Benjamin Sobieck
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  • Elk River, MN
  • United States
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Benjamin Sobieck's Discussions

Too Many Shortcuts? Mental Health in Crime Fiction
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Martyn V. Halm Jul 14, 2013.

What a Novella Is and Isn't
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Jim Courter Jul 25, 2013.

CrimeSpace's IJ Parker Featured on Crime City Central Podcast
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Started this discussion. Last reply by I. J. Parker Dec 20, 2012.

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#331

I have so many questions, but I’ll whittle them down to two. First, do you think I’m correct in describing this as literary fiction? Second, some agents I’m interested in querying require bios... but would admitting that I’m in high school lead them to dismiss my query or my writing? If so, could I just conveniently leave that bit out?
Thank you!


Dear QueryShark,

First of all, this query is 498 words, so it's double the target word count. The first thing we need to do here is start trimming.

Anamaria huddles in her family’s barracks with her best friend Julio. Together, they listen to the sick pattern of gunshots and radicals’ bodies falling into the dust. The detainment center guards— the executioners— scare everyone, but she knows she’ll be safe if she does everything just right.

Then her childhood ends.
When you need to cut, look for set up and backstory.That's often the info you can leave out without any loss of clarity.

Anamaria is sent to Moonhaven Academy, where her name and identity are stripped away and replaced. There, she must bleach her skin and hide her accent until she can pass as the perfect white woman. And Anamaria, now Anna Clara, knows she is lucky. Had the Academy not accepted her, she would have become one of the women in red who supposedly cook and clean for white men.
But everyone knows what they really do, behind closed doors.

Or, rather, what’s done to them.

She could still become one of them if she fails.
At this point, I'm salivating.
I am thinking of editors, I'm plotting submission strategies.

Anna escapes as her dream-self, Indigo, into a fantasy world where the rainforest teems with dragons. Not too long ago, her dream-planet was colonized by the humans who made Earth uninhabitable. They genetically warped the planet’s indigenous life into creatures designed to serve. Now, one revolution later, Indigo and her only friend Oak are stuck on opposite sides of an imminent war between two of the human-created tribes.

What?
What just happened here?
We were all set for The Handmaid's Tale Redux and along come...dragons??
I've stopped salivating cause what you had was strong commercial fiction, and now I'm looking at fantasy.

Indigo must choose whether to betray Oak and live in safety with the tribe that took her in, or to leave the tribe and risk her life, alone, in the rainforest.
Yea, but it's all a dream, right?
Meanwhile, Anna is forced to either abandon her heritage for the illusion of whiteness, or let herself be given away to any man with a few dollars to spare. Her heart aches against both.
I'm pretty sure she's got a stronger reaction than heart ache here.
Three years later, Anna finds out she has been married to Julio, now Julian Taylor. He has changed beyond recognition.
Ok, and?
Ten years later, Anna must make her first autonomous choice.
are we done with the dragons?

Anna’s former classmate, tiny genius Amalia, is the leader of an underground organization intended to smuggle women to safety until the law no longer threatens them. Now Amalia has only days to find her successor before she is executed for crimes including treason, blackmail, and loving another woman. She begs Anna to take on her duties when she’s gone. After all, her wife can’t stand the thought of replacing her, and Anna is the last person the police would ever suspect. She’s pale, unassuming, well-mannered (at least in public): the perfect facade.

What does Amalia do that  makes her a genius?
Why is "tiny" something we need to know about her.

And honestly, I'm so confused here the only reason I'm still reading is that you had a GREAT opening, and I can see possibility.

If Anna accepts, she will surely die.

If she refuses, she will be a traitor to every woman on Earth.
What you're missing here is why she doesn't want to be a traitor to every woman on earth. You're assuming she doesn't. Watching a person struggle with choices, especially ones you might think are no-brainers creates tension, and tension boosts interest.


JADE AND INDIGO is just over 90,000 words of literary fiction, narrated primarily from the perspectives of Anna and Indigo. I am a high school student with a deep love for surrealist art, the poems of Sappho, and musicals. I scavenge for time to write when I’m not juggling AP classes and horse shows— no flaming swords yet, but maybe someday. JADE AND INDIGO is my first novel.

Well, if this is literary fiction, how are we going to explain the dragons?

Thank you for your time and consideration!
Sincerely,
I'm not sure how large a part the dragon thing plays in the book, but you're better leaving it OUT of the query. It's utterly confusing.

You can have it in the book (without seeing the book I'm going to assume your reader will understand what's going on) and NOT have it in the query.

Or you can allude to it in the query with Anna escapes into a fantasy world (without going into specifics.)

You've got the start of something I'd read but I'm not sure I've ever seen this big a splat in such a short period of time.

Fortunately, it's all fixable.

I suggest you leave out your age. It's nobody's business how old you aren't.





 

Benjamin Sobieck's Page

Profile Information

Hometown:
Minnesota
About Me:
By day, I'm an online editor for an international publisher of enthusiast titles. By night, I write.

I'm the author of crime thriller novel, "Cleansing Eden: The Celebrity Murders," the Maynard Soloman crime fiction short story humor series and many flash fiction works.

See all my titles on my Amazon author page.
I Am A:
Reader, Writer
Website:
http://www.CrimeFictionBook.com
Books And Authors I Like:
I will read anything by Elmore Leonard and Hunter S. Thompson. My favorites. Much of what I read comes from recommendations and authors I meet online.
Movies And TV Shows I Like:
Justified, true crime TV shows, cooking shows

Cleansing Eden - The Celebrity Murders

Cleansing Eden - The Celebrity Murders available for Kindle and in print exclusively through Amazon here.

Cleansing Eden is a highly suspenseful read. Benjamin Sobieck has an inventive way with words. He writes with a voice that's strong and uniquely his.” – Debbi Mack, New York Times bestselling author of the Sam McRae series

Cleansing Eden by Benjamin Sobieck is a gripping story about individuals who give up more and more of themselves over time, becoming the things they hate.” – Michelle Peden Vasquez, Life in Review

“Benjamin Sobieck has got mad skills when it comes to taking complex characters, fantastic crime, murder, drugs, and good vs. evil, rolling them up into one and spitting out a novel that will twist and grip you from beginning to end.” – Molly Edwards, Reviews by Molly

“Drugs. Murder. Charismatic demagogues. What else does a reader need? Ben Sobieck's first book, and a damn good one. He's going to write more. And they will be just as great to read.” – B.R. Stateham, crime author

It's time for brain-dead celebrities to get what they deserve.

After recruiting a drug-addled street rat to do his bidding, an eccentric inventor of designer drugs launches a campaign of violence and manipulation to cleanse the world of impure celebrities.

But as the street rat wakes up to what's really going on, he's not liking what he sees. He's torn between getting sober and the drug-fueled haze that keeps him killing celebrities.

As the body count rises, a decision needs to be made. Either way, someone's going to die.

* Includes bonus short story

Click here to buy the 5-star reviewed Cleansing Eden - The Celebrity Murders e-book from Amazon for the Kindle and in print.

Benjamin Sobieck's Videos

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Benjamin Sobieck's Blog

Big News: Writer's Digest to Publish My Weapons E-Book

Posted on December 13, 2012 at 11:26pm — 4 Comments

Someecards Writer Humor

Posted on November 22, 2012 at 6:21am

How a Fictional Detective Made a Real-World Impact

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 11:00pm

Comment Wall (37 comments)

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At 4:05pm on July 6, 2011, Noir Nation said…

Hi Benjamin,  the discussion on the forum about social commentary in crime fiction has gotten quite a lot of responses.  This has inspired us at Noir Nation to add a new section to the first issue of Noir Nation wherein writers opine on the following question: Must crime noir have a moral point?  The word limit is 300 to 500 words. Include short bio, and photo. There is a $25 honoraria, payable on publication. Best five get published in Issue No. 1. Send to eddie@evegaonline.com

 

-- Eddie Vega, Noir Nation editor in chief
At 5:52am on June 28, 2011, Noir Nation said…
You just might find him or her in the first issue of Noir Nation, due out in September.
At 8:20am on June 13, 2011, I. J. Parker said…
Great!  Side-loaded?  Who knew?
At 1:07am on June 13, 2011, I. J. Parker said…
Thanks, Benjamin, for the link.  The book is doing amazingly well, publicity-wise. A lot of people willing to help.  You, too!  Thank you.
At 4:12am on May 21, 2011, Jennifer Chase said…

Hi Ben,  Would love to submit to your blog (great blog by the way :).  Let me know which ones.  I have some others I'm working on about fingerprints too.   -Jen (contact: jchase2000@aol.com)

 

At 1:11pm on April 27, 2011, Laura L. Cooper said…
Thanks for the invite.  BTW loved the cover and title for WHO WHACKED THE BLOGGER?  Good luck with the story!
At 3:52am on February 25, 2011, Dorte said…
Thanks for your mail. Will take a look at your website + stories later - have got the flu right now :(
At 3:09pm on September 14, 2010, Copper Smith said…
Remember Goofus's and Gallant?
Read all about Goofus's drift to the dark side in 'Always the bad example.'
At 4:22pm on June 23, 2010, Melissa Emerald said…
Now I see the problem. I can't read. But I never let that stop me from writing. Besides, in journalism, we all just looked at the photos. :-)

You wrote, "I asked a retired newspaper reporter (no, they don't all fall off the wagon before 40) how long articles should be. He answered, "Until it's done.""

"Until it's done" or "As many as it takes" used to be the word count for news stories. These days, what with short reader attention spans and the high cost of newsprint, short is in. Editors at the paper I used to work for generally liked a story to be between 8 and 14 inches ... unless it's a juicy one.

As far as books go, take a look at the links that I posted in your thread. I think those will be good guidelines for all of us. At least that's what this unpublished writer is shooting for. :-)
At 4:01pm on June 23, 2010, Melissa Emerald said…
Ah...I thought I read a post where you said you were a retired newspaper reporter ... something I rarely hear of. Most of my colleagues can't afford to retire. Even more sad, most of my colleagues (including me) are victims of newsroom downsizing.

BTW ... I'm jealous of that $42.71 401k you've got going there. I think mine has $22.50. On the up side, being much older than you means I don't need to make mine last as long. :-)
 
 
 

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