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Dictionary of the Mother Tongue -- Adult Fiction/Mystery


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#1 dizzywriter

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 05:41 PM

UPDATE

 

I've posted here before and the full MS is currently with two agents. But I don't want to put all my eggs in those baskets, so I want to send out some more queries. Here it is. All critiques will be returned.

________________

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s the top military advisor to the Ukrainian President and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina’s been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’ll come back.

 

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics every time she leaves home and finds escape as anonymous Moderator 3 in an online chat room. That is, until her rival excavates a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. It could also destroy Cristina’s research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding.

 

Soon, a chat room member sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language to Moderator 3.

Cristina can’t read the words. But she realizes the mysterious sender knows her real identity. Suspecting the messages are clues to the attempt on her life, she searches for a rare book to translate them.  But then she uncovers shocking facts about her rival’s discovery that lead her into a global conspiracy. To expose it, Cristina must confront her fears—or remain their prisoner.



#2 Gabe S.

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 07:05 PM

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s the top military advisor to the Ukrainian President and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina’s been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’ll come back. (Wait! Her slime-ball hubby is not only trying to kill her, but had a kid with another woman--and Cristina still wants him back?! Not buying it. Tell me why she's so desperate to have a scummy dude like that back and convince me that she's not seeing things the way they really are.)

 

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics every time she leaves home and finds escape as anonymous Moderator 3 in an online chat room. That is, until her rival excavates a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. It could also destroy Cristina’s research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding. (So, her research is the last thing Cristina has left and even that is being threatened. I think you could somehow throw this in there, and tweak the words. It'd be even more compelling.)

 

Soon, a chat room member sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language to Moderator 3.

Cristina can’t read the words. But she realizes the mysterious sender knows her real identity. Suspecting the messages are clues to the attempt on her life, she searches for a rare book to translate them.  But then she uncovers shocking facts about her rival’s discovery that lead her into a global conspiracy. To expose it, Cristina must confront her fears—or remain their prisoner. (You almost had me, but the final stakes read more like a character driven story instead of a mystery/thriller-ish story. You can totally do better here, I know it!)

 

I remember reading your query about 10 months ago and I liked it then, and I like it now. It just feels like you're omitting a bit to much. Right now you're clocking in at 196 words so you have plenty of room to cleverly elaborate. I tend to write too much, then spend half my sanity paring it down to 250-300 words, but it works for me. 

 

Good luck!


If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#3 dizzywriter

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:45 PM

Thanks, this is awesome. And thank you for remembering. . 

 

I have to say, I love this website. No matter when I show up with yet another version of the query, there's always a helpful group to be found. I'll take a look at yours.



#4 Corry

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 03:48 AM

I've posted here before and the full MS is currently with two agents. But I don't want to put all my eggs in those baskets, so I want to send out some more queries. Here it is. All critiques will be returned.

________________

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s the top military advisor to the Ukrainian President and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina’s been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’ll come back. Above poster said, "I'm not buying it..." Well, I am! It's a girl thing :) we hope against hope. Love this opener! Here's to hoping your agent is female. 

 

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics every time she leaves home and finds escape as anonymous Moderator 3 (awesome visual here) in an online chat room. That is, until her rival (I might've said "...a rival archaeologist" only because I had to read that line twice wondering if it was the husband's girlfriend) excavates a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. It could also destroy Cristina’s research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding. (Never was I interested in the origins of horseback riding 'til this line. Very good!)

 

Soon, a chat room member sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language to Moderator 3.

Cristina can’t read the words. But she realizes the mysterious sender knows her real identity. Suspecting the messages are clues to the attempt on her life, she searches for a rare book to translate them.  But then (Only then does she uncover...?) she uncovers shocking facts about her rival’s discovery that lead her (The rival or Cristina? I'm assuming the rival, but once again had to read this twice) into a global conspiracy. (A little too elusive for my taste here. I think the stakes would be higher if only I knew a "little" something about this global conspiracy. Perhaps, "...a global conspiracy that unicorns really do exist and are being kept in a barn in Area 51.") To expose it, Cristina must confront her fears—or remain their prisoner. (Imprisoned in the chat room? Kept from her profession? Will never lead a normal life or love again? Here I normally do like the elusive thing, but perhaps shed a tad more light on why she's risking imprisonment)

 

I picked it apart a bit, but truly, this query stands on its own! It's really, really good. I only offered some observations as I really love red ink :) No, it's nearly ready to go! 

 

 



#5 dizzywriter

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 04:10 PM

Thank you for the excellent input! Here's another try:

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s a top military advisor to the Ukrainian president and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina had been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’d come back. Now, she’s terrified he’ll come near her.

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics every time she leaves home and finds solace in her research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding. That is, until Petro, a rival archaeologist—and Cristina’s secret lover—discovers a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of the great human mysteries. It could also devastate Cristina’s doctoral thesis. While the carbon test that could prove her right gets delayed, Petro keeps piling up evidence to prove her wrong.

 

Cristina escapes into her role as anonymous Moderator3 in an online chat room. When a new user sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language, she can’t read the words. But the messages mean the sender knows the moderator’s real identity. Suspecting they’re clues to the attempt on her life, Cristina teams up with a handsome hacker to learn more. Still, even the vast powers of the internet won’t help her decipher the bizarre emails. But before she can find the rare book to translate them, she uncovers shocking facts about Petro’s discovery that lead into a global conspiracy of lies. To expose the truth, Cristina must destroy her lover’s life’s work—before he can destroy hers.



#6 Gabe S.

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 06:59 PM


Awesome progress! Definitley answered my questions from the last iteration. The stakes are clear, the challenges are clear, and we got some spice in there with her relationships.

If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#7 dizzywriter

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:44 PM

Thank you! But the two apostrophes of "destroy her lover's life's work" in the last graph bugs me. I want to stress that he's been working on it a long time. any ideas welcome.



#8 dizzywriter

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 08:00 PM

I forgot how to delete a post I repeated.



#9 Corry

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 09:12 PM

Thank you for the excellent input! Here's another try:

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s a top military advisor to the Ukrainian president and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina had been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’d come back. Now, she’s terrified he’ll come near her. Don't think this is necessary, sort of a given that she'd be terrified

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics (right there is why the "terrified" line is not necessary above) every time she leaves home and finds solace in her research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding. That is, until Petro, a rival archaeologist—and Cristina’s secret lover—discovers a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of the great human mysteries. It could also devastate Cristina’s doctoral thesis. While the carbon test that could prove her right gets delayed, Petro keeps piling up evidence to prove her wrong. Love that last line! But...while it's not unheard of that one should be involved with someone else post breakup, it's a little confusing that Petro is her lover since she's hoping her husband returns. Still, I might not change that. It sounds like Petro might be sleeping with her to gain knowledge, which adds another fascinating layer, imo

 

Cristina escapes into her role a new role as anonymous Moderator3 in an online chat room. When a new user sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language, she can’t read the words. But the messages mean the sender knows the moderator’s Cristina's real identity. Suspecting they’re clues to the attempt on her life, Cristina teams up with a handsome hacker to learn more. Still, even the vast powers of the internet won’t help her decipher the bizarre emails. But before she can find the rare book to translate them, she uncovers shocking facts about Petro’s discovery that lead into a global conspiracy of lies. To expose the truth, Cristina must destroy her lover’s life’s work—before he can destroy hers. EXCELLENT ending there! Love it. But, and you knew there would be one, I sort of liked the first query a tad better. I'd say fuse these 2 queries into one. Both have good stuff, but this one is slightly chunky with overly detailed facts. I'd buy this book! 

 

Would appreciate a look-see at my query, "Addy," when you have time. No rush, I'm re-writing now and will post later tonight. thx



#10 Gabe S.

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 11:14 PM

You could just substitute “lover’s” with “Petro’s”. We already know she and Petro have a little sumpin’-sumpin’ going on on the side. It didn’t detract anything from my read of it.

If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#11 dizzywriter

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 08:31 AM

You could just substitute “lover’s” with “Petro’s”. We already know she and Petro have a little sumpin’-sumpin’ going on on the side. It didn’t detract anything from my read of it.

Thanks, Gabe. It's the two apostrophes that bother me more than the alliterations in Lover's and Life's. But I might be oversensitive. I'll take another whack at it.



#12 dizzywriter

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 04:49 PM

Trying again.

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s a top military advisor to the Ukrainian president and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina had been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’d come back. Now, she’s terrified he’ll come near her.

 

With her attacker still on the loose, she finds solace in researching [or "in her research on"?] the prehistoric origins of her beloved sport: horseback riding. That is, until Petro, a rival archaeologist—and Cristina’s secret lover—discovers a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of the great human mysteries. It could also devastate Cristina’s doctoral thesis. While the carbon test that could prove her right gets delayed, Petro keeps piling up evidence to prove her wrong.

 

She escapes online as the anonymous Moderator3 in an equestrian chat room. When a new user sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language, it means the sender knows her real identity. Though she can’t decipher the bizarre messages, she’s afraid they’re about the attempt on her life. But before she can find the rare book she needs to translate them, she uncovers shocking facts about Petro’s discovery that lead into a global conspiracy of lies. To expose the truth, Cristina must destroy her lover’s work—before he can destroy hers.



#13 Gabe S.

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 06:17 PM

Gold star for you! You’ve valiantly defeated the double apostrophe menace!
I like it, but I’m biased as I hold a history degree.

If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#14 dizzywriter

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 06:20 PM

Thank you! But I just made a teeny change in the first line of the second graph. Does "beloved sport" add anything? Her other big escape is actually horseback riding. It's a big part of the story. It's a way of slipping it in without too much distraction. Does it work or does it make the sentence too long and/or complicated?

 

Oh, and I gave you feedback on Addy. I like the story. :) I have 1/3 of a fantasy with a 17th century bastard midwife somewhere between science and magic. My next project.



#15 callalilly

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 01:01 AM

Below are a few ideas for you to consider or altogether delete -you'll know what is best :)

Trying again.

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s a top military advisor to the Ukrainian president and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina had been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’d come back, but now she’s terrified he will come back. (That's not a perfect rewording, but I think the last sentence read a little flat, I think if you could reword it to sound as exciting as the first two sentences, your impacting hook would be more in line)

 

With her attacker still on the loose, she finds solace in researching [or "in her research on"?] (I think "in researching" reads better) the prehistoric origins of her beloved sport: horseback riding. That is, until Petro, a rival archaeologist—and Cristina’s secret lover—discovers a modern woman murdered in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of the great human mysteries (which is?). It could also devastate Cristina’s doctoral thesis (how?). While the carbon test that could prove her right gets delayed, Petro piles up the evidence proving her wrong.

 

She escapes her troubles online as the anonymous Moderator3 in an equestrian chat room. When a new user sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language, she knows the sender knows her real identity (why does them knowing her ID matter?). Though she can’t decipher the bizarre messages, she fears they’re about the attempt on her life. But before she can find the rare book she needs to translate them, she uncovers shocking facts about Petro’s discovery that lead into a global conspiracy of lies. To expose the truth, Cristina must destroy her lover’s work—before he can destroy hers.

 

I really like the twists and turns you present here (it sounds like a mysterious tale.) I think what needs to be worked on is the different natures -you start out with the worry Cristina may be killed by her husband's doing, then the rest of the query focuses more on her discoveries. I like the hook a lot, but I think it needs to be rewritten -the rest of the query deals more with her work. I'd also suggest more info on her work, it's somewhat lightly touched on when perhaps with more info., we'd understand more about why it's so pressing for Cristina to get her work out there before Petro. Also, maybe a sentence on how being at opposite ends impacts her and Petro's relationship -they may be secret lovers, but that doesn't change the fact that it likely affects them knowing the other has such impactful discoveries. Overall, great query -it sounds really interesting. I hope this has helped, and if you don't think so, please ignore all. good luck!


 ,Query I'm fighting with: http://agentquerycon...-post-22/page-2

 


#16 dizzywriter

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 04:44 PM

Thank you for that input. Again:

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s a top military advisor to the Ukrainian president and needs a divorce to marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina had been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’d come back. Now, she’s terrified he’ll come near her.

 

With her attacker still on the loose, she finds solace in researching the ancient origins of her beloved sport: horseback riding. That is, until Petro, a rival archaeologist—and Cristina’s secret lover—discovers the murder of a prehistoric woman in a shocking grave. Finding out who killed her might solve one of the most controversial human mysteries. It could also devastate Cristina’s doctoral thesis. But the carbon test to support her theories keeps getting delayed while Petro piles up more evidence proving her wrong.

 

She escapes her mounting [is "mounting" too weird given the horse subject matter?] troubles online as the anonymous Moderator3 in an equestrian chat room. When a new user sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language, she can’t read their bizarre script but fears they’re about the attempt on her life. Before finding a rare book to decipher them, she uncovers shocking facts about Petro’s discovery that lead into a global conspiracy of lies. To expose the truth, Cristina must destroy her lover’s work—before he can destroy hers.



#17 Gabe S.

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 05:35 PM

The horseback riding is a good addition. It makes Cristina that much more relatable as a person.
Something I did pick up on just now, I’m guessing her attacker is still trying to get her throughout the story, right? I’m hoping the whole Kiev shenanigans do carry throughout the story.

If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#18 dizzywriter

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 06:03 PM

Thanks. I tweaked it a little bit but without posting a new version. Does "mounting" work?



#19 dizzywriter

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 06:05 PM

 

I've posted here before and the full MS is currently with two agents. But I don't want to put all my eggs in those baskets, so I want to send out some more queries. Here it is. All critiques will be returned.

________________

 

After fighting off a would-be assassin in Kiev, American archaeologist Cristina Smythe is sure her estranged husband ordered the hit. He’s the top military advisor to the Ukrainian President and needs a divorce so he can marry the mother of his newborn child. Cristina’s been delaying their final breakup, hoping he’ll come back. Above poster said, "I'm not buying it..." Well, I am! It's a girl thing :) we hope against hope. Love this opener! Here's to hoping your agent is female. 

 

 

With her attacker on the loose, she panics every time she leaves home and finds escape as anonymous Moderator 3 (awesome visual here) in an online chat room. That is, until her rival (I might've said "...a rival archaeologist" only because I had to read that line twice wondering if it was the husband's girlfriend) excavates a murdered woman in an ancient grave. Finding out who killed her could solve one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. It could also destroy Cristina’s research on the prehistoric origins of horseback riding. (Never was I interested in the origins of horseback riding 'til this line. Very good!)

 

Soon, a chat room member sends emails written in the first horsemen’s language to Moderator 3.

Cristina can’t read the words. But she realizes the mysterious sender knows her real identity. Suspecting the messages are clues to the attempt on her life, she searches for a rare book to translate them.  But then (Only then does she uncover...?) she uncovers shocking facts about her rival’s discovery that lead her (The rival or Cristina? I'm assuming the rival, but once again had to read this twice) into a global conspiracy. (A little too elusive for my taste here. I think the stakes would be higher if only I knew a "little" something about this global conspiracy. Perhaps, "...a global conspiracy that unicorns really do exist and are being kept in a barn in Area 51.") To expose it, Cristina must confront her fears—or remain their prisoner. (Imprisoned in the chat room? Kept from her profession? Will never lead a normal life or love again? Here I normally do like the elusive thing, but perhaps shed a tad more light on why she's risking imprisonment)

 

I picked it apart a bit, but truly, this query stands on its own! It's really, really good. I only offered some observations as I really love red ink :) No, it's nearly ready to go! 

 

 

 

Thanks for the great input. I'd be happy to return the favor if you have a query.



#20 Gabe S.

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 06:17 PM

I think it’s clever. Those with a keen eye will get a chuckle.

If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2





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