Aug 10, 2009

QUERY: NOT HER MOTHER'S FATE

A revision of this query has been posted. Click here to read it.

Not Her Mother’s Fate, a 90,000 word family drama set in Oroville, Ca, between 1978 - 1983, would appeal to women who have either been victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, or who have known someone who is a survivor.

Amy Thompson never expected to find a safe haven from her abusive childhood among the burnouts and party crowd when she accepts a friend’s invitation to roommate. With the support of friends, she is able to heal, and when impulsively charming Robert Crane makes his move, she is ready for romance. It doesn’t take long for Robert’s alcoholic nature to manifest, but the couple are pressured by friends, family and church to remain together.

As Robert’s drunkenness escalates into violence, Amy is haunted by flashbacks and nightmares of her childhood, and she’s determined not to end up with her own mother’s deadly fate. Escape is not so easy however, as Amy’s attraction to his best friend - a man who frequently and unwittingly rescues her from the worst of Robert’s failings - becomes a testing ground of friendship, love and loyalty. A final tragedy forces Amy to choose between abandoning both men, or making one last attempt at true love.

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:

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but a couple suggestions:
1)Really a matter of opinion, but if I were you I'd stick the first paragraph onto the end and start with the second paragraph. I know some agents like wordcount, title, genre upfront but saying "would appeal to women who have either been victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault" will make more sense after you've explained the book.

2) "Amy Thompson never expected to find a safe haven from her abusive childhood among the burnouts and party crowd when she accepts a friend’s invitation to roommate. With the support of friends, she is able to heal, and when impulsively charming Robert Crane makes his move, she is ready for romance" this is a little unclear to me - who is this friend? why didn't she think the friend would be supportive? what does living with the friend have to do with Crane? Also, I don't think you can use 'roommate' as a verb...say ' to be her roommate' or 'to room together'
3) Lastly, why do her family and 'supportive' friends pressure her to stay with a violent alcoholic? Most friends and family would be appalled and try and get someone out of that type of toxic relationship...

RCWriterGirl said...

You can't start with the first paragraph. Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, etc, is a very limited audience. Why would you want an agent to think your book is limited to a tiny audience?

Get rid of anything about the audience that would make something think the audience is narrow.

Second, Move the rest of the paragraph (where you give word count, title, genre) to lower in the query. Probably after the two paragraphs describing the plot.

Next, the description is interesting, but it needs more specifics. It's all adjectives that say nothing. His "alcoholic nature manifests"? What does that mean. Does he drink every night and then beat the crap out of her? It doesn't have to be wordy, but it does have to be explained.
And why are the couple pressured to stay together? That makes no sense? Who pressures someone to stay with an alcoholic abuser? Give the reason she's pressured (Amy's dirt-poor family pressures her to stay with Trust-Fund brat Robert, believing it's worth any humiliation not to be poor). Again it doesn't have to be long. It has to give the reader enough info to make sense of the story.

Again, "she's determined not to end up with her own mother's deadly fate." Stop with the histrionics. Just tell us what happened to her mother.

I think you've got a good story here. You're just refusing to tell it to us. Instead, you're fluffing it adjectives and generalizations and hoping we'll ask for more. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen.

Your query needs to be more detailed. Not neccessarily longer, just details instead of fluff.

fred limberg said...

#1...'will' appeal, not 'would'-- be positive

#2...In my insular good guy world, I hope your audience is very small... it probably isn't, but why define an audience when you are trying to sell a book.

#3...back to #2...are you trying to sell a book or are you preaching.

#4...You beat me about the head and shoulders recently to get short and sweet. Are you writing a novel?

Tell the story, sell it, and then you will have a platform.

(I am now scurrying off to hide before Donna beats ME about the head and shoulders)

You got 250 words. Go dog go.

smooch

Fred

Donna Hole said...

LOL! "Come back, Jack -" no, wait, I mean Fred! Don't scurry off to far, I'm gonna need your head to bounce things - ur, ideas - off until I get through this. As far as the "preachy" thing goes, the few chapters my critique group read made the same point about certain scenes. (sigh) I need to re-read to tone. Thanks.

RC: I think I packed my verbs in a box somewhere. I'll definitely try to find them, and lose some of the back-story in the process. I do appreciate the "fluff" comment; it's been very hard to portray and alcoholic as a human being without making him too likeable. But none of my characters are cuddly, and I don't want the query to come off that way. Thanks for the feedback.

Anon: Thanks for the formatting advice; I'd been thinking along those lines myself. Part of my "agent smooze" (I have a particular one in mind) involves the setting, but maybe I should rethink it. You're third point goes along with RC and Freds about adjectives and preachiness and is at the heart of the difficulty I'm having with the synopsis. The story is about Why she would stay, so a bit more action here is needed. Thanks for the comments.

This is a good jump start for me. I appreciate the help. Now, I have to "go dog go" and figure out which 250 words say the most. :)
.........dhole

Anica Lewis said...

You've definitely got drama here, and the basic story summary in your query is quite good.

I agree that the first paragraph, should you choose to keep it, belongs toward the end of the letter. I'm also not sure why you need to include the dates. Unless there's a compelling reason, might want to take those out.

Amy's intro in the first sentence of Paragraph Two is good, but I'd like to see it tweaked to start with, "When Amy Thompson accepts a friend's invitation to room together, she never expected . . ." The "When . . ." is a pretty classic query intro, but there's a reason it's frequently used. It's snappy and effective, and I think it would work well here. You also might mention Amy's mother's tragedy in this first paragraph to hint at what's coming later. And I agree with Fred that you want to tell us what that fate is. Specifics are usually stronger than generalities.

Also, as the anonymous poster asked, why do friends and family pressure Amy to stay with Robert? From the mention of the church, I'm guessing she's pregnant, but it merits a quick explanation.

I'm not sure what the "final" means in "a final tragedy." You might even want to get specific with this, though I see the drama in leaving it vague.

Overall, a pretty good query. The right agent should snap it up.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks Anica. Your comments are timely and well recieved. I'm kinda pulling my hair out about the "pressure". How to describe it. I'm working on it. Slowly, slowly...........dhole