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This Business of Childrenrevised query letter


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#1 Chloe JonPaul

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    Entering the Age of Elegance: A Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman 2010

Posted 06 March 2011 - 06:03 PM

Dear _______:


A blend of ironies; private emotions, and public scrutiny; personal desires and professional predicaments. Vera Harriss, Deidre Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are elementary school teachers whose lives become significantly changed in a single academic year.
What causes Vera, who is about to retire, to vent her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet? Why does Deidre leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South? Then there is Mark, the perennial job hunter looking for a job with more prestige and pay. What compels Mark to turn down the perfect offer when it finally comes through? And Stu,one of the most popular teachers in the school, struggles with a deep,dark secret that he can only share with Deidre . What causes Stu’s untimely death?

This novel (word count:62,139) is set in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine during the mid-1980’s.Vera is a middle-aged, dowdy but dedicated teacher who is ready for retirement. She has never been one to question established practices. She has always faithfully paid her union dues; preferring to let others take the lead in bettering the profession. Dee is thirty-something – a sophisticated newcomer to the Blevins District school system. She arrives there with a history of political and union activism she’d sooner leave behind but somehow can’t. Reluctantly, she becomes a key player in the Blevins Teachers Association’s fight for change in an arena where change was thought to be impossible. Mark feels trapped in a marriage and a job that have lost their luster. Mark becomes easy prey for Dee and succumbs to an illicit relationship he feels powerless to stop. . He scours the Boston Globe’s employment ads week after week, vowing that his resume will eventually land him a position with prestige and more pay.
Stu is a closet homosexual who finally confides in Dee when his lover Jeremy dies of AIDS. Devastated by the earlier loss of his mother and now Jeremy, he finds solace in the tiny back room of his house where he keeps a magnificent collection of antique lamps. That room takes on a special significance toward the end of the story.
Vera tells the reader in the Prologue that she had planned to write a scholarly report on the dilemma of the elementary school teachers upon her retirement – something she had lived and witnessed for thirty years but she says, “ but I know now that I’ll never be able to do that because the story that claws at my brain and keeps me awake nights has to be told.”

I am an author with 2 published books:
What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More
ISBN 1 932433-00-7 Non-fiction
Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman
ISBN 1-935097-05-9 978-1935097051 Non-fiction
*Retired educator (35 years exp.) *Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996 *Lead facilitator: Alternatives to Violence Project

Thank you for your time and consideration. The manuscript is completed and available upon your request.
Chloe JonPaul

#2 jwmstudio

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 06:12 PM

This is better. I think you need to read more sucessful queries and don't lead with questions.
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#3 dgaughran

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 07:27 PM

I don't have time to go through this line by line, but look back at the advice in the last thread. This is better, but you have some way to go.

I will say this quickly - it's way too long (over 500 words) - it should be below 250. Cut, cut, cut right down to the bones, the shorter the better. It's hard, but it will be worth it. What's the essence of your story in one sentence? That's your hook. What's the story in three sentences? That's your second para. Once you have that structure down, you are nearly there.

Dave
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#4 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:44 PM

I agree with the others.

Definitely trim, trim, trim. Really think "back cover of my book." That will give you a baseline.

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#5 anticipa

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:55 PM

From this, I'd start after the questions end. That seems to be where your story begins. I like how you've cut to the heart of the issues, but the fact that you have so many names in one place (and that's including things like Blevins, Maine and the Boston Globe) makes this query overwhelming. Trimming would help the proper-noun overload.

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#6 dgaughran

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 07:29 PM

From this, I'd start after the questions end. That seems to be where your story begins. I like how you've cut to the heart of the issues, but the fact that you have so many names in one place (and that's including things like Blevins, Maine and the Boston Globe) makes this query overwhelming. Trimming would help the proper-noun overload.


I second the opinion on the proper nouns - there are way too many.

Try writing the query using only one name (or two if you must). Remember, you don't have to cover every plot point in the book. Your simple goal is to make the agent want to read more. Pick the main character. If you have more than one, choose one. Tell us the story from their perspective. It's okay if teh agent reads your novel and finds out there are more characters, more aspects to the plot that you didn't elude to in your query, because you know what? The agent is reading your novel, and that's the whole point to this torture.
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