Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXVI

musicianThis watercolor of a musician’s feet by Elizabeth Perry, from her website about the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra. Which I hope fits well with today’s About My Query post, from Jane L. Without further ado:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible:

Although she’s only 23, Joey Mikalos plays viola for the Boroughs String Quartet, proudly “conceived during a one-night music stand,” but she’s got two problems. First, music doesn’t earn enough to quit that day-job in a toll booth. That’s a problem first violinist Harrison thinks he can solve, which leads to problem number two: he’s driving Joey nuts by unilaterally setting the group’s direction, until Joey’s more tense than her A-string.

Hair-dye to match a client’s bridesmaid dresses? A publicity shot of Joey wearing only her viola? If it gets attention, Harrison agrees to it. He’s plotted out everything, right down to whom Joey is supposed to marry: himself. She’d be flattered, but the one Joey has loved since first grade is their cellist, if only Joey hadn’t ruined everything six years ago.

Success comes by increments, but more important than their performances are their interlocking friendships. When Harrison forces out the cellist, Joey needs to draw on everything she has–an EZ pass, a stray cat, a funeral, and a seventeen-year-long secret love–to save their music.

My first novel, [NOVEL1] ([Publisher], 1994, under the pen name Jane H.) sold 25,000 copies. My second novel, [NOVEL2] is currently in-print with [publisher], a small press. I’ve had shorter pieces published in two volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Catfantastic IV, Liguorian Magazine, New Christian Voices, Celebrate Life Magazine, Mothering, and The Wittenburg Door, among others. I have an MA in English from SUNY Brockport.

Complete at 95,000 words, RIDING THE METRONOME will appeal to readers of “Little Earthquakes” in the way it combines humor, interwoven friendships, and self-discovery. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Jane L.

So I think this has some interesting bits, but I have some questions. You start off with “Although she’s only 23” but I don’t feel that the following description of the string quartet really deserves that “although”. The idea of a music group conceived during a “one night music stand” really didn’t convey to me that 23 was too young to be a member — more of the opposite, in fact.

You have some fun with the music-related puns, which I think work in small does, but if this is a love story between Joey and the cellist, than I ought to be able to call him something other than “the cellist.” Also, who’s the fourth? How does he/she fit into the story?

These two sentences also feel a little awkward: “She’d be flattered, but the one Joey has loved since first grade is their cellist, if only Joey hadn’t ruined everything six years ago.” and “Success comes by increments, but more important than their performances are their interlocking friendships.” Readers, how would you fix them?

Additionally, I’m not sure a funeral is really something that Joey “has”. But your credits are very strong, and the comparison to Jennifer Weiner’s “Little Earthquakes” seems apt — although I’d also prefer a less didactic comparison than “will appear.”

Readers, you all asked for more About MY query posts. Help Jane L. out with some useful critiques! Later this moth I’ll put out another call for queries to review here — please keep your eyes peeled.

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