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SUMMER ROSE (American Civil War )


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#1 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:00 AM

Hello, Emmett Delaney suggested I post here. I've been having the time of my life this last year, writing a novel, a big historical romantic novel, entitled Summer Rose, set amid America's Civil War. Now, I'm back on earth, working on that DREADED query letter. I read many of the suggtestions posted here and found them helpful. How do I post my attempt? Also I welcome advice on how this site works
Caroline Hartman
Summer Rose

#2 Darke

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:29 AM

Good morning!

If you think the query letter is bad, just wait until revisions and edits to your manuscript. THEN, there's the synopsis!

Ah, the life of a writer. :)

~I am neither an author nor a writer; I am a storyteller with good grammar.~

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#3 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:29 AM

Thanks for the reply Darke--love your avatar and the watermark quote. I do dread the synopsis--feel it's a little like trying to put the yolk back in the eggshell. I am anticipating lots of suggestions and hoping for help. I'd like to tackle the query first.

#4 williamkball

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:30 AM

Caroline, Darke is right! When I posted my first attempt at my query here, I was sent back to face the MS again. The dreaded revision of the back story I am working on now. Does it EVER end? BUT, the information I was given was invaluable to me as a relatively new writer. I know I sound like a broken record about the value of the responses I receive here, but it's true. POST AWAY! It will be the best and fastest way to find out the truth about you query. Emmett was wise in sending you here. By the way, I'm looking forward to seeing it and finding out what your book is all about. I have a thing for any period writing. Anything historical fascinates me. :) GOOD LUCK!

#5 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:51 AM

Okay. Here is the draft of the query:

(Inside address, greeting, and Re- line)

Set amid America’s Civil War, Summer Rose is not your usual romance or typical historical novel. Oh, the story has all the love, lust, and history you might want, but Summer Rose packs much more of a punch.

On the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg, two Yankee captains, well-educated, well-brought up young men from wealthy, Philadelphia families, happen upon a country girl raised in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Orphaned by the war, Summer Rose lives alone and disguises herself as a boy; she hunts, traps, and can throw a knife with greater accuracy than just about any man in America. These men with their sophistication and arrogance soon discover she is no ignorant bumpkin, and both officers fall hard for her. Neither Daniel nor Hal have ever met anyone like her, and she threatens their friendship. Daniel marries her but Hal still wants her. The war turns all their lives upside down and rocks their beliefs, but Summer Rose with her solid country values teaches these handsome arrogant soldiers what true honor entails, what real courage is, and how to love with every inch of the heart.

For many, many years, I was chief cook, bottle washer, and advisor in the Hartman household and worked as a teacher and paralegal. I just finished Summer Rose, a 127,000 word epic novel, which is now polished, primed, and poised to take advantage of the 150th anniversary (1861-1865 to 2011-2015) of the Civil War. I’m looking for a literary agent who will help me take advantage of this well-loved market at this important benchmark of America’s great history.

I can be contacted at ...

#6 Peter Burton

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:44 AM

Hi, Caroline.

Welcome to AQC. Though I'm sure one of our moderators will move this for you, queries are posted in the Query Critiques section. Just click the underlined blue link, and it will take you right there.

Oh, and don't worry about posting it here. Many of us have done that by mistake.

In the meanwhile here are my suggestions on your query. :biggrin:

Okay. Here is the draft of the query:

(Inside address, greeting, and Re- line)

Set amid America’s Civil War, Summer Rose is not your usual romance or typical historical novel. Oh, the story has all the love, lust, and history you might want, but Summer Rose packs much more of a punch.

This part is more like trying to convince the agent to read the manuscript,(Promoting, actually, which is usually frowned on by agents.), instead of a hook. Generally this will cause most agents to stop right there, and go on to the next query. I wouldn't use this myself.

On the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg, two Yankee captains, well-educated, well-brought up young men from wealthy, Philadelphia families, happen upon a country girl raised in the wilds of Pennsylvania. (Now this sentence would make a wonderful hook! I would think about putting this first and starting the synopsis with your next sentence.) Orphaned by the war, Summer Rose lives alone and disguises herself as a boy; she hunts, traps, and can throw a knife with greater accuracy than just about any man in America. These men with their sophistication and arrogance soon discover she is no ignorant bumpkin, and both officers fall hard for her. Neither Daniel nor Hal have ever met anyone like her, and she threatens their friendship. Daniel marries her but Hal still wants her. The war turns all their lives upside down and rocks their beliefs, but Summer Rose with her solid country values teaches these handsome arrogant soldiers what true honor entails, what real courage is, and how to love with every inch of the heart.

Not much I can say here. I like it. It tells the story, and has voice. I'd keep it myself. Well done! :biggrin:

For many, many years, I was chief cook, bottle washer, and advisor in the Hartman household and (I don't think this info will help you much, so I woud think about deleting it. The rest could work quite well.) worked as a teacher and paralegal. I just finished Summer Rose, a 127,000 word epic novel, which is now polished, primed, and poised to take advantage of the 150th anniversary (1861-1865 to 2011-2015) of the Civil War. I’m looking for a literary agent who will help me take advantage of this well-loved market at this important benchmark of America’s great history.

This also sounds like promoting, and I would drop it, myself. The odds of it hurting your chances are greater than helping. Also think about putting the title in all caps: SUMMER ROSE.

I can be contacted at ...



That's about it, Caroline.

All in all this wasn't a bad query at all, and, IMHO a well thought out job. You should be proud for creating such a good first draft. Good Job! :biggrin:

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#7 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:57 AM

Hello Peter,
Thank you for your critique of the query letter. I appreciate very much you taking the time, and liked all your suggestions. I am about to venture outside to shovel off my car and driveway and take off for my son's house for the weekend. I take my computer so I'll be in touch over the weekend. For now, I'm going to hope the admin powers move my query letter to the proper place. If not, I'll move it later. Again, thanks for your words of encouragement.
Caroline
PS Liked your quote, too.

#8 Peter Burton

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:15 AM

No problem, Caroline.

Judging from the way you wrote the query, I believe this could be a very marketable, and well written novel.

BTW, say Hi to Emmett for me when you see him again. :biggrin:

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#9 EMDelaney

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:04 PM

Hi Caroline,

Glad to see you made it here to AQC.

My first suggestion is to examine the instructions of "How to Write a Query Letter". It is a pinned topic located in the Query Critiques section.

Take special care to notice that there is a specific format that AQC suggests. Essentially it is comprised of three parts.
1) The "HOOK"
2) A mini-synopsis
3) Author Bio / book description

We are well aware that this suggested format may differ from query letters you will find elsewhere. This would include those you may notice have worked and attracted agents. We have had some interesting discussions here about that. One recently as a matter of fact. The thing is, and we all pretty much agree, AQC's format is recommended for many reasons. First, it certainly simplifies a very difficult effort. It is designed to attract the attention of an agent. As you read the instructions in that thread you will see the reasoning in the format.

Again, welcome. This is going to be interesting for ma as your query letter will be the first I have ever seen written by an author of whom I have already read their book. I know what a wonderful offering SUMMER ROSE is. Now, the question will be from the prospective of how to query this wonderful story. I'm curious to see those who will critique (vs) my own personal offerings, since I have read it.

For many of us who begin the query writing process, we are too wordy. This is of course caused by trying to tell too much of the story in the query. It's the hardest obsticle to overcome IMHO. We've all been there. The key is in finding the necessary plot details of outline nature that while stimulating interest, do not run-on. My suggestion is to take some time and go back and read as many former and current projects as possible (after) reading the basics. This will help you see what I am referring to. Many trim down nicely. Many take a lot of work. There are some where you will denote the frustration of the author to find that "groove". Each and every thread is different because every story is different, as are the writers.

Lastly, you will find the people here to be wonderful. We all share one goal / interest. We want to see our authors succeed.

My best wishes to you Miss Caroline. Again, welcome to ACQ.
If you continue to think the way you've always thought, you will continue to get what you've always got!

#10 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 08:50 AM

Here's the draft query letter. I first posted it in my 'shout out.' Pete B gave it a good criticque and I liked his suggestions. However, I left it in tact so I could see other's opinions.

Set amid America’s Civil War, Summer Rose is not your usual romance or typical historical novel. Oh, the story has all the love, lust, and history you might want, but Summer Rose packs much more of a punch.
On the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg, two Yankee captains, well-educated, well-brought up young men from wealthy, Philadelphia families, happen upon a country girl raised in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Orphaned by the war, Summer Rose lives alone and disguises herself as a boy; she hunts, traps, and can throw a knife with greater accuracy than just about any man in America. These men with their sophistication and conceit soon discover she is no ignorant bumpkin, and both officers fall hard for her. Neither Daniel nor Hal have ever met anyone like her, and she threatens their friendship. Daniel marries her but Hal still wants her. The war (and Hal) turns all their lives upside down and rocks their beliefs, but Summer Rose with her solid country values teaches these handsome arrogant soldiers the true meaning of honor, courage, and forgiveness; she teaches them how to love with every inch of the heart.
For many, many years, I was chief cook, bottle washer, and advisor in the Hartman household and worked as a teacher and paralegal. I just finished Summer Rose, a 127,000 word epic novel, which is now polished, primed, and poised to take advantage of the 150th anniversary (1861-1865 to 2011-2015) of the Civil War. I’m looking for a literary agent who will help me take advantage of this well-loved market at this important benchmark of America’s great history.
I can be contacted at ...

#11 JMB

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 12:00 PM

You've received good advice from other posters. I just want to add that there doesn't seem to be anything at stake here for the main character. I like the idea of a young girl who has to pretend to be a boy to survive alone in a harsh country but by telling me that she teaches the men love, courage and forgiveness, I go, well that's nice. I don't say, wow, let me get my hands on that MS and find out how. You need to bring personality the the girl and action to the plot. I'm sure its in the book, but you've killed all the tension in the query. Keep at it.

#12 Litgal

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 12:57 PM

Set amid America’s Civil War, Summer Rose is not your usual romance or typical historical novel. Oh, the story has all the love, lust, and history you might want, but Summer Rose packs much more of a punch. You don't tell an agent what your book is or isn't, does or doesn't do -- you use your query to show that. YOU NEED A HOOK HERE

On the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg, two Yankee captains, well-educated , well-brought up young men from wealthy, Philadelphia families, happen upon a country girl raised in the wilds of Pennsylvania. wild backwoods of their home state. THE WAY YOU HAD IT BEFORE CAUSED ME TO PAUSE AND THINK "BUT PHILLY IS IN PA" Orphaned by the war, Summer Rose lives alone and disguises herself as a boy WHY NOT A PLAIN OLD FULL-STOP PERIOD HERE? she hunts, traps, and can throw a knife with greater accuracy than just about any man in America. These men with their sophistication and conceit soon discover she is no ignorant bumpkin, and both officers fall hard for her. Neither Daniel nor Hal have ever met anyone like her, and she threatens their friendship. Daniel marries her but Hal still wants her. The war (and Hal) turns all their lives upside down and rocks their beliefs, but Summer Rose with her solid country values teaches these handsome arrogant soldiers the true meaning of honor, courage, and forgiveness; she teaches them how to love with every inch of the heart. I AGREE WITH PREVIOUS POSTER WHO SAID YOU DO NOT SHOW US WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT -- WHAT IS THE CENTRAL CONFLICT? INSTEAD YOU GIVE US CLICHE'S LIKE "SOLID CONTRY VALUES" AND "TRUE MEANING OF HONOR, COURAGE AND FORGIVENESS"

CLOSING PARAGRAPH: THIS IS A BUSINESS LETTER -- KEEP IT BUSINESS LIKE. YOU ARE NOT CHATTING TO A PAL

For many, many years, I was chief cook, bottle washer, and advisor in the Hartman household and worked as a teacher and paralegal. I just finished BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION IS ONLY INCLUDED IF IT IS RELEVANT TO YOUR WRITING AND TO WHY AN AGENT MIGHT WANT TO REP YOU. YOURS ISN'T SO OUT IT COMES. Summer Rose (127,000 wordS) IS A COMPLETED WORK OF [GENRE HERE -- IS IT HISTORICAL ROMANCE? HISTORICAL FICTION?] epic novel, which is now polished, primed, and poised to take advantage of the 150th anniversary (1861-1865 to 2011-2015) of the Civil War. [YOU ARE TAKING A RISK HERE BECAUSE THE CHANCES YOUR NOVEL WILL FIND AN AGENT, A PUBLISHING CONTRACT AND COME OUT BEFORE THIS ANNIVERSARY IS OVER ARE SLIM (THIS IS A SLOW BUSINESS) SO DO YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE YOUR STORY HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE? I’m looking for a literary agent who will help me take advantage of this well-loved market at this important benchmark of America’s great history.
I can be contacted at ...
[I AM SEEKING YOUR REPRESENTATION BECAUSE [INSERT COGENT REASON WHY YOU ARE QUERYING THIS PARTICULAR AGENT


Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#13 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 03:12 PM

Thank you for the posts. The suggestions, as Emmett warned, are excellent--things I would never have thought of but make immense sense. I'm going to let these sit in the mulch pile of my mind for a day or so. If more suggestions are posted, I'll consider them too. Then I'll rewrite the query and repost it in this thread. Is that the proper procedure? Again, thank you.
Caroline

#14 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 05:10 PM

Peter and Litgal gave some great suggestions. The only thing I will add is to change "Yankee" to Union or Federal. It would just sound more...professional to me. Yankee and Reb are more slang terms to save for the story than to have in the business-like query letter.

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#15 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 05:39 PM

Ms. Keogh, what a terrific suggestion. Guess I'm still in novel mode. I'll change Yankee to Federal or Union. By the way, is your family related to Myles Keogh, an Irish soldier of fortune, who served as General John Buford's aide? He's in this novel. Wonderful character.

#16 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 09:06 PM

Ms. Keogh, what a terrific suggestion. Guess I'm still in novel mode. I'll change Yankee to Federal or Union. By the way, is your family related to Myles Keogh, an Irish soldier of fortune, who served as General John Buford's aide? He's in this novel. Wonderful character.


No blood relation, but I took his last name (legally) as a way to honor him. He's actually the reason why I'm a writer. I've visited his grave in Auburn, NY, several times, and someday I'd like to make it out to Little Bighorn, too. Years ago I went to Ireland, to his home, Orchard House, in County Carlow and met some of his relatives (even was invited to mass, the pub, and then to Orchard House for dinner). How much is Myles in your book?

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#17 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 09:25 PM

As the story begins, my two main male characters, Hal and Daniel, are captains under General John Buford, so Captain Keogh has a couple lines in an early chapter. Daniel wants to keep him away from his new love--Summer Rose. Later, when Buford becomes ill, he's mentioned as taking care of Buford at General Stoneman's house, which is right down the street where Daniel and Summer Rose live. At a later point I'd love to run those sections by you to make sure I characterized him correctly. I had him down as an excellent soldier who taught Daniel and Hal a great deal. They liked him in spite of his pomposity. I also meniton that he was a ladies' man and I mentioned how he was always meticulously kitted out. Definitely, look it over. One of my main goals is to do no harm. I read about his background in the papal wars, the medal he received and how some historians believe that medal kept him from being mutilated at the Little Big Horn. I mention the medal in Summer Rose--just a line for historians to enjoy. I appreciate your input. I would also love to hear how you came to take his name.

#18 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 11:03 PM

As the story begins, my two main male characters, Hal and Daniel, are captains under General John Buford, so Captain Keogh has a couple lines in an early chapter. Daniel wants to keep him away from his new love--Summer Rose. Later, when Buford becomes ill, he's mentioned as taking care of Buford at General Stoneman's house, which is right down the street where Daniel and Summer Rose live. At a later point I'd love to run those sections by you to make sure I characterized him correctly. I had him down as an excellent soldier who taught Daniel and Hal a great deal. They liked him in spite of his pomposity. I also meniton that he was a ladies' man and I mentioned how he was always meticulously kitted out. Definitely, look it over. One of my main goals is to do no harm. I read about his background in the papal wars, the medal he received and how some historians believe that medal kept him from being mutilated at the Little Big Horn. I mention the medal in Summer Rose--just a line for historians to enjoy. I appreciate your input. I would also love to hear how you came to take his name.


Sure, keep me in mind when you're ready to share those sections. By the way, if you haven't already read this book, I highly recommend it: "Myles Keogh: The Life and Legend of an 'Irish Dragoon' in the Seventh Cavalry." It really is the definitive book about Myles. However, when I bought it years ago it was at a rare books table at a gun show (of all things!) where my (former) Civil War field music corps performed. That was before the wonderful world of Amazon.com where you can now find it much cheaper than the price I paid (but it was worth every penny).

I'll send you a private message about how I came to take his name. :smile:

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#19 Caroline Hartman

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 10:12 AM

Here is the second attempt at the Dreaded Query!

[Inside address, greeting, and re line.]

On the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg, two Union officers, well-educated young men from old, affluent families, happen upon an idyllic valley and a girl reared in the wilds of Pennsylvania.

Orphaned by the war, Summer Rose lives alone and disguises herself as a boy; she hunts, traps, and can throw a knife with astonishing accuracy and speed. Hal and Daniel soon discover she’s an enigma: educated, intelligent, and as sophisticated as any Philadelphia debutante, she’s also a crack shot with a Spencer rifle. Both soldiers fall hard for her and her valley. Hal, with less than honorable intentions, salivates for the girl and the land, but Daniel, from the instant he first touches her hand, knows she is the girl for him. He woos, wins, and marries her. Despite Hal and the war, they have a match blessed by the gods.

Knowing his uppity mother will not approve of Summer Rose or their marriage, he takes her to Hal’s parents’ home for the winter of 1864. Here Summer Rose blossoms under Daniel’s love and the guidance of Hal’s gracious mother. The Washington D.C. social scene embraces the girl, but the war and Hal’s obsession escalate, creating, enormous misunderstandings and savage emotions. Hal, thinking Daniel dead, hung by Mosby, takes advantage of her grief. He plies her with whiskey and seduces her. Daniel discovers them. In a rage he hurts Summer Rose, and, if she hadn’t intervened, he would have killed Hal. Angry, hurt, he hurls cruel words at her and leaves.

Summer Rose, tenacious and resourceful, cuts her hair, dons a uniform, and again disguises herself as a boy, and with General Phil Sheridan’s blessing, rides with his army as the Shenandoah Valley burns. Using the skills learned while living alone, she becomes a favorite of General Sheridan and, unknown to Daniel or Hal, rides along on Sheridan’s famous ride to rally his troops. Again she saves Daniel’s life by taking a load of buckshot meant for him.

As the war winds down, Summer Rose and Daniel reconcile. He’d never quit loving her. Now, humbled by her courage, devotion, and solid common sense, Daniel begs her forgiveness. In time he forgives himself and Hal. They follow Phil Sheridan through Virginia to Appomattox Court House. The war has changed them all. They pick up the pieces of their lives and feel blessed to be among those who can rebuild America and start families.

Summer Rose is 127,000 words in length. A four year window is open--the 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins this year. I’m hoping to find an agent to help me take advantage of that window.

#20 EMDelaney

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 10:59 AM

Caroline,

I told you that you'd be making some friends on AQC.

Taking time to digest each round of critique is a very good idea. Kneejerk reactions usually don't produce much improvement.

As Lit suggested, you gotta start with the "hook". Pay special attention to her other instructions as well. They are spot on. Since I have read SR, I am at somewhat of a disadvantage in that I have no idea where to start. The story is simply wonderful. If I had to write a hook for it though, I'd be challenged.

What about something like this:

Summer Rose, an orphaned teenaged girl, lives in the wilds of Pennsylvania as the Civil War rages around her. She dresses as a boy, can hunt, fish and throw a knife with deadly accuracy. When she saves the life of a Union officer, her actions set in motion a course of events that change the war itself.

This is only a suggestion and of course will be MUCH better in your words.
If you continue to think the way you've always thought, you will continue to get what you've always got!




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