September 1, 2006
Dear Ms. Snark, (been reading the blog very long, bucko?)
Thirty-three years ago, the Parish government banished a woman for claiming to have a virgin birth. When Krylyr, her supposedly messianic son, became a terrorist and started a holy war against the fundamentalist government, life in the endless city got worse. Now, two women from Krylyr’s past have uncovered a weapon they believe will cripple the Parish. Only Krylyr can help pull it off. Unfortunately, there’s a problem: Krylyr got himself killed. Nobody said this would be easy. Fortunately, someone’s dug him up from his grave and whether he’s a vampire or a clone (and even if he is) or just plain resurrected, he’s breathing, and it looks like he might have one more good deed in him.
Enclosed is the first page (less than 751 words) of my manuscript “ABC,” a dark science-fiction/fantasy novel. Last year, it was awarded the grand prize in a contest from XPublishing. Set in the far-flung future, the story contains approximately 70, 000 words. I am sending this query letter to you because I know the publishing industry is a difficult one and I believe you can help me sell my work.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. By day I work as a technical writer on top-secret classified projects (so much so, sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m writing about) for an aerospace company. By night, I’m a member of the Writer’s Club of Y, a professional workshop for writers.
Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Chapter 1 -- Cast Down
Hunger howled in the pit of Father Nor’s stomach, an unquenchable appetite food could not satisfy. He glared at the teenage girl clinging to his leg as the emptiness filled his gut, sinking like a stone in a bottomless well. The girl’s fingers dug into Nor’s calf while her other hand protected the swelling belly beneath her habit. She had the audacity to meet Nor’s gaze and it infuriated him. (I'd stop right here--this kind of over wrought writing is instant rejection. I can fix almost anything from bad syntax, lousy pacing, and copy editor's nightmares but I cannot fix your sensibility. If this is what you're writing, and you think it's good, there's nothing for me to work with)
“Please, Father Nor,” cried the girl, “I swear to you on Christ’s name! I’m telling you the truth!”
He pushed her away with his boot, knocking her back onto the cobbled floor. A Magistrate stepped from the shadows lining the chamber’s walls, his dark shadow armor glinting like polished obsidian. The Magistrate grabbed fistfuls of her red hair with dark gloves and tore her from the ground. Tears streamed down her face, smearing the grime on her pale cheeks. Then the Magistrate plunged the girl’s head into a marble basin of water. His regulator’s hiss echoed in the dimly-lit room, bouncing off the drab stone walls and piercing the cold silence.
Nor tugged at the bleached white collar around his neck, watched as bubbles rippled around her hair. Imagined the water entering her lungs. “Whore of Babylon!” he said. “How dare this adulterous bride of Christ swear by His name after betraying the Parish in heat and lust, for the pleasures of the flesh?”
The other members of the Holy Twelve, their faces made spectral by the torch light filling the room, stared on silently. She flailed beneath the surface. Water spilled across the floor, pooled where the Fathers stood. Holy water. After a few moments, the gurgling stopped.
The aroma of spiced chicken drifted into the room. Nor licked his lips and nodded to the Magistrate. The Sister’s face came up.
The Magistrate pulled her back by her scalp again. Below the brim of his conquistador-style helm, her trembling face reflected in his mirrored orange faceplate.
A web of blood laced her forehead where hair had been ripped from their roots.
“There can still be absolution,” Nor told her, forcing himself to sound smooth and pleasant. “All the Holy Twelve ask is that you give us the name of the man who fathered the child, so he may repent, too.”
“Already have,” she wept. “There was no father.”
The Magistrate’s fist smashed her jaw, splattering blood. He snapped back her hair so she toppled to the floor.
Nor examined his fingernails, picked at an isolated speck of dirt.
Wailing, she was lifted off the ground and submerged again, pressed down by the holy hands of the Magistrate. Clumps of red hair floated to the ground. Crimson filled the water like an angry cloud, refusing to dissolve.
“You have heard the words out of her mouth. What say you now?” Nor asked.