Oct 8, 2009


Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Dear agent Blah:
I know that you are interested in representing literary fiction, so I thought that you might be interested in my literary novel, STORIES ENDING.It is not unlike Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in that some of the prose is affected by the protagonist’s mental state (in the case of my novel, manic thought patterns) while the book as a whole remains very approachable.

On September 11th 2001, while the rest of the world mourns a tragedy, twenty one year old Livie Sivadier is admitted to a psych ward. Earlier that spring, she has no idea that she is heading down a path to madness; all she knows is that she wants to escape from the confines of her home town, Irvine, and the depression that’s hung over her since her fiancĂ© called off their engagement months before.
After an argument with her controlling parents, Livie travels up the coast of California to seek out her estranged sister Darlene. While living at the hippie, communal “Lake House”, Darlene and her creative friends inspire Livie to pursue her lifelong dream of writing, but the dream turns nightmare when the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Eventually, she comes to believe that her own protagonist is real and that the precarious balance of reality will crumble if she does not do something drastic to save it, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Complete at 90,000 words, STORIES ENDING explores the dark potential of the human mind, but also its remarkable ability to heal. I appreciate very much the time you have taken to read this letter and I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

AM I WORTH IT - sample pages Brand New - Trying a different Chapter

Click here to search through the prior sample pages and queries.

*Special note- I'm trying something different. This is actually my second chapter. It might be a better starting place???? I am struggling with this more than any other part of the novel. Any first chapter experts out there that have some advice I'd love to hear it.

"Mr. Anderson! I was worried you weren't coming." The frantic history teacher Mr. Epstein spoke loudly as I walked into his classroom a few minutes late.

I nodded mumbling a sorry and slipped into the desk closest to the door.

"Anyway," he continued, "I was just telling everyone that I think we have a real chance to win the state competition and maybe even the national competition this year. Last year we just missed qualifying to nationals, but the team is stronger than ever." He nodded toward me.

Six heads turned in my direction. The last thing I wanted was to be singled out – although most valuable member of the 'geek squad' had to be the worst title in high school.

It could be good – maybe a goal I would work toward.

"Alex, I'd like you to take Dan and Claire through last year's state questions from the card box. The rest of you can do the same with the other box. Try to finish as many as you can." Mr. Epstein rubbed his hands together, oozing with excitement.

Alex Jenkins waved at me – I recognized him from my German class. Geek wasn't a strong enough word for this guy, but he was seemed decent enough.

But he shared my love of Star Wars.

I walked over to his side of the room and noticed a girl with light brown wavy hair and . . . well let's just say she didn't fit in here. I couldn't remember ever seeing her before.

I had at least one class with everyone else on the team.

"I don't think we've met? I'm Claire Ramsey." She stuck out her hand.

I shook it politely.

"Dan Anderson," I said. Then I sat down in one of the desks next to Alex and she did the same.

"I'm going to get the cards." Alex got up to walk over to Mr. Epstein.

"Just so you know," Claire whispered, leaning in close to me, letting me smell her perfume, "I'm only here because Mr. Epstein is my brother in-law and my father practically forced him to let me on the team to help with my college applications. We've never had seven players before, usually it's just three backups, not four." She rolled her eyes.

I scooted my desk away from her a little and leaned back crossing my arms to my chest.

"Too much for your reputation?" I looked her over curiously.

"God no! Nothing like that, I'm not a snob!"

She sounded a little offended, which surprised me, and girls didn't surprise me very often. They were even more predictable than shrinks.

"But I'm not smart enough to actually make the team. I was just giving you a warning before we go head-to-head today."

"Sorry, it's a natural reaction- years of being called a dweeb are bound to leave some scarring," I looked right into her eyes- a really unusual shade of green. Green eyes have always fascinated me. Mostly because of the genetic improbability.

She raised her eyebrows as Alex returned with our box of cards.

"Years of being a dweeb, huh?" Her tone left me hanging.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I was a little offended myself that she wouldn't stop talking to me, and looking at me.

This was already more words than I had spoken to any student in over two months.

Damn, I was slipping!

"Nothing," she said quickly, her cheeks blushing a little, "I think Alex is ready to quiz us," she turned her eyes on him and he pulled the first card out of the box.

"What is the only novel Harper Lee has ever written?" Alex asked.

Claire looked at me and I sighed thinking I better live up to my reputation. Things were so different now.

"To Kill a Mocking Bird," I answered and Alex nodded.

"What is the native language of Brazil?" Alex asked.

I gave Claire a minute to answer.

"Portuguese," I said when Claire made it obvious she wasn't going to speak up.

"Nice!" Alex said, "Against what opposing team did Babe Ruth hit his first home run?"

"The Yankees," I said.

Alex looked excited and started firing at rapid speed.

"What is the most common element in the human body?"

"Oxygen." I made the mistake of looking at Claire while I answered.

For some reason I didn't tone it down for her. I usually made intentional pauses or missed a few on purpose. I think I was trying to scare her off- nobody likes a freak.

"What illness accounted for more than forty percent of U.S. casualties during World War I?"


The rest of the practice went the same – Claire never opened her mouth once and I started to feel guilty about making her look stupid.

I was the first one out the door when Epstein dismissed us and I hurried down the hall toward the front doors. I heard footsteps following behind and then Claire was there at my side.

"You were really good." She turned her smile on me.

Her face was interesting, so full of secrets and depth – I couldn't help wanting to know more about her. But that was asking for trouble and it was pleasure I didn't deserve.

"Thanks." I looked at the ground and sped up my pace. "See you tomorrow." I headed through the door and let it shut before she could follow. I felt like such an ass. But it was better this way.

"Hey Steve," I said quietly, when I walked in the door to my uncle's house.

He was sitting at the kitchen table with a stack of papers and a red pen.

"How was practice? I heard the team's looking strong this year. I thought about stopping in to see for myself."

"I thought you were running detention?" Steve is my German teacher. It's his third year teaching.

Oddly enough he's only nine years older than me. That's always seemed so strange. He's halfway between peer and parent- but he's cool. I couldn't pick a better person to live with.

"Yeah, I was stuck with detention. Is pizza alright for dinner? I'm totally beat," he asked.

"Sounds good." I sat down at the table and took the first few papers off the stack and started marking the first test.

"How was your session with Dr. Stevens?" he asked tentatively, when we were eating pizza in front of the T.V. watching Monday night football.

"Don't you mean the Dr. Phil wannabe? Do I really need to keep seeing him?" I was hoping he might understand.

He looked at me more serious now. "Do you need to keep seeing him?"

"It's not like it changes anything."

"Your parents want you to. It was part of the agreement. But if you won't really talk to him, it seems like a waste of money. Of course they don't care, they just want to say they're doing something." His voice was filled with a bitter edge, very rare for Steve.

He had issues with wasting money. It wasn't easy living on a teacher's salary in the north suburbs of Chicago.

"I'll talk to them again." He didn't sound very hopeful that he could make any more progress than I had.

"Thanks anyway."

"If you don't mind me asking, do you really like the trivia bowl team? It just seems so different for you. And you're not playing basketball?" He immediately looked worried he might have gone too deep.

"That's sort-of the goal."

"I understand you're avoiding certain crowds, it's just that you aren't being yourself. Doesn't that bother you?"

This was the most he'd ever tried to get out of me and if I was going to talk to anyone it would probably be Steve, but I didn't want to talk. What if he made me doubt my decision, tried to make me feel less guilty?

"I'll make the most of it, I promise. In fact I was planning on taking the team out for a beer on Friday night. I thought we could hit the clubs maybe pick up a few college girls."

He laughed probably visualizing Alex Jenkins in his Dark Vader costume – that I knew he secretly had hanging in his closet- slam dancing with a cocktail in one hand.

"Claire Ramsey's on the team this year, isn't she?"

"Yeah, but not on merit." I immediately felt guilty betraying her secret. But Steve was a teacher I'm sure he already knew this.

"She's a nice girl." He gave me a look that added to my guilt.

"I wouldn't know, she hardly spoke a word." I grabbed my books and headed to my room, turned on the computer to write my essay on Hamlet-it would take less than thirty minutes.

I woke up to the same nightmare. My eyes flew open, my breathing heavy, it was still dark. I turned my head to look at the clock and groaned when I saw it was only four in the morning.

I used to be able to sleep in till noon, of course I was out partying until two or three. I picked up another book to read and stayed in bed until five, not wanting Steve to think something was wrong with me – that's the last thing I needed.

I turned on the computer to check the weather and groaned again when I saw it was only sixteen degrees. I've been running every morning since I moved to Chicago in June. But fuck that! I'm not training for a winter marathon.

It would have to be the school field house today and possibly several months.

I walked in the empty field house at six and started my run, with my IPOD turned up as loud as it would go. It's really strange how much I love running now because I used to hate it.

I did three sports all three years of high school- football, basketball, and baseball – very stereotypical jock. The most we ever had to run all at once was two or three miles. I clocked in at least six to eight miles every day now, of course I wasn't playing any sports.

I focused on the music, something loud with a good beat. The rhythm of my feet hitting the track – a steady consistent pace, calmed me better than any therapy session. It was the most peace I would have all day.

I continued lap after lap allowing my surroundings- the red padded walls, to melt and spin in front of me like bloody water swirling down the drain of the bathroom sink. I jumped when I felt a cold hand on my cheek pulling one of the head phones out of my ear.

"Dan," It was Claire in her P.E. uniform jogging next to me.

I focused my eyes taking notice of my surroundings and realized about thirty kids in uniform were sharing the track with me.

"Fuck! Did I miss this first period?" I asked her frantically and she laughed.

"Don't worry, it's early bird P.E.- before school at 6:45." She smiled at my confusion, "Are you really that out of it when you run?" Her speed picked up to match mine.

"I guess I am today." I wiped sweat from my face with the bottom of my t-shirt.

"Hey Ramsey?" Jason Elliot came up behind Claire and poked her in the side.

I didn't know him personally, but from what I've heard he was the senior star of the basketball team and on his way to the University of Illinois next year with a scholarship.

We didn't have any classes together, but that's only because I was in all the 'smartest' classes now and he fell more in to the 'smart' category – along with Claire.

"Who's your friend?" He nodded toward me.

"This is Dan, he's a senior too. We're on the trivia team together, except Dan's actually going to play where as I am going to sit and look pretty." She laughed again.

I loved her laugh, it was so real. Everything about her was real.

"I'm sure you'll be great at that," Jason joked, looking her over.

I thought she seemed a little uncomfortable being checked out – not that I hadn't done the same.

But at least I was discrete enough to wait until she wasn't looking before checking out her long and very sexy legs, among other outstanding qualities.

Claire was a pretty tall girl, maybe five six or five seven – I'm six one, so I've always liked taller girls.

"Are you on the wrestling team, Dan?" Jason peeled his eyes from Claire to look at me.

I needed to get out of this conversation and away from this girl.

"God no!" I shook my head, "Just watching my weight, I used to be a fat ass- over three hundred pounds." I looked him straight in the eye.

His eyes widened. "No shit!"

Claire looked down at the track, smiling. She guessed I was joking.

"How did you lose that much weight?" He sounded truly amazed.

"Jenny Craig." I ran ahead, away from both of them.


Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read revision 1.

I've been playing with hooks and working in mention of steam technology earlier. Hopefully this meets with everyone's approval!

Dear Agent:

Moriah Rowani returns home after nearly a decade away to discover her father bleeding to death in the entrance hall of their estate. His final act was to extract a promise that she'd find her mother's diary.

Three days later, Moriah is forced from her family's home by the steam-powered might of Lord Chancellor Lucian Rombard and his soldiers, who are intent on eradicating human-nymph hybrids like Moriah and the human-satyr hybrids that pepper the city of Callarion. Moriah goes into hiding and almost immediately receives the first clue to the diary's location, one of a series of riddles designed to lead her to the lost tome.

Allies appear from all corners -- in a Chancellery major, the underground resistance, and the disbanded King's Navy -- who help her avoid capture and torture at the hands of the Brotherhood of Purity, while revealing that Moriah's not the only one who wants the diary.

For there's more inside the diary than Rombard's true scheme for the city. There's a plan that has a chance to shatter Rombard's stranglehold on the city and save Callarion from the long night it faces. A plan, in fact, that the last ten years of Moriah's life have been an integral part of.

My steampunk fantasy novel, CALLARION AT NIGHT, is complete at 100,000 words. Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.