Querying Again


Well, I probably ought to get back to talking about my writing career, rather than turn people off with my political views.

I'm back to sending out queries for SWEET REVENGE with my latest updated query letter. Actually, I think it's pretty good -- if I might say so myself. It's patterned after agent Kristen Nelson's "Perfect Pitch" exercises. I’ve sent out several new queries, plus I’ve decided to status-query some agents who haven’t responded after three months. I still haven’t gotten any bites, just a few more rejections, but I have to realize my novel is not like most young adult novels. It’s more involved, not cutesy like a lot of young adult novels. It’s what I call a romantic/suspense. It begins with a tragedy and ends with a tragedy, though happily. In a lot of ways, it might even be considered literary in that it is character driven more than plot driven, and the main character experiences an important change at the end.

One potentially good bit of news, however. I entered SWEET REVENGE in a contest sponsored by a small publishing company and as a result was asked to send in a short synopsis and two chapters. However, it may take this editor some time to respond. She says on her web site that she’s buried in her slush pile, in effect, and won’t be able to respond for a couple of months. So, I will learn patience.

Just so my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you) will have a better idea of what my book is about, here’s an abbreviated (I've cut some of the kiss-up language) copy of my latest query letter:

Dear Agent/Editor:

I am seeking representation for my 68,500 word young adult, romantic suspense novel, SWEET REVENGE.

Mark Wilkerson was popular in his old school. He sang, danced, and played several musical instruments, often with his family, until on Christmas Eve, on the fog-bound Carquinez Bridge, he loses his family in a fiery automobile crash. If only the last words they shared hadn't been spoken in anger he might be able to move on, but Mark's depression, guilt, and his need to be accepted in a new town and new school are only overshadowed by his building rage against the unknown driver who caused the accident. At the funeral, he vows revenge, if he ever discovers the driver’s identity.

Mark meets and falls in love with Genie Lombardi. But she has a jealous, low-life boyfriend, Jeff Marino, who vows vengeance of his own. When Mark finds evidence that Jeff might be the driver who caused his family’s accident, his need for revenge leads him toward a new tragedy that could prove even more disastrous than the loss of his family.

In a genre similar to novels by S.E. Hinton, Sharon Draper, and Ellen Hopkins, SWEET REVENGE, is set in a small northern California community during the mid-1960s when the Vietnam War was escalating. Having grown up in the community where this story takes place, I’ve drawn on reports of suicides and multi-car pile ups on the Carquinez Bridge to help inspire elements of this story.

I’m hoping this letter will eventually illicit a positive response. Here's to not holding my breath -- (takes in sharp, deep breath).
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008

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