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RETURN TO SUNRISE (Commercial Fiction)


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#1 John W.

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:36 PM

NOTE: For those of you who have seen this before, I have thoroughly revised it. Grant (the father) is now the MC (used to be the son). So: a new query...

Dear Agent,

I am writing to you about my completed, 64,000-word novel, RETURN TO SUNRISE, because…(reason specific to each particular agent).

Grant Nichols hasn’t committed a crime since the Cali cartel was dismantled in the mid 1990s. Now his old cartel boss, Eduardo Escobar, has asked for Grant’s help with a former colleague who’s been arrested. If this man makes a deal with the prosecution, he could send both Eduardo and Grant to prison for the rest of their lives. Grant, who has recently retired from Miami-Dade Police, agrees to arrange for the evidence against this man to disappear. Unbeknownst to him, the FBI’s Miami Division is listening in when he communicates his plan to a subordinate.

At the same time, Grant’s twenty-eight year-old son, Mark, has entered therapy—in part to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare he’s had since he was five. Grant knows there are secrets locked in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy them both. When Mark finally uncovers the secret buried in his unconscious, not only is his relationship with his father shattered, he becomes a target to be eliminated by Eduardo Escobar. It is up to Grant to see if he can save his son, even as he wonders whether the man he used to be will ultimately overtake and destroy the good father he’s worked hard to become.

In my personal life, in my work, and in my writing, I am drawn to complex relationships. A psychotherapist for over thirty years, I have been published three times in the journal, Lectionary Homiletics and once in The Journal of Pastoral Care.

This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

John R. Wallis
John R. Wallis
Hollywood, FL

#2 Darke

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:41 PM

Greetings, John. This type of fiction isn't my forte, but a query is a query, right? *gets out red marker* Okay, here we go.

NOTE: For those of you who have seen this before, I have thoroughly revised it. Grant (the father) is now the MC (used to be the son). So: a new query...

Dear Agent,

I am writing to you about my completed, [You don't need to state this. It's a given that the novel is finished, otherwise you wouldn't be querying them. :biggrin: ] 64,000-word novel, RETURN TO SUNRISE, because…(reason specific to each particular agent).

Grant Nichols hasn’t committed a crime since the Cali cartel was dismantled in the mid 1990s. [Good hook!] Now his old cartel boss, Eduardo Escobar, has asked for Grant’s help with a former colleague who’s been arrested. If this man makes a deal with the prosecution, he could send both Eduardo and Grant to prison for the rest of their lives. Grant, who has recently retired from Miami-Dade Police, agrees to arrange for the evidence against this man to disappear. Unbeknownst to him, the FBI’s Miami Division is listening in when he communicates his plan to a subordinate. [You start off great, but then fall flat. This second part of info takes away from the great buildup]

At the same time, Grant’s twenty-eight year-old son, Mark, has entered therapy—in part to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare he’s had since he was five. Grant knows there are secrets locked in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy them both. When Mark finally uncovers the secret buried in his unconscious, not only is his relationship with his father shattered, he becomes a target to be eliminated by Eduardo Escobar. [This is good too. More conflict and you've shown a real threat] It is up to Grant to see if he can save his son, even as he wonders whether the man he used to be will ultimately overtake and destroy the good father he’s worked hard to become. [And then it falls flat again. This last part has to show some kind of life or death situation as this is the major plot of your story. Instead of 'Grant has to see if he can save his son', why not 'Grant must protect his son before (major consequence) threatens to rip their world apart.' I don't know, something like that. Give us an ultimatum, something bad will happen to the characters unless (this) happens.]

In my personal life, in my work, and in my writing, I am drawn to complex relationships. A psychotherapist for over thirty years, I have been published three times in the journal, Lectionary Homiletics and once in The Journal of Pastoral Care.

This is a simultaneous submission.[This is a given] Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

John R. Wallis


Good luck!

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

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#3 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 08:34 PM

Sounds like a good story, John.

One comment regarding your MC: you tell us he's committed crimes related to drugs and then you say he used to be a policeman, so you either might want to leave that out so it's not confusing or you might want to clarify if his drug crimes were committed while a policeman (otherwise mentioning his police service really doesn't add anything to the query but confusion).

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#4 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:25 PM

I remember this from previous versions. I think it's getting better but there are still some problems.

I think you need to focus on the main character. Is it Michael or Grant? I know you have both in the story, but the query might read better with emphasizing just one.

And I can't quite remember how the story goes but you might consider bringing the conflict up front. When former hitman Grant Niohols agrees to do one more job for his old boss, he doesn't expect his son to be the target.

The segue into the backstory and end with his choice: Now Grant fights to save his son, even if it means returning to the man he used to be. Or whatever his choices are.

And of course, this is only my opinion. Hope it helps.

#5 Darke

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:47 PM

I remember this from previous versions. I think it's getting better but there are still some problems.

I think you need to focus on the main character. Is it Michael or Grant? I know you have both in the story, but the query might read better with emphasizing just one.

And I can't quite remember how the story goes but you might consider bringing the conflict up front. When former hitman Grant Niohols agrees to do one more job for his old boss, he doesn't expect his son to be the target.

The segue into the backstory and end with his choice: Now Grant fights to save his son, even if it means returning to the man he used to be. Or whatever his choices are.

And of course, this is only my opinion. Hope it helps.


I agree. It sounds as though the major plot in this story revolves around Grant, with the situation with his son as a sub-plot.

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

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#6 John W.

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 10:27 PM

I'm clearly not being clear about what this story is about (how's that for a sentence). The central plot of the story has to do with how Grant's life is changed when his wife dies and he becomes responsible for the care of his seven year-old son. The experience of raising his son changes Grant as a man. When Mark uncovers what the dream is telling him, not only does this destroy the fabric of Grant's newly constructed life, his son becomes targeted for execution by his old cartel boss.

So how about this:

As a seventeen year-old punk kid from the Miami streets, Grant Nichols is given a gun and a sense of purpose by the Cali cartel.

Now he is fifty-two and hasn’t committed a crime in more than fifteen years. None of the important people in his life know the truth about his history. So when Grant’s son Mark enters psychotherapy to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare, Grant is alarmed. He knows there are secrets locked in Mark’s mind, secrets that could expose his criminal past. When Mark uncovers the truth, not only is his relationship with his father utterly destroyed, he becomes a target to be eliminated by Grant’s old cartel boss. As Grant scrambles to save the life of his son, he wonders if anything he's managed to build over the past fifteen years will be able to survive the resurrection of the man he used to be.
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#7 M. Arthur Stone

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 10:46 PM

Wow! The first post of your latest draft had me scratching my head....but this one made me want to read the book! Big difference in just one more rewrite! Kudos!

You had me hanging on every single word up until the point I've marked by my suggested tweaks.


As a seventeen year-old punk kid from the Miami streets, Grant Nichols is given a gun and a sense of purpose by the Cali cartel.

Now he is fifty-two and hasn’t committed a crime in more than fifteen years. None of the important people in his life know the truth about his history. So when Grant’s son Mark enters psychotherapy to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare, Grant is alarmed. He knows there are secrets locked in Mark’s mind, secrets that could expose his criminal past. When If Mark uncovers the truth, not only is will it destory his relationship with his father utterly destroyed, but they'll both he becomes a target liabilities to be eliminated by for Grant’s old cartel boss. As Grant scrambles to save both their lives, the life of his son he wonders if anything he's managed to build over the past fifteen years will be able to survive the resurrection of the man he used to be.
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

#8 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 11:35 PM

John, I think this one is spot-on. :biggrin:

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#9 kevinmont

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 12:30 AM

Wow, the rewrite is really good. Nice job.

#10 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 01:08 AM

Dang. I agree with the general consensus - kudos on such a snappy rewrite!

I also agree with M. Arthur Stone's line edits, save one. I think the phrase "becomes a target to be eliminated by Grant’s old cartel boss." Would be better rewritten as "become targets for Grant's old cartel boss." I like 'target' better than 'liability' - but that's just imo, of course.

Best of luck!

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#11 Jean Smith

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 05:07 AM

Hi John,

I'm pretty new to query writing, but I want to jump in and contribute. Because it seems like you have what you need to go a'querying, the pressure is taken off my suggestion, perhaps making it extraneous.

I found this a compelling section of description:

The central plot of the story has to do with how Grant's life is changed when his wife dies and he becomes responsible for the care of his seven year-old son. The experience of raising his son changes Grant as a man. When Mark uncovers what the dream is telling him, not only does this destroy the fabric of Grant's newly constructed life, his son becomes targeted for execution by his old cartel boss.

I came up with this. Maybe something about it strikes your fancy.

Former cop and drug cartel "sneak... slouch... " (no idea what you call a guy who works for a drug cartel) Grant Nichols changed his less than stellar ways when his wife died, leaving him responsible for their seven-year-old son Mark. Grant knows that if Mark, now twenty-eight, finds out the origin of his recurring nightmare, both Grant and Mark will be executed by cartel boss Eduardo Escobar.

When Mark enters therapy to figure out what exactly he buried in his five-year-old subconscious, Grant panics. Desperate to save his son, Grant wonders if his deep-rooted criminal inclinations will re-surface and destroy the work he did to become a good father and a half-way decent human being.

At the end of the query --

I have been published three times in the journal, Lectionary Homiletics and once in The Journal of Pastoral Care.

That is to say:

I have been published in Lectionary Homiletics and The Journal of Pastoral Care.

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#12 John W.

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 06:12 AM

Thanks all. Some great suggestions and encouragement. Here's a tweaked version. Too much?
Dear Agent,

I am writing to you about my completed, 64,000-word novel, RETURN TO SUNRISE, because…(reason specific to each particular agent).

On the streets of Miami, seventeen year-old Grant Nichols is given a gun and a sense of purpose by the Cali cartel. Fourteen years later, when his wife dies and he’s left to care for seven year-old son Mark, he finds a new purpose—and begins to build a different life.

Now he's fifty-two and hasn’t committed a crime in more than fifteen years. So when Mark enters psychotherapy to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare, Grant is alarmed. He knows there are secrets buried in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy their relationship and make Mark a threat to Grant’s old cartel boss. As Grant scrambles to save the life of his son, he wonders if anything he's managed to build over the past fifteen years will survive an exposure of the man he used to be.

In my personal life, in my work, and in my writing, I am drawn to complex relationships. A psychotherapist for over thirty years, I have been published in the journal, Lectionary Homiletics, and in The Journal of Pastoral Care.

This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
John R. Wallis
Hollywood, FL

#13 M. Arthur Stone

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 09:24 AM

I realy liked the "survive the resurection of the man he used to be" line. To me, it packs more of a punch.
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

#14 Darke

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 09:42 AM

John, one question, just so I can judge this accurately, when does your novel start? When Grant was seventeen or later? :smile:

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#15 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:00 AM

Move the first sentence about manuscript length, etc. after the info about the story. The story is what's important to the agent. Get right to it. Just a comment, too, about the length. 64,000 is very short. You might start thinking in the back of your mind about ways to lengthen it just in case an interested agent is concerned about the scantiness.

I also agree with someone earlier who said to delete the sentence about your personal life. Just keep the writing credits. The rest is neither here nor there to an agent.

Personally I like the version prior to this latest one. Be careful that you don't fall into the trap that so many do on here about their query by re-working it to death. It often makes things worse instead of better.

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#16 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 12:36 PM

I agree with S.K. I would have sent the previous one. There are bits about this one that I like seeing - such as the part about your career as a psychotherapist - but I prefer the old to the new.

I'd suggest reverting to the previous version, but adding this part:

"Fourteen years later, when his wife dies and he’s left to care for seven year-old son Mark, he finds a new purpose—and begins to build a different life."

to your hook. Perhaps you can condense it a little? "But when his wife dies, leaving him to care for his seven-year-old son Mark, he begins to build a different life"?

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#17 John W.

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 04:10 PM

John, one question, just so I can judge this accurately, when does your novel start? When Grant was seventeen or later? :smile:


There is a prologue that starts when Grant is seventeen.



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#18 Darke

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:06 PM

There is a prologue that starts when Grant is seventeen.


Thanks. You don't need to explain how Grant got to where he is now, just that he's here. I've taken peices of your first and second query and your explanaion and came up withthis.

Grant Nichols hasn’t committed a crime since the Cali [drug] cartel was dismantled in the mid 1990s. Now he's fifty-two, a widow and responsible for the care of his seven year-old son, Mark.

When Mark enters psychotherapy to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare, Grant is alarmed. He knows there are secrets buried in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy their relationship and make Mark a threat to Grant’s old cartel boss. As Grant scrambles to save the life of his son, he wonders if anything he's managed to build over the past fifteen years will survive an exposure of the man he used to be.

I like the ending in this one. You've shown there is some serious things at stake.



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#19 John W.

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 06:54 AM

Thanks. You don't need to explain how Grant got to where he is now, just that he's here. I've taken peices of your first and second query and your explanaion and came up withthis.

Grant Nichols hasn’t committed a crime since the Cali [drug] cartel was dismantled in the mid 1990s. Now he's fifty-two, a widow and responsible for the care of his seven year-old son, Mark.

When Mark enters psychotherapy to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare, Grant is alarmed. He knows there are secrets buried in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy their relationship and make Mark a threat to Grant’s old cartel boss. As Grant scrambles to save the life of his son, he wonders if anything he's managed to build over the past fifteen years will survive an exposure of the man he used to be.

I like the ending in this one. You've shown there is some serious things at stake.




I like it, Darke--EXCEPT: Mark is actually twenty-seven now (when Grant is fifty-two). Mark's mother died when he was seven (and Grant 31). (And Grant would be a widower, not a widow!) BUT--thanks for the help. I think I have enough to put something together now.
John R. Wallis
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#20 CS_W

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 08:03 AM

NOTE: For those of you who have seen this before, I have thoroughly revised it. Grant (the father) is now the MC (used to be the son). So: a new query...

Dear Agent,

I am writing to you about my completed, 64,000-word novel, RETURN TO SUNRISE, because…(reason specific to each particular agent). I would put this at the end of the query
Grant Nichols hasn’t committed a crime since the Cali cartel was dismantled in the mid 1990s. Now his old cartel boss, Eduardo Escobar, I would omit his name, you adress quite a lot of people for a short paragraph. has asked for Grant’s help with a former colleague who’s been arrested. If this man makes a deal with the prosecution, he could send both Eduardo and Grant to prison for the rest of their lives. Grant, who has recently retired from Miami-Dade Police, agrees to arrange for the evidence against this man to disappear. Unbeknownst to him, the FBI’s Miami Division is listening in when he communicates his plan to a subordinate.

At the same time, Grant’s twenty-eight year-old son, Mark, has entered therapy—in part to solve the puzzle of a recurring nightmare he’s had since he was five. Grant knows there are secrets locked in Mark’s mind, secrets that could destroy them both. VERY ENTICNG! : ) Loved it! When Mark finally uncovers the secret buried in his unconscious, not only is his relationship with his father shattered, he becomes a target to be eliminated by Eduardo Escobar. It is up to Grant to see if he can save his son, even as he wonders whether the man he used to be will ultimately overtake and destroy the good father he’s worked hard to become.

In my personal life, in my work, and in my writing, I am drawn to complex relationships. A psychotherapist for over thirty years, I have been published three times in the journal, Lectionary Homiletics and once in The Journal of Pastoral Care.

This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

John R. Wallis


So overall you have quite an interesting query : ) I like it!
All the best of luck! : )




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