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SSB
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Post by SSB » December 8th, 2010, 3:38 pm

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Netti
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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by Netti » December 8th, 2010, 3:52 pm

SSB wrote:It’s the year 1976, and 16-year-old Mary O’Connor can’t wait to grow up and be on her own. Mary views her parents as conservative, overprotective, 1950’s minded people whom she must carefully keep on a need-to-know basis. Her parents don’t get her, or her generation. This paragraph is pretty cliche. I would suggest different phrasing.

Feeling stifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome twenty-year-old long-hair with a reputation for being a “bad boy.” The two are attracted to each other like magnets with opposite polarity. And the elements that each contribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it harder to keep her partying lifestyle under raps.

Late one night, while high on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two sneak into the cellar of Robert’s family home and make-it on the floor (I know what you're talking about here but where did you get "make-it"? I think a better word would be more useful.). Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, which outs the seriousness of their relationship, but also a little over a month later, Mary realizes she’s pregnant. Mary also becomes pregnant.

When Mary’s confidant (This is the first we hear of a confidant. Just saying "When their families find out" or something like that.) betrays her, all hell breaks loose. Fearing their families will force them apart and force Mary to give up the baby, they make a plan to run away.
A day later, Mary flees school just before classed start, and joins Robert They go on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire with no heat. In the throws of homelessness, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream novel just over 80000 words. I think it will appeal to YA readers and older readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
I'll be honest, I had a lot of "What the hell" moments when reading this. However, the plot sounds interesting. I think the problem is your query. In some places (especially the beginning) it feels like your trying to avoid cliches with phrases like "attracted to each other like magnets with opposite polarity." Such phrases, in my opinion, only make the matter worse. Some simple rephrasing would make this query a lot better.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

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SSB
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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by SSB » December 8th, 2010, 4:06 pm

Thank you for your criticism. Some of the language "make-it" for instance, is used intentionally because it was slang during the time period of the story. This is my first shot at a query, and if you felt lost, so might others. I will take your edits under consideration.

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by Lil Tailor » December 8th, 2010, 5:07 pm

SSB wrote:It’s the year 1976, and 16-year-old Mary O’Connor can’t wait to grow up and be on her own. Mary I feel this might be better at Mary's parents are conservative... views herparents as conservative, overprotective, 1950’s minded people whom she must carefully keep on a need-to-know basis. Her parents don’t get her, or her generation.

Feelingstifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome twenty-year-old long-hair with a reputation for being a “bad boy.” The two are attracted to each other like magnets with opposite polarity. I like this sentanceAnd the elements that each contribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it harder consider another word like difficultto keep her partying lifestyle under raps.

Late one night, while high on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two sneak into the cellar of Robert’s family home and make-it on the floor. Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, which outs the seriousness of their relationship, but also a little over a month later, Mary realizes she’s pregnant. this is going to sound dumb, but does them "making-it" relate to the pregnancy? Is this the first time or something?

When Mary’s confidant betrays her, all hell breaks loose. Fearing their families will force them apart and you use force twice in a section of five wordsforce Mary to give up the baby, they make a plan to run away.

A day later, Mary flees school just before classed start, and joins Robert on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire with no heat. In the throws of homelessness, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream novel just over 80000 words. I think it will appeal to YA readers and older readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
I like it. It's near perfect.

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by SSB » December 8th, 2010, 5:50 pm

Mary becomes pregnant after this incident.

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by glj » December 9th, 2010, 1:11 pm

First, some general comments.

I don't get a sense of impending conflict. This is just a string of negative events. We need a climax. What is the big problem for Mary and Robert? Is it surviving together? If so, the query only gives set-up, showing events that lead up to their struggle to get along. Seems like backstory.

Further, their decisions don't trigger a problem. A typical story arc is an impending conflict and the choices, usually good and bad (or all bad), that the protagonist must make and how the protagonist overcomes adversity. Here, Mary has an unhappy childhood, gets pregnant, leaves school, and runs away with Robert. Okay, but I don't get any hint of what the FUTURE will bring. The query should show just enough of future events, or likely future events, to draw the reader in.

Specific comments.

It’s the year 1976, and 16-year-old Mary O’Connor can’t wait to grow up and be on her own. Mary views her parents as conservative, overprotective, 1950’s minded people whom she must carefully keep on a need-to-know basis. Her parents don’t get her, or her generation.

Feeling stifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome twenty-year-old long-hair with a reputation for being a “bad boy.” The two are attracted to each other like magnets with opposite polarity. cliche And the elements that each contribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it harder as noted by another commenter, the use of "harder" seems strange to keep her partying lifestyle under raps. should be "wraps", as in concealed

Late one night, while high on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two sneak into the cellar of Robert’s family home and make-it I think the hyphen is incorrect, and may be what has thrown other commenters off on the floor. Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, which outs the seriousness of their relationship, but also a little over a month later, Mary realizes she’s pregnant.

When Mary’s confidant I think you mean Robert's father here, but by saying it differently, you made me wonder if I was wrong to assume Robert's father betrays her, all hell breaks loose. cliche, show what happens Fearing their families will force them apart and force Mary to give up the baby, they make a plan to run away.
Not needed, combine with following sentence and paragraph
A day later, such tiny detail is not necessary in a query Mary flees school just before classed start, unnecessary detail and joins Robert on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire nice touch with no heat. In the throws should be "throes", but probably not the best word? of homelessness, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream Is "mainstream" a genre? novel just over of (don't waste words, show that your writing is tight and efficient) 80000 words. I think Project confidence. It is good that you aren't grandiosely comparing your work to a mega-hit, but also don't sound tentative it will appeal to YA readers and older readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by SSB » December 9th, 2010, 2:17 pm

Thank you for the criticism. Especially, the spelling errors for which I am known.(I corrected them immediately.) I am currently revising my letter.

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Post by SSB » December 9th, 2010, 3:25 pm

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by Netti » December 9th, 2010, 3:38 pm

SSB wrote:2nd attempt, hope I am moving in the right direction.


In the year 1976, everyone looks old to Mary, even the young people. Maybe it's the long hair and scraggly beards of the dirty, bare footed, shirtless dudes. Maybe it's the sagging, braless breasts flagrantly flopping like freak flags below the rock star T-shirts of the ironed hair, glassy eyed 1970s chicks, but Mary feels like a misfit.

She struggles with being the good girl of her parents expect her to be, and the desire to be a free spirited hippie. Over the years, she’s let the 1950s values that her parents fervently preach, die a slow death.

Caught between the generation of love and the generation of self-indulgence, something in her soul will not allow her to conform to the times, even when she wants to. She really hates disco. I would recommend condensing these first three paragraphs. It's all back story and how Mary doesn't feel like she fits in. It's unnecessary. It's better to get straight to the point.

Stifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome twenty-year-old with long hair and a reputation for being a wild. Both anarchic spirits by nature, they are attracted to each other like magnets. And, the elements that each contribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it hard to keep her partying lifestyle under wraps.

Late one night, while hopped-up on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two stumble to the cellar of Robert’s family home and make it on the floor. Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, outing the seriousness of their relationship, but also a little over a month later, Mary realizes she’s pregnant and secretly seeks advise from a friend.

When the Mary’s confidant betrays her, all hell breaks loose. Still deeply in love, Robert and Mary fear their families are going to force them apart and make Mary to give up the baby, so they concoct a plan to run away.

Mary flees school, and joins Robert on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire with no heat. On their own and in the streets, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream novel just over 80000 words. It will appeal to YA readers and readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

Much, much better! However, you need to condense the back story and focus more on the plot. And you need to edit. There were a couple misplaced words. I did the strike through with them in the quote above.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by D.Bond » December 11th, 2010, 7:28 pm

It's 1976. Everyone looks old to Mary, even the young people. Maybe it's the long hair and scraggly beards of the dirty, bare-foot, shirtless dudes. Or maybe it's the sagging, braless breasts flagrantly flopping like freak flags below the rock star T-shirts of the ironed hair, glassy-eyed 1970s chicks, but Mary feels like a misfit. Wow, that's a long sentence. I do like the feel of it though. It definitely gives the perspective of the 70's told through Mary's eyes.

Caught between the generation of love and the generation of self-indulgence, something in her soul will not allow her to conform, even when she wants to. I think you should split this into 2 sentences. Her inner struggle pulls her between being the good girl her old-fashioned, conservative parents expect her to be, and the free-spirited hippie she wants to be.

Feeling stifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome 20-year-old with long hair and a wild reputation. Both anarchic spirits by nature, Mary and Robert, feel a magnetic pull toward each other. The elements that eachcontribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it hard to keep her new lifestyle under wraps. Good, we get a feel of her struggle and the downward spiral.

Late one night, while hopped-up on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two stumble to the cellar of Robert’s family home and make it on the floor. Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, butalso, a month later, Mary realizes she is pregnantand. She secretly seeks advise from a friend. Small sentences are okay to use.

When Mary’s confidant betrays her, all hell breaks loose. Still madly in love, Robert and Mary fear their families are going to force them apart and make Mary give up the baby, so. They concoct a desperate plan to run away.

Mary flees school, and joins Robert on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire. On their own, and in the streets, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream novel just over 80000 words. It will appeal to YA readers and readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

This is interesting. You don't see many teen pregnancy stories out there these days--or at least I haven't. :P It's definitely a new flavor for YA. Good luck~

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by fishfood » December 12th, 2010, 4:30 pm

SSB wrote:This was my first post, but I deleted it. This is actually my third revision of my query.

It's 1976. Everyone looks old to Mary, even the young people. Maybe it's the long hair and scraggly beards of the dirty, bare-foot, shirtless dudes. Or maybe it's the sagging, braless breasts flagrantly flopping like freak flags below the rock star T-shirts of the ironed hair, glassy-eyed 1970s chicks, but Mary feels like a misfit.

Caught between the generation of love and the generation of self-indulgence, something in her soul will not allow her to conform, even when she wants to. Her inner struggle pulls her between being the good girl her old-fashioned, conservative parents expect her to be, and the free-spirited hippie she wants to be.

These two paragraphs are a bit too much for set-up in my opinion, but I wouldn't necessarily leave them out. It's up to you. Maybe condense them. I do like that you give us a good taste of the culture, but I think you overdo it a little.

Feeling stifled and on the verge of delinquency, she meets Robert Marchioni, a handsome 20-year-old with long hair and a wild reputation. Both anarchic spirits by nature, Mary and Robert, feel a magnetic pull toward each other. The elements that each contribute to the relationship create a toxic cocktail laced with rebellion and drug use. Mary soon finds it hard to keep her new lifestyle under wraps.

Late one night, while hopped-up on opium-laced Thai Stick, the two stumble to the cellar of Robert’s family home and make it on the floor. Not only does Robert’s father catch them in the act, but also,a month later, Mary realizes she is pregnant and secretly seeks advise (advice) from a friend. I like the previous poster's suggestion about shorter sentences here.When Mary’s confidant betrays her, all hell breaks loose. Still madly in love, Robert and Mary fear their families are going to force them apart and make Mary give up the baby, so they concoct a desperate plan to run away.

Mary flees school, and joins Robert on a wild cross-country journey in a 1967 Triumph Spitfire. On their own, and in the streets, Mary and Robert hunt for a way to survive for the sake of their relationship, and their unborn child. Is there a specific climatic conflict that happens in the book that will leave us hanging other than just their survival? I think it's fine the way it is, enough for me to definitely want to read it, I just wonder if leaving the query off on a bigger cliffhanger would be more enticing.Great job on this, I can tell from your query this is well written novel.

CROSSING THRESHOLDS is a mainstream novel just over 80000 words. It will appeal to YA readers and readers interested in taking a journey back in time.

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Re: Crossing Thresholds

Post by Joel Q » December 14th, 2010, 5:52 pm

This reads more like a synopsis.
It's too long with too many details.
I can't tell if this is mostly backstory or the actual plot of the book.

I recommend taking a look at Nathan's posts on writing a query.
JQ

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