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Author Topic: SEA GLASS query to send to Canadian publishers  (Read 412 times)
Munley
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« on: June 12, 2018, 03:13:59 AM »

Haven't had great luck querying agents (mostly in the U.S.) on this novel, so I've decided to submit it directly to Canadian publishers, most of whom will accept submissions only from Canadian citizens and permanent residents (immigrants) because that's a requirement of government subsidies many of them receive.

Two aims of this query:

1) Have the style reflect that of the novel -- a range of very short to very long sentences
2) Make the story part sound interesting enough for the the publisher to request pages or the full manuscript. That's the query's only job, I keep reminding myself.

I don't think I'll include sample pages unless the submission guidelines ask for them.


============================

Dear:

Antoine Giroux, a kid with the brain of a world chess champion, will need that brain to figure out why the sound of a gunshot began startling him awake two years after an accident rendered his maman unresponsive in a nursing home.

Aunt Lucie blames his night terrors on the books he reads. She orders him to tell no one about the nightmares and moves him from one Nova Scotia town to another whenever a teacher expresses concern for this remarkably quiet boy. Antoine goes on a secret search for the truth. He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up. After he sneaks up there in the hope of remembering more, an arsonist burns that cabin down. Antoine remains undaunted. But, as his very origins are brought into question, he begins to uncover a history so dark he may wish he had never sought to learn it.

THROUGH SEA GLASS, DARKLY, a literary novel of 97,000 words, takes place in Atlantic Canada and Pennsylvania. I’ve had work published in the Arkansas Review, Anthracite History Journal, Hoi Polloi, and other journals. My historical coalmining novel, [TITLE], set in Pennsylvania and a divided Poland, was selected by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council for “Read It!” a book-club program in libraries. I am a permanent resident of Canada, having immigrated here in 2006.

This is a simultaneous submission. Thanks so much for considering my work.

Sincerely,
Author
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 07:51:17 PM by Munley » Logged
NextChapter
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2018, 07:07:49 AM »

Since I am headed to Nova Scotia next month, I wish I could read this novel now!

I did not know that Canadian agencies were subsidized to accept only Canadian submissions. That's information I can use.

My only concern is this part: why the sound of a gunshot began startling him awake two years after an accident

It was not clear to me at first that this happened more than once. I wouldn't want an agent to stumble right there in the beginning.

Perhaps: why the sound of a gunshot startles him awake each night at 2:17, beginning two years after an accident
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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2018, 07:28:15 AM »

Hi,

It's publishing houses that receive subsidies, not agents, so you could still submit to Canadian agents, as well as to Canadian publishers who don't specify that they publish only Canadian authors. Some agents accept only Canadian authors, but I think that's a personal preference rather than some stipulation they need to comply with.

Thanks for reading the query and letting my know you found it interesting enough to want to read the book.
I'm hoping that "began startling him awake" will be clear enough. It would change the novel quite a bit to pinpoint a regular time that this happens in order to show that it's a recurring event (doesn't happen every single night, though).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 07:17:37 PM by Munley » Logged
mgmystery
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2018, 07:37:27 AM »

I like this query from Antoine's POV! The gunshot part worked for me; "began startling" is enough to make me think it's happening more than once. I think you could skip "overtly obedient" though. You really don't need it since you say a "secret search..."

I've always thought this sounds interesting. Good luck!
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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 07:45:36 AM »

I like this query from Antoine's POV! The gunshot part worked for me; "began startling" is enough to make me think it's happening more than once. I think you could skip "overtly obedient" though. You really don't need it since you say a "secret search..."

I've always thought this sounds interesting. Good luck!

Thanks for your comments and suggestion. "Overtly obedient" in that sentence, now that you pointed it out, was so obviously redundant, I went on my own secret search for a smacking-onself-in-the-forehead emoticon. Deleted that phrase.
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Sabreur
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2018, 11:32:05 AM »

I like it: it’s crisp, clean. I don’t get a good sense of what’s at stake for him, though. What happens to him if he doesn’t figure it out? And another point—it can’t have been just a random arsonist; could you hint more directly at dark forces at work, perhaps? And a little word-smithing: “… his mind cooked up” is much less elevated in tone than the rest of the letter. I stumbled on it. Oh, and you should say somewhere that it's complete.

Hope this helps.
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gushags16
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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 02:06:50 PM »

I think this sounds really good. I saw two things:

He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up.

I don't love the word "heartened" here. I feel like it should be something more like "relieved," although that's not quite it. I'm just imagining what that moment must be like: you've had nightmares for years and years, and you finally discover that there may be some basis, some reason for the dreams. "Heartened" seems too soft, for me. Like you're underplaying it. In the novel itself I'm sure this is a big scene: I think you could play that up larger here.

Quote
I am a permanent resident of Canada, having immigrated here in 2006.

You're missing an "in" in that sentence. Maybe you already caught it.

I really like this query, though. I've read earlier versions of it, and this is definitely the one that works for me. Nice job. And good luck!
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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 07:39:58 PM »

I like it: it’s crisp, clean. I don’t get a good sense of what’s at stake for him, though. What happens to him if he doesn’t figure it out? And another point—it can’t have been just a random arsonist; could you hint more directly at dark forces at work, perhaps? And a little word-smithing: “… his mind cooked up” is much less elevated in tone than the rest of the letter. I stumbled on it. Oh, and you should say somewhere that it's complete.

Hope this helps.


Earlier versions came out and said that it was Aunt Lucie who burned down the cabin. This is the first draft that doesn't specify that. Antoine never learns this directly and doesn't even find out the cabin burned down until some time later, when he has another chance to get up there. As the book is written, both Antoine and the reader are given reason to suspect it was Lucie, but it's never confirmed until pages before the end.

Not sure whether to specify Lucie as the arsonist in the query now, or leave it out. I'll have to think about it some more.

"Cooking up" this stuff is something Antoine is accused of by Lucie, so that's her voice playing in his mind. Maybe there's a better way to put it, though.

Stakes:
It's the high chance of personal devastation for Antoine. This book has a lot in common with a genre mystery. It branches off into literary fiction in not being so much a who-dunnit with the main aim being to answer that question, but a why-dunnit, once we know who, and the effect on people's lives.

Yes, your reply does help. Thanks!

I think this sounds really good. I saw two things:

He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up.

I don't love the word "heartened" here. I feel like it should be something more like "relieved," although that's not quite it. I'm just imagining what that moment must be like: you've had nightmares for years and years, and you finally discover that there may be some basis, some reason for the dreams. "Heartened" seems too soft, for me. Like you're underplaying it. In the novel itself I'm sure this is a big scene: I think you could play that up larger here.

Quote
I am a permanent resident of Canada, having immigrated here in 2006.

You're missing an "in" in that sentence. Maybe you already caught it.

I really like this query, though. I've read earlier versions of it, and this is definitely the one that works for me. Nice job. And good luck!

You're right, he is greatly relieved to know he didn't just dream this place up, and also emboldened to press on with his search. "Heartened" does sound like a bit of an understatement. I'll see what else I can come up with. Open to suggestions. I'll insert that "in" the last sentence. It's helpful to know you think this is an improvement over earlier drafts.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 07:50:47 PM by Munley » Logged
mgmystery
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 07:50:42 AM »

As a reader, I wouldn't want to know that Aunt Lucie burned the cabin if it isn't revealed until the end. And maybe instead of heartened-- elated or triumphant?
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 01:05:05 PM »

I like mgmystery's suggestions above! Just chiming in to say this seems very strong to me; my one quibble is that I don't get a sense of about how old Antoine is during the main part of the story. He's clearly still a kid, probably too young to drive, so I'm wondering how he managed to get to the remote cabin on his own?

But I really, really like this, and I wish you lots of luck. I think many readers would be intrigued by this story.
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007 fan
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2018, 03:17:57 AM »

Haven't had great luck querying agents (mostly in the U.S.) on this novel, so I've decided to submit it directly to Canadian publishers, most of whom will accept submissions only from Canadian citizens and permanent residents (immigrants) because that's a requirement of government subsidies many of them receive.

Two aims of this query:

1) Have the style reflect that of the novel -- a range of very short to very long sentences
2) Make the story part sound interesting enough for the the publisher to request pages or the full manuscript. That's the query's only job, I keep reminding myself.

I don't think I'll include sample pages unless the submission guidelines ask for them.


============================

I'm sorry to hear you haven't had better luck.

Dear:

Antoine Giroux, a kid with the brain of a world chess champion, will need that brain to figure out why the sound of a gunshot began startling him awake two years after an accident rendered his maman unresponsive (and) in a nursing home.

I read this as if I knew nothing of the story, and when I got to the first 'brain', to me, it sounded literal. Getting to 'origins' then reinforced a Frankenstein-type vibe. Just saying. I realize once an agent gets to your genre in title paragraph.... Maybe consider "intellect of a world chess champion" or something. I also am not fond of "brain" used twice. Not related to what's already stated by me, nothing seems overly "in need of a higher intellect", so him being smart doesn't seem to need to be said. Is there anything else you can use as an introduction for Antoine? Maybe something more personal or stating how he's so smart. Isn't it in part due to how much time he spends alone, books being his only friends?   

I added in 'and' for the nursing home part because to me it read like the accident happened in a nursing home.


The bit about the gunshot reads like it's something external. I think this bit could be smoothed overall and should maybe include a clarification that the crack of gunfire is in his dreams.

Aunt Lucie blames his night terrors on the books he reads. She orders him to tell no one about the nightmares and moves him from one Nova Scotia town to another whenever a teacher expresses concern for this remarkably quiet boy. This transition feels abrupt. I also think the first sentence should follow your first sentence (in the first paragraph)(and that first sentence shortened, in the first paragraph). I realize my suggestion would mean starting both paragraphs with "Antoine". Maybe consider something you've used before...something along the lines of "But Antoine doesn't read books that involve guns. Antoine goes on a secret searches for the truth. He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up. < The sentence feels overly something to me. Maybe it's that from 'a real place' and to end of sentence seems redundant. I agree with someone's comment that "heartened" doesn't seem right. "Encouraged" or a use of "propelled" maybe? For the underlined, it seems a realization that he's experiencing memories would pair better with 'hope of remembering more.  After he sneaks up there in the hope of remembering more, an arsonist burns that cabin down. Antoine remains undaunted. But, as his very origins are brought into question, he begins to uncover a history so dark he may wish he had never sought to learn it. I'm not a fan of ending with 'it'. If this were my query, I'd play around with the last sentence so it would end with a different word.

One thing that strikes me frequently when reading your query is how it is that schools aren't flagging "Antoine" as maybe being at risk if a note is sent home and he then moves away, again and again. When does this story take place? Before computers are so common? This doesn't need to be addressed in the query, but I'm wondering how that's handled in the novel. Each new school Antoine attends will request his records, and there should be a pattern of 'note sent home' and 'boy is pulled out of school shortly thereafter'. For your query, maybe consider making it sound like not such a repeated thing that happens.


THROUGH SEA GLASS, DARKLY, a literary novel of 97,000 words, takes place in Atlantic Canada and Pennsylvania. I’ve had work published in the Arkansas Review, Anthracite History Journal, Hoi Polloi, and other journals. My historical coalmining novel, [TITLE], set in Pennsylvania and a divided Poland, was selected by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council for “Read It!” (,)a book-club program in libraries. I am a permanent resident of Canada, having immigrated here in 2006.

This is a simultaneous submission. Thanks so much you for considering my work.

Sincerely,
Author

« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 03:26:59 AM by 007 fan » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2018, 09:14:30 AM »




Antoine Giroux, a kid with the brain of a world chess champion ( I like this, I would even reference his chess playing again )  Smiley, will needs that brain to figure out why the sound of a gunshot began startling him awake two years after an accident rendered his maman unresponsive in a nursing home. ( find the end of this sentence confusing to read. I'm with Antoine, then it's about a gunshot, then it's about his maman and it sort of feels  all backwards. Like a films scene of rewind. )


Aunt Lucie blames his night terrors on the horror ( just felt it needed something )  books he reads. She orders him to tell no one about the nightmares and moves him from one Nova Scotia town to another whenever a teacher expresses concern for this remarkably quiet boy. ( I don't think a teacher would raise eyebrows about a quiet kid. There are quiet kids in every school. I know Aunt Lucie might be overreacting for whatever reason she has but at the moment it reads as unjustified overreaction. I'm sure book has reasons, so I'd try to explain it a bit )  Antoine goes on a secret search for the truth. He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up. ( If these disturbing dreams are night terrors, I'd try to explain why he's curious/ obsessed instead of terrified. )  After he sneaks up there in the hope of remembering more, an arsonist burns that cabin down. Antoine remains undaunted. ( I'm  not sure what he is undaunted about) But, as his very origins are brought into question, he begins to uncover a history so dark he may wish he had never sought to learn it. ( I feel like I need to know what is dark about his history. All  I know at the moment is that he has nightmares, moves around a lot and the cabin he wanted to look at burnt down. I'm still unclear on why seeing the cabin mattered, and why if it mattered so much to go sneak over there, he is unaffected by an arsonist burning down. I'd suggest more strongly who the arsonist is and how he is connected. )


Sincerely,
Author

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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2018, 04:52:57 AM »

I like mgmystery's suggestions above! Just chiming in to say this seems very strong to me; my one quibble is that I don't get a sense of about how old Antoine is during the main part of the story. He's clearly still a kid, probably too young to drive, so I'm wondering how he managed to get to the remote cabin on his own?

But I really, really like this, and I wish you lots of luck. I think many readers would be intrigued by this story.


Antoine is close to 11. Without giving his true reasons for wanting to go to that cabin, he gets a daredevil teenage girl with a license to sneak him to the remote resort. Colleen knows he's bullsh**ting, but she doesn't care. She has been in trouble with the law before for extensive shoplifting, more for the adventure of outwitting store security than wanting the merchandise. Spent time in the "juvie center," where a volunteer discovered her amazing talent for math, brought her advanced math materials, and persuaded a professor to tutor her. Colleen has a shot at a 4-year scholarship if she wins the Atlantic Canada Math Competition. Her chances are excellent. Her mother, thrilled at the prospect of Colleen turning her life around, keeps her on a short leash once she's out of the detention centre. Colleen can't afford any missteps until after that contest is over.

  This trip to the cabin, Antoine's first of three, happens too far into the novel to include in the query. It will go into the plot summary, though.

Thanks for taking a look at the query and for your encouraging words, MaryJ59,
« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 05:13:14 AM by Munley » Logged
Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2018, 06:46:48 AM »

007,
The Frankenstein vibe you felt in the first paragraph is interesting.

I'm still considering edits, especially some substitute for "heartened." Regarding the moving and school records, it's a good point that some principal might question this. It doesn't happen that many times, and it doesn't take many for Antoine to get the picture that he'll have to play along better and keep his mouth shut about the nightmares even to Lucie.

If a reader has the same concern about principals, it's one of those questions they'll see the answer for in the novel. I think that including the explanation I just gave here would be dull, and it drag down the tone and whatever suspense the query may have going for it. That Lucie moves him out of a school whenever she fears some teacher is getting too curious does have to be mentioned in the query as a threat Antoine always has hanging over him -- that, and her gaslighting him about the nightmares.

I have a similar response about explaining more (in the query) about what kinds of books Antoine does or doesn't read. Aunt Lucie pays so little attention to him that she really has no idea what he reads, just that he reads a lot. It doesn't matter for the query, or even for the book, what he reads, or for Lucie's purpose of gaslighting him into thinking his concerns are all in his head. She's just grabbing at straws. There is one scene in the book where Antoine shouts back that he doesn't read books about people shooting people, but he fights back in this overt way only when driven to by a terrible event about halfway through the novel.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

==========================




Antoine Giroux, a kid with the brain of a world chess champion ( I like this, I would even reference his chess playing again )  Smiley, will needs that brain to figure out why the sound of a gunshot began startling him awake two years after an accident rendered his maman unresponsive in a nursing home. ( find the end of this sentence confusing to read. I'm with Antoine, then it's about a gunshot, then it's about his maman and it sort of feels  all backwards. Like a films scene of rewind. )


Aunt Lucie blames his night terrors on the horror ( just felt it needed something )  books he reads. She orders him to tell no one about the nightmares and moves him from one Nova Scotia town to another whenever a teacher expresses concern for this remarkably quiet boy. ( I don't think a teacher would raise eyebrows about a quiet kid. There are quiet kids in every school. I know Aunt Lucie might be overreacting for whatever reason she has but at the moment it reads as unjustified overreaction. I'm sure book has reasons, so I'd try to explain it a bit )  Antoine goes on a secret search for the truth. He’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out, a real place, not some Neverland his mind cooked up. ( If these disturbing dreams are night terrors, I'd try to explain why he's curious/ obsessed instead of terrified. )  After he sneaks up there in the hope of remembering more, an arsonist burns that cabin down. Antoine remains undaunted. ( I'm  not sure what he is undaunted about) But, as his very origins are brought into question, he begins to uncover a history so dark he may wish he had never sought to learn it. ( I feel like I need to know what is dark about his history. All  I know at the moment is that he has nightmares, moves around a lot and the cabin he wanted to look at burnt down. I'm still unclear on why seeing the cabin mattered, and why if it mattered so much to go sneak over there, he is unaffected by an arsonist burning down. I'd suggest more strongly who the arsonist is and how he is connected. )


Sincerely,
Author



You're correct that Lucie's yanking Antoine out of a school for that reason appears to be an overreaction. It appears to be that way for Antoine too, so much so that it increases his drive to know what's really behind it. What sort of secret does she not want brought out? I'm going to trust that readers will have that same question, rather than think that reaction just wouldn't' happen. The answer is close to the end of the novel, as is the full dark history you're wondering about.

Antoine isn't unfazed by the cabin being burned down. He's undaunted in his search for truth despite upsetting setbacks.
After Jim Thomas, the resort owner, drives the snooping Antoine back home for third time, Jim is so fed up that he actually grants Antoine permission (in Aunt Lucie's presence) to go inside the mysterious Cabin #4 at a time it isn't rented out. He'll even give Antoine a ride to the place -- providing that Antoine promises not to sneak up to the resort again. It's after that deal is struck that Lucie burns the cabin down, and evidence related to the dark history surfaces in the rubble, which results in the opening of a cold case. Antoine does not learn about the arson until weeks after it happens, when he tries to take Jim up on his offer.

So the things you want to know more about are beyond the time span the query encompasses. I'm hoping that the details included in the query will make publishers curious enough to read the book. Turns out that all of the Canadian publishers I've looked into so far will not only accept unagented submissions, but welcome the full manuscript (or sample chapters if the writer prefers) with the query letter. So we'll see what happens.

Thanks for your feedback. You've asked things that are helping me decide what to include in the plot summary, which, as you know, has to include the ending.


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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2018, 01:40:24 PM »

Hey Munley,
Had a go at this one. ( Feel free to ingore, if nothing else , fun to read other's versions of your query lol )  Read some of the other comment and your recent comment and kind of though about how you're mentioning the cabin and the arsonist, so to me it seems silly to keep so many interesting facts out of the query when to me they give it colour and help me invest in the characters. I wrote an example and since query ends at same spot I don't  see why you can't give a little more info.




Dear Agent,

Two years ago an accident rendered Antiones maman unresponsive in a nursing home. The sound of a gunshot began startling 11 year old Antoine awake at night ever since.

Aunt Lucie orders him to tell no one about the night terrors and moves him from one Nova Scotia town to another without explanaton. It's daunting starting yet another new school but he’s heartened when an internet display of a certain cabin on the Bay of Fundy looks like the very place where his disturbing dreams play out.  The dreams bring his origins and the identity of his birth mother into question. He begins to obsess over the location in his dream, desperate to uncover his dark history.

Antoine goes on a secret search for the truth as to what really happened the night his Maman was injured. He  goes to ( Resort Name ) by paying a daredevil teenage girl with a license to sneak him to the remote location, in the hope of remembering more. The resort manager finds him before he can search mysterious cabin #4, and drives him back to Aunt Lucies house. But taking pity on Antoine, who travelled so far, he promises that they can arrange a time for him to finally see Cabin #4 as a guest. Only someone out there doesn't want Antoine to remember what happened, and they'll go to great lengths to keep his dreams of the past just that, dreams.






[/quote]
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 09:06:48 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
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