Query Critique 9

Somebody on Twitter called these Kyratiques, which I think is fabulous. I’m going to see if I can get that to stick.

Comments are in green (in case you’re new here and haven’t caught on to my rainbow (sans red) comments yet).


After reading on your blog/on twitter/ on the agencies website your wish-list included women’s fiction, I thought my manuscript,Watercolour Riddles & Bergamot Tea, might be a good match. Put the name of the manuscript in all caps.

If MARICA If you put this in all caps, people will think this is the title of the book. learned anything from her mother, it’s that make-up is no more effective at covering crow’s feet than cried-out eyes.

But at twenty-four Marica finally had control of her life. A completed degree, a planned career and her own apartment far enough removed from her mother’s indifference and step-dad no. three’s interference…until her mother’s sudden death. With her mother gone, regret helps Marica decide to abandon her cute Paris loft and her fear of affection, and return to Melbourne Australia to live with heroctogenarian GRAN, longing for nothing less than ordinary. The placement of this modifier makes it seem like Gran longs for nothing less than ordinary. Also, I wouldn’t put GRAN in all caps.

And for a minute normal seemed possible, she even meets a hot new guy with a deliciously sexy accent. What type of accent? Specifying can help you play up the diversity, and a lot of agents are looking for diverse books. Then she uncovers one-hundred-year-old Russian journals which reveal her family’s part in the Romanov murders and subsequent four generations of deception. THIS. This is what needs to be in the hook. This is ten times more interesting than any of the stuff that leads up to it. The more she discovers the more uneasy she becomes about her family and more specifically her Gran, the one person she’d always called ‘home.’ I don’t think the quotes around home are necessary. So when the truth about her father’s death is revealed, Mention that the dad died sooner, or I might just assume that he and her mom were divorced. what remains of her world crumbles and then implodes.

With a grandmother who’s been keeping secrets, a mother who wasn’t who she seemed, and a father who died for all the wrong reasons, Marica feels deceived and fragile. With her relationship with Gran as brittle as toffy I think the more preferred American spelling is toffee, because the first time I read I thought it was taffy, which is like the least brittle candy in existence. shards, her flimsy grip on reality spirals Marica into a depressive melancholy. If she can’t break free of her family’s past, Marica’s future is assured. She’ll become the next family tragedy.

Set in Melbourne, Paris and Moscow, WATERCOLOUR RIDDLES & BERGAMOT TEA is a 90,000-word women’s fiction with historical elements, I’d break this into a new sentence right here. It gets a little long as is. think Coco Chanel & Doctor Zhivago/Romanov’s-style Russia, dealing with family and trust, and if the truth should remain buried with the dead.

Per submission guidelines I have not included …


Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 11.31.07 AM



Overall, I would say WAY more information about the involvement with the Romanov murders and quite a bit less information about how she’s trying to live a normal life. Normal is boring. That’s a lie. There are lots of great books about normal people, but I don’t think that’s where the focus should be here.

The Romanov murders are a great premise, though. People have been fascinated with that bit of history for a long time, and I think there is definitely more room for stories about it.


One thought on “Query Critique 9

  1. I’m not sure if the author of the query will read this, but I felt compelled to point out two issues with the protagonist’s name, Marica: (1) the way I read the name makes it sound a lot like ‘Merica (you know, the way some people say “America,” usually used as satire for extreme patriotism); and (2) in Spanish, “marica” is apparently a derogatory word for “gay.”

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