So you can read my books

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


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Will it succeed it getting you off the deserted island of unpublished status?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

I decided to go with what had won me the attention of four agents and write a query that used the 4 C's, trying to improve upon the theme. And this is what I wrote and promptly sent off to another agent {who did not reject me the same day or the day after.}

Dear Ms. _________ :

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 amunition and no sure means of communication.

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 the creatures of the night to close in around a helpless New Orleans.

And so begins the urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. I'm including the first page of my novel to give you a feel for my writing voice :

It rained lies and death today.

My mind felt broken. I stood knee-deep in water outside my French Quarter jazz club, Meilori’s. My soul stretched tight across my chest.

Everything I saw and heard in the shadows spoke to me ... in threats. The sudden, short explosion of an unseen gun. A quick, sharp scream in the distance. And the blue spurt of a lighted match at the far end of the street. My city bled slowly in the ripples of the flooded streets.

I leaned back against the door to my club as if for reassurance that something solid still remained to me. That it had survived Katrina was a mixed blessing. It was all that was left to me of my wife. Staying here was both penance and purgatory.

Meilori’s was the kind of place in which almost anything was likely to happen and in which almost everything had. Inside, fifty-one survivors of Katrina were huddled in shivering, too quiet clusters. Words have no meaning when a city dies. Nothing much does.

Somewhere distant in the hot, red darkness a shot rang out. Another called out to it like a wolf. But it came from a different direction. I smiled bitter. The predators were crawling out of their boarded shelters. They knew the restraint of law had died this day. Soon they would come for me.

You see, I had enemies in the night. And not all of them were human.
To get a better idea of my writing voice, you may want to check out my blog, WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS,

I am a former high school teacher, family counselor, and now a rare blood courier.

Thank you for taking the time to read my query. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript. I hope that you find some gem in the flood of submissions that pour your way. May your Autumn hold only happy surprises with some relief for punished eyes and swamped workloads.

Roland D. Yeomans M.A.

I included the first page as that was part of her submission guidelines. If no pages had been requested, I would have sent the first three paragraphs anyway. That is usually all weary agents read of our submissions before deciding to reject or not.

Just thought my query might help you write your own -- either incorporating some of its facets or steering away from them. Good luck with your queries everyone. And success to us all.

Jennifer Lane

tagged me on THE NEXT BIG THING blog challenge with the question: What is the current title to your WIP?

THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT (Look down a few posts for the cover image) Thanks for tagging me, Jennifer.

And here is a tune that was the favorite of Samuel McCord's one great love, Meilori Shinseen.


  1. I don't think I still have any of my query letters. I should thank God anyone requested anything of them I'm sure.

  2. I'm working on a query letter right now, so I'll check it for the four C's.

    Thanks for the tips.

  3. Alex:
    I bet your query letters were professional and winning!

    I wish you great luck in the query process. I have trouble with it! LOL.

  4. Loooooove that query, Roland. It's clear you know your stuff. Really fun ;)

  5. Wow. This conveys how I feel to a tee. Thanks for the info on the query. It is hard to nail.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Roland. I shared on my previous post that editors/agents admit they spend about 10 seconds reading a query, so you really have to get stuck right into it.

  7. Thank you Roland for the great tip. I have never sent a query letter. Would not know how to write one or even where to send it. How do you know where to look for an agent and why do you need one? I did join that gearing my to getting yourself an agent thing last year and although it was fun,I ended up getting lost along the way. I get easily lost, no compass in my head. I love to write but as I have mentioned to you before, once finished, the paths to choose are many and confusing to a novice such as myself.

  8. I just finished writing a practice query letter a few days ago and I can already see where I need to make changes. But I'm nowhere near the actual querying process. I liked your query, though it was tight, concise and intriguing. Unfortunately I can't give any advice because I've never gotten that far in the writing process.

  9. Ooh nice. I'm not there yet but thanks for the tips, will be writing those down :)

  10. Interesting post. I'm still deciding whether I want to query or go it alone.

    Heard about your run-in with the car. I hope you feel better soon. I downloaded a couple of your Kindle books. French Quarter Nocture looks like it's going to be especially good. :)

    IWSG #177 (until Alex culls the list again. :P)

  11. Just heard about your accident on Ale's post, come to say that I hope you recover soon! Thinking of you!

  12. I'm very sorry to learn of your accident. Please get well soon.

    Just because an agent signs the writer who broke the rules doesn't mean she'll be able to sell the book(s). Editors are tough.

  13. Just heard about your accident and wanted to send my get well soon wish to you!
    French Quarter Nocturne sounds great!

  14. Morgan:
    Thanks for the kind words. Now, if only an agent thought I knew my stuff! :-)

    E. Arroyo:
    Isn't it hard to nail a good query?

    Yes, I've mentioned that 10 second look agents give us, too. Not much time to make an impression is it?

    ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER is a good forum to find agents. Just write agents for what whatever genre you write in the search box at the top of the page, and you will be taken to other struggling writers posting on those agents (who are good, who are bad).

    I would be glad to help you in whatever way you might want, Roland

    You can share your struggles which will make the rest of us feel not quite so alone. None of us is an expert in this! :-)

    Wishing you luck for when you do decide to query.

    Thanks for downloading my books! I am partial to FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE since I wrote that while evacuated from my city, living in a motel in Baton Rouge & delievering rare blood to N.O. and the surrounding cities.

    Thanks. I'm much stronger now, limping less, getting in trouble just as much! :-)

    Yes, editors are tough. I've given up on both agents and editors. I've chosen the self-publication route. Still walking lonely roads there! :-)

  15. Laura:
    Thanks for the get well wishes. I'm getting stronger each day. Like I said, I am partial to FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. I still remember writing it in my motel room at night, after seeing hollow-eyed Katrina survivors wandering the streets with broken lives and bruised hopes.

  16. Getting the agent is only half the process. That agent still has to sell the book to a publisher, and 9 out of 10 manuscripts never find a home.

    Read Michael's post - hope you are doing better.

  17. L. Diane:
    And worse, should your novel find a home, your title, the cover, and the release date are out of your control. All of which is why I chose the lonely road of self-publication: the covers and titles are mine to choose as are the release dates.

    I have read Michael's post, and I am humbled by my friend's generosity. I'm getting stronger each day. Thanks for the concern. :-)

  18. SUCH a frustrating process, Roland! I commend you for sticking to it. I included you in a blog challenge you might find interesting for a later post. Keep trucking, rare blood courier!

  19. Your Four C's are excellent! Thanks so much, Roland.

  20. A very kind thing to do and a perfect analogy. The three Cs are the best bet for queries, though. Best of luck to you, Roland! <3

  21. Good query advice! It is a challenge making it stand out from hundreds of other submissions.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  22. Really interesting to read Roland!
    I hope you're feeling better. I was thinking- perhaps you should pop a paypal link in the side of your blog for donations to help you with your hospital bills. There are a lot of great people out here willing to lend a hand when times get hard - and even if it's just a tiny bit here and there- maybe it would help you?
    Love Laura x

  23. I commented on this post yesterday but I'm not sure if it got to you. This is excellent advice. I will be sure to remember the 4 C's.
    I hope you are feeling better today

  24. Love your turns of phrases, as usual! Casting dreams into darkness, the bottle analogy, your nosebleed (LOL), your AWESOME first line, the soul stretched tight, etc. Keep up the good work, and good luck querying!

  25. I haven't queried in awhile. I might at some point in the future. Shrug.

    Was sorry to hear you were hit by a car. That's awful. Wishing you a speeding recovery.

  26. Jennifer:
    I went to your blog and commented, also I answered the question: THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT (a take on Samhain called 3 spirit night in Celtic legend.)

    I'm happy my 4 C's helped in some small way.

    I try to help my friends who are struggling in the rough seas of publishing.

    Yes, isn't it a challenge to make our queries sound unique?

    A good friend had the same idea for me, but she told me that PayPal only allows the DONATE button for official charities -- and being banged up by an out-of-control car driven by an uninsured motorist doesn't qualify!

    You are a good heart to think of it though.

    I had accidently posted twice. Sorry, I read and commented there but it went up in smoke later. Sigh. I'm having that kind of month! I am limping less and the owner of the apartment complex has proven to be willing to wait until my next paycheck. Nice of him!

    I have given up hope of finding an agent or publisher. I believe my only hope is to slowly crawl up the Amazon Kindle listings, dreaming of Neil Gaiman reading a book of mine and praising it on his blog.

    Hey, I write fantasy! :-)

    Like you the heart for querying is pretty much out of me. I am getting stronger by the day. Now, my finances are another matter! But thousands are still without power, without jobs, and sometimes without hope. I am so blessed.

    After all, I have all of you as my friends, Roland

  27. HI, Roland,

    Thanks for the great advice about querying. I start with BG maybe next week. 60 more pages in my final edit.

    I will keep you posted.

  28. Michael:
    I hope it helps in some small way when you begin to query for BG. Please do keep me posted. Your help on your blog today boosted my sales ranking on Amazon's best sellers and that in turn boosted Sandra's morale this evening. You are a Super Trooper. Roland

  29. Roland, you are simply amazing. You do know that, right? You keep on, keeping on. Kudos to you. As I'm crafting this (dang-blasted) query letter for CUFFED, I've got your post starred, as I need to revisit it again when I'm done to check off the 4 C's. Querying is a tedious chore, but I know it must be done. I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet, even if it is sopping wet, and heavy to carry.

    Thanks for your advice. Hope you're feeling much better this week!