Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The bad, the good and the ugly

The bad:
A young career-minded woman, Amy Conner, leaves her demanding job as a reporter in Orlando. She moves to rural northeastern Pennsylvania to purchase a small Christian bookstore ministry. After struggling through many personal losses in her life, she throws all her commitments into the store leaving little room for anyone or anything else.
Scott Webster, a newcomer to town, offers his aide with not only financial resources but charm after her store burns down in a Christmas fire. Amy balks at his sincere attempts to help while her heart teeters with the pull of love for him and her commitment to ministry. Through a series of God-orchestrated events, Amy eventually allows herself to trust not only her admirer but God with all the second chances in her life.


That's what I sent (partially). Here's what I got in reply: . . Your story has many appealing plot elements, but I'm afraid I felt there wasn't enough sustained conflict, particularly for the hero, to make this story truly suitable for our line... (Steeple Hill)

And you know what? I agree. I sent this out a month ago. It's a partial of my query from my first book--written years ago.

So can you see how important the query letter is?

I know my story has more conflict but how could this poor editor tell by what I sent? She couldn't. My mess-up.

The Good. I received my options for some cards from Blue Mountain Arts in the mail too. So now I send them in and wait for the next phase--the market review which can take months.

The Ugly. Let's just say it's not a good hair day here in humid Florida.

43 comments:

Heather Sunseri said...

Terri, that sounds like a wonderful love story you have there. I think you'll get a second chance, just like Amy.

Jessica said...

Yay!!! You got a personalized response. :-) I'm SO happy for you, but sorry about the rejection. However, if you ever decided to go back to that story, you have an idea of what to make stronger and you could resend it stating that you'd strengthened his conflict! :-)

I hope you're feeling okay, even with the rejection. It's just based on the query and synopsis? That's why they're so important. Maybe you do have enough conflict for him, but all they know is what's in the letter.

Good luck with your hair. I haven't been outside yet. Yuck.

Andrea said...

I understand the need for a great query letter, but at the same time it is difficult to convey the dynamic plot change of an entire book in a short letter. I pray GOD will give you the most dynamic words to capture the future editors attention immediately.
It is a bad hair day in Central Virginia, too!
Blessings, andrea

Kristen Painter said...

Rewrite that query and start sending it out again.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I appreciate you sharing your query with us, and the letter. You have such a mature perspective, Terri.
Is the heroine based on your own life?

JennyMac said...

Sounds great ! And the ugly hair comment made me crack up since I live in Atlanta which is humidity bath all summer.

Lin said...

improvement that's the story of life and rewriting. good that you heard suggestions on improving-at least they were that interested. keep working, progress is coming. faith precedes the miracle...

Angie Ledbetter said...

Terri, it sounds like you're on the right/write path in the first two quests. Can't do anything about the hair because I live in a sauna. :)

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

You're so good!

You always have the ability to turn all your lemons into lemonade. What wonderful perspective to be able to look at all oppoertunitus and see the potential for growth!

Blessings
Robin

Diane said...

Keep at it. You're on the right track from the feedback!

Stephanie Faris said...

I had that exact problem with a requested complete recently. The way I'd written the synopsis was misleading and the agent completely misinterpreted it. (Of course, that was how I knew she read the synopsis and only the beginning of the complete she requested!) I realized from her rejection I needed to reword the synopsis...so that was a good thing.

Cindy said...

You're right about the importance of the query letter. Though I'd definitely read that story based on the summary you had there :)

Trudy said...

Well, you caught my attention and I can't wait to read it someday!

You are such an inspiration, I have yet to submit ANYTHING yet I know I will remember so much of your advice. You are so humble and accepting, though I know it must be difficult sometimes.

Keep submitting!!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think it means a lot that the editor wrote you personally. Why not use it as an opportunity to spruce up your query and resubmit?

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Gee, I thought the excerpt was pretty good, had me wondering what would happen. I guess that means use me as a contrary indicator, huh? I think Andrea made a good point, too.

Oh, I never have a problem with hair, as it, like my waistline, has “gone south.”

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Janna Qualman said...

LOL! I love the format for this post. Glad you still have your sense of humor.

I'm sorry about the rejection, but so relieved to hear you gained a lesson from it. It's important, huh?

Hang in there.

Lazy Writer said...

I think it sounds like a wonderful story! I agree with Kristen. Rewrite the query and submit it again! Good luck with the greeting cards!

Rose Mary said...

I agree that the query letter is very important. I'm really not very good at writing them, so my daughter always helps. It is hard to cram everything you need to say into those few paragraphs. I do hope you get a second chance with your story~it sounds like a good one.

Jody Hedlund said...

Terri,
I think that it's so key to hook an agent or editor with our query. I always have put my one sentence hook (suppose to be about 40 words), and then the "back cover" blurb which again is intended to hook a reader into picking up your book. If both of these are in your query and can grab an agent's attention, then they will be more likely to read your synopsis (which in my opinion still has to highlight the key conflicts and drama of the book).

Glad you could learn from it! And hopefully be able to rework it!

Sassy Granny ... said...

Well, if that's as ugly as it gets, hooray!! The good wedged in between the bad and that ugly is full of enough great promise to overcome bad hair days. I can hardly wait to hear your follow up report!

Kathleen

Helen Ginger said...

The good news, Terri, is that you could query this again and probably get more positive responses since you know what to say in the letter now.

Move to Texas - no humidity, no rain, no relief from 100+ degree heat, day after day after month. (Makes you appreciate that humidity more, huh?)

Helen
Straight From Hel

T. Anne said...

Great news about your cards! At least your getting somewhere unlike meeee! ;)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

At least you're submitting, which is more than I can say for me. My book needs more work, but I'm thinking of holding off and writing another manuscript.

Woohoo! You're making progress with Blue Mountain.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Pat's Place said...

Sounds like a great story to me. Have you read Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street Series of books. I think you should pitch your story again.

Jill Kemerer said...

I too learned from rejections about the importance of a good query and a good synopsis. Both the hero and the heroine have to have compelling conflicts stated clearly.

And I was rejected once based on a synopsis which dealt too heavily on the external circumstances while ignoring the characters' internal struggles.

I could have kicked myself!

Lesson learned!

Warren Baldwin said...

Thanks for sharing this learning experience!

Kara said...

Oh, your story sounds wonderful. It is hard to be able to wrap up your whole story in just a couple of paragraphs, and yet that is what we have to do! But the good thing is now you know how to tweak it because they actually let you know.
Just got back for Houston so I totally understand the humidity thing:)

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

I'm writing like mad but haven't made much work of querying etc. So much to learn!

Carmen said...

Love your sense of humor! Especially the bad hair thing. I always have bad hair...it laughs out loud at curlers and straightening irons alike, while it promptly does what it wants. It's a battle. Anyhow, query letters frighten me a bit. I guess that's why I've never submitted anything. I guess I should get over that! ;) Can't wait until you hear back from Blue Mountain!

sarah said...

bad hair day???? totally can relate. And the rejection letter is one step closer to the one who will say - fabulous let's sign that contract. In the words of Winston Churchill = never give up. You just haven't hit the right door yet. Sarah

david mcmahon said...

If it's any assistance to you (and maybe other writers as well) I wrote a post or two on query letters in a series called `Telling Write From Wrong' on my blog a while ago. It's based on my own experiences as an author, answering `real' queries from other writers.

Good luck!

Sande said...

Here's more for your good:

You actually send query letters in!!!

And for your ugly:

I'll swap you some hair debilitating humidity for some frost ... discovering I'm more a spring/autumn kind of person

Melissa Marsh said...

I'm so glad you got a personalized rejection on this insted of a form rejection. Now you know what to fix!

Nancy said...

I can see where the query came in handy. Now you know what to focus on when you send it out again. Hope your day gets better.

Chelle Sandell said...

It's wonderful that you received feedback and know that it's possibly just the query that needs to be rewritten. Go for it!!! Get it back out there!

She Writes Again said...

Well, I liked your query!

Greg C said...

Wow, I liked the story. I wanted to read more and isn't that what it is all about? Having a bad hair day here too. Lots of static in the air. :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yayy on the cards!

as for the query thingee -well, she responded personally - a good thing! :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

PS - what about having someone else write the query for you? someone who's read the ms and can write up something - they aren't as "close' to it as you? You may not use it exactly, but it may give you some "aha!"'s

ginny said...

Sounded good to me! Good luck on the blue mountain cards. As for your hair, well, beauty is from within!
I think you took that rejection with such dignity. I probably would have gone to bed to hide.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Terri,
I just found your blog and it's great. That love story sounds great. I would love to see it printed as a book. I'm also a writer and I know how discouraging it can be sometimes. I've been trying to get an article published for a few months. The editors tell me "It's well-written, but does not meet their current needs." Writing is hard, hard, work, but worth it all when we see our byline. Keep on keeping on. Your story will make it into print. Please visit my blog at: http://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, you got a personal response and in only a month. That's awesome, Terri!

I know what you mean about revealing conflict in such a short sell clip. It's tough. They say you need to spend lots of time on those queries to get them perfect. Is there a reason why your hero might not stay? If so, and it's a good one, that might be enough conflict to sustain the story. The reader knows there is a way out for him then and will wonder if he'll take it when the going gets rough. Just a thought.

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

Query's are deceptively difficult. I learned a lot today.