Apr 27, 2009


Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent,

In THE GRACES OF MERCY & CIRCUMSTANCE, three childhood friends, now mothers in their late thirties, commit an act of vigilantism against a complete stranger when they become convinced he has abused his stepdaughter and murdered his wife. The three women are swept up by their newfound sense of control and power while they plot against the man, but their so-called “perfect plan” goes terribly awry during execution and they discover, only when it’s too late, that they didn’t know all the facts. Thanks also to their late night activities in a stolen van, the women unwittingly become suspects in a separate murder investigation of a police informant and find out how tenuous their beliefs—and their relationships with one another—have been.

In the end, the man at the center of the women’s vigilantism has a history and identity that none of the women could ever have imagined.

The story starts with Karin, Alaina, and Trisha as children. When they reunite decades later, Karin faces unimaginable grief with the death of her only child in a car accident in which her husband was driving in the direction toward his mistress’ house. Trisha confronts her own childhood traumas involving an alcoholic mother, a father she has never met, molestation by her grandfather, and the fear that the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager could, in any way possible, be in harm’s way because of Trisha’s self-perceived abandonment. Alaina, on the other hand, struggles with the guilt of her past failure to speak out against her adopted father who was engaged in the sexual abuse of boys and, then later, the secret and questionable paternity of her oldest child.

After Alaina’s son reveals that one of his classmates has run away from home because of the horrific deeds of her stepfather, the women’s weekly “girls’ night out” takes on a whole new and tragic misplacement of energy.

This 83,000-word manuscript of commercial women’s fiction is set within small towns in British Columbia, Canada due to my life-long familiarity with the landscape. Although I am an unpublished novelist, I have an entrenched fascination with all the trouble presumably “average” people get themselves into—due, in no small part, to my past work history writing investigative narratives of the professional and personal misconduct of lawyers. Take years summarizing indiscretions and bad decision-making (including fraudulent investment schemes, criminal charges of public indecency and unlawful confinement of minors, and run-of-the mill impaired driving and assault convictions), throw in a degree in English literature, and a work of fiction was destined to come to fruition.

I'd be more than happy to send you my complete manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Eden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eden said...

I think it's still a bit wordy for a query letter. For a one-page synopsis, which some agents want, you're doing well. ;) I have a lot better sense of what happens in the book. For a one-page query, you don't need too much detail. Just a few concrete lines about the action should suffice. Maybe others will tell you differently; I'd get a lot of opinions & take from them what you need.

I would suggest something more like this:


"Girls' night out" takes on new meaning when three thirty-something mothers turn to vigilanteism to escape the pain of their lives.

Childhood friends Karin, Alaina and Trisha struggle with guilt and grief until they commit an act of vigilantism against a complete stranger. Their so-called “perfect plan” goes awry during execution and they become suspects in the murder of a police informant. Swept up in their newfound collective sense of power and control, (a line about how it ends or the climax, generally, like "the women find their friendship strengthened/strained" etc.)

THE GRACES OF MERCY & CIRCUMSTANCE, complete at 83,000 words, is commercial women's fiction set in the small towns of British Columbia. I have a B.A. in English from (University) and have worked as (insert relevant job title here). I may be contacted at (Contact info)

Thank you for you consideration.


I think you've got a good handle on what you need here & I think your story is intriguing. Best of luck with your queries :)

(deleted my previous comment b/c of typos)

folksinmt said...

Great revision! And so quick, too!
I loved the first two paragraphs...I was absolutely hooked!

But then it got to lengthy. I'd stop after "could ever have imagined" and skip all the rest. You have the agent's attention by now and they are going to ask for more...so why not just let them read the ms?

When you are describing your qualifications, I think less is more. Just say you wrote professionally in the legal industry and you have a degree. That's all they need to know.

Good job!

hope101 said...

My thoughts are pretty much identical to folksinmt's comments. I think you'll have a good, tight query if you follow her advice and suspect you'll get a lot of hits.

Will you let us know how it goes?

Kat said...

Absolutely I will! Once I tighten it up some more (thanks to everyone's great advice & encouragement), I'll send it out. I'm quite curious if the response rate will be any different than the 20 I've already sent with the earlier version...

Thanks again!

Kat said...

Well, the day after sending a handful of queries, I got a request for the whole manuscript. Mind you, I got the same thing when I sent the pre-revisionary letter out in February, too. So, we'll see. As I've often thought, it's one thing to have a great query letter; it's an entirely different matter to have a marvelous manuscript...

Still, fingers are crossed. I'll post updates on my blog.

Thanks again, everyone!

Rick Daley said...

Awesome news! Thanks for letting us know, and best of luck to you ;-)