The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by kans_007 » October 26th, 2010, 4:26 pm

Hi Melissa,

It sounds like a very interesting story. But is there a way you can capture the essence of the novel in just one paragraph instead of three? It seems a tad too long to me. Also it appears as if you are giving away too much information (Kashi's death). If I were a reader at a bookstore, I don't want to know that a character is going to die; as it will be in the back of my mind when I read, and I won't feel like investing too much into the character who is going to die anyway. I know that this is a query letter , and not the cover jacket, but I am guessing that the literary agents are looking for something short and sweet that would want them to read more, just like the words on the back cover.

Also listing the chapters by emotions does the same (breaks suspense); it seems to be giving away too much information ahead of time. This is just my opinion. I think a lot of people might like your style.

Good luck!
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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by cheekychook » October 26th, 2010, 8:16 pm

Melissa LR Handa wrote:Once again. I've started the query with my one sentence summary of the plot, and then I've expanded a bit on the story summary and compressed my bio.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

When Daly English, a strange and solitary young woman, loses everything she holds dear—not just once, but three times—she closes herself off to the world and everyone in it; The Iron Pillar is a journey that takes Daly through the exotic land of India, as she learns to embrace life for all of its hardships, triumphs and exciting possibilities.

Haunted by her father’s early death and mother’s subsequent emotional estrangement, Daly would rather numb herself to the world than feel any of its pain. After she loses her job as a middle school art teacher and is abandoned by her long-term boyfriend, Daly is forced to move back to her home town and attempt coexistence with the mother who shunned her years ago. Wallowing in self-pity would be admitting defeat. Daly finds it much more natural to stave off emotional encounters by locking them away within the pages of her idiosyncratic journal of emotional encounters. This technique serves her well, until she meets someone who cares too much to let her retreat into herself.

Kashi, a light-hearted charmer from India, is a firm believer in the power of destiny, refusing to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times—a hat trick of fate. From there, the romance unfolds quickly, transporting them to New Delhi, where they marry. Daly is unable to enjoy her blissful, new life for long; just months after their wedding, Kashi meets his death in an explosive plane crash. Unable to cope with the tragedy, Daly removes herself from the life that she and Kashi had begun to build together. Now only Daly’s emotionally distant mother can offer her daughter deliverance from the shackles of an overly-guarded heart, but first she must confront the similar grief that has been plaguing her for more than thirteen years.

I, like my protagonist, discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. To further assimilate to this culture, I have learned Hindi and look forward to improving my Punjabi and Sanskrit. India has also permeated my professional life, serving as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology. Since July 2009 I have worked as Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com. My column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition.

THE IRON PILLAR is a work of women’s fiction and is complete at 85,000 words. Anne Tyler has had a profound influence on my writing; I believe that readers of her fiction may also enjoy this novel. Included are the first five pages of my manuscript, as per your submission requirements. Let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript.

Sincerely,

Melissa LR Handa
First off, you've done an impressive number of revisions in the past 24 hours---really impressive.

There are a few housekeeping type items that I'd suggest (based on endless query-writing-reading that I've done), though the only absolute rule of query writing is that there are very few absolute rules. They're more like guidelines. There may be no one right way to write a query, but there are plenty of wrong ways. Although agent preferences vary widely the most common order for a query is as follows:

Description of what happens in the book (logline plus a paragraph...or 2 paragraphs...or 3 paragraphs---those are the most common lengths/division)
Title/word count/genre/comparison/place in marketplace (comparison and place in marketplace only for those who ask)
Bio (brief, emphasizing what makes you either unique or uniquely qualified to write this book, or mentioning any publishing credits or substance)

I think (not positive) the title get place in ALL CAPS the first time it is mentioned, regardless of when that is....most times it is in the Title/word count/genre sentence at the end, but sometimes it is (as you have it) in the beginning. Again, not positive about that as I've always saved mention of my title until that Title/word count line.

Speaking of word count....like everything it's more of a guideline than a rule but, generally speaking, the ideal query length is supposedly between 250-350 words. Many agents will specify that they want a query that is no more than ONE page....which, single-spaced (as a query should be) gives you the 250-350 word allowance. Once in a while an agent here or there will say one to two pages, but they are the exception. Your current query is weighing in at 475 words---many agents will automatically feel that is too long. (I don't make these rules, I just spend all day reading them and sighing heavily.)

The "book flap"-style query vs. the mini-synopsis-style query is another issue of great debate. There are agents who prefer (or demand) one or the other, there are others who don't care as long as they get a feel for your story. In deciding what to focus on in the limited space you have in which to "hook" the agent and describe your plot I'd consider asking yourself some questions about the main points you want to stress in your query. Clearly your main character has experienced her share of losses. There's no question as to why she'd be upset or why she'd turn to journal writing to sublimate her emotions. How early in the book does she meet Kashi? How long is their courtship (long meaning how big a chunk of text in the book, not length of time in months)? Is his death near the beginning or close to the end or the turning point in the middle? How big a part does her mother play in the story (is she only important in terms of the backstory and the resolution as they suffer/heal together or is she a main character whose journey is equally important to you Daly's)?

The decision about summarizing your book's theme and style either at the beginning or end of the query is another debatable one. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. My personal opinion (based on what I've read) would be that you shouldn't describe "how" the book is styled--- focus on plot/characters/journey not on how it looks or was written.

You're doing a great job of condensing and reorganizing your info, but you can tweak further.

Your current "one-sentence" opening is (don't throw things at me for saying this) actually two sentences. Putting a semi-colon in there isn't making it a single sentence. This is your one-sentence opening: Daly English is a strange and solitary young woman who loses everything she holds dear—not just once, but three times— and closes herself off to the world and everyone in it.

By starting with "Daly" rather than "When" you leave "when" free to be used to start a tighter second paragraph (the following is for purpose of example only, not an attempt to tell you how/what to write): When Daly loses her job as a middle school art teacher and is abandoned by her long-term boyfriend, she is forced to move back to her home town and attempt coexistence with her emotionally estranged mother. (That way you have Daly and her crises/complications kind of wrapped up in another single sentence.) Then you can add whatever pertinent plot development you want to add.

I like your most recent bio paragraph---though I would still recommend checking agent preferences regarding how much (if any) info they want about you in the query.

Again, I am truly impressed by the rewrites you've managed. Hope some of my babbling has helped you look at your query in yet another way and hope what I said makes sense. Best of luck to you in (stressful, nerve-wracking) process!
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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Melissa LR Handa » October 27th, 2010, 11:48 am

Thanks again to all, who are providing me with this invaluable feedback. I've also received some tips from another of my published author friends. Let me know what you all think of it now (in this incarnation, it looks enormously different).

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my novel, THE IRON PILLAR. This 85,000 word piece of women’s fiction is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. This technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.

Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties (and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike.

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition. I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels—a second women’s fiction novel that juxtaposes the slow-growing love of an arranged marriage with the fiery passion of romantic love and the first in a series of paranormal young adult novels featuring a blind protagonist, who “sees” the future.

As requested, I have included are the first five pages of my manuscript. Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript by contacting me via the phone number of email address listed above. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,


Melissa LR Handa

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by priya g. » October 27th, 2010, 3:25 pm

Melissa LR Handa wrote: Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my novel, THE IRON PILLAR. This 85,000 word piece of women’s fiction is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture. FROM ALL THE QUERY LETTERS I HAVE READ, THE DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK IS AAS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE- THE IRON PILLAR, COMPLETE AT 85,000 WORDS IS WOMEN'S FICTION ENTICING TO THOSE THAT WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE INDIAN CULTURE.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job THE FIRST SENTENCE IS STILL AN OVERLOAD OF INFORMATION- BREAK IT UP. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. This technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life.

A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi HIM. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart. THERE IS NO MENTION OF KASHI'S DEATH- IT DOESNT COME OUT CLEARLY. YOU CAN COMBINE THE NEWS OF HIS DEATH AND THE HELP SHE NEEDS FROM HER MOTHER IN ONE SENTENCE.

Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties(and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike. LET THE AGENT DECIDE THIS- YOUR JOB IS TO SHOW HIM YOUR STORY AND HIS IS TO SEE THE RIGHT MARKET FOR IT

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition. I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels—a second women’s fiction novel that juxtaposes the slow-growing love of an arranged marriage with the fiery passion of romantic love and the first in a series of paranormal young adult novels featuring a blind protagonist, who “sees” the future. KEEP YOUR QUERY TO THE BOOK IT PERTAINS TO.

As requested, I have included are the first five pages of my manuscript. Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript by contacting me via the phone number of email address listed above. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,


Melissa LR Handa
This is a great improvement Melissa! Your query letter comes out a tad better now. Just a few suggestions from me.

Hope I helped!

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Quill » October 27th, 2010, 4:03 pm

Melissa LR Handa wrote:Thanks again to all, who are providing me with this invaluable feedback. I've also received some tips from another of my published author friends. Let me know what you all think of it now (in this incarnation, it looks enormously different).

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my novel, THE IRON PILLAR. This 85,000 word piece of women’s fiction is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. This technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.
Much improved!
Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties (and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike.
This paragraph can be safely omitted, as it tells rather than shows (talking about the book rather than describing the story). And many agents see red when the book's film potential is pointed out by the author.
Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition.
This is all good and, I think, pertinent.
I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels—a second women’s fiction novel that juxtaposes the slow-growing love of an arranged marriage with the fiery passion of romantic love and the first in a series of paranormal young adult novels featuring a blind protagonist, who “sees” the future.

As requested, I have included are the first five pages of my manuscript. Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript by contacting me via the phone number of email address listed above. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
I would omit all of this.

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Melissa LR Handa » October 27th, 2010, 4:11 pm

Here's where I've landed. I think I'm solid now... I've left in the bit explaining the title, since it was pointed out that the title doesn't make sense without an explanation.

Dear Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my novel, THE IRON PILLAR. This 85,000 word piece of women’s fiction is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. This technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.

Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties (and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike.

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition. I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels.

Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,


Melissa LR Handa

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Quill » October 28th, 2010, 11:55 am

Your query reads pretty well, although the length (485 words) may put off some agents from reading it. Somewhere between 250 and 350 words are what is commonly considered a good query length. Longer is okay if it is super-scintillating (and necessary!).

Some of the things you could drop include:
I am currently seeking representation for my novel,
Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript.
These are a given, given that you are querying.
I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels.
Not pertinent to selling this work.
Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties (and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike.
Understand about the title, although titles are not especially important to agents, since they often are changed by publishers. If the title gives some info you feel is important in the query, then I suggest working that into the description, rather than explaining it as an aside.
... is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture.
Agents to not want to be told what the book is or does, or what its themes are, they want to hear about the story (and they want to see if you can write).

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by androidblues » November 1st, 2010, 4:01 pm

Melissa, I don't read Women's Fiction but I'm going to try and help you as much as I can.
I am currently seeking representation for my novel, THE IRON PILLAR. This 85,000 word piece of women’s fiction is the story of one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate—I believe it will be enjoyed by anyone who is enticed by Indian culture.Get right to the meat. I just want to know about the book. May be my short attention span but this bores me. It's telling not showing.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. I like this bit. It's sort of like in a book I'm working on, where I have a girl who's fiance married her cousin. Except she decides to erase her emotions at a magical creek. :DThis technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times.Very nice. I like him. Sounds like a male Stargirl, if you know of Jerry Spinelli. Make a paragraph here btw. To much text. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart. I don't need this to be interested in the story. Add a bit of conflict right here. This is the most important part of the query to me. Maybe her parents won't accept her because of her religion, race, whatever. Make it something awesomely cool. In the story I referenced earlier the couple can't be together because they are never the same species. In another story I'm working on the couple's parents' don't want them together because one is Korean and the other is Japanese. You might not want to turn your story into forbidden love but it doesn't have to be that way either. Maybe she has to impress his parents. Anything please because I like the build up, you just need the umph.
Daly’s encounter with the mysterious Indian monument that is believed to have magical, wish-granting properties (and also lends its name to the title of this novel) serves as a turning-point in the novel as well as an extended metaphor of strength and perseverance. THE IRON PILLAR is rife with symbolism and depictive imagery, making it an attractive option for book clubs and the film industry alike.Telling not showing once again. And I think the last line is akin to picking actors to star in the movie.

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi.Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition. I look forward to developing my career as a writer and am currently at work on my second and third novels.First part is relevant to the book. This is not.

THE IRON PILLAR is an 85,000 word women's fiction novel(is this redundant? I don't know) that will appeal to the readers of blank and blank.
Please let me know if you’d like to review a complete or partial manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.Thank you for your time and consideration.
I like the premise and the lead sounds promising. The love interest is kinda like a manic pixie dream boy only less manic.(I like those.) I'd read this over Eat, Pray, Love any day of the week. The prose is very nice as well. I just think you should have the conflict jump up and slap the reader in the face. And unless the agent calls for bio info I think you can get rid of it.
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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Melissa LR Handa » November 1st, 2010, 4:11 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Android. I initially did discuss the oomph factor in my query and was told I was being too explicit about the action. I've also taken out some extraneous text, as per Quill's suggestions. What happens is that Kashi dies in a plane crash towards the end of the story (ironic because Daly's late father was a pilot, though he died of cancer) and Daly has to learn to get past the pain. All the while, here's her distant mother who still hasn't recovered from the exact same pain from more than 14 years ago. The story ends with the two of them going up in a private aircraft to visit their late husbands. Daly also burns her emotion collection and scatters the ashes as an effigy and a symbolic rebirth.

I have the bit in my bio about writing AnnArbor.com to show the agents that someone has been paying me to write for over a year and that I'm a regular columnist for the newspaper. I was hoping this paid experience would help with the agents, but so far it has not. Woe is me! The columnist job is what gave me the confidence to puruse novel-writing in the first place...

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by androidblues » November 1st, 2010, 4:22 pm

Whoa, that's kinda sad. Like Nicholas Sparks sad. I think it would be best to either leave his death out if it happens really late in the novel, or keep it in if he dies within the first 100 pages. Either way I would be interested, but just saying something bad happens makes me wonder...if they get attacked by giant monkeys or something - not really. Oh, I just thought of a pretty good book with an ending you can model your query after. Kira Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata - one of the best Middle Grade books ever, maybe better than Bridge to Terebinthia. Here's the product description.

kira-kira (kee' ra kee' ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering -- kira-kira -- in the future.


For me, the conflict is most important. One more example before I leave you alone. I can be annoying.This is from A Walk To Remember - the best Christian fiction I've read - and I'm not christian and I don't read christian fiction but the book is sad all the same.

In 1958, high-school senior Landon Carter is 17. Even though his father is a US Congressman, Landon's best friends are on the taunting, swaggering side football players and such, who hang around at the local drive-in and flaunt their disrespect. So its strange indeed when Landon gets involved with the nicest girl in town classmate Jamie Sullivan, who carries a Bible everywhere she goes, does endless good deeds, and is the only child of the widowed Rev. Hegbert Sullivan, the churchman whom Landon and gang love to throw taunts after from hiding places behind trees.

But Landon has enrolled in a drama class (for the easy A), and that class is responsible for putting on the annual Christmas play, written by Hegbert, which will be special this year because the authors beloved daughter will have the female lead shes an angel who ministers to a sorrow-filled widower. When Jamie asks Landon if he wont please be the male lead, what can he say? And what can he do, as rehearsals go on, when he starts not only respecting Jamie, but liking her? Embarrassing as it is before his friends, Landon starts helping her do good deeds, and, on performance night, seeing her true beauty for the first time, falls in love with her. Oh, say it isnt so since great, deep sorrow lies ahead. For Jamie has a secret that, when she tells it to her loving Landon, explains everything the Bible she carries, new meanings in the Christmas play, even Jamie's reasons for finding it really special this year.


Not the best summary of this book I've read but it's the general idea that's there. Hope I've helped a little.
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Melissa LR Handa
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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Melissa LR Handa » November 2nd, 2010, 7:44 am

I just got my first partial request using the following query (and this new letter is 343 words, well within the desired count):

Dear Agent,

THE IRON PILLAR is an 85,000 word piece of women’s, which recounts one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item. This technique serves her well until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life.

A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition.

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

Sincerely,

Melissa LR Handa

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Quill
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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Quill » November 2nd, 2010, 9:46 am

Melissa LR Handa wrote:I just got my first partial request using the following query (and this new letter is 343 words, well within the desired count):
Congrats!
Dear Agent,

THE IRON PILLAR is an 85,000 word
Hyphen between 85,000 and word
piece of women’s,
What is a "piece of women's"?

which recounts one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate.
Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including her father’s premature death, mother’s emotional estrangement, long-term boyfriend’s abandonment, and the loss of her job. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to systematically shut out the world by treating any bout of emotional intensity as a collectible item.
Good. Not immediately sure what you mean by "treating as a collectible item". You're saying that instead of wallowing in her emotions she stuffs them down? Neither is very healthy, of course. I'm guessing this makes her an angry person?
This technique serves her well
Or, she thinks it does?
until she meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life.
Does stuffing produce fading? It would seem wallowing would produce fading (sadness), while stuffing would produce anger.
A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times.
Cool!
Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly slowly allows herself to fall in love with Kashi. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit.
Nice, but seems contradictory. She allows herself to fall slowly but the falling (romance) unfolds quickly?
Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may be wed.
Good. I'd remove "be" from "may be wed".
After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life.In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.

This is good, and redeems the somewhat unclear beginning, where you said the stuffing technique worked for Daly and seemed to imply that things were fine in her heart. "Callous heart" is really good. Wonder if there's any way to imply at the beginning that her coping technique was really just a band-aid. And also to allude to any problem this may have caused in her ability to fall in love (you just say allows herself to slowly fall in love, as though no emotional baggage affecting her).

Overall, sounds like a solid story.
Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition.

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

Sincerely,
This whole section is much improved from early drafts, and reads very well now.

Good luck!

Melissa LR Handa

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by Melissa LR Handa » November 2nd, 2010, 10:09 am

Thank you, Quill! I've incorporated your new round of feedback, resulting in the following query letter:

Dear Agent,

THE IRON PILLAR is an 85,000-word piece of multicultural women’s fiction, which recounts one woman’s transformative journey as she is subjected to love, loss, and the whimsical nature of fate.

Throughout her life, Daly English has faced continual set backs including the death of one parent and the emotional estrangement of the other, abandonment by her long-term boyfriend, and unemployment. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Daly decides to numb herself to the world by locking any bout of emotional intensity away in her idiosyncratic journal. Safeguarded from both pain and joy, this technique works well until Daly meets someone who cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life.

A light-hearted charmer from India, Kashi is a firm believer in the power of destiny and refuses to take Daly on a date until they have met by chance a total of three times. Comforted by his perennial optimism and carefree attitude, Daly allows herself to fall in love. Their romance unfolds quickly after an enchanting first date at the zoo and a sensual second date at a starlit summit. Together they travel to the dizzying, colorful, and altogether enchanting city of New Delhi, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family so that the two may wed. After a brief spell of happiness, another turn of ill-fate adds further complication to Daly’s life. In the end, Daly must face the ghosts of her past and rebuild the strained relationship with her mother if she is to be delivered from the self-imposed shackles of a callous heart.

Like my protagonist, I discovered my true self during the nine weeks I spent in the magical land of India, the homeland my husband introduced to me seven years ago. I explored the intriguing contradictions of Indian culture as the topic for my MA thesis in Sociology and have also learned Hindi. Since July 2009 I have served as the Lead Books Contributor for AnnArbor.com—my column, This Week’s Recommended Read, is a staple in the Sunday print edition.

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

Sincerely,

Melissa LR Handa

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Re: The Iron Pillar: Women's Fiction Query

Post by androidblues » November 2nd, 2010, 11:52 am

Congrats on the request.
http://www.thebooklantern.com

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I never want to hear the screams of the teenage girls in other people's dreams.

In the real word as in dreams, nothing is quite what it seems.

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