Thursday, June 23, 2011

Query Madness!

So I've been in query hell for the past few days. I've re-worked this sucker again and again. And again. The common comment is that there is not enough voice or that I'm not showing enough of my characters' personalities. It is certainly difficult to convey Julienne's voice in what is, essentially, a business letter.

Before I drive myself insane, I thought I would turn to you all my dedicated, wonderful, loyal blog readers and get your take of my latest run through. I've also posted this at Nathan Bransford's query board if you would prefer to comment over there. I would certainly appreciate the feedback, that's for sure! So here goes...

When nineteen year old Julienne Dalton decides to take down the Union after a band of renegade soldiers kill her father, she doesn’t count on falling in love with the enemy, or that his betrayal would lead her from the war torn landscape of Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England.

Loyalties are divided in 1862 Frankfort, Kentucky. Julienne Dalton’s desperate need for revenge burns bright, overshadowing her determined attempts to restore her family’s ruined horse farm. It was her father’s last wish, but carrying out her promise cannot assuage the pain of his murder. When Julienne stumbles upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she becomes a courier for a ring of Confederate agents.

Risking her life becomes less appealing when Julienne meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield. Handsome, worldly, and intelligent, he tenaciously pursues her; she stubbornly resists his charm, unwilling to lay her heart bare and be hurt.  But a brush with death will send her flying into his arms—and to the altar. When a fellow contact is apprehended, Julienne discovers Alex's business is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union. Fearing that she'll be betrayed and her husband's love will falter in the face of her treasonous activities, she flees Kentucky. Settling in a small English village, Julienne must forget Alex if she wants to survive, but the task may be much harder than she ever anticipated.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is a historical fiction of 100,000 words. I work for the (redacted) and author Caroline Wilson Writes, a blog about writing, researching, and all things historical. I chose to query you because (insert personalized info.) I appreciate your time and consideration.

So folks...what needs changing? I think I might have captured Julienne's personality a little better. I know poor Alex is languishing but it is so hard to capture him when I'm supposed to be writing from Julienne's POV. Any thoughts on that?


  1. Let me just forewarn you that I am extremely tired while reading this, so forgive my brevity/abruptness...

    but here are my thoughts:

    first para. I think you can just start with her name and skip the age 'cause it makes the sentence sound too long. I find I don't like the use of the word 'lead' (lead her from...) as it sounds too passive. And passive character aren't good, and it contradicts with the idea of her seeking revenge. I think if you could slip the date into the first paragraph, it would be good to set your time period right up front. I'm also not clear what *he* is betraying... her? His country? Something else? Also, since the story is from her perspective (I'm assuming), putting that in kind of complicates things unnecessarily.

    ...maybe something like:

    After her father is killed by renegade Union soldiers in 1862, Julienne Dalton wants revenge, but she doesn't expect that her journey will take her from the war torn landscape of Frankfort, Kentucky to the idyllic fields of Victorian England, or that she will fall in love with the enemy.

    I think you could delete most of the second paragraph as it's kind of repetitive.

    Maybe like:

    Though Julienne throws her efforts into restoring her family’s ruined horse farm, her determination can't assuage the pain of his murder. After stumbling upon crucial information regarding Union troop movements, she becomes a courier for a ring of Confederate agents and meets British businessman Alexander Caulfield.

    ...although I don't understand what she's hoping to gain by becoming a courier... can you add in some detail? Like, is she seeking information on the solders who shot her father, or what? What is her specific goal here?

    The third paragraph reads like a summary to me and doesn't really leave me wondering what's going to happen. Also, if her primary motive was seeking revenge, what happened with that? Did she suddenly just forgive and forget?

    Okay, time to pass out from exhaustion... hope that was at least a little helpful.

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks 1000th.monkey! I appreciate the insight.

  3. What didn't come out very well in my previous comment (exhaustion + dyslexia makes coherent thoughts difficult to express...) was the question of what Julienne's specific goal/arc is over the course of the story.

    Was her father's death merely the inciting incident, or does she spend the book trying to track down/punish the killers in some way? From your first paragraph, it seems like it's the later, but then that plot point disappears from the query, which makes me then wonder if it was only the inciting incident and it's her relationship with Alexander that's really the central problem that she is trying to work out/overcome.

    If you can make her central goal/arc clearer, I think you will be much further ahead.

    The book sounds interesting :) Good luck!