Sunday, 15 May 2011

Q Is For Query Letter . . .

Ode to Saturday morning and the opulence of writing in my PJ's.  A steaming cup of black coffee, a handful of cold cherries and a rice cake smothered in peanut butter at my elbow.  Seagulls screech over the crashing waves at Big Sur ebbing from my Media Player.  A setting decadent as a piece of rich dark chocolate. 

What more could a writer want?  THEIR BOOK PUBLISHED!

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.    
                                                                                                                        Gilbert K. Chesterton 

A query letter was my next mountain to scale.  Daunting and foreboding.  I knew it must start with a "hook" like my story, something that will grab the readers attention.  And it must be short!

Research . . . write, then rewrite.  It took weeks before I had something solid in place.  Something I was ready to read in class, if asked.  And I was . . .

Why was reading aloud so terrifying?  But I knew the answer . . . self-doubt!

May 1, 2010

Mr. Mick Silva, Editor
WaterBrook Press

Dear Mr. Silva,

              “Why in the hell did you call 911 when I tried to commit suicide?”

              This was part of a message left on my answering machine by my husband, a Vietnam vet, three months before he took his own life.  Devastated, I could not comprehend why our men and women die by their own hand after surviving the ravages of war.  I knew I wasn’t alone suffering in silence, watching the man I love destroy himself.  I knew tens of thousands, perhaps millions of other families live this nightmare with no place to turn.   
              Diary of a Vet's Wife, subtitled Loving and living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, my memoir at 96,000 words covers an eighteen year period in my life lifted from personal journals.  This heartfelt love story took sixteen years to write and reads like a novel. 

Divorced with three young children, I longed to find the love of my life.  Eighteen months later we meet, oblivious to the perils waiting and all I would sacrifice for my dream.   Laced with love and heartbreak, secrets and fear, my unique story shows the family dynamics of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a normal reaction to abnormal life threatening stress.  I later learned I too had developed PTSD from living with my husband’s illness.  The reader will slip into my world like a fly on the wall as I take them places most have never been, while bonding with others who know the terrain that only love dare travel.

            In search of reason, I stumbled upon the peace that surpasses all understanding when I came to know God’s love as a born-again Christian, convinced He held my hand and walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  

            My expertise is that I survived to tell this story.  I’m committed to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible, exposing them to a deadly epidemic infesting our nation and the world, drawing attention to the raw wounds of war destroying families.  After all these years, suicide is still on the increase.  Each suicide is a tragedy . . . .     

Manuscript and Book Proposal are completed.  May I submit my work for consideration? 

Critique given in class showed compassion and concern, confirming the need I saw for those touched by war.  Now to find an agent and/or publisher who held the same vision . . . the same passion.

Within weeks, I attended the Orange County Christian Writers Conference.  Mick Silva, an acquisition editor with WaterBrook Press, was key speaker, later hosting a workshop.  He announced he would accept any well-written book proposal.  I only had my query letter, which he agreed to take a look at.   

But it wasn't meant to be.  By the time I returned from my family reunion in Ohio, he was no longer with WaterBrook Press.  He was on his own.   

Now I had to go to Plan B.  The problem . . . I didn't have a plan B.

Lesson learned . . . my two cents

Every writer who wants to be published must have a Plan B!  And maybe a Plan C and a Plan D as well.


  1. Publishing is a tough industry. We need to have multiple places to submit to and many back up plans. Good luck with this manuscript!

  2. Echoing KH above. I am in the same place, well one step behind, I just drafted my letter. Yes, best with the next steps. Keep moving and don't give up..