My Latest Query Again


Okay, so that last one was horrible. I agree. It turned me off too. I got the idea from a well-known agent/author who is trying to sell his books on novel writing by giving away his article on query writing. I followed his advice as closely as possible and you can see the result. It makes me wonder how wonderful his books on novel writing are.

The other day, as I was driving, I got this idea of how to do it. I think it was what you could call inspiration. I pulled over to the side of the road and wrote down everything I was thinking. Then, I came home and worked on it some more, tweaking it and making it more grammatical and readable. I've posted it to several writes forum sites and everyone who commented said, "Wow! A great improvement. Then they gave me some more pointers that I've tried to incorporate. Now, I have what I hope is close to being a final draft that I can start sending out to agents.

If you, my faithful readers, all 1 or 2 of you, have any comments, I'm still open.

Here it is:


Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my 70,000 word young adult novel, SWEET REVENGE.

Tears flow down Mark Wilkerson’s cheeks as he watches his mom, dad, and baby sister burn in a fiery automobile crash on the Carquinez Bridge, while rocking his injured remaining sister to the tune of local emergency whistles. Set in a small Bay Area town in Northern California during the spring of 1965, Mark vows revenge against the hit-and-run driver who caused the accident.

Mark and his sister move in with his grandmother, in the virtual shadow of the bridge. While dealing with grief, he soon finds himself hated for hoping to get out of the Vietnam War draft so he can continue his studies in college. To make matters worse, he gets caught in a love triangle with the boy who accuses him of draft-dodging. When he finds evidence that links the other boy to the killing of his family, he is filled with rage. Armed with hatred and his need for revenge, Mark heads on a dangerous course that could lead to a tragedy worse than the loss of his family – the murder of an innocent boy.

As an agent who represents young adult literature, I think SWEET REVENGE could be a good fit for you and your agency. It is written in a similar vein as S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and That Was Then, This Is Now, while exploring the debilitating psychological effects of grief, jealousy, and hatred, plus the beauty of forgiveness.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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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, July 17, 2008

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They say when writing queries, less is more, so I've pared my query WAY back. Any comments are appreciated.



Dear agent/Editor:

I am writing to you because you represented/published TITLE by AUTHOR, and I feel my book is similar.

SWEET REVENGE is about a seventeen year old boy who loses his family in a fiery car crash, and vows to get revenge, but in the end comes to realize his vow is leading him to a more serious tragedy – the murder on an innocent boy. Set in a small Bay Area town in Northern California, my novel takes place during the Spring of 1965 when the Vietnam War was threatening to change everyone’s lives. SWEET REVENGE is written in a similar vein as S.E. Hinton’s Pony Boy series, and Sharon Draper’s The Battle of Jerico, and Darkness Before Dawn, among others. I have received an endorsement from AUTHOR'S NAME, best selling author of the young adult novel TITLE.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Aaarrrggghhh! Did I ever tell you I hate query writing? Thank goodness for query critique sites on the web. Here's my latest. Any of you (all 1 or 2 of you) care to comment? If so, please do. Following my query, I've written a bit more about today's so-called energy "crisis," so I hope you'll read on to the end.

Dear Agent:

If only Mark Wilkerson hadn’t made his father angry just before the fiery automobile crash that killed his family, be able to move on, but the grief and guilt he feels for his part in the accident is only exceeded by his need to find the reckless driver who caused it.

Struggling to be accepted in a new small town and school, he meets and falls for Genie, a beautiful, yet not very popular girl in his new school. When she asks him for a dance at the Junior Prom, even while knowing her jealous date, Jeff, is fuming, she puts Mark in danger of Jeff’s vengeance. For moving in on Jeff’s territory and stealing his “chick,” Jeff, with the help of his gang, puts Mark in the hospital. When Mark recovers, he finds evidence that makes him think Jeff could be the driver who killed his family. Now Mark’s need for revenge is heightened by his hatred of Jeff, and drives him blindly toward another tragedy that could prove as disastrous as the loss of his family, the loss of Genie’s life.

Set in the mid-1960s, SWEET REVENGE is a 70,000 word, young adult, coming of age novel that may appeal to adults as well as young adults who enjoy novels by S.E. Hinton as well as Sharon Draper and Ellen Hopkins. Having grown up in the community and era in which this story takes place, I have drawn on reports of drug abuse, suicides, and multi-car pile ups on the Carquinez Bridge to help inspire elements of this story.

I am including the first 5 pages. The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Okay, now back to reality. I've been thinking about what is going to happen to this old world of ours if the cost of fuel keeps escalating. Right now it looks terrible. Liberals don't want us to have the abundant fuel resources we own. Conservatives say, "Drill here, drill now, save money."

Personally, as an environmental professional, I subscribe to the latter. I know we have enough oil and other energy resources under our very feet to keep us going for several decades, if not centuries (if you consider coal, oil shale, etc.). I agree, we need to develop alternative fuel sources, but the technology for that is years, if not decades, away. We aren't ready for that, but the liberals want to force us to do it anyway. Of course, they always want to force people to do things their way.

Isn't that kind of like Communism, or Satan's plan? In the pre-mortal councils in Heaven, before the world was created, God asked for volunteers to be the savior of our souls. Satan piped up first and said, "I'll do it. I'll save everyone by forcing them to obey the commandments. Just give me your glory." He wanted to take away our agency to act for ourselves and be responsible for our own actions. I personally prefer being able to think for myself.

However, Jesus, or Jehovah as he was known at that time, said in effect, "No, man needs to be free to act for himself. So, I will go down and pay for their sins, and the glory be thine forever.

Now, getting back to the energy crisis. The liberals would like for fuel costs to go so high that we won't be able to use our cars. They would like us to go to bicycles and horses and buggies. Al Gore almost said as much in his book (I can't recall the title of it) that the internal combustion engine is the greatest enemy to mankind, or something like that. I know that's not an exact quote, but it conveys his general idea. I've been in lectures given by liberals where they've claimed that the world only has 30 years of fuel left. I guess after that, we're all going to die, or something.

I can't believe that.

When God created this world, do you think he made it so that we would run out of anything we need to live and grow, and even prosper? Certainly not! He provided sufficient resources for our needs and more.

The other day, my son made a comment that got me to thinking. God has a lot of work for us to do yet. We still need to spread the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. We're close, but not there yet. To spread the Gospel takes traveling. Traveling takes automobiles, trains, airplanes, ships, and whatever else we've come to use. And that takes fuel. My son said he can't believe fuel will become so costly that we won't be able to travel. The gospel will march forward until it fills the entire earth.

The other day, I was listening to Glenn Beck on his radio program. He made a good point by saying the United States is a sleeping giant. As in World War II, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the giant awoke. Once again, I think the people of this nation are just beginning to wake up, but they will, and when it does, when we do, that's when America is at its best. That's when we will solve this energy problem (I hesitate to call a contrived situation as this a crisis). America is the greatest nation on earth. God made it that way for a divine purpose, for the establishment of His church and spreading it over the entire world. He won't let us fail. Have faith.
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