Author Topic: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]  (Read 250479 times)

Offline Mark_Hughes

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2013, 08:09:12 PM »
I started to guess - but hey, what's the Internet for? Here's the origin of the phrase: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/318925.html

BTW, my guess was right.
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Offline Pandean

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2013, 08:11:58 PM »
I started to guess - but hey, what's the Internet for? Here's the origin of the phrase: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/318925.html

BTW, my guess was right.

Guess what?

Ah. Interesting origins.
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Offline Mark_Hughes

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2013, 11:53:01 AM »
A LITTLE bit of news to pass along - I just received my first full request, from Alexandra Machinist at Janklow. Happy day indeed...
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Offline slightlysmall

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2013, 12:05:31 PM »
Congrats!  :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Offline Pandean

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2013, 03:09:21 PM »
A LITTLE bit of news to pass along - I just received my first full request, from Alexandra Machinist at Janklow. Happy day indeed...

Yay!
WHITE STAG, an internet phenomenon, has been acquired by St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books for publication in Winter 2019

Offline urschel

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2013, 03:21:06 PM »
Mark:

I think overall the query is solid.

Random thoughts:

I wondered what the connection was between the mother's death and anthropology.

I have friends who queried the same time period/place, 1930's Germany, and found that a lot of agents shy away from that era for a host of reasons, including the soial climate. May take you a bit of work.


Offline augusto

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2013, 08:39:15 AM »
A LITTLE bit of news to pass along - I just received my first full request, from Alexandra Machinist at Janklow. Happy day indeed...
Great news!  :clap: :up:
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Offline urschel

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2013, 02:32:00 PM »
Good work. I missed it last time I was on.

Offline Mark_Hughes

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2013, 01:15:10 PM »
Thanks for the support everyone. Now, even though the current version is drawing more than stale form letters, I think it can yet be improved (after all, I'll probably live a few more years, why not spend them chasing the Perfect Query?) Umm, well, maybe not. But for today at least, I have some changes to offer up to the critique masters:

November 1919. In the defeated city of Berlin, twelve-year-old Daniela Goldman’s rebellious and kinetic relationship with her mother leads to her mother’s horrific death. The incident leaves Daniela rejected by her only friend, estranged from her father, and all but crushed beneath a leaden yoke of guilt.

May 1932. Daniela is her university’s first female anthropology PhD candidate. Her relentless drive propelled her to the head of her class, even as her Aryan professor throws nothing but boulders and broken glass in her path. In this fledgling science, he proclaims, scarce and precious grant funds cannot be wasted on a woman.

Undaunted, she pursues her dissertation research. It takes her across oceans to a strange place (Cahaba, Alabama) where her study’s subjects thwart her at every turn, driving her to the point of physical and mental collapse. But that is as nothing compared to her growing fear that even if she manages to complete her study, outmaneuver her professor and win her PhD, no contribution to science—no matter what it costs her—will grant her the redemption she craves.

April 1968. A manuscript relating the story of Daniela’s life comes to a curmudgeonly senior editor at Scribner & Sons. Stunned and moved by her story, he arranges to meet with her. There, what he learns about the “real” Daniela and the manuscript devastates him.

I believe this 129,000-word novel will appeal to readers who liked THE SECRET LIVES OF BEES, THE BOOK THIEF, and SARAH’S KEY.
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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2013, 06:02:38 PM »
Thanks for the support everyone. Now, even though the current version is drawing more than stale form letters, I think it can yet be improved (after all, I'll probably live a few more years, why not spend them chasing the Perfect Query?) Umm, well, maybe not. But for today at least, I have some changes to offer up to the critique masters:

November 1919. In the defeated city of Berlin, twelve-year-old Daniela Goldman’s rebellious and kinetic relationship with her mother leads to her mother’s horrific death. The incident leaves Daniela rejected by her only friend, estranged from her father, and all but crushed beneath a leaden yoke of guilt.

May 1932. Daniela is her university’s first female anthropology PhD candidate. Her relentless drive propelled her to the head of her class, even as her Aryan professor throws nothing but boulders and broken glass in her path. In this fledgling science, he proclaims, scarce and precious grant funds cannot be wasted on a woman.

Undaunted, she pursues her dissertation research. It takes her across oceans to a strange place (Cahaba, Alabama) where her study’s subjects thwart her at every turn, driving her to the point of physical and mental collapse. But that is as nothing compared to her growing fear that even if she manages to complete her study, outmaneuver her professor and win her PhD, no contribution to science—no matter what it costs her—will grant her the redemption she craves.

April 1968. A manuscript relating the story of Daniela’s life comes to a curmudgeonly senior editor at Scribner & Sons. Stunned and moved by her story, he arranges to meet with her. There, what he learns about the “real” Daniela and the manuscript devastates him.

I believe this 129,000-word novel will appeal to readers who liked THE SECRET LIVES OF BEES, THE BOOK THIEF, and SARAH’S KEY.


This flows very very well. And I forgot to mention before that The Secret Lives of Bees is a PERFECT comparison. The last time I read this, I only got slightly confused. This time I read it through with no problem at all. You'll have more full requests being thrown at you in no time.

 :up: Seriously, I wish you could give a course on query writing because you've mastered this.

Offline Mavia

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2013, 07:55:18 PM »
Mark - Beautiful query. I just have a couple of nitpicks that you might want to look at.


Thanks for the support everyone. Now, even though the current version is drawing more than stale form letters, I think it can yet be improved (after all, I'll probably live a few more years, why not spend them chasing the Perfect Query?) Umm, well, maybe not. But for today at least, I have some changes to offer up to the critique masters:

November 1919. In the defeated city of Berlin, twelve-year-old Daniela Goldman’s rebellious and kinetic relationship with her mother leads to her mother’s horrific death. The incident leaves Daniela rejected by her only friend, estranged from her father, and all but crushed beneath a leaden yoke of guilt.

May 1932. Daniela is her university’s first female anthropology PhD candidate. Her relentless drive propelled propels (keep in present tense?) her to the head of her class, even as her Aryan professor throws nothing but boulders and broken glass in her path. In this fledgling science, he proclaims, scarce and precious grant funds cannot be wasted on a woman.

Undaunted, she pursues her dissertation research. It takes her across oceans to a strange place (Cahaba, Alabama) where her study’s subjects thwart her at every turn, driving her to the point of physical and mental collapse. But that is as nothing compared to her growing fear that even if she manages to complete her study, outmaneuver her professor and win her PhD, no contribution to science—no matter what it costs her I would put 'no matter the cost' - too many hers in the sentence —will grant her the redemption she craves.

April 1968. A manuscript relating the story of Daniela’s life comes to a curmudgeonly senior editor at Scribner & Sons. Stunned and moved by her story, he arranges to meet with her. There, what he learns about the “real” Daniela and the manuscript devastates him.

I believe this 129,000-word novel will appeal to readers who liked THE SECRET LIVES OF BEES, THE BOOK THIEF, and SARAH’S KEY.

Looks great, and congrats on the requests!! Let us know your progress.

Offline Mark_Hughes

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2013, 09:48:33 PM »
Thanks to both of you for the kind words. And yes, Mavia, you're right that I missed on the tense conflict in that sentence. Good catch. Perfection is such a fine thing to imagine, ever to exceed our grasp - and there's nothing like a bit of distance to show us exactly how far off we are. Thanks again,

Mark
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Offline kharmamea

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2013, 09:32:12 AM »
Hi Mark,

     Love your story line. I have no doubt you have written a great book. Having had my query critiqued by you I've learned you are extremely insightful and have a vast knowledge of the art of querying.

    My experience is limited, and as I read your query, I didn't know what was wrong with it. So I just laid aside all the rules and tried to get a feel from it as a prospective reader and prospective agent.

    The information was all there, but it just didn't have the connectivity or easy flow I like to see. I myself didn't know how to go about improving that aspect so I didn't comment. But as I read through the other critiques one really struck me as nailing it.

     It might be worth your while to revisit Nostrabuttus's post. I realize he rewrote your query to some extent but what I really like was how he started it with your last MC the editor. The story then made so much more sense and had a even flow and connectivity that I thought was lacking.

     I see you got a request for a full. Congrats on that, that is huge. Maybe you are on the right track. But personally I think following a format more like Nostra's would get you more.

Offline Mark_Hughes

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2013, 10:19:33 AM »
K -
Thanks for the read and comment. As I saw you noted on some other critique, I went through a HUGE number of revisions with this query. Many of them, in fact all the early versions, began with the opening frame and the editor. They didn't work, and why was that? Because when I used the editor as the hook's subject, and then switched to Daniela and her woes, all the tension the hook set up evaporated - because it was no longer about the editor.

It took me a long time to see this, but I'm convinced of it now. Still, maybe it was chance that the query was accepted after I switched to the form you see here now. I tend to doubt that, but it may be. More time will tell.

My philosophy at this point is that a query focuses on the MC and their journey, one that must entail ever-rising mountain of conflict - both internal and external. Then cap it all off with either the agonizing choice between two terrible options, or in my case - toss in a curve ball designed to intrigue.

In the end, you do the best you can and from there it's a numbers game. So far, I'm batting 18 and 1. Not great, by any means, but then I only began to understand (I think) a few weeks ago. Elana Johnson, on the Query Tracker site, tells of her success story: somewhere between 150 and 200 rejections, she finally signed with an agent. And she really knows what she's doing in terms of queries - now, at least.
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Offline kharmamea

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Re: A Place for Every Gift [historical fiction]
« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2013, 11:11:39 AM »
Mark,

     Thanks for not taking offense to my short lived viewpoint.

Quote
Because when I used the editor as the hook's subject, and then switched to Daniela and her woes, all the tension the hook set up evaporated - because it was no longer about the editor.

     That makes perfect sense. Something I didn't see until it was pointed out. By the way considering the failure rate of most queries I'd say 1 out of 18 is pretty good. I was under the impression you had sent out hundreds without a bite and thought perhaps a new approach might change that. I was remiss for not following some of your posts to realize you had tried it the other way.

    I defer to your expertise and wish you the best of luck, and congrats on your recent success.