Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXXIX

November 18th, 2011 • Kate

Street_3_0082We made it to the final day! Thanks again for all your comments and helpful advice to the writers who offered their queries for review. I’m going to post one more query with my comments below, then a second query this afternoon where I’ll ask you to comment FIRST. Let’s do this thing, shall we?

Dear Daphne,

Finding dead bodies is not what journalist-turned-real estate investor Amanda O’Flannigan had in mind when she changed careers. All she wanted was a distraction from the recent death of her fiancé. A former tenant dying in her arms doesn’t do much to help her grief. As she investigates the man’s death, Amanda stumbles into a web of lies and half-truths.

Two convicts, who Amanda helped put away as a journalist, have escaped. Intent on torturing and killing her, they’re on a warpath to her doorstep. Are they responsible for the growing number of murders among Amanda’s tenants?

Enter Rick Pierce. He has been in love with Amanda for a decade. A year and a half after the tragedy of her fiancé’s death, Rick has worked up the nerve to tell Amanda how he feels. With Amanda caught up in the past as she races to stop the men who want her dead, how will Rick make her see their future together?

Homebody is a 94,000-word mystery set in the Kansas City metro.

My story “Title” won a short-story contest hosted by the blog AuthorCulture ( I recently accepted a position as reviewer at [Book Review Site] (web address) and have previously served as program coordinator for my local Sisters in Crime chapter. I also maintain a blog at [address] where I discuss a variety of topics including books and writing.

Thank you for your time.


I like where you’re going with this! I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the first paragraph contains the words dead, dying, or death in some form, in every sentence. If the tone you’re going for is that Jennifer Crusie-style, one-thing-after-another snowball effect, then I think you can play it up EVEN more. Otherwise, it seems too silly for the “web of lies and half-truths” that follows.

Because the next paragraph gets REALLY dark — we’ve got convicts, torturing and killing, the warpath, and murders. Whoa.

And how exactly does Rick Pierce “enter”? Is he one of Amanda’s tenants? Do you we need to mention Amanda’s fiance’s death again here? It almost seems like more than enough to say Rick’s been in love with her for 10 years, and leave out that he waited 18 months after her fiance’s death. Although, I’ll admit I’m beginning to have my suspicions of Rick. Has his love for Amanda turned deadly?

I think I want to see more of the connection between the convicts and the current crimes, and what that has to do with Amanda’s past. I’d also love some indication of how Amanda feels about the whole thing — it’s all about other people, and we have very little sense of your MC.

Finally, I don’t know if it’s necessary to call attention to the setting of your mystery, and even if you want to “the Kansas City metro” seems a little awkward.

But maybe that’s just me. It would likely be a draw if you were submitting to local Kansas City agents or publishers, at least. Thoughts?

Filed Under: About My Query, Ask Daphne!

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3 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXXIX”

  1. Stephanie M. Says:

    I certainly agree with Daphne about the overuse of dead and its synonyms. Far too dreary for an intro.

    My first question was, as a real estate investor, why does Amanda take it upon herself to investigate this death in the first place? Wouldn't she leave it to the investigators? Perhaps later on leads bring them to her and it is learned she was a journalist who put these men away.

    Not to repeat Daphne again, but how does Rick enter? The way you have it phrased is very jarring. It sort of makes me go, "Oh, um, hi, Rick. Nice to meet you …?" I'd like a little sense of his role in the plot. If you're going to introduce him, I would suggest telling me what he has to do with the mayhem at hand. Is it possible he's part of it? Does he help Amanda fight for her life? So far all is he is her admirer, and that makes him seem like a disposable character, not needing to be in your query.

    I don't have much else to say that Daphne hasn't covered. It's mostly those little things. I think this is great storyline. Seems very suspenseful, which is right up my alley!

    Good luck to you, L.S.

  2. Kendall Says:

    I like it!

    There were a few things I thought could be made a little tighter, though, to keep up the flow of action, and I found myself wondering a lot about who she was, why she left journalism, why real estate, who is Rick Pierce, why is she investigating this man's death.

    I don't think you need the rhetorical question, either, unless it's supposed to be a red herring (and nice Rick Pierce is actually the murderer…). I'd also suggest removing some of the phrases (on the warpath, web of lies and half-truths, Enter Rick Pierce) for something more descriptive. And I liked the K.C. reference! But I would put either "set in Kansas City." or "set in the Kansas City metro area."

    And here's how I would have edited the first paragraph:
    When Amanda O'Flannigan left her career as a journalist for real estate, she just wanted a distraction from the death of her fiance. Instead, a former tenant mysteriously dies in her arms, and Amanda's journalistic instincts kick in: she has to know what happened.

  3. Delia Says:

    I don't necessarily have a problem with the repeated forms of death if that's the tone you're trying to set. My issue, like Kendall, would be why is real estate investor Amanda the one doing the investigating and not the police? I understand this is a normal mystery trope, but I'd want to know up front what brought her into it.