THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

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THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction): New Version - Page 3

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 17th, 2011, 9:08 pm

6/23/11: Newest incarnation in post 35. Wow...this is getting long!

Hi all,

It's been a while since I first posted a query here for my MS. I've gone through some major revisions and have updated the query to reflect this. I would love comments as I think it is compact enough, but may be lacking voice. Sigh. Thanks in advance!


Raised to assume her family’s famed horse breeding business, Julienne Dalton is more at home on the back of a horse than dancing in the magnificent ballrooms of Frankfort, Kentucky. When her father is murdered by Union soldiers, Julienne seeks her revenge by spying for the Confederacy. Risking her life becomes less appealing when British ex-pat Alexander Caulfield begins to woo her, and try as she might, Julienne cannot resist his determined overtures. They marry after a whirlwind courtship but when she discovers that Alex is a Union agent charged with rounding up Confederate sympathizers, Julienne flees for her life.

Posing as a widow, she settles in small English village and begins acquiring horses to be sent back to Kentucky. She carries a secret that must be protected at all costs and when Lord Richard Ashby proposes marriage, she accepts. But Julienne’s carefully constructed life falls apart when Alex returns to England in search of her. She must decide to lay down her dreams of restoring her family's horse farm to marry Richard or choose Alex, the one who betrayed her, but still loves her. Julienne must make a choice and the consequences will be deadly.

The Enemy Within is a 104,000 word historical fiction about how one woman’s desire for revenge and her will to survive leads her from a war torn nation to a country enjoying its golden age of prosperity. It is a standalone novel, but could be expanded into a series chronicling Julienne’s determination to restore her family’s fortunes. THE ENEMY WITHIN is my first novel and I am currently employed ---- as a historian. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Me
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on July 6th, 2011, 4:05 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by longknife » May 18th, 2011, 1:20 pm

The opening paragraph doesn't hit me in the face. So she likes horses more than dancing?

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 18th, 2011, 3:37 pm

lvcabbie wrote:So she likes horses more than dancing?
I was trying to establish that she is not the typical southern belle without saying "she is not the typical southern belle" or "she is unlike other girls in Frankfort" (which was how it was worded in the first draft). And of course she likes horses more than dancing--her family raises them! :-)

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by glj » May 18th, 2011, 5:05 pm

Overall, it flows well. Some small suggestions below.


Raised to assume Inherit? Take over? When I read "assume", I assumed that Julienne was making some unlucky presumption. Nitpicky? Yes. her family’s famed horse breeding business, Julienne Dalton is more at home on the back of a horse than dancing in the magnificent ballrooms of Frankfort, Kentucky. I don't know if you need Frankfort. Regarding her not being a normal young woman, does this mean she is not comfortable around men, or in high society? When her father is murdered by Union soldiers, Use of "Union" immediately gives me a time reference. Could you slip it in sooner? Julienne seeks her revenge by spying for the Confederacy. Risking her life becomes less appealing when British ex-pat Alexander Caulfield begins to woo her, and try as she might, Julienne cannot resist his determined overtures. They marry after a whirlwind courtship Kinda seems to contradict "determined overtures", which to me implies they happen over a good span of time. but when she discovers that Alex is a Union agent charged with rounding up Confederate sympathizers, Julienne flees for her life. Good conflict.

Posing as a widow, she settles in small English village I found this to be confusing, as she goes from Kentucky to England? Might want some explanation/hint. and begins acquiring horses to be sent back to Kentucky. She carries a secret that must be protected at all costs and when The following clause seems unrelated to the "secret", but use of "and when" implies some linkage. Is the secret that she is pregnant? Is the only linkage I can think of. Lord Richard Ashby proposes marriage, she accepts. But Julienne’s carefully constructed life falls apart when Alex returns to England in search of her. It seems strange to me that she would flee Alex by going to his country!? She must decide to lay down her dreams of restoring her family's horse farm She cannot marry AND run the horse farm? to marry Richard or choose Alex, the one who betrayed her, but still loves her. Julienne must make a choice and the consequences will be deadly. Um, not sure why getting married, or deserting the family farm, would be deadly. The consequences to Julienne are not clear to me. All I get is that she must choose one of three things (and the first will not necessarily exclude number 2 or number 3), 1) desert the family horse farm, 2) marry Richard, or 3) choose Alex. But she is still married to Alex!

The Enemy Within is a 104,000 word historical fiction about how one woman’s desire for revenge and her will to survive leads her from a war torn nation to a country enjoying its golden age of prosperity. I don't get a sense of revenge in this. Is her revenge on Alex? By marrying Richard? It is a standalone novel, but could be expanded into a series chronicling Julienne’s determination to restore her family’s fortunes. THE ENEMY WITHIN is my first novel and I am currently employed ---- as a historian. Why the dashes? To me, this comes across as a pause, as if making a revelation (or waiting to toss out a punchline). Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

I must admit that I don't see enough of an impending conflict in this query to be very compelling. It just sounds like an unpleasant choice. I feel that you need to give more of her situation, how each choice will have dire consequences. And some force that is going to REQUIRE her to make a choice. It is not compelling when the protagonist has options. But it is compelling when the protagonist has to make a choice, under dire circumstances, the old ticking time bomb scenario where the hero must make a choice and cut a wire, not knowing what will happen.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 19th, 2011, 9:56 am

glj, to answer some of your questions. It's complicated. The plot is pretty complex and I chose to highlight some of the issues that a rise. I have been told by multiple readers (with no connection to me) that the novel is compelling, so I need to do a better job of capturing that. Also the m-dash in the last paragraph was supposed to be my place of work. I didn't want to put it out on the forum.

Here is my original query that I hammered out with another member of this forum. I've changed it in a few places to reflect revisions to my MS.


Dear Agent:

When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge, however risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, not realizing that he has been charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Julienne consents to marry Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Then she discovers her husband is in the employ of the Union government. She flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. There Julienne lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock, and with the help of a scandalous English lord, begins to assemble a stable of fine horses. Friendship turns to romance. Julienne is torn by thoughts of letting her love for Alex die and giving up her dream of returning to her beloved home. But Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village and a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. When the dust clears, someone will be dead.

Bio paragraph and closing.

Best Regards,
Me

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by dragoness » May 23rd, 2011, 9:29 am

I think this is much better than the former - you begin right in the action.

"not realizing that he has been charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers" and "Then she discovers her husband is in the employ of the Union government" is saying the same thing twice. Try to delete the first.

"But Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village and a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. When the dust clears, someone will be dead." an excellent end, with a death like the beginning, only it has nothing to do with the main character- you should show how her decision is the cause for the dramatic ending.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by AllieS » May 25th, 2011, 3:10 am

When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. Much better beginning. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge, however risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield I feel like this would flow better as two sentences. She is instantly drawn to him, not realizing that he has been charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers. You repeat this same idea below. I'd remove this.

Julienne consents to marry you could just say marries, we assume it's consensual Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Then she discovers her husband is in the employ of the Union government. She flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. There Julienne lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock, and with the help of a scandalous English lord, begins to assemble a stable of fine horses. Friendship turns to romance. Julienne is torn by thoughts of letting her love for Alex die and giving up her dream of returning to her beloved home. But Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village and a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. When the dust clears, someone will be dead. Nice idea, but I'd like some specifics about Julienne's choices and why someone will be dead.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 25th, 2011, 1:37 pm

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. I'm crafting this with a dual purpose. It will submitted as an e-mail "pitch" for an agent contest. The requirements were 3 to 4 paragraphs, so I've struggled with hitting the right blend of query vs. the high drama of a book jacket blurb.

Here is an edited version, although I may have muddied the waters. I hope not. :-)


When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. She poses as a widow, and lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. He offers his protection, but it comes with a price. Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She must make a choice between the two men, and her decision will result in murder.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by glj » May 25th, 2011, 2:28 pm

This is much better and is clearer than before. Good work! I hope my suggestions below are helpful and do not make things worse. :)

When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. Great setup with only a single sentence. Kudos! She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping she seizes it, as helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. "Instantly" and "whirlwind" seem redundant. I suggest you drop "instantly". Then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers. For some reason, I feel that the last sentence might read better as "Only then does she discover that her husband ..."

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. She poses as a widow, and lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. He offers his protection, but it comes with a price. So Lord Richard has a bad temper and killed someone before. This implies that he knows about Alexander and will kill him? But she is claiming to be a widow. Hmm. Am I missing something? Assuming too much? Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She must make a choice between the two men, and her decision will result in murder.

The stakes are MUCH clearer now. But part of me wants to know, how does she know that the decision will result in murder? Are both men that jealous/protective/homicidal that this result is inevitable? Is this part of Lord Richard Ashby's "deadly past"? Will Alexander Caulfield try to kill Lord Richard Ashby, or try to kill Julienne?

Random thought here. Could the choice be that if she makes the choice to get the family farm back, one of the two suitors will die? That could present Julienne with a real conundrum.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 25th, 2011, 4:52 pm

I totally agree with your changes glj--so thanks! :-)

To answer your questions... Lord Richard's wife died under mysterious circumstances (i.e. he helped her off the roof of his castle...very gothic, I know). Julienne does confess that she is married and Richard presses her to divorce Alex. He grew up with Alex as his estate abuts Alex's family estate. But he doesn't tell Julienne this. More drama, of course. :-)

And to answer your random thought...

I see what you mean about the wording on the final line. She doesn't know her decision will result in murder, but it does, so I need to re-word that. Thoughts on that? Until then, here are the revisions...


When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business and cope with her desire for vengeance. When the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she seizes it, as helping oust Union forces from the state will slake her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is drawn to him and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Only then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, settling in a small English village. Posing as a widow, she lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. He offers his protection, but it comes with a price. Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm and suffer through the scandal of a divorce. [An unnecessary addition perhaps...but may clarify that Richard knows she is really married.] When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She must make a choice between the two men, and when the dust clears, someone will be dead. [Previous incarnation...clearer now that her choice is the impetus?]
glj wrote:This is much better and is clearer than before. Good work! I hope my suggestions below are helpful and do not make things worse. :)

When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. Great setup with only a single sentence. Kudos! She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping she seizes it, as helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. "Instantly" and "whirlwind" seem redundant. I suggest you drop "instantly". Then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers. For some reason, I feel that the last sentence might read better as "Only then does she discover that her husband ..."

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. She poses as a widow, and lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. He offers his protection, but it comes with a price. So Lord Richard has a bad temper and killed someone before. This implies that he knows about Alexander and will kill him? But she is claiming to be a widow. Hmm. Am I missing something? Assuming too much? Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She must make a choice between the two men, and her decision will result in murder.

The stakes are MUCH clearer now. But part of me wants to know, how does she know that the decision will result in murder? Are both men that jealous/protective/homicidal that this result is inevitable? Is this part of Lord Richard Ashby's "deadly past"? Will Alexander Caulfield try to kill Lord Richard Ashby, or try to kill Julienne?

Random thought here. Could the choice be that if she makes the choice to get the family farm back, one of the two suitors will die? That could present Julienne with a real conundrum.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by airball » May 27th, 2011, 3:40 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:
When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. She poses as a widow, and lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat with? hiding secrets of his own?a deadly past. He offers his protection from what?, but it comes with a price. Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm and make her a bigamist!. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. The original marriage would still be valid, even in England. You're going to have to do some fancy footwork to undo that. She must make a choice between the two men, and her decision will result in murder.
Hi Old House! Forgive the stupid questions, the historian's obsessions, and ignore the suggestions as you see fit:

First, did thoroughbreds exist in 1862 Kentucky? The word existed (at least in the Oxford English Dictionary), but the meaning was rather different. Also, might change "business" to "farm" as it sounds more romantic. But you've got it in the previous sentence. Hmmm. Business just sounds so clinical. Maybe, "struggles to rebuild her family's legacy" or something?

I got a bit confused with the chronology and logistics of spying. At first it sounds like she is in Confederate territory, but then she fears the hangman's noose. Has the war ended? Is Alex a spy? How does he do his job? If she's in Union-occupied Kentucky, say so.

Can you give us a hint as to why she took off to England? (I mean why England in particular. It seems a bit random, when, say, Tennessee or Texas would likely have done the trick.)

Re: The aristocrat. Historically, I just don't see this happening - aristocrats don't often marry commoners, let alone American commoners. (See Prince Edward abdicating the throne when he wanted to do this.) The lone possibility is that she's incredibly wealthy, and the Ashbys are of an ancient line, but fallen on hard times. But then you'd have to make him a son, not the Lord himself. Can you make him a gentleman? Or a wealthy industrialist?

Incidentally, be sure to look at Stephanie McCurry's new book, Confederate Reckoning. It's got a ton of good stuff on women in the Civil War. Short version from one of her talks: The Confederates were far more brutal in their treatment of women they suspected of disloyalty than Union soldiers were. It kind of undermines the whole Southern gentleman thing (you'd think slavery would have done that, but what can you do?), but you could find some great material.

Again, forgive me if I've geeked out here.
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 31st, 2011, 6:44 pm

Thanks Airball! And you didn't geek out. :-)

I do like your suggestions, especially the use of 'legacy' instead of 'business.' I will check into the term thoroughbred. As for your questions...

Kentucky was a Union state however there was a strong Confederate leaning. Julienne supports the Confederacy, and would be in enemy territory so to speak. Alex was hired by the Union to round up spies (it's mentioned at the end of the first paragraph).

Julienne ends up in England for reasons that would take a whole extra paragraph to explain. She was headed to France, actually, but was unable to travel any further. You can probably guess as to why...

As for the aristocrat thing. Perhaps I used the term wrongly? I used it to mean the lords outside of the royal family. Lord Richard is a viscount as is Alex, although he will be an earl once his father dies. Richard is the last left in his family, so there is no one to gainsay him. Alex is in a different boat, but is headstrong and at odds with his father, which plays out in the course of the novel. I was under the impression that they could marry whomever they chose because they are not in the royal succession. I know your novel is in 17th century---I think that most courtiers had to petition the monarch for approval then. That practice had died by the nineteenth century, with maybe the exception of the monarch's household retainers. You have to remember that this book is only a decade away from the American heiresses of the Gilded Age marrying into the impoverished English families.

The issue regarding the marriage is complex, as you probably know. Rest assured that I have poured endlessly over divorce law in England, which was in flux around this time, so it made for interesting reading. I shouldn't have made any misteps, in any case.

I appreciate the book recommendation. I will definitely check it out.
airball wrote:
oldhousejunkie wrote: When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she gladly seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge. But risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is instantly drawn to him, and marries Alex after a whirlwind courtship. Then she discovers her husband is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Fearing the hangman’s noose, Julienne flees the country, eventually settling in a small English village. She poses as a widow, and lays plans to rebuild her family’s breeding stock. Julienne attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat with? hiding secrets of his own?a deadly past. He offers his protection from what?, but it comes with a price. Marrying him will require her to sacrifice her dream of returning to the family farm and make her a bigamist!. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. The original marriage would still be valid, even in England. You're going to have to do some fancy footwork to undo that. She must make a choice between the two men, and her decision will result in murder.
Hi Old House! Forgive the stupid questions, the historian's obsessions, and ignore the suggestions as you see fit:

First, did thoroughbreds exist in 1862 Kentucky? The word existed (at least in the Oxford English Dictionary), but the meaning was rather different. Also, might change "business" to "farm" as it sounds more romantic. But you've got it in the previous sentence. Hmmm. Business just sounds so clinical. Maybe, "struggles to rebuild her family's legacy" or something?

I got a bit confused with the chronology and logistics of spying. At first it sounds like she is in Confederate territory, but then she fears the hangman's noose. Has the war ended? Is Alex a spy? How does he do his job? If she's in Union-occupied Kentucky, say so.

Can you give us a hint as to why she took off to England? (I mean why England in particular. It seems a bit random, when, say, Tennessee or Texas would likely have done the trick.)

Re: The aristocrat. Historically, I just don't see this happening - aristocrats don't often marry commoners, let alone American commoners. (See Prince Edward abdicating the throne when he wanted to do this.) The lone possibility is that she's incredibly wealthy, and the Ashbys are of an ancient line, but fallen on hard times. But then you'd have to make him a son, not the Lord himself. Can you make him a gentleman? Or a wealthy industrialist?

Incidentally, be sure to look at Stephanie McCurry's new book, Confederate Reckoning. It's got a ton of good stuff on women in the Civil War. Short version from one of her talks: The Confederates were far more brutal in their treatment of women they suspected of disloyalty than Union soldiers were. It kind of undermines the whole Southern gentleman thing (you'd think slavery would have done that, but what can you do?), but you could find some great material.

Again, forgive me if I've geeked out here.

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by airball » June 3rd, 2011, 3:20 pm

Our of curiosity, how are you going to handle slavery and her support for the Confederacy? (Obviously this goes well beyond the query, but but I teach at a Uni here in the south, and there are some beliefs about the war that are...historically challenged would be the kindest way of putting it. ("At odds with demonstrable historical truths," would be more accurate, though.)

You're using the term aristocrat perfectly correctly, I'm just saying that the relationship you describe seems unlikely. The aristocracy can marry whomever they please, but eldest sons generally marry within the aristocracy. In contrast, the younger brothers have much more leeway and were actually encouraged to marry money. (That said, I am a 17th c. kid, and some of this may have changed by the 19th.) I'd just say make sure you've got your ducks in a row because if the agent kind of knows the period (the way I kind of know the period) the match will raise eyebrows.

I've also been puzzling over the marriage/divorce question, but from a position of complete ignorance. Could the Church of England grant a divorce if it did not sanction the marriage? Was there civil marriage in the US or in England at this time? Who granted divorces? In the 17th century the Church handled marital disputes, but I have no idea what they did for those outside the Church, such as Quakers or Presbyterians. If you've got it, you've got it. (I presume you're looking at Lawrence Stone's work? /Geek/)

Good luck! It sounds great!

[quote="oldhousejunkie"]Thanks Airball! And you didn't geek out. :-)

As for the aristocrat thing. Perhaps I used the term wrongly? I used it to mean the lords outside of the royal family. Lord Richard is a viscount as is Alex, although he will be an earl once his father dies. Richard is the last left in his family, so there is no one to gainsay him. Alex is in a different boat, but is headstrong and at odds with his father, which plays out in the course of the novel. I was under the impression that they could marry whomever they chose because they are not in the royal succession. I know your novel is in 17th century---I think that most courtiers had to petition the monarch for approval then. That practice had died by the nineteenth century, with maybe the exception of the monarch's household retainers. You have to remember that this book is only a decade away from the American heiresses of the Gilded Age marrying into the impoverished English families.

The issue regarding the marriage is complex, as you probably know. Rest assured that I have poured endlessly over divorce law in England, which was in flux around this time, so it made for interesting reading. I shouldn't have made any misteps, in any case.

I appreciate the book recommendation. I will definitely check it out.
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
Team Blog= http://bloodygoodread.blogspot.com

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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by oldhousejunkie » June 11th, 2011, 6:33 pm

I tried to iron out a few things in the last paragraph. But I wonder if it's more confusing or overkill. I could use some thoughts on this.

I sent this query out to five agents on Thursday and have already gotten two rejections (albeit very positive and polite). Both rejects were on my "B-list" meaning they represent historical fiction but don't have any current titles in their list. So I'm not sure what to think.


When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she seizes it. Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge, but risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is drawn to him and they marry after a whirlwind courtship. Only then does she discover Alex is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers.

Fearing imprisonment, Julienne flees the country, and settles in a small English village. She lays plans to rebuild her family’s horse stock and attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. He offers his love and protection, but it comes with a price. She will have to suffer through a potentially scandalous divorce and surrender all hope of returning to her family’s farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She will have to choose between the two men and her choice will bring about fatal consequences.

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wilderness
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Re: New Query: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Historical Fiction)

Post by wilderness » June 12th, 2011, 5:27 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:
When her father is murdered by Union soldiers in 1862 Kentucky, nineteen-year-old Julienne Dalton is left an orphan with a ruined horse farm. She struggles to restore the family’s thoroughbred business, but when the opportunity to join a ring of Confederate agents arises, she seizes it. What exactly does she do as a Conferdate agent? Does she have the skills for this? Helping oust Union forces from the state slakes her thirst for revenge, but risking her life becomes less appealing when she meets charming stranger Alexander Caulfield. She is drawn to him and they marry after a whirlwind courtship. Only then does she discover Alex is a Union agent charged with apprehending Confederate spies and sympathizers. I don't find this believable. If she was intent on revenge, would she so easily give that up for a guy? And if Alex married her, would he be so quick to imprison her?

Fearing imprisonment, Julienne flees the country, and settles in a small English village. She lays plans to rebuild her family’s horse stock and attracts the attentions of Lord Richard Ashby, an English aristocrat concealing a deadly past. Keep this from her perspective. She doesn't know he's concealing a deadly past. Also I don't think hinting at secrets is very effective in a query. It's better to just come right out and reveal the secret, and we'll decide if that's enough of a conflict. Nathan touches on this in this post on specificity: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/03 ... eries.html He offers his love and protection, but it comes with a price. She will have to suffer through a potentially scandalous divorce and surrender all hope of returning to her family’s farm. When Alex unexpectedly arrives in the village, a battle for Julienne’s affections ensues. She will have to choose between the two men and her choice will bring about fatal consequences. The last part (in blue) is far too vague for my tastes. Also, again, I can't quite believe these stakes. Why would she go back to Alex? Overall, I think the characterization could be fleshed out better in the query. What makes her fall for Alex? What makes her fall for Richard?
Overall, your summary of the plot is concise but perhaps too concise to lead us logically from plot point A to plot point B. Try fleshing out the characters more and make sure we understand their motivations. Definitely check out that post from Nathan's blog I linked to.

Actually, I would consider dropping the plot from the second paragraph entirely and fleshing out the first paragraph more. After all, you don't need to summarize the entire book in a query; just get us hooked with the initial premise. I think ending with the conflict that Alex and Julienne realize they are on opposite sides of the war would be strong enough, more compelling than simply choosing between two guys.

Hope that helps!

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