Sunday, June 1, 2014

QK Round 1: The Past is Back versus E=MC [squared]

Entry Nickname: The Past is Back
Word Count: 67,000
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense


Georgetown art historian Reine Baldwin recognizes her own image in a 15th century portrait, leading to her forgotten past and a man who – in spite of her immortality – may still try to harm her.  

When the usually reserved academic impulsively accepts a coffee date from a charming journalist, she unwittingly jeopardizes not only her centuries’ old secrets, but also her safety. Soon, she finds her office ransacked and her classroom flooded. Finally, after a timely invitation to Venice on the eve of Carnevale to examine the resurfaced DaVinci, an unplanned night of revelry culminates in a reunion with the painting’s owner. 

The pompous, domineering, and utterly irresistible man is Massimo Baldovini. As Reine’s long-lost husband who also should have died centuries ago, he’s desperate to rekindle their relationship. Suddenly, Reine has the chance to forgo her quirky sock collection, musty libraries, and an ordinary life with any mortal man she’d surely outlive, in favor of extravagant evening gowns, powerful cars, and eternity with the one person who’s apparently loved her for half a millennium. However, after she inexplicably gets sick for the first time in five hundred years, Reine starts remembering things Massimo wishes would remain buried.

With her immortality on the line, Reine will need to determine if she can trust this man who swears he couldn’t save her from drowning on their honeymoon or whether she’s just been a pawn in Massimo’s self-serving plans from the very beginning.

First 250 words:

Reine clutched her broken hand to her chest and repeatedly tapped the “Door Close” button with the other. The pain in her fingers was almost unbearable, but it would be gone soon. Hopefully it would be soon enough. 

As the elevator door slid slowly into place, she looked out into the hotel’s lobby one last time. Thankfully, it was still deserted. This wasn’t unusual given the weather and the late hour, but she knew he had to be right behind her. 

He couldn’t catch up. He couldn’t see her. Not just yet.

When the elevator finally began to move, she looked at her hand again. It was shaking, but as she flexed her fingers, the last signs of bruising – and of the pain – disappeared. However, that didn’t make her happy. 

Reine blamed herself for getting into this predicament. For the second time in two weeks, she almost inadvertently revealed her secret. A secret her life depended on. 

She should have just ended the conversation when she fumbled to answer a simple question: “Are you married?”

But she didn’t, and that was mistake number one. 

The blunder was a warning sign, and she ignored it. She had uncharacteristically let her guard down. But who wouldn’t have, if they had looked into those eyes or had seen that smile? As always, her heart would be her downfall. That’s why she had avoided listening to it for so long.

Until tonight. 

And that’s when she made the second mistake: getting injured.


Entry Nickname: E=mc[squared]
Title: Like Yesterday
Word count: 81,000
Genre: Commercial Fiction


Within the cold walls of his institute, Dr. Vincent Douvrey dedicated years to his innovations but none to his devoted wife. He never said “I love you”, and until her fatal car accident, he had no desire to say “I’m sorry”. Guilt-ridden and eager to deliver that apology in person, and even more eager to receive his next accolade in science, Vincent attempts his most recent innovation—transitory time travel by liquid ingestion. 

But the tonic doesn’t transport him to three years prior. Instead, he awakens almost fifteen years into the past in a Florida college dorm room with passé décor. Thanks to amnesia, Vincent doesn’t remember any moment from that time, including anyone he befriended. However, an even greater obstacle plagues him: how to get back to the future.

Vincent turns to the campus library for guidance, but his research leads him to meet Carmen, a junior student who is not his wife. Carmen is immediately smitten by his Grenadian accent and unfamiliar charm and he by her stunning beauty and unselfishness. Their magnetic passion brews a sultry love affair. Meanwhile, the thirty-five-year old man she believes is twenty-one continues to seek a reverse transport solution.

However, Vincent’s hope of returning home to his acclaimed work dwindles, forcing him to relive his past while loving a woman he knows he doesn’t marry. But when he realizes he has already met Carmen, who entered his institute as a pleading stranger, Vincent hastens to find a way to return to his rightful decade to save her.

First 250 words:

Dr. Douvrey possessed a keen talent to ignore. He ignored the resounding proclamation that time travel didn’t exist. He ignored his wife who loved him more than her nursing shoes worn to their last shred of rubber. He ignored his mother who told him he wouldn’t succeed without her international clout. But this talent was often tested by his incompetent assistant of eight years, whom he observed from his chamber as she mixed and spilled chemicals onto his laminate lab table, incinerating it layer by layer. 

It was only the eleventh table he had to replace because of her; one more was sure to be ruined within the year. Hazy smoke smothered her face, obstructing her view of the doctor’s narrowed eyes and furrowed brows. She owned a brilliant mind, but the doctor found it challenging each new day to ignore her fumbles, destructions, and blabbering. After four long breaths and a silent prayer for strength not to kill her, Dr. Douvrey turned his back toward the window. He continued to isolate himself within the glass room of toxic fumes, a poor attempt to escape her recurrent interferences and to maintain his state of being alone.

The chamber upheld its purpose of providing security and safety as well as being aesthetically pleasing to his eyes. Upon each entry of the room, the doctor often admired the stainless steel upon the ceiling and wall trims and the extensive counters on which he performed all testing of his formulas. 


  1. The Past is Back
    A really smooth query with a lovely hook. The main drawback for me is that I don't understand what exactly Reine is...and the entire query, I'm then trying to figure it out rather than concentrating on the rest of the plot. Also, since she's obviously some magical/paranormal being, would this maybe change your genre? Another thing is I think the last sentence of your query would work better if short. The drowning on the honeymoon part made me forget what came before, and I had to read it again to get a better idea of the stakes.

    I really like your 250 and it immediately puts me smack into the middle of the story, but it can be tightened a bit. Some comments seem extraneous and/or repetitive. eg. However, that didn’t make her happy; The blunder was a warning sign, and she ignored it.

    First off, let me get this off my chest. I like the nickname of your story so much I almost wish you'd make it your title. I think your query is really clear and well-written with an nice variety in vocab. The only two things I would fault are this: It repeats the how to get back to the future thing in the sentence which has
    continues to seek a reverse transport solution', making that sentence quite unnecessary. Also, I'm kind of wondering why he wouldn't have figured that out before he went back to the past, considering it isn't an accident. Secondly, the last line of your query completely went over my head. Did you mean his wife instead of Carmen by any chance?

    I love the first paragraph of your 250, especially the sentences which begin with 'He ignored' but I'd end the second sentence at 'nursing shoes'. The next 2 paras are not as engaging for me personally, because they go a little too much into description than I like at the beginning of a story.

    Good luck to both entries! This is going to be a tough competition.


    Love this story idea, but the query needs trimming. Give us the story, quick and dirty. Who’s our Reine, what’s at stake for her, and what choice is she left with at the end that’s going to hook us to keep reading? We don’t need all the back story. Just the juicy bits to hook us and reel us in.

    FIRST 250
    Love that we are thrown right into the story, that her immortality is teased but we aren’t specifically told that’s the case! Great sense of voice here. While the query feels a bit clunky still, this was much sharper for me, and I want to see what happens next!


    Great premise here, but I think the first paragraph can be trimmed down to maybe even one sentence to serve as the jumping off point for the story: “In an attempt to tell his wife the words he never spoke while she was alive, Dr. Vincent Douvrey attempts his most recent invention—transitory time travel (not sure liquid ingestion is needed).

    Basically, in the query, don’t set up back story. Just give us what we need to get interested in what comes next, and provide high stakes at the end. You’re almost there, but I feel like we need more of an “If/then” scenario at the end of the query to really bring it home as far as high stakes are concerned.

    FIRST 250
    This is a lot of telling. We’re in the story, but there’s not much in the way of character interaction. If we can get a little of that, we’d get a little more voice too.

    Ack! Two time travel stories, and I love both ideas. Since both queries need some whittling down, I’m basing my vote on the first 250. VICTORY TO THE PAST IS BACK.

  3. The Past is Black:

    I was a little confused while reading your query. Does she know she's several hundred years old and immortal? I know she doesn't remember everything, but it's not clear how much she's aware of her own immortality, which makes the entire query confusing, at least for me. As to your 250, the writing is great. It's tight, the voice is good, and we get a good glimpse into her character.

    E=mc squared:
    Love the first line of your query. The rest of it is also good until the last paragraph. I'm not sure what's going on there, which also means the stakes aren't completely clear. However, your premise is strong so I would definitely pick up this book. I think I like your 250 better than the other commentators because you really show us who your MC is. The only thing I would change is the third sentence since it's somewhat awkward, and I don't know why you compared the strength of someone's love to the rubber on her nursing shoes. I know all this is subjective and how frustrating it is to get contradictory advice. Examine each suggestion and go with what you know works best for your story. Good luck.

  4. Hi. Fellow Kombatant here.

    The Past is Back: I, too, wondered about your genre--I didn't expect a paranormal element. Which doesn't mean that I don't love the premise. I do. And I love the suspense in the first 250.

    E=mc[squared]: Again, I love the premise. Love the first line of the 250, too. However, as Captain Yawp said, there's quite a bit of telling in your first page. Maybe add some dialogue?

    Great job to both.

  5. The Past is Back
    This has one of my favourite opening query lines so far—and there have been some really good ones, so that’s saying a lot. Very nicely done. Although I enjoyed the rest, and it pays out the details, I think it could tightened, that is, I think it gives us more information than we need. For example, “couldn’t save her from drowning on their honeymoon” sort of comes out of nowhere and I don’t think it’s a detail that adds much to the query, or at least not right at the end.

    I also enjoyed the 250. It drops us in the middle of some action, yet manages to give us lots of grounding detail at the same time that manages not to feel like backstory. My one note is that you might consider combining the paragraph that begins with “She should have just ended the conversation” with the paragraph before it. That’s the one place the flow felt a little choppy to me.

    E=MC [squared]
    I will agree that this opening 250 is a lot of telling, but for the most part I though it worked quite well. The first paragraph especially gives us so much in such a short span and yet has the definite character of Dr. Douvrey throughout. I enjoyed it. The second paragraph as well. I think perhaps by the third paragraph or so, however, I’d skip describing the room and head for either some dialogue or character action that gets things moving.

    I struggled a bit more to get through the query. The opening worked for me, but I wasn’t entirely sure at the end why he was so desperate to get back. If he was changing history by virtue of being in the past, what makes him think the same things are going to happen? Also, how can he retain his memories of the future but not of the past? I had trouble conceptualizing how that would work (I could understand the reverse).

    Quibbles aside, I’m very much intrigued by the overall premise.

    Best wishes to both entries!

  6. The Past is Back

    I agree with other readers about your query. Perhaps it could be tightened, but I’d definitely read your story if I flipped open the book and read your first words.

    I love everything about this beginning, so it was hard to come up with a suggestion, but I managed to find a nitpick. In the first sentence, “Reine clutched her broken hand to her chest and repeatedly tapped the “Door Close” button with the other,” I wonder if tapped is the best word. Consider pressed or stabbed or hit or another verb, which is more emotionally charged because in your next sentences you indicate her pain and desperation—“The pain in her fingers was almost unbearable, but it would be gone soon. Hopefully it would be soon enough.”

    I appreciate getting to read your entry. Thanks.

    E=MC [Squared]

    I love your opening line, “Dr. Douvrey possessed a keen talent to ignore”—and the examples that follow the statement; however, I’m wondering how the table and the assistant mentioned in the next sentences factor into the story. Is she or the table important? If so, you consider having the doctor interact with her and starting a scene. Just my humble opinion, I enjoy your voice and I like hearing about the doctor, but I’d like more action especially on the first page.

    Your query intrigues me. I agree with the other comments about your query possibly needing to be tightened and the last few lines clarified—that said, all of us, writers have stuff to work on.

    Bottom line, I like your story’s concept and I’d read it, so you've succeeded with me. Thanks for being brave enough to enter this contest, which allowed me to read your stuff.

  7. The Past Is Back: I love your premise and want to read this book right now, please. That detail of Reine finding herself in a painting is awesome and hooks me straight away. Based on how it's presented in the query, I'm slightly confused about her immortality, how she forgot about it, and when she realized. Otherwise, this is really solid and you do a great job of showcasing Massimo too. I'm a sucker for villain love interests, and he sounds kinda hot :)

    The first 250 are intriguing, good set-up with a bit of suspense but not so much that it's overwhelming. My one nitpick is that this paragraph feels a bit too tell-y:

    "Reine blamed herself for getting into this predicament. For the second time in two weeks, she almost inadvertently revealed her secret. A secret her life depended on."

    If you start with "She should have just ended the conversation," it's clear that she's blaming herself without telling us that. You could probably work in that line about it being the second time she almost gave herself away into one of the other paragraphs, and that way you wouldn't be breaking up the flow of the otherwise excellent narration.

    E=mc[squared], I love the time travel aspect of this, and the twist at the end of your query is fantastic. I agree that the query could use quite a bit of tightening. If you could try and cut the words down, while keeping most of this structure, I think you'll have something great here.

    Oh, and one thing I wondered: If he has amnesia, how does he know he doesn't marry Carmen?

    As for the first 250, the writing is clever and amusing. It felt like the first paragraph introduced a few too many characters, though, and I wonder if you could break this up a little? Tough when you're trying to cram everything into 250 for this contest though, I know! At any rate, this seems like a fun read.

    Good luck, both of you!

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  9. The Past is Back: Your story is very intriguing. I am a little confused on what Reine is since she drowned on her honeymoon. Zombie came to my mind, but that's probably my continuing withdrawals from The Walking Dead. Your 250 are great and I'd love to read this book.

    E=MC [squared]: As the others mentioned, the query needs to be tightened. My only confusion was what kind of amnesia does Vincent have if he remembers the future but not the past? In your 250, I'd add dialogue in the third paragraph to lessen the telling aspect.

    Good luck to you both!

  10. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 2, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    The Past is Back:

    Lots going on with this query. In the first paragraph alone. First off, I read the genre as romantic suspense, but if she's immortal, then I'm guessing there are some other elements thrown in here, whether it be paranormal or fantasy even. Be sure you pick the right one. Also, I'd suggest shortening some things. (simplify the best you can too). For instance, the second line in the 3rd paragraph has 46. That's quite a bit. Your first 250 packs a good punch by jumping right into the action. But in that first paragraph, I suggest taking out the ending sentence, or just combining the one before with 'she hoped' I want to know her, but I'm not emotionally invested in her yet. Use all the senses you can and not just vision.


    Great premise. Time Travel, with a little bit of lovin. Loved that first paragraph for the query too. The last paragraph throws me off a bit. Sure you say he's got to save Carmen, but what from? I'm confused because that's just thrown in there with no other warning. Your first 250 is a lot telling. (Especially in that first paragraph) I feel like I'm reading an addition to the query itself. The second and third paragraph are much better. Love the visions you create with your wording.

    This was a tough decision for me. Probably the toughest so far.

    Victory to: The Past is Back

  11. The Past is Back: I agree that the query needs trimming, but I also think you need a new hook. What you have isn't grabbing me and it also sets up some confusion with the body of the query. The hook seems to indicate that Reine discovers her immortality via viewing a painting in our time (or as the book starts), but then you talk about her centuries old secret, as if she's known about her immortality for some time. I think you need to clarify this.
    The first 250 words do thrust us right into the action and you set up a nice sense of danger. However, I would like a little more sense of the setting -- doesn't have to be detailed, but some idea that provides atmosphere. (Is Reine in an old building or a sleek modern one? Is it brightly lit or shadowy? Are there any other things she's experiencing besides the pain in her hand -- smells, sights, other physical sensations? Just something to ground us in a place/setting).
    I'm also a little confused by an immortal person/being who can somehow be harmed or killed. I'm sure the rest of the story details that, but maybe give a hint in the query about how she could "drown" and yet not, etc.

    Query presents a very interesting premise. I do think you need a snappier hook -- cut the first sentence down to something like: "Dr. Vincent Douvrey dedicated years to his innovations but no time to his devoted, now deceased, wife. Guilt-ridden, Vincent swallows his most recent innovation—transitory time travel by liquid ingestion." Or something along those lines. It gets the idea across without all the details (The details will come through in the manuscript). I like the last paragraph, but think you really cut down paragraphs 2 and 3. The query doesn't need to provide details like turning to the campus library for guidance. All we really need to know is: A. Scientist attempts time travel to make amends with dead wife but is sent to wrong time and meets new love instead. B. Scientist must return to the future to save new love. Also -- need clearer stakes: what happens to Vincent (not just Carmen) if he doesn't get back to the future? Will his involvement in the past possibly alter the future in harmful ways? Make us care desperately that Vincent makes it back to his own time, otherwise the stakes just aren't there.
    Your first 250 words paint a very vivid picture and like the way you delineate character as well as the setting, but I wonder if perhaps it would be compelling if you actually had Vincent interacting with his incompetent lab assistant rather than several paragraphs telling us about her. Or perhaps, if you want to keep up the isolation theme, have more of the narrative told through Vincent's thoughts, rather than straight-up impersonal prose. For example, this: "After four long breaths and a silent prayer for strength not to kill her, Dr. Douvrey turned his back toward the window. He continued to isolate himself within the glass room of toxic fumes...." could be something like "He took four long breaths. "God give me the strength not to strangle her," he muttered as he turned his back to the window." Something like that gets us into his head a bit, and can make us care a bit more about him, or at least feel some connection, and also breaks down the "telling" aspects of your first paragraphs.

    Both of these have great potential, but both also need trimming and clarification of the stakes. It's almost a tie, but because I felt the first 250 words really set a scene and drew me in a bit more, I give
    VICTORY to: E=MC(squared).

  12. Allusion AssassinJune 3, 2014 at 2:03 PM


    I found your query very confusing. Your opening line feels awkward. I don’t get how recognizing herself in a painting she knew she was in would lead to a forgotten past and a man. The next paragraph seems superfluous as presented, unless the date has something to do with her office being tossed. Who invites her to Venice? And if she’s trying to be careful, why would she engage in “revelry” (which felt awkward in context).

    Why were she and Massimo separated for so long? It seems relevant to the query as presented. If something went horribly wrong, it seems like she shouldn’t be so quick to trust him again. What puts her immortality in jeopardy? If being immortal is so hard, maybe that’s not an issue? I didn’t understand the drowning reference either.

    At the end, I’m left not really understanding the plot of your book. What does your MC want, why, what is in her way and what bad thing happens if she doesn’t get it? Those things need to be covered by your query.

    Additionally, besides knowing that she is uptight (but then runs off to a party in Venice?) we don’t really know anything about your MC. We need more of her voice in the query.

    Despite your query challenges, I found your opening page to be lovely. The suspense really comes through and the pace moves well. It draws us in and has us wanting to turn the page.


    I really like your premise, but found your query as confusing as well.

    First, Vincent is made to be a very unsympathetic character. You tell us he abandoned his wife for his career and that he wants to fix it, but then you say he really wants to travel back for the glory. Why would we root for him?

    The next paragraph had me really lost. So, he doesn’t remember anything about his life, but he remembers that he traveled back in time? He remembers that he had a wife who was not Carmen, but can’t remember who his friends were? It doesn’t make sense.

    Also, if he knows he has a wife who was not Carmen and that he plans to go back to the future, why would he get involved with Carmen? That makes me like him even less. The fact that he suddenly realizes he knows Carmen in the future and that she is in danger, seems to come out of the blue.

    Finally, this felt a bit wordy. The whole thing needs tightening.

    I liked your opening well enough, but thought the first paragraph was a bit info dumpy. Perhaps find another way to bring in those details.

    Both of these queries need some query love, so I’m voting based on the strength of the opening page.

    Victory to THE PAST IS BACK

    The query strikes me as unnecessarily wordy - there's a lot of unnecessary adjectives and adverbs that could be cut to tighten it up. The time words (when... soon... finally... suddenly...after) make it seem more like a synopsis than a query.

    A couple punctuation things: the period in the second sentence should go inside the quotations, and in the third, I'd use a colon instead of an em-dash. The amnesia part confused me -- maybe just clarify it by saying that he has selective amnesia and only remembers [whatever it is he remembers]. Otherwise, the premise sounds brilliant (I do love a good time travel story!)

    Victory to E=mc[squared]

  14. The Past Is Back:
    This premise is intriguing and thrilling--the whole immortality thing and Reine and her ex-husband is great. I think if you do some trimming and get right to it, you'll have a tighter more concise query. One thing I did wonder about was how the whole immortality thing works--it might not be a bad idea to throw that in there.
    I think your 250 is suspenseful and fun. I love the idea of her messing up on the date and only with that your sample had a little more personality and detail about the date. I'm sure that comes later but it might jazz things up a bit if you can ass some more detail to give us a closer look inside her head.

    E=mc(squared): This query needs a bit of trimming as well, but I love the premise. I think you did great with the paragraphs where he gets to college and meets Carmen (but you can omit a few words here and there--the decor line, for one just didn't work for me). I think it's great that you have written the twist about Carmen into the query and would love to see that given some another line to really pull us into wondering her whole place in the story.
    Your 250 did not feel as strong, IMO, as the query. I think I would have just liked a little more consistency in the action. I kept being pulled out of it by back story. I'd love something with a little more action and clues in the action. But again, this premise sounds great and I'm excited to see how this story does!

    tough call but...VICTORY TO: THE PAST IS BACK
    xoxoSally Draper

  15. Mrs. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 4, 2014 at 2:27 AM


    Query –

    This story is like The Historian meets The Fountain – wonderful! That being said, let us give it the darkly romantic query it deserves!

    The first line is a bit sudden. Take a step back. Ease me in, slightly. It seems you throw the conflict at me a little too early.

    This seems very jumbled. Does the journalist need to be in here? Honestly, I would cut the entire second paragraph. Jump in with the invitation to Carnevale and Massimo, and hint about the conflict between them.

    I love the line that hints at the drowning in the last paragraph, but I am very confused. Him being unable to save her from drowning and her being a pawn in his plan both seem negative. I would set up something like… “he couldn’t save her… or if their love is worth living forever for” or something like that. As it is now, Massismo is someone I don’t sympathize with. This is a romance – I want to love the love interest! Overall, I would clarify this. Cut the plot points that aren’t essential and focus on the lush, gorgeous story you’ve painted.

    First 250 –

    Excellent blend of action and exposition. I would knit-pick some small things. If she is in the elevator, how is she seeing the lobby?

    Be careful of your setting descriptions – if they’re too confusing, you’ll lose the reader.


    Query –

    I love this premise, but you lost me when Vincent gets amnesia. Is he in his 21 year-old body?

    I have a hard time understanding why Vincent has a wife at all. If he’s more interested in accolades than he is in saying he’s sorry (and so doesn’t need her death to motivate his invention) and winds up in the arms of another woman – why is he married?

    I love the twist that he’s already met Carmen and I would keep that last paragraph – but I want to see more of Vincent’s motivation, because you’ve set up the motivation to be his desire to fix what he did wrong with his wife. If that is his desire/motivation, I would really be careful as to why he is in love with Carmen. Make this clear, because I just can’t understand why Vincent’s wife is even in the story and once that confusion entered in, the stakes did not seem clear.

    Also, this is a little long. I would cut phrases like “transitory time travel by liquid ingestion” (could just be “time travel”), “with passé décor” and “her beauty and unselfishness” that are not absolutely essential.

    First 250 –

    Fantastic first line. Fantastic characterization, and beautiful language. This is great – all the more reason to fix the query! Love the language and the setting, and I already feel like I get a sense of Dr. Douvrey. I would lighten up the “trying not to kill her” line, simply because it doesn’t work with him just turning around and ignoring the situation. If he’s that pissed, he needs to get up and go yell at her. If not, tone down the anger.

    Great work, both of you. After tightening some small things in these queries I have no doubt the requests will start rolling in! However, since I must make a choice, I’m going to give the victory to THE PAST IS BACK for a strong first 250 and haunting query.

  16. Past is Back: Wow! You gripped me from the first sentence. Your query is a bit confusing after that though and I think it could be tighter. I wanted to know how exactly this journalist jeopardizes her secrets. Maybe try and focus on what the MC wants and what's standing in her way. Keep it as simple as possible. No complaints on the first 250, great tension!

    E=MC: Your story is interesting, but I think a lot could be cut in your query. I feel like the last paragraph introduces the conflict well and should be moved up. Your first 250 seems a bit bogged down with a lot of detail. Maybe introduce some action/tension sooner and then go into background?


    Query: I was a little confused over how this is all going down. So, Reine knows about her unique and extended life, but doesn't remember it? At first I thought when she saw her own image in the painting it was a shock, but if I'm reading correctly, it seems she already knows she's been alive for centuries? Think about clearing up those details and it's also a bit long, so perhaps take out some of the less necessary tibits? It's an intriguing premise.

    250: I wasn't truly pulled in until closer to the end, but I like this opening and how we're entering right into Reine's story. Your last sentence ups the intrigue. I'm definitely getting more a sense of her voice here than in her query. I am interested in what's going on though and would keep reading.


    Query: First off it's lengthy and because of that I kept feeling a bit lost. Secondly, I'm having a difficult time finding Vincent likable and/or relatable. Even after his wife's death, his main priority is to kill two birds with one stone and advance his career while going back in time to apologize? If you can do anything to make us sympathize with your main character more, please do. That said, it's an intriguing concept. If you can pare your query down and give us more voice, your story would be more clear. Also, a hook would help things pop. And, it feels like your query just drops off and ends without any sort of closing or resolution.

    250: The writing is nice, but I feel more like a fly on the wall observing the silent interaction and room than I do a part of the story. I get more a feel for Vincent than in the query, but am still not overly pulled in. Perhaps something with more action or a scene where Vincent is more involved would be more effective as an opening? I would keep reading based on the query.