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Monday, August 27, 2012

QueryCon #15--Shadow in Secret

Title: Shadow in Secret
Genre: Historical Fiction
Name: Talynn Lynn


Dear Judging Agent,

Forced to marry the prince merely to produce an heir to the throne, Alura Valdameir is pushed back into obscurity to keep her identity a secret. After the Queen was exiled, only one of her sons stood by her and she promised to return to the throne, even if it meant killing her own children and grandchildren. Alura is successfully hidden but only for a matter of time.

She escapes, only to be sold into a bachelorette-type brothel for none other than the Queen and her favorite son, who was spared from the royal slaughter. Alura is afraid her true identity might be uncovered, but her options seem limited. Mysteriously allured into a crumbling castle, she chances upon a man and follows him into the shadows. There, she stumbles upon a woman who looks exactly like her.

The woman is a spy and was accused of treason under the reign of Queen, before her exile. Alura must prove she is not the spy who was condemned to the gallows all the while keeping who she really a secret. There must be a way she can do this without betraying her husband and son, who are still in hiding. But things turn for the worse when the Queen chooses Alura as a bride for her favorite son.

Shadow in Secret is a 75,000 word Historical Fiction

6 comments:

Krystal Wade said...

Hi Talynn! Great to see you here.

I think the query may be a little too long and involve too many characters.

I'm going to go through this with you:

Forced to marry the prince merely to produce an heir to the throne, Alura Valdameir is pushed back into obscurity to keep her identity a secret. [This is passive "is pushed" and makes me ask by who.]

After the Queen was exiled, only one of her sons stood by her and she promised to return to the throne, even if it meant killing her own children and grandchildren. [This is long, refers to another character, and doesn't seem related to the first sentence.]

Alura is successfully hidden but only for a matter of time. [This is vague. Hidden by who? Where? What does this have to do with the second sentence. Also, this is almost redundant as the first sentences says she's hidden already.]

She escapes, only to be sold into a bachelorette-type brothel for none other than the Queen and her favorite son, who was spared from the royal slaughter. [Remove the reference to escape. Who sells her if she's hidden? What does the Queen and her son have to do with Alura?]

Alura is afraid her true identity might be uncovered, but her options seem limited. [Also vague and implied that she'd be afraid. I'd delete this.]

Mysteriously allured into a crumbling castle, she chances upon a man and follows him into the shadows. There, she stumbles upon a woman who looks exactly like her. [Interesting, but also vague. Who lures her? Who is this man?]

The woman is a spy and was accused of treason under the reign of Queen, before her exile. [I feel this may be a little too much information. This would be better served in the synopsis. We need something to elicit excitement and questions within your potential reader. What will meeting this woman mean for Alura? Don't TELL us, make us WONDER.]

Alura must prove she is not the spy who was condemned to the gallows all the while keeping who she really a secret. There must be a way she can do this without betraying her husband and son, who are still in hiding. [Okay, I thought she went into hiding because she didn't want to get married. I definitely did not realize she had a son. And it seems like she might not care about them if she was forced? So why would she worry about betraying him? I'm a little lost.]

But things turn for the worse when the Queen chooses Alura as a bride for her favorite son. [This just ends...no big question for the reader to jump into the book with.]

I think this book sounds like it has a great story, but your query needs to be a little clearer and packed with more excitement.

Let me know if you need more help. Blurbs are supposed to grab the attention of readers, not tell them exactly what happens in the book.



Ink in the Book said...

Are we supposed to reply to the corrections? I would love an opportunity to act on these suggestions.

Charity Bradford said...

Not here, but feel free to make changes and submit to Curiosity Quills personally if you think they are a good fit. Here's the link to their submission guidelines.

Nancy M Bell said...

I am confused by this query. Is Alura married to one of the exiled queen's sons? Why does she need to be hidden to stay safe, and if that is the case why does she need to "escape"? As an acquisitions editor reading this I would be wary of the manuscript because of the construction of the query letter which seems to pull a bunch of unrelated information together. It would lead me to believe that the plot line might be just as convoluted and require some major edits. I think the story sounds interesting, but would probably pass on this one based on the confusing nature of the query.

Amy Lichtenhan said...

Hi Talynn,

Thank you for sharing your query with us.

While I am intrigued with your plot and it would typically be something we'd be interested in, I did feel some confusion with your query.

The first problem I had was the opening line: Forced to marry the prince merely to produce an heir to the throne, Alura Valdameir is pushed back into obscurity to keep her identity a secret.

It is unclear whether she actually married the prince or if she went into hiding to keep from marrying him. I'm assuming the latter, but this should be clear.

I would also recommend that you keep all of the information directly related to Alura and how it affects her. If you want to add information about the queen, keep it specific to how it is related to Alura. This will help to give a clearer, concise plot so we don't feel pulled in so many directions.

We should know Alura's dilemma, a few of the obstacles she faces, and then we should be given a hook that makes us question how she's going to overcome those obstacles and what she stands to lose if she fails.

Tighten it up and make it clear, and you should have a winner here.

Laura Stephenson said...

It sounds like there are a lot of interesting things happening in your story, but it's too vague to make out exactly what.

Your first sentence is passive. This first sentence should be punchy, not a limp "is done something to" sentence. You want to tell the reader who this character is, why she matters, in addition to her situation.

Since the Queen isn't given a name I assumed Alura, who was marrying a prince, was she, only to be confused in the second paragraph. You could say "Queen Whatsherface" instead to clear this right up. As it is, I don't know why the Queen was exiled, what she has to do with Alura's situation at all in the first paragraph, or why she's running a brothel. Also, I don't know what a bachelorette-type brothel is. Then it was unclear on whether the shadows were figurative or literal since she then sees someone.

The last paragraph was most vague of all, with some repeated information (yes, we get she's in hiding by now), and I finally find out she has a husband and son. I thought she was single. How did she end up at a brothel?

It's good to make your query reader ask questions, wanting to know more, but the way to achieve this is through specific, interesting plot hooks there are in your story, not by making them ask you what you mean.

Good luck!