Oct 21, 2009

Query - Intelligent Design

A man falls to his death from the seventh floor of a London building. The third Sunday in a row this has happened.

Coincidence? Or is there a serial killer on the loose with a liking for high places and an aversion to Sundays?

David doesn't care. He's a journalist and it makes great copy. Until he interviews a witness and she also dies. Perhaps there really is something more sinister behind the deaths?

Detective Inspector Lane doesn't think so. And neither does her Chief Inspector. He has given her until next Sunday to prove they were just accidents and quell the rising public anxiety.

Her colleague, however, Detective Sergeant Small, thinks there is more to the deaths than just coincidence.

David is continuing to make things worse. He has piqued public interest with a series of articles, designed to convince his readers a vicious killer really is stalking the streets of London.

All the press interest is proving much more difficult for DI Lane to deal with than the investigation itself. It seems there is very little she can do to convince the public the deaths were nothing more than tragic accidents.

But now, she too is having her doubts.

Intelligent Design is a completed 110,000 word crime novel set in contemporary London.
This is my third novel, but the first I have tried to publish.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best wishes,
Julian Gilbert

Query Revision #1: HIDDEN IN TALL GRASS

Click here to read the original query.

Dear [Agent]:

Growing up in Louisville in the 1960s, teenage 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.

When Susanna discovers a horrifying secret in the hayloft, she suddenly finds herself faced with 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. 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. I have [credits/credentials redacted].

Thank you for your consideration.

Angie H.


Dear Agent,

Lucas Fowler fears death. Viruses, slippery steps, strangers terrify him, and he’s built a disinfected, hermetically-sealed life to make sure he gets the 70-plus years he’s due. Years his parents never had.

He should have been more careful. He shouldn’t have opened the image sent to his cell phone by a stranger.

That night, Lucas feels the change. Suddenly fearless, able to punch holes in concrete, outrun cars, and shift into a blighted alternate reality, Lucas transforms into the thing he fears most — a killer. He tracks down and kills the man in the picture. Another picture comes, another murder. Each time he learns a little more about what’s happening to him. But to discover it all — the secret society of Scions, the super-powered undead he’s creating with each murder, the rogue Scion using him to kill, and the remedy to his own cowardice — he’ll have to keep on killing. And he’ll need to be fearless all on his own.

NO DARKER FATE, an urban fantasy, is 95,000 words. It is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Writing Contest- Finalists

First off, thanks to everyone who submitted entries. I read them all several times and I enjoyed playing judge. My instincts were correct: watching paint dry can be interesting! There were 16 pieces to choose from, and my task was to narrow it down to three. It was difficult. I can't imagine what Nathan Bransford went through trying to whittle 2,500 entries down to a handful in his first paragraph contest...

Now to the brass tacks (NOTE: what the hell does that saying even mean, anyway? Feel free to discuss in the comments. After you vote.)

Among the entries there were three that stood out to me among all others:

Jan Melara did a great job at evoking fear and horror. It played on my senses of sight and sound, and the ending was terrible (in a good way). Click here to read the entry.

Glass Dragon cracked me up with the alien invasion story. It had a great voice and a fun wit to it. Among all the submissions, it had a very unique premise. Click here to read the entry.

Brenda also cracked me up, and did an awesome job with the build-up to the punchline. It was well-written, and I liked the way she portrayed the character of the novelist, so indignant to the suffering of her foe. Click here to read the entry.

Vote for your favorite in the comments on this post. You have until 8am EDT Friday morning to vote. Read the entries many times, but please only vote once.

If you would like to comment on any of the submissions, feel free to offer kudos and/or polite criticism to other submissions that you liked..but only the finalists listed here will be open for voting. I know there are many other entries that are worthy of accolades.