Jun 28, 2010

Query for Beauty for Ashes

(note: this is a from-scratch version of a query I've been working on for weeks.)

Dear [Agent],

Jonathan Douglas wants to die. After wasting years of his life serving God, he is betrayed by Him when his wife and child are killed. On a rampage against the Almighty and his old moral code, John is pouring his insurance money into the alcohol that deadens his pain, never mind the incessant Voice that won’t quit calling to him. But now the booze just isn’t enough to stave off the torment of his existence. Plans on how to get it done are beginning to take shape when he meets April, a dead ringer for his deceased wife. When she propositions him, he throws himself into the fantasy. He wakes up in bed with the prostitute, and the proverbial scales fall from his eyes. Ashamed, he falls to his knees before God in the vomit-ridden bathroom of a Vegas hotel room where the Lord comforts and restores him.

Second chances are seldom deserved, and John is astounded when he finds love again with church-going Jenni. Their future together promises to be a happily-ever-after, until April makes her way to John’s doorstep claiming he is the father of her unborn child. Now John wrestles with his shameful past, Jenni faces insecurity and bitterness, and April doesn’t know what to make of all the “God talk” going on. For John and Jenni, it will take incredible faith to follow God through what is quickly becoming their darkest valley, but a willingness to surrender all could save a soul in the process.

Weaving the stories of three distinct characters together, BEAUTY FOR ASHES places the reader directly into the minds of its characters through first person narratives, allowing them to listen to their heart-cries and personal prayer lives.

This contemporary novel, standing at approximately 93,000 words, fits within the General Christian Fiction genre.

Key Selling Points
• The complicated connections between John, April, and Jenni set this story apart from most other books in the genre- it’s a triangle dominated by a different kind of Love.
• The first-person narratives, from each of the three main characters, allow the reader to identify with all sides of the unfolding story.
• The story does not end with John’s repentance and everything tied up in a pretty bow. It asks the question: “What happens after the prodigal returns home and the celebration has ended?” John must still deal with the profound consequences of his sin, and its effect on those around him. This is a powerful truth for the Christian which is sometimes ignored in our fiction.

This is a simultaneous query. Per your submission guidelines I have included the full synopsis and three sample chapters below. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.



Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight, or tomorrow her government will take one of her kidneys for someone else.

My 84,000 word dystopian thriller, Life First, is set150 years after a pandemic has wiped out 90 percent of the world’s population. Where Kelsey lives, society values life above all else. But, 23-year-old Kelsey bucks convention by refusing to give up her kidney to a stranger.

Kelsey has two things in her favor: (1) if she can escape to a neighboring country, she can keep her kidney; and (2) she’s got her boyfriend Luke and a dubious doctor to help her flee. The bad news is, if Kelsey doesn’t escape undetected, her government will convict her of failing to donate. The sentence: death through life-saving — forced donation of a heart, a lung, liver, pancreas, and whatever other useful parts the government can harvest.

My writing experience includes two years as a reporter at the [PUBLICATION REDACTED] and eight years reporting and editing for various trade publications, including [PUBLICATIONS REDACTED].

Per your submission instructions, I have enclosed the first XX pages of Life First. If you’re interested in seeing more, I’d be glad to send you the complete manuscript.