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Please critique my thriller, SEXUAL POLITICS. Thanks in advance.

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#1 cccwriter

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 10:01 AM

Sexual Politics: sex-u·al pol·i·tics

noun

the principles determining the relationship of the sexes;

relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male.

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a contestant for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. The judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats.

 

The only bright light in her life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. He says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. As does her twin sister. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking.

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures, living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 



#2 A Fatalist Dawn

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 06:55 PM

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male.

 

Just a minor re-write:

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a timely spy thriller that will resonate with survivors of sexual abuse.

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a contestant for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. The judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats.

 

Too much info here. We don’t need to know, for example, the exact number of women who were abused by the U.S. President or that strangers call her at work. Otherwise, I like how you place the reader in Samantha’s shoes and make us really empathize with your MC. You can consider placing this part in past-tense, since it reads more like a prologue of the main events in the story.

 

My re-write:

 

When Samantha Edwards testified against the Supreme Court nominee who tried to rape her, she never expected it would shatter her life forever. The college professor was shamed by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, bombarded with hate mail and death threats, and mocked by the President of the United States. In the end, Samantha's attacker was confirmed to the Supreme Court, while she was left to deal with the trauma from that day.

 

The only bright light in her life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. He says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. As does her twin sister. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking.

 

Okay you’ve got some good points here, but it is just way too long. It’s also confusing to follow what’s happening here. You don’t need to describe every sub-plot or character. Keep to the main plot points.

 

Here’s my re-write:

 

Following her high-profile ordeal, Samantha returns to Columbia University, where she meets Anthony Broccoli. What Samantha doesn’t realize is that she is under investigation and that her new student is an undercover FBI agent.

 

The Supreme Court justice Samantha accused of rape is found dead, along with another victim; and Samantha is framed as a suspect in their murders. Despite Samantha’s mistrust of Anthony, the pair must work together to track the real killer. The closer they get to catching the killer, the more Samantha’s life spirals out of control. The killer is determined to take everything from her: her car, her house, and even her twin sister.

 

With everything on the line, the clock is ticking, as Samantha works to clear her name and stop the killer before he (or she?) strikes again.

 

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures, living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK.

 

These are excellent credentials, and you have a great platform that directly relates to the story you are writing. I wouldn’t change anything here.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 


Check out my poetry book, The Groundwork of Realization (2018).
 

#3 lnloft

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:30 PM

 

Sexual Politics: sex-u·al pol·i·tics

noun

the principles determining the relationship of the sexes;

relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power Don't start with a definition, as it's gimmicky. Just jump straight in on your query.

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male. Some people will tell you this belongs at the end. I'm of that preference myself. But what I've read is that some agents like it at the end, and others the beginning, and you don't generally know who wants what. So go with which way you prefer. On another note, though, this is a bit of a clunky sentence that can be streamlined.

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a contestant Wrong word. Nominee? for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. The judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats. Not really going to pick this apart line by line, but I see a few things here. One is that you're being very meticulous and detailed, and we don't necessarily need all of that for the query. Keep things short and sweet. The way you're written it also is rather dry, more like it's a report. There's a lot to pack into queries, but you should still get your voice to come through. The other thing I note is that this is clearly pulled from the recent Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford news, to the point where right now it appears to be the real thing with the serial numbers filed off. And this brings up a couple of concerns from me. For one, the news is so recent, it worries me about how you can have a fully written and well-polished and revised manuscript. I definitely believe you can have written your manuscript in this time, but I have a hard time seeing that you'd have had adequate time to get beta readers and revise accordingly. It also worries me if the first paragraph of your query is basically paraphrasing the news. It's totally fine to be inspired by real events, but right now it doesn't feel like you're telling your own story. Give us a reason to read your story rather than just stick with the newspapers.

 

The only bright light in her Just noting that you've been relying on pronouns. Feel free to use your MC's name more than once. life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. Doesn't seem to me that this sentence is relevant for purposes of the query. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. He Antecedant unclear. The Dean says, or Anthony says? says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. Wait, okay, so the man she accused of rape is now dead? Do I have that right? And the timing seems odd here. It seems like the FBI comes to investigate her and then the justice ends up dead, but it feels like it should be the other way around. Also, by this sentence you NEED to use Samantha's name. As does her twin sister. Samantha's sister comes out of nowhere. Her introduction is rather random for this late in the query. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking. I stopped going line by line, because the issue again is that you're including far too much extraneous detail, and you're jumping from one thing to another with little logical link. Suddenly Anthony is attracted to Samantha, although all we know of their relationship is professor/student. Suddenly there's a bomb in Samantha's car. Suddenly her house is blown up. Suddenly she has a dog, who honestly doesn't seem very relevant for the query. Focus on the very basics for the query.

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures If you're going to include this, you need to be more specific about what it means., living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK. You've got some good qualifications, but this is written a little dry, and a little too run-on. I think the format of statement, colon, list is what's doing it. So keep the basics, but reformat.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sorry for the tough love, but this needs work still. I think the biggest thing is that you have far too much irrelevant information.

 

Samantha came public about a rapist judge, but was shot down and the judge was promoted anyway. Then the judge was found dead, and Samantha starts becoming suspicious that her new student Anthony is more than just a social worker. When a bomb shows up in her car and her house is blown up, Samantha and Anthony must work together to figure out who killed the judge, before Samantha goes to jail... or becomes the killer's next victim.

 

^^That's roughly what you can boil it down to. Question: does the reader know Anthony is actually FBI? If no, then I say definitely leave it out of the query and just play up the mystery/can we trust him angle. If yes, then it's a bit more either/or, but I'd still consider leaving it out, as you should focus your query from one POV, that of Samantha, and she doesn't know who he is. So that's something you can leave as intriguing for the reader, to want to read your book to find out who he is. But the point is, go back to the very bare bones of your story, and then build up the few details that are needed. It's a lot I'm throwing at you, it's a lot of work, but that's the nature of the beast. Just remember we're all in the same boat. Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#4 jpfranco

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 11:05 PM

 

Sexual Politics: sex-u·al pol·i·tics

noun

the principles determining the relationship of the sexes;

relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power

 

This may just be me, but I wouldn't open my query with a definition. It makes it seem like you don't think the agent is smart enough to know what it means. 

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male. This should go at the end, if you must put it in. 

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a contestant for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. Don't go overboard with your words. Less is more in the query. If you can lose some, do it. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. Since the president doesn't come back into it, you don't need thisThe judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats.

 

The only bright light in her life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. I find it odd that he foists a male student into her all-female class. If it's all female, I would assume it's by design. He says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. Did this happen before the the new student? The way it's written, it seems like it happens after. As does her twin sister. Is she really relevant to the query? I get that she's a suspect, too, but that's her only existence in the query. I don't know who she is, she doesn't even get a name here. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspectcliche fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. The way it's written, very dry and matter-of-fact, is not very exiting. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens cliche and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, I know you love the dog, but I don't think s/he needs to be in the query. I put a beloved dog in my novel as well, but he didn't make it into the query.  Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him.  He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking. two more cliches

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures, living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. That is a lot. I thought that sort of thing was relevant, there's advice out there that says to put it in, but there are people here who will tell you not to bother. I kind of agree with them, especially when you have such a long list of stuff all crammed into one sentence. To me it comes across as agenda you are pushing.  Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 



#5 Carney

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 11:25 AM

 

Sexual Politics: sex-u·al pol·i·tics

noun

the principles determining the relationship of the sexes;

relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male.

I would start here. Everything above here is unnecessary and may serve to stop an agent from continuing. 

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a contestant for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. The judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats. Okay...here goes: you are obviously doing a take-off from the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Sure, this might make the story feel very timely, but it runs the risk of an agent thinking "oh, here we go again...yet another writer angry about today's politics and rewriting the real-life story." Is this unfair? Probably, but it is how many agents/publishers think. The trouble with tackling social issues that are "hot" at the moment is the controversy they generate and whether a publisher wants to become embroiled in that controversy. I'm not suggesting you don't write this type story [already written and why change it at this point?] But you need to be aware that how your present the story matters greatly -- not just as it always does, but even more so given the theme. My inclination would be to find a way to incorporate all of this in a different manner within the query. First engage the agent's interest in the character and then lead into the main theme of sexual politics, etc. Of-course, I'm not sure how to do this...(yeah, useless, I know) but I just wanted to bring this to your attention, if you have not already given it consideration. One other issue with writing a story based on such high-interest contemporary events is handling the story in a manner that will not somehow discount the importance of the real-life event. 

 

The only bright light in her life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. He says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. As does her twin sister. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking. This is a whole lot of confusing detail, but it doesn't adequately show-off your writing style or voice. Here is something I learned while going through my own query process: agents really want to hear your voice in the query. Summary -- which is what you have -- is too passive and offers too little hints as to story voice. Think that hated adage of "show, don't tell." I might also try to simplify this somewhat. Does the agent need to know everything contained in this paragraph, or is there a way to show the story without needless detail? The agent is assigned to her class; a bunch of people are murdered; the MC is threatened; they go on the run. The supporting character is an FBI agent, but somehow the FBI is against him? And do you need the dog here? Or the sister? [In the story perhaps, but not needed here unless you somehow connect their importance to the query] Why do they have to go on the lam? (BTW: The word is lam, not the animal - lamb.) If Samantha doesn't trust him, then why would she run with him? Think of how you are trying to sell the agent on your story in a very simplified and plain manner, not the entire story, but enough to get her/him to want more. Forgive the cliche, but in a query sometimes less really is more. 

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures, living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. As compelling as all of this might be, it really doesn't advance your position as a writer. Instead, I would concentrate on what publishing success you have had, your writing awards and possibly a short one-line about your experience. If possible, I would also suggest trying to find at least two good comp titles that have performed well and then compare your novel to these. This will show a perspective agent you understand the market and your genre. Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Like you, I have a background working with survivors of sexual violence and abuse and have also been a victim. I was also appalled at the entire mess with Kavanaugh and, for that matter, much of what is happening in American politics. I well appreciate the passion that moved you to write this type story. The challenges of incorporating dramatic current events into a novel are many, think about how many writers attempted to incorporate elements of the 9/11 terrorists attacks into their novels! [IMO Too many!] No matter how well executed, it can be difficult to convince an agent a novel written around current controversy is marketable. Difficult, but far from impossible. I suspect, due to timing, the agent's first reaction might be "how did she write this so quickly following the Kavanaugh mess?" Because this may be a possibility, your query needs to clearly show that the main story is more about what happens to the MC after discovering someone is out to get her or to convict her of a crime. The more direct and concise you are in the query the better. If you can also provide comp titles so the agent recognizes you have done research into your genre's market, this will also help. 

 

I wish you good luck with this novel. It sounds like the type thing I enjoy reading and I suspect it is well-executed. Just keep in mind queries are difficult to get right, even more so when the subject is so current and challenging. 



#6 NerdWitch

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 12:47 PM

 

Sexual Politics: sex-u·al pol·i·tics

noun

the principles determining the relationship of the sexes;

relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male.

 

I agree with above post, the query should start here.

 

Dr. Samantha Edwards, a university professor,is due to testify  testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She's testifying against a contestant for the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. He and the all-male committee deny it, shame and blame her, and lie. The President, who is also accused of sexually abusing at least 22 women, stands up for the accused rapist. While her life is in shambles, the judge is appointed the new Justice of the Supreme Court. (I've rephrased). The judge is confirmed as the latest Justice of the Supreme court, while her life is in shambles. People she doesn’t know call her at home and work at all hours. Reporters knock on her door. She gets hate mail and death threats.  I would delete this last sentence as it makes it a bit long and wordy.

 

The only bright light in her life shines when she goes to her Columbia University job the next morning, and her all-female class sings, We Shall Overcome. The Dean foists Anthony Broccoli upon her as a new student. He says he’s a social worker who wants to become a nurse practitioner, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland style and she looks guilty. As does her twin sister. Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things a social worker wouldn’t. With the FBI stumped or refusing to act, she and Anthony must find the killer and the reason two justices of the Supreme Court were killed, or she or her sister will fry in prison. The clock is ticking.

 

SEXUAL POLITICS (74,000 words) is a spy thriller ripped from the pages of the news meant to empower women who have been abused by a powerful male. (i would add this at the bottom)

 

 

Experiences I've had that compelled me to write Samantha and Anthony's story: being a university professor with a doctorate from Columbia University and a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner with a private practice as a forensics specialist working with sexually abused women and children, being a survivor of sexual politics myself, participating in several dangerous cross-country adventures, living with a rescue dog named Chanel, and being married to an Anthony who was an ammunition renovation specialist in the Army. Awards I've won: first place in a Romance Writers of America contest and second place in a State of Florida fiction contest with a rape novel. My short stories have appeared in the University of South Florida's writer's journal, PALM PRINTS, and online at RIVERWALK.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Overall you have a strong, important and powerful story here but your query has a lot of words and basically needs to be a bit shorter. It sounds like a really interesting story and something I'd be keen to read.Good luck.
Pleaes have a look at my query if you'd like


Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 






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