3.28.2010

Ass Kickin' Query (as in my ass, getting kicked)

3.28.2010
If youread this in the back of a book, would you buy it?


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 Hate. He kills. With no evidence left behind, four Atlanta families have fallen in his wake, and he is not finished.

Fifteen years have passed since the day Jacob Santos opened his eyes and found his mother brutally murdered. For years he has been tormented by an unattainable desire for revenge. Unattainable, until now. Following a murder in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood, a murder that mirrors his mother’s, Jacob receives a message:

“Got another for you.”

It is an invitation from the man Jacob has spent his entire adult life envisioning killing; a provocation to come out and play a deadly game of cat and mouse. And Jacob does just that. The only help the self-proclaimed investigator receives comes from an unorthodox source; the ghost of a childhood friend that haunts both him and the killer alike. Hidden behind the specter’s cryptic messages lays the true link between the hunter and the hunted, and the only means to decipher which is which.

However, unveiling the secret might come at too high a price for the lone investigator’s fragile mind, since the killer he so desperately seeks has never been further than a mere glimpse in the mirror. Now Jacob must find a way to mend his fractured psyche, before the police catch up to him, before another family is slaughtered, before his mind and his soul are lost forever. He cannot fail. Doing so will turn him from the best hope to stop the killings, and into the catalyst of an unprecedented murderous rampage.

Thanks,

If you have a query you need an opnion on, let me know. I can be very opnionated. My wife tells me so all the time.

21 comments:

Wendy Ramer

Very intriguing, though I have to admit that if all this was printed on the back of a book, I'm not sure I'd take the time to read it all while standing in a bookstore. Can it be condensed?

By the way, please check out my Monday morning blog for an award to you from me ;-)

Travener

I agree with Wendy -- it's a bit too long, but otherwise evocative and intriguing.

Jm Diaz

Taciturnity. Check.

Thanks, I shall try to condense.

Jm Diaz

I just checked the Query Shark, and all of the successful Queries were about (if not longer) in length to this. Hmmm.

Sierra Godfrey

It's long, JM. I'd cut it because I wanted to start skimming by the end of the second paragraph -- and it had nothing to do with your query!

Crimey

Jm, I like the idea of the book and the query's in good shape. I'm not sure if it's too long or not, but the first paragraph does nothing for me. I'd rather see it start with the second graph, which drops right into the heart of the story. Also I think some of writing could be tightener. Here are my suggestions (warning: I'm no expert).

Fifteen years have passed since Jacob Santos found his mother brutally murdered. For years he has been tormented by an unattainable desire for revenge. Unattainable, until now. Following the murder of a family in Atlanta, a murder that mirrors his mother’s, Jacob receives a message:

“Got another for you.”

Jacobs becomes convinced that it's an invitation from his mother's murderer to come out and play a deadly game of cat and mouse. And Jacob does just that. His only help comes from an unorthodox source: the ghost of a childhood friend that haunts both him and the killer alike. Hidden behind the specter’s cryptic messages lays a link between the hunter and the hunted.

Unveiling the secret might come at too high a price for Jacob since the killer he so desperately seeks has never been further than a mere glimpse in the mirror. Now Jacob must find a way to mend his fractured psyche before the police catches up with him or before his alter ego slaughters another family.

Conclusion (title, word count, etc).

Jm, I suggest cutting down on the final graph. There are too many 'before'. It would be interesting to see a line like "Two men fight for control over one body, and winning means XXXX." Okay, that's not the best line, but I'm just wondering you could sum up the split psyche plot into a hook.

Matt

Still better than your first attempt, but a bit long. And I agree. You can lose the first paragraph. All that info comes later anyway.

And, am I too slow here? Jacob is the killer? What the frak?

Alicia J. Frey

To answer the question-would I buy it. Hell yea! But where you grabbed me was the third paragraph when you mentioned the ghost of the childhood friends ghost. That may be your hook. It separates your book from other crime novels. Maybe move that up in the query s bit. Imo.

The query is on the long side, but its an easy fix. You repeat themes for emphasis, and if you picked only your favorite, strongest sentences-it would really tighten up this query. You have a great voice.

My query is up on the Public Query Slushpile (iron thirst). Stop by of you get a chance.

Oh, and there's a contest on my blog this week.

Good luck-though you don't need it. You've got skill.

Lt. Cccyxx

It's not that long, but it's more paragraphs than a standard query (and it might be kind of long by the time you get down to adding all the other stuff agents want). I think you could actually cut the first paragraph completely and not lose anything. You could also streamline the rest of it. Here are some suggestions:

Fifteen years have passed since the day Jacob Santos found his mother brutally murdered, and ever since he has been tormented by an unattainable desire for revenge. Unattainable until now. Following a murder in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood that mirrors his mother’s, Jacob receives a message:

“Got another for you.”

It's an invitation from the man Jacob has spent his entire adult life envisioning killing; a provocation to come out and play a deadly game of cat and mouse. Jacob does just that - his only help from an unorthodox source, the ghost of a childhood friend that haunts both him and the killer alike. Hidden behind the specter’s cryptic messages lays the true link between the hunter and the hunted.

However, unveiling the secret might come at too high a price for the lone investigator. Jacob must find a way to mend his fractured psyche before the police catch up to him, another family is slaughtered, and his mind and his soul are lost forever. He cannot fail. Doing so will turn him from the best hope to stop the killings, and into the catalyst of an unprecedented murderous rampage.


This takes out the detail that Jacob is also the killer, or at least leaves it more ambiguous. I'm not sure if that's an improvement or not! Overall, though, this sounds like an intriguing concept and a well-done query.

Jm Diaz

Lemme just say this: you guys awesome!

Southpaw

First off, I love the story premise.

I also recommend losing the first paragraph. It mostly confused me. The rest could be tighter. Are you planning on sending it to the shark?

Matt Ryan

Hey JM -

This works for a query and I like Crimey's condensed version. I think the comments relating to length are because of your reference to it being on the back of a book. The hook on the back of a book would only be 2 or 3 sentences.

As for your story, it sounds very similar to my current project in regards to concept. All the best in getting this published because I'd be interested in reading it.

-Matt

Smita Tewari

I don't really know! I may buy it just because of the fascination of it!
You have great potential for writing though, with a bit of good editing- it would be a best- seller!

Lola Sharp

You have some wonderful readers that have given you excellent recommendations.
I agree: Kill the first paragraph. Tighten the rest.

Best wishes in you query quest,
Lola

Jm Diaz

I do have the best readers. Couldn't ask for better. I'd love to get a chance to return the kindness when you all have queries in need of a second, or tenth, pair of eyes.

Anonymous

I like the premise a lot but think it might be more fun for the reader to discover the hunter and killer are one in the same when the read the book instead of on the back cover. It was a great surprise and very original but unless you have five more incredible twists up your sleeve, why show your Ace in the hole up front?

is it me, or does cat and mouse sound cliche?

overall, I think you have a winner, here.

Jm Diaz

I agree... but I've getting some feedback to give away the pie. I wonder if it would be acceptable to give the secret in the query, though?

SJDuvall

I second Lola's advice.

I really liked the idea behind the book, and honestly, the later paragraphs get into the more interesting parts (unique parts) of your book, so I would use those to hook readers (or agents).

And I think in a query, it's probably okay to give away the secret. Or at least tease it out in front of the agent some. You want them to be dying to read your manuscript, yes? They might ask for a synopsis and you have to give away the secrets there for sure.

Alicia J. Frey

Stop by my blog when you get a moment. I have an award for you. It's an extra special one. Think you'll like it.

Princess L

I stopped by to thank you for your helpful advice on my post on Public Query Slushpile. I really like what you've done with your place here ;). As far as your book, I would definitely read it. Sounds like you have a lot of interesting twists and turns (ghost helper, cryptic messages, killer in the mirror) to fit into a query, but they're all too good to leave out at the same time.

I would probably leave out the first paragraph and maybe begin with something like:
Following a murder in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood, a murder that mirrors his mother’s from 15 years earlier, Jacob Santos receives a message:

“Got another for you.”

I'd leave the rest as is. So good! I can't wait to read the hardcopy.

Jaimie

Yeah I agree with the person/persons/people (didn't read all the comments) who said that the first paragraph is a waste of space -- although it would be a fine thing in a novel, which is why queries are evil and counter-intuitive.

I mean, that's how I understand queries to be according to The Shark, anyway. Who knows. I certainly haven't found query success.

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