Friday, January 2, 2015

Holiday Query Hop Critique 15

The Holiday Query Hop special guests end with Rachel Pudelek! Thanks to all the special guests who took part and to everyone who joined the hop and added their query. I hope this little slice of fun was helpful for everyone involved!
Please keep an eye on my blog for further details about Sun versus Snow (a query contest) coming January 26th! We have a whole slew of agents (14) waiting to get their hands on your entry!
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 27!
True Horizon is a WIP, Contemporary Romance, at approximately 73,000 words.

Dear Fabulous Agent,

After a decade of fighting, Special Forces soldier, Heath Carter, is living with war’s tragic consequences.  (Struggling with doesn’t show why he leaves.) Trying to outrun his anger and guilt, he embarks on a journey across Texas, adrift and alone. When he jumps into a river to rescue a drowning woman, his fortunes start to change. (I wouldn’t say his fortunes change because a couple sentences ago it was his pain and guilt that put him adrift, not his fate. He needs a reason here to change his mind. First, he wanted to be adrift, and then he saves a woman and wants to stay put for a while. Show us why he’s forced into this decision. Has he run out of money? When he jumped in the river did he lose his wallet? Did saving her erase some of his guilt from killing?) Offered a temporary job on a cattle ranch by her grateful father, he slowly begins to open up to Grace, the woman whom he saved.

Grace Murray, former ugly duckling…now turned swan, has moved back home to her family’s ranch in order to prepare for her wedding. When she accidentally performs a head dive into a river, a strange drifter, covered in tattoos and a scruffy beard, saves her life. Now they’re both living on the ranch and she can’t help but be drawn to the troubled Heath Carter. As days go by, Grace begins to question her choices and starts to crave the freedom she had growing up on the ranch. Only her fiancĂ© won’t hear of it. He wants her to move back with him to Dallas, just like they’d planned.

Grace’s time spent at the quiet country ranch and Heath’s steady companionship leave her ready to trade one dream for another. Only Heath’s past is standing in the way. He sees himself as tainted by the tragic mistakes he made in Afghanistan, not worthy of Grace’s love. Now, Grace needs to decide if she can share  Heath’s  burden, or are the realities of life with PTSD too much for their new relationship to overcome.  I’d add the PTSD in earlier, it’s somewhat of the hook, what makes this love story unique. Also, I see Grace’s stakes, but not Heath’s. She has a potential marriage on the line and a man with PTSD. What does Heath have on the line? What will he gain and loose by deciding to be with Grace?

True Horizon is written as a standalone novel, but also has series potential. I believe it would appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One and Karen Rock’s Someone Like You. Thank-you for your consideration and I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind Regards,
I thought this was an interesting concept and a well-written query. Make sure to keep your main plot threads evident throughout the whole query. Agents read these things very quickly and you want them to easily see what makes yours special and that your plot flows, and works, and makes sense. Thanks for letting me have a look!


Rachel is a dog-hugger and a tree-lover. She writes female-fierce YA and MG fiction, represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. When she's not writing or reading, she's hiking through Washington's lush forests with her dogs or researching centuries-old goddess myths and folklore. She's a member of SCBWI. She lives north of Seattle with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, and a hamster. You can find her on Twitter, on Facebook and on her blog!


  1. Thanks for doing this. It is very helpful as I continue to work on the story. Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks so much for all the great query critiques. It has been a great, eye-opening experience!