Jul 3, 2009


Click here to read version 2.
Click here to read version 3.

When Russia is taken over by Martin Sarafanov, a fallen angel with designs on European domination, Liam Michaels, the Angel of Death, must head off a biological and nuclear war. As the conflict intensifies and innocent people die, Liam’s angelic companions question the goodness of God. The last thing Liam needs as he tries to answer the doubts of his comrades is the appearance of the ultimate evil. But that’s exactly what he finds when he learns that the real power driving Russia is his brother, Lucifer.

My 80,000 word science fantasy thriller, ANGEL’S FALL, explores how, in a world where evil is prevalent, can God be considered good. Stylistically it resembles a merger of Clive Cussler with Dean Koontz.

I have a doctorate in Microbiology and have served as an advisor to the U.S. government on methods of detecting bioweapons. In my day job, I work as the Vice President of Science and Technology for a biotechnology company. While I have published many professional articles and book chapters, I am new to the world of creative writing.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.

Sincerely yours,



Laura Martone said...

Hi, Mike.

Thanks for sharing your query with us. I have to say, I'm impressed by the brevity of it - which, I'm told, agents tend to prefer.

While I like the basic premise of your novel - and think your background relates well to the plot - I still have a few questions/concerns. Feel free to take them with a grain of salt:

1. Perhaps I'm missing something (or showing my own ignorance of religious theory), but why would the Angel of Death need to stop a biological and nuclear war? Isn't the Angel of Death traditionally charged with taking souls (innocent or otherwise)?

2. I feel as though something's missing from your first paragraph. Liam's conflict appears to be having to deal simultaneously with a war in Russia and a crisis of faith (for his colleagues, if not for himself). But what's his real quest? His true goal? To end the war and reconcile the nature of God? It just feels like the story's end is missing. Course, it could just be me. :-)

3. I suggest merging the second and third paragraphs, and I'd eliminate the "Cussler/Koontz" line - unless you're sending a query to the agent that represents a particular author, comparing one's work to best-selling authors can seem a bit egotistical (especially in this economy).

4. As to the first sentence of the second paragraph, I have three concerns. You need a hyphen after "80,000" - as in "80,000-word". You should focus on no more than two genres... perhaps "fantasy thriller" will do? Lastly, the sentence is a little awkward - it would read better as "My 80,000-word fantasy thriller, ANGEL'S FALL, explores the possibility of God's mercy in a world where evil prevails."

5. Your bio section is good - though I would replace "In my day job" with "Currently" and I would rework the last sentence. It sounds amateurish right now - and it could use a few examples. Maybe something like... "While I have published articles in journals such as (?) and contributed chapters for books like (?), this is my first novel."

I hope that helps - and that I didn't just drive you cuckoo with my thoughts. No matter what, I wish you lots of luck with your book. :-)


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Mike,
That's an intriguing storyline and a good go at query. I do agree with Laura on the questions she raised about content.
A few additional suggestions to give clarity to sentences.
(Opening sentence) I suggest switching the order to make Liam, not Martin, the first thing we hear. I don't think you even need to name Martin, just 'a fallen angel' should do. And please explain (briefly) why the Angel of Death must stop a war. What will happen if he doesn't?
I'm confused by 'the last thing Liam needs' sentence. No one needs ultimate evil. Could you use a more specific plot point with something that intensifies the doubts of his comrades?
In the second graph again switch the order to: 'explores if God can be considered good in a world where evil is prevalent.' Drop the comparison to other authors.
Just my two cents. Best wishes.

D. Michael Olive said...

Thanks Laura & Tricia. I really appreciate your comments. I'll incorporate them and post a second draft.


Suzan Harden said...

This is an interesting premise. I have a couple of comments though-

1) Your story seems to equate Liam with the Archangel Michael. While Catholicism views Michael as the "good" angel of death, Liam's role in your story is more in keeping with Michael's role as general of God's armies and defender of heaven and earth. By tweaking your query in that direction, you will avoid Laura's excellent question of why the angel of death would want to stop a war.

2) I also agree with Laura about leaving Martin out of the query. It sounds as if he is a minor player in your story. And why would a fallen angel stop at just European domination?

3) Leave out "ultimate evil." The name Lucifer is all you need.

4) The last line of your query would be a good place to address Liam's feelings about facing his brother again. All you need is a key word or phrase. That will be the lynchpin for your conflict between them. Does Liam question maybe Lucifer was right about their Father after all?

5) In your bio, leave in the professinal publishing credits, but drop the "I am new" sentence. You may not have any fiction published yet, but leaving it in puts too much emphasis on amatuer status.

Other than that, Laura and Tricia hit the other points I noticed.

Best wishes on publishing your ms.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

1. There are a lot of novels out there already with the same title. I was on a panel at a conference two months ago with another novelist whose latest book has that title. I'd suggest a change.

2. I'd also suggest you consider how many novels you've read that have no humans in them. In general, readers pass on divinely powerful beings as main characters because the act of limiting their abilities enough to create genuine tension tends to become rather strained.