Wednesday, July 29, 2009

28 Query Contest

Dear Literary Agent

Caroline Clayton’s self-esteem is at subterranean levels, near the primordial ooze in the earth’s core, when her fiancé, Albert, dumps her for her younger, thinner, supermodel sister, Gabriella. Like an idiot she agrees to be the maid-of-honor at their wedding. Santorini Sunset, set in Santorini, Greece, is a 100,000 word contemporary, romantic comedy with an irreverent, snarky flare that follows Caroline’s transformation from frumpy-successful-career woman to desirable-successful-at-everything woman. Bridget Jones meets Zorro—without the swashbuckling sword play.

As the maid-of-honor, she must contend with her mother’s scathing tongue, her sister’s narcissism and her ex-fiancé’s pity, which add to her already battered self-image. To shock her family and to prove she isn’t heartbroken, Caroline asks her co-worker, sexiest-man-alive, Raul Sobrevilla, to be her pseudo-boyfriend for the week of the wedding. Unable to fathom that Raul could find her attractive, much less fall in love with her, she must overcome her doubts and trust her heart again. She can have it all . . . career and love. All she needs is her regained self confidence, which she discovers when she sees herself through Raul’s eyes.

In addition to being published in Skipping Stones, March 2010, I have extensive experience as an editor and technical writer.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Five tiny little words—uttered in less than a second. That’s all it takes to remove every trace of happiness from the heart. To replace hope, joy, love and bliss with despair, sadness, self-doubt and homicidal rage.

I don’t love you anymore.

If four more words are added to the equation, the heart is filled with betrayal, distrust and the need for years of counseling

I love your sister.

I never actually went into counseling and I certainly never killed anyone, but the thought crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Slow, painful ways to inflict death on the love of my life, Albert, or as he’s now known, my future brother-in-law.

When asked, I’d be hard pressed to define which was worse, my fiancé leaving me for my sister or her asking me to be her maid-of-honor. I close my eyes at night and see my sweet, beautiful, kind, baby sister looking at me with tear-filled, million-dollar eyes—literally, they are insured for that amount—begging forgiveness and asking me to stand up for her during her joyous nuptials.

“I know we hurt you, Caroline, and I’m so sorry. I’ll understand completely if you refuse to be my maid-of-honor, but you’re the best friend I have. I couldn’t imagine my wedding without you by my side.”

I refrained from commenting about how best friends don’t steal fiancés and was quite restrained when I resisted the urge to rip her beautiful blonde hair from her scalp. Everyone knew the . . .


  1. Hmmm...I don't get the Zorro reference in the first paragraph.

    While I think the query is well written, I don't think that the plot itself stands apart enough to make me read more. I wonder--could you inject some of that snark you talk about into the actual query? That would probably entice me to read more.

  2. Not hooked. There's nothing about the query that really stands out for me.

  3. The query began well. Perhaps loose the Bridgit Jones/Zorry bit, it doesn't add to what you have. It would be stronger if you found replacement ways to say 'trust her heart again' and 'have it all'-- these seem tired. The first 250 words would keep me reading.

  4. I actually liked the Bridget Jones meets Zorro line, but as a reader I'd also hold you to that. If I read the book and there weren't Zorro-esque elements, I'd be disappointed. Especially since you've already mentioned that swashbuckling swordplay will not be involved. :(

    The geological metaphors in the first sentence seem like overkill to me, but if geology plays a big role in the story (does she go spelunking at some point?) then maybe you want to keep them.

    I did wonder why you put that first sentence of your blurb at the beginning, switched to a summary of info about novel, and then went back to the rest of the blurb? Why not introduce the novel, and then include the whole blurb in one piece?

  5. Semi-hook.

    Like Daria, I wondered about the switch from summary to info/bio and back to summary.

    Not a deal-breaker for me, but something I wondered about.

    Also, I liked the Zorro comparison, until you said it doesn't have any of the sword play, etc. Thing is, that's all I can remember about Zorro, so I was left wondering what elements your story does take from it.

    Overall pretty good. And I liked the 250 words.

  6. I'm close to hooked, and I think you could improve the query enough to get me hooked, because I really like your first 250 words. But I think the self esteem metaphor is a little bit too much for the first sentence. Also, I would imagine her transformation is more internal than the external example you gave. And really, who is successful at everything? I don't remember enough about Zorro (besides the sword and mask) to know what your comparison meant. But, I think you set up is intriguiging and again, loved the voice in your first 250. Would definitely keep reading.

  7. I don't really get the Zorro reference... he chose to hide his intelligence and ability behind his good looks. His transformation was from a fashionable useless pretty boy to a hardened swordsman.

    The other thing - and this is just my opinion as a reader. I like to have more conflict than just a main character trying to find her self-confidence. From the sounds of it, she has everything given to her - even the sexiest man alive. :)

  8. Query: Well written enough to carry a premise that is probably just not for me. I didn't understand how the story relates to Zorro, since it goes unexplained in the query. However, I was interested enough to read on.

    Excerpt: I love the voice. Very well written. It seems like well-tread ground, but I would at least read the first 30 pages to see where you go with it.

    Great work. Best of luck!

  9. The query (I would remove the pitch from the middle of the hook and put it by itself, preferably at the end) is OK--well-known plot, that is distinguished by two things: the Santorini setting, and the Bridget Jones meets Zorro reference--unfortunately, this is intriguing but in no way explained or followed up on.

    The snippet, however, was the best of about twenty that I read (so far) tonight. The first one that I wanted to keep reading. I would have asked for more based on that.

  10. I really got confused about the Zorro reference, without swashbuckling...what are you left with?

    I wasn't hooked because I felt the heroine seemed spineless by being willing to be a maid of honor to her "narcissistic" sister and the ex-fiance that jilted her. Plus the plot sounds like the Debra Messing movie "The Wedding Date".

    Maybe it just wasn't for me.

  11. The query didn't hook me with its excess of description but I skipped to the partial and liked its writing. I think there's potential for an interesting story here but if I were an agent I wouldn't have made it past the query's first paragraph.

  12. I'm another vote against the Zorro reference. This story doesn't feel like it'll live up to that comparison.

    I'm a sucker for plots where there's a fake boyfriend, so I read your first page. You write well. I'm not necessarily hooked by those words, but I'd definitely give you a few more pages to really catch my interest.

  13. How is it like Zorro if there's no sword play? Does Caroline run around in a mask? This line confused me. Apart from this the query sounds good. The sample has a bit too much telling in it for my liking, but your writing is good.

  14. DOn't get where Zorro comes in, but something about your query hooked me to read on.

    Then, the first 5 paragraphs are telling. Show us. Start in the middle of the 6th paragraph with sister apologizing.

    Good luck!

  15. I like the Zorro line, but I'm sad about the lack of swordplay. Swords improve all stories!

    Seriously, though.

    I liked the sample better than the query. The premise seems familiar, but the voice in the sample really stands out for me. If the next few pages kept me equally entertained in spite of the familiar premise, I'd probably request more of this.