Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Public Slushpile #1

TITLE: Calista
GENRE: Historical Fiction

Dear AGENT:

I’m writing to you seeking representation for my novel, Calista.

Calista Hall wakes one morning to find her servants gone, her bank accounts empty, and a debt collector knocking on her door, demanding whatever she can give as compensation. Against all social expectations of a once-wealthy woman of the times, Calista takes a job as a seamstress with a family friend. When she finds this isn’t as profitable as she thought, Calista posts an ad in the local newspaper for boarders to fill the empty rooms in her large manor by the sea. Days later, Nathan Ridley shows up on her doorstep, a man with a mysterious past and a mute boy brother by his side.

As a love that neither of them expected blossoms, Calista must maintain the home she loves, the ailing father she was left to care for five years before, and her status as a wealthy woman.

Taking place over six months in early 1870s New England, Calista is a 90,000-word historical novel of a wealthy woman turned poor, who all at once is trying to keep her family together, battle the expectations of her station, and finding herself falling in love at the worst possible time.

37 comments:

  1. NO

    You don't get to the point, there are cliche descriptions (e.g. ". . . a man with a mysterious past") and you don't start a letter saying, "I'm seeking representation." An agent already knows that--that's the reason why you're writing him. Best to start a query by jumping into the blurb.

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  2. No

    I want more of a sense of character and more voice in this blurb. What makes Calista special, intriguing? What sets this story apart from others like it?

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  3. No. This just feels too familiar and cliched.

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  4. No - not getting a good sense of what makes the plot and MC stand out.

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  5. No. I don't see the main character doing anything much to help herself.

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  6. Yes. As a query it could be stronger but the conflict is a good one and the time frame interesting.

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  7. Yes.
    The story sounds intriguing and full of possibilities (just make sure you fill up all the rooms in the house!)so I would definitely want to read a few pages to see if I was into it or not.

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  8. No. I'm not getting a strong enough sense of character and voice, so I'm not really interested in what happens to your characters.

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  9. No. I have too many questions, (ie. how did she lose the money?), and not enough information about Calista or her predicament to care.

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  10. No. The main character's goals aren't strong enough.

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  11. No. Calista's voice isn't coming through at all, I want to know how all of this is affecting her before deciding whether or not to read on.

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  12. NO. How did all this happen to her overnight, and what are her stakes, other than keeping the house she loves?

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  13. No. I need more information, especially regarding the stakes.

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  14. No

    The premise sounds interesting, especially considering what unusual characters she might board, but her problem isn't unique, and I'm not hooked.

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  15. No, since the premise doesn't sound unique or detailed enough.

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  16. Yes. I'm on the fence with this one, so if the first few pages aren't compelling, I'm out.

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  17. NO, but it has potential. The story sounds intriguing, but the query needs some work.

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  18. No. The voice isn't coming through and the first big paragraph is too vague.

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  19. No. I don't get a sense of any of the characters (plus, "boy brother" is redundant).

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  20. No. It has possibilities, but the conflict statement at the end doesn't really give me a sense of a unified plot that comes to a climax.

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  21. No. The premise in the first paragraph is interesting, but I need more information in the second--about Nathan, her father or both.

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  22. NO
    I'm not sure what the conflict is here, other than rich woman is no longer rich, or if there are any consequences

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  23. No- description has a number of incongruous concepts- she's not a wealthy woman any more so maintaining her manor is distracting.

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  24. No.

    Lost me when she expected a job as a seamstress to be profitable. (If that was meant to be sarcasm, it didn't come off.) She felt naive and scattered to me.

    Also it sounds like a historical romance, so if it's not then the tone's way off.

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  25. No.
    Feels familiar. But it's the unlikeliness of her waking up to find all that has happened that just keeps nagging at me. I’d need to know the reason behind how she lost everything but the house in the first place to care enough.

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  26. No. The trope is cliched, as is some of the stock character descriptions. Voice is weak and I never got a sense for anything really at stake.

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  27. No. The stakes don't seem high enough. What happens if she fails?

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  28. No - sounds like a story that's been overdone; plus not being wealthy myself, the conflict around the main character trying to preserve her wealthy status alienates me and makes the main character seem unsympathetic.

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  29. Yes. This sounds like a book I would enjoy with interesting characters and a modicum of conflict and a love story.

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  30. No. I don't have a clear enough picture of Calista. And I'd really like to know how old she is.

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  31. Yes. BUT, I want a sense of the time period much earlier, and maybe even through the writing. Add more plot details.

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  32. No. The stakes aren't emphasised enough for me to really care and I need more feeling of the time period in the query.

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  33. No. The overnight nature of the transformation is 2012, not 1870. She would know her banker, a debt collector wouldn't dare knock at her door on day one, so if you're compressing the action for the sake of the query, it's not working.

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  34. No. I don't have any sense of what makes the MC worthy of sympathy.

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  35. NO. I don't get a sense of what the MC's difficult choice is or what the stakes are.

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  36. No, because when you're poor, you don't have a large manor to put boarders in, so either there's a strange new definition of 'poor' being used here, or the story is not well thought out, and also, I've seen Moonlighting.

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