Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fall Query Extravaganza 16

I'll be doing a limited number of query critiques this fall. Right now my queue is full.

Participants must comment on as many queries as they can to pay it forward. All query critiques are subjective. And rabbits don't come out of my hat, but I'll do my best. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. Buy one and I'll throw in a set of free steak knives, just pay separate shipping and handling fees.

As sent to me:

Dear Ms. (Agent):

I saw on your blog that you are looking for Women’s Fiction submissions. I hope you’ll enjoy RUNNING WITH SYRINGES, my novel about a nursing student facing an important question- can she give her patients the kind of care they deserve without losing too much of herself?

The guidance counselor must have been high when she encouraged Morgan to major in psychology, because even with straight A’s, Morgan can’t find a job. Forced to find a new path, Morgan discovers a different way of making a difference: an accelerated nursing program.

Morgan loves her new career, even if an unfortunate suppository incident, a heartbeat on a very dead body, and flirting with her classmate before realizing there’s vomit in her hair make her feel closer to Nurse Ratched than Florence Nightingale. But when Morgan receives the devastating news that her favorite patient has only six months to live, she realizes that there’s more to nursing than taking vital signs and giving medication. Faced with the reality that she can’t care for people without caring about them, Morgan must find a way to maintain her own sanity, avoid flunking out of school, and somehow pass her licensing exam—all while saving lives.

Complete at 78,000 words, RUNNING WITH SYRINGES is a work of Women’s Fiction that will appeal to fans of (still trying to come up with one). It is in the spirit of the TV show Scrubs—it is the story of a nursing student using humor and friendship to survive in a hospital full of pain and death.

I am a registered nurse. My blog, Confessions of a Student Nurse (lilk8tob.wordpress.com) has attracted over 1 million hits and is listed as suggested reading in the nursing school textbook Avoiding Common Nursing Errors. Co-Author John Mohler has published in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times Media and Bolingbrook Reporter.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

With comments:

Dear Ms. (Agent): Great!

I saw on your blog that you are looking for Women’s Fiction submissions. (Does show you investigated them first. Appropriate if the agent prefers chit-chat in the query.) I hope you’ll enjoy RUNNING WITH SYRINGES (Great title.), my novel about a nursing student facing an important question- can she give her patients the kind of care they deserve without losing too much of herself? My advice is to make sure the setup and personal information aren't longer than the meat of the query. Focus the query about the heart the story. 

The guidance counselor must have been high when she encouraged Morgan to major in psychology, because even with straight A’s, Morgan can’t find a job. (Really like this voice! The sentence might be a tad long. I'd get some more opinions about breaking it into two at 'because.' The guidance counselor must have been high when she encouraged Morgan to major in psychology. Even with straight A's, Morgan can't find a job.) Forced to find a new path, Morgan discovers a different way of making a difference (And there's her motivation! You're showing about her.): an accelerated nursing program.

Morgan loves her new career, even if an unfortunate suppository incident, a heartbeat on a very dead body, and flirting with her classmate while sporting before realizing (used below) there’s vomit in her hair makes her feel closer to Nurse Ratched than Florence Nightingale. But when Morgan receives the devastating news that her favorite patient has only six months to live, she realizes that pushes Morgan to realize there’s more to nursing than taking vital signs and giving medication. Faced with the reality that she can’t care for people without caring about them (Maybe change for sentence variety. The reality is she can't care for people without caring about them. Morgan must maintain her sanity, avoid flunking out of school, and somehow pass her licensing exam--all while saving lives.), Morgan must find a way to maintain her own sanity, avoid flunking out of school, and somehow pass her licensing exam—all while saving lives. As her sanity seems to be the big question, maybe switch its spot with 'saving lives.' You could also cut the licensing part for brevity.  Morgan must save lives and avoid flunking out of school--all while maintaining her sanity.

Complete at 78,000 words, RUNNING WITH SYRINGES is a work of Women’s Fiction that will appeal to fans of (still trying to come up with one). I'm sure readers can help.  It is in the spirit of the TV show Scrubs—it is the story of a nursing student using humor and friendship to survive in a hospital full of pain and death.

I am a registered nurse. My blog, Confessions of a Student Nurse (lilk8tob.wordpress.com) (I'd put the link in your email signature instead of here.) has attracted over 1 million hits and is listed as suggested reading in the nursing school textbook Avoiding Common Nursing Errors. Co-Author John Mohler has published in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times Media and Bolingbrook Reporter.(Great bio.)

Thank you for your time and consideration,

I like the style of this query. It has humor and voice, both things that can make it stand out among the hundreds of queries an agent receives. It shows us something about the main character and also use specific details.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you, this is great advice! I especially like the "sporting vomit in her hair" line! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this! And I'd love if anyone has any suggested comp titles. :)

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  2. Hi, fellow RN writer! I don't have tons to add to Michelle's crit.

    In your first paragraph, I suggest getting rid of the blurb about the book, and end after your title, only because you explain it much better in your query, with better humor and voice.

    How about in the second paragraph: change "of making" to "to make". In your third paragraph, I feel like the first sentence is awfully long, and it might have more impact if you split it up. I love Michelle's "sporting" idea!

    I think your title is fantastic. Sadly, I can't think of alt. books to suggest.

    Best of luck with your story!

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  3. Okay, I'm not really sure what a suppository incident is...that's probably might just be my ignorance, though. Other than that, I really don't have much to add to Michelle's critique.

    You don't necessarily need to compare your book to another, from what I know.

    Sounds cool. Tighten a few things up, perhaps you could make the stakes higher, and...probably good to go.

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  4. I don't have much more to add. I liked it! Everything I need to know is there. You had me with your title, but thought the opener was a bit long.

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