Aug 31, 2010

Query- The Tale of Lizzie Brogan and The Moon Goddess (second revision)

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

It's another Monday and my third submission of "Lizzie."

The Tale of Lizzie Brogan and The Moon Goddess, is an 85,000 word, humorous, paranormal romance about a late bloomer who finally grows up with a little help from a ghost.

Lizzie, a woman who lives for status and adores fashion, travel and the good life, learns the night of her unexpected arrival in Brooklyn, she can no longer travel on a whim or charge her expenses to the family business.

While tending her family's five little row houses in Brooklyn, Lizzie meets the ghost of her Aunt Annie May, a bawdy, talented Broadway performer, whose portal to this life is a tramp steamer and an old wooden trunk from the Belasco Theatre.

Aunt Annie tells Lizzie she is a direct descendent of the Moon Goddess and ironically, she must also relinquish all material possessions in order to remove a family curse and help clear the way for the true magic of love.

I read about you on Chuck Sambuchino's Blog; A Guide To Literary Agents, and I believe my work will be of interest to you. Pasted to the bottom of this e-mail are the first ten pages of the book. Thank you for your consideration and time.

Baptized Elizabeth Patricia Ann Brogan, my name is for both of my parents and my maternal Aunt Annie May. She was the wild one in the family and it is her blood, no doubt, that has caused all the ills of my life.

My Dad's reason for my behavior. "I'm telling you mother, it is the curse of Annie May come to visit upon us."

Of course, my Mother, Mary Elizabeth O'Connor Brogan, does not agree. "You'll not be calling me own baby sister a curse, Timothy Patrick Brogan."

It went deeper than Aunt Annie. It went back to the old days when they first came here and my mother had visions of pink and white ribbons and lace.

The Tale of Lizzie Brogan began when an anxious young couple, my parents, traveled three thousand miles from county Mayo, Ireland to settle in a strange land called Brooklyn. They worked hard and scraped all their pennies together to purchase a house. The same house and basement where I am currently trapped below ground. Two years later and a few more pennies down, they purchase another house, and so on until they own five.

The short version is: my father walks ten miles in the snow to find work. They wear nothing but tattered rags, eat dirt and are grateful to have it. They sacrifice so I can waste my time with loud music and boys. Today they are the poster kids for the successful immigrant; the boy with holes in his shoes becomes a millionaire.

Lizzie, mom and dad are rich. You on the other hand are poor.

That would be the heir apparent, Timothy Patrick Brogan II, born one year to the day of their marriage, currently a spry fifty-one.

Allow me to introduce the rest of the family.

Each of my other siblings come in short order in the next seven years. They are Michael Peter Brogan, eighteen months younger than Timothy, Moira Camille Brogan O'Malley, born two years later, and one year apart John Matthew and Eloise Mary Brogan Mulligan.

This is the Brogan family until my mother learns her premature menopause is myself in the pink. When I squirm into the world, the closest in age of my siblings, my sister Eloise, is fifteen and in high school.

Thus, I am the late onset, premenopausal accident of two middle-aged, Irish parents.
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Mesmerix said...

Hello again! This query is steadily improving. I'm now far more interested to read your book than the 1st query had me. Great work!

Let's start from the top, shall we?

1) Paragraph 2, sentence 1 is worded in an awkward manner. I get what you're saying, but it doesn't flow well. Try breaking it up. Example, "Lizzie lives for status, fashion, travel, and the good life until she learns she can no longer charge her expenses to the family business." Boom! That's your hook. Then move on to, "On the night of her unexpected arrival in Brooklyn, Lizzie meets the ghost..." Or whatever. Bring in Aunt May next though, and her bawdy tramp steamer style. :)

2) The real big concern is that this is a Romance but the only mention of romance is the "true magic of love" bit. In romance, you need to start with the relationship and build. From your previous sample pages, I gathered Lizzie was a wild girl. If this is true, maybe you can start with that. Her fantastic and many relationships with various men, until she meets Mr. Right and wants this true love nonsense. I'm not 100% sure as I don't know the whole of your novel, but I do know that if you're billing this as romance, you need more of that in your query.

3) 4th paragraph, "she must also reliquish" does not tell me who she is. Lizzie or the Aunt? Need to specify.

4) I read the Excerpt. Is this the beginning of the novel? If so, it leaves me cause for concern. There is lots of backstory here, and I'm going to be blunt, none of it particularly matters to the reader. You have 1-5 pages to capture my interest, and I don't get hyped until the very last sentence.

Start with the action. Start with a hook. It doesn't have to be all car chases and shoot outs, but it should be something happening right now. You could even begin with that last, wonderful sentence, "I am the late onset, premenopausal accident of two middle-aged, Irish parents."

That is a BRILLIANT sentence. It's funny, full of the character's voice, and immediately catches my interest. It is also all the backstory I need. You can fill in the rest of the backstory later, as you're telling me the here and now.

Again, I hope this helps. If the expcerpt is somewhere else in the book, then you have less to worry about. The beginning is the roughest because you have to snag my attention quickly.

Best of luck and keep going! This is much better and I'm very excited to read more about Lizzie!!

Scribbler to Scribe

Dominique said...

This query is an improvement over the previous drafts. I think you've captured here the changes the character must undergo throughout the book. You might want to say more about the curse, though, so that the reader can better understand the stakes and not just the things standing between the MC and success.

Florence said...


Actually, the excerpt is from page five and is the only backstory for a while. Also, the entire passage is 395 words. Not too long for the first part of her backstory.

I also love that one sentence.

the reason I didn't bill this as a romance the first time, is because the romance is not the main theme ... I entered her in a RWA chapter contest as Mainstream with Romantic Elements. The first query I billed her as humorous, women's fiction.

I'll think about reworking the wording a little.


Once more I can rely on your input. Both you and Mesmerix have a way of zeroing in on what can make these sound better.

thanks to both of you

Zee Lemke said...

A million times yes to the above, and also I still think this is women's fiction or even chick lit. I don't know about agents but the bookstore I work at has instructions for selling both those genres and lists of bestsellers in each.

My biggest gripe is your grammar. You punctuate irregularly and only seem to hit upon complete, non-run-on sentences by accident. It's as much of a problem in the pages as in the query--and I'm very concerned that if you get to the point of someone reading your partial, even if we clean up the query for you, they're going to reject based on sentence fragments alone.

Your writing has zest and can be quite amusing--but it's not professional. You don't need to write like me (I'm TOO grammatical), but you do need to know the difference between a semicolon and a colon; you will probably never use a semicolon again.

Florence said...

Zee Lemke:

Thanks again for takign the time to help me with this.

Okay, so I need to clean up the fragmented sentences?

Perhaps I should try the other critique site and post the first 2,500 words?

I will look it over more carefully and check the grammar. I think the reason ... not the excuse ... is that the short clipped thoughts are more natural as "conversation."

Since, this is first person and it is in fact LIzzie speaking, I let her speak in clipped phrases because that is how we speak.

Someone once told me, we write the way we speak.

I should perhaps one time, send something in third person so show you the difference.

Either way, I am going to go over this and the first pages VERY carefully.

Thanks to all, once again.

Florence said...

Message to all three of my dedicated query critiquesses (like Goddesses)... and I had a lisp as a kid.

The first 2,500 or so pages are posted on my blog. I've already given the address.

Zee, I would be very interested in what you think of how it plays out from the get go.

Your opinion can be left on my e-mail:

Let me know what you think?

Zee Lemke said...

Florence: I might if I have time.

I will tell you, though, as a conversation analyst, we write nothing like how we speak. Writing is a stylized representation of speaking, not a transcription. Most of what we say when we're talking isn't content at all. Our vocabularies shrink and we say quite a bit with noises that can only be written as "mm." Mm? It's because speaking is dialogue and writing (even writing dialogue, trust me) is monologue--you don't have uptake cues to wait for or worry about. Your sentences can be much longer without losing your audience.

BUT you do a fantastic job of making Lizzie sound like herself. I think you can keep that, but still put her thoughts mostly in complete sentences. A couple fragments? That's fine. (See what I did there?) They're only a problem when there's too many of them and they're no longer just for emphasis.