Dear Miss Snark:
A Dog Like Me (inspirational info (wtf is that?)-novel, 56,000 words) is about a local Midwestern Catholic radio station’s call-in talk show embracing a wide array of quirky questions about everyday life and spiritual journeys—-the funny, the poignant and the irrational. (You don't need to tell me what they are-show me) Although he’s a capable host and guide for most callers, psychologist and theologian Jack Kerrigan cannot elude his own personal struggles with pride, trust, family and mortality. That plus the neighbor’s dog who daily lifts his leg in Jack’s prized prayer garden.
This story offers imperfect, endearing, struggling and humorous characters: Can you buy your friend’s way out of Purgatory? What if his wife is “praying against him real hard?” Is a young party girl’s “fifth virginity” a too-lofty goal? (here's the show) A quickly moving parade of characters and subjects gradually intertwine to celebrate the universal family we are becoming—-despite our diverse heritages and cultures. (blech)
I’ve been working as a freelance writer for over 20 years, mostly producing advertising, promotion and publicity for businesses ranging from the very small to the Fortune 100. As a creative director, I’ve also worked with broadcast stations and sound studios. In addition, I’ve written a weekly newspaper column for The Appleton Post-Crescent. I’m currently working on my second novel.
Thanks for helping us with this exercise.
The warm smell of electrical equipment and halogen canisters filled the tiny windowless studio, its dark brown walls covered with acoustically dead egg crate foam. The pre-recorded intro faded up--an upbeat improvisational piano version of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Already the queue on the monitor displayed a caller patiently blinking to be heard on the air: Marie; Eden; Confession. Seated next to Jack at the small table, a silver-haired
priest seemed distracted, adjusting his collar as if the audience would be able to see him.
Two nuns smiled warmly from across the table. The room was crowded with the sisters and Father Carl in the more comfortable studio chairs and Jack on an extra folding chair.
“I like that music,” said the younger nun, her smooth face glowing.
“Pretty jazzy for 'Let All Mortal Flesh' if you ask me, Lucia,” the elder companion protested with a grin.
As the musical intro built to its crescendo, Meg raised her "World's Best Producer" mug from the control room--Jack's cue to begin following her standard weekly introduction.
“It’s time for Any Questions--Catholic Valley Radio’s live call-in show responding to your questions about faith and family. Here’s your host, noted Doctor of Psychology and Theology, and author of ‘Putting God First in the Third Millennium,’ Jack Kerrigan.”
“Good morning!” Jack began. “And what a beautiful spring morning it is! My special guests today include Father Carl Fenlon, from Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Silver Falls. He’s here to help us on our journey, and I’d like to invite you now to give us a call toll free at 1-800-555-2555. Father Carl? Welcome!”
“Thank you Jack,” the priest replied. “It’s always a pleasure to visit with you and your listeners.” A seasoned pro, Father Carl positioned the microphone and his mouth at the ideal distance and angle.
“His P’s never pop,” Jack observed silently as he continued the introductions. “We’re also honored to have Sister John and Sister Lucia from the Dominican Sisters of Saint Joseph Congregation join us today. Good morning Sisters.”
“Good morning Jack,” both women responded in cheerful unison.
Their full habits seemed to deepen the room beyond its ordinary closeness. Sister Lucia wore the white veil of initial formation. Sister John’s was black--she was committed for life. Their headphones gave them an uncanny
The queue now displayed three callers:
Marie; Eden; Confession
Brenda; Twin Lakes; Bingo Worry
Arthur; rural Sussex; Beer Tent
(here's where it starts to get interesting)
“Let’s get right to our first caller, Marie... Marie? Are you with us?”
Dead air. Jack hated to lose callers.
The caller cleared her raspy voice, hesitated and spoke.
“Father. I need to make confession.”
“Bless you,” the priest said. “It’s sad that such a wonderful sacrament, such a gift, has fallen into such an under-celebrated state. Please know that you’re welcome at Saints Peter & Paul on Saturdays at 9:30am or by appointment.”
The woman cleared her throat again.
“No. I want to make confession now.”
The puzzled priest’s eyebrows moved closer together.
Jack was perplexed. “You mean on the air? With thousands of people listening?”
“I stole chickens,” she blurted.
You spend a LOT of time telling what everything looks like. Get to the action. In a normal query you'd have a couple more pages for me to read after *it gets interesting* but if you fell back into the drying paint of description, I'd stop.
Your query letter makes me wonder if there's a plot in this. I'm guessing there isn't.
Also I'm really really over dog's peeing as a humor point. It's been done to death.