QueryDice #3

The following is a query critique. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!

Dear Ms. Ruth,

I’m querying you with my completed 90,000-word (“completed 90,000-word” is redundant) sexy paranormal romance that asks if love can survive the keeping of secrets.

The phrase, “The keeping of secrets” is very clunky. Can you find a single word for this? Sorry. I’m listening…

An attack in Peru forces tomb raider Mia Langdon to hunt for the deadly flaming arrows of the goddess Sekhmet.

This is too much information for one sentence. I like that Mia is a tomb raider. This is very interesting, but who is Mia, exactly. I don’t get any inkling of her personality or the rest of her life. Why would the attack in Peru force Mia to hunt for Sekhmet’s arrows? What is her connection to the goddess and to the attack?

Her quest triggers a chain of events that shove her and her ex-lover into the middle of a war between the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt.

This seems very vague…

Will the woman with a Grand Canyon-sized independent streak and a man who disapproves of everything she is, find a way to build a bridge between two souls meant for each other? Or will their secrets destroy any chance at rekindling their love?

I love that she’s independent and that he disapproves of her. But what secrets are you talking about? I’m also not crazy about finding out that he’s her ex-boyfriend before I even know his name or his significance to her.

Blood on the Moon features the half-immortal children (are they under-age or do you mean the descendants of the gods and goddesses?) of Ancient Egypt’s gods and goddesses born to protect mankind against deadly relics. What’s so deadly about the relics?

I’m an active member of RWA and my local chapter. My writing credits include crafting and presenting workshops, writing articles for the chapter’s newsletter and writing columns for a promotional website, 1st Turning Point. In the recent past, I won the Golden Claddagh, Golden Rose and Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal contests and have published a paranormal romance with Samhain Publishing and recently sold a post-apocalypse novella to Lyrical Press.

I especially like hearing about your writing credentials.

Thank you for your consideration.  

[name and website redacted]

I would request this, because I like your writing credentials and I feel like I

be able to like Blood on the Moon. But I wouldn’t request enthusiastically. In order for me to raise my eyebrows and click send with a flourish, I would need to get to know Mia and her ex-lover a bit more, including their relationship with each other, their relationship with the gods and Mia’s vocation as a tomb raider, which I love by the way.


Good luck,



Posted on July 21, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. You know what’s funny? That last paragraph, with credentials, is really smoothly written. I wonder if this was more comfortable to write, or if it was revised more often? Regardless–I think that the author could pull back a bit and smooth some of the choppy writing in the early part of the query–you can definitely do it if the (usually really difficult) bio section you can revise the rest 🙂 Here’s one question–is Peru important? Because I hopped into this assuming it was going to be about South America and had to readjust to the main plotline being Egypt (I gather from the rest), it felt choppy. Maybe skip what may be a really interesting scene in the book but confusing in a query to pop into the meat of the plot–in Egypt? Just a random idea that may or may not be appropriate. Good luck!

  2. Michael, I appreciate your comments. The only thing I’d like to add as the author is that one of my publications is a full length novel, 85,000. In light of this, I’m working hard on getting the query to shine. This is why these opportunities are so valuable – we get insights into what works and what doesn’t. Obviously, query writing is not my strength. This critique means I need to work that much harder. At least I know where I failed. I’m not offended. As Ms. Ruth says, no one should be. We put our work out for others to see – not everyone is going to like what we do. It’s not personal (and yes, I can finally say that with conviction).

  3. I’m sure I’ll get flak for saying this but I suppose that’s the writer’s task, no?

    I feel disheartened to read that her credentials allowed you to overlook such tragedies as “completed 90,000-word” and the utter lack of a synopsis in this query. Writing short stories and writing a novel are two very different skills, and while I understand winning some awards and garnering a few publications looks better than nothing, it seems terribly unfair that it should sway such an obtuse, clumsy query.

    Just my take on things. Apologies to any who are offended.

    • Dear Michael,

      Thank you for your input. No one should be offended. This is a place of discussion and learning, and opinions are welcome, whether or not they happen to be in accordance with mine. That being said, I would have requested a proposal (partial) because the author’s writing has captured the attention of contest judges and editors at publications, according to the end of the query.

      Just as writing short stories and writing novels are very different, so are writing query letters and writing novels. It is very possible that this author has written something great–in novel form–and was not quite able to capture that in her query. We’d all hope that a person who can write 90,000 words could write 250 effectively, but it is not that cut and dried. Different skill sets.

      So, yes, if this author had not included her writing awards/experience, I would have assumed that the writing in her novel would match that in her query and I would have rejected. In this case, I wanted to see what caught the attention of the contest judges and editors.

      The moral of the story–I think, anyway–is that including writing credentials, awards and experience (and getting all that under your belt) is a pretty good way to add some shine to your query and get your material in front of an agent.

  4. Interesting to read this. Haven’t ventured into this realm yet. Someday, and I’ll follow the points listed above to improve my own query.

  5. Thanks Ms. Ruth! I appreciate the comments and that you like the tomb raiding aspect. I’m going to take your comments and tweak my query letter before I submit to you. The pages are much better of course. 😀 Thank you for the very specific pointing out problem areas so I know what I can fix. And thank you for doing this very much for all of us. (Although I was dismayed to see so many who wouldn’t request with no comments as to why – would like to have known why 30 people said no)

  6. I also want to thank you for doing these QueryDice posts. They really help me pinpoint issues in my own query.

    Love the blog!

  7. I want to thank you for doing these. I find them very helpful as an aspiring author. One day when I query you, you will be glad you did these posts too. 😉 Thank you again for putting your time and effort into them.

  8. i have to say, i would totally read a book with a tomb raiding protagnist, especially if you threw in some sexy bits

  9. This story sounds like Indiana Jones with a bit of Lara Croft mixed into it. There seems to be a problem more of presentation than of faulty writing, so I’d want to see pages before making a call.

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