Monday, November 13, 2017

Query Critique Winner

Hi all!  Here is this month's luck query critique winner!

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. 
Then a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically expanded gift--including terrifying prophetic dreams. After a very public encounter with a spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Where the dreams suddenly stop. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles understand her new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.
 Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of his sister’s suicide, he abandons a promising career--and his place in Philadelphia society--to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Matthew is just another patient--until she channels Susannah’s spirit. 
Together, Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew engineer Amelia’s escape. But her old life is gone. And the dreams are back--and pushing her toward the island again. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter--a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum, he turns to Amelia. Compelled by forces that refuse to leave her alone, Amelia agrees to do the unthinkable: return to the place that nearly destroyed her. They’re searching for a woman. What they find is a deadly conspiracy that threatens them all. 
Because you (represent specific author/express interest in genre/other), I believe my debut novel, THE FOLLOWING STORM, would be a good fit for your list. A standalone novel with series potential, THE FOLLOWING STORM will appeal to readers of historical mysteries who enjoy the work of Victoria Thompson, Deanna Raybourn, or Rosemary Simpson. The novel is complete at 85,000 words and available upon request.
 Thank you for your time and consideration.

And here is my critique:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City, although her methods are a bit unusual. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. She has created a safe and comfortable life for herself and her foster brother Jonas--by using her psychic talents to read Tarot cards for the upper echelon of city society. [I don't know if the Tarot reading part is accurate, but you see what I'm trying to set up here.] 
Then But when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically expanded gift--including terrifying prophetic dreams. After and a very public encounter with a spirit,--she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Where the dreams suddenly stop. [I cut the previous sentence as-is, but I think what you should do is expand up ont, because just a sentence later, you mention her using her new abilities to survive in prison, which is confusing.] As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles understand her new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.
 He finds it with the help of psychiatrist Andrew Cavanaugh, who is familiar with despair. In the wake of his sister’s suicide, he abandons a promising career--and his place in Philadelphia society--to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Matthew is just another patient--until she channels Susannah’s spirit. 
Together, Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew engineer Amelia’s escape. But her old life is gone. And the dreams are back--and pushing her toward the island again. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter--a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum, he turns to Amelia. Compelled by forces that refuse to leave her alone, Amelia agrees to do the unthinkable: return to the place that nearly destroyed her. They’re searching for a woman. What they find is a deadly conspiracy that threatens them all. 
Because you (represent specific author/express interest in genre/other), I believe my debut novel, THE FOLLOWING STORM, would be a good fit for your list. A standalone novel with series potential, THE FOLLOWING STORM will appeal to readers of historical mysteries who enjoy the work of Victoria Thompson, Deanna Raybourn, or Rosemary Simpson. The novel is complete at 85,000 words and available upon request.
 Thank you for your time and consideration.

I love, love, love the premise of this story.  In fact, Stacie, when it's ready to go out, I hope you send it to me!  The query does a terrific job of imparting the hair-raising atmosphere of the story and leave the reader wanting more at the same time.  I made a few tweaks so that it reads a bit smoother, but other than that, I think it's in awesome shape.  Excellent job, Stacie! Chime in with thoughts and questions below! 

2 comments:

  1. Congrats to Stacie for finishing her manuscript and getting ready to query! My comment: I like the concept, but I confess I stopped reading the query (a bad agent I would be). I found the query to be choppy, which led to it being somewhat flat and emotionally distant. It read a bit like a list of events and didn't grab me by the guts. It's kind of 'kitchen sinky' too, if you know what I mean: there's a lot in there. I think* you would be well served by cutting down the query a little more in terms of events and upping the emotion a bit.

    Best of luck, Stacie!
    *for what it's worth

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  2. I just went back and read Carrie's edits/comments. It's interesting how differently two people see the same thing!

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