Nov 22, 2009

QUERY: "Unbreakable"

QUERY: "Unbreakable" by KLo at

When two longtime friends are faced with different but equally devastating events, they eventually come to the same conclusion: only their tumultuous pasts can set them free.

Roy Pentinicci, son of an abusive gangster, experiences a childhood characterized by violence, dark secrets, and unspeakable shame. Roy's voyage to manhood is rockier than most, accentuated by his own struggles with his father's demons and the devastating loss of his cherished older sister. As a professional baseball player married to his childhood sweetheart, Roy convinces both himself and those around him that he's moved beyond his past. However, a startling revelation from his wife forces him to go back and face a past that has haunted his psyche all along.

Susy Heidelman survives an equally traumatic upbringing; after being abandoned by her father before she was born, Susy is raised by an emotionally absent and suicidal mother and a drug-abusing older brother. Nobody is more surprised than Susy when her Prince Charming shows up in the unlikeliest of places and whisks her away to a shockingly happy life that is suddenly ripped apart at the seams by a few thoughtless words from her adored son.

The bond between Roy and Susy carries them through happiness and devastation, crime and punishment, life and death as they, both apart and together, realize the truth of karma, the necessity of putting to death their past demons if they want the strength to face the future, and most importantly, the power of love.

I am an aspiring novelist and currently an English teacher in southern New Hampshire. I hold both a B.A. in English (cum laude) and an M.Ed. from the University of New Hampshire. I have used my own experiences with revision within my classroom, and it has been a great privilege to share Unbreakable with selected students along with friends and family members. All were happy to, as I requested, rip it to shreds with love. Now that I have finished polishing it, I am very enthusiastic about sharing Unbreakable with a literary agent.

Thank you for your time and attention to this query; it is very much appreciated. If you are interested in reading the beginning chapters or even the complete manuscript, I would be more than happy to send it right out.

And sample pages ...


(Roy; Boston, MA; September, 2006)

I'm sure that to some people, memories are indeed the proverbial priceless gem that can be brought out to examine and relive with positive connotations.

My memories give me nightmares for a week.

That's not precisely true, of course; some of my memories are absolutely wonderful. It's just that virtually all the good ones gleaned over the course of thirty years occurred after I was fourteen. It’s the years before then, though, that my mind is focusing on now as I sit alone in the study of the Boston penthouse that Addie and I have lived in for the past five years, wishing randomly that I was a drinker. All sources I can find confirm that nothing helps tragedy like alcohol (until the next morning, anyway), but I can’t keep myself from holding true to a promise I made when I was just a kid that I would never drink.

Adelaide is in our bedroom crying. She doesn’t want my comfort; as usual, I caused every one of her tears.

Nov 19, 2009

Revised Query- Black Box Confessional

Click here to read the original query.

This is the revised copy of the query letter for Black Box Confessional. Thank you for all your wonderful comments. They have been very helpful.

Thomas Dean
Mr. Blah Blah
With Blah Blah Blah
1234 Street
New York, NY

Dear Mr. Blah Blah,

Secrets-the dark ones-the kind that bring shame to everyone involved are always well kept. The citizens of Cherryvale, Kansas have known this for decades, covering up the facts of the Bloody Benders and the Dalton Gang. However, what happens when the secret keeper no long wants to play the game; when they feel the need to let it all out?

Alex Mitchellson, an investigative reporter from Denver, has returned home for the first time in nearly ten years. The return is complicated by obligations, old romances, and the haunting death of two of his friends. The most disturbing complication comes in a tattered yellow envelope. The letter, although very cryptic, warns him of lies that caused him to leave his home.

As more letters arrive Alex is forced to face that there could be more to his friends’ death than an accidental drowning. With each piece of evidence pointing towards foul play and the possibility of a cover up an ever increasing danger grows.

Armed with the identity of the mysterious letter writer Alex takes the final step in unearthing what happened to his friends, and why they had been singled out. His questions are answered when he discovers the Chief of Police and his own father, the town minister, are at the root of the dark and sinister secret centered around the love the two boys shared.

Black Box Confessional is a 108,000 word suspense/thriller rooted in small town fears and the traditions they value.

As a graduate of Emporia State University I received a triple bachelor in Speech Communications, Theater and Journalism. While there I won awards for various published articles with the Colligate Press, as well as having several original short plays produced.

Thank you for considering my novel, Black Box Confessional.


Thomas Dean

Nov 18, 2009

Genre Wars Contest Reminder

Hello all,

Just a reminder that the Genre Wars short story contest over at The Literary Lab is still open...but the deadline for submissions is fast approaching. If you have time to crank out or dust off a 1,000 to 2,000 word short story, I know the Lab is accepting submissions through December 1st.

I know most of you are really busy this month, but you deserve to take a break from NaNoWrMo (NOTE: Am I the only one who subconsciously reads that as NaNo NaNo in a Mork from Ork voice?).

Nov 17, 2009

Mourn Their Courage Query Re-write (2)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first re-write.

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

All Liu Jie wants is a quiet, safe life with his wife and son, but when his nephew, the Ron Emperor, pleads for protection from attacking rebels, Jie builds an army. Then he discovers a starving orphan named Aiyu, whose only desire is acceptance and, secretly, escape from the creature that cost him his family. Haunted by his failure to save his oldest children, Jie is afraid Aiyu will die, leaving Jie responsible.

Jie attacks the rebels, but Aiyu's secret endangers Jie's wife and son as they flee each counter offensive. When tragedy strikes and Jie's wife sacrifices herself to save Aiyu and her son, Aiyu admits to his lies. He expects to die or be rejected by Jie, but rather than lose yet another loved one, Jie adopts Aiyu, fulfilling their mutual desire for family. They launch yet another attack where Jie wins despite overwhelming odds, but bitter loss continues to overshadow his victories until he must choose between the safety of his remaining children or his Empire's survival.

Hi, folks! I haven't bothered to paste the rest of the letter since it received approval last time. Can you tell me if this tracks for you? Thanks so much for all your help!


Click here to read the original query.

After praying the sinner’s prayer for the first time in her life, Melanie Hines doesn't feel right about sleeping with her boss anymore. She breaks up with Luke and accepts a six-month project in Seoul, Korea.

Brandon Stiegal, an international business consultant, is not amused at his client company's choice for the new system project leader. Despite his warning about the male-dominated business culture, the blond bombshell decides to stay and complete the project. Melanie's Iowa sweetness and admirable determination wins him over, and he wants to help her acclimate to Korea and keep her from stepping into any cultural potholes.

Luke might have sent her to Seoul as a punishment for breaking up with him, but Melanie intends to take full advantage of her stay by working hard and playing harder. As she clashes with the IT manager, Mr. Yee, who takes offence at a female project leader, Brandon is there to advise her. When she’s out at an exclusive night club with a wealthy young Korean man, Brandon cautions her. His uptight naggings should annoy her; instead her attraction for him intensifies.

Depressed about work and confused about her growing feelings for Brandon, she takes a weekend trip to China to do some sight-seeing and to get away from her problems. There, Melanie happens upon a North Korean restaurant, and out of curiosity, she enters, unaware of strange activities around her. When she returns to Seoul, a man in dark suit stalks her. The only person she can trust is Brandon.

The South Korean government suspects her of being a messenger for the North Korean spies. Brandon and Melanie flee to keep her from taken into the custody of the South Korean secret service while the American Embassy tries to prove her innocence from any espionage activity. Through the ordeal, their love for each other grows even as their faith is test. Can they trust God with all of their heart and soul?

HEART AND SEOUL, a Christian contemporary romance, is complete at 82,000 words. I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and have been active in its critique groups since 2008.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

Query - Tremorgan's Gift

I am writing to you because your house has published fantasy novels such as the Ranger's Apprentice series. I think my book would be enjoyed by readers of John Flannagan and Christopher Paolini.

TREMORGAN'S GIFT is a fast paced YA fantasy novel, complete at 70,000 words, and the first in a series.

With his dying breath the King of Agoria gives his daughter TREMORGAN (protagonist) the Stone of Remembrance, urging her to guard it with her life. Their father brutally murdered and their mother missing, Tremorgan and her brother ALLARD flee for their lives, desperate to reach the sanctuary of the Temple of El-Osm. But when their rescuer is killed and Allard is kidnapped by bounty hunters keen to claim the monetary reward their father's murder has placed on his head, Tremorgan is determined to save him. Aided by a Palatine bodyguard and an eclectic host of mythical creatures, Tremorgan sets out to rescue her brother and unravel the mysterious magic of the Stone.

(note: in NZ we can approach publishers directly, hence my first paragraph)

Nov 15, 2009


BECOMING THEM (121,000 words) is literary fiction.

In 1970 when Michael, a 26 year old American, wanders into an isolated valley in southeastern Europe, he believes he has only two problems: an abnormally thick-skinned face, leaving him expressionless, and an incomplete memory of the woman with whom he traveled over the preceding six months. He believes his face is likely a psychological condition rather than one of skin or muscle and embarks on a plan to soften it. Fingering through the broken images of his memory, Michael also finds a written invitation to rendezvous with the woman in two months time and is determined to be there.

In the town of Isti, Michael is welcomed and soon wants to become as they are: accepting, gregarious and communal. Yet he also learns of their secret three-hundred-year-old tradition, reenacted every fifty years, of sacrificing a newborn to live in the mountains and be raised by the previously sacrificed child, now grown. The townspeople of Isti are struggling with their tradition of sacrifice and debate whether to do it again. And if so, whose child to send. A benevolent Committee governs the town but as talk of democracy spreads through Eastern Europe in the late 1960s, Isti is not immune. Still, the townspeople are hesitant to take responsibility for a decision like this, preferring the safer course of following tradition, and their leaders.

BECOMING THEM is a far-fetched tale of sacrifices made to maintain membership in a group; of the unifying force of a well-kept secret; of change's flirtatious relationship with commitment; and of the townspeople's inability to see themselves as they truly are, insisting instead on seeing themselves as they hope to be.

Thanks for any comments.

Sample pages - In The Clouds - young adult

Sanity is overrated, and being followed everywhere by a forty-year old Algebra teacher surely wouldn't diminish my credibility as a member of the 'mentally stable,' except for the fact that I witnessed his death twenty-four hours ago.

"Mrs. Hendrix," I called to the dean. She was shuffling at top speed down the deserted hallway when I caught a glimpse of the back of her head. She turned quickly, her eyes darting around for the source beckoning her.

I ran past the long row of gray lockers.

"Miss Rollings, what are you going to tell her?" Schuster asked, his long legs easily keeping stride beside me.

I needed him to shut up before I went crazy. I screeched to a halt in front of the dean and she jumped when her eyes dropped down to see me standing right in front of her.

Her face relaxed into a small frown and she put a hand on my shoulder, "Jaycie, how are feeling today?"

The concern in her voice was the complete opposite of the sharp tone she had a couple days ago when I sat in her office accepting a handful of pink detention slips.

"Actually I wanted to ask you something." I had to catch my breath and force out a more casual tone, "I heard you tell Mrs. Lancer that I might be able to talk to someone about everything that happened."

She patted my shoulder and nodded her head, sympathetically, "The grief counselor."

"Yes." My eyes dropped to the floor.

"Of course, Jaycie. His name is Dr. Cooper and he's in room 312. You can go on up and I'll give him a call to let him know you're coming."

"Thanks." I finally lifted my eyes to meet hers.

She stepped closer and pulled me into a tight hug, my cheek pressed against her white blouse. She did this yesterday too. "Let me know if you need anything else Jaycie."

"Thanks, Mrs. Hendrix." She released me and I turned and headed up the empty staircase leading to the third floor.

"What exactly are you trying to accomplish?" Schuster asked in that sneering tone of his. The sound made the already churning acid in my stomach move like the washer's spin cycle.

"It's bad enough I had to listen to you all night. I haven't slept more than a few hours in two days. Can't you just shut up for five minutes?" I snapped. I couldn't look at him but I'm sure his face had that twisted angry, purple look to it.

Well, maybe not purple anymore.

I shook my head trying to focus on sanity. I needed sanity to get my questions answered. Otherwise who knows where I might end up? I knocked on the door of room 312.

"Come in," a man's voice called.

I opened the door and saw Dr. Cooper hanging up his phone. I stepped inside the small office. Too bad I couldn't slam the door in Schuster's face.

It wouldn't do any good.

"Have a seat Jaycie." Dr. Cooper pointed a hand at the empty chair across from his desk.

I didn't slam the door, but I did make sure it was securely closed before I sat down. The last thing I needed was to have an eye witness account of me being in this office. I'm sure there were already hundreds of rumors flying around after yesterday's big event.

"How are you feeling, Jaycie?"

Dr. Cooper looked pretty young, maybe thirty something. Younger people are usually more open-minded. Maybe he could handle something far-fetched.

More like something crazy.

"I'm okay, well actually I'm a little freaked."

He nodded like Hendrix did, the sympathy filling his eyes, "I can imagine. What was your relationship with Mr. Schuster?"

"He's been my Algebra teacher this year and I was supposed to serve detention with him before school for the next two weeks."

My eyes darted to Schuster. He was scanning the row of books on the shelf against the wall.

"So what did you want to talk about, Jacycie?"

I took a deep breath. I needed to start with something normal, "I feel terrible about what happened to him and he was angry with me and I . . ."

"You feel guilty, responsible," he guessed.

"Signs of schizophrenia usually manifest in the teen years. Why don't you go ahead and tell him everything." Schuster gave me his Doctor Evil smile, "This man is a waste of tax dollars."

I bit down hard on the inside of my cheek, forcing myself not to react, "Yeah I feel really guilty."

He reached across the desk and patted my hand, "It's survivors guilt. You did everything you could to help him."

"But going to his class today, it'll be so weird."

"Is that what's bothering you?" he asked.

I shook my head, dropping my eyes to my hands, "I keep thinking I'll see him again when I walk in the classroom. Does that ever happen?"

He released my hand and sat back in his chair, "Everyone who experiences death has that feeling of seeing the lost person again. Images or memories flood back."

"Like hearing them talk?" Uh oh, bad choice of words. I might as well have just admitted to hearing voices.

"Maybe, the full weight of death takes time to sink in. Part of your mind wants to put things back the way they were."

"What if I'm grieving so much that I can actually see Mr. Schuster, like in my bed room yelling at me to stop kicking the soccer ball against the wall?"

Verbal diarrhea rears its ugly head, and at the worst moment possible. Damn sleep deprivation!

He sat up straighter and narrowed his eyes, "Have you been sleeping much?"

"Actually I couldn't sleep at all last night," I admitted.

"Are you familiar with the word hallucination?" Dr. Cooper asked.

"You just earned yourself a ticket to the school psychologist, Miss Rollings. Can't say I didn't warn you," Schuster laughed and the sound echoed off the walls.

I wanted to scream loud enough to drown him out. I must be crazy, "Yes, I am."

"There are a number of reasons people see or hear things that aren't really there, lack of sleep being one of those. I'd like to set you up with an appointment with Mrs. Freeman. She's our school psychologist."

I groaned, but didn't protest. Maybe it was a good idea.

"Getting help during a difficult time is nothing to be ashamed of, Jaycie. I'll talk to Mrs. Freeman and see what she has available."

"Do you think I could go home and get some sleep maybe and try and talk to her tomorrow? I'm already feeling a little better."

He beamed obviously pleased he was able to help me, "Of course. You should definitely try and get some sleep."

I left his office with a polite goodbye and headed quickly down the steps and crawled underneath the stair case on the second floor. It was my favorite hiding place and I couldn't go home to my big empty house with Schuster in tow. It was less eerie being surrounded by people, even in hiding at least I knew they were there.

Matt must be worried about me. I hated to freak him out after he was so great yesterday. But I didn't want him to see me like this. I huddled with my knees to my chest and pulled out my phone to send him a text.

"Forgot I had a dentist appointment. Be in before lunch."

"I warned you about saying anything to Dr. Cooper," Schuster ranted on. I could see his giant feet pacing back and forth in front of the staircase, "You would never listen to a teacher would you Miss Rollings? Of course not. With that thick skull of yours I'm surprised you can make it through an entire school day without a handful of detentions."

I couldn't.

Maybe this was my punishment for being such an academic loser. The past two days my life had taken a small turn for the positive. I got a taste of success, but it was wrong to claim honesty when several incidents of lying and cheating were involved.

Was this really what I deserved? Watching a man die right in front of my eyes, and being condemned to have that man's voice ringing in my ears.

I was there when it happened, the only one in the room. I shouldn't have been there. If I just let things go like usual and not allowed Matt to help, I wouldn't have been there that morning. Three days ago I was dreading walking in to this school building and facing Schuster alive, but now I would take that day over this one in a heartbeat.

Everything started Monday morning. I should have pulled the covers over my head and never left my bedroom.

Fiction Query - Matriarch of Ruins

When Enoch Gamble returns home from war, it is to one of the coldest winters in memory. His body lies in the front parlor two days while his grave is dug in the frozen earth. Months later, Purdy is still grieving his loss when their oldest daughter Hannah refuses to give up her own dead baby. With her sister near catatonic and her mother talking to her dead father for advice, Loli has her own crisis as the homestead is overrun by rebel soldiers intent on using it for a hospital. In the several days that follow, Purdy Gamble will lose everything—except her love of the best man she ever knew. Hannah will search the countryside for the father of her dead baby—and gain an understanding of suffering she could never have imagined. Loli, the youngest, will discover a truth about her father—one even her mother never understood.

THE MATRIARCH OF RUINS is a historical novel, an unflinching but humanistic look at the aftermath of a major fictitious battle (think Gettysburg) during the Civil War. It is a story at once surreal and tragic, intensely human, and wrought in a voice both literary and evocative of the era. Portions of the story are set in a battlefield hospital and the descriptions of surgery and its aftercare—realistic, compelling, and dramatic—add a unique twist to the storyline that will engross anyone interested in today’s true-life medical dramas. The viewpoint is that of the common people (there are no grand historical figures here) with three of the central characters female. It is written in close third person, past tense, and the length is 106,500 words.

David Poyer, best selling author of twenty-seven novels including the Civil War novels THAT ANVIL OF OUR SOULS and A COUNTRY OF OUR OWN read a recent draft and offered this: “An evocative and at times even startling new voice in the literature of the Civil War. Realistic, compelling, and agonizing, THE MATRIARCH OF RUINS is like stepping through a time machine into the most tumultuous era of America’s past.”

My short story AN ENDLESS ARRAY OF BROKEN MEN appeared in Paradox Magazine in 2003 and received honorable mention in the Seventeenth Annual Collection of Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow. As a Stanford graduate and a neurosurgeon in particular, I pride myself on being disciplined, meticulous, well researched, and thorough. These traits stand me in good stead in my writing as well.

I would be happy to forward the manuscript to you, either via e-mail or snail mail. Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nov 14, 2009

Sample pages: Soldier, Sage, and Vagabond

Click here to read the query.

Janto was invisible. Though he judged the incoming volley would miss, he ducked behind his pavise--no sense taking chances. Ahead of him on the mountain path, the arrows smacked like hailstones against the cliff face and rebounded, spinning, into the chasm below.

The volley was over. Behind him, his soldiers emerged from their own shields. Janto looked them over, ascertaining by the faint shimmer in the air that they were still hidden by his invisibility shroud. He resumed marching on the narrow ledge, and his soldiers trailed after him. He was proud of them, his motley assortment of bel-caste and ur-caste men. Normally the castes did not mix, but the war and his people's dwindling numbers had necessitated change. Progress. He grimaced at the irony.

The cannons were falling behind, so he slowed to let them catch up and glanced over the cliff edge at the beach below. The enemy encampments and fortifications were a depressing sight. The Kjallans' numbers never seemed to diminish. For all his people thinned them, more arrived by ship. He spotted the Kjallan bowmen. They were spelling fresh arrows, magically enhancing their power and speed. They couldn't see Janto and his men, nor the horses or cannons, since he'd hidden them beneath the shroud. But they knew he was up here, and what they lacked in accuracy, they made up for in volume.

Sashi, the ferret who rode upon Janto's shoulder, stared down at them. His hackles went up. Kill, he growled over the avatar-link.

Soon, replied Janto. Ahead, the ledge widened, and they would be able to turn the cannons and fire.

He did not share Sashi's love for war. A year ago--had it been only a year?--he'd been quietly studying statecraft and languages. If he were to go back in time and tell his younger self he would one day be at the head of a war band, his younger self would have scoffed. My little brother, maybe, his younger self would say. Kal is suited for war--not me. But then the Kjallans had invaded, and everything had changed. Janto's shroud-magic was rare and valuable. He could hardly squirrel himself away in the Mosari palace while his people died, just because soldiering did not come naturally to him.

"Volley!" cried one of the men.

Janto raised his head. The incoming flight was better aimed than the first. He ducked behind his pavise and pressed himself against the cliff face, curling up to expose as little of himself as possible. All around him, arrows thwacked against stone. One fell on the ledge by his foot. Its outlines crackled purple as the remnants of its spell dissipated.

A horse screamed. Janto poked his head out from behind his shield.

An arrow protruded from the horse's flank. The panicked animal plunged and kicked, slamming into its harness-mate. It ripped the lead rope out of the hands of the soldier who held it.

"Malaki, catch him!" cried Janto. The volley had ended, but the danger had not. The rear wheel of the team's caisson had backed over the edge of the cliff. If it went much further, the caisson would fall, taking limber and both horses with it.

The lead rope whipped about Malaki's head. He caught it, wrapped it around his wrist, and pulled, trying to drag the crazed animal away from the cliff. But the horse set itself back on its haunches. The wheel slipped farther, and in a terrible cacophony of screams and groaning metal, the caisson and limber disappeared over the edge, followed by the horses, and then Malaki.

Janto gaped at the empty space where they'd been. He felt for their presence with his magic. The horses and caisson had left the range of his invisibility shroud, but Malaki had not.

Janto ran to the cliff edge and peered over. Thank the gods--Malaki had caught himself on a narrow ledge a short ways down, where he clung to an outcropping of rock. Far below, the horse and cannon lay in a tangled heap, half-hidden in a rising cloud of dust.

Malaki's face was pale with terror. "Jan-Torres," he pleaded. "Your Highness. Help me!"

Nov 12, 2009


Click here to read the original query.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to submit for your consideration COOMBE’S WOOD, a horror novel of 67,000 words.

Izzy Santana and her 13-year-old son Connor move into a Council-provided flat in the sleepy village of Cedham. Locals darkly warn her to stay away from nearby Coombe’s Wood, hinting at ludicrous superstitions. But Izzy is so delighted to have found a haven for her son – after escaping her sadistic ex-partner George – that she takes little notice. Then a slit rabbit turns up on her doorstep, along with a distinctive cigarette butt, and she knows George has found her. What Izzy needs to do is protect Connor. She has already started to uncover the ancient secrets of the village, and now she works out the perfect way to get rid of George… for good.

I have been writing seriously for several years. Coombe’s Wood was runner-up in’s 2008 Book of the Year Award and a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. An early novel of mine, The Crocodile, was short listed in the Undiscovered Authors 2006 competition. I have several other complete novels that are still in their first draft, and consider myself an author of the thriller and gothic horror genres.

Query: 7 Days to Redemption

When his family is killed in a tragic accident, Pastor Nathan Hanlin turns away from his faith believing that God has turned His back on him. But as the balance of power between good and evil shifts in the small town of Somerville, Nathan realizes his crisis of faith may be to blame for the demonic activity that has been happening all too often lately.

Old journals meant as guides by the previous church pastors reveal the secret to Somerville; the town was established as a refuge for ostracized Christians. Nathan’s denial of God has fractured the protective shield placed on the town. As the cracks widen, the demonic episodes become more frequent, and Nathan realizes he needs to step up and become the man of God his town needs him to be.

As Nathan stands firm, willing to return to his roots, he finds a truth that could destroy him. He must decide whether to look past hurts and recommit to his faith, or turn his back on God for good and allow the darkness to prevail.

7 Days to Redemption is a spiritual thriller complete at 75,000 words.

I won the 2005 Word Alive Publishing Contest for my novel Once Upon A Dream and I hold a degree in theology.

Nov 11, 2009


A revision of this query has been posted. Click here to read it.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to submit for your consideration COOMBE’S WOOD, a horror novel of 67,000 words.

Izzy Santana and her 13-year-old son Connor move into a Reading Council-provided flat in the sleepy village of Cedham. Locals darkly warn her to stay away from nearby Coombe’s Wood, hinting first at elves(!), then at multiple murders… which may or may not have taken place in the woods hundreds of years ago. It’s all ludicrously superstitious, and Izzy is so delighted to have found a haven for her son – after escaping her sadistic ex-partner George – that she takes little notice.

She meets a neighbour who seems kindly, if a trifle fey, and who takes a great interest in her son. Connor seems instantly comfortable with him. She begins to feel as if she is also falling under his spell. But Connor is bullied at school, and one night she finds herself tracking those bullies in the wood, where she believes they are waiting for him. She doesn’t find them, but something closes in on her – something that sounds like a savage animal. As she runs she realises she may have been set up – or Connor was – to be caught by whatever the animal was. She strengthens the barricades in her flat, no longer puts all the local tales about ‘danger in them woods’ down to superstition, and even begins to wonder about the way she was selected by the Reading Council officer to live in the village in the first place. It couldn’t be something to do with her odd, long-vanished husband, Connor’s father, who came from this area… could it?

Then a slit rabbit turns up on her doorstep, along with a distinctive cigarette butt, and she knows George has found her. Desperately compassionate, her neighbour calls the police, who turn up next day, harumph the ceiling, and take the attitude: You’ve not been attacked, then, Miss? You haven’t actually seen him? Why, if your ex-lover has tracked you down, do you suppose he would he dump a rabbit at your door…? Her own question, more urgent, is: if George can get in the front door of the building, can he get into her flat?

What Izzy needs to do is protect Connor. She has already started to uncover the ancient secrets of the village, and now she works out the perfect way to get rid of George… for good.

Coombe’s Wood was runner-up in’s 2008 Book of the Year Award and a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. An early novel of mine, The Crocodile, was short listed in the Undiscovered Authors 2006 competition. I also have short stories in various anthologies including the UKAuthors Anthologies, La Fenetre, Spinetinglers 2009 Anthology, and e-zine Literary Magic. I have several other complete novels that are still in their first draft, and consider myself an author of the thriller and gothic horror genres.

I was born in Portsmouth in 1971, and grew up in England, Scotland, Portugal and America. After winning a scholarship to The American College in London I graduated with a BA in Interior Design, although I now work as an architectural technician.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards,


Melanie Hines doesn't expect drastic changes in her life after just one private prayer. But suddenly, sleeping with her boss, Luke, doesn't seem right anymore. She breaks up with him and accepts a six-month project in Seoul, Korea. Once in Seoul, however, Melanie discovers Luke left out one tiny detail: the male-dominated business culture frowns upon a young female system project leader.

Brandon Stiegal, an international business consultant, is not amused at his client company's choice for the new system project leader. But Melanie's Iowa sweetness and admirable determination to stay and conquer her challenges hooks his heart to cheer her along and mentor her in any way he could. Only, the blond bombshell is too smart for her own good, doesn't always do as he advises, and gets tangled up in an international espionage case. Brandon risks his reputation and his life to save hers, and he would do it all over again if only he could win her whole heart.

The more she sees Brandon's faith, it creates longing in Melanie's soul. But living out her faith isn't easy when she's arguing with an unreasonable IT manager, or hanging out at an exclusive night club with her new wealthy friend, or running for her life from the Korean secret service, or falling head over heels in love with Brandon. Through it all, God's quiet whispers pursue her until the desire of her heart stands against the longing of her soul. She must choose one and sacrifice the other.

HEART IN SEOUL, a Christian contemporary romance, is complete at 82,000 words. I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and have been active in its critique groups since 2008.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

Nov 10, 2009

An Award Winning Blog

Slushpile follower / submitter / commentor Stephanie Damore honored the Public Query Slushpile with an "Honest Scrap" award because this blog tells it like it is and commentors are honest about their feelings.

However, I can't accept this award for myself because I'm just the moderator. I'm not even the most frequent commentor. The foundations of this blog - and the most deserving recipients of said award - are the wonderful people who share their queries and their feedback so readily (NOTE: insert Group Hug here).

I'm not going to follow all the award rules and post the logo, nominate other blogs, etc. I do think this is a great opportunity to thank you all for the time spent here, though. We are all part of A Good Thing.

Good luck with your writing, and Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and joyous seasonal celebrations for all other denominations that I am ignorant of and/or too lazy to mention...

Nov 9, 2009


Click here to read the revised query.


Sarah drove into the parking
garage and smiled when she found an empty space next to the Bumblebee. It wasn’t a real bumblebee, just her nickname for the bright yellow SUV with the black bumpers that always seemed to be there. Something she could count on.

There weren’t many cars around and looking at her watch, she saw it was a little after seven-thirty. In all her excitement of preparing for work, she arrived earlier than usual.

Mondays. How she loved them. It was the beginning of a nice long week. Of course, she loved every weekday. They kept her busy and surrounded her with people. Weekends were not her favorite days. There was too much time to dwell on her loneliness.

When she got out of her car, the January air slapped her in the face and she huddled inside her white coat. Even the garage got cold in the winter. If it weren’t for her only friend, Lori, she might have moved someplace warmer. Then again, maybe not. It wasn’t like she was adventurous.

She locked the doors, and headed for the elevators.

“Miss!” someone yelled behind her.

She turned around and saw a man running up to her. “Are you calling me?” she asked.

“Yes. I think you dropped this,” he said, showing her a hankie.

He was cute in a preppy kind of way, with neatly combed dark hair and brown puppy dog eyes. She looked at his hand and shook her head. “Nope, sorry. Not mine. Someone else must have dropped it.”

“Oh. I could have sworn it was you. My mistake, I’m sorry.”

She smiled at him, “No harm done. You’re forgiven.” She then continued on to the elevators.

He caught up to her. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. Have you worked here long?”

He looked her over and she could have sworn he licked his lips. He was making her nervous, but then most men who approached her did. She continued to smile at him anyway. She never could get the hang of turning someone away and always found herself continuing a conversation she wished would never start. “Not long, a few months,” she said.

Two other people came to stand by the elevators, waiting, and it made Sarah feel a little better. Safety in numbers. When the elevator car arrived, she entered and punched her floor then saw he punched the floor above. The others punched the floor below her. She maneuvered herself so she wouldn’t have to stand near him. When the doors opened to let the first passengers off, she was tempted to get off, too, but realized how silly that would look.

As soon the doors closed, he walked over and offered his hand. “My name is Brian.”

She ignored him. Heart hammering in her chest, her eyes never left the door of the elevator.

“Ah, come on. Don’t leave me hanging. How am I supposed to ask you out if I don’t know your name?”

The door opened and she exited, but held it open. She turned to face him. In the calmest voice she could muster she said, “I’m sorry Brian. I’m not comfortable going out with strangers.” She then let the door close.

Once he was out of sight, Sarah was able to relax. The guy was cute, but he gave her the creeps. She hoped the rest of the day turned out better than it started.

By seven p.m., she was ready to leave for home. The day turned out better than she imagined. She didn’t have a single solitary minute to herself and that suited her just fine. Being one of the few employees who took late clients, she was one of the last to leave for the day. Maybe she was a workaholic, but what else was there?

The elevator opened to the garage and it was deserted. Very few cars remained, but her Bumblebee was still there. Whoever owned it must work longer than she did. It was there every morning when she arrived and every night when she left. Digging in her purse to fetch her keys, she never heard anything out of the ordinary until someone grabbed her from behind, placing a wet mask over her face. She instinctively struggled against her abductor, but once she inhaled the sweet scent, her movements weakened and her world went dark.


Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the sample pages.

Dear [Agent name],

There is a myth among vampires about a rare human called An Uncommon One; an alluring human that cannot be read or controlled by any vampire – a perfect mate. Vampire John Pennington has not heard of this myth. When he saves Sarah Daugherty from the hands of a serial killer and finds himself mysteriously drawn to her, he’s bewildered. With one touch, a wonderful rush of warmth spreads throughout his body, warmth he hasn’t felt since he turned. But vampires don’t mingle with humans and he leaves her without any knowledge of him or his deed, thinking that would be the end of it. It isn’t until a chance meeting that John decides to risk a relationship, even when he’s confused as to why he can’t read her thoughts; for Sarah fills a hole in his life he didn’t know existed.

As John falls in love with Sarah, his secret becomes harder to keep. And when a sadistic vampire appears to be behind the attacks against her, he must decide what is more important: lie and hope she never finds out or reveal all and risk losing her forever.

THE UNCOMMON ONE is a paranormal romance novel complete at 109,000 words. The first chapter follows.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Stacy McKitrick

Nov 5, 2009

Query Rewrite for Mourn Their Courage

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Mr/Ms. Agent:

When Liu Jie's nephew, the Ron Emperor, pleads for defense from attacking rebels, Jie vows to destroy all who threaten his family. While raising an army, Jie rescues a dying orphan named Aiyu. Haunted by ghosts, Jie is compelled to accept Aiyu as his apprentice and Tong Zhang, warrior-merchant, as his partner. Protecting his family launches Jie on an epic journey where ghosts are guides and heroes are traitors. Each victory is overshadowed by bitter loss until Jie must choose between his family's or his Empire's survival.

"MOURN THEIR COURAGE" is a 104,000 word fantasy novel based on the Chinese folktales collectively called "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms." Though adapted for film, television and video game serializations, there are no modern novelizations of this treasure. "MOURN THEIR COURAGE" will be of interest to fans of Guy Gavriel Kay.

I have published fiction in "Demons, Knights and Angels," "Millenium Online" and "Eternity Online." I am a member of the Wuxia Society and The China History Forum Online, where I contribute book reviews. I studied Tai Chi and Mandarin, traveled to China twice and corresponded with Rafe DeCrespigny, a prominent Three Kingdoms historian.

Why I want this agent paragraph

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.


I look forward to your comments!

Nov 4, 2009

QUERY: Soldier, Sage, and Vagabond

Sample pages have been posted. Click here to read them.

Dear (agent),

Janto, Crown Prince of the seafaring nation of Mosar, knows he's a disappointment to his people. Bookish and obsessed with languages, he doesn't fit the profile of a charismatic leader. It doesn't help that every time he sets foot on a ship, he becomes violently ill. Or that his choice of avatar --his magical link to the spirit world--is a ferret, which grants him the disreputable shroud-magic of spies.

But Mosar, under attack by the powerful Kjallan Empire, is on the brink of destruction, and an unconventional leader may be just what the country needs.

Janto, desperate to prove himself, is trying to rescue a fellow soldier when a Kjallan arrow buries itself in his shoulder. The Kjallans capture him. Unaware he's the prince, they send him as a slave to Kjall. There he must outwit a jealous overseer determined to ruin him and a Kjallan spy who knows he's hiding something. But not everyone is an enemy. Janto finds aid, friendship, and ultimately love from a Kjallan princess who, he discovers, is as much a slave as he is. As he learns more about Kjall, he begins to see a way he can save his country. Only with his unique assets--his inside knowledge, his language obsession, and his homicidal ferret avatar--can he pull it off.

Soldier, Sage, and Vagabond is a fantasy novel with romance elements, complete at 115,000 words. May I send you the manuscript?

QUERY - Black Hole Son

Dear {AGENT},

Remy wakes up on a park bench. He has no memory and no idea who he is or how he got there. But he has some pills, some money, a pink sweater, and a strange gun. And apparently, he has a psychic ability to read the history of objects.

Ash wakes up in an alley. He has no memory and no idea who he is or how he got there. But he has some pills, some money, and he can set things on fire with his mind.

Now they each must strike out on their own in a cold mega-city where pharmaceutical drugs pervade everyday life. With no memory, they must follow their instincts to protect and defend people. Remy uses his powers to save a woman from an abusive relationship, and makes friends with a spunky female cop named Tuesday. After he's pursued by agents of a private security force, he joins an "Robin Hood" black market pharmacy. Ash is assaulted and robbed when he tries to get some food. Looking for a job, he joins the White Knights, a neighborhood watchdog group and forms a relationship with Ivy, a stripper.

Throughout their individual, but strangely parallel journeys, Remy becomes an introspective guardian, while Ash becomes a reactive seeker of justice. They find out where they came from, the real reason they have these powers, and that their instincts to protect people were not far off. But what will they do when they meet and discover the real threat to society – themselves.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word near future science-fiction cyberpunk novel set in the near future. I have been previously published in The Dunesteef audio fiction magazine and the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire literary journal.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Dear [Agent name],

When vampire, and bar owner, John Pennington saves Sarah Daugherty from the hands of a serial killer, he discovers she is more than she appears and affects him like no other human has before. Her scent is intoxicating and her touch causes a rush of warmth he never thought possible. He leaves her, though, without any knowledge of him or his deed, thinking that would be the end of it. But when she shows up in his bar, he finds he’s more enchanted by her presence and when she asks him out, he decides to risk dating for the first time in his vampire life. It’s when he tries to read Sarah’s thoughts and fails that he decides to end a relationship that barely begun. Sarah doesn’t give up that easy. She loves the way her heart flutters when he touches her. But unable to convince him with her words, it’s her absence that awakens John and he acquiesces, keeping his identity a secret.

As John and Sarah grow to care for one another, attacks against Sarah’s property, and Sarah herself, make John wonder who would want to hurt her. Could it be Sarah’s abusive ex-husband or John’s female vampire friend who he recently found out has feelings for him? And while Sarah suspects the serial killer, John would have to expose what he is to alleviate her fears. Before he can find the source behind the attacks, John must decide whether he can risk losing the only person he’s ever loved by telling her what he is.

THE UNCOMMON ONE is a Paranormal Romance of 109,000 words. Set in the non-exotic location of Dayton, Ohio, it’s a love story in modern times. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Stacy McKitrick

Nov 1, 2009

Query: Ocean Fairies

Dear Ms Agent,

I'm seeking represetation and querying your interest in a fantasy novel for children (middle grade) of 30,000 words.

Jesse is a young teenage girl who feels like a round peg in a square hole when with other people. But she never stops giggling when with her fairy penguin friends. They make for strange companions: she is long, lean and lovely as a swan while the penguins are roly-poly and cute as ducks. But she knows they like her for who she is: a shy, sweet, mostly inarticulate, nature-loving girl.

When the penguins, who are also ocean fairies with their own kind of magic, promise to take her out on the ocean to see a sunken treasure ship, Jesse is ecstatic. However on that fateful day she meets the most powerful ocean fairy of all, the mighty Selkie. Then she really discovers the rapture of the deep. The merfolk have long been known for their power to enchant a human's senses, and the penguins fear that Jesse will never break free of the merman's irresistible spell and will lose her heart, her mind and her inclination to make delicious tuna sandwiches.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this project.

Yours faithfully,

P.S. Query Critiquers, in Australia we have miniature penguins that are known as fairy penguins. A critiquer of the novel from OS hadn't heard of them and was annoyed by the combining of what he thought was both a real and a fantasy creature, so now I always add this explanation.