Ask Daphne! About My Query LIV

April 30th, 2010 • Kate

flamesSome seriously high heels for LB, who’s offered her query for today’s AMQ post.

Dear Daphne:

Single mom Ella Steel is settling in for a rare and peaceful evening to herself when a fire in her mother’s kitchen brings irresistible Captain Jack Piper to her rescue, in more ways than one. His unexpected arrival in her life, and her powerful but unnerving attraction to him, adds more chaos and confusion to her already complicated existence. Ella has been trying to get a grip on her life after being abandoned by her husband; sexually harassed by her boss; taunted by a sewer issue; harried by her children and tortured, not only by self-doubt, but also her mischievous dog, JJ. And to top off the mayhem, she must fulfill her duties as the maid of honor for her best friend’s wedding, which includes surviving the steamy bachelorette party. Burdened by a lack of faith in herself, she fights the chemistry with Jack as best she can, armed with a good dose of prejudice and mistrust. However, Jack is persistent, gently encouraging Ella to stop and take a look at her life, stand up for herself and move forward with confidence. It is not until Ella’s son disappears at the wedding reception that she finds the strength to survive her past, courage to face her future, and faith in herself and others to ignite the fire in her soul.

FIRE IN THE SOUL, a 58,000 word women’s fiction/romantic comedy similar to the works of Janet Evanovich, is complete and ready for your review. I found your agency listed on, and after researching your website, found that we have a similar interest in style.

I am a member of Northern Colorado Writer’s Group.

This submission is not exclusive. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


To be honest, this is a bit of a difficult query for me to review, since it’s written very well, but it’s for a genre that I feel is somewhat overstuffed with similar titles. As a reader, looking at this blurb, there’s little except the “sewer issue” that feels different.

What I’d love to see more of is what makes this novel special. What makes it stand out? Is it humor? Hot sex scenes? Religion? (There seems to be a lot about faith, which makes me wonder if you might want to market this as Christian fiction.)

Two quick notes about character — you might be able to tell me more about Ella by talking more about her best friend. What kind of relationship do they have, and how does Ella feel about being her maid of honor? I’m not saying to add too much more, but I’m sure you know the answer, and it might be helpful to give an agent reading your query a sense as well. It also allows me to see Ella as more than just a love interest, but a friend, too. I always say my favorite parts in romance novels are those involving the secondary characters.

And speaking of a second character question — how old is Ella’s son who disappears at the reception? Is he a toddler, that she fears may have been kidnapped? A teenager who might have run away? Those are the two poles, but again, giving the agent a sense about her family life adds another dimension to your MC.

As it stands now, this might be something I’d pick up to read, but is it especially memorable? Readers, what do you think?

Filed Under: About My Query, Ask Daphne!

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10 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LIV”

  1. Krista V. Says:

    I'm afraid I don't have much to add beyond what Daphne already said. There's just not much here to differentiate it from the pack. I wonder if the son's disappearance is the major plot point that will set this one apart, but we don't hear much about it.

    Also, that last line reminds me too much of a cheesy movie trailer (although I think the rest of the query is well written, as Daphne already pointed out).

  2. Lorelie Brown Says:

    My problem is that Ella seems passive. She doesn't really *do* anything until the last line of the first paragraph and even then they're all amorphous things. Finds strength/courage/faith.

    Other than that, my only nitpick is that I had instant Dr. Who associations with the name. Captain Jack (Harkness) and (Billie) Piper. Intentional?

  3. Red Boot Pearl Says:

    My issue is the big block of text. I think I have attention issues, but I skim what I'm reading if it's in a big block, and then I miss details. I'm guessing you want people to pay attention to the details.

    It's just me but Captain makes me think of pirates rather than firemen… (Fire Chief, Fire Captain, firefighter vs. Captain)

    I definitely think the missing son part needs clarification, it's one of the more interesting things in the query.

    This is a well written query and I bet there is more intrigue to the characters and story line that just need to be brought to light. Good luck with your novel!

  4. Elizabeth Kaylene Says:

    I'm not really big into romance novels, because they're often all the same. The "sewer issue" is intriguing, but I'd need to know a little more before I bothered to pick up the book.

  5. BowlerIn10A Says:

    I'm trying to figure out where a woman would wear those shoes. They are way cool, but I don't know if I would date the woman who would wear them. #conflicted

  6. Lysh Says:

    I came here to comment, but basically agreeing with what Lorelie said about Captain Jack Piper. I saw that name and an automatic vision of John Barrowman popped in my head.

    Besides that, and maybe separating that big first paragraph somehow, I think it sounds pretty good. Nicely written.

  7. Becky Mahoney Says:

    I agree with Daphne that this is well-written, but I definitely want some more personality! The query tells me a lot about various plot events, but not that much about the characters. I'd like to know less about what happens to Ella and more about how she reacts to it – and it wouldn't hurt to tell us a little more about who Captain Jack is so that he doesn't come off as a Generic Romance Hero. I'm sort of ambivalent when it comes to women's fiction, but I could be swayed if you convinced me that I'd fall in love with these people.

    Also, I'm not a huge fan of the title moment. I can tell you're a good writer – I think you can come up with a different, much more fun way of expressing that.

    Good luck!

  8. Becky Mahoney Says:

    Eeek – and by "title moment" I meant the bit about "igniting the fire in her soul." Which you probably knew, but I never can tell how clear I'm being at 2:00am.

  9. Lisa Blandford Says:

    Thanks everyone for such helpful comments! And thanks especially to Kate, not only for the AMQ, but for such an amazing and informational blog. You're the best!

  10. Adrienne Says:

    I have ADD issues and with the big block of text found it hard to take in all that was going on.

    The first lines are awesome up to "her complicated existence" I really felt I was going somewhere, and I love that particular hook.

    Detailing all the things that had gone wrong was maybe too much, picking out some of the most important would leave us guessing and wanting more.

    Otherwise, I liked the MC and her infinite choices. Congrats.