Jan 16, 2010

QUERY: THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS

Dear [AGENT],

Howard, a thug who wears nice suits, is unexpectedly appointed to head FEMA. His first task is to find out why every plane fell from the sky (taking out the upper hierarchy of the organization). Known as brawn and an enforcer, Howard is faced with contempt and hostility as he tries to find his footing within the political corridors of power. As he scrambles to solve the mystery, he discovers an entity travelling towards the planet.

News of this approach is leaked to a nervous public, sparking a global frenzy. Religious zealots interpret it as the Second Coming of Christ. Amid a groundswell of theories and speculation, Bradley, a preacher who is grappling with his own issues of faith, is thrust into the spotlight and unwittingly becomes a religious icon.

Believing the approaching entity to be hostile, the President instigates a coalition to defend the planet. However, skeptical of the unfolding events and feeling threatened, a League of Thirty-Seven Nations is formed. They dispute the assertions of an alien entity and demand proof, all the while insisting that a plot to destabilize their governments was being executed.

As it nears the Solar System, the entity disappears. The coalition begins to fracture while the League threatens to respond to what it perceives as unnecessary American aggression. It is up to Howard to find proof in order to save the coalition and Bradley to rally the planet to face the unknown.

THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS is a completed manuscript of 110,000 words. I have never been published before, but being an eternal optimist I have already started research on a sequel. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that this initial contact will be the beginning of a long and beneficial association.

Sincerely
Lenworth Wesley

9 comments:

RCWriterGirl said...

Lenworth,

it was good of you to post your query. You're seeking feedback and that's good. I'm going to be brutally honest: don't send this to anyone.

An agent is going to stop reading in paragraph one. Why? Because it doesn't fit with the current world order as we know it. FEMA is a disaster agency, emergency relief (hence, Federal emergency management agency being it's name). It is not an investigative agency. That would be the NTSB (national transportation safety board), and possibly even the FAA (federal aviation administration). FEMA would not be charged with investigating planes dropping out of the sky. It would be NTSB, with an assist from FAA.

Now, as to the entire query. There's too much information. It's too confusing. You've got to streamline the story and focus on the central elements. Right now, you're telling us about Howard, Bradley and all these governments. I would suggest you focus on people, not governments. Focus on Howard and Bradley, not all this government alliance stuff.

Second, focus on stuff about the characters that makes sense on it's own. No one appoints a guy whose only qualifications are "thug who wears nice suits" as the head of FEMA. Howard may be a thug, but if you're going to tell us he's appointed the head of FEMA, you need to tell us what made him get appointed the head of FEMA (a political favor owed?). Something like: "Howard LASTNAME, has toiled as a high-powered attorney in Washington for years. Brokering backroom deals and sweeping stuff under the rug for his political friends, he's made a name for himself. When he gets appointed the emergency replacement for the head of FEMA.." And you know, still that doesn't even work, really. Don't FEMA appointments have to be approved by Congress? Not to mention, if he's a thug, why would he want to work as the head of FEMA--seems to me he'd want to toil in anonymity. We don't force labor here, seems he could say no.

But, whatever the case, you've got to make us understand the characters what their issues are, and what's at stake.

That's the final problem with your query. There doesn't seem to be anything at stake. For a while it seemed Earth was destined to be taken over by aliens. THen the aliens/entity suddenly disappeared. So it sounds like nothing's at stake. Like much ado was made about nothing.

My suggestion. Start over. Tell us four things: what does Howard want, what does Bradley want, what obstacle is in their way to achieving it, and what is at stake if they don't achieve it.

Goodluck.

Piedmont Writer said...

I'm sorry Lenworth, I agree with RCWriterGirl. Your query is too confusing. And long. It needs to read around 250 words.

And please don't say anything about you being an unpublished writer. Just end the query with --
"THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS is a completed manuscript of 110,000 words. Sincerely, etc."

And I would check at Amazon or Booklists to make sure this title hasn't already been used. It sounds awfully familiar to me.

I look forward to the revision.

ali said...

Lenworth, it takes so much guts to put this out there. Good for you. And the story sounds amazing, so I hope you keep working at this query until you get it right.

I agree with both WriterGirl and Piedmont, and hope you will take their advice to heart.

I'd also like to add my own little piece. Right off the bat, I did not feel you had a hook. Do you have a tag line, a one-sentence hook, you tell people when they ask about your book? If you do, use that to start off your query, and build your query ON it. I think doing this will help you narrow down your focus on what, exactly, should be in your query. If you don't have a tagline, then it's time to make one.

Your story is obviously a BIG one, with lots going on, lots to learn, lots at stake. For the necessity of brevity, though, you need to leave almost all of those complicating details out of your query. Those details will make your story awesome, but they'll bog your query down and guarantee you a rejection.

Good luck to you! This is the kind of story my husband would enjoy :)

Dominique said...

This felt very jumbled to me. I couldn't find enough cohesiveness about it to figure out how it was all one book.

Big question: How does an enforcer become head of FEMA. If I'm mid or low level there, and all my bosses die in planes falling from the sky (unlikely), I'm going to volunteer myself for their jobs, not grab random hired muscle from the streets for the gig.

Aimless Writer said...

I'm with RCwritergirl on the FEMA thing. FEMA would be cleaning up the plane crash fall out and helping the people affected. I'd think if anything it would be Homeland security. The FAA would have a hand in it but they would not be the lead. And it feels like a real stretch that out of all the politicians in the country they'd put a "thug in nice suits" in charge of one of the biggest national disasters/possible terrorist attacks of all time. Even if he were a lower level homeland security guy, maybe a genius in his field, I might accept it. We need to believe in Howard even if he is new to the job. (But in NJ one governor put his boyfriend in charge of our homeland security office and the guy wasn't even an American~so I guess anything is possible!)
Other then that I think if you give me Howard's conflict, motivation and goal in three sentences and then the next paragraph the same info on Bradley (these two look like the main characters?) you'd have a tighter query. Even if you start with three sentences and then elaborate it would be tighter. Third paragraph could be wrap up of how these two move toward the goal. Also use your character's first and last names the first time you mention them. It gives them more of a presence. Cut the extra words.
That said it looks like a really good story. I'd read!
Good luck!

Lenworth said...

Thanks for the comments. They are all appreciated. Wow! There’s so much that I have to do.

Random thoughts:

I see that the thug in suit description does not work, and totally gives the wrong impression. Howard is a FEMA Administrator. (Senior position in FEMA) He views himself as a thug in suit because he has a violent past.

When the planes go down, the Continuity of Government Plan is activated.(to protect government) The President and his Cabinet are relocated from Washington. It is within the execution of the COG plan that Howard is able to be appointed head of FEMA. The COG also places FEMA in charge of disasters.

Question: This all happens during period 11/28/2012 to 12/21/2012. It all climaxes on the day the Mayans predicts the world will end. Should I mention this in the query?

I’m working on a rewrite, and will be posting shortly. Again, thanks much.

Aimless Writer said...

I think the Mayan date might be a very interesting fact especially in light of how close we are to 2012.
I get the COG but FEMA still doesn't wash with me. I wouldn't think the people there would be trained to deal with terrorists/aliens. They clean up after disasters, don't they? If all the planes go down I'd think first response would be it had to be a terrorist act. Unless he discovers something in the clean up of the disasters that gives him the information of the aliens? If thats it then I think it needs to be reworded. The way it stands now it sounds like FEMA is investigating the who and why behind the disasters.
Howard is much more believable the way you describe him now. We don't have to know he's a thug in the query. However, I think as a character if he morphs from suit to tough guy hero and then we realize he had a rough past it would be a great read.
I hope this helps.

Piedmont Writer said...

Lenworth --
I believe you have your hook right here...if this takes place on the day the Mayan's calender ends (not the day they predicted the world will end because they did not predict anything) you could use that as a hook...

"As the Mayan calender is coming to its end, the world is in a global frenzy as news of a space entity that is heading toward earth is leaked.

(You
really should say what kind of entity -- is it a space ship, is it a rock, is it a what?)

Howard [last name] has been named the director of FEMA due to the Continuity of the Government Plan as the President and his Cabinet have been relocated outside D.C. It is up to Howard to...

what...this is where you come in. In 200 words or less, tell us what Howard is going to do, how he's going to do it, what his goal is.

As for Bradley, he seems like a bit player in this whole scenario unless he meets up with Howard somehwere and they join forces (I don't know why they would) so I wouldn't put Bradley in the query at all.

You have an interesting premise and are probably in the right market for it. However, I would do a tiny bit more research on the Mayan calender...they never predicted the world will end. They said the CALENDER ended. Then you start over again from the beginning. I understand what you want to do with this book but even if it is fiction you don't people really believing planes are going to fall from the sky, do you?

Good luck, Len. Can't wait to see the revision. Hope this helps.

Lenworth said...

QUERY: THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS - First Revision

Dear Agent.

December 6, 2012. As the Mayan calendar draws to its end, the world is plunged into a global frenzy when news of an entity heading toward earth is leaked. An American led coalition to defend the planet is created when mechanical equipment and technology begin to abruptly fail, triggering fears of an imminent attack.

Howard Andersen, a political appointee, who is noted for his ability to “influence” policy, is unexpectedly appointed Director of FEMA when the Continuity of Government Plan is implemented. A political enforcer, Howard is faced with contempt and hostility by his boss, the Homeland Security Secretary who wants him out.

The craft disappears as it nears the Solar System and the coalition begins to fracture. A challenge is made by countries who are skeptical of the unfolding events and feel threatened. They dispute the assertions of an alien presence and demand proof. When none is forthcoming they accuse the United States of fear mongering and crimes against humanity.

Howard is thrust into a chaotic world where religious beliefs vie against military dogma when the ship is discovered on Mars beside a mountain that eerily resembles a human face. As the planet marches towards nuclear warfare it falls to him to discern what is the truth. Is this a divine sign or staging post for an invasion?

THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS is a completed manuscript of 115,000 words. Thanks for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely
Lenworth Wesley