12.01.2009

It's Peanutbutter QUERY time: Again!

12.01.2009
Thank you all for your time and invaluable feedback. If anybody happens to come by the Atlanta area, let me know. I'll buy you a beer, or ten. I mean it. I am a man of my word. Here is my second version of my possible query letter. If you don't mind my asking, let me know how it can be honest. Go ahead, rip it. And Matt, yes, you can be meaner! ;)


Dear Stellar Agent of superb and unquestionable taste:

I am seeking representation for my novel entitled MEND.

He attacks. He springs upon his victims with hatred and blind fury, slashing their bodies and shredding the peace of the city too busy to remember. He kills. With no evidence left behind, four families have fallen in his wake, and he is not finished. Only now there are two very different men, with two very different motives, hoping to bring an end to the worst killer Atlanta has seen in decades.

The first is Lieutenant Nate Barker. Intelligent and methodical, Barker must solve the case of his career while battling a skeleton that refuses to stay in the closet. The other is Jacob Santos. A man obsessed by the messages the killer sends him after he strikes and haunted by the inscriptions left for him at each crime scene.

Each step Jacob and Barker take bring them closer to unveiling the secret that links them to the killer, and to the dark chasm that lies in its revelation.


MEND is a Crime Fiction novel, complete at 70,000 words.


Respectfully,

J.m. Diaz

16 comments:

Karen Denise

Love it! I'm not an agent and I don't play one on TV, but I'd ask to see more of this! Good luck with it.

Tara McClendon

Hi. I found your query interesting, but since you asked, here are my thoughts.

Starting with the killer kind of throws me a bit. It isn't a character I can or want to relate to, so that's a bit problematic for me. The detectives are who I'd want to learn more about.

First graph: I'd suggest ending the second sentence after city. The tacked on part after this makes me question what the city's forgotten, which I don't think is the right direction. Also, the ending of the graph throws me a bit because unless the killer is one of the next two characters, you've actually got three men, not two. At the moment I'm wondering whether one of the two men in the next graph might have a multiple personality disorder. Again, I'm not sure that's the direction you want to go.

I also need clarification about Jacob's role in this story. How does he get the messages? Is the killer stalking him for some reason? Is Jacob on the task force looking for the killer? If so, what's his job?

Last graph, no comma after killer.

I hope this helps. Good luck with it.

Travener

I disagree about no comma after killer...

This is better than your first go by far. But I think you spend way too many words on the killer -- you can take care of him in a sentence, or two at the most -- and not enough on the detective and Jacob. Without knowing more about your book, I can't say how to fix it, but I'd like to see more about the conflict inherent in the story and how the two wind up working parallel/together.

One thing I think you have to do is make more evident why this novel about a serial killer is different from other novels about serial killers.

I still think you should just say "my crime novel, MEND, complete at 70,000 words" in the first sentence, rather than tacking the genre/word count on the end.

Does one say "Crime Fiction novel" or just "crime novel"? Maybe I'm freaking out too much over the proximity of "fiction" and "novel" and the way agents always complain about writers who say they've written a "fiction novel." I assume you know more about this than I.

Anyhoo, much improved.

Matt

Much improved. The roles of the individuals are much clearer and you've written it in a chilling manner that gets me interested in the story.

Having said that, there is room for improvement. I agree you spend a bit too much time on the killer. I'm not sure whether opening with the killer works or not. He isn't the main character (I don't think) but it's a great hook.

Let me try it my way.

He springs upon his victims with hatred and blind fury, slashing their bodies and shredding the peace of the city. With no evidence left behind, four families have fallen in his wake, and he is not finished. Only now, two very different men, with two very different motives, hope to bring an end to the worst killer Atlanta has seen in decades.

Lieutenant Nate Barker must solve the case of his career, while battling a skeleton that refuses to stay in the closet. Jacob Santos is obsessed by the messages the killer sends him after he strikes, and haunted by the inscriptions left for him at each crime scene.

Each step Jacob and Barker take bring them closer to unveiling the secret that links them to the killer, and to the dark chasm that lies in its revelation.


MEND is a Crime Fiction novel, complete at 70,000 words.

After reading it again, I'm left wondering if Jacob and Barker are working together, or if they even know about each other. You might want to work that in.

Sierra Godfrey

Get "Fiction" out of "Crime fiction novel."

I agree about the killer bit having too much real estate. I like Matt's combination of Jacob Santos sentence in para two.

Give me a reason to care about Jacob or Barker succeeding or failing. WHY must Barker solve the case, what's at stake for him if he fails? Why doesn't Jacob just run away instead of obsessing? Definitely make it clear if these two know each other.

What happens if either of them fail?

You're getting there. This is much better!

Jm Diaz

Thanks all for the comments. really.
Jacob and Barker have NO idea who the other person is. They just happen to be after the same killer. Its difficult to say what happens when they do become aware of each others existence without ruining the surprise of the story. I'll just say that they DO NOT work together in any way. Barker is chasing the killer for his duty. Jacob is doing it for his sanity. But I need to find a way to word that so that it doesn't give away the good stuff.

I "borrowed" the opening with the killer from the blurbs of books by Dean Koontz, Tammy Hoag, and Karin Slaughter. If one is going to steal, might as well steal from the best. And yes, in his own way, the killer is a sort of protagonist.

Also, Jacob is supposed to be the guy that the reader keeps asking the whole time "who is this guy?" and "Why is HE here?". Maybe I'll just leave him out of the query all together, but then it sounds just like any other cop vs. killer novel. And that is not what I am going for. It's more of an Antony Bruno, Chuck Palahniuk, kinda thing that will make the reader go "no way!"

Thats what I'm going for. I cant say more. I've already said too much.

Jm Diaz

Oh, and the city too busy to remember, is Atlanta. Like The city of lights, or the city that never sleeps, you know?
Maybe I oughta tack on some quotation marks, or italics. hmmmm

Michele Emrath

Like this: The City Too Busy To Remember. It is a title - capitalize it. And rework the sentence(s) following that. Too choppy/too many commas.

I love that you concentrated on the city and the parts that make your novel stand out from the crowd.

One other point, the jump from "he is not finished" to "two different men" is a bit confusing. Maybe you know the novel too well. Can someone who has read it once write a synopsis for you, and you write a query from that? That might be a good exercise.

I left an award for you on my blog!

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

Michele Emrath

Another thought...I hadn't heard of "the city too busy to remember." But I did find a list of sobriquets for Atlanta. Would any of these work?
A-Town
The Big A
ATL or the ATL
The Big Peach
City of Peace
City of Trees
The City Too Busy to Hate
Dogwood City
Hotlanta
Readers might already have a frame of reference for them. Just a thought.

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

Voidwalker

I would suggest, if you haven't already, go visit Query Shark & Query Ninja. Both are exceptional blogs dedicated to helping authors create the best query letter possible. You can submit query letters directly to them and they will RIP IT UP and tell you how to make it better. They are great at what they do, since they are in the industry!

Michele Emrath

Thanks Voidwalker, that will help us all!

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

Jm Diaz

Thank Voidwalker. Query Shark is my gal! I'll check out Query Ninja...
Much appreciated.

AjFrey

Thanks for visiting my blog. I decided to follow yours - even before I realized you were a fellow ATL, Big Peach, City of Trees resident. :) Seriously, City of Trees - love that.

I am horrible at critiquing queries, but love the story line. And I absolutely LOVE your title.

Tina Lynn

Looks like you are already in good hands, JM. I'll let them help. I haven't even gotten to this point yet.

AjFrey

Have you tried Public Query Slushpile? www.openquery.blogspot.com They really helped me. You post the query and then people critique you. You normally get a pretty solid response rate.

quixotic

pst... you are the lucky winner. See my blog post. =)

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