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In the Blink of an Eye (Mainstream Fiction)


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#1 Aightball

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 10:59 PM

Revision in #147


She screamed, picking up a bottle of mouthwash and threw it as hard as she could at the bathroom window. The bottle thudded to the floor, the white plastic cap cracking and the blue liquid sloshing out. She swept decorative turtles from the back of the toilet and watched them crash to the floor, their ceramic bodies cracking and breaking. She grabbed the metal shelves over the toilet and knocked them over, the baskets emptying and crashing to the floor.

In The Blink of an Eye, Jimmy and Allison Rickliefs learned just how fragile life can be. Jimmy wakes up in the middle of the night with stomach pain and a drunk driver changes their lives forever. In the whirlwind that follows the accident, they’ll find out just how strong their relationship is, test friendships and find out in the end that nothing matters more than the people around them.

The challenges faced by the couple during the course of the novel show the true spirit of human strength. From fights with friends over cleaning carpets to long days spent in the NICU at their daughter’s side, the family is thrown one challenge after another. But they show that a family can persevere with a little help from those closest to them.

Family ties and friendships are threatened in this mainstream novel of strength, challenge and ultimately love. Will they be able to survive the storm of recovery? Or will they see all of their dreams flushed away because of one night, one moment, and one stranger who changed the game forever?

I want to thank you for considering my novel for publication. I have been a writer for many years, since I got my first compliment in the sixth grade. From there, the writing bug had bitten me and I majored in writing in college. I enjoyed writing this novel and hope you will enjoy reading it.

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#2 S Jenan

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 11:40 PM

It's a common trap to to frame your query using the ideas that motivated you as a writer to put your story to paper (disk, harddrive, screen, whatever): the grand themes, the explorations of the human condition, the sweep of following these characters through xx,xxx words.

But as a reader, that's not how I approach your story, how I connect with your story. I connect with your story through the events, the motivations, the unfulfilled wants needs desires of your characters.

I've read dozens of stories about 'tested friendships' -- show me this tested friendship.

Hundreds of examples of 'the true spirit of human strength' -- what does it mean, specifically, here?

You're giving me a broad sweep, but not giving me a chance to get to know these people. Focus on the main character from the first third of your story. If there's more than one, cheat and pretend there's only one. What does he/she want? What is stopping it? What will have to be risked to get it?

The query writing process is a real pain in the backside, but it will reward you with real insights into your story as craft. Pare down, simplify, focus. Who and what is this story about? How can you express that in a physical way, avoiding theme? (Theme is the reward you give the reader AFTER they read it. Sorry, it can't be told-- it must be experienced. And that takes a lot of words and ideas to accomplish.)

Yeah, writing the query SUCKS, but don't worry, you'll get there.

WIP - Black Sea. It's not about the Black Sea.

Twitter: @sljenan Follow my ongoing quest to tweet that elusive 141st character...

 

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#3 K McClelland

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 11:42 PM

This doesn't exactly read like a query. You want to narrate your letter, not explain what it's about. You've got 300 words (give or take some) to get the agent's attention and to show the 'voice' of your story. Here's a couple links for you to check out. Read 'em over and then revise and repost (in this same topic, don't start a new topic).

Examples of Successful Queries

How to Write a Query

I know I didn't give you much feedback on this post, but I think you'll come up with a better revision once you've looked at those links. And then once you repost, make sure to visit other queries and give a little feedback, that will help you get more feedback on yours. :smile:

EDIT: Lol, SJ was posting when I was. He gave some good advice too. :happy:
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#4 Aightball

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:18 AM

Thank you! I will look at those and start revising (probably after work tonight) and then post what I have =).

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#5 Aightball

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:05 PM

Okay!

I went through and started over =). After looking over the links provided, I think I'm getting somewhere. It's a little shorter, less telly (I think, anyway), and more consise. Thoughts? I also am flirting with a new title...and will plop that in the title forum, but just a heads up since it's different in the letter now than the header on here.

Dear Agent,

When the outgoing and colorful drummer for the band Closure is involved in a serious accident, will he be able to return to his drums?

Don’t Blink takes the reader on a journey through the tumultuous life of Jimmy Rickliefs. When he wakes up in the hospital after a car accident, he’s faced with questions: will he walk again? Will he be able to drum again? Drumming is all he’s ever known and any other career would pale in comparison. He’s spent his entire life building up to be a rock star and in one second, that life is gone. Going from rock star to ordinary human being tests Jimmy’s strength and mettle, and shows him just how fragile not only life can be, but the ties that bind family and friends together as well.

My publications include two years writing for student newspaper The Tack at Buena Vista University. I wrote several front page articles and developed many skills through this experience. I also worked in healthcare for a number of years, including over five years working in a hospital.

Thank you for your time and consideration. A full manuscript is available upon request.

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#6 ColoRODo Character

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 04:01 PM

I kinda like "Don't blink"...it elucidates what can happen in a fraction of a second...!!!

However, now your query is a bit to short (I read your first and agreed it was too wordy), meaning I see no real conflict here other than a young man trying to live his "new" life. Here's what I mean : WHY would I want to pick up this story (or book if it gets to that)...??? I have my own set of life's problems and certainly don't need to read about others...what would this story teach me...??? I think it needs another revision...sorry...

R-

#7 Aightball

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 06:26 PM

No problem =). This is how I learn and the query is one of the hardest parts of this entire process. I will give it another and see what I can do. I was trying not to be so wordy this time, lol, and it seems to have backfired. :)

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#8 S Jenan

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 07:13 PM

Aight, don't think of it as a backfire. It's just an attack in an other-than-forward direction.

What's good? You're paring down, cutting closer to what's essential.

What's not? That process of discovery is surprisingly difficult. What helped me was to stop and really focus on the one single driving conflict that propelled the first third of my MS. Once I got my head around that, once I stripped everything else away to the essence of the battle raging in my story, I was a whole lot closer to producing a query that worked.

WIP - Black Sea. It's not about the Black Sea.

Twitter: @sljenan Follow my ongoing quest to tweet that elusive 141st character...

 

Blog: The Slosh Pile More alcohol stuff than writer stuff. Wait, alcohol stuff IS writer stuff...


#9 Aightball

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 07:51 PM

Aight, don't think of it as a backfire. It's just an attack in an other-than-forward direction.

What's good? You're paring down, cutting closer to what's essential.

What's not? That process of discovery is surprisingly difficult. What helped me was to stop and really focus on the one single driving conflict that propelled the first third of my MS. Once I got my head around that, once I stripped everything else away to the essence of the battle raging in my story, I was a whole lot closer to producing a query that worked.


That's a good way of looking at it. I will do some brainstorming and give this another go =).

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#10 M. Arthur Stone

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:13 PM

Aightball,

I only say this to save your a lot of frustration and aggrivation. (I also say this with love)....

This query screams amature. Here are some basic rules of a query you are breaking (and not in a good way):

1) Never step outside the story (meaning, never describe the story) Don't say anything about your book until the last paragraph, and only then to state the genre and word count.

2) Unless you have impressive writing experience, don't list your credentials. Agents know any writer that queries them is unpublished. So, while impressive credentials like assistant editor at William Morris certainly help you get taken seriously, if your bets credential is highschool newspaper, say nothing about your experience, let your story speak for you, whcih brings us to #3

3) Let your story speak for you

if you haven't already done it...go the library or Barnes & Noble and read the backs of 20 paperback books in similair genres to your book. Then, using elements of your story, emulate the backs of those books. That's how you get the hang of this.

Good luck. We'll be watching. ;)
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

#11 Aightball

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:43 PM

Thank you for the feedback! Never worry about hurting my feelings =). Criticism can sting but that's how we as writers learn. I will definitely keep trying until I get the hang of this. With over 700 books in my house, I know I have several in my genre and I will be sure to read them before giving this a seventh try =).

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#12 Aightball

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 02:13 PM

Okay...after reading over the advice, taking a couple of days to write and think, and reading the backs of novels in this genere, I think I'm making some progress. I also studied a couple of "queries that worked" on here, to see their format. So, critiques? Am I getting closer?


Dear Agent,

Drumming is all Jimmy Rickliefs has ever known; in a matter of seconds, a drunk driver threatens to make him lay down his sticks for good.

It all started in 1998, when a group of boys from Buxton High School wanted to form a band. Attempts at forming other bands separately got them nowhere. But when they formed Closure it sealed their fate; after years of empty bars and playing in a garage, they hopped on the Distortion Tour and landed a major record deal.

Fast forward to 2007 and everything is going great. They’ve got money, wives, gold albums, and big dreams. For Jimmy Rickliefs, their drummer, life is going especially well. Gone are the days of partying with groupies until he dropped or waking up in unfamiliar places; he and his wife are trying to start a family.

But when Jimmy wakes up one night in excruciating pain, blaming it on the leftover sushi he ate for supper, things change. His wife senses that something more is wrong than simple food poisoning, and she decides to take him to the hospital. Along the way they meet, by accident, the man that will change things forever.

DON’T BLINK is a mainstream fiction novel complete at [word count].

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#13 Aightball

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 11:17 AM

Anyone?

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#14 M. Arthur Stone

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:19 PM

Okay...after reading over the advice, taking a couple of days to write and think, and reading the backs of novels in this genere, I think I'm making some progress. I also studied a couple of "queries that worked" on here, to see their format. So, critiques? Am I getting closer?


Dear Agent,

Drumming is all Jimmy Rickliefs has ever known; in a matter of seconds, a drunk driver threatens to make him lay down his sticks for good.

It all started in 1998, when a group of boys from Buxton High School wanted to form a band. Attempts at forming other bands separately got them nowhere. But when they formed Closure it sealed their fate; after years of empty bars and playing in a garage, they hopped on the Distortion Tour and landed a major record deal.

Fast forward to 2007 and everything is going great. They’ve got money, wives, gold albums, and big dreams. For Jimmy Rickliefs, their drummer, life is going especially well. Gone are the days of partying with groupies until he dropped or waking up in unfamiliar places; he and his wife are trying to start a family.

But when Jimmy wakes up one night in excruciating pain, blaming it on the leftover sushi he ate for supper, things change. His wife senses that something more is wrong than simple food poisoning, and she decides to take him to the hospital. Along the way they meet, by accident, the man that will change things forever.

DON’T BLINK is a mainstream fiction novel complete at [word count].

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Your hook is weak and you spend way too much time on how the band made it...which, based on the second part of the query, isn't important. You can summ up his trip to fame in one sentence. THEN move forward with the partying leading to trying to settle down, THEN go on to mysterious stranger he meets on the way to the hospital. But leave out the sushi. Finally....how do they meet a stranger by accident on the way to the hopsital? You don't have to detail it all out but, is he the ambulance driver? The doctor? Some freak in the waitign room? AND...give us some teaser as to why or how he's going to change things forver. Finally...don't us e"change things forever" it's vague and clche at the same time.
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

#15 Aightball

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:26 PM

Thank you for the feedback! Looks like it's back to the drawing board once again. But I will definitely take your comments under consideration and see what I can do.

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#16 T.J.

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 06:27 AM

Kel -

You are on the right track! Keep going. Writing your query is tough. For me, I had to think of the hook first, then gave a brief summary of the hook...few details, but enough to keep the reader interested. It did get an agent to request a partial...no agent, but it proved I was on the right track....

"If you are going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill
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#17 Aightball

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:31 AM

Perhaps that's what i should do: work on the hook first. Because the band forming is not that important...but I thought it would be good to get something in there about that, to explain things. I'll work on the hook first and see what I can get. This book is about the MC's suddenly iffy future as a drummer, how the accident affects him, his relationship with his wife, friends, and family, and his future. Back to the drawing board =).

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#18 Lia Fail

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:30 PM

These are just some suggestions. :smile:

Dear Agent,

Drumming is all Jimmy Rickliefs has ever known; in a matter of secondshowever, a drunk driver threatens to make him lay down his sticks for good.

It all started in 1998, when a group of boys from Buxton High School wanted to form a band. Attempts at forming other bands separately got them nowhere. But when they formed Closure it sealed their fate; after years of empty bars and playing in a garage, they hopped on the Distortion Tour and landed a major record deal. Ok, so this is backstory. I was told not to put backstory into a query. Hard I know, how are you supposed to explain what happened? was my question, but I finally learned how to work around it.

Fast forward to 2007 and everything is going great. They’ve got money, wives, gold albums, and big dreams. For Jimmy Rickliefs, their drummer, life is going especially well. Gone are the days of partying with groupies until he dropped or waking up in unfamiliar places; he and his wife are trying to start a family. No offense, but who would want to start a family with a guy who isn't home and wakes up somewhere else?

But when Jimmy wakes up one night in excruciating pain, blaming it on the leftover sushi he ate for supper, things change. His wife senses that something more is wrong than simple food poisoning, and she decides to take him to the hospital. Along the way they meet, by accident, the man that will change things forever.


This last sentence needs to be reworded and eased into so it with flow better. Hope that makes since?
DON’T BLINK is a mainstream fiction novel complete at [word count].

Thank you for your time and consideration.


There is no trick beyond sitting your arse in a chair everyday -Shawn Speakman, Author of The Dark Thorn

#19 Aightball

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:45 PM

Thank you =). You have a good point about starting a family with a "swinger" even if he's changed his ways.

It's so hard to not put the backstory in there...since we pick him up when his career is going amazingly well. Many things to work on and I appreciate the suggestions!

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg


#20 Aightball

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:28 PM

Okay...I worked harder on the hook and then tried to describe the hook and the meat of the story. Am I getting closer? I've tried to take the advice offered here, read other queries on here (that worked), and read the backs of books in my genere. So I feel like I'm doing the right "studying" and I hope it's paying off.

A near fatal accident didn’t kill him; it might kill his career.

Jimmy Rickliefs is known for being the outgoing, turquoise haired drummer for the band Closure. He got his first pair of drum sticks at the age of four and the bug bit him. It’s a rare thing to see him without a pair of sticks in his hand. All he’s known in his life is the drums and he can’t see himself doing anything else.

At the height of Closure’s success a drunk driver makes a bad decision that threatens everything Jimmy has worked for. From the moment he wakes up in the hospital, he knows he should be grateful. Knowing that his career could be over makes him anything makes the drummer anything but grateful. Depression sets in and Jimmy is ready to give up. Friends, family and his wife are determined to keep his spirits up, but it’s going to be harder than they ever imagined.

At [word count], Don’t Blink is a complete mainstream fiction novel.

I am thinking of taking out the first paragraph...thoughts? Be brutal =).

Most girls are made of
sugar and spice and everything nice; they
screwed up the recipe for me: I'm made of
bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...mercial-fiction

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

Synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ercial-fiction/

Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

aertja.jpg





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