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Tranquility, Mother Ocean and Me (Memoir?)


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#21 Stephanie A

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 05:48 PM

Sorry Country mouse,

I'm not writing a confession. Before we took off, I was very content with my life. I was a true novice and didn't know if I would like such a very different of way of life. I had the option of going back to my secure little world. As it turned out I fell in love with the sea.

And, the oath of office I took, is the oath of office for an officer of the United States Coast Guard. Since I am a civilian, it was considered an oath of office for an officer of the Merchant Marine. In time of war, if needed, I would be an officer of my own vessel in the US Coast Guard. Unlikely, but part of the promise I made to my country when I took that oath. There are varying degrees of captain's licenses, but I won't get into that. Suffice to say, mine sits in a nice place.

Yes sharks, yes high winds and storms, yes environmental issues, yes the underestimated intelligence of mother natures creatures, and yes crazy loveable people. I learned that man is an infitismal part of the whole and a lot more. This is what my book is all about.

Yes, you are correct about the "friends" paragraph. There are fascinating people in all walks of life.

The object of my query is to peak an agent's interest and ask for more. I want to share what I've experienced with the world, and the definition of this is getting myself published. I believe there is a need to cross the boundry, not sailors telling other sailors thier tales, but help people to understand this way of life, and maybe get lost in thier own dreams, whatever they are. Maybe, just maybe, a few will pursue thier dream and live it to it's fullest whatever it is they want to do.

If you have a desire to learn how to sail, just do it. You will fall in love with it, or decide it's not for you. That's the way sailing is. I learned a long time ago, there is no middle ground.
Stephanie A

#22 Countrymouse

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 06:16 PM

Sorry Country mouse,

I'm not writing a confession. (NOR DID I SAY YOU WERE) (CONFESS; WHILE IT DOES MEAN TO ADMIT TO HAVING DONE SOMETHING WRONG, IT ALSO MEANS TO ACKNOWLEDGE SOMETHING TO BE TRUE) Before we took off, I was very content with my life. (OKAY, THEN WHY THE "typical dysfunctional life" DESCRIPTION?) I was a true novice and didn't know if I would like such a very different of way of life. I had the option of going back to my secure little world. As it turned out I fell in love with the sea.

And, the oath of office I took, is the oath of office for an officer of the United States Coast Guard. Since I am a civilian, it was considered an oath of office for an officer of the Merchant Marine. In time of war, if needed, I would be an officer of my own vessel in the US Coast Guard. Unlikely, but part of the promise I made to my country when I took that oath. There are varying degrees of captain's licenses, but I won't get into that. Suffice to say, mine sits in a nice place.

Yes sharks, yes high winds and storms, yes environmental issues, yes the underestimated intelligence of mother natures creatures, and yes crazy loveable people. I learned that man is an infitismal part of the whole and a lot more. (GREAT, I DIDN'T SEE THAT SPECIFICITY IN YOUR QUERY––PERHAPS I MISSED IT) This is what my book is all about.

Yes, you are correct about the "friends" paragraph. There are fascinating people in all walks of life.

The object of my query is to peak an agent's interest and ask for more. I want to share what I've experienced with the world, and the definition of this is getting myself published. I believe there is a need to cross the boundry, not sailors telling other sailors thier tales, but help people to understand this way of life, and maybe get lost in thier own dreams, whatever they are. (I ABSOLUTELY AGREE. I THINK IT'D HELP YOU TO SIMPLIFY YOUR QUERY, AND IN DOING SO, AVOID REPETITION) Maybe, just maybe, a few will pursue thier dream and live it to it's fullest whatever it is they want to do.

If you have a desire to learn how to sail, just do it. You will fall in love with it, or decide it's not for you. That's the way sailing is. I learned a long time ago, there is no middle ground. (THANKS, I THINK I'LL DO JUST THAT) BOTTOM LINE: YOUR STORY, YOUR QUERY. JUST OFFERING MY TWO CENTS.
Stephanie A


Conventional opinion is the ruin of our Souls. ~Rumi~

#23 Tara

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:34 AM

Hey Stephanie! I'm totally new to AQC, literally joined about 30 minutes ago, so please take all my "advice" with a grain of salt. Also, I didn't peruse all the replies that came previous to mine, so apologies if I make a suggestion that has already been touched upon. Re: your query letter...

Going from the perfectly typical dysfunctional life of an average middle class woman, who thought sailing was a week on a cruise ship, to obtaining my United States Coast Guard Master’s license was an extraordinary journey. My husband and I lived aboard and cruised a thirty-three foot sailboat for eight years, along the East Coast of the United States and Bahamas. I went from novice, to experienced sailor, to one who could be paid for (having, 1) the responsibility of human life on the ocean (2). The day I took the oath of a merchant mariner (3) and received that piece of paper(, 4) was the day, all that I had experienced, and everything I had achieved, really sank in. I could stand alone behind the wheel of a vessel at sea, knowing in my heart I could navigate myself and all with me safely to shore.

1- I always feel like you can't really be paid for a responsibility, only paid for HAVING a responsibility...thoughts?
2- What exactly were you paid to do? Lifeguard? Captain? It might simplify a very long sentence by just stating your job...
3- Ahh, ^^ I see.
4- Don't think you need this comma. Ditto with the two commas following.

During these years, I lived a life that was astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.” (5)

5- I'm not sure I really like this toast... I get that you made some great friends on this (albeit very long trip), but it doesn't tell me anything very concrete about the nature of your friendships. The toast is almost trite without saying anything at all.

My memoirs are about this period of my life. A little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true (6). I would like to share this unique voyage with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating jaunt through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of live aboard cruising.

6- This sounds like what a reviewer or critic of your book would say, but I'm not quite sure it belongs in a query letter.

Finally, just generally, I still don't know what the title of your novel is, nor the genre or word count. As I understand it, it traditionally goes in the beginning of the query letter, no?

Anyway, hope that was helpful! Best of luck. The memoir itself, as far as I can tell from this letter, sounds like something I would definitely pick up. : )

#24 Stephanie A

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:43 AM

Hey Stephanie! I'm totally new to AQC, literally joined about 30 minutes ago, so please take all my "advice" with a grain of salt. Also, I didn't peruse all the replies that came previous to mine, so apologies if I make a suggestion that has already been touched upon. Re: your query letter...

Going from the perfectly typical dysfunctional life of an average middle class woman, who thought sailing was a week on a cruise ship, to obtaining my United States Coast Guard Master’s license was an extraordinary journey. My husband and I lived aboard and cruised a thirty-three foot sailboat for eight years, along the East Coast of the United States and Bahamas. I went from novice, to experienced sailor, to one who could be paid for (having, 1) the responsibility of human life on the ocean (2). The day I took the oath of a merchant mariner (3) and received that piece of paper(, 4) was the day, all that I had experienced, and everything I had achieved, really sank in. I could stand alone behind the wheel of a vessel at sea, knowing in my heart I could navigate myself and all with me safely to shore.

1- I always feel like you can't really be paid for a responsibility, only paid for HAVING a responsibility...thoughts?
2- What exactly were you paid to do? Lifeguard? Captain? It might simplify a very long sentence by just stating your job...
3- Ahh, ^^ I see.
4- Don't think you need this comma. Ditto with the two commas following.

During these years, I lived a life that was astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.” (5)

5- I'm not sure I really like this toast... I get that you made some great friends on this (albeit very long trip), but it doesn't tell me anything very concrete about the nature of your friendships. The toast is almost trite without saying anything at all.

My memoirs are about this period of my life. A little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true (6). I would like to share this unique voyage with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating jaunt through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of live aboard cruising.

6- This sounds like what a reviewer or critic of your book would say, but I'm not quite sure it belongs in a query letter.

Finally, just generally, I still don't know what the title of your novel is, nor the genre or word count. As I understand it, it traditionally goes in the beginning of the query letter, no?

Anyway, hope that was helpful! Best of luck. The memoir itself, as far as I can tell from this letter, sounds like something I would definitely pick up. : )

Hi Tara,
Welcome aboard. I just got here myself about a week ago, and sometimes feel like I'm tripping over my own two feet. All here have been very helpful, honest and patient with my writing. I thank you for your last comment..
Stephanie A

#25 Stephanie A

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:14 AM

Hi country mouse,

Well, you did get the emotion out of me and not just the rhetoric, or what I think they want to hear.........Thankyou
On a different note, I think we're all dysfunctional to some degree whether we realize it or not. That's what makes us all different. But you're right, it paints the wrong picture.
I read somewhere once "if in doubt, put in a a comma. It's less offensive to the reader then none when it's needed."
And finally, you don't have to live the lifestyle I did to enjoy sailing. I imagine the feeling of free flying in hand gliding probably is similar, although sailing, I would say, is much safer.
Stephanie A

#26 kellyann

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:08 AM

I'm having a total flashback of trying to write my query letter. I do agree with other comments (well not all) I will look for your updated letter before I add my two cents; I know that can get confusing and you don't know what advice to take...ahhh.

On a different tangent: you mention memoirs - to me - my memoir is one piece of work with stories. so its a book with chapters. I would change that a bit and again remember to add thank you, title, word count and .. I will send ... upon your request. The business part is very important. and don't forget your name, phone number, email etc...I almost did duh!

maybe put it aside and enjoy the holiday weekend!!! :biggrin:
It’s never too late to shoot for the stars regardless of who you are- Nickelback

#27 Stephanie A

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 03:42 PM

I went back to the drawing board and restarted from scratch Any input? :blink:
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Tranquility, the Sea and Me

Dear,

Stories are memoir/adventures of 61,172 words.

My husband and I lived aboard and cruised our thirty-three foot sail boat, Tranquility, for eight years along the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas. This memoir is about my novice first three years on the water. It takes the reader on a journey from St. Petersburg, Florida, through the Florida Keys, out to the Dry Tortugas, across to the Bahamas, and ending with us being spit out by an angry Gulf Stream back here in the United States.

During the eight years of live aboard cruising, I went from a complete novice at boating, to an experience sailor and finally obtaining my United States Coast Guard Masters License. My stories were written along the way, in spiral note books, on pieces of scrap paper, and notes to myself on edges of boating magazines.

I have a need to tell my stories, from the comedy of fouling smelling brussel sprouts cooking, my love bug encounter, going to jail in Key West, to the more serious side of learning heavy weather sailing 101 in the aftermath of the Storm of the Century, high winds, and dangerous seas and storms. Mother Nature has a beautiful and gentle side that I had the privilege of sharing like dancing with an octopus in the wild while my side kick barracuda shadowed my every move, dolphins making love, a mother dolphin teaching her new born baby how to porpoise. These only touch on the stories I have written. People were a great part of this life style also, and I try and bring the reader through a journey of getting to know them and hopefully feel the joy of meeting them.

I appreciate your time and consideration in reading this. Thank you
Stephanie A

#28 JMB

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 03:50 PM

This has gone completely in the wrong direction. An agent won't care when/how you recorded your adventures. Maybe you should write this first like its fiction--the story of a woman who had never sailed selling her home and trading her land-loving life for a life at sea. Write a hook, then set up the conflict, and leaving us hanging with how it will all get resolved. Write it in third person and then go back to first.

#29 kellyann

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 09:31 PM

I went back to the drawing board and restarted from scratch Any input? :blink:
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Tranquility, the Sea and Me

Dear,

Stories(AGAIN STORIES?) MY MEMIOR, TITLE HAS WORD COUNT OF ... AND PUT AT THE END - I THINK WITH THE THANK YOU) are memoir/adventures of 61,172 words.

My husband and I lived aboard and cruised our thirty-three foot sail boat, Tranquility, for eight years along the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas. This memoir is about my novice first three years on the water. It takes the reader on a journey from St. Petersburg, Florida, (TOO MANY PLACE MAYBE JUST SAY FROM ... TO ...

During the eight years of live aboard cruising, I went from a complete novice at boating, to an experience sailor and finally obtaining my United States Coast Guard Masters License.(GOOD) My stories were written along the way, in spiral note books, on pieces of scrap paper, and notes to myself on edges of boating magazines.( AGENT WON'T CARE)

I have a need to tell my stories (DELETE THIS UNFORTUNATELY AGENTS DON'T CARE), from the comedy of fouling smelling brussel sprouts cooking, my love bug encounter, going to jail in Key West, to the more serious side of learning heavy weather sailing 101 in the aftermath of the Storm of the Century, high winds, and dangerous seas and storms. Mother Nature has a beautiful and gentle side that I had the privilege of sharing like dancing with an octopus in the wild while my side kick barracuda shadowed my every move, dolphins making love, a mother dolphin teaching her new born baby how to porpoise.(CONDENSE THESE, THESE ARE TWO VERY LONG SENTENCES) These only touch on the stories I have written(DELETE). People were a great part of this life style also, and I try (DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT DON'T SAY I TRY) and bring the readerthrough a journey of getting to know them and hopefully(AGAIN DON'T BE WISHY WASHY) feel the joy of meeting them.

I appreciate your time and consideration in reading this. Thank you
Stephanie A



Stephanie - I only typed in caps so you could see my few notes - not yelling :tongue: just my thoughts.
It’s never too late to shoot for the stars regardless of who you are- Nickelback

#30 Tom Preece

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:50 PM

I want you to go back to the drawing board again. You've portrayed this as a fish out of water story. That's where to set the hook, the contrast between your expectations and the truth. Save the sentiment and affection until after you're salted. Put the shock and contrast blazingly up front.

#31 Stephanie A

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 08:36 AM

Stephanie - I only typed in caps so you could see my few notes - not yelling :tongue: just my thoughts.


Thanks KellyAnn,

I think I'm getting there, backwards. My daughter, a VP for an insurance Co., said just about the same thing. "Mom, get back to the basics. If an agent is looking for a non-fiction memoir like yours, they'll ask for more. If they aren't interested, they'll reject. Get over it and just send it. Only takes one."

#32 wendywtw

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 08:59 AM

Hi Stephanie A,

I'm pretty new to this site and getting my feet wet (no pun intended), so please bear with me. First of all, I love your title, but I think your hook needs to be stronger though and reveal something other than an account of your travels. It's got to reveal you. See below.

"I learned all sides of both Mother and human nature--sides I never knew existed until my journey to..." Could that be your hook? You might try something along those lines, something powerful and an attention getter. Also, I copied one sentence in your query that I thought was beautiful and revised it a bit:

"Mother Nature's beautiful, gentle side, and I was privileged to share it, be part of it. I danced with an octopus in the wild as my sidekick barracuda shadowed my every move. I witnessed dolphins make love, saw a mother dolphin teaching her new born baby how to porpoise."

Good luck, Stephanie. It seems like you have a real good story to tell. I hope I've helped.

#33 Stephanie A

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 09:06 AM

How's this for a query read. Am I there yet???????

TRANQUILITY, THE SEA AND ME

Dear,
When first starting out on my eight year journey, living aboard and cruising a thirty-three foot sailboat, I didn’t have a clue as to how physically and emotionally strong I would become from this lifestyle. Nor, did I realize this would be minor to the amazing learning curve Mother Nature offered. From the gentleness she shared, by allowing me to watch a mother dolphin teaching her new born baby how to porpoise, to fighting for my own life in a violent storm are never forgotten memories. Other seafarers were a great, wondrous part of this voyage also, with their stories and adventures. I bring the reader through this miraculous journey, to feel the excitement of this lifestyle, the people, and a gamut of emotions, from the tears of joy to the sadness of loss.

My husband and I lived aboard and cruised our thirty-three foot sail boat, Tranquility, along the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas. During this odyssey, I went from a complete neophyte at boating, to an experienced sailor and finally to obtaining my United States Coast Guard Masters License. This memoir is about my novice first three years on the water. It takes the reader on a journey from St. Petersburg, Florida, ending with us back from the Bahamas, being spit out by an angry Gulf Stream at our coastline.

Memoir/adventure 61,172 words

Thank you for your time
Sincerely,

Stephanie A
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