Dear Miss Snark,
Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel, _______, for representation. I believe your interest in exotic locales (North Central Florida) and snark (my main character, is nothing if not snarkastic) dovetails nicely with my 102,000 word, literary/commercial novel.
Claudette Taskett was the only person with her father, Hap, when he died in a mysterious accident on rural Orange Lake. But she refuses to talk about it, and within months, she’s gone, hitching north to outrun the tug of memory and guilt. Always an outsider, an edgy, angry girl who tells herself she’s above the goings-on in their small town, Claudette hooks up with Jack, a self-made outlaw with an agenda she doesn’t understand. It takes her a couple thousand miles and one too many bad nights to find value in the scant family she left behind, and by then, she’s caught between Jack and his overblown sense of himself and in serious danger.
Meanwhile, younger sister Leanne, still mourning the death of her father, faces the loss of her sister as well. Alternately despondent and furious, she withdraws to the Idylwilde Lodge, the Taskett’s rundown motel. Sometimes she’s sure she’ll never forgive Claudette for whatever it was that happened out on the lake, for taking off on her, for not being the protective older sister she’s needed. Sometimes she longs for Claudette just as she is: brave, snarky and utterly frank. When the hokey and hugely pregnant Citra Stark takes up residence in Claudette’s old room, Leanne’s unprepared for the feelings the older girl provokes, and even more surprised to find her new tenant holds the key to both her father’s death and her sister’s baffling flight. Armed with half a version of the truth, Leanne travels to the high desert of Colorado where the sisters must confront Claudette’s current mess, as well as the troubling circumstances that divided them.
I grew up in Florida, spent several years teaching in the rural communities around Orange Lake, and believe I have an insider’s sense of this distinctive and beautiful setting. I’ve also attended the University of Colorado’s Master’s program in Creative Writing, where I won a
teaching assistantship. I’ve published several poems and a few short stories in small literary magazines, but most of my energy has been devoted to this novel.
P.S. I’m including a short sample. While not a prologue, per se, it introduces the central incident in the manner of Ann Packer’s “The Dive from Clausen’s Pier”.
this is a dogawful query. Laden with recitation of events and unfocused. Blah.
This is what happened. Claudette came first, swimming then crawling then standing in the damp sand, her eyes not catching on any one thing. Something in the pulled back curve of her sister’s lip called Leanne to her feet. But by then, Claudette had taken off, running down the beach and into the brushy woods, away. The men in the bass boat came next, hollering for help. And then Daddy lay where they’d dragged him, sodden t- shirt pushed halfway up his chest, the fishermen still attempting CPR.
Leanne ran to him. Her foot caught in the loop of the picnic basket she’d insisted on packing, and when she shook it free, a couple of Twinkies tumbled out and lay like dog turds in gullies of sand. Blood shushed in her ears and also the harsh, wet wind. She hunched beside him, and he was the same overcast color as the clouds that day, his gaze gone distant. Gone. While, out on Orange Lake, each choppy wave balanced at its crest. Birds hung in the sky as if stapled there.
She called and called for Claudette, though it was pointless, and then fell to holding his hand, pushing it along the length of her cheek. His fingers, so loose, so like inner tube rubber, caught on her ear and in her hair. It occurred to her—a brief stab, pushed away as quickly as it’d
come-- that soon there'd be only this body, the color of potter's clay, this story she would not ever have the words for. Then no no no no no! This could not-- could not! -- happen.
This is what happened, and although people at highway pile-ups, fires, TV disasters, always start off with "It didn’t seem real,” it did. She couldn't muster the attention to fool herself. Her future came unhinged, this new thing yawning open like another door. And she saw that later, for the whole rest of her life, she’d start off here.
Then you read the writing, and you thank all dogs you make people send pages.
This is good. I'd read more.