Sep 3, 2009


Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my 67,000 word fiction novel, THE SECOND CHANCE.

Jerry Dunningham’s life was easy. He woke up, put on a suit and tie, and traded securities all day long for the company he owned. He made money, lived comfortably, but secretly inside, he was miserable. Each day that passed was one day longer away from his love, Debbie. The days now added up to seven years since Jerry pushed her and his entire family away and dedicated his life to his company. Now his company is closed, a victim to the economy and Jerry has nothing but the past. The past that he hopes will fix his future as he packs his bags and travels back to Pennsylvania to find Debbie.

Pennsylvania quickly brings Jerry much heartache as he learns Debbie has passed away. After meeting and confiding in a kind school teacher named Amy Denner, she reveals a secret that Debbie left behind, a secret that she’d kept from him for seven years, a secret that will challenge Jerry in ways he never thought possible.

The past and present become entwined as Jerry must find strength within his changing feelings towards Amy, life, and himself in order to hold on to his second chance.

My short stories have appeared in such publications as The Piker Press and The Cynic Online Magazine. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I hope to hear from you soon.



Rick Daley said...

Thanks for submitting. I have a good understanding of the plot from your summary, but there are ways you could present it better.

First, before we get to the plot: don't say "fiction novel" it's redundant and I know of many agents that will auto-reject on that principle alone.

The first paragraph of your description is mainly past tense, and it seems to be all back-story. Start with a hook, in present tense. An easy life isn't a compelling hook; but that's not what your story is about, anyway. Get right to the heart of the matter.

I'm guessing that the secret is a child. Personally, I think it's better to answer questions in a query rather than raise them and leave them open for speculation.

Don't mention that this is your first novel. It doesn't strengthen your credentials. Only provide information that does.

Good luck!

Dominique said...

I, too, upon reading about a secret immediately went to child. You're allowed to give away the answer in the query.

RCWriterGirl said...

I agree with Rick. You've got to start with the problem. A comfortable life with money and a little secret misery is not that much of a problem. Not to mention, once you say the company closes, it makes me wonder if his life was so easy/great in the first place.

You may want to start with something punchier, like: Jerry Dunningham dumped his true love and spent the last 7 years ignoring friends family to create a company; but the business failed. Now alone, he sets off to right his mistakes, starting with winning back his true love, Debbie. (and that's hokey/bad, but you get the drift. It shouldn't take 8 sentences to get to the present dilemma of the book.)

Next. You have to reveal the secret. Since you haven't said this is a fantasy, I would also guess child (if it is a fantasy, I'm guessing Debbie was a wood nymph :) But, whatever the secret is, reveal it. The book isn't about the secret, from what you've written in the query. The book is about him getting a second chance. Part of that is going to be him learning to be a father, learning to put people first, not things, discovering love with Amy, all those kinds of lessons. The child (if that is the secret) contributes to that and should be mentioned.

Finally, "the past and present become entwined"--get rid of that. It sounds almost like this book involves time travel. What's important is that "Jerry must find the strength within..."

I think the sentiment you are trying to get at is that Jerry is having trouble letting go of his past. He's sort of wallowing in how great things were and what could have been. He needs to accept responsibility for his mistakes and move forward with Amy, his child, his new life.

The story sounds like a nice tale of redemption. But, I think you need to start the query at the story's crucial element: that he's decided to fix his life by reclaiming his lost love. Problem is, she's dead.

Good luck with your query.

Christine said...

I agreed with Rick's suggestions and also thought the secret was a child. In addition, I'd suggest shortening some of your longer sentences to make them more immediate and powerful... particularly the ones that begin, "After meeting and confiding..." and, "The past and present become..."

Finally, while I know we have some artistic license in playing with incomplete sentences, I'm not sure the query letter is the best place to do that, so you might want to play around with, "The past that he hopes..." to make it complete.

Hope this helps! :o)

Jim_Wisneski said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! I am working on some revisions. Also, if anyone can take the time, I would like to privately exchange emails explaining the novel and see if there are any other suggestions towards the novel.

If anyone is interested, please email at

wendy said...

I have to agree with Rick on pretty much everything. I'll also add that it sounds like a very cool story you have there. Something intriguing and a little different.