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Author Topic: Query: The King of Silk
jdt
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** New attempt added at the bottom **

Hi,

I'm looking for input on a query. I know, I've been lurking for a while and now post only when I want something. I'll try to do better.

Thanks,
Joe

Dear Mr. Xxxxx:

Michael reaches for the light switch and chides himself. Again. Thereís no electricity in the Fifteenth Century.

When heís somehow transported from present-day New York to Renaissance Italy, rising corporate star Michael Patriate loses his place, his meaning. He seeks to fill the void with status and power by introducing modern business methods and technology to a culture on the brink of war. Then the powerful Duke of Venice offers him carte blanche and Michael discovers what his ambition has really cost him.

THE KING OF SILK is a historical novel of 100,000 words. Similar novels are A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2006) by Diana Gabaldon and World Without End (2007) by Ken Follett.

I am a member of [some writers groups and things].

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[This message has been edited by jdt (edited March 30, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by jdt (edited April 14, 2008).]


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KoDe Nichols
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Hello, thanks for sharing your query with us.


Now, there is something called suspension of disbelief in fiction.
Unfortunately it doesn't quite cover your use of the adjective
"somehow" with the word transported. I have a feeling that no reader will want to, or be able to, simply overlook the fact that you have not given an explaination as to how he was transported. If you DO have an explaination, then take out that "somehow" because it seems to me to imply that you don't know and aren't going to bother telling us.

And this section
_______________________________________________________________
Then the powerful Duke of Venice offers him carte blanche and Michael discovers what his ambition has really cost him.
_______________________________________________________________

is disjointed. Those two ideas do not belong in a sentence together, unless you include the transitional information. WHY and HOW does the carte blanche lead him to that discovery.

I must say though that I like the premise. I think it will need to be strongly written and I hope you have a good knowledge of both 20th century business practices and the 15th century socio-economical-political settings. Because while soft science fiction may work, I don't think you can do the same with business methods.


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smncameron
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Exactly, somehow implies that you don't really believe your own explanation, if you've gone so far as to give one. If you aren't sure how he's transported back you should either A) Figure it out or B) imply that the character himself doesn't understand.

For example "When he is mysteriously transported to the fifth century"


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kings_falcon
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There's not enough meat here. You only spend 4 lines on your story. What writing groups you belong to won't impress an agent. Also, assuming you've targeted your agent right, s/he'll know the otehr similar time travel stories. Spend the time telling me about your story.

Right now there is nothing to lift you from the rest of the - yawn - generic time travel stories out there. Why is this story better than the rest?

What you have is closer to a summary or a pitch.

Start with what happens - When Michael Patriate is thrown out of a car, he slams into a rock and loses conciousness. Upon waking, the road doesn't exist or for that matter, the telephone poles or street lamps, instead he's in the middle of some feild.

Stumbling through the wheat, . . .


Something to tell us what is going on, what are his choices? Is he stuck in the past forever or does he get an opportunity to go home? what has ambition in both time lines cost him? How does the story end?


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annepin
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I agree here. There's not enough to tell me what your story is. While I like that it's short and punchy, I think you still have to give the agent enough to show off your story.

Michael reaches for the light switch and chides himself. Again. Thereís no electricity in the Fifteenth Century.Cute. Maybe too cute? It's a choice, obviously. Might tickle one agent just right, annoy another. If the voice in your book is similarly cheeky, I'd say go for it. If not, I think you might lose potential agents. For me, I'm not sure it works. Seems like there'd be enough drastically different things in the 15th century that reaching for a light switch wouldn't even occur to someone. Also, a lot happened in 15th century Italy. Maybe provide a detail or two to pin it down in time, and indicate your story is well grounded in history.

When heís somehow transported If I were an agent, I'd assume "somehow" to mean the author hadn't come up with an idea. Say something--stepping through a weird distortion, waking up after a car accident, being hit by lightening, etc. Such info will also give the agent a better sense of the book.from present-day New York to Renaissance Italy, rising corporate star Michael Patriate loses his place, his meaning I'm not sure what "loses his place" means--literally? Well, that's obvious. In society? Obvious too. It's too cliche--reach for more specifics.. He seeks to fill the void Again, your speaking in general terms. What void? The void of just being displaced? Homesickness? But these are both emotions that might fill people with status and power by introducing modern business methods He was already a rising star--how is it different for him being obsessed with status and power here, as opposed to NYC? Again, strive for specifics. Maybe mention a character he encounters and try to change into his own image, etc,and technology Modern business technology... I'm thinking faxes, Blackberrys, etc...to a culture on the brink of war. Then the powerful Duke of Venice offers him carte blanche and Michael discovers what his ambition has really cost him I don't have enough context to figure out what this means..

THE KING OF SILK is a historical novel of 100,000 words. Similar novels are A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2006) by Diana Gabaldon and World Without End (2007) by Ken Follett.


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jdt
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Good advice all. Thanks for the help.

I think I've gone to extremes--from squeezing down a too-long query to producing what's more a piece of back-cover blurb.

Back to it.

Thanks again.


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Ben Trovato
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"Similar novels are A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2006) by Diana Gabaldon and World Without End (2007) by Ken Follett."

I haven't read the Gabaldon book, but your plot, as sketched, seems horribly similar L. Sprague DeCamp's book Lest Darkness Fall.

Personally, I like the "cute" opening hook.


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jdt
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Thanks.

I never read Lest Darkness Fall, but I've seen it mentioned a couple of times, so I checked with The Expert Source: Wikipedia.

There are some similarities on the surface--time travel, knowledge from the future, etc. But, while this protagonist interacts with real historical characters, he doesn't change history or introduce new technologies, although he tries.

This comes out in the slightly longer synopsis, but isn't very clear in this blurb.

It's kind of like this book (and Connecticut Yankee and If I Never Get Back by Brock) only different. :-)

More work.

Joe


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jdt
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One more time, if you please. Note that this is more of a blurb than a query proper. It's going to an agent who also wants a two-page synopsis as part of the package. I have a longer version that attempts to stand on its own.

Not sure about all the italics here.


Dear Mr. Xxxxx:

Michael reaches for the light switch and chides himself, again. Thereís no electricity in the Fifteenth Century. But there could be.

A midnight attack on a Manhattan street transports rising corporate star, Michael Patriate, to the backwoods of Renaissance Italy. In fear and confusion, he hides his identity and his advanced understanding of business and technology. He finds some success as a merchant and even moves up to trade and military powerhouse Venice, but that special knowledge in his head keeps nagging at him. When he seeks to regain his lost status and power by introducing new concepts into the silk industry, he finds opposition from powerful elements of a culture satisfied with the status quo. And when the Duke of Venice offers him carte blanche to stoke the Republicís flagging war machine, Michael discovers what his ambition has really cost him.

THE KING OF SILK is a historical novel of 100,000 words. Similar novels are A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2006) by Diana Gabaldon and World Without End (2007) by Ken Follett.

My short story, Time to Go, won first place in the West Texas Writers 2008 writing contest. I am a member of Panhandle Professional Writers (critique chair for 2008-2009) and the Write Right Critique Group.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


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