Jul 22, 2011


Dearest Agent,

After years of suffering sexual, physical, and psychological abuse too horrid to speak of, Mona Bishop injects the needle into her arm, pushes the plunger inward with her thumb, forcing the “smack” into her veins, entering her final decline.

Since childhood, Mona has never had never had much of anything, including a voice. After witnessing the death of her beloved grandmother, she is thrust into the foster care system where she falls prey to horrific abuse at the hands of her demented foster parents, Jack and Martha O’Neal. Sixteen, and unable to endure the torture any further, without plan, Mona runs away and ends up on the mean streets of South Dallas struggling to survive. When Lee, a free spirit, enticed by the tango with danger, enters her life, he feeds Mona’s soul the food it has been long starving for. But, as time passes, tensions arise, betrayal is discovered, and all that Mona holds sacred is destroyed. Lee abandons her and leaves town with their daughter, leaving Mona’s life spiraling out of control. Heroin addicted and clutching to her fragile hold on sanity, Mona is forced to confront her failures, expose her secrets, and face her long-buried hurts. She riots against herself, and the voices in her head desperately trying to rebuild her life and be the kind of woman her daughter can be proud of. However her journey to self-discovery has a detour, leading Mona down a road paved with further heartbreak. In the end, will Mona reunite with the love of her life? Will she find her daughter? And, lastly, will she ever find again the most valuable thing she has lost—herself?

Ultimately, LOOKING FOR ME is a story of hope, resolve, of a woman digging deeper than she thought possible trying to find the strength not to completely crumble. Completed at 64, 256-words, LOOKING FOR ME is a drama suffused, mainstream literary narrative entwined with a touch of humor, suspense, and dark realities, topped with an urban twist.

Now, about me in a nutshell; I began my writing career at the tender age of six. True. Stapled notebook paper in booklet form, I was sure my three page masterpiece would be a bestseller. Allow me to toot my horn by briefly stating, I have won and been a finalist in numerous contests, recently, receiving the 2010 first Annual Soul Sister Creative Writing Award.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind Regards,
Angela Duirden-Galbreth
[Address and phone number redacted]


Anonymous Author said...

Okay, here are the things you need to work on first:

1. White space! The second paragraph is so long it begs to be skimmed.

2. Cliches. (Falls prey to horrific abuse, mean streets, voices in her head, etc etc etc.) These things have been said so many times they're robbed of any punch.

3. Too many words.


After years of suffering sexual, physical, and psychological abuse too horrid to speak of

would be stronger as

After years of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse

and would be just fine as

After years of abuse

The bio is, well... it's not gonna work. The childhood stuff you should save for the Today show interview. The award, when I googled it, only brought me to your query letter on this site and others. Bear in mind that interested agents will also google. List awards that you've won that the agent may have heard of, or that have at least got good websites... if there aren't any, leave the whole thing off.

There's no need for them. This is about your novel.

Anonymous Author said...

(Rick, blogger is eating my comments again.)

Anonymous said...

Anon...I'm on the road but can clear your comment throu the Blogger sapm filter tomorrow evening. Thanks for the heads up.

Dominique said...

There's a whole lot of overwriting going on here, to the point where an agent might be worried about the material. Your first paragraph, for example, is a lot of words that don't say anything you don't say again later. Also, not every noun needs an adjective attached to it. Try boiling this down a lot so that you have more room (you only get about 250 words in a query) so you can really talk about the meat of the plot.

Dy, Michael and Mia said...

Having worked in trauma I would avoid saying it's 'too horid to speak of.' Sounds like the narrator is dodging a difficult subject. You're also IMO giving too much away in the first line. I'd cut 'entering her final decline'.

I'd also cut 'mean' from 'streets' because if she's a runaway it's clear she's going into uncertain and unsafe territory. I didn't understand the 'tango with danger' reference and would explain this further. 'feeding soul' is a cliche and I'd pick somethind else to explain the connection.

Consider cutting 'but as time passes, tensions arise, betrayal is discovered.' It's a summary. Be specific. She's betrayed and he leaves. Otherwise it sounds a tad melodromatic. Why does he leave with the daughter? Has she done something to betray him? Makes for an unsympathetic MC.

'Rioting' is another cliche. What is she experiencing in her head? The journey of self discovery is obscure and could be clearer.

You mention it's a story of hope but it sounds depressing. sorry but there needs to be hints of hope throughout... her perseverence despite the odds. Let her character shine through.

author notes are not my forte but I'd wind back on the 'true' statements and 'allow me to toot my own horn'. Avoid cliched phrases like that.

good luck with this.

Anonymous said...

yankinfrance here...

This reads like a thoroughly uplifting story that's been written many times before. At least, that's the way this query comes across.

I don't usually comment on novel content, because we're critiquing queries here. Except, in this case, your query is making the novel appear hackneyed, hyperbolic and most likely part of some suburbanite's 'grim reality' fantasy. And copied from a few dozen heroin-addict novels written since the 1970s.

I'd suggest taking a step back and figuring out what's UNIQUE about your novel and write from there.

I'd also suggest starting out the query with a ray of light -- where, in the midst of the bleakness you've presented, is that story of hope?

Next, the query suffers terribly from over-writing: everything is said twice, you use 10 words where you only need two, and too much of it is cliches and stock-phrases. Not to mention the lapses into passive writing ("tensions arives, betrayal is discovered").

Is the novel written this way? This is all I can think of.

An example: The whole "drama suffused..." etc. sentence is unnecessary. If there's humor in there, SHOW us with your query voice; if there's suspense, SHOW us in the query. Dark realities do not exist -- reality simply is. And "urban twist" only sounds good -- it means very little.

Personally, I'd say: Start again, from scratch.

Jenny said...

The first sentence doesn't work for me because it tells me the main character is already dead or beyond redemption ("entering her final decline"). Given that, why would I want to read the story?

The second paragraph doesn't entice me to read either. It's mainly a list of abuses and doesn't actually detail a plot. "Time passes, tensions arise, betrayal is discovered, and all the Mona holds sacred is destroyed" tells me nothing about what happens. I don't have any reason to be interested in Mona. At first I thought she literally didn't have a voice, and that sounded like intriguing, but i don't think that's what you meant. Otherwise, Mona is a whipping-girl for fate who has awful things happen to her. There's no mention of who the love of her life is or even, really, who Mona is.

As others have mentioned, the writing could be tightened, and there are many cliched and vague phrases. I also don't know what "riots against herself" means.

The third paragraph is a lot of telling about the story; that should already have been illuminated by the summary, and if it wasn't, this paragraph won't help. I'd remove it entirely and work in the word count (which shouldn't be exact down to the ones place; 64,000 is plenty accurate for this purpose) and title elsewhere.

I think the bio could be removed entirely. The award probably won't be considered much of a credential (first annual award, awarded last year, means it's not any sort of established thing), and there's no more useful information; the tone is also very informal for a business letter.