May 24, 2009

Query - Nowhere to Run

Dear agent:

Corporate greed and one man’s plan for vengence collide in NOWHERE TO RUN, a 96,000 word dark romantic suspense, for which I am seeking representation.

Shae McCrary is a runner. Not in a sweaty, aerobic way, but in a jump-on-a-bus-because-the-boyfriend-proposed sort of way. She has a bad habit of sneaking away when her personal life gets jumbled, and right now, with her journalism career in shambles and strangers following her and ransacking her apartment, she’s definitely jumbled. When a man who would look more at home in a war zone than Greenwich Village grabs her outside her building, she decides he’s marginally less threatening than the bozos upstairs. And he flaunts the one thing that could bring her to a squealing halt: inside information on the story she just got canned for writing.

Noah Cole’s been buried in the underside of global politics for a lot of years, providing security for anyone who can afford his protection. Enough years to know when he’s being suckered: when the pesky reporter blinks those big brown eyes at him, says she teaches elementary school or some such nonsense, and couldn’t possibly know why his client called her hours before being kidnapped in Baghdad. Or how she’s come to be the next target.

So Cole does what he does best: snatches her before anyone else can, sure he can keep her alive long enough to get information out of her. And if seduction is the only thing that makes her talk, well, he can get past his aversion for her to make the sacrifice. But as the stakes go up, and the cost of justice becomes Shae herself, will he be able to let go of the woman who’s conned her way into his heart?

I am a member of Romance Writers Association of America. I have been published in nonfiction articles in international conflict and diplomacy, and am under contract for two nonfiction books with Syracuse University Press and Cambridge Press (UK).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Laura Martone said...

See... this is why I'm petrified about submitting my own query next week. I'm not very good at critiquing anyone else's - so I'm not sure I'm being honest with my own.

This one seems to present all the necessary tidbits (word count, genre, main characters and basic plot, author's credentials) - all in a professional way that still manages to evoke a sense of the author's voice. Am I missing something?

Bane of Anubis said...

Sounds pretty good, though for me (someone who's not into this genre), a bit too flippant in places (e.g., toward the end of the 1st paragraph). Also, not sure if 'squealing' is the best word - makes me think the character is highly annoying.

Also, the 3rd paragraph strikes me as a bit odd (in the sense that he's seducing her - a trained agent/hitman/etc. - find it a bit difficult to believe) - though I imagine this is right up the James Bondesque romance type alley.

These are very minor nitpicks from someone unfamiliar w/ the genre (i.e., so should be taken w/ that proverbial grain of salt). Overall, great voice, good imagery, and nice flow.

I'd give it an A.

Anonymous said...

I think it works.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. A few suggestions, though:

1. It feels too long. Might be better to stick to one POV, just for the purpose of the query. As it is, you kind of have 4 "stories" to cover in a short query: her romance, her suspense, his romance and his suspense. Each with a goal, motivation and conflict, so that's at least 12 elements to hit. Too much for a query.

2. The voice doesn't match the description as "dark" romantic suspense. The initial lines about running away are light and flippant, not dark. That may be her internal voice, her way of handling dark, but it's inconsistent with the description, and I'm not getting dark from anything else.

3. It's always tough in rom-susp to balance the rom and the susp so that neither is slighted. In the course of trying to cover both, they're both buried a bit, with the rom part given a little more attention (subject to caveat in #4), so I'm really not feeling the suspense. It's there, but it's buried so a reader has to really look for it, and then it's only theoretical, not emotional. If you drop to one POV and have some words left over, you could bring the emotions of the suspense more into focus.

4. The suggestion that the hero will have sex as part of an interrogation technique may be off-putting within the romance genre. Think: gigolo (or prostitute if the genders were reversed).

hope101 said...

This isn't bad at all, but I do have a few suggestions/comments. Many echo Anonymous's.

This is too long for a query, particularly if you're trying to persuade us you can fit thriller elements, romance and darkness in a 96,000-word book.

Agree also that this query voice is inconsistent with the designation "dark". Your book sound more like an Evanovich type of story--that's not a put down, BTW, but just a clarification so you can establish your genre properly. It shows beyond the first paragraph, when Noah says she "suckered" him, rather than "lied", or when she "blinks those big brown eyes at him" instead of "tries a con". So, omit "dark", or *show* us that quality in your voice, or leave it out altogether and just call it rom suspense.

I don't have a problem with the sex-as-interogation idea--Anne Stuart did it successfully--but you might have to spend some extra words justifying it. To that end, I'd suggest writing this query from Shae's POV alone.

Good luck.

cameron said...

This query was mine - thank you all so much for the tips and suggestions. This is very helpful!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I agree. The query seems too light for a book described as 'dark'. It also seems like you're trying to jam too much into your query. (Something I struggle with myself. So much to say, so little space to say it.) Sifting through the desription, I can see a book I'd want to read, but agents don't have time to sift. For romantic suspense, hit the most important points hard and fast - give the letter some of the urgency your book has.

M. Kempher said...

Romance Writer's of America.

Way way way too long. Start story with guy who grabs her and offers info regarding story she got fired for. The fact that she gets jumbled or that she's a "runner" isn't important.

250 words for book description in a query.