Well, here we go. First I want to say, thank you to Rick Daley and his amazing blog, The Public Query Slushpile. It's where I do all my query try-outs. There is just such amazing feedback there and everyone is so polite and learned. It's a great place so if you're getting ready to write the dreaded query, please go there and try it out. You won't be sorry.
Now, onto my first attempt. As you will see, this query really says nothing.
Ten years is a long time to live in a self-imposed exile and when Genna’s longing for the familiar turn into nightmares about her future, she realizes it’s time to go home.
Once there, the past comes back to haunt her in the form of her ex-fiancé and his dead wife. Genna’s unresolved feelings for him and what he did a decade ago only twist her heart and lead her down a perilous path. He wants her back and Genna wonders if it’s only for her money.
Coming home has also brought her aunt’s Alzheimer’s to light, something the family refuses to face. Her cousin is falling apart under the strain of a too perfect marriage and her best friend is ignoring her. Genna also finds herself encumbered with an inheritance that threatens to destroy her relationship with her uncle.
What’s a girl to do?
Genna needs to makes some tough decisions regarding her future; does she give up the job of a lifetime and come home to work for peanuts or does she go back and live the same lonely life she’s had for the last decade? And will trying to get over her broken heart lead her to find comfort in the arms of a man she once despised? With the help of the only person who has ever put her first, Genna makes the decisions that will change her life forever.
Ambiguous was the resounding response I'd gotten from the Slushpile on this. I was trying to fit in ALL the components that make up Genna's story without "telling" anything about her. You have to "tell" not "show" in a query.
The first sentence, my hook, I thought was pretty good. The second paragraph, although it tells part of the story, my flair for the dramatic was overdone. "Haunt her" "twist her heart" "perilous path". Yeah, reads more like a romance which is what my last book was. Sometimes it's hard to let go of what you've learned.
Third paragraph is about everyone else, and though this is important, as it does pertain to Genna, it's not tight enough. Too much information.
The question -- "What's a girl to do?" not right. It doesn't make any sense. The agent doesn't want to ask the question, she wants the answer.
And the ending paragraph -- ugh, too many questions. Don't ask questions, give the answers. Tell us what Genna will do. And too many cliches. "work for peanuts" "broken heart" "find comfort in the arms of a man" "change her life forever" This screams ROMANCE NOVEL.
Like I said, sometimes it's hard to change formats in your brain.
I wanted to showcase the women's fiction aspect of this book but it's just way overblown and swinging back toward my romance roots. I needed to scale back, cut out the cliches and questions and just tell the story.
Any questions? I hope you'll come back tomorrow for Query Number Two.