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Author Topic: A Good Mother  (Read 878 times)
JustinB
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« on: December 09, 2017, 01:41:43 PM »

I wrote a second novel. Yeah! Anyway, any advice or commentary would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Dear Agent:

    Validation. Appreciation. Moral Support. These are the things a mother wants; these are the things a mother needs. Diana, a single mom raising two tweens in the small suburbs of a Midwestern town, just wants to be a good parent. She just wants to please her kids, and for them to love her. But her kids, Kyle and Lily don’t give her what she wants. And what a mother wants, is what a mother needs.
    Frustrated, Diana turns to the Virtuanator where she can be a perfect mother to a perfect digital family: one that appreciates her, one that loves her. Of course, her new family doesn’t have any room for leftovers, and neither does Diana. Injected into a digital world of deceptive bliss, Diana realizes that she doesn’t need people in her life that don’t value her. And she knows that in order to keep her digital family together, she must rid of the distractions of her past.
    As Kyle and Lily discover the truth behind their mom’s manipulative digital shenanigans, they must fight to save themselves and their mother from a cyber threat that attempts to tear their real family apart.
    A Good Mother is an 80,000 word science fiction thriller. Thanks for your time and consideration.
 
  Sincerely,
   Person
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jcwrites
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2017, 02:03:05 PM »

Interesting premise, but since the mom's conflict is ultimately with her kids (and her solution is to eliminate them), we're asked to follow an increasingly unsympathetic character. Maybe you could change the slant to that of the children; develop the conflict from their POV, with their goal being to save Mom and the family from the evil Virtuanator, a much more salable concept.
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gckatz
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2017, 11:17:59 PM »

Yeah, JC gets at the primary issue here: It's not 100% clear if she's a villain protagonist, an antihero, or a character who's supposed to be sympathetic. I'm thinking you're going for a sort of Coraline/Psycho evil mother-type character, but it's nonobvious.

The other thing I'm not going for (and this is a good rule for all queries) is opening with affirmative statements. Your first four sentences aren't about your story; they're just general statements. Which has the dual problems that a) it takes longer to get to your actual story and b) you're running the risk of someone just plain disagreeing with your statements and thereby invalidating your whole query (I'm not convinced those things are what a mother wants most). Just take all that out and start with Diana.
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JustinB
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2017, 06:17:45 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. Diana is a villain protagonist and I wrote it so that people could sympathize with her for why she’s doing things but also hate her for doing them. Instead of having the “cyber threat” be the villain I changed it to their mother because in reality that’s what it is for most of the novel.

    Diana, a single mom raising two tweens in the small suburbs of a Midwestern town, just wants to be a good parent. She just wants to please her kids, and for them to love her. But her kids, Kyle and Lily don’t give her what she wants. And what a mother wants, is what a mother needs.
    Frustrated, Diana turns to the Virtuanator where she can be a perfect mother to a perfect digital family: one that appreciates her, one that loves her. Of course, her new family doesn’t have any room for leftovers, and neither does Diana. Injected into a digital world of deceptive bliss, Diana realizes that she doesn’t need people in her life that don’t value her. And she knows that in order to keep her digital family together, she must rid of the distractions of her past.
    As Kyle and Lily discover the truth behind their mom’s manipulative digital shenanigans, they must fight to save themselves from an unhinged mother who attempts to tear their real family apart.
    A Good Mother is an 80,000 word science fiction thriller. Thanks for your time and consideration.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 06:24:34 AM by JustinB » Logged
MookyMcD
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2017, 11:08:46 PM »

"Just" is one of my crutch words (which means I search and delete it as part of my first editing pass). It's in both of your first two sentences, so kill those.

Your concept is awesome. That's subjective, and I LOVE satire, which is what you seem to have here, and I'll warn you now that satire is insanely hard to query. Having said that, I'd look at taking out the first paragraph and getting right to it, replacing the word "frustrated" in the second paragraph with a few words that replace the first. That could work out great if Diana is the POV character. It could be trickier if she's not.

Who's your POV character?

 
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JustinB
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2017, 06:50:03 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. Diana is the main POV character, although since it’s in third person it switches between her and her kids.


    Diana, a single mom raising two tweens in the small suburbs of a Midwestern town craves validation and acceptance, but fails to find any in her kids. Frustrated, Diana turns to the Virtuanator where she can be a perfect mother to a perfect digital family: one that appreciates her, one that loves her. Of course, her new family doesn’t have any room for leftovers, and neither does Diana. Injected into a digital world of deceptive bliss, Diana realizes that she doesn’t need people in her life that don’t value her. And she knows that in order to keep her digital family together, she must rid of the distractions of her past.
    As Kyle and Lily discover the truth behind their mom’s manipulative digital shenanigans, they must fight to save themselves from an unhinged mother who attempts to tear their real family apart.
    A Good Mother is an 80,000 word science fiction thriller. Thanks for your time and consideration.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 07:27:49 AM »

Yes, for me, it's all about the character too. Honestly, this sounds like a horrible woman who wants to be praised for doing what is essentially her job. Since that's her attitude, it's no surprise her children aren't thankful. I wonder if there's a way to make the reader understand her more... she's having a nervous breakdown or something? Or maybe there's a way to show her being pulled unwillingly into this virtual thing? Some kind of system that keeps pulling her back in?
It's possible this is all subjective thinking, and I'm not the right reader. I totally understand if you need to disregard this completely.  Smiley
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debbie.rosenberg58
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2017, 10:33:29 AM »

What everyone else said. The issue isn't with your query, it's the characterization of Diana. If this is an adult SF Diana has to be MUCH more sympathetic. I like MG's take on getting this accomplished, maybe she's having a nervous breakdown. Or, the people in the town are extremely judgmental of her and are rotten.

It's this line in particular: "she must rid of the distractions of her past." This sounds like she wants to do her kids in.

You have an exciting premise. If it's a YA, you're golden, since the kids are the heroes who must bring their mother back from the brink (before it's too late? Like the virtual family becomes permanent after a period of time or something triggers this).
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JustinB
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2017, 11:08:25 AM »

Thanks for the help everyone! This is an adult sci-fi because it focuses more on Diana’s problems and how she works to solve them. I think she is a character that can be sympathized with and I think she turns “evil” because she’s jaded by expectations and trying to hold a reputation as a “good mother”. In fact, the digital family doesn’t come into play until the last 1/4 of the book, so at first it’s a thriller before it turns into sci-fi.
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JustinB
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2017, 08:45:21 AM »

Newest version. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
     
     Dear Agent:

    Diana, a single mom burdened by expectations and the need to uphold her reputation, craves validation and acceptance, but fails to find any in her kids or community. Frustrated, Diana turns to the Virtuanator where she can be a perfect mother to a perfect digital family: one that appreciates her, one that loves her. Of course, her new family doesn’t have any room for leftovers, and neither does Diana. Injected into a digital world of deceptive bliss, Diana realizes that she doesn’t need people in her life that don’t value her. And she knows that in order to keep her digital family together, she must rid of the distractions of her past.
    As Kyle and Lily discover the truth behind their mom’s manipulative digital shenanigans, they must fight to save themselves from an unhinged mother who attempts to tear their real family apart.
    A Good Mother is an 80,000 word science fiction thriller. Thanks for your time and consideration.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2017, 07:47:21 AM »

Is any of the story from the kids POV? If not, I think you might need to keep the whole query in Diana's perspective. Does she realize the kids figured out her plan?
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JustinB
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2017, 08:00:20 AM »

I’d say about half the story is from the kids’ perspectives. They are somewhat aware of her plan and she knows they know she’s planning something crazy, she just doesn’t care because they’re “distractions”.
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