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#1 Andrew Joyce

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 04:37 AM

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

 

 

MAHONEY is the story of the Mahoney clan—a story that starts in Ireland in 1849 and concludes in Washington D.C. in 1963. Three generations of Mahoneys take us on a journey through one hundred and fourteen years of American history. History we all know about … and some we don’t.

 

In the second year of The Great Famine, nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney is the last of his family left alive. His only hope for any kind of a future is to go to America and start a new life. However, first he must make the arduous and dangerous ocean voyage on a “coffin ship” where typhus runs rampant and a great storm decimates the ship. Once in America, he works hard to get established, but runs afoul of a murderous gang and must run for his life. He settles in a new location and goes to work as a laborer for the Railroad. Devin prospers, marries, and has a son. All is good until the outbreak of the Civil War. He feels duty-bound to fight for his adopted country and goes off to war where he is mortally wounded. It now falls to his son Dillon to establish the Mahoney clan in America.

 

At twenty years of age, Dillon heads to California to make a new start. The year is 1880. He steps off a train during a water stop in a small Western town, but never makes it back onto the train. Through a series of events beyond his control, he makes an enemy of a local gunslinger. Dillon cannot run away from the problem, he has to face it head on. Over time, he becomes proficient with a gun. But before he can take a stand against his nemesis, the killer shoots him in the back and leaves him for dead. When he recovers, he sets out after his assailant and along the way makes a name for himself as the new fast-gun in the territory. After the showdown with the killer, Dillon heads to California, to escape his reputation, where he becomes rich in the oil business. He too, has a son, David.

 

David’s mother dies in childbirth and Dillon spoils David to the point where he thinks the world owes him a living. He becomes estranged from his father at the age of twenty-one when he comes into an inheritance from his maternal grandfather. They do not speak for years, until 1929 when the bottom falls out of the stock market. Now broke, David goes to his father for financial help. But Dillon, who is dying of cancer, has also lost everything, cannot help. That leaves David, at thirty-five, without funds, without any marketable skills, and out on the street. It’s now up to David to Establish the Mahoneys in America.

 

MAHONEY is an historical fiction novel of 173,000 words written in the spirit of NEW YORK by Edward Rutherford.

 

 

 

 

 



#2 NerdWitch

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 05:07 AM

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

 

 

MAHONEY is the story of the Mahoney clan—a story that starts in Ireland in 1849 and concludes in Washington D.C. in 1963. Three generations of Mahoneys take us on a journey through one hundred and fourteen years of American history. History we all know about … and some we don’t.

 

I would start here. In the second year of The Great Famine, nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney is the last of his family left alive. What happened to the rest of his family? His only hope for any kind of a future is to go to America and start a new life. However, first he must make the arduous and dangerous ocean voyage on a “coffin ship” where typhus runs rampant and a great storm decimates the ship. Once in America, he works hard to get established, but runs afoul of a murderous gang and must run for his life. He settles in a new location where? and goes to work as a laborer for the Railroad. Devin prospers , marries (who), and has a son (sons name?) All is good until the outbreak of the Civil War. He feels duty-bound to fight for his adopted country and goes off to war where he is mortally wounded. It now falls to his son Dillon to establish the Mahoney clan in America.

 

At twenty years of age    At twenty-years-old, Dillon Mahoney heads to California to make a new start. The year is 1880. He steps off a train during a water stop in a small Western town, but never makes it back onto the train (why?). Through a series of events beyond his control (what events?) he makes an enemy of a local gunslinger (who and why?). Dillon cannot run away from the problem, so he has to face it head on. Over time, he becomes proficient with a gun. But Before he can take a stand against his nemesis, the killer shoots him in the back and leaves him for dead. When he Dillon recovers, he sets out after his assailant and along the way makes a name for himself as the new fast-gun in the territory. After the showdown with the killer, Dillon heads to California, to escape his reputation, where he becomes rich in the oil business (how?). He too, has a son, David.

 

When David Mahoney's David’s mother dies in childbirth, Dillon spoils David to the point where he thinks the world owes him a living. He becomes estranged from his father at the age of twenty-one when he comes into an inheritance from his maternal grandfather. They do not speak for years, until 1929 when the bottom falls out of the stock market. Now broke, David goes to his father for financial help. But Dillon, who is dying of cancer, has also lost everything and cannot help. That leaves David, at thirty-five, without funds, without any marketable skills, and out on the street. It’s now up to David to Establish the Mahoneys in America.

 

MAHONEY is an historical fiction novel of 173,000 words and would appeals to readers of written in the spirit of NEW YORK by Edward Rutherford.

 

At the heart of this, I think there's an interesting story but this query reads more like a synopsis. It needs to be shorter and talk more about each character's stakes. I'm wondering if the query should focus more on Devin because the story starts with him? I thnk it sounds interesting but it needs a bit more work. My comments in red are just some thoughts and minor changes :)  


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

 

 


#3 mwsinclair

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 07:42 AM

NerdWitch said what I was thinking: this is a synopsis. They have their place, but it's not in a query.

 

Think of a query as a sales letter. You don't have to put on a cheesy suit or grease up your mustache, but in essence you're saying to an agent, "What'll it take to get you into this story and take a test drive?"

 

More often than not, the agent replies, "Sorry, just looking."

 

You have something to offer here, but I don't see a hook. Again, this is a sales letter; you need something that latches into the reader, something that says: I know you have a need and this will address that need.

 

As a person of Irish descent, I might pull this off the shelf, but if this is your blurb on the back, I probably return it to the shelf.

 

The comments in red from NerdWitch contain some good ideas to pursue, especially "What happened to the rest of his family?"

 

Perhaps something like: "As Devin Mahoney's father, his last living relative, lay dying of starvation, his final breath implored his son to not let their dreams end. "America," he sighed." ...

 

ok, that's probably kinda cheesy, actually. But the idea is provide something an agent can hold on to.

 

I'll admit that 173,000 words is rather daunting, too. I know it's historical fiction, but you're talking about a paperback that automatically costs upwards of $17 or more, and a hardcover that costs far more than that.

 

An agent needs to know that a manuscript can sell. And most people don't plunk down $20 or more on an author they've not yet heard of.



#4 Andrew Joyce

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Posted 05 January 2019 - 03:36 AM

NerdWitch and Elephant. You both make great points. So, now it's back to the old drawing board, so to speak, and incorporate your advice into my letter. Thanks for taking the time to read the thing and respond. 



#5 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 02:22 PM

(At first glance, I can tell you that this is too long. Also, the title is supposed to be in the last paragraph with the word count, genre, and previous writing experience (like if you've published before). I'll list a couple of sites to look into:
I hope these help.) 
 
MAHONEY is the story of the Mahoney clan—a story that starts in Ireland in 1849 and concludes in Washington D.C. in 1963. (Oddly specific. But, the first two sentences - really the first sentence - is supposed to have a hook that makes the literary agent have to keep reading. What's something super interesting about the plot that would grab someone's attention in like two seconds?) Three generations of Mahoneys take us on a journey through one hundred and fourteen years of American history. History we all know about … and some we don’t. (What genre is this? Is this more of a historical book or fiction? Because if historical, you don't need queries. I used to work at a press that published those kinds of books.)
 
In the second year of The Great Famine, nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney is the last of his family left alive. (This is more of a query hook. This could be the start of a first sentence in your query.) His only hope for any kind of a future is to go to America and start a new life. However, first he must survive a the arduous and dangerous ocean voyage on a “coffin ship” where typhus (what's that?) runs rampant and a great storm decimates the ship to get there. Once in America, he works hard to get established, but runs afoul of a murderous gang and must run for his life. (This sounds like it's too far into your story. You want to give the agent a sense of what is going on, but at the same time, you don't want to give anything away. I say about the plot of the first 30 pages or so is what you want to tell. For specific details and anything that happens after, leave it for the book. You want to give enough information to get the agent reading it, but you don't want to tell the agent the whole story if that makes sense.) He settles in a new location and goes to work as a laborer for the Railroad. Devin prospers, marries, and has a son. All is good until the outbreak of the Civil War. He feels duty-bound to fight for his adopted country and goes off to war where he is mortally wounded. It now falls to his son Dillon to establish the Mahoney clan in America.
 
Honestly, if you have any query questions, let me know. I'm always glad to help. I hope this gives you a sense of where to go though! Queries are tough, but you can do it!
 
If you can, please return the favor: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/





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