starts receiving messages from a secret admirer who knows too much about her. Join these two sentences up? I wouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction in the query. Not responding to a single letter, she resolves to discover his identity by means of connecting with the right people—her kind of people.

A narrow escape from an errant skateboard introduces her to its owner, Alan Pierce. He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and opts I don't like the word opts, here. Tries? Wants to? to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel couldn’t care less about his speak speech? I agree with others about the "couldn't care less" phrase. of forgiveness and repentance. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, Alan’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

She attempts to make Alan fall in love with her—taking advice from romance novels, magazines and movies—which distracts her from the goal of finding out who her admirer is. Nevertheless, Cut neverthelesshe hasn't forgotten about her and decides it’s time for them to meet. How is Rachel supposed to defend herself with her crippling chip?

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 26th, 2010, 5:00 pm

Merci beaucoup Meredith for sticking with the progress of this query of mine :D


What do you guys think of these synonyms for "couldn't care less"?

--apathetic
--indifferent
--unbothered
--unmoved
--impassive
--insensible
--unresponsive
--cynical
--untouched
--emotionless
--unaffected
--unimpressed


Like: But Rachel’s unmoved by his talk of forgiveness and repentance.
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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by mfreivald » June 26th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Yes, that is much better. The intro is much clearer, and I especially like how your final comment about the chip reflects back on the intro, and at the same time increases the perceived threat of the admirer.

The "in exchange" line kind of comes off as if she gives them three months for the experiment, but what you mean is that they reduce her to three months if she agrees to the experiment, right? So it might be better as: "For a reduction to three months prison time, she agrees. . . ." (My attempt to avoid repetition of "sentence" is making it clunky. You can probably find better words, Meredith's "time served" is good.)

I would also make the pain more active, so instead of ". . . she agrees to be implanted with a cerebral microchip which obstructs her from harming anyone physically without experiencing neurological pain," I'd say something like: ". . . she agrees to receive a cerebral microchip implant which stuns her with neurological pain if she tries to physically harm someone."

Regarding "couldn't care less," I understood it to be stronger than anything in your list of words. More like: ". . . wanted nothing to do with it," or ". . . had no desire to hear it," or even ". . . was completely put off by it." (leaning toward cliche on that last one.) I perceived just a twinge of hostility, which is probably good.

If I have time, I'll comment with more detail later.

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Re: Query: Use Somebody *Updated*

Post by OneChoice1 » June 27th, 2010, 4:00 pm

You made very good points Mfreivald, thank you.

With everyone's help, I'm starting to like this query *lol*


So tell me...what's good, bad, ugly?


*This is #5*

Dear [Agent’s name]:

Seventeen year old Rachel McSwain is serving a life sentence for murder and identity theft when she’s handed a deal from the US government. Instead of growing old in prison, she opts for a cerebral microchip implant which stuns her with neurological pain if she tries to physically harm someone. The government puts Rachel to the test when they place her in a remote Washington town for thirteen months. She now has epilepsy as a cover story.

Disturbed and bitter, Rachel’s determined to find her sanity and live these months in peace; but she starts receiving messages from a secret admirer who knows too much about her. She doesn’t respond to the letters but resolves to discover the identity of this psycho.

A narrow escape from an errant skateboard introduces her to its owner, Alan Pierce. He takes a liking to her sarcastic humor and wants to show her why he worships Jesus Christ. But Rachel has no desire to hear about forgiveness or repentance. Unfortunately, Alan’s persistence and turquoise eyes lure her to take a chance on love. The problem is, he’s more interested in showing her the way of Christ than expressing love, and what’s worse, his beautiful eyes are fixed on another.

She attempts to make Alan fall in love with her—taking advice from romance novels, magazines and movies—which distracts her from the goal of finding out who her admirer is. He hasn’t forgotten about her, though, and decides it’s time for them to meet. How is Rachel supposed to defend herself with her crippling chip?

USE SOMEBODY is an inspirational romance and is approximately blah blah blah words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Last edited by OneChoice1 on July 9th, 2010, 4:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
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