Thursday, May 22, 2008


Dear Query Shark:

Shattered Ceiling is a 82,000 word political thriller set in Louisville, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C.

Former juvenile delinquent turned P.I. Jo Grant tracks a client’s runaway daughter to a feminist commune in the hollows of Kentucky. The missing girl is an unwitting pawn in a U.S. Senator’s scheme to frame his popular opponent for a staged assassination attempt – on himself. Jo discovers an ex-Vietnam sniper, furious at military funding cuts, out to kill the Senator for real, but Jo’s dicey past prevents the authorities from believing her. As bodies pile up, Jo races to extricate her clients, foil the Senator’s plot, and stop the real assassin.

You lead with the runaway daughter, and then that character disappears and it's about an ex VietNam sniper. The characters you mention first should be the most important ones.

Why does the ex VietNam sniper care about military funding cuts? Does he have lucrative contracts that got cut? It's not his being a sniper that matters, it's why he cares about the budget cuts.

Every single PI in the world has problems with police. That device is as old as disgruntled VietNam vets.

I am Executive Vice President of the (redacted) Sisters in Crime and a founding board member of the (redacted) Writers’ Festival.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my work. The full manuscript and a SASE envelope are included.

Sincerely yours,

This is an auto rejection for lack of clarity, and lack of something new and compelling. You can use devices that have been used before but you MUST have something new to say, or use them in a new way.


R. Lyle Wolfe said...

Okay, Vietnam Era sniper in the Hollows of Louisville, KY?
You mean drunk hobo down at the mission? There are no "hollows" in Louisville, unless you go to the outlying, annexed areas that are actually in Bullitt County.
Unless you mean one of the "hollows" that have hundreds of houses or have become parks.
A better KY setting would be Spencer or Nelson County; you know, around Bardstown or Bloomfield.
Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of farmland in Jefferson County and Louisville, but this is really a stretch. I picture a commune as one big house on a lot of property.

Lehcarjt said...

I love the idea of a PI infiltrating a hidden feminists' commune. How fun is that!?

I don't get why bodies are piling up. The kidnapper wants to pretend to have the Senator kill him. The vet wants to kill the Senator. Who is producing any other dead bodies?

BuffySquirrel said...

It would be more interesting if Jo the male PI had to infiltrate a feminist commune....

Catherine said...

Jo Grant was a famous (female) character in Dr Who in the 70s - had to re-read this before I worked out your Jo is male. Could you go with Joe instead?

talpianna said...

It seems to me that if Jo’s dicey past prevents the authorities from believing her, it would be sufficiently dicey that she'd never have gotten a P.I. license.