Thursday, January 5, 2012

Huge Leap

My first query letter goes out tomorrow. This is a pretty big step for me as I've always been the type to write something, and then be too lazy, or maybe lackadaisical is a better word, to do the work to shop it around. I also have this huge issue with rejection. I know, who doesn't?

Tonight I went out and bought a ream of 70# linen type paper (geeze, it's almost thick enough to be card stock) and the envelopes to match. Very classy, especially for me. [Those of you who know me just keep your comments to yourself about my level of class.]

So yes, for once in my life, I'm taking this writing stuff seriously. Scary, I know. Especially for me. I haven't put this much effort into something since college. Which may either point to the fact that I'm good at my job or that I think I'm good at my job.

Anyway, I wrote the following query letter (if you don't want to know the ending of the novel, stop here) and am sending it out tomorrow. Query letter format is as follows: one page that starts with something that will grab the agent's attention, includes the gist (short synopsis) of the story, and then ends with what I like to think of as the "I love me" paragraph. Remember that you lose lots of lines to the formality of it being a business letter. So this is not an easy task, especially for a full length novel. That's why there are classes and weekend workshops and books devoted to writing a good query letter. It is your foot in the door, and the shoe on that foot better shine.

I've deleted to whom I'm sending it, but if you feel so inclined, and aren't worried about knowing the ending, pretend that you're a literary agent working with some major publishing house, and let me know if you'd be interested in my book based solely on this query letter.

~ ~ ~

agent company
agent address
agent address


Dear agent-name,

Counting Crows (working title) is a completed, women’s literature novel of approximately 110K words. It is forty-two year old Maggie MacAllister’s coming of age story. As if being born into a family of witches in a small Georgia town isn’t enough to brand her a social pariah, she came home from college with a PhD, baby Liz, and no husband. In the fifteen years since, she has allowed the Jacob’s Creek crusade of whispers to mold her life into a wretched existence.

As the self-decided scientist in a family of witches, Maggie attempts to impose logic on a situation of legendary proportions, the MacAllister family curse, but try as she might, a stroll through the family cemetery is proof enough that any man who loves a MacAllister woman dies in the prime of his life. So Maggie commits to being single, but when her sixteen year old daughter, Liz, nearly dies from a self-administered abortion, Maggie is thrown together with JD Seaborne, an attractive, younger man with a teenage daughter, Desi, and psychological ghosts of his own. Despite striving to protect JD from both the curse and the neighbors’ censure by pushing him away, they become emotionally, spiritually, and eventually physically entangled. When she ends up pregnant, Maggie struggles to make the right choice. With help, she finds the courage to face her demons, to open her heart and life to JD and to her family’s legacy of magic.

Having grown up in a small-town in middle Georgia, I understand the weight of social expectations, especially within the narrow confines of life defined by polite manipulation. Today I live in the big-city of Seattle and am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association (PNWA). I have certificates in Literary and Popular Fiction from the University of Washington. One of my bachelor’s degrees is from the University of Georgia in Classical Culture. I have also attended three of Ann Hood’s classes, two in Hawaii and one in Guatemala (where Ms. Hood taught with Joyce Maynard, Hope Edelman, and Francesco Sedita).

These experiences have helped me conjure up my first novel, a modern day, literary love story woven with myth and enchantment that I hope you will enjoy. If you would care to read a synopsis and several chapters of Counting Crows, please contact me. I have enclosed a SASE. Or feel free to call / email me. And thank you, so much, for your time and consideration.

Many Regards,

Nellie Williamson
email / phone
blog address

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