Aug 30, 2009

Query: Winter Roses Never Die

Click here to read the original query.

This is my second go at it...thank mightily for your help and suggestions.


Dear Ms Xxxxxx,

As a fan of your blog, I'm querying your interest in a 90,000 word paranormal romance ms for adults which crosses borders into inspirational and mystic Christianity.

When Jennie - a shy, fey woman of thirty-four - relates to her library co-workers of meeting a gorgeous man (Charos) in an abandoned wintry cemetery beside a rose-covered grave, her credibility is stretched to the limit. But when she describes hearing disembodied singing and music that seem to follow her down the cemetery path, her long-suffering associates begin to doubt her integrity and sanity. However she hasn't even told them the whole story of what she experienced. She is convinced a fairy lady, with sloe-shaped green eyes, was reclining upon a twig-like branch of a wattle tree. The lady's eyes held such power that Jennie couldn't move or speak. Only when able to recite the most powerful prayer she knows does the vision disappear.

For Jennie, the blood red roses aren't the only stand-out feature of the overgrown, gothic cemetery. She uses the grounds as a short cut to work and stops to speak to the life-like statue of the Christ garbed in a maroon cloak. She sometimes receives uplifting 'inspirationals' when she does.

Not far away from the statue, the wheel-chair bound man who finally reveals his name to be Charos is often seated beside the rosy grave. There appears some surreal connection between him and the roses. He explains to Jennie that the roses are magical and will never die. They only sleep in summer and return every winter when 'she' is needed the most. With the arrival of summer, this enigmatic, charming and understanding man disappears along with the winter roses. Jennie is determined to know the truth about Charos and bring him back into her life. Armed with eternal truths gleaned from inspirational communication with the Divine, she begins her quest discovering in the process that true, selfless love is more about understanding and sacrifice than romance which, like the winter roses, will never die.

Winter Roses Never Die was recently awared a Highly Commended certificate and third place in an open writing competition hosted by Affordable Manuscript Assessments. More details of the story, including the first chapter and a book trailer, are available on my blog at http://www.blackfaerydesigns.blogspot.com

Thank you for your time, etc....

5 comments:

Barb said...

I really like this story - it would be something I would enjoy reading very much.

I know the feedback you were given in the first posting of this was that it was too long. In my opinion, it still is. What's really important here is how these events impact Jennie and how they change her life. At the moment, the majority of this reads like a series of events - more of a synopsis.

A few things that might help (please disregard anything that doesn't resonate with you):

"When Jennie - a shy, fey woman of thirty-four - relates to her library co-workers of meeting a gorgeous man (Charos) in an abandoned wintry cemetery beside a rose-covered grave, her credibility is stretched to the limit."
The word "shy" made me pause. Would a shy person talk about these things, especially to all of them? Maybe introverted?
If you take this sentence in isolation, why would this stretch her credibility? All she has said so far is that she met someone.

"She is convinced a fairy lady, with sloe-shaped green eyes, was reclining upon a twig-like branch of a wattle tree."
Why is this lady important to Jennie? How does she change her thinking or beliefs?

A (very) rough suggestion:

When Jennie - a shy, fey woman of thirty-four - relates to her library co-workers of meeting a gorgeous, wheel-chair bound man in an abandoned cemetery beside a rose-covered grave, they are surprised. But her credibility is stretched to the limit, when she also relates seeing a fairy lady, with sloe-shaped green eyes and a statue of Christ she receives inspirational messages from.

The man in the wheel-chair, who finally reveals his name to be Charos, explains to Jennie that the roses are magical and will never die. They only sleep in summer and return every winter when 'she' is needed the most. When this charming man disappears with the winter roses, Jennie is determined to know the truth and bring him back into her life. Armed with inspirational communication from the Divine, she begins her quest discovering in the process that true, selfless love is more about understanding and sacrifice than romance which, like the winter roses, will never die.

Congratulations on your award!

gj said...

If it's a romance, the query should be structured around the romance -- the development of the relationship between the h/h -- with a sprinkling of whatever other elements are involved (e.g., paranormal, inspirational, etc.).

Beyond that, consider which is more exciting: reading about someone telling friends about what happened, or reading about what actually happened, as it happened.

You're creating a whole extra layer of distance (and precluding any conflict) by having the character tell the story to someone else.

What matters for the query isn't that she told people about meeting the hero, it's that she met her hero! Just start with Jennie meeting Charos, and their interaction. The fact that no one believes her about the meeting can be a complication of the relationship, but for a romance, it's all about the relationship with the hero. Start with the relationship, continue with the relationship, end with the relationship.

The arc of a romance is: the trouble starts (h/h meet, and their meeting is the worst thing that could ever happen to either one of them), the trouble gets worse (assorted mid-book complications of their romance), until it looks like the relationship will fail (black moment or crisis), and the resolution/HEA. In a query, you need to cover the first one (the trouble starts), and hint at the second and third ones (trouble getting worse to a critical point), so the agent can see that the manuscript covers all the basics.

But those elements, those basics, are all about the relationship. Not about her credibility or talking statues or fairy ladies or roses.

If it's a romance, start with Jennie meeting Charos and how that's a problem right away (no idea what that is) and becomes more of a problem (e.g., the issue with the friends' disbelief). And then throw in a sprinkling of paranormalcy, in the obstacles to their relationship: no one believes her, she wants to rescue Charos and it will take paranormal powers to do so, and she can't use those powers because of whatever other obstacles there are.

And if it's not primarily about the romance, then call it urban fantasy, not romance.

If you're in the US or submitting to US editors/agents, axe the reference to the manuscript's review.

RCWriterGirl said...

I agree with GJ. Telling us about the experience through this woman's experiences with the coworkers doesn't work at all.

First off, I think she is crazy based on this interaction. Second, it puts distance between the reader and your characters.

Second, this query doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I didn't read the original, but there are some pieces missing that I'm not getting. You mention this fairy lady who can only be eradicated through prayer, and then she's neve mentioned again.

You say she's disturbed by this fairy lady putting her in a trance, yet she keeps cutting through this cemetary to go to work. If I was being possesse daily and barely escaping, I'd surely find another way to go to work!

You mention Charos earlier as the gorgeous man, and later refer to him as the wheel-chair bound man. These two are not incongruous, but I'm thinking it's a different guy when I read it in the query. On first mention of Charos, I'd say he's wheel-chair bound.

Lastly, if this is a romance, show it to us. I've found nothing romantic about this query at all, except that it's mentioned in the opening paragraph that the novel is romance.

Romances are about two people. Focuse your query on Chaors and Jennie. Think if you were telling somebody about Romeo & Juliet. Would you tell them all the backstory of these feuding families and how each relates to his or her friends, or would you tell people it's a story about a boy and girl who fall in love, even though their families are feuding. You can't do all the backstory in a query. You've got to get to the heart of it.

Good luck.

RCWriterGirl said...

Last thing. Don't get discouraged. Sounds like you have a lovely story here. Your query needs to fit on one page (max: 450 words, probably), and you can't tell the entire lovely story in that one page. Really do pare this down to the most crucial elements of your story, and it will do the job a query is supposed to do: pique interest so an agent will read your entire lovely 90,000 word story.

wendy said...

Good gwief! And here I was thinking I'd almost nailed it. Thank goodness I didn't send this to the Query Shark. *g*

Thank you everyone for your very helpful, gentle advice and suggestions. >)