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Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXXVI

jimmychootiedyedAnd now for Round Two, featuring these stunning Jimmy Choos. YSL is a good friend who kindly agreed to let me share her query here. As well as working on submitting her novel, she’s also in the process of deciding on a grad school to attend. If anyone knows someone who has experience with the Whidbey Island MFA program, please let me know! So, with no further delays, let’s get to it!

Dear Daphne,

I’m seeking representation for my women’s literature book, LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME. It’s approximately 63,000 words.

My protagonist, Marty Wu, can’t admit that her status quo is woefully lacking. Take, for instance, her job. Four years running, it still pays through the nose, and there’s room for advancement. Never mind that she’s bored stiff with the work: Wouldn’t you be, working for something called Retirees’ Review?

Better yet, consider her twisted relationship with her mother. Marty knows there’s something wrong, but she’s in no hurry to either find out what it is, or change it. Flat-out lazy, some might call it.

But when Marty gets fired from her cushy job in a crash-and-burn, throw-up-on-the-bigwigs, sleep-with-her-best-client kind of way, she’s forced to take a good hard look at just how much of her life is constructed on a flimsy web of denial.

From New York to a trip in Las Vegas and an unexpected stint in her hometown in rural Taiwan, Marty’s on a personal quest to find out what it means to take responsibility for years of slacking off. Will she find what she’s looking for on the other side of the world?

I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for over 15 years. My short fiction has been published in Akkadian and 94 Creations, and won an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Winter Fiction Open. I am a contributor to The Origins of Nearly Everything, 100 Days of Monsters, and This is Brooklyn, among others. I am also the youngest-ever writer for the legendary J. Peterman catalog.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Now, just because YSL is a friend, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be anything less than completely honest. So, to start, I dislike the phrase “women’s literature book” in a query. I don’t mind “women’s lit” or “women’s fiction,” if you like those, and I usually save “book” for once a manuscript’s been published.

I don’t think you need to include the phrase “My protagonist,” since it’s pretty well understood as Marty is the only character mentioned. I’ll admit I had to look up the proper definition of “status quo”, since my brain kept trying to read it as just “status,” and take it to mean something about her standing within the community and perhaps her family. And speaking of family, I’d love to hear more about the “twisted relationship” Marty has with her mother. Can you give a little more detail?

But I love the inciting incident that makes the story take off! I don’t know quite what the flimsy web of denial you refer to is, though — can you show something a little earlier that indicates how Marty is hiding from the truth?

In the list of places Marty looks for herself, I think you can simplify it to “From New York to Vegas with an unexpected stint in her hometown in rural Taiwan.” It reads as smoother to me. Finally, I want to know more about what it is she’s looking for! It seems like it should be bigger than just “what it means to take responsibility for years of slacking off.” Your credits are awesome, but you know that. I still remember being impressed you used to write those J. Peterman catalogue descriptions. I have a bio from a show I did in college that states that was my dream job.

Readers, what’s your take on LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME?

And for those who’ve stuck around to the very end of today’s post, the announcement you’ve been waiting for! I’m looking for a few more queries to get me well into the spring. Please follow the submission guidelines as listed in this post. I’ll see how many I get, and if I need to close the call at any point. If so, I’ll do so on Twitter and here. Thanks!

UPDATE: We are now closed to About My Query posts, at least for now.

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