By repeated request we’ve started Workshop Wednesday. It will definitely play out through 2011, and beyond that we’ll just have to see. We’ve received well over 200 queries at this point, but we are choosing at random, so don’t be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.
For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that’s great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I’m leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don’t make me feel the need to change that policy.
And for those who have never “met” Query Shark, get over there and do that. She’s the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.
Sentimental Journey is a 98,000-word women’s fiction. My style has been described by writing instructors as having similarities to Anne Tyler, with some Maeve Binchy, voice of Barbara Delinsky, and the emotional appeal of Nicholas Sparks.
It’s funny that I should open this just hours after we were discussing whether or not it’s good to compare your book or writing to others. Our thought was that it’s usually not. The reason? If the agent you’re pitching happens to really dislike one of those authors you might be doing yourself a disservice. In this case you’ve picked a variety of writers so I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but I also don’t think it adds much. You’ve pretty much just described what I would expect from women’s fiction.
Meredith Fields’ formerly placid suburban life is shattering piece by piece. She feels guilty over placing her mother, Katherine, in a nursing home. Keith, her husband, has fallen in love with his young assistant, and wants a divorce. An accomplished author, she’s bored with her romance books, and has a tight deadline for her next book – which she hasn’t quite started.
Here’s one of the problems with comparing your writing style to other writers: You’ve set me up to have really high expectations for your writing and you don’t carry it through in your query. Either your voice isn’t coming through in the query or your voice isn’t what you described, and that’s a concern.
That being said, so far I’m liking the description of your book, and this is where it gets personal. This is a plot that would interest me. I think part of the problem with this paragraph is that it feels very choppy. It doesn’t really sing for me.
As Meredith sorts through her mother’s house and finds clues to the woman’s shadowy past, she recognizes much of her mother in herself. She begins to understand why her mother related so poorly to her children, and is shaken by parallels in her relationships with her own children. Her growing compassion for Katherine’s difficult life becomes the catalyst for her new novel, Hope’s Illusion, the early chapters of which are included in Sentimental Journey. Meanwhile Meredith finds a journal she kept in her twenties, she is reminded of the love she once felt for Keith, and the extent of his loss settles in. A series of crises forces them to confront their relationship, showing Meredith the way to restore her spirit and mend her shattered life.
Did she know her mother had a shadowy past or is that part of the discovery? I would skip using her mother’s given name and continue calling her “her mother.” I think that will make it clear who we’re focusing on (Meredith) and prevent any confusion from too many names. The information about the new novel seems dropped in and unnecessary. In fact, it kind of throws me. I’m not sure you need it here.
Last, I think I’d change the title. It sounds rather flat and unexciting.
I am the author of Autumn Colors, a romance, released by Author House on March 23, 2011.
I’ve also published several articles in professional journals, an article in Runners’ World, and contributed chapters for two nonfiction books. More information and excerpts from Autumn Colors can be found on my website (www.dawnlajeunesse.com).
I’ve enclosed a synopsis and first five pages of Sentimental Journey. Thank you for your time and consideration.