Sunday, April 8, 2018


Dear QueryShark,

This is not Hallie's bed.
She has never been to this house.
The diamond ring on her left hand does not belong to her.

The only explanation would be a dangerous one, except the woman smiling in the wedding photo looks exactly like her. And the man she just hit in the head with a shoe is claiming to be her husband. When her father, who has been dead ten years, and her mother, a mentally unstable shut-in, reappear in this life whole, happy, and alive, Hallie is forced to face this strange new reality.

She really is married to Quinton Burg.
She never moved to Chicago to be an artist.
She may be on the road to hysteria.

Doctors find nothing wrong, no physical reason for the replacement of memories that has ripped her from a newfound life and dumped her back in her small hometown. Her father's strange behavior toward the memory loss leads Hallie to suspect he has the answers no doctor can give. If she learns his secrets, this new life she has come to accept could disappear like a fading dream.

But if she trusts him, there may be no old life to return to.

THE DIVIDERS is an 80,000-word thriller. Thank you for your time and consideration

This isn't a thriller. My best guess, not having read the pages, is that it's suspense and, most likely domestic suspense. That's not only not a deal breaker it's a big bonus.  Thrillers are harder to sell than domestic suspense these days.

And this is why you put the category at the close of the query, not at the start. An agent looking for domestic suspense might not stop to think "oh hey, she might have the category wrong here." The agent sees thriller, thinks "oh crap not another thriller" and slides right by.


If this query isn't getting results it's cause the pages don't hold up.  The query is terrific. It's got voice. It's got rhythm. There are no wasted words, or drawn out explanations.

The VERY interesting omission is comps. That's an entirely valid choice and can work in an author's favor.  The first thing I thought of here was the riveting movie Get Out which still haunts me. (Go see it!)  Sometimes letting the agent realize things on their own is pretty smart. It's a risk, but a smart one.


CynthiaMc said...

I would read this. Let us know when it comes out.

Claire Bobrow said...

I would read this, too. Sounds awesome! And I second the recommendation to see 'Get Out.'

Unknown said...

Yes, I definitely want to read this!

nightsmusic said...

Congrats. This query hits every button and is one of the best I've read here in a long time. If your pages are as good, I can't wait to read it!

Steve Stubbs said...

Excellent query. I think you have a winner here. One minor comment. It does not ring true to say that, "Doctors find nothing wrong." I was trained in psychiatric diagnosis, and the doctors would probably guess a dual diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and Amnesia. Yes, it is correct to capitalize the names. You can find beaucoups of info on the net about both of those if you want to do any research, If you want some interesting reading, try DSM-V. You can get a good price by getting one of the obsoleted editions (DSM-III or DSM-IV) on the used book market.

Diagnosis is used for insurance purposes, meaning docs have to find something wrong to get PAID. Docs can ALWAYS find something wrong.

It's old and it's been years since I read it, but if you want to see a masterful account of descent into madness, try L. Ron Hubbard's FEAR.

Prepare to sleep with the light on if you do.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Yes, I like this too and would pick it up to read!

Frankie said...

This is a really good query. Not exactly the type of books I would usually read, but let me know when it’s out, I really want to read it.
Good job!

Sam Hawke said...

Wow, I would definitely read this. It reminds me a bit of the concept of Before I Go To Sleep, which I also really enjoyed, but with a fresh twist (different memories instead of no memories). Keep us posted, I bet you're going to sell this one. Nice work!

LynnRodz said...

Sam,I was reminded of Before I Go To Sleep too. The MC wakes up next to a stranger who claims to be her husband and her wedding photos attest to that. I suppose the similarities end there and I like the twist with the MC's parents.

OP, congrats and good luck on your query! I would definitely read this.

Karen McCoy said...

I lovely example, and no wasted words. I would definitely read this!

Julie Weathers said...

304 I think you did a really great job. This is one people will be studying to see what makes a query work.

Now, come do mine.

Good luck and let us know when you get an agent.

One Of Us Has To Go said...

I also like this query and would read the book. Good luck, OP :) !

The only thing that I noticed is that there is no bio in this query. I'm confused why it doesn't need one, since I thought they all do.

Unknown said...

Alas my opinion is worth diddly, but I would read this in a heartbeat.

The Noise In Space said...

I don't even read this genre and I'd read this. OP, please let us know when you get a deal!

Unknown said...

Thank you all so much for the kind words! And especially thank you to the Shark for your feedback. I was struggling with how to categorize my novel. I have a renewed motivation going into my querying journey and I'll keep you guys posted!

Sean Gates said...

I didn’t put a bio in mine, either (jury’s still out on whether Janet sharks me). Janet has said repeatedly that you don’t need any qualifications to write a novel. I think we can derive from that the idea that bios aren’t strictly necessary. If my qualifications aren’t important, who cares where I work or where I went to school?

The funny, sorta self-deprecating bios seem to go over well, probably because they’re self-aware and show humor and voice. But I don’t think we need them.

Lennon Faris said...


Panda in Chief said...

Wow! I would definitely read this. Then I would sleep with the lights on. If the pages live up to the query's promise, this will be one I won't put down till I reach the last page.

Sell tthat sucker!

Adele said...

I want to read this, too, but allow me to speculate here. OP thinks this is a thriller. It sounds, from the query, like domestic suspense. Maybe OP has actually written a thriller (a nefarious plot based on the ability to manipulate time comes to mind) but chose to start the story at the domestic level so the reader could follow plot twists into the wider world. In which case the query is attracting the agents who want the domestic suspense story and they're passing because that's not what the book is. In which case the query is the problem, not necessarily the pages.

PS: I'd read either one.

Gypmar said...

I can totally see why this is a winning query, but I have one little hang-up.

I don't get "The only explanation would be a dangerous one, except the woman in the wedding photo looks exactly like her." The wording here makes me feel like I should know what the dangerous explanation is, and that I should understand why the fact that it appears to be her in the photo makes it not so. I don't know if I don't get this because I don't read a ton of this genre (though I would totally read this book) or if it's just because I'm slow, but I have no idea what this dangerous explanation would be, and the way this sentence is put makes me feel like I should.

Unknown said...

I loved it. I just hope its ending is not your protagonist waking up.

Unknown said...

The "alternate life" plot here sounds very similar to Familiar, by J. Robert Lennon.