Sep 17, 2009

Query- Winter Roses Never Die (revision 2)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Thanks for adding this again, Rick.

This time I'm just going to paste in the main gist of the query without salutations, etc. Thanks, all :)

Winter Roses Never Die is a paranormal romance with elements of mystical Christianity and is 92,000 words in length.

Introverted, shy and imaginative, Jennie is a late bloomer while Charos is a force of nature. She notices him for the first time while taking a shortcut through the abandoned Catholic cemetery. The powerfully built, darkly beautiful man beside the rose-covered grave is rather hard to miss. As he is often at the rosy gravesite, she plucks up courage to introduce herself. Charos shows little interest which disappoints but doesn't surprise Jennie. However one 'man' always has time for her. During her treks through the cemetery to and from work, Jennie stops to speak to the life-like statue of the Christ, garbed in a maroon cloak, and sometimes receives wonderful 'inspirationals' when she does.

Despite his initial coolness, Charos seems to warm towards her when she shows interest in the blood red roses that are flourising in mid-winter. He explains that the winter roses never die only sleep through summer returning every winter when 'she' is needed the most. Although they begin to spend more time together, he remains an edgy, unpredictable mystery. However, she feels he understands her and sees her real worth more than anyone else. He is the only one to call her by her real name, Genevieve, as he thinks this is who she really is. The name means 'woman of the people' and turns out to be a fitting choice as Jennie discovers Charos is not human, and like the rest of his kind who haunt the cemetery, he refers to human beings as The People.

Come late spring the winter roses and Charos fade away leaving Jennie in despair but impregnated with life like the budding flowers and trees that have overgrown the cemetery. She is determined to find out the truth about Charos and to bring him back into her life and her unborn child's. Only the 'Man' Jennie needs the most can arm her with wisdom and faith to win the love of the man who needs her the most. And only the magical winter roses will enable her to understand how the truest, most selfless love - found in the realms of spirit and legend - can restore not only Charos' soul but the spiritual life of humanity.


Dominique said...

Okay, that's a lot of detail of the story, but it didn't tell me anything of what the story is About. A lot of it could be cut and the space it's filling could be used to talk about the plot.

Victoria Dixon said...

Okay, a query is a trailer. You have three sentences, not paragraphs, in which to intrigue an agent or editor.
1. MC and setting.
2. MC's problem.
3. Consequences if MC fails to solve problem.

Next paragraph should include your novel's length, and genre and similar books (readership). It can also include any publishing creds.

Your last paragraph can be one or two sentences saying Thank you and you've enclosed an SASE.

TLH said...

I agree with Dominique that it's really a lot of detail that you probably don't need. Most of what you should cut is in that second paragraph.

I'm still very interested in this plot. I would definitely read this. But the letter kind of drags on. If I was an agent I would worry that your story does the same thing at 92,000 words. Whether that's true or not, just be conscious of the impression you're sending an agent who has no other way to judge your work.

You're on the right track, though! Just keep revising!

Victoria: A SASE? Do people still query on paper?! ;)

RCWriterGirl said...

I was all set to sorta jump on the bandwagon about your query being too long. I dropped it in word and the word count is only 386. So, I'm now realizing it's not the length that's troubling me.

But, before I get to that, let me tell you what was good. I really liked the tone and feel of it. The level of story detail seemed appropriate, too. It gives a wonderful sense of character and emotion.

Here's the deal. I think the problem is it reads more like a synopsis than a query. It seems very linear in the way it progresses, the way a synopsis might. It also provides the level of detail a synopsis might. And the ending is really sortof given away. This "man" is going to arm her with wisdom and faith so she can win the man she loves. And this rose is going to help her understand some mythical, spiritual secret.

I think you can probably get away with including the first couple of story paragraphs, even with all the detail. But I think the last one has to leave us with more of a cliffhanger than you have here. I think that's what's giving me pause here.

But, again, I like the feel of this.

gj said...

Ditto to "more a synopsis than a query" and making it a trailer or teaser, rather than a straight-out summary.

At close to 400 words, it's roughly twice the length you want to aim for. The substance of the query should be in the low 200-word range.

Part of the problem may be that you're starting with a summary of your story and trying to condense. Sometimes it works to start with a single sentence and then expand. Let go of the individual scenes and chapters, and look at the big picture (using concrete terms, not vague phrases).

Start with the basics: protagonist [add a one or two word descriiption of her] wants ___, because ___, so she does _____, but ____ (antagonist) does ____ to stop her.

That struggle is the core of your story. Add details as needed for the length you need, either query or synopsis.

wendy said...

Thanks everyone for those constructive, helpful comments. I seem to be taking a while to get the query concept, but I'm closing in on it.

Appreciate your time!

Rick Daley said...


Start with a hook. The best way to find it is to try to boil your novel down into a single sentence, and then build up from there.

Donna Hole said...

It's a good synopsis. Save it for the Agents that insist on a synopsis, but add some comflict before you send it out.

But, if you were standing by the office water cooler, what juicy facts would you want in the shortest amount of time so you could get back to work?

I really love the first paragraph/sentence. Very descriptive, and takes it out of the "Twilight" realm. I think that's good, because you don't want to be just another vampire novelist in a popular genre. Be careful; adding the "mystical Christianity" makes your project unique, but limits your publishing options. There may be expectations . . .

What a beautiful voice you have! Eloquent and descriptive. Heartbreaking even. But, it doesn't tell me a lot about Jennie's conflict. Nor does the angst of Charos tell me what role he plays in the resolution of her conflict. They meet, she is intrigued, and he fades away.

You'll have to sell me on the immaculate conception. I don't get that from this "synopsis".

What's your premise here? Make it one sentence, even if it's a long one. (What issue are you trying to prove/disprove in this project?) Say it out loud to "hear" if its too long. More succently, why did you write this novel? Put those sentiments in this query.

Mechanical advice: your paragraphs should be no more than 4-5 sentences long (short sentences really), and say all you need to say in three paragraphs; tops. The entire query (from "I chose you because" to "thank you") should be no more than (roughly) 350 words.

I'm thinking the last sentence: "And only the magical winter roses will enable her to understand how the truest, most selfless love - found in the realms of spirit and legend - can restore not only Charos' soul but the spiritual life of humanity." is the real premise/plot of your story. Unless I'm wrong, focus on that.

Your protagonist (Jennie) is having some sort of moral/religious crisis; Charos has something to do with her obstacles or resolution, and some decision/event changes her life forever. Bring that out in the query.

I don't get a sense of what your POV is in the query. In the first paragraph, especially, you mix POV's between Jennie and Charos. Describe one character, and in the next paragraph, if you have a multiple POV, describe the other (protagonist). But start and finish with the most important main character.

I only mention it because if you have difficulty separating POV characters in the query, you may have the same issues in the novel.

I don't read Christian/faith based novels, so don't feel guilty about ignoring this advice. Have you really researched this "genre". Have you read other spiritual/Christian based novels that deal with the supernatural? You might have a choice to make whether you want to be a "faith based" novelist, or mainstream with a theological platform.

IMO, the latter is what Ann Rice was going for with the vampire chronicles (beginning with Interview With The Vampire). The same with Pierce Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. And then there's Job, by Isaac Asimov(?).

I'm an agnostic, and enjoy the "religious philosopy" of many novels, but don't know anything about the spiritual/religious genre. I avoid it as biased; so consider me "not well read" in my opinion here.

That said, I am intrigued to read this novel, but an Agent or publisher is not a typical reader. Your query has to garner Agent interest, the novel itself must sell the reader.

I will be looking forward to another posting of this query, as I believe the novel itself is highly marketable.


Natalie and Rick Nuttall said...

You know, Rick, the one query that I had that started with a "hook" was ripped to shreds on this blog - no one liked it at all and told me the "hook" was out of place.

Maybe I just don't know how to use it....


Rick Daley said...


In that case, look for the common threads as to why the hook didn't work. It's not easy, that's for sure! Better to hear it here than via from rejection from an agent, though.

wendy said...

Donna, sorry for the delay coming back. Thank you for all that! I so hope this next query I'm about to post doesn't disappoint. I've tried to abide by your advice and that of the others, but I'm a slow learner. Your idea of the premise is spot on, but I'm not sure how to elaborate on it in the query. Btw, Charos and Jennie actually come together in a seduction scene set in the ballroom of The Family's castle where they are hosting a surreal Halloween Ball. However I'd rather just vaguely reference that in the query. *g*