#SonofAPitch

That feel when your blog rises from the depths of hell so you can have this magical moment.

 

Title: Seven Sided Spy
Genre: New Adult Thriller
Word-Count: 81,000

Query: 

Hello, I’ve just completed a novel and am looking for representation. I saw that you are looking for LGBTQ+ works with strong female leads that challenge readers’ expectations. I felt that my completed project SEVEN SIDED SPY would be an excellent fit for your list.

In 1963, a group of the CIA’s foremost spies are kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina to undergo illegal experimentation. But, when the experiments go horribly wrong, the previously glamorous and high maintenance spies are left permanently disfigured and are unable to reenter society. The spies escape captivity and hide out in the mountains. They must avoid recapture at the hands of three KGB agents, one of whom is an old flame with an intense and well-justified grudge. In an attempt to reverse the effects of the experimentation, they enlist the help of a hip and eclectic alien enthusiast.

SEVEN SIDED SPY is a 85,000 word spy-thriller with a dash of science fiction undertones. One of its most unique qualities is its utilization of flashbacks. Conflicts in the past further propel conflicts in the present, while also revealing secrets about deceptively-likeable characters. It is heavily character driven and is not afraid to explore life’s morally gray areas.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Hannah Carmack
(Contactinfo)

First 250 Words:

It was shortly after midnight in the Nightmare Café, and the mood in the small Southside diner had slowed way down. Duke Ellington’s Warm Valley spun out softly from a late night telecast, as couples on the dance floor swayed and glided like figure skaters on air. Dresden watched from a distance, seated stiffly in a red booth at the back of the place, a paper laid out on the table in front of him so his watching would not look conspicuous. He admired the gentle crane of lovers’ arms and necks, the way eyes locked and spoke a language known only to two, and the faintest hint of a smile pulling at the woman’s lips. He watched them step so carefully, as though nothing else in the world mattered at that moment, but his fantasy cut out at the fading of piano keys and the howl of Buddy Holly’s voice coming from the radio as the dance floor flooded. Dancing like this was fine, but it did not captivate Dresden the way a ballroom waltz did. It was then that a woman’s hand grazed the top of his shoulder.

“Come on, Dresden.” Her voice sounded like honey, sweet and slow-flowing.

He waited to hear the café’s doors close before getting up and following her out onto the cold, barren streets of D.C. He took one last glance at the dancing ensemble as he left.

Outside on 22nd street, she waited. Her name was Hera and she was a goddess amongst men.


Thanks so much for checking me out today! 🙂 This is will be my first time participating in #SonOfaPitch. My goal is to critique anyone who critiques me on top of the 3 min that I plan on doing. If you want to hit me up at all my twitter handle is @ManlyHamm

Thanks again!

-HC

 

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6 thoughts on “#SonofAPitch

  1. Hello Hannah!

    Tina here popping in to give you query feedback from the #SonOfAPitch event. Take my comments as you will 🙂

    1) This is a business letter! Be sure to address your query like one 🙂 What does that mean? It means instead of opening up with “hello” (too informal), be sure to use proper salutations, ie. Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Agent [instert name]

    2) There’s no need to state that you’ve ‘just completed a novel’. Agents already know that! Why else would you be querying? Make each of your words count in a query–don’t rehash uneeded/already known info

    3) Good, I like that you mentioned you felt your novel would match the agent’s taste; this shows you’re not just sending off queries randomly to agents willy nilly. BUT can you get more specific? Show agents that you’ve done your research. This is the perfect place to put 1-2 lines saying WHY *specifically* you chose this agent. Ie. “I believe SEVEN SIDED SPY would be an excellent fit for you list because . . . (you expressed interest in LGBTQ+ thrillers in your agent bio, etc)”

    4) Good opening line for your body para. We have a time, the protags, the antagonists, and a sinister set up

    5) Awesome–now we have a conflict: experiment goes wrong. Spies escape and are on the run

    6) I like your addition of a ‘hip and eclectic alien enthusiast’–sounds like an interesting character I want to meet!

    7) I would caution your mentioning of flashbacks . . . I’ve heard some agents are wary of them. Might suggest ending your closing para with “SEVEN SIDED SPY is a 85,000 word spy-thriller with a dash of science fiction undertones. It is heavily character driven and is not afraid to explore life’s morally gray area.”

    8) By the way, the last sentence . . . “life’s morally gray area” is a little vague and I didn’t really get that sense in your main query para (aka para #2). Is this an important theme in your novel? If so, see if you can allude to it more in the body para, so that it doesn’t seem to pop out of the blue 😉

    9) Closing remarks look good

    250 Word Feedback

    1) Love your simile “like figure skaters on air”
    2) Good setting and atmospheric set up
    3) I like your opening–looks good to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. AJ says:

    Hey Hannah! Great premise, I’m definitely set up for the intrigue 😀 Love the idea of alien enthusiast in the mix,haha!

    However, the query reads a little like the summary of a book, not necessarily a pitch get me to read it. For one, I don’t know who any of your characters are, so I don’t have an emotional connection. Who is your MC? Why should I care about them? Who is your main antagonist? What’s their motivation? What’s at stake for both?

    I guess my main critique advice is to start with ONE character (your main one, or main-est one if you have multiple POVs) and tell me why I should care about them, what’s at stake, what do they have to overcome to achieve it, and who’s trying to stop them.

    Then, with your blurb about the book, just keep it to “SEVEN SIDED SPY is a 85,000 word spy-thriller with a dash of science fiction undertones.”

    Leave it to the agent to decide what to think about characters, etc., otherwise it sounds like you’re telling them what to think.

    QueryShark has a lot of great advice on this!

    As for your 250, you paint the scene very well. The relaxed atmosphere, almost glowy, but observed. That’s good! So you have the skill there! I’d read more from the first 250 for sure. You’re getting there, well on your way! Good luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for sharing your query and first 250 with us.

    I agree with the previous commenter regarding their first two and seventh points especially. If you’re looking for ways to retool the beginning, I’d check out some of the sample query letters at this link: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries

    You may have to scroll down to find queries that speak to you and what you’re hoping to accomplish, but I found some of those examples really informative for helping me get mine together.

    One question I have regarding your premise is whether the KGB would realistically take those spies to the North Carolina back country for this experimentation. Wouldn’t their goal be to conduct this research on Soviet land? Also, what is the KGB’s need to work on these individuals in particular? If I’m not mistaken, the gulag system had recently come to an end, but I feel like the Soviets would have had no qualms performing this sort of experimentation on their own citizens in some sort of remote location.

    Granted, perhaps you are hoping a reader asks themselves these questions so that it gets them to continue reading. If that’s your goal, then you’ve succeeded! If not, perhaps clarify this point in a concise way to minimize historical confusion. You’re likely more of an expert in this area than I am given the research you put in to writing this, so you’ll know best!

    I would also avoid overhyping the use of flashbacks. Though they will almost inevitably become part of any novel, emphasizing them as a unique feature likely takes away from other, more shiny aspects of your work. There’s nothing wrong with using flashbacks (think about Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, for example–fantastic juxtaposition of real-time events and flashback culminating in the book’s climax), but I wouldn’t oversell this point in your query.

    For your first 250, I think you set the scene well. It may be worth paring back some of the description of the setting in order to push on to the conversation between Hera and Dresden (cool names, by the way). If I were rewriting this, my goal would be to take the most standout details from the first paragraph and let them do the talking for the ones that hit the cutting room floor, so to speak.

    When you introduce Hera as a “goddess” among men, my immediate question is: real goddess or metaphorical goddess? That’s something I would read on to learn more about, so let me get to that question as soon as I can. I get the impression from your query that you mean it metaphorically, but I was left with the question all the same.

    Again, thanks for sharing with us and for your critique of mine, too 🙂 Best of luck with your pitch and your book. I hope you can find it the home it deserves!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to start with the first 250 words, and just say I really enjoyed your style. I might look for a place to break the first big paragraph in two just for visual weight. Don’t want someone seeing a long paragraph up front and getting scared off thinking you are “wordy” 🙂 But I loved the scene you set, well done!

    I agree with previous commenters, I’d strike that bit about flashbacks. You basically described what any effective flashback should do in any book. I also agree that you should choose at least one of your POV characters for us to invest in (probably the one with the old flame mentioned in the next paragraph to help tie them together, but maybe not) rather than talking about the group as a whole.

    Good work and good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jayperin says:

    Hi

    Query – What popped out at me was the KGB was keeping them prisoner in NC, and they were hiding because of disfigurement. If there are KGB agents in NC give us a hint why the spies, after escaping, could not go public. Surely, disfigurement is not enough reason to not alert the government re: foreign agents. Better stakes are needed, I think

    Also, would have liked to see an individual’s POV instead of a collective’s story (though it may well be)

    Excerpt – Good!

    Liked by 1 person

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