Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Query Hop Critique 11

The query critiques continue to finish out the old year. Today's special guest is Christina Ketchem! Christina is my go-to source for all things regarding college applications! She also was a success story from one of my contests.
Keep in mind that feedback is subjective by nature. What does and does not catch the eye is going to vary by person. Each writer must weigh the comments they get against their own judgement and make the changes that resonate with them.

The Holiday Query hop is closed. Please make sure you get your 10 critiques done.  
The random number generator picks 46!
Dear Agent,

On Daniella Montgomery’s twenty-fifth birthday, she winds up in jail. And not just because she mistook an officer for a hired stripper.
This is a good hook and definitely grabs my attention.  BUT I think it could be phrased in a snappier way.  That said, the second paragraph is like a rewind, so I’m not sure if you even need this hook at all.

When Daniella learns her best friend sent over a stripper to help spice up what should’ve been a relaxing, stress-free birthday, she freaks.
Here’s where the query should begin.  You could probably tweak the original beginning with this sentence.  Also, why did she freak?  In a desperate attempt to keep this event a secret from her next door neighbor –the sophisticated, uptight boss at her law firm–Daniella drags the wrong man inside.  She was afraid of what her boss would think of her having a stripper?  Most strippers perform inside, right?  I’m not sure how the boss would find out.  This just doesn’t make sense to me.  I’d clarify.  Or, don’t mention the boss at all.  He’s not relevant to the rest of the query, as it currently reads.

Despite the circumstances, the attraction is obvious before her forward actions land her in handcuffs by Atlanta PD’s Detective Malcolm Jones for inappropriate behavior. But her special day isn’t done with its surprises as evidence points Daniella as the main suspect in a serial homicide. 
Major leap between topics here – I feel like I’ve missed something here.  How did we go from inappropriate behavior to homicide? 

Detective Jones is caught between his duty and desire for the mesmerizing woman who may be more trouble than she looks. Though he tries to deny it –set on putting the law before all else –he ultimately finds himself breaking all the rules to save the woman he’s fallen for. 
Another big jump, and this one almost feels spoilery.  We go from desire to fallen for in 2 sentences.  I’d slow that down a little.  I do really like his stakes though – it’s very clear that he’s choosing between duty and himself.

Determined to fight for their future after being scorned by the law they both
service,  serve, the two searches for the true killer before Daniella is sentenced to a lifetime of birthdays in jail.  I love this last phrase.  It really brings the whole query full circle. 

BIRTHDAY DISASTER is an adult romantic suspense novel complete at 56,000 words. It is told in a dual third person point of view. 
This is where you might put a comp title or two, but be very selective and don’t choose super-famous titles just to name drop.  Make sure they really match the tone of your book in some way. 

Also, here you might add a short paragraph with any credentials you might have – organizations you’re a member of, awards won, relevant degrees earned, etc.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Just wanted to add that I think this sounds like a fun, sexy page-turner.  I would totally read it.  It would be even stronger if we got more of Daniella’s voice, though.  Changing up the word choice here and there can help with that.  Good luck to you – can’t wait to see this in print!

CZ Ketchem writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a high school counselor.  She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.   
CZ holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Education degree in Counseling.  She is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious four-year-old. She's represented by Kevan Lyon. Find her out on twitter at @czketchem or on her website.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the feedback, Mrs. Ketchem. I will definitely put it to good use.