Elizabeth will be convicted of sedition and Transported. Jocelyn, exposed for the spy she is. Meredith hanged for piracy.
Is there a reason the t in transported is capitalized?
That's what will happen to her sisters should Alicia Atherean choose to ignore the instructions outlined in a letter penned by the most influential persons in London.
I'm a big fan of starting where the story starts. Here it seems to be: If Alicia Atherean ignores the instructions of (insert blackguard's name) then (list all that stuff from the first paragraph).
Now here's where your query falls apart. The very next sentence should be: If she DOES follow instructions then (equally, possibly even more, dastardly event) will happen.
The juxtaposition gives you a sense of the stakes and tension. Everything you have right now is just blathery set up.
Then you say what the instructions are and they should be heinous.
blah blah blah
more of same
One such person, Michael Sayre, a Lieutenant with allegiences to Whitehall and the Guards, sits in front of her now and awaits her answer.
Is he the blackguard? I just want to know who the bad guy is.
I'm increasingly annoyed by queries that clearly haven't run a simple spell czech.
She'll go. She'll do what she has to do. But not just because of the threats levied against her sisters.
The true incentive to ensure her cooperation is the promise detailed in the third paragraph of that letter.
We're way too far in to the query for this little piece of news. The stakes must be earlier.
Her blackmailers will make the outstanding warrant for her arrest, issued nearly ten years ago for murder, disappear.
I hope she murdered someone truly dastardly or you're having us root for a murderer. Not that I don't of course-- all things being equal-- but you're writing for a more genteel audience than the bloodthirsty denizens of The Reef.
Valkyrie Park: A Lady’s Gamble is the first in a four-part series of historical adventure novels set during Napoleon’s ‘Hundred Days’. It follows Lady Alicia Atherean from her Hell in Calcutta to a secret rendezvous in London. At 120,000 words, the novel is complete.
oh nooo. No no no. Time to break the bad news that this is a million word saga is later. Much later. Like---if asked in a hopeful tone "is there more."
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
This still isn't sharp and focused enough. Get rid of all the blather. Set up the stakes of the book. That's all we really need to know. All you have to do is entice me to read on.
Dear Query Shark,
Winter, 1815: Four women
A devious plan to seize total control of India, and assassinate the Prince Regent
You've set the scene with the first two paragraphs. NOW you have to get specific: who are the players and what's at stake.
If a warmonger caused these men to halt their machinations the first time, then – God, forgive them – he shall be re-released onto the world once more. Only then, while victories are achieved with cannon, shot and blood, will this group of men within the East India Trading Company be vulnerable to investigation.
I absolutely do not understand what you're trying to say here. Who is them? The four women release Napoleon from Elba?
The stakes are high. If these men succeed, there will be no way to remove them from their places of power and persuasion. Should these four women – a Privateer, a Calcutta madam, a spy in King Louis court and a Midland raider – win the day, then the ruling seat of the British Empire remains in London and they get to keep their heads.
I just don't have a sense of what's going on here. You've got to be very specific about what happens.
The clock is ticking. The challenge to Bonaparte’s rampage commenced the moment Napoleon sailed from St. Elba. The moment the Frenchman concedes defeat is the same moment in which these men will execute the final steps in their plan.
I'm not sure what the connection is between seizing control of India and anything going on in Europe. You said there is one, but not what it is. Or why it's important.
At 125,000 words, Valkyrie Park is a female-centric novel steeped in historical fact and rich adventure set against the backdrop of Napoleon’s ‘Hundred Days’.
You're telling me this is a female-centric novel but only talking about men. I know you're trying to avoid character soup, but this isn't the way to do it.
Thank you very much for your time and your consideration.
This doesn't work yet.
VALKYRIE PARK: A Lady's Gamble
Don't start with the title.
Alicia Atherean cannot step foot in London , or any other town in Britain .
Your first sentence is good. Then you switch into a much more distant, narrative voice. "For those" is the culprit. And there IS a justification; you just told us what it is.
Now a Calcutta madam, Alicia – Mesteren as she is now called – operates her establishment Odin’s Fare as one of India ’s premier hells. Only her adopted grandfather, a sitting Board member for the East India Trading Company, knows that Lady Atherean and Mesteren is the same person.
Ok, but, where does the story start? So far I know she can't go back to London, and she's in India. This isn't an actual plot.
She’s used to doing what she has to do in order to keep her employees safe and her past a secret. That’s why, when she finds out about a break-in at her grandfather’s house and hears reports of two different men quietly interrogating her staff, she issues orders to have the perceived perpetrators brought to her.
Still no plot. And by plot I mean a reason to care about what happens, a reason to read on. So far this is just description. It's not BAD description but it's also not enticing description.
Graeson Allerton, a member of the Calvary Guards, can’t leave London just because the esteemed and highly influential Lady Constance Hawthenford deems it. Jonathan Ward, a former Whitehall ‘Finder’ and life-long friend of Allerton, is selected as a comparable replacement. Ward is talented, tenacious, and doesn’t share a past with the woman he’s being sent to find.
and we're done. You've got too many characters here and nothing enticing. There's NO connection with Alica. You assume "the woman he's being sent to find" will convey "Alicia" but it does NOT. In short form writing i.e. query letters you don't have enough time or space to call characters anything but their names OR their primary relationship to the main character.
Jonathan notes everything Gray tells him about Alicia: the little he knows of the status of her sisters, the Hawthenford connection, and the last time Gray actually saw Alicia – when she shot a man at point-blank range. Jonathan also takes possession of a very important letter, a letter that Jonathan cannot fail to hand-deliver to Alicia.
This is over written. Too much detail, but not enough sense of what's at stake here.
Jonathan is primed for action. Increasingly restless since Bonaparte arrived on St. Elba, hanging about Whites and propping up walls at balls and soirees are habits he doesn’t enjoy fostering. He’s looking forward to committing his considerable talents to the task of locating a long lost Lady by the deadline Hawthenford imposed.
For Jonathan, the trick to finding someone has everything to do with making them wanting to find you more than you want to find them.
What four women? I know who you mean from the previous edition of the query but in this query I don't.
Also, focus on ONE main character, and her plotline. You can say it's a "sweeping saga" of some sort to let me know there are lots of people, but much like if you were querying for GONE WITH THE WIND you'd mention only Scarlett and Rhett; maybe Ashley, and that's it.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
This is too jumbled and unenticing to catch my eye yet. I might read a page or two of the novel cause we're all looking for good historicals, but I'm pretty sure this is a form rejection.
Dear Query Shark,
November, 1814: Four women are blackmailed with deportation, incarceration, exposure and treason into rescuing the sovereignty of a nation and the life of the Prince Regent.
Rescuing the sovereignty of a nation? What the heck does that mean? And how is someone blackmailed with deportation? Or Incarceration? Or exposure? Or treason? These sentences literally do not make sense to me. This is a VERY bad sign in a query. Don't be afraid of plain writing. It's harder to do than it looks. Simple direct sentences are the bones of the query. Start with them.
Alicia: living in exile for murder, she has become Mesteren, a successful Madam in India.
Meredith: wilful and fearless, more pirate than privateer, she’s well-aware that someone within the Admiralty wants her head in a noose.
Jocelyn: a Whitehall spy stationed in Paris and trapped between those aligned with King Louis, those faithful to Bonaparte, and those intent on achieving power of their own.
Elizabeth: resentful of the trappings associated with a title she never asked for, she finds satisfaction in raiding the countryside and smuggling contraband with her band of marauders.
This is a list of characters who have some sort of nefarious past. It doesn't tell me a darn thing about what happens in the book.
These four women – aristocrats by birth, criminals by choice, and sisters by circumstance - possess the talents and tools to accomplish what men of power and stature cannot: to thwart a conspiracy devised by a group of men within the East India Trading Company to make their boardroom the true seat of the British Empire.
Ok, so here you finally get to the plot. And again, you're lost in your phrases. What exactly does the East India Trading Company intend to do? Move Buckingham Palace to Bombay? Kidnap the King? Kidnap the Queen and marry her off?
Valkyrie Park is an 85,000 word historical romance novel in the rich tradition of Diana Gabaldon and Stephanie Laurens.. Though I envision it as the first part of a four-part series, Valkyrie Park easily stands alone.
This paragraph made me laugh out loud. "Rich tradition" of Diana Gabaldon is a worthy goal, but I know you haven't come close even though I've not read a single word. This is how I know: 85,000 words.
If you look up the text stats on Amazon for OUTLANDER, Diana Gabaldon's amazing first novel you'll find it's closer to 300K. VOYAGER is 383K.
Even Stephanie Laurens' mass market paperbacks run 125K or so.
There's a reason for that: you need to build a world and furnish it. You can do it in 85K words. You can't do it well.
Also Valkyrie is from Norse mythology. It feels odd to have a book about the British Empire circa 1804 referencing Norse mythology, but that's probably just the Puritan in me.
Thank you very much for your time and for allowing me to present this query for your consideration.
This is not compelling or enticing. I don't read enough of the category to judge if it's fresh or new, but my guess is some of the commenters will shed some light there.