Oh, the dreaded query letter, the nemesis of most writers. The one page that can open a door or slam it shut, so much packed into so few words. With Chosen, for some reason I had a hard time boiling my book’s plot down into few paragraphs. With Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, I had a hard time getting the voice, because with this book, the voice is EVERYTHING.
I struggled and wrote and rewrote and then I remembered hearing a piece of advice to write the query in character and then switch to third person.
(Never, and I mean NEVER send your query as your character in first person. NEVER. EVER. I hope I got my point across.)
So I wrote my query letter as Rose, not hard since I wrote the book in first person anyway. And that right there was the key for me to turn it around. I captured Rose’s voice and then switched all my I’s and me’s to Rose and she’s. The result is what you see below:
For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad enough even before she sees a vision of herself dead. Rose is used to seeing visions. She sees plenty of ‘em like Mr. Althouse’s toilet overflowing, but she never saw one of herself before, especially dead. So when Momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There ain’t enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get out of that stain and Rose is the prime suspect. After twenty-four years of just accepting things, Rose shouts to Momma hours earlier to get her own damn pies out of the oven, in front of the neighbors, no less.
While Rose waits to go from the prison of living with her overbearing mother to the county jail the Henryetta’s police are eager to throw her into, she decides she’s got a lot of living left to do. She makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt of twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before she gets locked away. Rose is well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking but stubbornly refuses to help her with item number fifteen: do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got as many secrets as a Sunday school teacher makin’ moonshine in his back shed.
Turns out there’s more to worry about than Joe and the Henryetta Police Department. Rose’s house is broken into, a bartender she just met is murdered and suddenly dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all. Somebody thinks Rose has something they want, and they’ll do anything to get it.
TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES is a mystery complete at 100,000 words. It is a standalone novel with the potential for sequels. Thank you for your consideration.
Denise Grover Swank