Monday, December 20, 2010

Query 49

Face-Lift 851: Song of the Nile

[The author will be submitting this long short story/short novella to epubs, like Carina Press, that accept works 15,000 words and above. Those works generally require an accompanying query letter, too.]

Dear Editor,

I am seeking a publisher for “Song of the Nile,” a story of forbidden love between the ancient Egyptian Crocodile God and a human woman. This short story is a romance with paranormal elements, complete at 16K words.

Merys knows she will never marry. Though her father is a wealthy scribe, Merys' stepmother insists that Merys should remain unwed, and that Merys’ dowry should be saved for her more attractive half-sisters. Merys is resigned to living under her stepmother's dictates, but finds a measure of solace when she can escape to the Nile's riverbank. On the quiet beach by the river she cares for an old abandoned temple of the Crocodile God, and sings the songs of praise to him that her mother taught her. Merys has never thought of another life until one day a handsome stranger hears her singing by the riverbank.

The stranger, Bek, is the Crocodile God in human guise, and from the first moment he hears Merys' beautiful voice his strong feelings for the human girl nearly consume him. But anything more than a casual affair between a Great One and a human is strictly forbidden, and true love is an impossibility. And yet Merys means too much to him for Bek to use her only to sate his lust.

Bek tries to hide his true self and resist his feelings, while Merys fights her own blossoming hope that perhaps Bek wants more than mere friendship, that perhaps she can have more than a life of drudgery and servitude under her stepmother.

But when enemy raiders attack Merys' village, she is mortally injured. Bek must now attempt to convince the ruler of the gods to save Merys, even if it means he must give her up for all time. Or is there still some way to persuade the gods to allow Bek and Merys to live together in the home of the Great Gods for all time?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,
An Author

Comments

I think the first two paragraphs are fine as is, with two exceptions:

Maybe delete "ancient." I know what you're trying to convey, but that's kind of an unfortunate word choice when talking about forbidden love and human women in the same sentence.

What is the heat level in this story? It seems sweet for the most part. If it's not, then add some indication/expectation of what it is: This short story is a sweet/sensual/spicy/erotic romance with paranormal elements...

The next two paragraphs have me scratching my head just a bit as to what the rules are when it comes to the gods, their powers and their ability to love.

The stranger, Bek, is the Crocodile God in human guise, and from the first moment he hears Merys' beautiful voice his strong feelings for the human girl nearly consume him. But anything more than a casual affair between a Great One and a human is strictly forbidden, and true love is an impossibility.

I get the forbidden-ness, but it seems if it has to be forbidden then true love isn't technically an impossibility, otherwise why forbid something you can't do anyway?

And yet Merys means too much to him for Bek to use her only to sate his lust.

The "sate his lust" is a bit of a different tone from the rest of the query. It's the part that makes me question whether this is indeed a sweet romance or not. You seem to be setting this up as built more around love than lust, and coming out and using the lust word sort of destroys the mood. Even "physical enjoyment" wouldn't be quite such an abrupt tone shift.

Bek tries to hide his true self and resist his feelings,

I'm not sure what "true self" means here. Is he trying to hide his godhood? I'm pretty sure you mean hide his true feelings but knew that was redundant with "resist his feelings." I would delete the "true self" bit because that could be misconstrued.

while Merys fights her own blossoming hope that perhaps Bek wants more than mere friendship, that perhaps she can have more than a life of drudgery and servitude under her stepmother.

Why would Merys be fighting her hope? She's seeming a little too subservient, virginal and naive right now. All heroines don't need to be feisty, of course, but I think readers may want to see a little glimmer of self-worth in their protagonists.

But when enemy raiders attack Merys' village, she is mortally injured. Bek must now attempt to convince the ruler of the gods to save Merys,

If Bek is a Great One, why does he not have the power to heal her? What can he do as a god? At this point, I'm wondering why Bek has to be a god and not just someone from another tribe or household (like Romeo and Juliet).

even if it means he must give her up for all time.

What do the Egyptians imagine death to be? If Merys lives, Bek doesn't get her and she goes back to her slavish life. If Merys dies, then does she have a happier after-life? Does Bek never get to see her? I'm not clear what's in it for Bek if he saves Merys' life.

Or is there still some way to persuade the gods to allow Bek and Merys to live together in the home of the Great Gods for all time?

So does the climax come down to a heartfelt speech by Bek? Is there some sort of sacrifice he needs to make for the gods to break an unbreakable rule?

Why is THIS love story different? Give us that bit of a hint here at the end.

I also happen to know this author has two novels out through small presses in the same genre this short story is in (yay!), so mentioning that in the query is appropriate, I think.

3 comments:

Sylvia said...

I read the original query and this is much, much better. You've lost the weirdness and I feel I have a sense of the story now.

Phoenix said...

Oops, I missed this one when it went up on EE's site last Tuesday. In my defense, that was the day I gave my notice at work and was a-flurry in good-bye-ing activities. I have now asked EE to please post a redirect this way.

Now that I've read the comments from last week, it seems much of the general feeling of the story from the way the query now reads is still about the same -- although the weirdness Sylvia mentions is gone. The good thing is that the author knows that I didn't have the benefit of having read the other comments first before echoing a few of the things that were pointed out then. Mainly, just give us a better idea of what Bek has to do -- and what the obstacles are that are in his way -- to stay with Merys and to make Merys his.

Marissa Doyle said...

This romance is still looking pretty one-sided--is the only thing Merys sees in Bek is a ticket out of her life at home, or does she actually love him? As it reads now, I'm not seeing that.

The language still feels overly formal and stilted...is that on purpose?

At 16K, this makes much more sense. Glad you mention that here!