Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
Kreann
Posts: 15
Joined: April 8th, 2011, 1:17 pm
Contact:

Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by Kreann » July 9th, 2011, 3:06 pm

Thanks again, everyone for your reads/responses to my first attempt. It was so interesting to see how you all interpreted the characters and responded to my first query. I am working to trim down the story some more (though much more and I may risk losing the heart of the story), so the word count is likely to continue to decrease. Please take a look at my second attempt:

Dear (Agent),

Jessica and her room mate, Grace, were the best of friends. With their college days almost over and love in the air, life seemed full of potential. So when Grace announced that she’s been asked to apply for an Administrative Assistant position at a prestigious local company, Jessica was happy for her. But she also had a nagging suspicion that Grace’s new job might eventually pull them apart.

Her concerns were confirmed when she returned from a weekend away to find Grace had transformed from resilient to recluse. A few days later, Grace is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma. Jessica is devastated. But when she discovers a secret diary that her room mate had been keeping, Jessica learns that life at Grace’s amazing new job had recently turned into a living hell. Grace had been sexually harassed, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape. Jessica was mortified. Why had she been so oblivious to Grace’s struggles? And more importantly, what could she do to bring Grace back?

This novel is truly about best friends and the sacrifices we make for them. Jessica’s quick wit keeps the story from getting too dark, but her actions show her sincere devotion to Grace. Ultimately, Jessica will realize that the decisions she made were not just for Grace, but for herself as well.

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 115,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I have an MPA from Indiana University, and am a married, working mom. I take my commitments seriously, and strive to see them to their fruition. I have been published in the professional journal WE&T. This is my first novel, and I am currently working on a second, unrelated, women’s fiction.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.
Last edited by Kreann on July 18th, 2011, 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

glj
Posts: 109
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 11:23 am
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by glj » July 10th, 2011, 1:58 am

Dear (Agent),

Jessica and her room mate, Grace, were the best of friends. With their college days almost over and love in the air, life seemed full of potential. So when Grace announced that she’s been asked to apply for an Administrative Assistant position at a prestigious local company, Jessica was happy for her. But she also had a nagging suspicion that Grace’s new job might eventually pull them apart.
I had to ponder why this paragraph bothered me. I think it is because it is all setup, all information that isn't really necessary for presenting the main conflict. The main conflict is that Grace gets great job, has terrible accident, which is the opportunity for now somewhat estranged friend Jessica to read her diary and discover Grace's secret hell. Discovering Grace's secret hell seems to be the natural starting point.

I would suggest that you try a version like that. Jessica visits estranged friend in hospital coma, remembers how it used to be between them, then reads diary and makes discovery, then must be confronted with some unpleasant choice of: a) whether to help Grace, and b) how to help Grace. I would assume she will try to help Grace (or there would be no story), and try to bring the creep to justice, which would then naturally lead to Jessica also putting herself in danger. You could leave the reader wondering how Jessica would resolve this dilemma.


Her concerns were confirmed when she returned from a weekend away to find Grace had transformed from resilient to recluse. A few days later, Grace is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma. Jessica is devastated. But when she discovers a secret diary that her room mate had been keeping, Jessica learns that life at Grace’s amazing new job had recently turned into a living hell. Grace had been sexually harassed, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape. Jessica was mortified. Why had she been so oblivious to Grace’s struggles? And more importantly, what could she do to bring Grace back?

This novel is truly about best friends and the sacrifices we make for them. Jessica’s quick wit keeps the story from getting too dark, but her actions show her sincere devotion to Grace. Ultimately, Jessica will realize that the decisions she made were not just for Grace, but for herself as well. Sorry, but this doesn't make the query more compelling for me. Instead, it sounds like the author describing what the reader should get from the story if the reader reads it correctly.

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 115,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I have an MPA from Indiana University, and am a married, working mom. I take my commitments seriously, and strive to see them to their fruition. This could be read as being a bit defensive, as if you have to state that you are good enough. I have been published in the professional journal WE&T. This is my first novel, and I am currently working on a second, unrelated, women’s fiction. I'm not sure that hinting that you are writing other things really matters here. Yes, you want the agent to think you are not a one-shot author, but this just seems so, well, vague. And many agents don't seem to want to hear "this is my first novel", sometimes concluding that it may not be professional enough if it appears you are just starting out as a writer.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.

I hope this helps. This version is an improvement, but could use still more impact.

enewmeyer
Posts: 19
Joined: March 10th, 2011, 12:20 am
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by enewmeyer » July 10th, 2011, 10:59 am

Please remember, these are only my opinions and I mean no offense. Someone else may disagree. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
Kreann wrote: Dear (Agent),

Jessica and her room mate, Grace, were the best of friends. With their college days almost over and love in the air, life seemed full of potential. So when Grace announced that she’s been asked to apply for an Administrative Assistant position at a prestigious local company, Jessica was happy for her. But she also had a nagging suspicion that Grace’s new job might eventually pull them apart.
Much of this paragraph could be distilled down to one sentence. This paragraph, as it stands, really doesn't tell us anything yet.

Her concerns were confirmed when she returned from a weekend away to find Grace had transformed from resilient to recluse. A few days later, Grace is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma. Jessica is devastated. But when she discovers a secret diary that her room mate had been keeping, Jessica learns that life at Grace’s amazing new job had recently turned into a living hell. Grace had been sexually harassed, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape. Jessica was mortified. Why had she been so oblivious to Grace’s struggles? And more importantly, what could she do to bring Grace back?

So basically here's what we now know: When her former BFF falls into a coma, Jessica learns that Grace is hiding a dark secret: Grace is the victim of on-the-job sexual harassment and date rape. Now it's up to Jessica to help save Grace.

I need some sort of hint as to what Jessica will do to save Grace. You've given a lot of details in the set up of the situation but nothing to indicate where the story goes. I don't know enough to want to read more.


This novel is truly about best friends and the sacrifices we make for them. Jessica’s quick wit keeps the story from getting too dark, but her actions show her sincere devotion to Grace. Ultimately, Jessica will realize that the decisions she made were not just for Grace, but for herself as well. Personally, I would cut all of this paragraph. Show me the decisions Jessica makes and how it helps her. Helps her with what? We have no idea what she needs help with yet.

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 115,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel. This is good and I love the title.

I have an MPA from Indiana University, and am a married, working mom. I take my commitments seriously, and strive to see them to their fruition. I have been published in the professional journal WE&T. This is my first novel, and I am currently working on a second, unrelated, women’s fiction.I'd suggest you cut this entire paragraph. Your degree and publication (while admiral) are not pertinent to writing this novel.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.
Good luck with this. Writing a query letter is really tough.

Kreann
Posts: 15
Joined: April 8th, 2011, 1:17 pm
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by Kreann » July 10th, 2011, 3:34 pm

Ok, thanks again everyone. And you're right, enewmeyer, this is tough! (And thanks, I love the title, too, and hope it will stick.)
I've tried to make it a bit more concise - tell me if I'm closer to the mark now. I hate chopping off my credentials (what little I have), but if you all think that's the way to go, I'll give it a try...


Dear (Agent),

Jessica thought she knew everything about her best friend and room mate. So when Grace suddenly begins distancing herself from Jessica, and soon after is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma, Jessica is left confused and distraught.

But when she stumbles across her room mate’s secret diary, Jessica learns that Grace was being sexually harassed at her new job, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape, by a co-worker listed only as “MF”. Then a message on Grace’s cell phone drops another bombshell: Grace had been fired just prior to the accident for allegedly stealing from the company – something Grace would never have done.

Jessica develops a plan to get hired in Grace’s now vacated position, find the unnamed co-worker responsible for this mess, and bring him to justice. Lucky for her, she’s dating a detective with undercover experience and a few friends in all the right places. It’s all about redeeming Grace…

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 110,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.

enewmeyer
Posts: 19
Joined: March 10th, 2011, 12:20 am
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by enewmeyer » July 10th, 2011, 4:41 pm

It's getting better!
Kreann wrote: Dear (Agent),

Jessica thought she knew everything about her best friend and room mate. So when Grace suddenly begins distancing herself from Jessica, and soon after is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma, Jessica is left confused and distraught. I still don't think you really need this. It all seems like backstory other than the fact that Grace is in a coma. Where does your story actually begin?

But when she stumbles across her room mate’s secret diary, Jessica learns that Grace was being sexually harassed at her new job, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape, by a co-worker listed only as “MF”. Then a message on Grace’s cell phone drops another bombshell: Grace had been fired just prior to the accident for allegedly stealing from the company – something Grace would never have done. This is better. You could probably tighten it up even more but this shows me more of the plot.

Jessica develops a plan to get hired in Grace’s now vacated position, find the unnamed co-worker responsible for this mess, and bring him to justice. Lucky for her, she’s dating a detective with undercover experience and a few friends in all the right places. It’s all about redeeming Grace… I like this paragraph. Now I see what she's determined to do.

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 110,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.
Keep at it. You're getting there.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by Quill » July 10th, 2011, 5:28 pm

Indeed this is a much improved version.
Kreann wrote:Jessica thought she knew everything about her best friend and room mate.
The word "everything" is a bit bland and broad. Do we really ever know EVERYTHING about another person?

Also, isn't the more common spelling, "roommate" (one word?). Or is this an British form or something?
So when Grace suddenly begins distancing herself from Jessica, and soon after is involved in a horrible car accident and falls into a coma, Jessica is left confused and distraught.
Trying to say too much in one sentence, making it less coherent than it could be. You are saying (or implying) that Grace being involved in an accident is something Jessica didn't know about her (and withheld from her): "So when Grace is involved in an accident and falls into a coma, Jessica is left confused."

Also, "falls into a coma" as a result of a car crash doesn't have the punch or sense it could. Wouldn't she more likely been thrown into a coma, or some such, rather than fall?
But when she stumbles across her room mate’s secret diary, Jessica learns that Grace was being sexually harassed at her new job, and possibly even victim to a recent drug-induced date rape,
I think you can omit "But" and "even" and "recent" (being redundant to "new").

I seems it would be more correct to say "victim of" rather than "victim to".
by a co-worker listed only as “MF”. Then a message on Grace’s cell phone drops another bombshell: Grace had been fired just prior to the accident for allegedly stealing from the company – something Grace would never have done.
Okay, but it seems she would have gotten the phone message (more immediate-sounding) before stumbling onto the diary, so the order seems a bit jumbled, as written.
Jessica develops a plan to get hired in Grace’s now vacated position, find the unnamed co-worker responsible for this mess, and bring him to justice. Lucky for her, she’s dating a detective with undercover experience and a few friends in all the right places. It’s all about redeeming Grace…
Not sure how a detective is going to help her get a job or bring the culprit to justice. She's the one going undercover, right? And it shouldn't be difficult to identify a likely employee, knowing his initials, should it? Can you make it a bit clearer what is his role?

Also, as written it sounds like she's dating the detective as well as a few others, namely some friends in the right places.

For the most part I think the language/grammar could be tightened up, and the detective's crucial role be clarified a bit. Sounds like a great story.

gilesth
Posts: 149
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:54 pm
Location: Denver, CO
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by gilesth » July 18th, 2011, 8:40 am

I agree with Quill, but I'd like to add that it seems like there's some information missing from this query. It appears as though very little actually happens in this 110,000 word novel. At least based on this query. I want to know why it's important for the protagonist to help Grace. Right now it looks as though Grace is the victim of several unfortunate but unrelated events. Is there something that makes Jessica really suspicious? I know Grace was fired for stealing and she doesn't steal, but does that matter? It seems like the date-rape is more justification for Jessica's undercover mission. Is there any way to focus on that as Jessica's motivation, rather than Grace's firing?

I hope this helps. :D

Kreann
Posts: 15
Joined: April 8th, 2011, 1:17 pm
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, 3rd draft

Post by Kreann » July 18th, 2011, 11:30 pm

Alright, everyone, I've tried to make the most of your comments. Give this a spin and tell me if I'm still headed in the right direction...Thanks!

Dear (Agent),

How do you get answers out of your best friend when she’s in a coma? Simple – open her diary.

Jessica and her roommate, Grace, were the best of friends. They shared everything from beauty secrets to dating advice. Or at least, that’s what Jessica thought. So when Grace suddenly transforms from social butterfly to recluse, Jessica becomes worried and confused. A week later, Grace lands in a coma after a freak car accident, and Jessica is left with no answers, only questions.

In a moment of grief, Jessica wanders into Grace’s empty room and stumbles across the possible key to solving this mystery – her roommate’s diary. After some deliberation, Jessica opens the book and discovers some disturbing facts about Grace’s work environment: she had been the victim of sexual harassment, and a possible date-rape, by a co-worker listed only as “MF”.

Jessica’s grief turns to rage as she realizes the hell that this man forced her best friend to endure. She comes up with a plan to go undercover as Grace’s replacement, find and identify the correct villainous co-worker, and expose him for the slime that he is. Lucky for Jessica, her boyfriend happens to be a police detective with friends in all the right places. It’s a race against time – can she find the predator before she becomes his prey?

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 110,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by Quill » July 19th, 2011, 1:14 am

Much better!

But I would leave out the detective boyfriend. He doesn't add a thing here, and slightly confuses the issue, I think. Trying reading it without that one sentence. It seems stronger and more unified: Main character, and conflict(s).

Good luck.

jmn
Posts: 8
Joined: July 26th, 2011, 3:19 pm
Contact:

Re: Query: REDEEMING GRACE, take 2

Post by jmn » July 26th, 2011, 5:27 pm

Dear (Agent),

How do you get answers out of your best friend when she’s in a coma? Simple – open her diary. (I've read that many agents aren't thrilled with queries that open with questions. Although maybe this is a little different since you answer the question.)

Jessica and her roommate, Grace, were the best of friends. They shared everything from beauty secrets to dating advice. Or at least, that’s what Jessica thought. (This sentence takes away some of the urgency from the sentence following.) So when Grace suddenly transforms from social butterfly to recluse, Jessica becomes worried and confused. (To me, having both worried and confused drew my attention and made it sound like telling rather than showing.) A week later, Grace lands in a coma after a freak car accident, and Jessica is left with no answers, only questions. (You need some kind of transition between these last two sentences. I wasn't sure if Jessica was left in turmoil and without answers because she never got to talk to Grace about why she became reclusive or if it was because the freak accident was suspicious somehow.)

In a moment of grief, Jessica wanders into Grace’s empty room and stumbles across the possible key to solving this mystery – her roommate’s diary. After some deliberation, Jessica opens the book and discovers some disturbing facts about Grace’s work environment: she had been the victim of sexual harassment, and a possible date-rape, by a co-worker listed only as “MF”.

Jessica’s grief turns to rage as she realizes ("Realizes" read a little awkward here. Maybe it's because she already discovered some disturbing facts, it felt a little repetitive. Maybe you could use something like "contemplates" or "agonizes over".) the hell that this man forced her best friend to endure. She comes up with a plan to go undercover as Grace’s replacement, find and identify the correctvillainous co-worker, and expose him for the slime that he is. Lucky for Jessica, her boyfriend happens to be a police detective with friends in all the right places. It’s a race against time – can she find the predator before she becomes his prey? (The phrase "It's a race against time" sounds a little cliche to me. I think this would be stronger if you left it at "Can she find the predator before she becomes his prey?" or did something like, "The only question now is can she find the predator before she becomes his prey?")

REDEEMING GRACE is women’s fiction complete at 110,000 words. The ending leaves the book open for a sequel.

I sincerely appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing from you.

I like what you have here. It's interesting while still being to the point. Your story sounds really intriguing.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests