Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Query Letter

In my continuing quest to appear as delusional as possible, I have decided to work on my query letter to agents and publishers with regard to that novel I wrote. It's not edited. Or really ready to send out. But when websites say I need a short description of the work that might make someone interested in seeing it, well, I felt compelled to write one. This is also the point where I start looking for a few more people to read what I've written and offer criticism and ideas.

Plus, I need help on my query letter. Please. Thank you. (What would make you want to read my book? Or is there nothing at all I could do to convince you?)

Poppy read romance novels. She had shelves and boxes and bags full of books describing love and passion, fluttered over the arrival of new characters and conflicts and scenes describing the undressing and exploration of new relationships. Having been well-versed in the general recipe for a good story, she wished for one of her own. It was simple to discard men thrown at her by friends or chance - they didn’t elicit the right feelings. So while she was disappointed from the hours spent searching and meeting the wrong men, Poppy was ever aware that the right one was coming.

Acknowledging that her life was more textbook then fiction - one would have to order her story online, she groused, since graduate study in the biomedical sciences, wonderful friends and sporadic dates that rarely ended in anything more than an awkward handshake didn’t attract a large enough audience to be stocked on bookshelves in any of the shops she frequented - she set about scripting her own novel. Writing a blog wasn’t, in retrospect, the smartest decision for a lifelong student. But words were irresistible and if reading them wasn’t effective, perhaps writing them would be.

Her plan - to write a journal online and attract her one true love - worked even faster than she hoped. Stewart visited her site and read multiple times each day, slowly started to leave perfect comments offering encouragement and sympathy and, at long last, flirtation.

“You,” Poppy said out loud, staring at her laptop and the dialogue that finally arrived from the right man, “shall be my hero.”

Stewart played the role well. It takes some time to reading romance novels, perhaps venturing into erotic fiction a bit, to realize that heroes are not so much tall, dark, handsome. They must, however, be compelling. Stewart could be older than was ideal, as brooding as he was charming, and as sharp as he was brilliant, yet Poppy doted on him. He wasn’t yet divorced from his adulterous wife, but a friend had advised Poppy to wait for someone with emotional baggage so that her own experience was more appealing. Guidance that seemed absurd at the time now seemed prophetic.

Addressing the need for conflict, Poppy threw in a bit of angst over her appearance. Stewart eased her worries with just the right words. She added a bit of uncharacteristic jealousy of his relationships with previous students from his English and Drama classes. He didn’t do such a good job of soothing, but she decided to ignore it regardless. She had her hero and refused to be swayed from her story. Instead, she searched for panties that puddled perfectly on the floor when removed by the right man. She laughed over miserable dates with the full expectation that they are located firmly in the past as she raced toward happiness with this new man. She pouted over a friend in an abusive relationship and sighed over her mentor as the older woman took steps to become a single parent. Love is out there! She told them passionately. It’s just a matter of waiting and planning for it!

Meeting Stewart in person convinced her she was right. Her trembling hope met his charismatic confidence and the pair meshed to create wonderful kisses and just-right touches. If she had to push a bit to share the bed in her guest room with him, or jump at his tentative invitation to join him at the beach in California, she would simply highlight the good parts of both trips and gloss over any unpleasantness. If Stewart began to ignore her for months on end when her life began to unravel, she vowed to wait for her happy ending, patient even when she railed against his disinterest and the cruelty of life in taking away those she loved.

Poppy didn’t get a romance novel.

Instead, she has a story of hope and love that twists into a plotline that describes plans gone awry. This is a book she’d be unlikely to read as the moments of sadness and miserable realizations are not all neatly tied up while she falls asleep in her lover’s arms. There are no wedding plans and sparse protestations of love. Yet through friends, a faithful canine companion and, eventually, anti-depressants, there is some realization that while life isn’t fair and doesn’t adhere to even the best laid plans, there is some happiness to be found.

It’s just that sometimes one must look on a different shelf.
In other publication news, I'm finally meeting with Dr. Icing, et al., on Friday to discuss my nearly-ready-for-submission paper. I'm currently writing one - and doing extensive lit searches - on the project I presented in DC. If I can get that one done, I think I'll call the post-doc good. It's not what I wanted, but I think I can make my peace with it.

I applied for a job yesterday and another today - both in industry. It seems that they're looking for people who do what I do. It's just a matter of having the right CV at the right time. I'm not sure I'm anything other than close. But we shall see.

A Blog Around the Clock lists submissions for Open Laboratory 2008. After the surprisingly strong response - via comments and email - for my post, Indefensible, I threw it into the mix. But I wanted to note that if anyone had written something they felt deserved consideration, there's still lots of time before the December deadline. That post has more details if you find it of interest.

1 comment:

Psychobunny said...

I know this really won't help with a query letter, but I want to read your book because you wrote it. I always enjoy reading your blog, and I'd love to read something besides textbooks and test prep manuals right about now!

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