Oct 20, 2009


Dear [Agent]:

A teenage girl in 1960s Louisville struggles to protect her younger siblings from dangers that her mother is too self-absorbed to recognize, and only the wisdom of her best friend (a farm-boy turned soldier), as he writes to her from the Vietnamese jungle, can change her perspective and give her the strength to confront the most dangerous secret of all.

Susanna has always loved Mama’s adventuresome nature, and she’s been happy to take care of her younger siblings so Mama can be free to spin fantasies and fun – that is, until her sister has a dangerous encounter with drunken Uncle George at one of Mama’s parties. Suddenly Mama’s eccentricities seem irresponsible, even dangerous. Worse, Mama minimizes her brother’s behavior and convinces Daddy to forgive him. Appalled, Susanna escapes to the farm next door and her friendship with Calvin, whose steadfast nature has been a comfort since they were small. By the time Calvin enlists in the army to escape his father’s control, Susanna has secretly fallen for him. Within weeks, he’s fighting in Vietnam.

While Susanna is still angry with her parents, Calvin provides an unexpected source of wisdom – he’s the most principled person she’s ever known, so when he writes of impossible choices with no right answers and how good people can be changed by terrible circumstances, she begins to realize nothing is as simple as she’d once believed. And when she discovers a horrifying secret in the hayloft, she’s suddenly faced with her own impossible decisions – ones that will impact her own beloved brother, a boy she’s loved and cared for as if he were her own child since he was born. She must choose between denial and accountability, condemnation and forgiveness, and she’s determined not to repeat her parents’ mistakes even as she begins to understand how they may have made them. And as her relationship with Calvin intensifies, love and life will never be the same.

HIDDEN IN TALL GRASS is a work of women’s fiction and is complete at approximately 118,000 words. People who enjoyed the poignant coming-of-age story in The Secret Life of Bees or the intensity of long-time unrequited love in The Thorn Birds may enjoy my book, and so might those who were drawn to the tumultuous family dynamics in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I have [credits/credentials redacted].


Suzan Harden said...

This query took my breath away. You've really hit the major marks.

Just a couple of small nits-

1) Scrap the first paragraph. It repeats the same information that is delivered much better in the second and third paragraphs.

2) Don't compare your work to several VERY different works at the same time. Such comparison sounds as if you don't know what your story is about (which is I think is definitely NOT the case.)

This sounds like a beautiful story and I wish the best of luck getting published.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Suzan! I've been working on this query forever, so I'm hopeful that it's getting close. I agree with your comments and will incorporate into my next revision.


Gina said...

Hi Angie,

I also think this is a beautiful query, but I also agree with Suzan Harden that you should ax the 1st paragraph.

It is a long-ish query even without it. Maybe you can somehow turn the two remaining paragraphs into three in order to make them more bite-size to the agent´s eyes?

Best of luck from me too; the letters from Vietnam sound like a beautiful touch.

Jason Myers said...

Good stuff.

Yep,scrap the first paragraph.