REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
ajcattapan
Posts: 30
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm
Contact:

REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by ajcattapan » December 30th, 2010, 6:14 pm

A revised version has been posted later in the thread. Thanks to all who have helped out!

I'm hoping a few people will be willing to give me some feedback on the plot part of my query. I'll add agent personalization and a very brief bio when I'm ready to submit.

Dear Agent,

Never married and almost forty, Cozy McGillicuddy swears she’s been on so many bad blind dates she must be cursed. In fact, she jokes about cutting off the tongue of the next person who even suggests setting her up.

Cozy’s current blind date is with Victor Biaggio, an art auctioneer who dates like he works, by talking fast to sell what he considers a masterpiece—in this case, himself. After an evening of incessant chatter, Vic goes in for the goodnight kiss and nearly bites Cozy’s lip off.

The next morning Cozy wakes to discover her lip has swollen to this size of a walnut and a bloody knife has been left outside her condo door. Thinking the knife is some kind of April Fool’s Joke, Cozy picks it up and heads downstairs to leave it with the doorman. But as she heads to the lobby, she gets the jolt of her life when she finds Vic’s dead body crumpled at the bottom of the stairwell.

The police are called, and Cozy looks awfully guilty with a swollen lip and the murder weapon in her possession. If she doesn’t use her gut instincts and her audiographic memory to find the killer, the wrong person’s ending up in jail.

COZY'S CURSE, a cozy mystery, is complete at 62,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
A.J. Cattapan

Side note: I'm playing around with different title ideas. Let me know what you like better: Cozy's Curse, Blind Date Death, or Death of a Blind Date.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may offer. I greatly appreciate it!
Last edited by ajcattapan on December 31st, 2010, 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 30th, 2010, 6:27 pm

I like it so far.
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
Evelyn
Posts: 65
Joined: October 6th, 2010, 12:01 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
Contact:

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Evelyn » December 30th, 2010, 7:11 pm

Hi AJ

I like it too. I think you've captured a great voice, and I can easily imagine it carrying over to your book.
ajcattapan wrote:The police are called, and Cozy looks awfully guilty with a swollen lip and the murder weapon in her possession. If she doesn’t use her gut instincts and her audiographic memory to find the killer, the wrong person’s ending up in jail.
How about: If she doesn't use her gut instincts and her audiographic memory, the wrong person will end up in jail.

Also: What is audiographic? Is there another word you can use here?
ajcattapan wrote:Let me know what you like better: Cozy's Curse, Blind Date Death, or Death of a Blind Date.
I like "Blind Date Death" - but I don't know the Cozy market.

ajcattapan
Posts: 30
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm
Contact:

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by ajcattapan » December 30th, 2010, 7:48 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, Evelyn.

An audiographic memory is like a photographic memory except a person remembers exactly what they hear, as opposed to exactly what they see. I could try "her extraordinary auditory memory" if that would be easier for people to understand.

Thanks for the compliment on the "voice." It's the part of my writing I've been working on the hardest this past year!

Anyone else want to weigh in on title preferences? So far I've got one vote for BLIND DATE DEATH.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Holly » December 30th, 2010, 8:50 pm

ajcattapan wrote:Thanks for the suggestions, Evelyn.

An audiographic memory is like a photographic memory except a person remembers exactly what they hear, as opposed to exactly what they see. I could try "her extraordinary auditory memory" if that would be easier for people to understand.

Thanks for the compliment on the "voice." It's the part of my writing I've been working on the hardest this past year!

Anyone else want to weigh in on title preferences? So far I've got one vote for BLIND DATE DEATH.
I vote for BLIND DATE DEATH, too.

One suggestion: another name for the main character. It's a cozy mystery and her name is Cozy, plus her full name strikes me as too pat. Or maybe that's just me. Cozy mysteries have their own charm and style.

You have a fluid, confident voice that I enjoy reading. Good luck!

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

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by glj » December 30th, 2010, 10:15 pm

This does have charm and I found the voice compelling. But the challenge for the protagonist seems undeveloped. Clearly, Cozy must clear herself of suspicion, but this does not leave me wondering what will happen next. You need to create a sense of impending danger/conflict, but all this has is that she is under suspicion for murder.

Make us have to read more. Show us a hint of the bad guy setting her up. Show us that the challenge of Cozy vindicating herself will be great, so that we want to read how she does it. We want to see her overcoming the obstacles, an underdog who triumphs despite the odds. And this doesn't address the opening problem, that Cozy has never found love and happiness. You need a potential love interest, so at the end Cozy finds someone, whether it is a man she meets during the murder investigation or a final blind date where everything goes right for a change.


Never married and almost forty, Cozy McGillicuddy swears she’s been on so many bad blind dates she must be cursed. In fact, she jokes about cutting off the tongue of the next person who even suggests setting her up. But yet in the next paragraph she is on another blind date. This doesn't work and you are lacking a transition. Why does she say this, then we are told she is on another horrible blind date?

Cozy’s current blind date "current blind date" is awkward. You need a smoother transition. Can you show us that she relents and accepts another setup, despite her reservations? is with Victor Biaggio, an art auctioneer who dates like he works, by talking fast to sell what he considers a masterpiece—in this case, himself. Here, I so want you to paint us a picture of some greased back, gold chain wearing paunchy would-be Lothario who thinks he can bed her if only he talks enough. After an evening of incessant chatter, Vic goes in for the goodnight kiss and nearly bites Cozy’s lip off.

The next morning Cozy wakes to discover her lip has swollen to this the? size of a walnut and a bloody knife has been left outside her condo door. Thinking the knife is some kind of April Fool’s Joke, Cozy picks it up and heads downstairs to leave it with the doorman. But as she heads to the lobby, she gets the jolt of her life when she finds Vic’s dead body crumpled at the bottom of the stairwell. Okay, I find it hard to believe that Vic's dead body could go undiscovered at the bottom of the stairwell, in the lobby, until the next morning. Is this an apartment building for blind shut-ins? And it is too convenient that she finds it, without some other explanation.

The police are called, Passive wording. Why not "The police immediately take her to the station, as Cozy looks awfully guilty . . . and Cozy looks awfully guilty with a swollen lip and the murder weapon in her possession. If she doesn’t use her gut instincts and her audiographic memory to find the killer, You need to give a clue that sound will be important in solving the mystery, this is too little. the wrong person’s ending up in jail. Awkward wording, as noted by another commenter. The apostrophe is easily mistaken for the possessive case.

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

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Quill » December 30th, 2010, 10:25 pm

ajcattapan wrote: Never married and almost forty, Cozy McGillicuddy swears she’s been on so many bad blind dates she must be cursed. In fact, she jokes about cutting off the tongue of the next person who even suggests setting her up.
Hmm, subtly suggesting a red herring of a violent tendency in our protagonist?

Agree w/ Holly that Cozy may just too pat a name for a cozy mystery.
Cozy’s current blind date is with Victor Biaggio, an art auctioneer who dates like he works, by talking fast to sell what he considers a masterpiece—in this case, himself. After an evening of incessant chatter, Vic goes in for the goodnight kiss and nearly bites Cozy’s lip off.
Very nice.
The next morning Cozy wakes to discover her lip has swollen to this size of a walnut and a bloody knife has been left outside her condo door. Thinking the knife is some kind of April Fool’s Joke, Cozy picks it up and heads downstairs to leave it with the doorman.
Okay, it's April 1, then? Joke wouldn't be capitalized. Or how about simply "some kind of joke" just so we aren't thrown by the holiday reference.
But as she heads to the lobby, she gets the jolt of her life when she finds Vic’s dead body crumpled at the bottom of the stairwell.
A bit convoluted: "As she heads, she gets the jolt when she finds." As she heads, she gets when she finds. Also awkward: "as she she heads to the lobby, she finds Vic's body at the bottom of the stairwell".

How about omitting "as she heads to the lobby" and go straight from "heads downstairs to leave it with the doorman. She gets the jolt of her life when..."

Yeah, the heading to the lobby phrase in between the two stair references is what seems to throw it off.
The police are called, and Cozy looks awfully guilty with a swollen lip
Good, but this is the third "lip" reference and second for "swollen". How about "injured mouth" or even "torn lip" for variety?
and the murder weapon in her possession. If she doesn’t use her gut instincts and her audiographic memory to find the killer, the wrong person’s ending up in jail.
Good but maybe too pat. I mean, what's to say that the police won't handle the investigation competently? How about "the wrong person might end up in jail"? Also, "use" seems a bit weak of a verb. How about "fully engage" or "bring her gut instincts and audiographic memory to bear" or some such.
COZY'S CURSE, a cozy mystery, is complete at 62,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Good.

Sounds delightful.
Side note: I'm playing around with different title ideas. Let me know what you like better: Cozy's Curse, Blind Date Death, or Death of a Blind Date.
Blind Date Death is the best of the three. How about Blind Date Diabolic. Or The Cozy Kisser.

ajcattapan
Posts: 30
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm
Contact:

Re: Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by ajcattapan » December 31st, 2010, 5:48 pm

Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions so far! I appreciate having an outsider's perspective. I've tried to fix as many of the problems as possible without adding too much to the word count. Hopefully, I've fixed enough that someone would want to read more, even if I haven't answered every single question. (I guess that's kind of the point, right? That you leave the reader with enough questions that he or she wants to read more to get the questions answered, but not too many questions that the reader is left completely confused.)

O.K. Here's what I have re-worked with the new title BLIND DATE DEATH:


Dear Agent,

Never married and almost forty, Cozy McGillicuddy swears she’s been on so many bad blind dates she must be cursed. At least that’s what she decides while out with Victor Biaggio, an art auctioneer who dates like he works, by talking fast to sell what he considers a masterpiece—himself. After an evening of incessant chatter, Vic goes in for the goodnight kiss and nearly bites Cozy’s lip off.

Early the next morning, Cozy discovers a bloody knife has been left outside her condo door. Thinking the knife is some kind of joke, Cozy heads downstairs to leave it with the doorman. However, she gets the jolt of her life when she finds Vic’s dead body crumpled in the stairwell.

When the police arrive, Cozy looks awfully guilty. Vic’s vampire act has left her with a bruised kisser, and the murder weapon has her fingerprints all over it. In an effort to clear her name, Cozy starts investigating. She discovers a trail of broken hearts Vic left behind, a plot to steal a valuable painting, and more people who want to set her up with “the perfect man.” If she doesn’t employ her audiographic memory to find the killer, she could end up in jail—and that certainly wouldn’t make finding Mr. Right any easier!

BLIND DATE DEATH, a cozy mystery, is complete at 62,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
A.J. Cattapan

Side note: Someone had asked why Cozy finds the body instead of someone else. In the book, it is explained that the building has elevators, which are used all the time by the many widowed residents of the Tower. Cozy takes the stairs because she's out for an early morning run and uses the stairs for a warm-up. Now why is Vic in the stairwell if there are perfectly good elevators? For that, you have to read the book. :)

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by wilderness » January 2nd, 2011, 1:20 am

I like it -- very cute and good voice. I like the title "BLIND DATE DEATH" too.

The only part that threw me off was the part about using her audiographic memory. It's a unique idea -- we're so used to hearing about people with photographic memories -- so this is a nice twist. But it comes at the end out of nowhere, and it seems like it should have been mentioned somehow earlier -- like does it ever affect her blind dates? Unless you can tie it in a little closer to the plot, I would leave that tidbit out.

Good luck!

ajcattapan
Posts: 30
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by ajcattapan » January 14th, 2011, 6:56 pm

As Nathan would say, "Can I get a ruling?"

Is Cozy McGillicuddy too pat a name for a character in a cozy mystery?

A couple people on this forum have thought so. Just wondering if any others out there, especially if you read cozies, feel the same way. I read a lot of cozies, and there are names like Agatha Raisin (a play on Agatha Christie, of course) as well as Jaine Austen (do I need to explain that one?).

So what do people think: Should I keep her named Cozy? Part of the first chapter explains how her mother gave her this name.

Thanks for all your input!

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

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Quill » January 14th, 2011, 8:40 pm

Based on your explanation I say keep it. I don't read cozies, but I've seen lots of Murder She Wrote episodes on TV. Cute can be good, part of the coziness.

rosepetal720
Posts: 39
Joined: January 12th, 2011, 12:28 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by rosepetal720 » January 18th, 2011, 12:05 pm

I love it. I rarely have so little to say against a query.

I completely agree about the character's name and the title. I wouldn't write a fantasy book about a girl named Fantasy and call it "Fantasy Curse." I love the title "Death of a Blind Date."

The autographic memory throws me for a loop, because while I'm sure it's important to the story, it has nothing to do with the query. Also, why do you say "the wrong person's going to jail" when Cozy's the "wrong person"? You should just say. "she's going to go to jail."
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/

clara_w
Posts: 104
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 6:03 am
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by clara_w » January 19th, 2011, 9:44 am

I love it. It has everything: voice, a good plot, interesting characters. Bravo!

User avatar
Mary-Catharine
Posts: 60
Joined: April 1st, 2010, 9:56 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 19th, 2011, 2:28 pm

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!!!!! That was awesome! Your query is like McDonalds because I'm loven it!!!!

User avatar
Mary-Catharine
Posts: 60
Joined: April 1st, 2010, 9:56 pm
Contact:

Re: REVISED Query: COZY'S CURSE (mystery)

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 19th, 2011, 11:25 pm

You're steps really helped me, I'm trying to apply them to my query. It's really helped me get focus and not feel like my head had been cut off and running around like a chicken. *Shivers to decapitated chicken visual*

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest