Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Query Novice

Today I took the next step in getting my novel, Stuck, published: I mailed out my first agent query letter. I'd met this agent at the James River Writers Conference a few years ago and really liked her. She handles the genre I write.

I realize that without an agent, it will be nearly impossible to interest a commercial publishing house in a work of fiction. I don't want to vanity publish this novel. Vanity publishing has worked fine for my small projects (collections of my previously published columns and stories), but this book isn't a small project. I think will appeal to a wide readership.

Even though I've attended several workshops about query letters—and I read Query Shark and Evil Editor, I'm a novice at querying. I'm glad I took good notes when Chuck Sambuchino spoke to Lake Writers last month—I used his notes for the basis of my query. I now read his blog, too.

I've spent the last few days refining my query letter and workshoping it through the two writers groups I belong to—Lake Writers and Valley Writers. Both groups provided good feedback, as did the members of my crit group last week.

The problem I have with a query is getting all the info to fit on one page. This is the info I wanted to convey about my 40,000-word middle-grade paranormal novel, Stuck:

Jacie, still stuck in grief over her mother’s death, returns from horse camp where she was stuck for weeks with her nemesis Nicole. On her eleventh birthday, her father gives her a locket and introduces her to Liz, his former high school sweetheart and now fiancée. Jacie, stuck in anger about her father’s decision to remarry, is soon stuck with Liz in a five-hour drive to Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, and then in Liz’s old farmhouse. When she is stuck with Liz’s pesky seven-year-old twin nephews, Jacie retreats into the woods where she meets Callie, a ghost stuck in 1910. Callie asks Jacie to help find her young daughter, Mariah. When Jacie solves the mystery of what happened to Mariah, Callie promises to send a sign if she meets Jacie’s mother on the other side. Jacie finally becomes unstuck in a way she never expected. STUCK is a story of grief, love, triumph—and getting unstuck.

STUCK will appeal to girls who have lost a parent or gained a step-parent, who have moved away from home and friends, who love horses, or who are fascinated with ghosts and mysteries.

I have rearranged the above info several times. It's still a work-in-progress. I'm open to suggestions on how to make my query better.

Based on this description, would you read this book?



Blogger Amy Hanek said...

I love the last line - it really "sticks" with you! LOL

I'm sure you'll do great!

1:25 PM  
Blogger Claudia Condiff said...

I am reserving a copy 2 please!

4:57 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

Boy, I can tell you've hammered this over the weekend. This synopsis is far better than the first one! You fit it all in one paragraph - wow, can you teach me to do that? lol I predict lots of young girls getting STUCK into STUCK. I can't wait to see it unfold.

9:25 AM  

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