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OUR GARDEN (Historical Fiction - Family Saga) - 4th try!

Historical Fiction Romance Family Saga Fiction

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#1 Sarah G G

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:05 AM

*What I am learning from this process is how there is no silver bullet. What some commenters had liked, others did not. I recognize that my query is heavy on the plot side, and will endeavor to write another shorter version with hooks and tight character prose, BUT for those who can see value to the below style (or really oppose it!) I need your advise. Is there anything unclear? What should I cut, or what is missing? Even if this query is all wrong, does the book sound interesting? Feel free to cross out unnecessary words!

 

PLEASE SEE REVISION 4 HERE:

 

OUR GARDEN follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands in the 1800’s. The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including that of the wealthy plantation owners. Adine soon finds herself the object of two men’s affections: one is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille secretly orchestrates Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grandmere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church by tempting him with romantic possibility, only to suffer the wrath of their community, the loss of another suitor’s idolatry, and years of self-imposed exile. 

 

When a catastrophic flood takes the lives of loved ones, Seraphina returns home to support her grieving mother, but continues to resist the conventions of Catholicism, marriage, and female subordinacy. She either strikes out on her own to establish the first vanilla plantation, or opens up to love and her need for a family.

 

OUR GARDEN is a historical family saga at 120,000 words. Readers have drawn comparisons to The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner and Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. A trip to the Seychelles inspired this manuscript and my current move to Granada, Spain for book number two. Thank you for your time.

------------------------------------------

 

I've written a saga that follows a female family line, and am struggling with distilling the story into a query synopsis. I haven't even attempted an intro (dependent on the agents I submit to), a hook, or a bio. Please help! Would you want to read this book, based on the below? What grabs your interest or makes you say, "Next"? Thank you in advance.

 

OUR GARDEN, set in the 1800’s, follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands: a veritable Eden of temptations. 

 

The matriarch Camille, is a rare free black of mixed European-African heritage. She is a reputed healer who defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including the wealthy plantation world of grand blancs. Adine's debut introduces her to two romantic candidates. One is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner, whose intentions are unclear. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine winds up pregnant and mateless. Her mother Camille secretly orchestrates her miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence under the influence of her Bible-thumping mother, and her free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church, as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community and the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love.

 

After years in exile, tragedy brings Seraphina back to her rustic island home, with her feminist ideals intact. She resists convention and strives to establish the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of family secrets, can she soften enough to marry, make a true female friend, or learn to love her mother?



#2 Ztwist

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:29 AM

Most of us don't know much about the Seychelles in the 1800s so maybe drop in some elements that give us a glimpse of how you are incorporating that extraordinary setting. (What are grand blancs?)

Some of the language seems to add a bit too much hype and drama. Words like forbidden, dangerous, secretly, ecstatic, blind faith, wrath, exile, tragedy should be used sparingly, I think. I can see it is hard to summarize a saga. One idea is to focus on just the first character?



#3 bijou

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:46 AM

I think the setting and the premise are both interesting, and I like the basic story line. I think it's a pretty neat trick how much you've managed to get into this short synopsis, but it's too much for a query, and you can't really convey the details that would secure interest. For example: "After years in exile, tragedy brings Seraphina back to her rustic island home" -- we don't know that she was exiled, or what the tragedy was. Mind you, I'm not saying cram those details in. I'm more suggesting that if you try to give the WHOLE plot in skeleton, you'll likely fail in doing so.

 

Here are a couple of alternatives you may want to consider:

 

  • Ditch the attempt at recreating the plot, and instead dedicate a paragraph to each of the three women of the family--foregrounding their particular conflict, or
  • Focus on Seraphina. Something like, "When Seraphina returns to her family home on the Sechelles, she must grapple with ..." etc.

Also, this phrase threw me: " a veritable Eden of temptations." It wasn't clear -- temptations for whom? What kind of temptations. I'd consider replacing that phrase that's more exact about what role the setting plays.

 

Finally, to more directly answer your question: What grabs my attention is the innate conflict of mixed race in a colonial land, and how it resonates through the generations. I find that really intriguing, and I think it would appeal to a lot of readers.


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my historical novel query.


#4 VSChapman

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:00 AM

I've written a saga that follows a female family line, and am struggling with distilling the story into a query synopsis. I haven't even attempted an intro (dependent on the agents I submit to), a hook, or a bio. Please help! Would you want to read this book, based on the below? What grabs your interest or makes you say, "Next"? Thank you in advance.

 

OUR GARDEN, set in the 1800’s, follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands (I don't know much about these islands. Maybe add something to give us more of the environment. Also, I personally like this info at the bottom but I believe that's all personal preference. I could be wrong) : a veritable Eden of temptations. (don't really understand this statement)

 

The matriarch Camille, is a rare free black of mixed European-African heritage. (This is all telling. I do this too unfortunately. But try to show more and rearrange the structure. For example: As a rare free black, Camille defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate.) She is a reputed healer who defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including the wealthy plantation world of grand blancs. Adine's debut introduces her to two romantic candidates. One is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner, whose intentions are unclear. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine winds up pregnant and mateless. Her mother Camille secretly orchestrates her miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence under the influence of her Bible-thumping mother, and her free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church, as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community and the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love.

 

After years in exile, (Is she exiled because she challenged the church?) tragedy (what tragedy?) brings Seraphina back to her rustic island home, (this might be where you should start. But I think that depends on where your book actually starts) with her feminist ideals intact. She resists convention and strives to establish the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of family secrets, can she soften enough to marry, make a true female friend, or learn to love her mother?

Right now, this jumps around too much. Maybe you could focus on one person then introduce the rest later. Or maybe have a single paragraph for each? I think you have too many details that break this up too much. For example, I don't think we need to know about the miscarriage because it made it confusing about the daughter later. I had to read it twice to catch the 'decades later' part and do the math. I would leave that part out if you can. To answer your question- yes, this sounds like something I would like to read and I don't read historical fiction but I think this sounds good. Give it another try! ;)



#5 rhwashere

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:10 AM

I think this synopsis is fantastic. Each woman’s story is interesting in a different way. Marrying a fabled pirate? Tragedy after temptation pushing a woman into religion? Her daughter rejecting that religion to find her own way? All of these feel natural and realistic and I think this would make a fascinating read. Especially because I know next to nothing of the setting (I love learning about other cultures).

On the other hand, as has been brought out, this is typically too long to be a query. What you might try doing is a three-sentence paragraph for each of the three women.

Sentence 1: Who is she and what does she want/care about?

Sentence 2: What threatens the thing she wants/cares about?

Sentence 3: What choice will she have to make and what does she stand to lose by making said choice?

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#6 Sarah G G

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:05 PM

Hello Ztwist,

Thank you for your comments. I am glad to hear that the place and time of my story are of interest, and definitely want to play up the locale. Comparisons between the Seychelles and the original Garden of Eden inspired my title (OUR GARDEN) and the content. There are also many Biblical allusions, such as Adam and Eve and the Seven Deadly sins, which I tried to hint at with words like Eden, temptation, wrath, blind faith, ecstatic. Without context, I see how those descriptions can be perceived as hyperbole. The query letter is probably not the best place to allude to themes...



#7 Sarah G G

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:16 PM

Hello Bijou,

 

Thank you so much for your comments. I completely agree that I have tried to encapsulate too much of a complicated plot in this query. I'm going to explore writing both of your suggestions: a couple of lines on each woman and focusing on Seraphina's POV.

"a veritable Eden of temptations" was a mistake. I'm trying to equate the Seychelles to the original Garden of Eden (as others before me have), and have to find a better way to express the nature of this "paradise."



#8 Sarah G G

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:31 PM

Hello VSChapman,

 

Thank you for your feedback. I am most grateful for the reminder to write in a more active voice - no telling, more showing. I am going to rewrite the query two ways: One with each woman's specific conflicts, and one with only Seraphina's perspective. The Seychelles islands are almost a character in themselves. I hope to convey that too in the next query draft.



#9 Sarah G G

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:37 PM

Hello rhwashere,

 

Thank you for your encouragement. It does help me feel better to know that the setting of my story and some of the issues that my female protagonists face are of interest to a reader. I will take your advice to write a more concise query focusing on my key character's purposes and challenges.



#10 VSChapman

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 11:26 PM

Hello VSChapman,

 

Thank you for your feedback. I am most grateful for the reminder to write in a more active voice - no telling, more showing. I am going to rewrite the query two ways: One with each woman's specific conflicts, and one with only Seraphina's perspective. The Seychelles islands are almost a character in themselves. I hope to convey that too in the next query draft.

I have this issue as well. I keep trying to 'tell' in my own query. It's frustrating. I can see when others do it but not myself so much. I'm excited to see your next revision. You've got an interesting book!



#11 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 05:12 PM

Hello VSChapman,

 

Thank you for your feedback. I am most grateful for the reminder to write in a more active voice - no telling, more showing. I am going to rewrite the query two ways: One with each woman's specific conflicts, and one with only Seraphina's perspective. The Seychelles islands are almost a character in themselves. I hope to convey that too in the next query draft.

I agree with what others before me have said upon this. However, reading your comment (the bit in red) above got me thinking... could the one character you focus on be the Seychelles islands themselves? The idea may not fit at all and fail miserably, or I think it could potentially be a very unique, intriguing query (I don't know enough about your story to say which one). If you encapsulate the character qualities of the islands and fit in snippets of the family along the way, it might be cool. It might not work with your story, but I figured I would suggest it.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#12 Sarah G G

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 07:13 AM

Revision 2 - (271 words without intro or bio - yikes!). I tried to take the following advise: 1- To highlight the Seychelles and their unique relevance to the story. 2- To focus a paragraph on my three female protagonists. This is a saga of historical fiction after all!. I did not write from a sole characters POV (i.e. Seraphina), because she isn't even in the manuscript until part 2, and the first chapter gives no mention of her. I still think there might be too much plot below, but do not know if specific events make a story clearer to an agent. Finally, I'm at 120,000 words. I know this is a lot, but can this genre get away with that? I was going to save word count until the closing, but mention genre at the top. Is that recommended? Thank you!

 

OUR GARDEN is set in the Eden-like Seychelles islands during the 1800’s - an era of conflict between French and British colonialists, slavery and abolition, Catholics, Anglicans, and African Spiritualists, and the rapers and the reapers of paradise’s bounty. From the island’s marrow, a Creole line of disparate women are born, beginning with our matriarch Camille, a reputed healer. As a rare free black, she defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. When her daughter Adine passes for white and enters social circles forbidden to her mother, Camille struggles with her African pride and her aspirational hopes for her daughter.

 

Despite Adine’s parental role models, she equates her worth with the desire of men, and commodifies her assets to attract a wealthy husband. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, and ruinous consequences. Pushed by guilt and the desire for penitence, Adine turns toward religiosity.

 

It is Adine’s daughter Seraphina, who enters adolescence under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church, as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community and the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love. With her reputation in tatters, she leaves her island home until a family tragedy forces her return. There she resists convention and strives to establish the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of secrets, can Seraphina soften enough to marry, have a baby, or learn to love her mother?



#13 rhwashere

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 08:45 AM

I hate to say it, but I liked your first version a lot better. This new one leaves out a lot of the specifics (Adine’s pregnancy and miscarriage) that made the old version interesting.

While it sounds like your setting is definitely a character in the novel, I wouldn’t worry about making it one in the query. The first half of paragraph 1 could be deleted (after you say it’s set in the 1800s) and your query wouldn’t miss it.

I would suggest going back to your first version and trimming out the references to Eden (queries are not the places for discussing the themes of your book) and any plot points that aren’t pivotal to your characters. Then focus on the specific events that shape each character the most. As I understand it, those events were:

1. Camille defies convention and marries a white pirate
2. Adine gets pregnant and has a forced miscarriage
3. Seraphina leaves the island and its traditions, only to return due to a family tragedy (we need to know what that tragedy was)

Lastly, I wouldn’t end your query with a question. Rather, I would set up a choice for Seraphina. Whether to pursue
her career at the expense of her relationship with her mother, or give up some of her independent aspirations to make peace with her family. I’m sure you could write one better than that, but that’s the general idea.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#14 Sarah G G

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 10:25 AM

Okay, here is another try, but I recognize it is still TOO long. What works? What can be cut? I.E. I know I could lose the sentence after in the 1800's, but does this info ground it in time?

----------------------------

REVISION 3

 

OUR GARDEN, follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles in the 1800’s - an era of conflict between French and British colonialists, slavery and abolition, and Catholics and African Spiritualists.

 

The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother. Camille must decide if Adine’s opportunity to marry-up is more important than claiming her African heritage. When one of Adine’s romantic candidates is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions, Camille’s quandary intensifies. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille sacrifices her conscience to orchestrate Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Many years later, Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church, as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community, the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love, and a chosen exile. When a catastrophic flood and avalanche take the lives of Seraphina’s father and brother, she must return to support her remaining family. She resists marriage as a solution to their problems and strives to prove her independence by establishing the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of secrets, Seraphina must reevaluate the importance of bonds, and pursue solitude or open herself up to love.



#15 rhwashere

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 12:16 PM

Keeping in mind that this is just one person's opinion, here's what I would change. And I decided to use your first post as the foundation, since I think your voice and language is stronger there:

 

 

OUR GARDEN, set in the 1800’s, follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands during a period of colonialism, slavery, and abolition. : a veritable Eden of temptations. 

 

The matriarch Camille, is a rare free black of mixed European-African heritage. She is a reputed healer who defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including that of the wealthy plantation owners. world of grand blancs. Adine's debut introduces her to two romantic candidates. Adine soon finds herself the object of two men's affections: One is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner, whose intentions are unclear. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine winds up pregnant and mateless. Her mother Camille secretly orchestrates her miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence under the influence of her Bible-thumping mother, and her free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church (indicate how specifically she challenges his commitment to the church), as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community and the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love (This is vague. Is this the deacon, or someone else? If it's the deacon, I would say so. If it's someone else we haven't been introduced to yet, I might leave it out).

 

After years in exile, tragedy (specifically state what the tragedy is) brings Seraphina back to her rustic island home, with her feminist ideals intact (I haven't seen yet how anything she's done shows feminist ideals. I would either demonstrate said ideals somewhere earlier, or leave this detail out). She resists convention and strives to establish the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of family secrets, can she soften enough to marry, make a true female friend, or learn to love her mother?

 

Your last sentence should be specific, identify some choice Seraphina has to make, and show what she stands to lose with either option of said choice. See my earlier post.

 

I hope that helps a little!


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#16 PureZhar3

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 05:59 PM

Okay, here is another try, but I recognize it is still TOO long. What works? What can be cut? I.E. I know I could lose the sentence after in the 1800's, but does this info ground it in time?

----------------------------

REVISION 3

 

OUR GARDEN, follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles in the 1800’s - an era of conflict between French and British colonialists, slavery and abolition, and Catholics and African Spiritualists.

 

The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother. Camille must decide if Adine’s opportunity to marry-up is more important than claiming her African heritage. When one of Adine’s romantic candidates is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions, Camille’s quandary intensifies. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille sacrifices her conscience to orchestrates Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Many years later, Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grand-mere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church, as an Eve to his Adam, only to suffer the wrath of their community, the loss of a childhood sweetheart’s love, and a chosen exile This sentence is too packed with things. When a catastrophic flood and avalanche take the lives of Seraphina’s father and brother, she must return to support her remaining family. She resists marriage as a solution to their problems and strives to prove her independence by establishing the first vanilla plantation. With the dismantling of secrets, Seraphina must reevaluate the importance of bonds, and pursue solitude or open herself up to love.

This isn't really working for me (but that's just my opinion). It simply reads more like a plotline than a blurb.

 

If you want to focus on all three characters, I understand that, and my advice would be this: ask yourself, what is most intriguing/central about each of the three characters? Then, write a single sentence encompassing the most interesting part of each woman's story. Put them in order and try to make them flow by adding an intro/conclusion. (You can always expand the sentences later if you end up with a low word count).

 

Just keep in mind that the purpose of your hook is to make the agent want to read more. They don't need all the backstory/explanations (that's what the book is for, after all). The hook is just to provoke them to request your manuscript.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#17 Sarah G G

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 10:18 AM

REVISION 4:

 

OUR GARDEN follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands in the 1800’s. The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including that of the wealthy plantation owners. Adine soon finds herself the object of two men’s affections: one is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille secretly orchestrates Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grandmere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church by tempting him with romantic possibility, only to suffer the wrath of their community, the loss of another suitor’s idolatry, and years of self-imposed exile. 

 

When a catastrophic flood takes the lives of loved ones, Seraphina returns home to support her grieving mother, but continues to resist the conventions of Catholicism, marriage, and female subordinacy. She either strikes out on her own to establish the first vanilla plantation, or opens up to love and her need for a family.

 

OUR GARDEN is a historical family saga at 120,000 words. Readers have drawn comparisons to The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner and Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. A trip to the Seychelles inspired this manuscript and my current move to Granada, Spain for book number two. Thank you for your time.



#18 PureZhar3

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 04:14 PM

REVISION 4:

 

OUR GARDEN follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands in the 1800’s.

 

The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate.

 

Her daughter Adine can pass for white and enter social circles forbidden to her mother, including that of the wealthy plantation owners. Adine soon finds herself the object of two men’s affections: one is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille secretly orchestrates Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religiosity.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grandmere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She challenges his commitment to the church by tempting him with romantic possibility, only to suffer the wrath of their community, the loss of another suitor’s idolatry, and years of self-imposed exile. 

 

When a catastrophic flood takes the lives of loved ones, Seraphina returns home to support her grieving mother, but continues to resist the conventions of Catholicism, marriage, and female subordinacy. She either strikes out on her own to establish the first vanilla plantation, or opens up to love and her need for a family.Make this last bit seem more like a choice that she's facing, rather than two directions the plot might go. If you can, show how the three generations of women have very specifically been interacting and culminating to this point

 

OUR GARDEN is a historical family saga at 120,000 words. Readers I could be wrong about this, but I don't think it's wise to say this, partially because it may bring up a whole lot of questions (not necessarily good ones). Maybe just say that it is like... etc. have drawn comparisons to The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner and Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. A trip to the Seychelles inspired this manuscript and my current move to Granada, Spain for book number two. Thank you for your time.

While better, there's still a holistic element that I feel is missing.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#19 Ztwist

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 09:43 AM

Here are some suggestions that might help tighten or smooth the text a bit. My idea is that the ideas can come across more strongly if the words don't distract us first. Like religiosity and idolatry distract me, but religion and esteem don't. Also, these are supposed to be strong and interesting female characters, but they don't do much except for acting as receptacles for male affection/lust/intentions/flirtations/temptations (except for Camille who at least has a job! ...and we all want to know more about her :smile:) . Anyway, it does have me wanting to know more.

 

 

REVISION 4:

 

OUR GARDEN follows three generations of Creole women living in the Seychelles islands in the 1800s. The matriarch Camille, a reputed healer and rare free black, defies societal expectations by marrying a fair and fabled pirate. Her daughter Adine can pass for white and begins to frequent the social circles of the wealthy plantation owners. Adine soon finds herself with attracts two suitors the object of two men’s affections: one is revealed to have been her mother’s first lover, and the second is a lusty foreigner with dubious intentions. Dinner parties and bonfire dances lead to dangerous flirtations, until Adine ends up pregnant and mateless. Camille tacitly orchestrates Adine’s miscarriage, and unintentionally pushes her penitent daughter toward religion.

 

Decades later, and Adine’s daughter Seraphina (grows up in....the same thatched farmhouse? maybe add something about location/environment that is specific to the Seychelles here?) enters adolescence, under the influence of a Bible-thumping mother and a free-thinking Grandmere. When a young deacon comes to the island, Seraphina is drawn to his angelic face and ecstatic belief, but questions his blind faith. She deliberately seduces him (is this what happens?) challenges his commitment to the church by tempting him with romantic possibility, only to be shunned by (who in the community?) suffer the wrath of their community, lose her best friend's esteem idolatry (maybe this is a way of working this in without raising too many awkward questions. was this a serious fiancé? is this guy still around waiting for her at the end when she comes back to the island?), and is driven to years of self-imposed exile. 

 

When a catastrophic flood takes the lives of loved ones, Seraphina returns home to support her grieving mother, but continues to resist the conventions of Catholicism, marriage, and female subordinacy. She either strikes out on her own to establish the first vanilla plantation, or opens up to love and her need for a family.

 

OUR GARDEN is a historical family saga at 120,000 words. Readers have drawn comparisons to The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner and Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. A trip to Time spent in (I hope it was more than just a couple of days) the Seychelles inspired this manuscript and my current move to Granada, Spain for book number two. Thank you for your time.



#20 Sarah G G

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 10:47 AM

Thank you everyone for your helpful critique. You've given me a lot to think about. I hope to return soon to this forum with improvements.

 

Ztwist - Seraphina grows up on a coconut plantation - hopefully that adds some color. The Deacon struggles with his attraction to Seraphina, and while she doesn't outright seduce him, she forces him to decide between a layman's life with her, or the cloth. Meanwhile, she has been going through the motions with a more acceptable candidate - her childhood sweetheart. It is his proposal that pushes her to get to the bottom of the Deacon's desires. They are caught in a compromising position, which turns the congregation against them and drives a wedge between her family and her "boyfriend's".

He is not waiting for her return, but unsettled attraction and anger ensue...







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