#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: A WORLD APART

Title: A World Apart
Category and Genre: Adult, Gay romance
Word count: 47,000
 destruction of Alderaan
Query:
A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”.
 
BEN GRIERS is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.
 
When DONNIE SAUNDERS, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, and sparks begin to fly.
 
Faced with obstacles both old and new, Ben feels torn. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben?
 
As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets.
 
First 250 words:
 
“What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at the handcuffed man on a nearby bench. He was staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling his knees nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.
 
“Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around just as his partner Jason Browne came striding out of the door.
 
“How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. That was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.
 
“As expected.”
 
“You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”
 
“Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drily, and it wasn’t a question. Jason answered it with a smirk anyway.
 
“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”
 
Jason sighed. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smarty-pants. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

15 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: A WORLD APART”

  1. I am not an expert, just a writer like you. All comments are my opinions. Please take what helps and ignore the rest.

    A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”. (I’m intrigued. Also wondering about opening it this way instead of just getting to the meat in the next para and putting this after. Just a thought.)

    BEN GRIERS is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.
    (Nice! I want to know him.)

    When DONNIE SAUNDERS, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, and sparks begin to fly.
    (Great set up of the conflict!)

    Faced with obstacles both old and new, Ben feels torn. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben?
    (You lose me with this para. Don’t think you need it at all…don’t ask me questions give me details to make me ask the questions and want to know.)

    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets.
    (This query has a great set up…then it fades. Tell me what obstacles they face. Tell me their secrets. And the stakes! Tell me the moment Ben must make a decision and the possible consequences. Lead me to the climax, show me what could happen, then leave me hanging.)

    First 250 words:

    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at the handcuffed man on a nearby bench. He was staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling his knees nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.
    (For some reason, this didn’t quite work for me. It feels muddy, like Ben and the guy on the bench get mixed up in my head. Maybe because you go from Ben to the guy to Ben to the guy…Ben steps up to the desk…sounds? Smell? A tiny detail to show me what is it like there? Then show me the guy on the bench. Make him important to us, give him his own para…I love how he’s staring at the floor and bouncing his knee! That’s great! Not sure how Ben knows that the guy is biting the inside of his mouth…I don’t know, maybe you can know…though his head is down and you can’t see his face?)

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around just as his partner Jason Browne came striding out of the door.
    (What does Lou look like, just a tiny detail can help solidify him for us. What does Jason look like?)

    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. That was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.
    (what color eyes? And it was “Never a good combination”…because Ben knows, because he’s worked with him for how long?)

    “As expected.” (Any thoughts here on court? How he hated it? How he wasn’t even called to the stand?)

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drily, and it wasn’t a question. Jason answered it with a smirk anyway.

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”
    (What does his voice sound like?)

    Jason sighed. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smarty-pants. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

    Oh…yeah. Saunders is in trouble. “Jason sighed.” You can do better than that. Give us an action, maybe something he does all the time to build his character.
    You introduce the inciting person here, but I don’t get a feel for Ben and what he thinks. Cops see a lot of things, they go on intuition, I want to feel what Ben feels about this guy, about his partner. Give us a hint of the change and conflict to come. And this is from the all emotions all the time YA writer, so…yeah. But a great start!

  2. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your work! I really appreciate it.

    I really like the premise of your story. It offers lots of great conflict, and characters that clearly have a story to tell. Excellent!

    You’re off to a great start – looks the action is off with a bang, and the dialogue puts me in the moment. You’re off and running, without a bunch of explanations. Very good!

    I took the liberty of editing your 250 words. (IMHO – In my humble opinion) I made comments in parentheses. Mostly, I broke it down into shorter sentences. This makes it read faster. In this way, your reader can read the sections more quickly, and your story clips along. Also, I try to avoid ‘was’ whenever possible. This indicates something that happened in the past, and this slows your story down. Choose active verbs; focus on what is happening right now. By default, you put your reader in the moment, allowing him to live moment by moment through the experience with your character. Also, please remember, these are just my humble opinions. All the best to you! 

    YOUR ORIGINAL 1ST PARAGRAPH – You use ‘was’ 3 times in one paragraph. Also, looking is a very passive verb – try to avoid. Trust me, I have to edit it out of every manuscript I write. 

    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at the handcuffed man on a nearby bench. He was staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling his knees nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

    EDITED VERSION
    Ben stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department. “What have we got, Lou?”

    A handcuffed man slumped on a nearby bench, staring at the scuffed linoleum floor and jiggling his knees. Strawberry blond, disheveled hair fell in his eyes. His jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday.” Lou jerked a thumb in the man’s direction. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” He nodded towards the captain’s office.

    (This is your original dialogue tag – Lou the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily at the man on the bench. IMHO, this is much too long. I found myself getting lost in the sentence. I don’t think there’s any need to identify him as the desk clerk. It’s implied, as he just stepped up to the desk.)

    Jason Browne strode through the door, and Ben inclined his head in his direction.

    “How was court, partner?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. Never a good combination.

    Ben frowned, then shrugged. “As expected.”

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drily, and it wasn’t a question. (confusing – why isn’t it a question?)

    Jason answered it with a smirk anyway. (confusing – why ‘anyway’)

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”

    Jason sighed. “And I told you this. We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smarty-pants. (IMHO, smarty pants seems a bit too juvenile and clean – not sure what your language barometer is, but either go for it here – asshole, maybe, or just eliminate it altogether. It also works without the insult.) but It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

  3. Well done with the bribe! I expect that free signed copy in the mail some time in the next year or so 😉

    My thoughts. I am no agent, but I have seen my fair share of queries while reading subs for one of my publishers and while querying my own works. So, I hope this is of some benefit to you

    Query:
    A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”.

    ***I’d probably move this paragraph to the end. Let the meat of the query SHOW these details.***

    BEN GRIERS (save capitalizing names for synopses, not queries. Think of it like a blurb, but with a few more spoilers) is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome(comma) and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter(comma) Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

    When DONNIE SAUNDERS, (again about the capitals) a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, and sparks begin to fly.

    Faced with obstacles both old and new, Ben feels torn. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben?

    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets.

    I feel like you’ve done a pretty good job at setting up the story, but I’m not really sure what the stakes are. Is it just him tearing his family apart? What secrets does Donnie have aside from being a deadbeat which is apparent? LGBTQ is very hot property now, so make sure yours stands out.

    First 250 words:

    “What have we got, Lou?”
    (As a rule, avoid starting chapters, and especially a book with conversation. Set up the scene somehow. Show Ben stepping into the station. Describe the station, the people, the sounds.)

    Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at the handcuffed man on a nearby bench. He was staring–passive– down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking–passive and telling– at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling—passive— his knees nervously, and his jaw worked—telling– as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

    Let’s tighten this paragraph up. There is a ton of passive voice here, and I think you can really use this paragraph to build the scene. The opening needs to hook the reader, draw them in so they feel like they are right there. How it is, it’s like staring at a TV screen.

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou(comma) the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily(not needed) at the man on the bench.(What does Lou look like?) “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” (New paragraph)Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced–telling–around just as his partner(comma) Jason Browne(comma) came striding out of the door. (What does he look like?)

    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. That was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.

    “As expected.”

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring—passive– at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drly,(dryly) and it wasn’t a question(not needed).(new paragraph) Jason answered it with a smirk anyway.

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”

    Jason sighed. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smarty-pants(I don’t see a cop saying this). It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

    So here, I need to see more scene building and description. Piece together the scene and people before jumping in. With adult especially, readers expect more time and effort being placed into the set up and scene building. Your word count is pretty low, so you have plenty of room to beef this up and create something that will really cause the readers to engage and connect.

    I hope that helps, and good luck!

  4. Thanks for participating in Son of a Pitch this year! I enjoyed reading your entry!

    I do have some notes for your consideration. I’ll copy them below for you. 🙂

    YOUR QUERY

    A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”.
    [I’m not sold. Illness and crime are pretty regular themes in a lot of mainstream romance novels these days. Also the “is a gay romance novel…” part falls flat. What is it about this novel specifically that makes it stand out from the crowd? That’s where you want to start!]

    BEN GRIERS is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.
    [Nice! A couple of grammatical fixes for you: Corinth Georgia’s police department or Georgia’s Corinth Police Department. Also, you’re missing a comma between clever daughter and Ben’s family]

    When DONNIE SAUNDERS, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, and sparks begin to fly.
    [I love this!]

    Faced with obstacles both old and new, Ben feels torn. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben?

    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets.

    [I would rearrange and cut these paragraphs for oomph. See below:
    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets. Will Ben’s attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben?]

    YOUR FIRST 250

    This is an interesting start, but you tell a lot more than you show. Revise to remove “was” statements as often as possible to help eliminate some of those instances of telling. For instance, try something like:

    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben stepped up to the reception desk of the Corinth Police Department, sparing a glance at the disheveled blond man handcuffed on the bench. His head hung low, his eyes fixed on the scuffed linoleum as he fidgeted, nervously biting the inside of his mouth.

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday.” Lou pointed at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.”

    Ben glanced toward the office as his partner, Jason Browne, came striding out the door, his back straight and his square jaw set.

    “How was court, brother?” Jason boomed, though the cheer in his voice didn’t reach his eyes. They were cold blue steel, angry.

    Never a good combination. (Italicize as a thought.)

    Ben frowned, shrugging.

    Also, make sure you aren’t mixing one character’s dialogue with another’s actions. If Lou is speaking, Ben’s actions shouldn’t be in the same pararaph. You would start a new paragraph for those.

    On a different note, I work for the Sheriff’s Office where I’m from, and we cover all of the unincorporated areas in the county. I know the rules are different everywhere, but I was under the impression that Corinth was a small unincorporated area. So I’m not sure why such a small place would have its own police department and so many officers, let alone have so many on duty at once. Is that really how it is there? If not, you might want to consider tweaking the details so they more closely align. A lot of readers notice those little details. 🙂

    Best of luck!

  5. Here is my edited pitch, thank you so much for the feedback so far!

    Title: A World Apart
    Category and Genre: Adult, Gay romance
    Word count: 47,000

    Query:
    Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife, and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

    When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

    With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

    A World Apart is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not often explored in the world of “happily ever after”.

    First 250 words:
    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench. The man was staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. His strawberry blonde hair was disheveled and falling. He looked to be in his early thirties. His knees were jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the gray-haired desk clerk said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.”

    Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around to see Jason Browne striding towards him, sleeves of his uniform rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.

    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his dark-brown eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school that was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.

    “As expected.” Ben didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s statement had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily. Jason nodded, smirking.

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered, his voice surprisingly dark for a man his age. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”

    Jason sighed, crossing his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

  6. Yay! Welcome to Team Leia.
    Query:
    A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”. [I would cut this part. Keep the “A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel, complete at xx words” part, but show us the rest.]
     
    BEN GRIERS is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface. [You never give me a true picture of what this desperate unhappiness is. Is it just that he’s really attracted to men? I would change it to something like, “…but, despite appearances, Ben isn’t happy. His heart craves something more.” Or whatever.]
     
    When DONNIE SAUNDERS, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued [I like the word intrigued, but I think “drawn to” might catch the flavor of this better] by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something [is it that he is attracted to men? If so, I’d change it to something like “…can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Donnie than meets the eye” or “…there’s something mysterious about him.” Otherwise I’m left at the end of the query wondering what he’s hiding]. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta [is Atlanta close to Corinth? If so, ignore me, but otherwise I’m wondering why he’s traveling out of town to go to an AA meeting. You might just cut out the “in Atlanta” part so you don’t confuse people like me. Also, the AA thing is a little out of left field. You might say something earlier in the query about Ben having a darker past, or having struggled to have his beautiful family and stable life], and sparks begin to fly.
     
    Faced with obstacles both old and new [hint of what you mean here…love/relationship obstacles? Moral obstacles, or religious ones?], Ben feels torn [you might want to skip the obstacles part and just say “Ben is torn between x and x”]. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty [give us a hint what this difficulties are], allow himself to trust Ben?
     
    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets[hint as to what the secrets are. Not a spoiler, but more of a hint if you can. There are always secrets in a novel so the more specific you can be, the more we’re intrigued].

    250:
    Opening with dialogue here doesn’t put me off too much, because you orient us right away, but I think Rebecca’s edit of your first paragraph might slip us into the narrative more easily. Also: “He was staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling his knees nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly.” I get lost as to who is doing what, and I think you can give this image more succinctly. “Handcuffed to the bench was a man with disheveled, strawberry-blonde hair. His knee jiggled as he scowled at the scuffed linoleum floor.” Something like that. Play with it. We just need a brief image of him and his state of mind at this point.
    …“Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around just as his partner Jason Browne came striding out of the door.
     
    “How was court, brother?” [I get confused for a moment about who’s talking. If you could put the action first, it would be better: “Jason smiled, but his eyes were cold: never a good combination. “How was court, brother?”] Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. That was never a good combination.

    [New paragraph here, as it’s the action of a different character. Keep action and dialogue of one character in one paragraph.] Ben frowned, then shrugged. “As expected.”
     
    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards [in the U.S. it’s “toward” not “towards”] the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”
     
    “Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drily, and it wasn’t a question. Jason answered it with a smirk anyway. [I would just say: “…Ben said drily. Jason smirked.”]

    Good entry! You really get me into the action here.

  7. I think the query is in great shape. I tinkered with the last line to see if there was a way to add a bit more tension. My musings may help – or not. ☺ Best of luck! Great work. (And I think the new arrangement works much better)

    Query:
    Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife, and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.
    When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

    With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to balance helping an increasingly vulnerable Donnie while dealing with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets. (Love is hard and trust can be harder. But only if they confront their darkest secrets will they find happiness together.) (– thought last line could have a little more tension)

    A World Apart is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not often explored in the world of “happily ever after”. (Themes that make “Happily ever after” harder to attain?/have a deeper meaning or themes that redefine happily ever after?)

    First 250 words:
    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench. The man was staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. His strawberry blonde hair was disheveled (and falling- are both needed? Disheveled gives a good picture?). He looked to be in his early thirties. His knees were jiggling (nervously – needed?), and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly. (For me, I wondered what Ben thought at this moment. – would he think – Hmm, nerves… is that innocence or past record?)
    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the gray-haired desk clerk said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.”
    Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around to see Jason Browne striding towards him, sleeves of his uniform rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.
    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his dark-brown eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school that was never a good combination.
    Ben frowned, then shrugged. “As expected.” (The impact the defendant’s statement had had on him lingered, and Ben sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.)
    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”
    “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily.
    Jason nodded, smirking.
    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered, his voice surprisingly dark for a man his age. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”
    Jason sighed, crossing his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

    I think the 250 read well and the updates you’ve made have worked. This feels like it’s unfolding naturally (In a police station ☺). I made a note or two – Use or ignore, your call. But this is a strong start.

    All thoughts/suggestions/opinions are humbly offered. Thanks for sharing your words.

  8. Query:
    Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife, and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface. (I’m wondering whether it would be useful to let us know what this unhappiness is or is it just general?)
    When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued (I prefer ‘drawn to the man’ – it sets up his attraction to him rather than just intrigue) by the man. He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.
    With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. (I’d like to know what this upheaval is. I see form the end paragraph below that the story deals with illness. Is his wife ill? This would be a good point to make if she is.) Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets. (I’m not sure this last sentence is needed. If you tell us what the upheaval is, I think you can leave it there  )
    A World Apart is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not often explored in the world of “happily ever after”. (Nice. I like this round up.)

    First 250 words:
    (I’m not a fan of dialogue opening a story. I like to get a feel for the surroundings and immerse myself in the character. Opening with dialogue that doesn’t really ‘pop’ or make me sit up and go WOW doesn’t work for me. What about him striding from the cold, bristling winter air into an over-heated office? Doors swinging behind him as he approaches the desk aware of the man sitting on the bench. Would the station be lit by yellowing, flickering strip lighting? I have no idea what this office area looks like and I want to know – give me visuals then lead into the dialogue!)
    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench. The man was staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. His strawberry blonde hair was disheveled and falling. (Don’t need ‘and falling’) He looked (He appeared to be in his early thirties but it was hard to tell with all the dirt covering his face?) to be in his early thirties. His knees were jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly. (How about somewhere in this he gets a scent of the man – aftershave, unwashed? – maybe when he walks in the office – it could be overpowering?)
    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the gray-haired desk clerk said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” He nodded towards the captain’s office.
    (The doors leading to the back office buzzed open as Jason Browne strode toward him, sleeves . . . ) Ben glanced around to see Jason Browne striding towards him, sleeves of his uniform rolled up as usual, to show off his (showing off) muscular, tanned arms.
    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his dark-brown eyes were cold. (That icy stare from Ben’s partner . . . ) In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school (that) was never a good (sign?) combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged. (Why? What’s he thinking? Let me into his head and internal though process here. Does he pull at his shirt collar, rub the back of his neck?)
    “As expected.” Ben didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s statement had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.
    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”
    “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily. Jason nodded, smirking. (Can you think of any other action other than nodding and smirking. You used nodding a few paragraphs above – mix it up a bit.)
    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered, his voice surprisingly dark (for a man his age. – don’t think you need this.) “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”
    Jason sighed, crossing his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. (Not keen on ‘exaggerated impatience’. It’s as if you’re trying too hard, may be delete it? I think it works fine without.) “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

    Great start, and please, accept or ignore my comments. Your query is tight once the end is sorted, and you just need to concentrate on the visuals, sounds and smells – use all your senses – in your actual writing to paint the scene for the reader. One thing I do need to alert you to is your word count. 47,000 is not usually accepted as a novel – you need to be above 60,000.

  9. I think Elizabeth and Elsie covered everything. I have nothing new to add to what they already said. You are in good hands. And great work!

  10. Query: Good opening paragraph! I like the twist in the final sentence. In the second paragraph, I wonder if you need a different phrase other than “sparks begin to fly” to show the attraction growing between them. I feel like the phrase is easily read as something else, like anger or conflict for example.

    All in all, you’ve got a solid query here. I feel like I have a good understanding of what kind of story it is, and am intrigued by the details that set it apart from other gay romance stories.

    250 words: I’m being very nitpicky here because there aren’t really any sweeping suggestions for me to make. It’s working quite well. And I have a grand total of one nitpick:

    First sentence, I would stop at Department and begin a new sentence for the glance at the handcuffed man. My two reasons are that the first sentence gets a little long otherwise and that there are a couple of more sentences about the guy on the bench following this one, so it might be good to set him apart in focus.

    The rest is working. You’ve got some good differences in dialogue voice already to establish the way all these men sound. You’ve worked in a bit of physical detail and relationships without it getting awkward. I think you’re on your way. -SB

  11. Adult gay romance is not in my general repertoire, but since you specifically requested my comments, I shall do my best to accomodate.

    Query:

    A WORLD APART is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not so often explored in the world of “happily ever after”. (My personal preference is to have this at the end of the query. “(TITLE) is an (TARGET AGE/GENRE) of (WORD COUNT), etc.)

    BEN GRIERS is the darling of Corinth’s Georgia Police Department – intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface. (Ok, I’m interested. Carry on.)

    When DONNIE SAUNDERS, a deadbeat redneck with a temper (I like this detail, very nice) is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. (Why? Surely he comes across lots of deadbeat rednecks with tempers. Why is this one special?) He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. Soon they encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, and sparks begin to fly. (Still okay, but I’m not chomping at the bit to read this book.)

    Faced with obstacles both old and new, (This feel a little cliched and vague) Ben feels torn. Will his attraction to this man, who is his opposite in many ways, threaten everything he’s worked and lived for? What price will he have to pay to find happiness with Donnie? And will Donnie, whose life is fraught with difficulty, allow himself to trust Ben? (This many rhetorical questions in a query is a big splat for me. Agents don’t want to answer questions, they want you to do it for them.)

    As their mutual attraction draws them ever closer, both men are forced to confront their most painful secrets. (This is interesting, and I like it, but I’d love just a leeeetle bit more about what those painful secrets are.)

    Again, since adult romance isn’t my bag, baby, you can take this as you wish. Right now, I don’t know why this story is different from the other stories like it. The voice doesn’t really stand out to me, there’s nothing particularly special about this situation. I would think you’d want a little sizzle in a romance query, but I don’t see much sizzle. Also, and this might just be me, I feel bad for Ben’s family and I wonder if he’s going to cheat or what. I think you can show your hand a little more, in order to make this really stand out.

    First 250:
    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at the handcuffed man on a nearby bench. He (Makes it sound like Ben was staring) was staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor, and Ben was looking at the top of a head of strawberry blond, disheveled hair. The man was jiggling his knees nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly. (Instead of putting “was” in front of a verb, just put the past tense of the verb. “He stared. He jiggled.”)

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the desk clerk said, pointing unnecessarily at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.” Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around just as his partner Jason Browne came striding out of the door.

    (There are a lot of people in this first 250 words…I’m a little confused at keeping them all straight.)

    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his eyes were cold. That was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.

    “As expected.”

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs,” Ben said drily, and it wasn’t a question. Jason answered it with a smirk anyway.

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”

    Jason sighed. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smarty-pants. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?” (This doesn’t sound authentic to me… Would cops really talk like this?)

    There you go. : )

  12. Hey Mel! So my experience in the adult gay romance genre is extremely limited but because you asked for my comments, I figured I’d give it a shot.

    Query:
    The opening paragraph is brilliant, it hooks me immediately and I know exactly what the story is going to be about!

    When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit and run, Ben finds himself strangely intrigued by the man. [At this point as reader I’m not intrigued. He seems like the typical sort of man that would be brought into a police station. What makes him so special?] He is quick to establish Donnie’s innocence, but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something.[What kind of something is he hiding? The reader should have questions here and want to know more. For me it falls flat.] When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

    With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie [This fragment sounds great but its not telling me very much. Why is he struggling? Why is Donie vulnerable?] , while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

    A World Apart is a gay romance novel dealing with illness and crime – themes not often explored in the world of “happily ever after”.

    So on a first read, your query does not stand out. I don’t know your genre well but I don’t see how your story is unique. It seems like a stereotypical romance novel and the characters don’t intrigue me nearly enough to want to ask for more.

    First 250 words:
    “What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department and glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench. [Great opening, we’re in the middle of scene and I want to more about the handcuffed man.] The man was staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. His strawberry blonde hair was disheveled and falling. He looked to be in his early thirties. His knees were jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as he bit the inside of his mouth repeatedly. [Lots of sentences starting with he in a row. This doesn’t flow well.]

    “Guy was driving the vehicle involved in that hit and run yesterday,” Lou the gray-haired desk clerk said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the boss right now.”

    Lou nodded towards the captain’s office. Ben glanced around to see Jason Browne striding towards him, sleeves of his uniform rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.

    “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his dark-brown eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school that was never a good combination. Ben frowned, then shrugged.

    “As expected.” Ben didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s statement had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.

    “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured towards the handcuffed man who was still staring at the floor. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he wasn’t none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

    “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily. Jason nodded, smirking.

    “Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” the man muttered, his voice surprisingly dark for a man his age. “Told ya I wasn’t in town.”

    [Up until this point the dialogue is great and believable.]

    Jason sighed, crossing his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

    [Here, I feel kind of removed. I would stop at we got witnesses placing at you the scene, smart-ass. The rest of seems unnecessary and dilutes your point.]

    Overall, your dialogue is great and I like your opening lines. My issue is I don’t see strong characters and I’m not curious enough to want to read more.

  13. Wow, you’ve got a ton of really great feedback here. The only thing I can offer is that I had a really hard time following your first 250. On my first read through, I couldn’t keep track of all the people. I suspect that it’s because there isn’t a lot of setting right there.

    Other than that, things look good.

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