Thursday, August 27, 2009

What do you think?

OK...I've been pitching my novel ASSUMPTION for almost three months. I've had one request for a full but no others. I've tweaked my query letter and I've submitted it to QueryShark, hoping Janet Reid (who rejected my query) will critique my query and let me know what works and what doesn't.

If she doesn't, I was wondering, would you? I'm going to post the meat of my query here in this blog. You guys tell me what you think. If you were an agent, would it make you want to read my book? Sometimes agents will ask us to include a few pages from the novel with the query, so I'll do that too.

Be honest. Tell me if it hooks you. Tell me why it does or doesn't. I'd seriously love the feedback. I'm getting ready to work on Novel #3, another foray into women's fiction I'm titling 52 WEEKENDS.'s the query.

Dessa’s home is burning. Her children are trapped inside, screaming for help. She isn’t strong enough to break the iron grip of the police chief who holds her back, who refuses to let her rush into the inferno that’s swallowing her children.

She’s never been strong enough.

So her daughter Ginny, at only fourteen years old, decides it’s up to her. If Dessa won’t save them from Killian and his violent temper, she will – with two cans of gasoline and a match.

That’s how the fire started. That’s why.

No one was supposed to be home except Killian. The blaze claims the lives of all three of Dessa’s children and any hope she has for the future. Killian, however, survives. Facing a yawning cavern of despair with nowhere to hide from all of her mistakes, Dessa decides Ginny was right. Killian needs to die. She makes her plans and loads her gun, but will she really pull the trigger? And if she does, who will she be when it’s all over?

And now...the first few (about 4) pages.

August 15, 2003

Nothing ever happens in this town, but they still talk about that fire.
No one could believe Ginny Tillman – barely fourteen years old – had snaked gasoline through her home and struck a match to it, targeting her stepfather asleep in his bed. The feral screams – Ginny’s, Tacie’s, and Cory’s – branded those of us who watched them perish, engulfed in flames, trapped between the first and second floor.
A murderous inferno in the middle of this go-nowhere, do-nothing Illinois town grotesquely captivated its citizens. Wrinkled and gray-haired, Wendall Wallace leaned on his walker, staring at the conflagration, shaking his head in unison with his neighbor, a single mother of two that he barely acknowledged any other day. Her children, preschoolers both, clutched their mother’s legs while her arms shrouded them, talons of protection. They would never forget the wail of the sirens, the shrieks of the children – my children.
I am Dessa, and Ginny, Tacie, and Cory were mine. Ginny cloaked herself in the mantle of my responsibilities that awful August night and all I could do was watch as my children perished, and my husband ran for safety.
I am Dessa. My husband only thinks he’s safe.

Chapter One
October 28, 2001

The cake was wrong. I knew chocolate was forbidden when I snagged the mix off the shelf at Wal-Mart. I’m not sure what compelled me to do it. Maybe it was Tacie’s chubby hands clapping together and her wide grin gaping at me from the toddler’s seat in the cart. She loves chocolate, I thought to myself. She’d eat the white, argued the saner side of my psyche. Yes, went the counterattack, but she loves chocolate!
Ginny stood beside me, staring at the hem of the button-down shirt I had left untucked – thank God Killian couldn’t see me right now. When her wise, bold, blue eyes met mine, she took in the argument I was having with myself. She couldn’t hear the words, but she knew – already – at twelve years old, why my hand hesitated in mid-air, reaching for the chocolate as my gaze honed in on the plain white mix.
“Killian likes the white, Mom,” she said, verbally nudging me closer to safety. “It’s his birthday, not Tacie’s.” The meaning imbedded in her words, clearly voiced although unspoken, was Please don’t make him mad tonight.
Usually I tried to walk the peaceful path. I took the hints, I followed the clues. I tried to do what I thought he expected, hoping to protect myself physically and my children emotionally. So far, he hadn’t laid a hand on them.
But standing in Aisle 10 at Wal-Mart that day, I didn’t want to do what was expected of me. Stupid day to make a point, I know. Ginny was right. It was his birthday and everybody got to choose the cake flavor for his or her birthday. Unless, of course, Killian wasn’t in the mood for yellow when Ginny’s birthday rolled around, as he hadn’t been a few months ago. She had eaten the white cake with the white icing with a smile, telling me over and over again how delicious it was because my insightful daughter knew it had nearly killed me to make her that damn white cake.
Yes, today’s was a reckless choice, but I made it and smiled all the way to the checkout line with that chocolate cake mix in my cart. Ginny trembled walking beside me, her fists clenched at her sides. I had chosen white icing, thinking irrationally that maybe that concession to his taste would pacify Killian. It didn’t. I think it actually made it worse.
After we finished singing “Happy Birthday” to him, laughing together over the lopsided tune the way happy families are supposed to do, he cut into the cake. When he raised the knife after the first cut and it came out covered in chocolate crumbs, the light in the room disappeared quicker than when he had blown out the candles. It felt as if all of the oxygen had evaporated and I held my breath, afraid to breathe in the poison left in the air.
My husband’s hand hovered above the crevice he had cut into the cake, where he had severed the Kill– from the –ian in his name that I had written in red frosting. I focused on the first half of his name – “Kill” – and almost smiled at the irony of the blood red word as I waited for his rage to manifest itself in a closed fist. The backhand across my face caught me by surprise and knocked me to the cold tile floor.
I drew myself up onto one elbow and focused on my girls. Tacie was a cherubic statue, still kneeling on the chair at the table where I plopped her to sing the birthday song, her eyes wide and beginning to pool. I thought I heard her whimper.
No, that was you, I realized. Don’t lose it in front of the girls.
Ginny had taken one step toward me and frozen. She began to kneel while at the same time I felt Killian moving behind me. I caught Ginny’s eyes with my own and whispered, “Go!” She squinted and set her jaw, wanting so badly to rebel, to stay and fight with me. Killian stooped and twisted his fingers into my hair, pulling me across the tile. Trying not to wince or moan again with my daughters in the room, I stared into Ginny’s eyes and through clenched teeth told her one more time, “Take Tacie and go!”
Darting one dagger at her step-father, Ginny did as she was told. I watched her grab Tacie from her chair and hurry towards the back of the house to Ginny’s room. In a minute or two, my older daughter, in her role of surrogate mother to her younger sister, would have Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast singing at top volume behind a closed door.
A dream is a wish your heart makes, when it’s fast asleep, Cinderella would sing.

As Killian pulled me up to my knees by my hair and drew his free hand back to hit me again, I realized the only dream I’d had for years was simply to survive. When his smooth, strong palm connected with my face, splintering pain across my cheekbone and my nose, when I tasted blood and felt the familiar throb begin deep inside my skull, I wondered how much longer my fragile grip on that dream would hold.

So, there you have it. Any thoughts??? Anyone?? Bueller?? Bueller??
(May John Huges rest in peace)

Talk to ya later.

1 comment:

  1. I want a copy of the book! I want to keep reading I can definately tell that would be a book I wouldn't be able to put down.