Jan 27, 2010

Query - Shifting Sand

Dear Agent:

Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.  That sounds just fine to Sadie Sloan.

Welcome to Tybee Island!  Savannah's Playground!  Mayberry on Acid!  The End of Highway 80!  And maybe the end of Sadie's marriage.  But maybe that's a good thing, because she doesn't even love her husband.  Or maybe it's a bad thing, because he is exactly what she needs.  She can't be sure.

While in self-imposed exile on this tiny Georgia island, Sadie runs into Kyle, the man who left her shattered eighteen years ago.  Seeing him releases a torrent of suppressed memories of that summer after high school when she fell in love with Kyle, her boyfriend's best friend and her best friend's boyfriend.  The shocking suicide of Sadie's best friend drove them apart and Sadie never quite recovered.  Now it seems like they have another chance to discover the happiness that was denied them so many years ago.

Sadie is too busy trying to pretend to be a teenager again to listen to friends and family who are all warning her to stay away from Kyle.  Sadie's husband is too busy trying to soothe his bruised ego to tell Sadie that he loves her and desperately wants her to come back home.

Before Sadie throws her life away for Kyle, she must learn for herself that the past only exists in her memories and that as much as she may want to, she can't go back again.

Shifting Sand, a work of women's fiction, is complete at 89,000 words.  Please contact me if you are interested in seeing my novel.  Thank you for your consideration.


Anonymous said...

I really, really like this just as reads. The only thing I would change is the "Please contact me if you are interested..." I would change it to "I would be happy to send you the synopsis and first three chapters."

Otherwise, I think it's great.
Good luck.

Holly said...

This is perfect... and I respectfully disagree with Anonymous about changing the "please contact me if you are interested" line. It's a great closing line. Good luck.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

"Welcome to Tybee Island! Savannah's Playground! Mayberry on Acid! The End of Highway 80! And maybe the end of Sadie's marriage. But maybe that's a good thing, because she doesn't even love her husband. Or maybe it's a bad thing, because he is exactly what she needs. She can't be sure." Just didn't work for me. There's voice there, which is good, but it felt to me like I was being chucked into the deep end of the swimming pool without so much as a floating lesson. It felt like you were throwing things at me for which I had no context to understand them.

John said...

I agree that this is a really strong query, but I also agree with Dominique that the first lines are a bit disorienting. I've been to Tybee Island, but most people haven't, so some of those references won't register, especially "The End of Highway 80!"

The conflict and the main relationship are well set up. I think you'd get a good bit of interest from agents with this one, but a little revision of the opening could make it even better.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I think you have an interesting story--reminds me of Sweet Home Alabama in that she goes home to her childhood town and meets an ex.

I must agree with earlier comments about feeling disoriented in the beginning. I'd avoid a run of "!" and I did not get the references. Also, I felt the third paragraph was quite convoluted--there's like 4 or 5 characters and a lot of reference to "back story." Keep the query in the here and now. Personally, I'd shy away from "shattered" too. It's overused, IMHO. Consider cutting that paragraph and see how it goes. Otherwise, it sounds good.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I agree with the comments about the beginning of the second paragraph. Maybe you could merge some of it together: "Imagine a place that's both a playground for the rich and small-town America on acid, and you have Tybee Island. It marks the end of Highway 80 and maybe also the end of Sadie's marriage." Or something like that.

This query really caught my attention - which is saying something since I'm not a huge fan of the genre. However, I think you can really make it sing by tightening paragraphs.

Good luck. I really think this could be a women's fiction I would buy in the coming years.

Anita Saxena said...

I agree with Dominique. The first few lines are just a bit off rhythm. But other than that, I think the rest is good. Good luck.

RC Writer Girl said...

The first two paragraphs of your query aren't necessary. Get rid of them.

The story starts with Sadie on a self-imposed exile (maybe add "from her estranged husband). The opening line is a cliche. If you start your query with a cliche, isn't that a sign the rest of your novel might be cliche?

The last paragraphs that explain the story are great. Good info, good details, good query. The top should go, though. You'd hate to lose the agent's attention before you get to the good stuff.

Hollie Sessoms said...

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I had no clue that the second paragraph was confusing. I'm too close to the story to be a good judge. Will ponder.

I've been trying to convince myself that my first sentence was more of a quote than a cliche, but I'm sure I can come up with something else that won't alienate agents. Will sit on this for a few days and see what hatches.

Aimlesswriter said...

I agree with RC. The query starts with the self inposed exile. The Welcome to Tybee.. just confused me because it was a little rambely (is that a word? :)
But from the self imposed on down it was good. Condense! If you don't absolutely need it, leave it out.
Sounds like a good read.

Unknown said...

BE Sandersons suggestion really helped me see the kind of place of place you meant.

The repetition of boy friend and best in the third (soon to be first) paragraph would help a simple hook

- surpressed memories of love, betrayal and the suicide that -

Guilt, haunted, shaped or defined?

Guinevere said...

The Tybee/Mayberry bit confused me immensely. Other potential readers may be less blond than I, but you might want to skip that to avoid confusing anyone.

Also, the bit about how she has to learn for herself before throwing her life away for Kyle, sounds preachy to me. Maybe just something about how she struggles to choose between the perhaps false promises of the past and the real life she's grown bored with?

Those are my only two quibbles -- otherwise, I thought this query was very strong.