Friday, June 17, 2016

#278

Question:
My novel weaves back and forth between 1991 to present, but the query letter focuses on the present timeline, with a few references to the past. I'm not sure if I've been successful or if it's a muddy mess.

Dear Query Shark:

Heather Cole has a secret. When she was twelve, she killed her best friend. A mythical figure called The Red Lady made her do it and helped her get away with it, too. Twenty-five years later, Heather, now a child psychologist, receives a half-heart necklace in the mail. The last time she saw it was on the body of her friend.

Construction crews are about to dig up a field near her parents' house, and she has to find the evidence buried there before they do. More pieces of her past arrive in the mail, each one telling a different story. And someone's lurking outside her office. Someone who reminds her of the Red Lady.

Since she "got away with it" what evidence is there? In other words, did Heather  get away with it, or just avoid suspicion. Two very different things.

You might consider leaving the question of whether the Red Lady is real more ambiguous. Ambiguity is good in a novel like this. Given the next paragraph, it seems like there IS ambiguity already!

As much as Heather would like to believe the Red Lady's real, she knows better now, which makes her a cold-blooded murderer. Unless someone's been playing a masterful game of manipulation all along. Even with all her experience in the workings of the human mind, the search for the truth might drag her into a labyrinth of lies she can't escape.

THE LIAR'S TRUTH, a thriller that weaves back and forth between the present and the summer of 1991, is complete at 83,000 words.

This is a very good way to handle the two timelines. Just from reading this query I can intuit that 1991 is the year Heather killed her best friend.

This is not a thriller. This is psychological suspense. And that's good for you, cause thrillers are harder to sell right now.

I'm the author of THIS (Small Publisher, 2016), a novel, and THAT (Small Publications, 2015), winner of the This is Horror Award for Short Story Collection of the Year. My short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year's Best Weird Fiction and published in in various anthologies and magazines, including Cemetery Dance Online, Nightmare Magazine, and Black Static.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Have confidence in yourself. This isn't even close to a muddy mess.

I'd say make a few minor revisions and you're good to go.

And don't forget to put me on your query list. I'd read this.



11 comments:

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Queryer! And don't forget to let us know when it's published. I'd read it too! :)

Greg L. Turnquist said...

This novel sounds frickin' wicked. The whole murder-turned-psychologist thing really freaks me out.

Steve Stubbs said...

I am very hard to impress and I’m impressed/ I also don’t read this kind of stuff, but I would read your book. Besides, I suspect your two earlier books, THIS and THAT, were great. I am glad Small Press had the good sense to publish them.

You’re on your way. Your query should be on its way soon as well. If your MS is written as well as your query, Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer may have to step aside. Good luck to you.

Melissa said...

Doesn't everyone agree THAT was a work of a master author and THIS was a huge letdown. Of course, what could have come after THAT and been as brilliant? I still haven't decided yet if I'm going to read AND THE OTHER. Maybe when it comes out in paperback.

Kate Larkindale said...

Well, I'd read it….

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

I agree with everyone else; this sounds good. The query was not confusing to me at all.

Mister Furkles said...

The publishing history is impressive. Here is a question: is it better to list all or should the querier [is that a word?] have trimmed it to only the most significant three or so items?

Pragmatist said...

I like everything about this query except for the title. Can see it as a movie.

El El Piper said...

I follow Her Sharkness on her daily blog and often feel intimidated by all the representation in and outs, even though I need to hear it. But I had not checked in on Query Shark for a few weeks and here are these fresh exciting, informative posts, perfect for my "level". What a great service this is, maintaining these pages to help aspiring, overwhelmed writers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I would definitely read this book from the query; The Red Lady character is mysterious and intriguing, and the main character's conflict is clear.

Lydia D. said...

Wow, this sounds super good! I'll read it for sure when it's published (assuming I'm made aware of it's publication somehow).

Wee Kay said...

I would totally read this novel.