Wednesday, July 29, 2009

30 Query Contest

Att: Ms. Jodi Meadows
Dear Ms. Meadows:

A woman’s past unfolds as she faces her stalker in my 100,000 word novel for the woman’s commercial fiction market. Told with comic relief NO GARDEN OF EDEN IN PARADISE is a saucy tale of murder, mystery and romance among the rich and infamous, the likes of an Agatha Christie’s multi-character whodunit.

World famous artist Dorian Oberon avoids photographers and refuses to give interviews even to Barbara Walters. Guilt over an ill-begotten affair and a closely guarded secret is buried is buried beneath prized canvases and tattered brushes. After twenty years abroad she returns to America where circumstances take her to a posh suburban community, not the Garden of Eden one would imagine. With a cast of irreverent characters with secrets to die for…or kill for…Paradise Park’s lush terrain veils a black hole of chicanery, wanton sex, and uncommon romance.

When a dim-witted peeping tom gardener digs up some dirt the killing he hopes to make is his own. Unwittingly at the scene of his murder Dorian spies a fleeting figure in the shadows. Lest her past be dredged up like the body found at the bottom of the pool she foolishly refuses to admit anything. Hounded by a horny cop, courted by a duplicitous suitor, and stalked by a vengeful predator her carefully fabricated life starts to unravel.

I live in a densely populated suburban community and am a member of ORT, an international retraining organization that sponsors a multitude of book and author seminars. A previous novel was represented by the late Bertha Klausner; a breakout piece was published in Marriage Magazine.

I would appreciate submitting for your consideration NO GARDEN OF EDEN IN PARADISE and thank you for your time and consideration.




If she had never left Paris. If she had not lied to the detective. If she had heeded her own warning…if she had never fallen in love…she would not now be staring down the barrel of a gun and a face leering with undisguised loathing.

“You don’t seem surprised to see me; thought you would be,” the voice jeered.

“I was expecting you, though not quite this way,” she said.

A grin. “What did you expect? A singing telegram?”

“Next time I’ll remember to lock the door.”

The reply chilled. “Doubt there’ll be a next time.”

“What will you gain by killing me?” she said. “It won’t change anything.”

“On the contrary, I’ll sleep better seeing your name on a tombstone.” A laugh. “Dorothy Oberlander or the very famous Dorian Oberon…whatever name they’ll put on it.”

“You won’t get very far. After you poisoned my cat I called the police.”

“That dick-head sergeant and pussy-chasing cop? I’ll be far and away before they can zip up their pants.”

The gun was cocked, a steady finger curled about the trigger. “Anyway, who’d ever suspect me? You never told anyone.”

“You know damn well why.

“I counted on that.” A wave of the gun. “You know, I tried real hard to be friends with you.”

“We could never be friends,” she seethed. “You’re insane.”

“Still so high and mighty. Even now with a gun ready to splatter your brains.”

Keep talking, stall for time, the police will be here soon.


  1. Your first paragraph has a bit too much contradicting detail. Stalker doesn't imply comic relief to me, and saucy tale doesn't remind me of Agatha Christie, and the whole thing doesn't seem like a whodunit. Perhaps this would work better after I know more of the plot.

    I'm still a bit lost in the pitch, sorry. Is there a body in the garden or the pool? When you say "at the scene of his murder" do you mean the gardener? (I think so--but had to read that twice to understand your pronoun antecedent.) Where's the stalker come into any of this (other than the first and last line of the pitch)?

    In the end, the first sentence of the pitch made me think romantic thriller (with the stalker). The Agatha Christie whodunnit made me think something more along the lines of propriety and more of a cozy mystery than thriller. The horny cop makes me think romantic--possibly erotic--suspense. In the end, I'm just not sure what genre I'm dealing with

  2. I'm afraid the first paragraph left me too stunned to continue. 'Stalker' just doesn't mesh with 'saucy' and 'comic relief.' Then we get to Agatha Christie and...I'm lost before I've even started reading.

  3. Not hooked. Your first paragraph was very contradicting and the tone didn't seem to match the words. This continued through the rest of the query and the feeling I was left with was confusion.

  4. The Query: I like that information about the story is presented right away, along with the more technical details of novel length and genre.

    My interest was lost towards the end of the first paragraph with the comparison to Agatha Christie, and later with a repeat of words "is buried" in the second paragraph, as well as a lack of commas.

    I was not hooked.

  5. The Query: The writing style of the query drew me in, but the actual concepts seemed very remiscent of a combination of well known fairy tales. These could be interesting if given a fresh spin, but the query itself didn't give me the impression that it was fresh enough to capture my attention. Also, the lack of commas further lost me. I think that the writing could be tightened up just a bit and could be really compelling with just a bit of word-smithing.

    I was not hooked enough to go on reading the sample. On the other hand, I'm also very impressed considering this is a first novel written exclusively in English. Good luck!

  6. Query: Far too much time is spent comparing your book to those of others. You mention Agatha Christie - which evokes a very particular cozy sort of book - and nothing here matches that, especially when I read your excerpt and saw the language there. Whoa, hello!

    Dorian sounds like an interesting character, but most of the query is spent on her background, not on the current story. It seems to only really begin at the dim-witted peeping tom.

    What does living in a densely populated suburb have to do with your book?

    Excerpt: I went ahead and read it, just because many of the postings today have weak queries and very well-written first pages. The first paragraph has way too many ellipses, then the foul language stunned me, and the cat was poisoned. You also have characters speak by jeering and seething.

    Not hooked.

  7. Query: Not hooked.

    Missing punctuation very distracting....and this doesn't remind me of an Agatha Christie.

  8. As to the query--not so much. Lots of good comments above to help you out, but all of these are merely our opinions. I'd lose the first paragraph. After that, some of it is too non-specific: loosely buried secret? Ill-begotten affair? Perhaps word it a little better that she's run away. I had to read it twice to eek that out. Also, the beginning of paragraph three stops me. The sentence is confusing and later, the horny cop sounds disturbing. For me, the densely populated suburban community is irrelevant. Not sure about the agent who died, but the published piece should definitely stay.

  9. "Stalker" and "Comic relief" don't go hand-and-hand to me. I do like the "saucy tale of murder...among the rich and infamous."

    2nd paragraph- "is buried" is repeated.

    4th paragraph about the densely populated area really threw me. There was no transition from the story to the bio and it jarred me.

    I did read on though. Can't help myself. It didn't hook me. The description of the cop took me by surprise.

    I think you have a good premise, but it needs to be smoothed out.

    Good Luck!

  10. The first sentence of the query had me hooked. It was straightforward and tidy. After that, doubt set in. I like the hints of what I think may be a good story, but I'm not sure how the author is going to pull it off. There are a number of turn-offs for me--the confusing mixture of stalker and murder with comic relief and sauciness, an over-abundance of adjectives and cliches along with inadequate punctuation. I hope the author will keep working at this to develop its potential.

  11. Your first sentence is very generic. A woman confronts her stalker? It's been done. We need to know why yours is special. Maybe it's because it's funny? But, honestly, that turned me off b/c I don't think there's anything funny about being stalked.

    I'd get rid of your first paragraph. I don't think it really helps the story any. I stopped on the next paragraph, too, wondering if Barbara Walters asked to interview the woman, then wondering why Barbara would want to interview an artist. I was too distracted to want to read the rest of the query.

    Sorry. This could definitely just be my mood this morning.

  12. Your query confused me. Doesn't sound like Agatha C. to me. Maybe take that out and tell us more what the conflicts are in this story so we'll be hooked.

    Sorry, I stopped in the middle of the query and I love cozies!

    You can fix this things though, and end up with a great story.

  13. Not hooked. I like the title, but the query needs more focus. I'm not really sure what's going on, honestly. A woman with a lot of emotional baggage comes home and things get worse, yes? And somewhere in there is a murder, but I'm not sure how that fits in exactly. Dorian isn't the murderer, though, I assume, so I'm not sure how this relates to her or her past.

    The dialogue in the sample page came across as sort of "As you know, Bob", explaining things for the benefit of the reader. Real people don't talk like that.

    I think there's potential in here, but the query and page didn't draw me in.