Aug 23, 2009

QUERY FOR: NOT HER MOTHER'S FATE, revision one

Click here to read the original query.

Amy Thompson is not looking for romance when she meets Robert Crane at her birthday party. Impulsive, charming, and outgoing, he is the exact opposite of Amy, who loathes crowds and attention. At first Amy resists his advances because his constant drunkenness reminds her of the abusive home she grew up in, but after much encouragement from her friends, and Roberts resolution to give up alcohol, she gives in to her loneliness and longing for a family of her own.

Once they move in together, Amy discovers Robert’s commitment to sobriety is as fickle as his religious faith. As his alcoholism escalates into violence, Amy is haunted by nightmares of abuses she suffered at her alcoholic father’s hands, and several times she plans her escape. Unlike her own father, however, Robert is sincere in his remorse and guilt, and has the loyalty and support of his family and church.

Further complicating her dilemma is Amy’s growing attraction to Robert’s best friend, who unwittingly rescues her from the worst of Robert’s failings on several occasions. Abandoning Robert and avoiding the cycle of abuse and alcoholism that was the eventual cause of her mother’s death would be easy, if she did not also this betrayal would end any chance of happiness with Cal as well.

Not Her Mother’s Fate is a 90,000 word family drama that tests the limits of friendship, love, and loyalty.


Thank you for reviewing my project. Per your submission guidelines, please find below the first five pages of Not Her Mother’s Fate.

Sincerely,

Donna Hole

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

I had two questions come to mind as I read this.

One is "what is 'family drama?'" It's not a genre I know. I think you'd be better off saying it's a romance, Christian lit, mainstream, etc. since those are the categories agents & publishers use. They'll be able to see at a glance if it's something they represent/publish.

My second question is "what does Amy do to help herself?" I don't really get a sense of Amy's journey from this. I know some about Robert and Cal (mention his name right after you introduce him as "Robert's best friend"). She seems kind of like Sleeping Beauty, where all the characters around her change and create the action while she passively rides the waves and goes along with the story, waiting to be rescued.

Make Amy and her struggles, her decisions and her actions the core of your query. Robert and Cal should be outside influences on her story, not the focus. One way to do this is to use the good ol' "if X happens (or doesn't happen), then Y will happen" like "if Amy stays with Robert, she fears she will follow in her mother's footsteps, leading a life of pain and despair" -- kind of. More specific & less dramatic but that's the idea.

Good luck with your query :)

Donna Hole said...

Thanks Steph, your comments are appreciated.
......dhole

Anonymous said...

I have to agree w/Stephanie on both points.

1. Call it women's fiction or mainstream fiction.

2. Sug. tweaking your query letter so your heroine doesn't sound like a hand-wringing Mary Sue. (for the record, I don't think running out on an abusive alcoholic man is betrayal so much as saving your life. Also, does his best friend really not know what an abusive person he is? Cuz I tell my BFF's pretty much everything)

PS You're missing a word:
Abandoning Robert and avoiding the cycle of abuse and alcoholism that was the eventual cause of her mother’s death would be easy, if she did not also this betrayal would end any chance of happiness with Cal as well.

RCWriterGirl said...

This is much better than the first query. It's much clearer.

I think the final piece you need to make this a stellar query is give us the stakes at the end. Your current ending doesn't let us know what's at stake.

It says: "Abandoning Robert and avoiding the cycle of abuse and alcoholism that was the eventual cause of her mother’s death would be easy, if she did not also this betrayal would end any chance of happiness with Cal as well."

(first, it's missing a word or several) Second, if doing this would be easy, then who cares. Perhaps the missing word/phrase can fix this, but right now, it ends on a "who cares" note.

Really give us the stakes: She has to decide to trust Robert's newfound resolve to change or risk giving him up for someone who might not love her.... (I know, not very empowering, but all I could think of right now) But, the point is, let us know what's at stake at the end of the query.

And this was a big improvement over your first query. So, good job fixing those earlier problems.

Laura Martone said...

I agree with RC - this query is much better than the first version. Good for you, Donna, for taking the previous commenters' advice and making the query your own.

That said, I have several suggestions that could make this query even stronger:

1. As Stephanie and Anon noted, I would choose a more well-known genre, such as "women's fiction".

2. As Stephanie and Anon also noted, Amy needs to be a more proactive protagonist - in the query as well as in the novel.

3. The last sentence in the first paragraph is a bit long. Perhaps splitting it into two sentences would give it more impact: "At first, Amy resists his advances because his constant drunkenness reminds her of her alcoholic father. But, with her friends' persistent encouragement and Robert's resolution to give up alcohol, she finally succumbs to her desire for a family of her own." Or something like that.

4. The second paragraph could also stand a little tweaking: "As his alcoholism escalates into violence, Amy is haunted by memories of her abusive father. Several times, she plans her escape, but unlike her father, Robert, whose remorse seems sincere, has the support of his family and church."

5. I agree with Stephanie - mention "Cal" right after "Robert's best friend" - as in "Robert's best friend, Cal, who..."

6. The rest of the third paragraph seems strange to me. First, how does Robert "unwittingly" rescue her on several occasions? Does he really not know that Robert is an abusive drunk? The last sentence could be streamlined: "Abandoning Robert and avoiding the cycle of abuse that eventually killed her mother would be easy, if she didn't think it would also end any chance of happiness with Cal." Even with such tightening, I'm still a little confused. Is the chance of happiness with Cal really worth the abuse by Robert? Why is it an all-or-nothing scenario? Would Cal think less of her if she left her alcoholic husband? It could just be me, but it feels as though the stakes need to be clearer... Amy's conflict must be more obvious.

7. The fourth paragraph should read: "Complete at 90,000 words, NOT HER MOTHER'S FATE is women's fiction that tests the limits of friendship, love, and loyalty." (The title should also be in all caps in the last sentence - apparently, it's better to do that than risk italics in e-queries.)

I hope these suggestions help you, Donna. It sounds like a worthy story that will appeal to more than just those who have been affected by abuse.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks to all who suggested changing the genre; I'm having issues with that myself. And the missing words - yeah, for some reason they weren't so obvious when I read the draft. Those are the easy points to fix.

Steph: Thanks for recognizing this as a journey for Amy. I hope I can do better at bringing that out in the query.

I'm working on the "betrayal" issue, as it is a part of Cal's (the best friend's) character, and at the heart of what keeps the two so close, yet makes a relationship impossible. And Amy's proactivity - you'd be surprised how far the novel has come from her being a "whimp". That said, Laura, with your specific suggestions, I think I may finally figure this out.

You've all been a valuable help to me. Thanks. And if I forgot to say it, thanks again. I hope I can count on your continued feedback with the next attempt.
.........dhole