Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I have a lot of writing friends deep in the midst of query hell.  A few have asked for advice on how to write a successful query, questioning format, hook, and appropriate length.  I am no expert; my query letter went through nearly seven revision before I found one I liked.  To be honest, most of the credit goes to one of my trusted beta readers, Julie Duck. Where I was personally vested in the story and unable to see what was important information and what was fluff, she was dead on.  Took my bare bones and added a little curve and edge.

So rather then blog about what I think is important, I thought I would just share mine with you.  Enjoy, and hopefully you will soon be reading these exact same words on the back of a jacket cover.

Seventeen-year-old Cedar McIntyre is hiding in the mountains from Tommy Hartwell . . . and her life.  She survives in a world many refuse to believe even exists.  Poorer than the projects and as destitute as a third-world country, this tiny Appalachian Mountain town is about to change, and so is Cedar when Noah Stockton arrives.
Resilient, proud, and averse to anything charity-tinged, Cedar’s not sure what to make of Noah’s generosity.  He’d gladly give his life to see the girl he loves safe and free of a man who has already left Cedar broken and scarred.  But Tommy staked his claim on Cedar years ago, secured her father’s blessing for the marriage and intends to make good on his promise . . . by force if necessary. 
But Cedar’s not about to succumb to the life this mountain’s carved out for her.  Having already survived her belt-wielding father, endured days without food, and thwarted Tommy’s relentless advances, Cedar’s determined to forge her own fate – finish high school, go to college, and be something more than a perennially pregnant wife living in constant fear of abuse.

It’s Noah’s protective kindness that brings Cedar’s world to a shattering halt when Tommy goes after what he feels is rightfully his . . . Cedar.  When Noah offers her safety and a piece of the life she’s dreamed of, Cedar can’t refuse, leaving behind the only life she‘s ever known and the only boy she ever dared to love. 

Cedar is a YA novel complete at 74,000 words.

I am a freelance editor and a proud member of the SCBWI.   I graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Social Work and attended Suffolk University School of Law.  Having dedicated time in the social service field as child advocate, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing some of the blacker shades of life and the honor of witnessing some of the most amazing stories of recovery and triumph.  I draw on these experiences to weave stories that show the depth and courage of the human spirit in today’s youth.


  1. It's great! Want to write mine? And maybe, the rest of my manuscript? I'm stuck. I know how the story ends (remember the prolouge) I just can't get there.

  2. Thanks for doing this. Queries can be very personal and difficult. I'm with you. I think I'm too close to really convey what I need to say. I have a beta reader in mind for a little help when I'm through with revisions. This sounds like a great story. I know it will be on the back of a book soon. It has to be.

  3. Becky- You finish that amazing manuscript, and I will most certainly write your query. I'll even go one better; I compile a list of agents I know would LOVE to see it. That is how truly great I think your ms is!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I think the more queries I read, the better idea I have for how to write mine (or re-write mine, in this case!)

  5. *sigh* Beautiful. Of course, it's hard for me to be anything but an advocate when it comes to Cedar. Though, this query really is great. Part of what makes it so perfect is the paragraph about you. It shows that you've not only got the writing skills to pull off the story, but the life experience to fully form it.

  6. Hey, I gave you an award on my blog. Come on over and pick it up:)