So you can read my books

Monday, February 10, 2014


{Cover courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy}
(Only $1.99)
{Add the professional narration of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE
for a reduced price of $1.99 after you buy my Kindle book!}

Casting dreams into the darkness.

That's what you do when you send out queries to agents or to publishers.

 Writing a short note in a bottle and tossing it out onto the horizon-to-horizon cyber-waves.

Will it succeed it getting you off the deserted island of unpublished status?

The million dollar question.
Like any intelligent person, I read what each individual agent writes she would prefer --

Only to read in another article how she just had to sign this debut author.

One who broke all the query rules and wrote such a refreshingly different query, breaking away from the crowd who slavishly submitted the same old, same old.

{in other words : followed her submission guidelines.} 

Sometimes I can feel a nosebleed coming on.

I have been following the conventional wisdom lately and feeling a lot like Snoopy riddled by the Red Baron.

Once I emailed a query early in the morning to get the rejection in the late afternoon of the same day.

All right. Obviously, it was course correction time. I looked back at the four queries that got 4 agents to ask to see more.

They had what I call the 4 C's:

interesting CHARACTER,

primal CRISIS,

enough of the plot to make the agent CURIOUS,

and most important, they were all CONCISE ...

ie. short as to be kind to a weary agent's eyes and frayed patience.

In ABNA, there is not just the PITCH (which is for the competition)
but there is also the DESCRIPTION

which is for the introduction of the work on the website.

Here is the DESCRIPTION, (only 141 words to tempt folks to actually read to the end!)

Hurricane Katrina has mortally wounded New Orleans. There is no help in sight. Federal agencies are grid-locked. State officials are befuddled and ineffectual.

The police are under-staffed with little ammunition and no sure means of communication.  Looters and addicts, with no way to score their drugs, steal and kill with impunity.

And along every dark, flooded street ... the dead have started to rise.

Samuel McCord, legendary French Quarter jazz club owner, decides he has lost enough:

his family, his wife, and his humanity.

He will not lose his adopted city --
not to inept, corrupt politicians,
not to the rising dead in the shadows,
nor to a life-long enemy whose power is causing the dead to return and other creatures of the night to close in around a helpless New Orleans.

So begins the urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

If my description gets switched somehow for my pitch, do you think it will still work?

Anyway, I just felt my thoughts might help you write your own query or pitch --

either incorporating some of its facets

or steering away from them!

Good luck with your queries everyone.

And success to us all whether we are entering ABNA or casting off queries into the darkness!


  1. I think the description is perfect.
    Still no idea on the perfect query though. I know Matthew always says to start with the main character. Outside of that, you just hope to hit those four things.

  2. Alex:
    Thanks. Yes, Matthew is right: we must focus on the main player in our saga. I wish us all luck.

  3. I'm still casting in the dark, for the time being. I've not even had the courtesy of a rejection from the last query sent out to a US publisher.

    Your description (like a short synopsis?) sounds great, as Alex said. I tried to narrow mine down to that elevator pitch of one or two sentences, just to have around. (if someone asks what's it all about. . .)

  4. Sigh. Dreams should emerge (escape) from the darkness, not be flung into it.
    As always I am in awe at all you writers. So much work for such uncertain return.
    And a big thank you to all of you with the talent and tenacity to go down this path from this greedy reader.

  5. I'm not sure about the analogy. When you cast dreams into darkness, you're not expecting the darkness to send it back, then reach into your chest and rip out your still-beating heart so it can show it to you as you slowly die from a mix of shock and agony.

    Whoa. Sorry. I think querying's been getting to me. Anyway, I really like your description--it would definitely work as well as your pitch. The only thing I could suggest is getting rid of the second paragraph and putting the third at the end of the second, to really hook people with the dead-rising thing. But that's just my opinion. Feel free to ignore.

  6. D.G.:
    I seem to live in the dark! Sigh.

    The elevator pitch is always a good thing to have in readiness.

    I once got back a manuscript with no rejection slip ... only a footprint on the first page. Subtle it wasn't! Ouch.

    Elephant's Child:
    No, thank you for wanting to read our dreams put into print. :-)

    J E:
    I understand your hurt at rejections. I have been and am there. It smarts something fierce.

    I will try your idea out. Thanks for caring enough to put your mind to thinking to help me. :-)