Sep 5, 2009

Query- La Dame D'Or

I am seeking representation for my work of commercial fiction La Dame D’Or. It is complete at 90,000 words. I have completed one other novel, which is currently undergoing revisions. Although I categorize La Dame D’Or as commercial fiction, a large percentage of the story takes place, through flashbacks, in the distant past.
When her long dead and quite ridiculous doctoral thesis suddenly mires Eleanor Lyons in an unfamiliar world filled with hired killers, personal vendettas, and treasure hunters, she first and foremost resents the intrusion on her quiet life. Connor Stevens, a handsome but elusive man harboring a keen interest in her research, suddenly appears in her life around the same time. Desperate to gain her trust, Connor attempts to bully her by tossing an unknown entity into the mix: he is not the only one who believes she holds the key to the resting place of an ancient treasure.
A man who has destroyed Connor’s life for his own pleasure, the bloodthirsty and relentless Jonathan Dubois will stop at nothing to possess the Trinity Medallions, which he believes belong to him through familial descent. Proving Connor’s claim and forcing Eleanor’s hand, he kidnaps Gabrielle, her best friend. Keeping silent is no longer an option as Jonathan holds her friend hostage in exchange for the information in Eleanor's head. Trading herself and her knowledge for her friend’s freedom, Eleanor is forced to do something she hates even more than giving in to pushy and violent men. Trusting pushy and violent men. Unable to claw her way out of Jonathan's clutches on her own, Eleanor reveals the location of the medallions to Connor and his cohorts though she isn’t at all sure her life is more important to him than finding the medallions. At the mercy of a trained, psychotic killer, she has to trust that Connor won’t forget about her now that she has given him what he wants.
I love history and believe that the legends, myths, and characters it provides us are timeless and, if spun effectively, remain both appealing and exciting for all generations of readers. This story races along the path traveled by this elusive ancient treasure while employing detailed flashbacks to let us intimately know the historical figures that helped ensure its survival. I believe this novel succeeds in celebrating the interconnectivity of human life through the centuries, as well as illustrating the legacy that each generation leaves for the next.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film from Texas Christian University where I polished a talent for vivid and succinct writing. I am currently working towards a Master’s degree in Ancient History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which has instilled in me a passion for the past that is instrumental in bringing this plot to life. I believe this story will appeal to the many readers of books like those written by Iris Johanssen as well as to the masses drawn to the historical framework of the National Treasure films Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.


gj said...

If Eleanor is your protagonist, she's coming across as completely passive. She has information, but she doesn't DO anything. In the end, she hopes someone else will rescue her. She should be actively involved in the rescue. Story is struggle between the protagonist and the antagonist; as presented in the query, Eleanor's not struggling, she's just a pawn.

Look at each sentence and then check to see who's the subject of the sentence and what kind of verb is attached to it -- active or passive (and not just the technical passivity, but the passivity of sitting and thinking). Eleanor's verbs are all cerebral and being forced to do things, rather than taking action. The more active verbs are attached to other characters.

Focus on Eleanor and what she wants and why she can't have it (that's where the antagonist comes in, i.e., he holds her best friend hostage to get the info she wants to use for other purposes), and what she's going to do about it.

Cut all the references to flashbacks and structure and your inspirations, which are irrelevant in a query. It's all about the story, not the writer.

TLH said...

I have several comments, but please take them with a grain of salt. It's not like I've successfully queried yet, I just read queries like some kind of junkie.

I have a B.A. in History so I definitely appreciate this plot line and method of story-telling. I have a feeling your story is very good - kind of a Lara Croft meets Dan Brown. But, the query is a mess. And I can tell because I've made so many of them myself. I hope I can help a little with what I've learned.

1 - Your query is way too long and you try to tell too much of the story. This was the hardest thing for me. You need to cut it down to the bare bones of the conflict. WHO is in conflict with WHOM and WHY. It helped me to break the plot down to one sentence like that, then build from there.

2 - You have introduced too many characters here. We really only need three names: Eleanor, Connor, and Jonathan. Then we need the very basic root problem that exists and what the heroine's choices are in this conflict.

3 - You don't need that entire paragraph about how awesome history is. Honestly, most agents I've seen are already history buffs. But more than that, they just don't really care about that stuff. Skip straight to your background.

4 - I'm not sure about listing other works and authors in a similar genre. Some people will tell you to do it to show you understand where your works fits into the market, but others will say that you don't want to put yourself in such a tight category. I tend to agree with the last sentiment, but it's up to you. Just think about the pros and cons before you submit this.

5 - Don't say proposal. I didn't realize this until I got into my research, but "proposal" is specifically reserved for nonfiction in agent-speak. You're not proposing a book, you're selling it; it's already written.

I hope some of that is helpful! Sounds like an awesome story!


RCWriterGirl said...

I've got to say, I agree wholeheartedly with TLH.

This is way too long. I would bet some agents wouldn't even read the thing. One look at all that text is daunting (and a lot of agents get 100 queries per day). Dread is not the feeling you want the agent to get when she opens your e-mail/letter. Cut, cut, cut.

Kill the paragraphs about loving history and who you believe the story will appeal to. It's not really that relevant (unless you've got some niche book that has an unknown audience that you want to give specific information [think numbers & percentages; ex: 10 million parents of autistic children; 30 million seniors; etc. ]).

When I say cut, you want it to fit on one page, standard margins, single space text, double space between paragraphs (usually that comes out to 400 words or less).

The story sounds interesting. But, you'll have trouble attracting an agent if you go with this length and level of detail.

Anica Lewis said...

I like the basic concept. Everyone's a sucker for a good historical thriller.

Comments on length have already been made, and I second them. Also, you'll want to put a double space between paragraphs - it makes the text less intimidating and clearly separates different elements of the query. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's just standard.

Eleanor does seem pretty passive. She's interesting, but she'd be a lot more interesting if your query focused on what choices she makes and what actions she takes.

Good luck!