Dear Miss Snark,
GRAVE MATTERS is the tale of two events: the world's most perfect wedding, and the world's most imperfect grave robbery.
It's 1977. Lesley Meier wants to make sure her sister Amy has the wedding of her dreams. Meanwhile, her uncle Leo needs to get out of debt, and if he accomplishes one small task, he's home free.
Leo, an unsuccessful conman, flees Miami (with a loan shark enforcer following all too close behind) arriving in Parkersburg, West Virginia in time to attend Amy's wedding. He hopes that the "Wedding That Ate Parkersburg" will provide an opportunity for him to recoup his stake. If nothing else, it's a place to hide. Then his sister April makes Leo an offer he can't refuse. If he can get their father's body moved from the wrong graveyard in Parkersburg to the right graveyard in Miami, April will pay off his debts.
Good thing Leo isn't above a little small time crime.
Too bad grave robbery is a felony.
Lesley already has to juggle her neurotic mother, snobbish in-laws, a lovesick student Rabbi, matchmaking relatives, and 300 wedding guests. That, plus the blundering Leo, two double-crossing ex-football players, a furious Rabbi, the loan-shark enforcer, and one newly unearthed casket equals a wedding that no one will ever forget.
Growing up Jewish in West Virginia gave me plenty of material for this 90,000 word novel. I've since moved to Minnesota, where I have completed several plays and screenplays. Unfortunately, my great-grandfather is still buried in the wrong cemetery, and the last time I checked, my mother's cousins were still planning to move it... one way or another.
Let me know if you want to read more.
Thank you for your time,
Now THAT is a query letter.
Remember how I told you I didn't like one word adjectives to describe character?
Well, if you do it like this, I do.
"Amy! The last time I saw you, you were only a curly haired tot, trying to eat a jellyfish! And now, look at you, a bride!"
Lesley had only seconds to register a yellow and blue plaid sport coat before she was yanked off the door stoop and pulled into a bear hug. Her nose banged against a stringy chest, registering first pain, then the odor of cigar smoke a la Aqua Velva. "I'm Lesley," she said into the coat's depths.
The arms released her instantly. Lesley stepped back and nearly fell over a suitcase that had mysteriously sailed over the threshold, Greyhound tags still fluttering in the wake.
"Ah, er, Lesley! Last time I saw you, you were only a curly haired tot... frolicking in the ocean. And now, look at you... um... all grown up!" The man looked her up and down, from frizzy ponytail to battered clogs, then took out a cigar and stuck it in his mouth.
Lesley squinted into the morning sun and tried to figure out which one of the three hundred wedding guests had just arrived, exactly one week before the ceremony. Oi! Had she put the wrong date on the invitation? Her mother would platz when she learned that Lesley had screwed things up again! She already owned the reputation of being her family's worst prodigal since... "Uncle Leo?"
"That's me." Leo ran his pinkies across pomaded hair.
This? This was the infamous Uncle Leo? Wasn't he supposed to be some kind of criminal? "Tanta April says you never leave Miami."
Her uncle let out a barking laugh. "My beloved niece is getting married! Of course I want to be here. As soon as I got the invite, I hopped a bus, and here I am!" He lit the cigar, flicked the match into her mother's Rhododendrons, and stepped past her into the house. "Ah my childhood abode. It gets me, right here." After placing his hand over his heart, he glanced back at her. "Hmph. I could have sworn you were the one who ate the jellyfish."
"I was." Lesley quickly kicked the match under the garden chips and followed the trail of ash into the house, where Tanta April was emphatically greeting her long lost brother.
"Migulgl zol er vern in a henglayhter, by tog zol er hengen, un bay nakht zol er brenen!" If the Angel of Death wore a purple muumuu and threatened to guillotine his victims with a whisk, he would be Tanta April.
Uncle Leo ducked under the flapping whisk. "Did she just call me a chandelier?"
"Yeah. Hang by day and burn by night." Lesley was impressed. The worst Tanta April had ever wished upon her was a bellybutton plague.
If only to find out what a bellybutton plague is, I'd read this.