Feb 2, 2010

Query - The Butterfly Key - 3rd Revision.

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

Dear Agent,

Shortly after Christian Bryson promises his wife, Abigail, a family, he learns he is deploying for war, something he views as just a temporary setback in fulfilling his wife’s dream of having kids. But when wounded in battle, he tragically discovers he can no longer father children.

Wishing death’s hand would have taken him instead of this second chance at life, Christian finds himself hopelessly lost, drowning in a world of despair. Blaming his calamity on God and His so-called providence and haunted by a promise he can no longer keep, Christian refuses to tell Abigail about his injury even as she tearfully pleads for him to come home.

With their marriage on the verge of collapse, Christian determines he can no longer be the man that Abigail deserves. However, God intervenes and sends two special travelers – one alive and the other not – to return Christian home to not only his wife, but also his unknown progeny.

THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of Christian fiction. A completed manuscript is available upon your request. I look forward to working with you.


Sample Pages- THE ELEANOR STORY (revision 1)

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

Chapter 1

Memories can stick like a tongue to a frosty pole in the middle of winter. Pulling and tugging to break free will only dismember the delicate skin leaving it raw and exposed.                        

I remember the exact day the spot light turned on me. And by spot-light, I don’t mean me slipping on a pair of tap shoes and performing an excerpt from a Broadway musical. More like I was standing naked with my classmates staring me down, memorizing every detail.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but seriously, it was bad.

Sister Clarisse calls it adolescence or puberty, but I call it exposure. The time when every girl’s self-esteem is mutilated, dismembered.  For me, my moment of exposure happened at the beginning of eighth grade.

“What do you think we’ll have to do?” Alison whispered to me that morning in homeroom.

I opened my bag and started pulling out books, throwing them on top of the desk. “I don’t know. Sister Clarisse didn’t give us any details.”

My nervous tone reflected the buzz of voices drifting through the classroom. Everyone was feeling it. Today was different. Of course when you’re my age, you can’t let anyone but your very best friends know the idea of watching The Movie was freakin’ scary. Yes, that’s right, Ellie Cummings was petrified of this official rite of passage into the teenage world, but never in a million years would I have guessed how much was about to change after watching The Movie. If I had known I probably would have faked an illness this morning and never left my house.

I hung my bag on the back of my chair and tugged at my green and navy pleated skirt. It was identical to the one Alison wore, but on her the required uniform was a fashion statement. Alison was already five foot five and growing constantly. Not in the gangly awkward way, but in the I’m-thirteen-but-the-ninth-grade-boys-all-snap-their-heads-in-my-direction way. Mostly because this summer she started growing things I didn’t have yet.

Don’t think I spend all my time obsessing over the bra size of my classmates, but it was the first week of school and everyone changed over the summer. Alison changed the most of all the girls and, of course, it didn’t go unnoticed. Me, well let’s just say I have the flattest chest in my entire class. This is not opinion based. It’s a fact. Even Freddie Livingston has bigger boobs than me. Seriously, he does. I cringe every time Freddie is on the “skins” team when the boys play basketball in the gym.

I was beginning to realize everything is more complicated in eighth grade. For starters, we moved to the high school wing with the ninth graders and switched classrooms every hour, bumping into them in the hallway. And if you’re unlucky like me, and scored high on your standardized testing you might even end up in a few classes with them. Talk about feeling like a puny little girl.

My other best friend Hailey leaned in close to me and Alison and whispered, “My sister told me they make everyone put condoms on oranges.”

Hailey’s sister is in tenth grade this year and entertains herself by giving Hailey a load of crap to see if she’ll believe it.

I rolled my eyes. “You don’t put condoms on oranges. Bananas maybe?”

Alison giggled beside me then put her hand over her mouth when Sister Janet glared in our direction. The nun always did this if anyone appeared to be enjoying homeroom.

Hailey’s forehead wrinkled, and I could tell she was going to give herself a head ache thinking this hard.

I put my hand on her shoulder to calm her down before whispering as quietly as possible, “Hailey we’re not going to put condoms on anything . This isn’t public school. Catholics stress abstinence, not birth control, meaning don’t do it, so there’s no reason to know how to use a condom.”

Her face relaxed.                                    

Alison shook her head, eyes glued to the folder in her hands. “Ellie’s right.”

TJ, the cutest boy in our grade, strolled past us and we immediately jumped apart from our huddled girl talk.

TJ’s eyes fell on Alison. His cheeks blushed a little, and he hurried over to his desk.

“Did you see that,” Hailey squealed.

I clapped my hand over her mouth to shut her up. Alison threw me a grateful look. Last year we made a pact to never be those girls. The squealing ones who pretend they’re idiots and refuse to eat in front of boys. Hailey can’t help herself. She’s naturally ditzy and forgetful. It has nothing to do with male presence, so we still love her.

“My house after school,” Alison reminded us of our Friday tradition.

It was nothing more than hanging out, pigging out, making fun of the popular girls (the Pact to stay “squeal free” evolved from one of these sessions), and occasionally inventing stories about what the nuns really do after school (my personal favorite).

“Sarah’s coming. I called her last night,” Hailey said, referring to our other best friend in a different homeroom this year.

“Alright, everyone get your Math books out and start with the problems on page ten,” Sister Janet said. She narrowed her eyes at me, pointing one hand toward the door. Freddie and Dara zipped past, books tucked under their arms. I swallowed hard and threw Alison and Hailey a desperate look.  Alison bit her lower lip and Hailey chewed on her thumb nail. They were the most supportive friends a girl could have, but they didn’t have to leave. I did. Day five of Algebra with the ninth graders had officially begun.

I grabbed my book and hurried after Freddie and Dara. My stomach did flip-flops while I made the long walk down the hall. But the pukey feeling was completely unrelated to the impending movie and everything to with the older kids (I’d start worrying about the movie again after Algebra). Being forced into their world, even if only for academic reasons would frightened the coolest of eighth graders (which I wasn’t). They didn’t want me there anymore than I wanted to be there.

Sister Janet says there’s always something to be grateful for- someone who was worse off. Whenever I sit in class behind the most popular ninth grade girl, April Jenson, it’s difficult to be grateful for anything God has blessed me with. But then I look over at Jenny Ludwig and give thanks that my mother doesn’t make me wear the little girl jumpers instead of the skirts. Seriously, she’s fourteen with a plaid jumper, white button down Peter Pan collar shirt, knee socks and black Mary Jane’s.

I. Kid. You. Not.

After glancing at Jenny the first day of school, I forced myself to look down at my socially acceptable skirt, navy school polo and Nike’s then I said: Yes, there is a God. I may not be April Jenson, but Sister Janet is right. It could be worse.

I took in a deep breath before entering the classroom, letting my eyes drop to stare at my shoes like I was examining them for dog crap stuck to the bottom. It’s an unspoken rule not to make eye contact with the ninth graders while on their turf (which I was). I slid into my seat and noticed Mrs. Halloway wasn’t in the room yet.


I was writing the date on the top of my notebook page when someone tapped me on the shoulder. My heart started pounding in my chest. It must be a trick. I wasn’t turning around just to have someone shove my finger up my nose and ask me if I’m digging for gold (this happened to Freddie yesterday, I felt terrible for him).

“Ellie, are you ignoring me?” a voice whispered in my ear.

A familiar voice. But it couldn’t be. I turned quickly in my seat and stared right into Justin’s green eyes.

“What are you doing here?” I couldn’t help asking.

He smiled. “It’s not an all girl’s school.”

I rolled my eyes. “You wish. But I thought you were going to George Washington?”

“My parents had me on the waiting list all summer. A spot opened up at the last minute.” He frowned and reached his hand toward my shirt and pulled off a cat hair. “Albert Einstein’s been rolling in your laundry basket again, hasn’t he?”

I laughed and pushed his hand away. “I wasn’t ignoring you. I didn’t know you were here. Plus I’m an eighth grader. I’ll probably get hung or lynched just for this little chat.”

I turned around then because Mrs. Halloway walked in to the room and I realized immediately several pairs of eyes were on me.

Spotlight number one. I wished more than anything this was the only one. It wasn’t.

My cheeks burned and I slid down in my seat hoping Mrs. Halloway would jump right in to complex equations. She did jump into the lesson but not the long boring lecture I hoped for. No, that would be lucky (which I wasn’t). And that would be reserved for traditional teachers (which Mrs. Halloway wasn’t).

Today we were doing a hands-on project- calculating angles of large objects outside using Algebraic and geometric formulas. So when she started to partner us up I glanced hopefully at Dara, even Freddie would do. Eighth graders needed to stick together, but instead I get-

“April Jenson,” Mrs. Halloway said.

April stood and flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder.

Mrs. Halloway looked down at her clip board. “April your partner will be, Eleanor Cummings.”

My face turned even redder and I ducked down pretending to pick up something from the floor.

“Eleanor Cummings,” Mrs. Halloway spoke with such authority I jerked up quickly banging my head on the desk, hard.

I stood feeling the burn of everyone’s eyes.

Spotlight number two.                         

Mrs. Halloway was new and didn’t know name’s yet. She was just reading off the roster and the damage she caused was completely unintentional.

I heard Justin laugh a little under his breath and mutter, “Eleanor.”

I had been Ellie Cummings since preschool. Like every other day, I walked in as Ellie. But today, I left as Eleanor and today of all days Eleanor was the absolute worst name to have.

QUERY- THE ELEANOR STORY (first revision)

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

On her fourteenth birthday, Ellie Cummings has one amazing seventy-two second kiss with the cutest boy in school. Three days later, she’s officially the slut of St. Vincent’s Academy.

Shy, quiet Ellie is in for a surprise when Justin, the boy she’s kept a secret from her friends all summer, transfers to her school. From the moment Ellie chooses a seat in the cafeteria next to Justin, she goes from flying under the radar, to being the center of gossip so juicy even the nuns are taking notice.

Her friendship with Justin is put under the microscope by everyone, including Ellie as she employs every method possible to protect her reputation, even forming her very own list of thirty items guaranteed to keep rumors from spreading. Eye gazing, hand holding, daydreaming (or vacant stare that might be mistaken for daydreaming), are all out of the question.

Despite her efforts to prove Justin is a friend and nothing more, Ellie’s true feelings creep in and she impulsively kisses him in front of twenty-six pairs of eyes and one hairy mole working for the evil HailMary22.

Three days later, HailMary22 has started a blog in her honor, Guess Eleanor Cummings Next Man. Rumors and lies fill the pages of the blog and Ellie can’t escape from an outcome she never asked for. Isolation from her friends and the boy she may love, lead to something far worse than any rumor spread. It’s up to Ellie to decide, hide from HailMary22 or stand up for herself for the first in her life.

THE ELEANOR STORY is a 54,000 word young adult novel. This is my first project.