Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Queries—An Inside Scoop (Sherry Thomas’s Query)

STATUS: Sara and I were work machines today. I still have a long way before catching up (mostly reading client materials at the moment). But there is a flicker of light in the tunnel.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? YOU’RE SO VAIN by Carly Simon (That’s a classic and what a great song!)

Since it really was Sherry’s blog that started this whole query rant, it’s time for her query to go up to bat.

A little info that I’ve already posted previously but hey, I’ll repeat myself here. From the arrival of the first query to reading sample pages to reading the full to offering representation to selling Sherry’s novel: 25 days.

It sold in a pre-empt to Bantam in a good deal (Pub lunch terms) and will be released in fall 2007.

Without further ado, here is what I was thinking when I read Sherry’s query.

Dear Ms. Nelson,

I’m a faithful reader of your blog. I admire your enthusiasm, your humor, and your candor. She reads my blog! Okay, I really shouldn’t be swayed by such flattery but hey, I’m human. Since you represent all subgenres of romance, I’d like you to consider Schemes of Love, my historical romance set in late Victorian England. The manuscript is complete at 100,000 words. Nice orientation to her novel.

Gigi’s marriage is doomed from the moment she decides that she must have Camden, by fair means or foul. How can I resist? Right off we know the fall our main heroine is going to take. Talk about flawed and therefore, immediately interesting. Camden, who has come to adore Gigi, discovers her deceit on the eve of their wedding. Shattered, he responds in kind, gives her a tender, unforgettable wedding night, then coldly leaves her in the morning, devastating her. Ah yes, two souls who have now done two wrongs. It’s a romance; I must know how they will make this right. Seriously though, this is such an intriguing set up and combined with the paragraph below, it’s something I’ve never seen before and folks, I read a lot of romance queries and sample pages. It’s hard to find something wholly original and fresh.

As the story opens, it is ten years later. Gigi has petitioned for divorce in order to remarry. Camden returns to England and sets the condition for her freedom: an heir. I’m sold. Didn’t even need to read more. She wants a divorce. He wants a child. Hum… sounds like an intense conflict to me. Despite the years and the sea of bad blood, the physical attraction between them remains as ferocious as ever. Big hint this work is going to be sensual and boy, is it—in very different ways. There’s a sex scene in the novel (and I can’t give it away) unlike anything I’ve ever read anywhere. That’s saying something. Though they each vow to make the act of procreation a cold, clinical one, the overwhelming pleasure of their marriage bed soon makes it apparent that the enterprise is fraught with emotional peril, for both of them. Oops. Two characters who think they don’t like each other but have great sex. What more could I want? Seriously, notice the wonderful cadence of Sherry’s language here: “Though they each vow to make the act of procreation a cold, clinical one, the overwhelming pleasure of their marriage bed soon makes it apparent that the enterprise is fraught with emotional peril, for both of them.” That’s some gorgeous writing and it’s only her query letter I’m reading. If you notice, the whole query is like that, and the novel doesn’t disappoint either.

In an atmosphere thick with mistrust, desire, and incipient hope, they are torn between the need to safeguard their hearts and the yearning to reach out across the chasm of ancient mistakes. May favorite kind of construct. As they rediscover the easy rapport they’d once shared, they must decide whether to let the bygones rule the future, or to love despite their painful past and forge a new life together. I don’t know about you but I’m totally rooting for them to let bygones be bygones.

Schemes of Love recently placed first in its category at the Merritt Contest, organized by San Antonio Romance Authors. Excellent. It has received recognition. Chris Keeslar at Dorchester has requested the full. And editor interest! This actually isn’t a big deal for me because it seems like editors request everything but hey, it doesn’t hurt. Another one of my manuscripts has won the Romantic Elements category of the 2005 On the Far Side contest, hosted by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter of the RWA. Some other credentials and shows a little diversity from just the Historical stuff.

Thank you for your time. I hope very much to work with you and look forward to hearing from you. And she did, quite quickly. Big smile here.

Sherry Thomas