View Full Version : looking for a beta reader for my thriller

11-28-2010, 06:45 PM

I have had no luck attracting an agent for my work and realize it is time to go back to square one and get some input on my manuscript. I've posted the current version of my query letter and synopsis below. If anyone is interested in giving my story a read and commenting, I will greatly appreciate the help. Part of my book includes some explanation of archaeological technique, so someone with experience in that area will be of tremendous help. I have no real experience as a beta reader but will be happy to reciprocate to the best of my ability. If you are interested please send me a private message, including your e-mail.
Dear Ms.

Archaeologist Nora Mathews is excavating a boat in what was once the seaport of Ephesus in Turkey. After two failed digs, time is running out for her to find something to help maintain her ability to continue receiving grant money for fieldwork. Almost in tears after weeks of unsuccessful work, Nora is ecstatic to learn her excavation may lead to a fabulous discovery. An official of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities explains remnants of the Carthaginian Cult of Tanit believe the boat, manned by their ancestors, contains priceless scrolls rescued from the Library at Alexandria as it burned in 48 BC.

There is only one problem, the cult believes the scrolls belong to them. At first, they are content to let Nora and her team do all the work. However, a renegade member decides to take matters into his own hands. A series of attacks begin with a simple break-in of a storage shed, but quickly escalate to armed confrontations culminating in the death of a colleague.

Nora’s boyfriend, ex-CIA agent, Bill Johnson comes for a visit with the hope of proposing marriage. He ends up working with the local police to defend Nora and her team. Bill attempts to convince Nora nothing, even her career, is worth risking her life. But Nora will have none of it. Even at the expense of her relationship with Bill, all she sees is the potential for fame. The cult wants the scrolls simply for their monetary value. Nora sees them as a career-making discovery. She is giddy with thoughts about what fabulous secrets they may hold. All the while, she is nagged by terrible fear the cult may steal the scrolls before she can recover them herself.

My interest in archaeology has led me to excavations at Ephesus and Carthage, providing valuable background for THE CARTHAGE CONNECTION, an 83,000-word thriller.

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

Thank you for your consideration.



After a second excavation ends without a creditable discovery, archaeologist Nora Mathews faces the loss of her funding and the loathsome alternative of having to return to the classroom. If that were not enough to deflate her ego, months without seeing her boyfriend, Bill Johnson, finishes cementing her depression.

During what may be her last opportunity to prove herself, Nora discovers a minor nautical innovation at Carthage. She shares her brief report with a colleague and her mood quickly reverses. He describes a similar discovery and invites her to join his dig at what was once the thriving seaport of Ephesus. Nora seizes the opportunity in the hope of restoring her dwindling reputation. Thinking Turkey may provide a romantic backdrop, she invites Bill to join her. She is ecstatic when he accepts, hoping he will at last offer a proposal of marriage.

Bill’s flight suffers a near fatal terrorist attack that begins an adventure neither he nor Nora could have ever imagined. On the plane, Bill recognizes his seatmate as Rebecca Schuler, an old friend and now agent with the Israeli Mossad. The odd coincidence puzzles him. His confusion quickly shifts to concern as Rebecca explains she is on the flight to warn him about the Cult of Tanit that traces its origin to the founding of Carthage. The Mossad has been tracking the group, believing they may be a threat to Israel. ‘So what’, Bill thinks until Rebecca reveals the latest intelligence that the cult believes the boat Nora is about to excavate was transporting treasure that now rightfully belongs to them. The cult has engaged the help of a local terrorist group to aid their cause.

On the first day of their adventure, the cult mounts an attack during Bill and Nora’s drive to the dig site. Before they can recover, they learn Nora’s colleague has been found murdered. The only clue the police find is the sign of the cult drawn in blood. Further complicating the situation, a menacing Egyptian is also intent on securing the treasure for his country.

The story of the treasure unfolds though a subplot involving conversations between the cult leader and his headstrong lieutenant. Merchants from Carthage, ancestors of the current Cult, arrive at Alexandria in 48 BC as a fire consumes the city. To preserve scrolls from the great library, members of the Cult agree to transport the precious cargo to a safe location, the city of Ephesus.

A car chase on the road from Ephesus to Izmir, meant only to frighten Nora, turns deadly when Rebecca returns fire and the attacking members of the cult die in a fiery car crash. Desperate to gain information regarding the status of the dig, cult members mistakenly break into Rebecca’s room. When she surprises them, they can see no alternative but to abduct her. A careful police search turns up no clues to Rebecca’s whereabouts. As Nora and Bill discuss their options, a knock on the door surprises them. Rebecca explains she has managed to escape her captors but when she leads the police to the place of her incarceration it is found abandoned.

Weighing the risk of placing her team in more danger or giving in to the threats of the cult and forgoing a potentially exciting discovery, Nora decides to continue searching for the treasure. Bill protests, complaining no treasure is worth the danger. Nora recklessly ignores his concern even when a member of the cult posing as a police officer attacks. During the violent confrontation, Nora has no choice but to fire a fatal shot with the gun their attacker losses during his struggle with Bill. Facing the horror of a murder charge, Nora breathes a sigh of relief when the police endorse Bill’s contention that it was an act of self-defense, allowing the excavation to continue.

Somehow, the cult knows every step Nora and her team make. After a break-in at the storage shed, where artifacts recovered from the excavation are temporarily stored, a graduate student on the team comes to Nora in tears. She recounts a bizarre story, explaining that past acts of her father are being used to blackmail her into providing information about the dig. With the aid of the local police, a scheme develops to trap the blackmailer. A chase through the streets of Izmir ends when the cult leader is cornered and arrested.

After two weeks of painstaking excavations, the team discovers sixteen large wooden crates of Egyptian origin. They are in near perfect condition, having spent millennia buried in the freshwater silt of the dried up harbor. In the presence of representatives from Turkey, Egypt, and the handcuffed leader of the cult, Nora begins opening the ancient crates. No one can contain their excitement, including the normally stone-faced police inspector, as Nora opens each crate to reveal countless scrolls, proving the story true. Nora is ecstatic with the discovery. The wealth of documents will provide her the credibility she so desperately needsto sustain her place in the archaeological community. Nora’s official invitation, from the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, to study the crates and scrolls includes an offer for Bill and her to spend their honeymoon in Cairo.

11-30-2010, 03:27 AM
Are you having trouble at the query stage or after partials/fulls have been requested?

11-30-2010, 05:07 AM
I've gotten lots of rejections based on my query letter and synopsis. Never got a request for a sample or full. I've posted on the Query Letter Hell board and come away realizing I have to go back to square one and do some work on those and my manuscript as well.