Dear Miss Snark,
I am seeking representation for my novel, THE BONES BENEATH (80,000 fantasy/romance). I am writing to you because I love (Killer Yapp Buries the Bone).
Fifty years ago Frank Hartman watched Gert Murphy walk out of his life. It’s a loss he never got over -- not even after he died. Doomed to haunt the Connecticut farm on which he grew up, Frank has plenty of time to ponder his mistakes, but little power to change them.
When Frank's niece Andie shows up with Gert, the executor of his estate, Frank sees an opportunity for redemption. But Andie has problems of her own. She’s torn between two men who offer very different futures: Neal, a cosmopolitan lover who promises escape from her small-town past but is fuzzy on the concept of commitment; and Cort, who has nursed a crush on Andie for years but is firmly rooted in rural Connecticut. Andie must choose which path to take while also settling the fate of the 150-year-old farm. As Frank and Gert both vie to influence her, Andie’s decision could bring peace to the Murphy family, or tear it apart forever.
As a staff reporter and then a freelancer in Connecticut, I've watched as the public has gone from ignoring the plight of family farms to seeing them as a valuable resource, both in terms of open space and the diversity they bring to the agricultural industry. In THE BONES BENEATH, the land is an ever-present character.
I’ve enclosed the first page. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
uh...is Gert dead too?
Frank's a ghost?
ok...a trifle Ghost and Mrs Muir-ish but what the heck, why not.
Nina sees the man first. It’s a warm summer day, the kind where, when I was alive, you’d have found me down the creek. Fishing, I’d have said if anyone asked, though the only thing worth catching there was a long, cool breeze.
There’s no such breeze in the attic today -- not even the ghost of one. A dry heat radiates from the wooden beams above me, although the floor itself is cool, squeaking slightly under the movement of my rocking chair. The wide, solid boards, the angular shape of the room, the boxes and trunks that fill the dark corners, all put me in mind of a ship, as if I’m taking some kind of voyage up here instead of just passing time.
Beside me, Nina lifts her head, and her ears prick forward.
“What is it, girl?” I ask. She looks at me mournfully. Nina wishes she could speak. (this is a pov shift) Instead, she barks once and glances at the window.
A swatch of lace curtain blocks our view. In our 40 years together, Clara must have tatted enough lace to cover every window in the house and more. If she’d lived, I would have had a lace-lined coffin. But of course Clara passed before me.
Nina barks again, impatient. Through the patterns in the lace I see something moving. “All right,” I say. “Hold your horses.” I think of the breeze down the creek, and the curtain flaps sideways and stays there.
The fellow’s young. I see that right away. He parks his red truck and steps out wearing faded jeans, hiking boots, a white tee- shirt. He stands in the drive, shades his eyes, and gazes up at the house.
Even if I close my eyes, I still see what he does: the arbor to the right of the house, plump concord grapes ripening in the sun; the fieldstone steps, laid by my grandfather and carved with his initials; the shady patio, where Clara used to bring me lemonade. And the house itself, rising out of the Connecticut ground at the edge of the woods, its white facade peeling a little but still proud after 200 years.
The boy -- for that’s what he truly is -- passes a hand along his jaw. He stands still, taking in the house and the valley spread below. I look at Nina.
“Doesn’t look like a thief,” I say, and she whines in agreement.
“Still, best to make sure.” Nina stands, shakes herself, and trots toward the door, where she sits and looks back at me.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” These days, it’s easier for me just to think of the place I’m going and find myself there, but Nina finds it disconcerting, and so, I suppose, do I. Instead I raise myself from the chair and follow along behind her, and the two of us make our way downstairs.
ok, you've got a first person POV ghost story. The query letter makes Andie seem like the main character. That's a very very tough narrative challenge. You've set Frank up as having no power to change things...so how is he going to get resolution to anything? He's going to be acted upon..the passive recipient. That's a HUGE narrative challenge.
This is probably a form rejection letter cause how you've structured this doesn't seem to serve the story you want to tell. I could be wrong, dog knows I've been wrong before, but because there's no compelling start, and I think you've set yourself up for a big splat, I'm probably not going to read beyond the pages you send.