Monday, February 12, 2018

The Book!



Amanda asked about my current novel. I have finally finished it, the manuscript is being reviewed by two readers, and unless their feedback leads me to massive revisions, I'll soon be shopping for an agent or a publisher. This requires a one page query, on which a response of yes or no or maybe is based.

I have some work to do on this query, and I've deleted the paragraph that describes the story from start to finish, but here's a taste of the book. I will love your impressions and reactions.

love love
kj

In the words of the novel’s protagonist Christine Macabee, mother of four:
“My family history is told without fancy prose or superheroes, and admittedly with some drama around the themes of neglect and illness and crimes and death and alcoholism and infidelity and even a failed attempt at convent life. If you’re looking for threads I suggest you look to John Denver, Robert Frost, and Billy Collins. And I suggest you learn all you can about devotion.” 
The Answers to Everything is a work of fiction expanding seventy years and centering on the Macabees, a middle class family guided by its gutsy Mother Christine, who has a dual passion for the redemptive powers of poetry and her fantasy husband John Denver. Christine’s childhood and motherhood are comically supported by her uppity righteous older sister Louise who manages to rescue her from one crisis to another, and by the failures of first her alcoholic parents and then her alcoholic husband, Jimmy. Their four children, each with a story of his/her own, are shaped by Christine’s version of devotion and their own life circumstances: Claudia, devotedly languished in a seven year affair with a married man; Cole, a television sports reporter who is physically attacked for being gay and forced to face his own addictions; Emily, a Plain Jane who serendipitously lands a good guy who seems to stabilize the whole family; and John, the youngest, who quietly observes and easily accepts his family as everything he needs.  
Christine’s answers to everything are poetry and devotion. She painfully learns these tools aren’t perfect. 
The Author has a background and Master’s Degree in Counseling and Rehabilitation. She has a keen understanding of how people behave when faced with the commonplace and the extra- ordinary. She has self-published one book, The Light Stays On, (multiple excellent reviews on Amazon) and from time to time writes essays and poetry on her Blog, OPTIONS For A Better World. 

The Answers to Everything is approximately 100,000 words and divided into four Parts, beginning with Christine and Louise’s neglectful childhood and ending with a gathering that includes a number of new and surprising additions to the Macabee family. This is a story that aims to entertain and educate around the unique challenges of alcoholism, infidelity, differences, and the strengths and foibles that make a family. 

4 comments:

  1. IMO--too many adjectives. Needs to be trimmed by about 150 words--never hurts to leave some white space on the query.

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  2. KJ, I'm going to use caps, not because I'm shouting, but in order to make my words stand out from your words,

    In the words of the novel’s protagonist Christine Macabee [EMOTIONALLY SPEAKING, THE NAME MACABEE TAKES ME BACK TO 19TH CENTURY ENGLAND], mother of four:
    “My family history is told without fancy prose or superheroes, and admittedly with some drama around the themes of neglect and illness and crimes and death and alcoholism and infidelity and even a failed attempt at convent life.

    IT SEEMS TO ME THAT YOU'RE USING WORDY PROSE TO TELL THE READER THAT YOU WON'T BE USING WORDY PROSE.

    If you’re looking for threads I suggest you look to John Denver, Robert Frost, and Billy Collins. And I suggest you learn all you can about devotion.”
    I WOULD CUT THE ABOVE SENTENCE BECAUSE I TAKE IT TO MEAN THAT YOUR NOVEL IS GOING TO BE SCATTERED ALL OVER THE PLACE. ALTHOUGH THE THREE PEOPLE YOU LIST MIGHT INDEED PLAY AN IMPORTANT PART IN YOUR BOOK, I DON'T SEE THAT YOUR DESIRE TO ATTRACT INTEREST IS SERVED BY SHARING THIS INFORMATION.
    The Answers to Everything is a work of fiction expanding seventy years and centering on the Macabees, a middle class family guided by its gutsy Mother Christine, who has a dual passion for the redemptive powers of poetry and her fantasy husband John Denver. Christine’s childhood and motherhood are comically supported by her uppity [I FIND THE WORD UPPITY IMPRECISE AND REMINISCENT OF SOMETHING THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES WOULD SAY] righteous older sister Louise who manages to rescue her from one crisis to another [HOW ABOUT "OR ANOTHER?], and by the failures of first [I THINK THAT THE WORDS "FIRST" AND "THEN" DRAGS DOWN THIS SENTENCE] her alcoholic parents and then her alcoholic husband, Jimmy. Their four children, each with a story of his/her own, are shaped by Christine’s version of devotion ["VERSION OF DEVOTION" LOSES ME IN THAT IT APPEARS TO SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL, BUT WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT "SOMETHING MEANINGFUL" MIGHT BE, I'M NOT SURE] and their own life circumstances: Claudia, devotedly languished in a seven year affair with a married man; Cole, a television sports reporter who is physically attacked for being gay and forced to face his own addictions; Emily, a Plain Jane who serendipitously lands a good guy who seems to stabilize the whole family; and John, the youngest, who quietly observes and easily accepts his family as everything he needs. [THIS SENTENCE SEEMS A BIT LONG TO ME]
    Christine’s answers [I WOULD USE THE WORD ANSWER IN THE SINGULAR] to everything are [IN WHICH CASE ARE WOULD BECOME IS] poetry and devotion. She painfully learns these tools aren’t perfect. [I WOULD MAKE THIS INTO ONE SENTENCE]
    The Author has a background and Master’s Degree in Counseling and Rehabilitation. She has a keen understanding of how people behave when faced with the commonplace and the extra- ordinary. [EXTRAORDINARY ISN'T HPPHENATED. ARE YOU EXPECTED TO REFER TO YOURSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON? AS FOR SAYING YOU HAVE A KEEN UNDERSTANDING, I WOULD SUGGEST, "HER WORK AS A SOCIAL WORKER WHO SPECIALIZED IN COUNSELING PEOPLE WHO WERE UNDERGOING PHYSICAL REHABILITATION"] She has self-published one book, The Light Stays On, (multiple excellent reviews on Amazon) [HOW ABOUT, "WHICH RECEIVED EXCELLENT REVIEWS ON AMAZON" BECAUSE WHEN YOU SAY "SEVERAL" I IMMEDIATELY THINK FOUR OR FIVE, WHICH PROBABLY ISN'T WHAT YOU'RE HOPING PEOPLE WILL THINK] and from time to time writes essays and poetry on her Blog, OPTIONS For A Better World.
    My overall impression of what you've shared is that you're trying to sound literary when you would do better to write more as you do on your blog. When you write your best, you write from your heart, your desire being to convey your inner self in as clear and succinct a way as possible.

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  3. I agree with the others - a little editing would be great and I love your conversational, human style on the blog.

    I'd start this at 'The Answers to Everything is a work of fiction expanding ..." - That's a neat, direct introduction to the book and is a very intriguing hook.

    A little editing will go a long way and i already see the makings of a period drama here. I hope someone will take the script and televise it.

    And i love the author introduction. Please retain it as is.

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  4. mark, snow brush, hdwk, thank you so much. your feedback and guidance helps a lot! there are professional readers who edit query letters and I will most likely contract with one, but you've given me a to-the-point direction.
    love
    kj

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