Apr 16, 2009


Okay, here goes my very first query and four pages of my novel....

Dear My Agent,

A ravaged corpse is discovered in the mountains while a local medical specialist goes missing without a trace. A young woman and her children suddenly disappear and the only witness is a teenage boy who doesn’t realize yet what he’s seen.

Ben Drake hopes to strengthen his relationship with his teenage son Jason during a road trip that takes them from their home in California to the Mountains of Colorado. Their plans are interrupted when they are unexpectedly drawn into a police investigation involving Maeve Tidewell and her two young daughters. Ben and Jason are compelled to keep searching for the missing family near a cabin they have discovered deep in the woods, and an almost psychic connection draws Ben toward a dangerous, and possibly deadly, confrontation.

Meanwhile Maeve finds herself held captive, along with her daughters and the missing doctor, by a disturbed man from her past. They work together to devise a plan to over power the gruesome killer before he decides the time is right for them to die. Somehow, fate brings them all together in a brave and desperate attempt to escape a bizarre kidnapper.

PAY ATTENTION is the first in a series of suspense stories that border on the paranormal, and is complete at approximately 70,000 words. Thank you so much for your time and consideration of this query and I will look forward to hearing from you soon.


The sirens stopped in mid screech, leaving behind an eerie silence while the muted flashes of red and blue continued to flicker like strobe lights across the dozen or so vehicles strewn across the road. They were parked pal-mel in the brush and a group of search and rescue workers moved solemnly around the scene under a canopy of dark, billowing clouds.
Arnold Baker dug the toe of his work boot into the damp soil and shoved his hands into the pockets of his battered sheep skin coat. He glanced up at the sky as a low rumble of thunder started far off in the distance and then turned his attention to the SUV that was just pulling on to the scene. He raised his arm and signaled to the tall, slightly bowed figure that crawled from behind the wheel, and then watched and waited patiently while he picked his way over the uneven ground.
“Arnie” The coroner bobbed his head by way of greeting and the two fell in step as they walked together to the mutilated body.
“It looks like maybe we found that missin’ hiker we been lookin’ for.” Baker speculated.
“Any clue what happened to him?”
“Looks like he probably fell from the ridge up here.” The short barrel-chested sheriff dipped his balding head toward the edge of the overhang that ended a few feet away. Baker peered up at the coroner from under his bushy gray brows. “S&R had a time pullin’ him up from the bottom of the ravine. He was wedged in pretty tight down there and the critters’ve had a go at him, so you just might have a rough time figurin’ out the exact cause of death.”
“If I didn’t know you better sheriff, I’d say that sounded like a challenge.” Sam Kaufman said light heartedly as he slapped the sheriff on the back. Sam was tall and gaunt and slightly stooped from a life of bending over to avoid knocking his head on every other door frame. The contrast in their appearance and difference in education made the two men an unlikely pair, but early on they had discovered a mutual love for books and the pleasures of fishing that led to a solid friendship. They knelt down over the body and studied the decomposing form. Most of the skin and muscle of the extremities had been torn away, leaving the bones jutting and exposed. Ragged pieces of what appeared to be a faded flannel work shirt were stuck here and there to denim jeans and a tough leather hiking boot was still clinging to one foot. Like the rest of the body, it was almost completely covered with dirt and twigs.
“Well, it looks like the wildlife sure has had a hay day. I suppose this poor guy could be your hiker, but I’d say from the looks of it that he’s been dead for more than a few days. Of course, I can’t really say anything for sure until after the autopsy.”
Sheriff Baker shrugged and nodded in a maybe - maybe not sort of agreement while he chewed down the end of the toothpick he’d been swilling around between his teeth and waited for his old friend to take in the details of the gruesome cadaver. It wasn’t long before his patience was rewarded with Kaufman’s shocked exclamation.
“Jesus H Christ Arnie! What in blue blazes happened to his head?”
“Well now, that’s a good question Sam, but I only know one kind a’ animal that skins the hair off its supper ‘fore he sits down to eat.”

As was typical, Glen ended up being the last one out of the office at the end of a really long day. More and more they were all becoming long days. He could hear Lily’s voice in his head reminding him that if he didn’t slow down, one of these first times he was going to crash and then he wouldn’t be any good to her or his patients. He smiled and told himself he would make it up to her this weekend with a tour of the valleys vineyards and a whole day of wine tasting. He checked to make sure that everything was turned off and the alarm was set before he twisted the key and gave one last tug on the door.
He made his way down the stairs off the back porch of the old Victorian where he had set up his practice almost two years ago and started toward the black Jaguar, his pride and joy, parked just a few feet away. A slight movement caught his attention and just as he looked up, Joseph came lumbering around the corner of the house.
‘What the hell is he doing here?’ Glen spoke under his breath, talking to no one in particular. He had an instinctive dislike for the big ogre and he was always on edge whenever he was forced to meet the man’s cold gaze. He started to open the car door, hoping he could drive away and pretend he hadn’t noticed, but by then Joseph was in the parking lot. He was obviously agitated, waving and babbling something about the kids needing him right away.
However annoyed or edgy Glen might be with the father, he would never ignore the needs of the kids and he immediately forgot about trying to pretend he hadn’t noticed him there.
It never occurred to Glen that Joseph’s behavior was completely out of character, his first and only concern being for the kids. All he could hear was the sense of urgency in the other man’s tone and the almost panic stricken expression on his face.
“Where are they?” He asked, and then without waiting for an answer he added in disgust “I’ll follow you but we might need an ambulance this time, I don’t care what your convictions are!”
He pressed the button to unlock the car door, yanking it open in a fit of temper. He was leaning in to throw his medical bag in the back seat when he felt a sudden overwhelming jolt as something hit him hard between the shoulder blades. He gasped at the blow and fell face first across the console. It was like an electrical shock had robbed him of the ability to move his arms or legs and he struggled as someone folded him like a rag doll into the car. He was beginning to lose consciousness but still he tried to twist away and instead came face to face with his attacker.
A much younger version of Joseph was leaning over him and shoving him on to the floor.
“Carl, you little prick!” Glen snarled the words and was horrified when all that came out was a drunken mumble. Drool rolled out of the side of his mouth and down his chin.
What little reality there was came to him like snatches of scenes from a movie flickering in and out of focus. He was partially awake now and he was being jostled around on the floor board of a car. His car. He recognized the feel of the engine slowing and accelerating each time it took another winding turn. He fought to regain his senses as his body rocked with the motion of the car but the effort only made him more disoriented until suddenly, he turned his head and vomited on the rough carpet that was chafing against the side of his face. He blacked out for a few minutes and when he came to again everything was even more unclear, with only fragments of voices and wispy impressions flitting here and there through his mind as everything slowly faded to black.


Anonymous said...

This is kind of confusing. It seems to jump around a lot without explaining much about the plot.

Is Jason the teenage boy from the first paragraph?

What do the ravaged corpse and missing doctor have to do with the story?

Why are Ben and Jason pulled into the investigation?

I would also delete the so much part of your thank you. A simple "Thank you for your time and consideration" sounds more mature.

Good luck!

Suzan Harden said...

First of all, this sounds like a potentially cool story.

But who's story is this? Ben's? Jason's? Or Maeve's? Your query needs to focus on the primary protagonist.

Drop the first pragraph and focus on your protagonist (i.e. the person who changes the most emotional through the story).

Why are Ben & Jason compelled to search for Maeve and her kids? Is the sheriff holding a gun to their heads (which is kind of what is implied in the first part of the second paragraph)? Or is it Ben's psychic ability? Is this psychic thing the reason Jason thinks Dad's a weirdo instead of the usual teenage BS?

Also, watch the 'fate' stuff. It sounds a little cliche' and you don't want to give the agent the idea there's a deus ex machina ending.

Good luck on your novel!

SweetPea said...

anaquana and Suzan,

Thank you for the great advice. I'll try again and post something that I hope will be a big improvement.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was really amazing.
Yes, it has some confusing parts, but the premise hooked me and I am willing to read on.

I would like to go straight to the protagonist.As soon as possible, anyway. I find him very interesting.