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#1 jrjan1

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 03:36 PM

Thanks, everyone. I think (I hope) I'm getting closer.

 

I'm hoping this is a winner.

 

 

Dear agent,

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

During the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. Catherine longs to rise above the cloud of suspicion.

 

When Nicolas is treated, he finds himself infatuated with Catherine. Wanting to impress her, he reads to her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance, simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. Their love of learning brings them together and they marry. When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked.

 

Catherine is arrested for witchcraft, and she has no illusions of impartiality. Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church and refer to things she could only have learned from the banned books. She must choose her words carefully as they will either free her or send her to the stake.    

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former xxx from xxxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

Dear agent of my dreams,

 

 

Catherine’s father hated the parish priest for as long as she can remember, but the reason was a mystery to her. Nicolas, her husband, learns the shocking truth, but when the priest gets hauled away and is out of their lives, the secret gets buried as an uncomfortable memory.

 

Years later, when Nicolas takes their son to neighboring Strasbourg to inquire about an internship, they tour the cathedral. Enthralled by the artistry of the building, they get separated. From a distance, Nicolas sees his son walking away with the bishop whom Nicolas recognizes as the hated former parish priest.

 

In saving his son, Nicolas unleashes an evil that spirals his family into a plot of revenge and the horrors of the Renaissance.

 



#2 SuzieTheWriter

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 08:05 AM

I'm new at this too! But here are some thoughts!

Dear agent of my dreams,

 

 

Catherine’s father hated the parish priest (I read the rest of the query and I'm still pretty confused on who a parish priest is and the relevancy in Catherine and her father's life....so she knows her dad hates him, but how does this even affect her life?) for as long as she can remember, but the reason was a mystery to her. Nicolas, her husband, learns the shocking truth, but when the priest gets hauled away and is out of their lives, (I feel like the bold is redundant) the secret gets buried as an uncomfortable memory.

 

 

This is interesting, but I feel like the hook could pop more...I'd keep working and try a few out and see which is the snazziest.

 

Years later, when Nicolas takes their son to neighboring Strasbourg to inquire about an internship, they tour the cathedral. Perhaps you should put the setting higher in the query letter? Enthralled by the artistry of the building, they get separated. How? From a distance, Nicolas sees his son walking away with the bishop whom Nicolas recognizes as the hated former parish priest.

 

In saving his son, Nicolas unleashes an evil that spirals his family into a plot of revenge and the horrors of the Renaissance.

 

See, this ^ is interesting, could be a better hook. However, I'm still left with so many questions. I feel I need more information for what the priest did (without spoiling too much) and I definitely want to know more about this unleashed evil because it seems that is the main focus of your book.

 

Also, don't forget to have a paragraph talking about genre, word count, why it matches the lit agent, etc.

 


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#3 Koechophe

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 03:53 AM

Heya Jan, I've been around this website for a while. I hope some of my advice can be of use to you. Fair warning, my claws are sharp. 

Dear agent of my dreams,

 

 

Catherine’s father hated the parish priest for as long as she can remember, but the reason was a mystery to her (We've got some tense issues."Hated the" and "was a mystery" disagree with "she can remember". This is a bit awkward because of the melding of past and present. Try "Catherine's father has always hated the parish priest"). Nicolas, her husband, learns the shocking truth (Rule number 1 of queries: Be specific, not vague. "Shocking truth" is basically you as an author telling us "hey, this is really cool". Show us that instead. Give us specifics), but when the priest gets hauled away and is out of their lives, the secret gets buried as an uncomfortable memory. (I'm confused. It's the priest being locked up, so why doesn't Nicolas tell Catherine about the secret? Or does he, and it just gets forgotten? Why do they forget?)

 

Years later, when Nicolas takes their son to neighboring Strasbourg to inquire about an internship, they tour the cathedral (Which cathedral? The one the priest worked at? Did Catherine attend this priest's worship services? I'm very confused as to relevance here). Enthralled by the artistry of the building (This is a detail we don't need to know), they get separated. From a distance, (You're using this sentence structure far too much, of sticking the description at the beginning of the sentence, such as, "From a distance, nicolas sees his son", vs "Nicolas sees his son from a distance". People often do this to spruce up writing, but it has the opposite effect. It's exhausting to read and gets old very quickly. Use this pattern once or maybe twice in your query, never repeatedly.) Nicolas sees his son walking away with the bishop whom Nicolas recognizes as the hated former parish priest.

 

In saving his son, Nicolas unleashes an evil that spirals his family into a plot of revenge and the horrors of the Renaissance. (And I am very confused again. The entirety of this query thus far has been back story, as far as I gather. The main bulk of the story happens after this line, if I understand correctly. But what is the story? Is it the story of how he saves his son? Is it the story of what happens after he saves his son? What is he saving his son from? Why is the parish priest interested in his son? Is Nicolas the protagonist of the story, or is Catherine (since she's the first person you mentioned, most would actually assume she's the protagonist.)

 

These questions are not a good thing. Queries are meant to show agents what your book is about and entice them to start reading it. There's a lot more advice I'd give, but I don't like peppering these forums with "how to write query" posts when better writers than me have already done it. I'd like to recommend some great resources on writing good queries:

https://www.agentque.../writer_hq.aspx (This is this website's guide on writing a query letter)

https://queryshark.blogspot.com/ (This shows a real agent responding to queries. Read at least a few of the good ones, and read the bad ones too. Honestly a top-notch way of improving on query writing)

These are a good place to start.

Also, just so you know, it's best to post what genre you're writing in. It's hard to critique if we don't know what pattern the story is meant to follow.

I'll check back in a little while and give some more specific advice. I hope some of these resources will help you down the road. 

Best of luck!

-I critique because I care. 

 



#4 jrjan1

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 12:02 PM

Thank you so much for your help. I've changed it significantly so it is more descriptive. 

 

What do you think of this one?

 

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

Fourteen-year-old Catherine wants to be like her grandmother and learn the ways of nature to treat the sick. To the locals, however, Mémé is a witch—a foreigner who practices strange customs, but that doesn’t stop them from seeking her help.

 

When Nicolas seeks treatment, he finds himself infatuated with the witch’s beautiful granddaughter, Catherine. The couple falls in love, but Nicolas’ reputable family forces Catherine to decide between being a healer or being Nicolas’ wife. Catherine chooses Nicolas, but this story is about real people and happily-ever-after is fantasy.

 

Nicolas discovers the source of the witchcraft rumors, the parish priest, but he never considered how far the priest will go to maintain his reputation. His family is plunged into a plot of revenge. Mémé commits suicide to avoid the stake, Nicolas is murdered, and Catherine is betrayed. If she runs, she’ll lose everything she has worked for; if she stays, she’ll lose even more.

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former XXXX from XXX, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#5 jpfranco

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 01:00 PM

First off, please make sure to either top post your revisions or make a note in the top post of where the most current one is. Otherwise you'll have people critiquing the wrong query which will confuse you and waste their time. 

Thank you so much for your help. I've changed it significantly so it is more descriptive. 

 

What do you think of this one?

 

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

Good first sentence

 

Fourteen-year-old Catherine wants to be like her grandmother and learn the ways of nature to treat the sick. To the locals, however, Mémé is a witch—a foreigner who practices strange customs,  you've only got so many words to use in your query. Don't waste them on an unnecessary explanation. but that doesn’t stop them from seeking her help.

 

When Nicolas seeks treatment, for what? he finds himself infatuated with the witch’s beautiful granddaughter, Catherine. The couple falls in love, but Nicolas’ reputable family forces Catherine to decide between being a healer or being Nicolas’ wife. I'm not sure the family would give her an ultimatum. They'd give it to him, and then he might give it to her. Catherine chooses Nicolas, but this story is about real people and happily-ever-after is fantasy.  Nooooooooo. You just turned into a narrator in your query

 

Nicolas discovers the source of the witchcraft rumors, the parish priest, but he never considered how far the priest will go to maintain his reputation. How is his reputation at stake? Priests and witches have never gotten along. No one expects them to. What does this have to do with the ultimatum and Catherine having to deny who she is? Is he trying to help her? To debunk the rumors? His family is plunged into a plot of revenge. for what?  Mémé commits suicide to avoid the stake, Nicolas is murdered, and Catherine is betrayed. If she runs, she’ll lose everything she has worked for; if she stays, she’ll lose even more. That is a whole hell of a lot to throw out at the end of your query. It would pack a much better bunch if you didn't just dump it all out like a bag of groceries on the floor. What exactly is Catherine running from? Life and death are literally the stakes to everything. You have to be creative, make it your own. 

 

 

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former XXXX from XXX, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise. This is the most interesting bio I've read here. 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Queries are typically either too vague or lean too much toward synopsis rather than query. Yours is too vague. The formula is character, plot, stakes. What does Catherine want, what stops her, what happens if she succeeds, what happens if she fails? Think movie trailer. Just enough to catch the interest. Not too vague, not too explicit. It should leave the agent curious, not confused. Query writing is a real bitch, lol. 

 



#6 jrjan1

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 01:08 PM

OH, SORRY! How do I top my post?



#7 jpfranco

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 08:40 PM

OH, SORRY! How do I top my post?

Edit the original post. Make a note in it either which post the newest version is, or note that the newest version is always in the first post and edit it accordingly. I prefer the first post always having the newest version because it's less searching for me, but lots of people just note where the newest version is. 



#8 jrjan1

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 09:22 PM

This is another old one, go on down to number 10

 

Ok, this is my third attempt. I changed it up quite a bit.

 

 

Dear agent,

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

Nineteen-year-old Nicolas loves Catherine, but to get his parents’ permission to marry her, he must convince her to stop being an herbalist and deal with her family’s issues: her grandmother is rumored to be a witch, her father is a suspected athiest, and her brother is usually drunk.   

 

Nicolas traces all the problems to the parish priest. Catherine’s father was a devout Catholic, he even encouraged his son to be an altar boy, but soon after, the boy became angry at everyone, the family dropped out of parish life, and the rumors began. When Catherine’s father dies suddenly, the priest is reassigned, and the rumors fade. Nicolas marries Catherine and they live quietly for a while. Years later, however, he sees his son in the company of the priest—who has been increased to bishop.

 

Nicolas saves his son, but exposing the treachery will not only embarrass Catherine's family, it will surely bring retaliation, while remaining silent might endanger others. There is only one thing he can do.



#9 lnloft

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 07:48 PM

So you already figured out how to edit your original post, so in that you can either copy and paste your new version, or note at the top that the newest version is in Post # whatever (see the upper right corner of whatever newest post you just did--your most recent is #8). I always liked doing it that way so I had a running copy of how the versions changed, but do what works best for your. The important thing is to make it as easy as possible for people who want to help you. Also, if you keep the old versions up, you can use the edit feature to cross out the old versions; just go to edit, highlight the old query, and select the cross-out option beside bold/underline/italics. That also makes it clear that said version is no longer under consideration.

Ok, this is my third attempt. I changed it up quite a bit.

 

 

Dear agent,

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere. Best to start your query right off with your main character. We want to know who we'll be following for the book, not where they are. Also, looking through the rest of the query and your old versions, it seems that this is not a fantasy, but a hook that mentions witches immediately makes me think that witches are real.

 

Nineteen-year-old Nicolas loves Catherine, but to get his parents’ permission to marry her, he must convince her to stop being an herbalist and deal with her family’s issues: her grandmother is rumored to be a witch, her father is a suspected athiest, and her brother is usually drunk.  This is a long sentence, and it's got a lot going on in it. That muddles the information and makes it hard to get too invested in any of it. It's also not very snappy. The first thing I get from it is that Nicolas wants his parents' permission to marry a girl, and as the inciting incident for a story, that's not very compelling on its own. There's things in the way of that, sure, but, again, the getting permission thing is the first thing I learn about him, and the rest of the hook isn't even about Nicolas.

 

Nicolas traces all the problems to the parish priest. Catherine’s father was a devout Catholic, he even encouraged his son to be an altar boy, but soon after, the boy became angry at everyone, the family dropped out of parish life, and the rumors began. Long sentence again, and it's got some grammatical errors. When Catherine’s father dies suddenly, the priest is reassigned, and the rumors fade. Nicolas marries Catherine and they live quietly for a while. Years later, however, he sees his son in the company of the priest—who has been increased to bishop.

 

Nicolas saves his son, but exposing the treachery will not only embarrass Catherine's family, it will surely bring retaliation, while remaining silent might endanger others. There is only one thing he can do.

I didn't do too many line edits, because the query is still too scattered. There are too many sentences about Catherine's father and the priest, when the focus needs to be on your main character, whom I'm presuming is Nicolas. But more than that, pieces don't tie together. The first two sentences are about the difficulties of Nicolas and Catherine marrying about about superstitions and witches. The marriage issue becomes moot because later in the query they marry, making me wonder what was the point of the drama, and the witches issue never comes up again. And I'm not clear on what the issue is with the priest. What treachery? He never does anything.

 

So, streamline. Streamline, streamline, streamline. You don't have to (and shouldn't) include every plot line in your query. Just focus on the most important. And focus on the first quarter to third of your story. What is the driving issue for that portion? Is it about Nicolas wanting to marry Catherine? Then focus on that. Or is the issue of getting married more backstory, and the real focus on the danger the priest poses (whatever that may be)? Then cut out the drama about asking permission (for the query) and just focus on the story line after they get married. I can't tell you what to focus on exactly, because I don't know the story. But, again, first quarter to third of your book, minimizing backstory. Focus on one plot line, and cut out the rest (do we need to know Catherine's brother is a drunk?).

 

And then leave us with clear stakes. "There is only one thing he can do" makes it sound like Nicolas has already decided what to do, so you're just leaving us hanging. The sentence prior seems to lay our more stakes, but they have to be clearer. Often (but not always), stakes can be laid out as, "Character can choose A, at the cost of X, or they can choose B, at the cost of Y". And it has to be clear why those costs exist. I'm not sure why exposing the treachery of the bishop (which, again, I'm not clear at all on what he did) would result in embarrassment for Catherine's family. And if that story line is past the one-third mark in your story, then maybe we're looking at something like, "Nicolas can give up the woman he loves to please his family, or he can convince to betray her own family's beliefs for him." That's a potential extrapolation from what you've presented, but you'll be sitting well if you can offer us an impossible choice that Nicolas has to make.

 

Good luck.


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#10 jrjan1

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 01:57 PM

OK, trying to get more focused and only show one story line.  Latest one down on 14

 

Catherine struggles to rise above the cloud of suspicion hovering over her family’s farm. Her grandmother is an herbalist, rumored to be a witch, and no respectable villager will be seen with them. In the dark of night, however, they readily seek her help.

 

Nicolas, son of the mayor, gets bitten by a snake and is taken to the healer where he quickly notices Catherine’s beauty. Attempting to impress her, he reads to her and it works. She asks him to teach her to read, and despite her family’s reputation, he eagerly agrees, however, he fails to teach her the dangers of reading the wrong book during the Renaissance.

 

When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in investigations and charges of heresy, and sedition. Nicolas is murdered and Catherine arrested. If she exposes the church’s duplicity by referencing her books at her trial, it could mean freedom or it could be her death sentence.       

    



#11 Jemi

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 03:03 PM

 Keep in mind, I'm no expert at historical! :)

Should you maybe put the timeframe in the first bit? Not sure if that matters

 

I think you might want to focus more on Catherine - who she is, what she's feeling, what she wants. You've got plot covered in here, but I don't think you've got enough emotion showing. You've told me what happens to C but not how she's feeling about it. I think emotion is often what lures in the readers (and agents!).

 

I'm assuming this is a single POV novel? In some places it reads almost like we're in N's head as well as C's.

If N doesn't die in the first third of the novel, I think I'd leave that out. I'd also like to know what you mean by 'her books'. Does she read them or write them?

 

I like the stakes line at the end.

***

Some ideas of different ways to jump into your query to maybe springboard ideas for you...

 

Catherine's grandmother is reputed to be a witch, but that doesn't stop the villagers from visiting during the night for her healing skills...

 

During the Renaissance, reading the wrong book can get you killed... 

 

C wants to be more than a simple farm girl...

 

C's family is shunned by the villagers. Until they need the healing skills of her grandmother who is rumored to be a witch...

 

C's family is under suspicion as the villagers believe her healer grandmother is a witch. By learning to read, C may cross a line...

 

C's life is simple, even if the villagers believe her G is a witch. But when one of G's patients become enamored with C...

 

When the son of a powerful villager visits C's grandmother for an injury, C's life is about to become a whole lot more dangerous...

***

Of course, none of those are very good, and they're certainly not in your words, voice, or style, but they're just meant as springboards. 

I hope some of that helps you out. If nothing resonates with you, feel free to ignore it! Good luck!



#12 Bibliophyl

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 04:21 PM

I'm also writing historical so wanted to chime in! I didn't read any of the previous versions or comments so I could come at it fresh.

 

Catherine struggles to rise above the cloud of suspicion hovering over her family’s farm. Her grandmother is an herbalist, rumored to be a witch, and no respectable villager will be seen with them. In the dark of night, however, they readily seek her help. I like this, but I think it might be stronger to lead with the concrete (Catherine's grandmother is a witch and no one trusts them) rather than the abstract (cloud of suspicion, etc.). 

 

Nicolas, son of the mayor, gets bitten by a snake and is taken to the healer where he quickly notices Catherine’s beauty. Attempting to impress her, he reads to her and it works. She asks him to teach her to read, and despite her family’s reputation, he eagerly agrees, however, he fails to teach her the dangers of reading the wrong book during the Renaissance. [this feels too much like a synopsis. It's a little bland. It's also problematic because the paragraph is focused on Nicolas and his actions, not Catherine--she comes off as passive. Maybe reword it to focus more on Catherine?]

 

When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in investigations and charges of heresy, and sedition. Nicolas is murdered and Catherine arrested. If she exposes the church’s duplicity by referencing her books at her trial, [I don't understand how the books come into this--I think the connection needs to be expanded on, and this is on the short side so I think you have room to go deeper into the core conflict here] it could mean freedom or it could be her death sentence.       

 

This sounds interesting! I think it just needs a little more "punch" and I think making Catherine more of an active MC as I mentioned will help. I also think you should establish the time period in the first paragraph rather than waiting until halfway through. Hope that was helpful, and good luck!

    



#13 Aightball

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 07:40 PM

OK, trying to get more focused and only show one story line.  

 

Catherine struggles to rise above the cloud of suspicion hovering over her family’s farm. Her grandmother is an herbalist, rumored to be a witch, and no respectable villager will be seen with them. In the dark of night, however, they readily seek her help.  Good start...but you might consider something like this: Catherine's grandmother is rumored to be a witch.  No villager will be seen with her, but in the dark of night, everyone comes to sample the herbs.  You'll want to put that in your own words and voice but it draws the reader in a little better.

 

Nicolas, son of the mayor, gets bitten by a snake and is taken to the healer where he quickly notices Catherine’s beauty. Attempting to impress her, he reads to her and it works. She asks him to teach her to read, and despite her family’s reputation, he eagerly agrees, however, he fails to teach her the dangers of reading the wrong book during the Renaissance. Interesting...but I agree with others: focus on Catherine.  If she's the MC, we should know what her story is.  How she feels, what she wants, etc., are all things to focus on.  What story line is most important to this query?  Even if you book weaves two narratives together, focus on the one most likely to draw the agent's attention.

 

When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in investigations and charges of heresy, and sedition. Nicolas is murdered and Catherine arrested. If she exposes the church’s duplicity by referencing her books at her trial, it could mean freedom or it could be her death sentence.  I want to know more about why Catherine is arrested here.  How can you tie all of this back to her story?  What are the stakes in the novel?  Freedom or death is a common theme in many historical novels...though I'm definitely not an expert =).  But see if you can present those stakes in such a way that an agent will see that your novel stands out.

 

You should end your query with [TITLE] is historical fiction complete at ____ words.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

    

 

I think you have an interesting story!  But the query is kind of all over the place...I'm not sure what the book is actually about.  Try to focus on the most important character and their story and give us that.  Looking forward to the revision!


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#14 jrjan1

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 09:45 PM

Thank you so much for your help. Writing the 100,000 words was easier than writing this query, I think, but I hope I am getting closer.

 

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

During the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. When Nicolas, the son of the mayor reads to her, he opens her eyes to the world outside of her farm. Catherine decides that if she learns to read, she might be accepted despite her family’s reputation.

 

Nicolas teaches her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. When he makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked. Catherine is arrested for witchcraft. Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church, but she will have to refer to the things she could only have learned from the banned books.    

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former xxxx from xxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#15 Jemi

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 09:12 AM

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

During the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. When Nicolas, the son of the mayor reads to her (the most recent female is grandma so I'd put C here), he opens her eyes to the world outside of her farm. Catherine decides that if she learns to read, she might be accepted despite her family’s reputation.

 

Nicolas teaches her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance simply possessing a banned book might get her killed (I find this sentence a bit clunky). When he makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their (whose house? Do he & C marry?) house being ransacked. Catherine is arrested for witchcraft. Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church, but she will have to refer to the things she could only have learned from the banned books.    

 

 

Nice improvements! I can see more of the story now.

I'd like to see another sentence at the end to sum up the stakes.

 

Now knowing the story is multi-pov, I wonder if C is the pov character in the 1st chapter. When an agent goes from query to first pages, I assume they would be jarred out of the story if the pov isn't the same. If there are 2 pov, I'd be tempted to do paragraph 1 from C pov (her intro and problem) and then the 2nd from N pov. If there are more than 2 pov, you're probably best sticking as is :)

 

Again, keep in mind I don't know a lot about the genre :) 



#16 jrjan1

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 08:02 PM

I'm hoping this is a winner.

 

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.

 

During the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. Catherine longs to rise above the cloud of suspicion.

 

When Nicolas is treated, he finds himself infatuated with Catherine. Wanting to impress her, he reads to her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance, simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. Their love of learning brings them together and they marry. When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked.

 

Catherine is arrested for witchcraft, and she has no illusions of impartiality. Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church and refer to things she could only have learned from the banned books. She must choose her words carefully as they will either free her or send her to the stake.    

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former xxx from xxxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

  



#17 jpfranco

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 11:58 AM

I'm hoping this is a winner.I

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.


During the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. Catherine longs to rise above the cloud of suspicion. Rewrite this to make it more gripping. Rumors of sorcery keep the villagers away during the day. At night, people who won’t even look at Catherine’s grandmother come knocking at their door, seeking her potions and herbs. Tired of their hypocrisy, Catherine yearns to practice her healing arts in the open. Maybe she just wants to be free of the reputation, but I think formerly Nicolas, and/or his family was giving Catherine an ultimatum, choose him or choose witchcraft, which makes me think that practicing it openly is what she wanted. 

 

When Nicolas is treated, he finds himself infatuated with Catherine. Wanting to impress her, he reads to her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance, simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. Their love of learning brings them together and they marry. When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked. Everything needs to be more active, more geared to showing than telling, i.e. When Nicolas comes to Catherine afflicted by [insert malady] he leaves cured, but madly in love with Catherine. When she asks him about a book he carries, he reads to her, sparking a love of reading in the formerly illiterate woman. He keeps it to himself that the penalty for possessing the book she’s grown to love is death. I think you need a detail about how Nicolas makes an enemy of the bishop. Were the false charges against Nicolas (I think they were, but it’s not totally clear) or the bishop? The bishop could’ve been angry about false charges and then ransacked the house. 



Catherine is arrested for witchcraft, show this. Show her being dragged out of her house, or the square, or whatever. and she has no illusions of impartiality. Up to now, I kind of saw her as naive. She wants to practice witchcaft in the open, which is silly, to be honest, and she doesn’t know books can be dangerous. I get a picture of her living a sheltered life in a cottage in the woods. So how would she have no illusions of impartiality? Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church and refer by referring to things she could only have learned from the banned books. She must choose her words carefully as they will either free her or send her to the stake.  You’ve got stakes, and the last sentence is good. But the religious aspect is what’s lacking here. It was heavy in some of the previous versions. Sprinkle it back into this one so it really plays a part.   


Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I miss this line. I thought it was relevant and interesting. I am a former xxx from xxxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise.

 

Your versions of this query are varying wildly, and that's typical, I think. you've got to decide what plot points to include, and what to leave out. Here, you've left out the ultimatum, and it still works, but it doesn't seem like Catherine is into the witchcraft thing at all, and that this whole thing is more about the book. Even if it is about the book she's stilI either a witch (death penalty) or has a banned book (death penalty) so how can it possibly work out for her in the end?

 

Once you nail down what to include in your query and what not to, you can begin honing it. 



#18 janeald

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 04:42 PM

Thanks, everyone. I think (I hope) I'm getting closer.

 

I'm hoping this is a winner.

 

 

Dear agent,

 

    In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.   Du  ring the day, the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. Catherine longs to rise above the cloud of suspicion.

 

When Nicolas is treated, he finds himself infatuated with Catherine. Wanting to impress her, he reads to her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance, simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. Their love of learning brings them together and they marry. When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked.

 

Catherine is arrested for witchcraft, and she has no illusions of impartiality (not sure what this is, consider rewording...unless it is very specific to the time period). Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church and refer to things she could only have learned from the banned books. She must choose her words carefully as they will either free her or send her to the stake. (this last sentence is a bit vague. Your query is already to the point so I think you have room to add in a bit more here to make things more clear)    

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former xxx from xxxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise. (Interesting!)

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Interesting plot! I hope my suggestions are helpful.

 

Also, I'd love your feedback on my query: http://agentquerycon...girls/?p=361490 !



#19 Anna.k

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 04:22 PM

Thanks, everyone. I think (I hope) I'm getting closer.

 

I'm hoping this is a winner.

 

 

Dear agent,

 

In sixteenth-century Salm, legends are real, superstitions run deep, and witches are everywhere.(I kinda like this, even tho Catherine is only mentioned in the second para)

 

During the day,(Or, In the day?) the villagers shun Catherine’s family. At night, however, they ignore witchcraft rumors swirling around her grandmother and seek her healing skills. (This phrasing feels awkward, maybe cut out the grandmother, and just stick to the rumors about her family in general )Catherine longs to rise above the cloud of suspicion(Would like stronger wording here? Rising above cloud of suspicion falls a little flat to me..)

 

When Nicolas is treated, he finds himself infatuated with Catherine. Wanting to impress her, he reads to her but fails to mention that during the Renaissance, simply possessing a banned book might get her killed. Their love of learning brings them together and they marry. When Nicolas makes an enemy of a powerful bishop, false charges result in their house being ransacked. (You've gone into summary mode here. Leave us with sooome mystery. I would keep everything except the marriage :D)

 

Catherine is arrested for witchcraft, and she has no illusions of impartiality. Her only hope is to condemn the duplicity of the church and refer to things she could only have learned from the banned books. She must choose her words carefully as they will either free her or send her to the stake.(This whole paragraph sounds a tad clunky. Also vague. I would reword to say sth like, Catherine's only hope is to defend her innocence with her newfound knowledge...etc. Also, what about her lover/hubby? He seems to have disappeared.)

 

Complete at 100,000 words, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN is a multi-perspective historical novel written in the vein of Peter Troy's, MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU, and Elizabeth Gilbert's, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

 

I am a former xxx from xxxx, but my passion is genealogy. The quest to find my roots has led me down the back roads of France where I found the unsung history of Salm as fascinating as my ancient grandmother’s demise. (Woah so true story? Cool.)

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

(Good work! Pls take a look at my query when you can thank you!)

 

http://agentquerycon...-fantasy/page-2

 

 







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