Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Cards and Query Letters

Four years ago I took a cutsie picture of my two daughters and had Costco print up 150 Christmas postcards. Only they weren't Christmas postcards, they were "Chrimstas" postcards. I did not send them out. Thus ended the responsible, well adjusted, adult-ish activity of sending Christmas cards to a lot of people who don't care anyway.

I still have those cards in a box somewhere. I should send them out whenever I find them again. The people who don't care won't even notice (the fact that it's no longer 2007, that my children are no longer toddlers, or the typo). The people who do care will know me well enough to find it all funny.

I bring this up because writing a blurb that encompasses all the positive things in your year but is short enough to fit on the back of a postcard is an art akin to query writing. An art I have not managed.

My current query for Courtly Scandals:

Dear (insert agent name here)

Blah blah blah....(detailed agent information, including references to the agencies current clients to show I chose them thoughtfully)... blah.
Courtly Scandals: Query

Mary has nothing to offer as a wife.  No family connections, no wealth, and worst of all, she can’t have children.  Mary knows this means she can never marry.  Her only respectable recourse is a life of service as a gentlewoman companion to a noble lady.  All she has to do is maintain a good reputation, remain unremarkable, and do as she is told.  She’s been following orders all her life; making it through the twelve nights of Christmas at Queen Elizabeth’s court without incident should not be difficult.

On the first night of Christmas Sir Charles and Mary connect based on honest attraction.  She is a breath of fresh air and he can’t get enough.  What starts out as a fling for both of them quickly becomes much more. His devotion is tested when Mary is accused of attempted murder. She asks him to help her clear her name and discover who really stabbed the Earl Oxford in her chamber.  Mary certainly had motive – the Earl of Oxford murdered accidentally killed Mary’s fiancé three years ago.  Charles trusts his heart and believes in Mary’s innocence.  Unfortunately there are added complications; Charles is the Earl’s half brother.

Together Mary and Charles investigate the attack.  With some unlikely help from high places, Mary finds herself above the public censure and moral outrage at her seemingly scandalous behavior.  Charles discovers what he really wants in life is not a career at Queen Elizabeth’s court, but a home and a family with Mary.  As much as Mary wants to be with him, she knows that a family is the one thing she can’t have.

In spite of scandal after scandal, misunderstanding, and danger, anything is possible during the twelve nights of Christmas.

Courtly Scandals is complete at 80,000  words.  This is my second completed novel.

I have not looked at my query for awhile now. I've been busy with my current projects and let the marketing of Courtly Scandals take a back burner. Now is the time to tackle it with some gusto. Perhaps moxy, or even hutspah.

Looking at my query with a fresh-ish eye, I can see it's awkward. You are even more objective than I. How should I fix it?

1 comment:

Jennie Bennett said...

I have quite a few notes and I would be happy to critique it if you don't mind sending me an e-mail

author.jabennett (at)

Good luck!

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