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Posts : 6
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Join date : 2011-03-01
Age : 71
Location : New York City

PostSubject: I'm new to this board and -   Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:15 pm

Hi, hat

I don't know if the is the correct place for this post. If it isn't, hopefully someone will enlighten me as to where it should go.

I'm new to this board and was directed here by someone on another one. I am currently working on a thriller and am at the point where I would be very interested in swapping work with another thriller author. Please send me a message if you are interested and want to know more about my work.

Here is my current query letter. I'm not really happy with it because I haven't included both of my MCs.

Dear Ms.

After twenty years of uninspiring fieldwork, archaeologist Nora Mathews has become obsessed with the prospect of recovering the greatest secrets of antiquity. A horrific fire in 48 BC consumed the library at Alexandria and all its contents. Nora believes some of those priceless scrolls were rescued, only to be lost again when the ship carrying them sank in the now silt filled ancient seaport of Ephesus. Thrilled when she receives her sponsor’s permission to excavate the shipwreck, Nora cannot wait to get her hands dirty once again. As she and her team begin the tedious task of preparing the dig site, they have no idea that members of a mysterious cult, who consider the precious scrolls their property, are watching every step they take. The cult believes the scrolls are worth millions on the black-market, but being ill equipped to carry out the dig are happy to let Nora do all of the work.

Nora digs closer and closer to the treasure, forcing the cult to launch a campaign to scare her off so that they can remove the last shovels of dirt themselves. Break-ins, blackmail, abductions, car chases, and ultimately the murder of a colleague wear down the passionate archaeologist. Disregarding her boyfriend, ex-mercenary Bill Johnson’s insistence to call off the dig, she convinces him to protect her and her team from the withering attacks. What began as an exciting excavation has become a race for possession of the lost knowledge of the ancient world. Nora must decide whether to risk both her life and the lives of her team to continue the undertaking or give up the discovery of her lifetime.

THE CARTHAGE CONNECTION is a thriller complete at 90,000 words.

In accordance with your submission requirements, I have included my synopsis below.

Thank you for your consideration.

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PostSubject: Re: I'm new to this board and -   Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:26 am

Good morning from Texas, wannabeone! I'm so excited you posted a query for us to get started on. To make sure others can pick it up in the Query thread, I'm going to post your original again and my comments in that thread. See you there!


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PostSubject: Re: I'm new to this board and -   Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:38 am

I'm putting a real push on to get my own novel finished, so I can't commit to any hardcore swapping right now, but if you want to post your first chapter, I'll read it and comment. read2
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Posts : 6
Accolades : 2
Join date : 2011-03-01
Age : 71
Location : New York City

PostSubject: Re: I'm new to this board and -   Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:10 pm

Thanks for the offer. Here is my first chapter. Although I hope you'll be gentle, all comments and criticisms are most welcome.

Bill’s lips moved in silence as he rehearsed his marriage proposal to Nora, attempting to find just the right words. A loud report followed by a succession of tremors shook the jumbo jet as it jerked hard to the right. His jaw slammed shut and he tasted blood. What the hell? Pressing his lip to stem the flow, he tried to clear his head. Another shudder rattled through the plane when it began descending. The noise of the engines changed as the pilot adjusted their trust. Bill felt his body lift out of the seat and then push hard into it. Clear air turbulence? No, the plane is not acting as if it’s flying through changing thermal levels. This is something far more serious. As if his thoughts had been communicated to the passengers, their chatter abruptly morphed into intense cries of horror.

The plane leveled then banked to the left, correcting its course. Bill relaxed his grip on the armrests. Years of perilous experiences, in the CIA and as a mercenary, taught his body the trick of staying calm.

He caught sight of the outboard engine. Thick black smoke almost masked the harsh yellow-blue flame streaming out. Sure as hell isn’t clear-air turbulence. Could it have been a bird strike? No, too high for that. What could do that to an engine? Some kind of explosion? The plane can easily fly on the three remaining engines – I hope.

The crackling sound of a bullhorn interrupted his thoughts.

“Ah … the pilot has informed me that we’ve sustained some … ah … some damage to our outboard starboard engine. The power and fuel has been cut to that engine and the … ah … fire is out. There is no cause for alarm and we should begin our decent soon. What the sh –“

A horrible whistling noise drowned out the passengers screams. Bill felt his ears pop as he turned to see an airline blanket sucked halfway through a crack in the double-paned window three rows back. With the decrease in cabin pressure, the oxygen masks dropped from their overhead compartments. The passenger’s screams grew more frantic. Bill’s eyes re-focused on the yellow plastic mask dangling in his face and he pulled it over his nose and mouth.

The flight attendant’s voice had been cut off by a loud siren. The sound quickly died away and the she began speaking again.

“It appears that a … ah … piece of metal has … ah … compromised the cabin. I am told by the pilot that the use of oxygen is safe. As a precaution, the cabin crew will be coming through to help you with your masks. Not to worry, we’ll be below 8,000 feet in … ah … a few minutes and the masks will no longer be needed.”

Taking a deep breath, Bill was rewarded with the calming effect of the oxygen-rich mixture. He hoped it would do as much for the other passengers. Another breath cleared his mind and countless images flashed through his thoughts. All at last resolved into an image of Nora. Only a week ago he had received her phone call. She was traveling to Turkey. A friend had invited her to take part in his dig in Ephesus. Now she was inviting Bill to join her. Will I ever see her again?

A loud crash brought his attention back to the front of the first class cabin. A flight attendant wrestled with the portable oxygen tank she was lifting from the floor. After fumbling with the straps, she got the tank seated on her back and donned the mask. She began moving from passenger to passenger. They flailed frantically as the attendant helped them pull on their masks. Finished in the first-class cabin, she disappeared into economy.

The nose of the giant plane dipped for a moment but the pilot quickly corrected and brought the plane back to level flight. Another shudder set off a new round of screams. Bill turned to his seatmate to see if she needed any help. Expecting to find a hysterical person, the unruffled look of the young woman surprised him.

“What happened?” she asked in a casual voice as she rubbed sleep from her eyes and calmly pulled on her mask.

Looking past the woman, he peered through the window. Thankfully, the flames and smoke were gone.

“The outboard engine caught fire,” he yelled, his voice muffled by the mask. “There must have been some kind of explosion.”

The young woman turned toward the window.

“More than an explosion, I think.” she announced, lifting her mask for a moment. She spoke as though she knew exactly what she was looking at.

Once again, the sound of a bullhorn crackled as the attendant fingered the power. The passengers became quiet.

“We’ve cut back the power to our port outboard engine to give you the smoothest ride we can. We’ll be going through some thick cloud cover in another few moments as we begin our decent and it’s going to get a little bumpy for a while. Please remain seated and keep your seatbelts fastened. Once we break through, the ride will get smoother. We’ll enter another patch of clouds as we begin our final approach.”

After she clicked off the bullhorn, the passengers began another round of screaming, this time with a greater amount of agitation as their situation began to register in their minds. As if on cue, the plane began shaking. It felt like it was driving over a road full of potholes. Bill heard the sound of the engines modulate as the pilot dealt with the turbulent moister laden clouds. Overhead compartments sprang open. The contents spilling out onto the passengers. Cries of pain merged with those of fear. The cabin crew went into action, closing the compartments and attempting to calm the passengers. Bill turned back to his seatmate.

“What in the world do you mean? Maybe it was a bird. I’ve heard that kind of thing happens more than is reported.”

“No bird, take a closer look at the damage. Can’t you see the top side of the engine housing is still intact? Only the rear portion has damage. An explosion or the introduction of a bird would’ve caused damage all around the engine. There appears to be additional damage to the wing tip. This is not a rare engine failure or an avian collision.”

Bill could not believe their detached conversation. The plane might crash at any moment and they were debating the probable cause of their impending death. Their eyes met for a second before he diverted his attention to study the twisted metal.

The plane continued to shudder, but the pilot kept it level as they descended. Even so, the plane shook violently at random moments. Bill saw an attendant pull off her mask. We must be below 8,000 feet. He pulled off his own mask. Glancing through the window, he got a glimpse of the wing before it was obscured by a thick white mist of clouds. The top of the engine housing was still intact.

“We must be close to landing.”

The level flight of the plane had a soothing effect on the passengers. Their screams reduced to quiet mumbling, rising and falling in tune with the jets random shuddering. The dark eyed woman’s lips curl into a thin smile, as she nodded knowingly. Bill felt more than heard the grind of the motors as the pilot raised the spoilers and began extending the flaps in preparation for landing. The sound was immediately followed by a louder one as the pilot lowered the landing gear. Glancing out the window again, he got a glimpse of the neat fields that made up the countryside outside Istanbul before they were engulfed in another layer of patchy clouds.

“It appears Yagil has regained control of the plane.”


“We suspected an attempt might be made during the flight. We arranged for one of our people to take the pilot’s seat. Yagil is a very competent military pilot.”

“Your people? What are you talking about? Who are you?”

Before the woman could respond, the wheels hit the ground. Whatever loose objects not already fallen, came tumbling out of the overhead compartments. The silence in the plane filled with thunderous applause and noisy conversation as the passengers realized their terror-filled experience was over. The brakes and the reverse thrust of the remaining engines at last stopped the plane’s forward motion. Bill reached for his carry-on just as the lead flight attendant began speaking.

“Please, everyone remain seated. The fire is out and the plane has sustained no other damage. As a precaution, we will exit the plane using the emergency slides. You will not be permitted to take any of your belongings. You will see fire trucks and other emergency vehicles beside the runway. Do not be alarmed as this is standard procedure. The authorities will arrive shortly, as will buses to take you to the terminal. Thank you.”

The nervous trill in the flight attendant’s voice was transmitted to the passengers, whose anxious murmurs once again grew in intensity. Hatches on each side of the cabin were immediately opened and the emergency slides deployed. The crew worked hard to get the passengers off the plane in as orderly a manner as possible. As Bill and his seatmate passed the cockpit, the door opened. Before sitting down on the slide Bill saw a heavily mustached man poke his head out and returned a nod from the woman.

Forced to move away from the plane, Bill watched a number of vehicles that had been waiting on the tarmac quickly approach. In a matter of moments, they were surrounded by fire trucks, ambulances, airport police vehicles, and a number of unmarked cars. Firelighters spent minutes pumping thick white foam all over the wing. Convinced their work was finished, the firefighters moved out of the way. Now two mobile stairways were rolled to the damaged wing. At the same time, ground personnel attempted to keep the passengers away from the plane.

Several people ascended to perform a preliminary inspection. Certainly, the section of wing and the ruined engine would be torn apart for a thorough examination once the plane was brought to a hanger. After inspecting the engine from below, two men climbed onto the wing. After pushing away the fire-suppressing foam. They hung over the trailing edge. They studied the damage carefully. Several minutes went by before one of the men looked up and signaled to someone on the ground. All the inspectors climbed down and the mobile stairways were pulled back. A tow vehicle drove under the nose of the plane at the same time a number of buses approached.

* * *

Before the hotel room door even latched, Nora had stripped off her filthy work cloths. Yanking on an old pair of cut-off jeans and a worn t-shirt, she collapsed onto the bed. Another unproductive day. The frown masking her face felt impossible to break. Her twenty years of archaeological fieldwork yielded many exciting discoveries, making the current dig’s lack of uncovering even a tiny pottery shard difficult to accept. Squirming around, she managed to find a comfortable position on the lumpy mattress and considered her next move.

She was facing another lonely evening. Having already visited the local museum and scant other attraction there was little to do. She knew her graduate students appreciated the informality with which she conducted the dig. Still, she was never invited to join them for their evening visits to the local attractions. She told herself she didn’t really mind. An unexpected knock on the door barely registered. On the second knock, she lifted herself off the bed and pulled the door opened. Jeff, one of her graduate students, pushed passed her.

Closing the door, she turned to find him looking her up and down. The glint in his eye made her feel a little uncomfortable. She was proud of herself, still firm in all the right places. Her tan body was lean and muscular. It was all the fieldwork, she told herself. She looked up at Jeff, who didn’t seem to want to return her stare. He was a good kid. In fact, she had paired herself with him for the dig. He spoke incessantly about how much he missed his girlfriend. Just another young college guy and, at forty-three, I’m old enough to be his mother. Ugh! What a horrible thought.

“What is it Jeff?”

Could they at last be inviting me to join them? Her mood lit up for a moment.

“I’ve been elected to talk to you about your plans for the dig.”

He sat on the edge of the bed. She moved to the couch and sat facing him. Deflated, she knew what was on his mind.

“Look, I told you all before we left for Tunisia that we might not find anything. I know you were all expecting more, but you must get used to the idea that archaeology is rarely glamorous. It’s not uncommon to spend weeks on a dig with nothing to show for your efforts.”

“You seemed excited by that thing you found on the boat. You said it was a unique oak lock design. We thought it would lead to something, but it seems like a dead end. We haven’t found anything else.”

“I know, I –“

Before she could finish, Jeff stood up and went to the window. Slowly turning, he faced her, scratching his straggly hair.

“You’re not going to ask for an extension, are you?”

“I’m sorry this dig is not what you expected. No, I’m not going to ask for an extension, there’s no point.”

Jeff allowed a small smile to spread across his face. He’s probably happy I won’t be asking for an extension so he can get home to his girlfriend. She wondered if she should tell him she was already in preliminary negotiations for a dig at Machu Picchu. She was planning to ask Jeff and the rest of the students to join her, to make up for this fruitless experience.

“How soon?”


Glancing at the desk, she saw the two letters the desk clerk had given her.

“In fact, there’s a letter from the university. I’m sure it’s from my supervisor. After my last report to him, I’m guessing his letter will confirm the termination of my grant for this dig. I’m sorry it’s turned out this way.”

She stared at him as his eyes wandered around the room.

“I guess I’ll go tell the others. I don’t know how pleased they’ll be, but I’ll be happy to go back home.”

Jeff slammed the door so hard the dust on the frame rained down, making the small room so much drearier. Nora slumped down on the couch, happy to be alone, but feeling more unhappy about her prospects. This was her second failed dig in little more than a year. The last thing she wanted to do was allow her students to become disenchanted. Equally important, it would have a big impact on her future capacity to obtain choice grants. Reluctantly, she moved to the desk and tore open the letter from her boss. As she suspected, the grant would not be extended. She quickly wrote a response, tasting the awful glue as she sealed the envelope.

The second letter was from a colleague, working on a dig in what had once been the thriving seaport at Ephesus, Turkey. A week ago, she had sent him a copy of her preliminary report regarding the discovery of the interesting oarlock design. This must be his response. She tore open the envelope and read her friend, Hank’s correspondence. Her excitement grew as she carefully reread the note. He claimed to have found a similar oarlock design on the boat he was excavating.

Such a find, by itself, was of little importance. Nevertheless, she knew if it could be dated to the same period of her find, it would have great significance. It could go a long way proving a pet theory of hers. She believed that merchants from the ancient city of Carthage traveled the trade routes along the Mediterranean coast all the way to what is now Turkey. The best part of the note came at the end. Hank was inviting her to join his dig. She might at last have an opportunity to prove her theory. Another taste of glue sealed her acceptance of his invitation.

Leaning back, she began thinking about her boyfriend, Bill Johnson. She missed his companionship, not to mention the feeling of his strong arms surrounding her in an affectionate embrace. More than that, she wondered if he had at last decided to propose. She was sure he would three months ago when they both managed to steal some time from their jobs. Unfortunately, he never brought it up. Quickly calculated the time difference, she reached for the phone. His familiar voice answered on the third ring.

“Nora, what a surprise.”

“Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Not at all, just finishing some paper work.”

She knew how much he hated office-work. His background in military intelligence, the CIA, and as a mercenary, made his decision to begin his own security business an obvious move. But Bill was and always would be a man of action. Office work was simply not his style.

“How are things going?”

“Great. In fact, I’m just about done training Charlie to take over day-to-day operations.”

“So you don’t have to be stuck in the office?”

“No, in fact I’m overdue for some R & R.”

“That’s great! How about coming over?”

Nora quickly explained her situation and that she would be flying to Turkey in a few days.

“Sounds like a great idea. I haven’t been to Turkey in years.”

“Wonderful, I can’t wait to see you.”

“Me either.”

Nora hung up; at last feeling her lips curl into a broad smile. The dim room light, peeling wallpaper, dusty curtains, and tattered rug made the room feel repulsive now that she had new plans. With little else to do, she quickly stripped off her clothing and took a relaxing bath. Thankfully, the room was equipped with an old claw-foot tub instead of the small shower most of the rooms had. After toweling herself dry, she opened the window, hoping for more than the unbearably hot, humid breeze. Pulling up the thin blanket, she was soon fast asleep, dreaming about being in her lover’s arms.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm new to this board and -   Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:21 pm

Okay, there was one thing that jumped out at me right away: you keep switching tenses. I'll highlight the past tense in blue, the present tense in red, the past perfect in orange, and the future tense in yellow to show you what I mean.

Quote :
Bill’s lips moved in silence as he rehearsed his marriage proposal to Nora, attempting to find just the right words. A loud report followed by a succession of tremors shook the jumbo jet as it jerked hard to the right. His jaw slammed shut and he tasted blood. What the hell? Pressing his lip to stem the flow, he tried to clear his head. Another shudder rattled through the plane when it began descending. The noise of the engines changed as the pilot adjusted their trust. Bill felt his body lift out of the seat and then push hard into it. Clear air turbulence? No, the plane is not acting as if it’s flying through changing thermal levels. This is something far more serious. As if his thoughts had been communicated to the passengers, their chatter abruptly morphed into intense cries of horror.

Fortunately, this isn't a big deal to fix. :D All you have to do is go through your ms and convert everything to one tense. Personally, I like the past tense... "-ed" words.

On the plus side, I love how you've made your MC bleed in the first paragraph. Nicely done. up You've got a punchy opening here and I'm looking forward to reading more. computer
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