Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Ms. Jennifer Johnson-Blalock,

THE PARIS TRIP is a completed 100,000-word women's fiction. A bit like Meredith struggling in Emily Giffin's First Comes Love and Rachel torn in Something Borrowed, my main character hides her problems and makes the universal wrong choice to set her marriage right. 

There are a lot of things Zella Weiss doesn’t want. She doesn’t want the year-long separation her husband Charlie just surprised her with. She doesn’t want to go to Paris in the middle of her marriage crisis, not with two women she barely knows. And she surely doesn’t want a man wooing her when she’s most vulnerable.

The other women know nothing of Zella’s marriage-gone-rocky, and Zella intends to keep it that way. Touring museums with quiet bouts of reflection is her plan. But Ana, a fifty-year-old newlywed going through her own troubles at home, is determined to make this trip ultra-exciting. And then there’s boisterous Robyn. No one can be that happy, no one who drinks so much. Before this vacation ends, the women must learn to rely on one another. They must agree to keep each other’s secrets. They’re creating tons. 

As a military spouse who has lived in Europe for seven years, I have drawn upon this experience to add realistic detail to the novel. I also have an EdD in Higher Education and have taught writing and research for over ten years. 

Thank you so much for your time,



It’s been only ten days since my husband Charlie delivered the worst news I’ve ever heard. And that includes when he told me he was going to Iraq. In this past week and a half, I’ve hardly spoken to that man or stayed in the same room as he, which is why it’s so weird we’re huddled together at the back door off the kitchen. The only reason I got this close to him is because I thought he was walking all the way outside, not suddenly stopping midway. 

“Sorry.” I don’t mean to shut the door on his heel. It’s just a bonus.

When he turns to face me, sandalwood aftershave wafts in with the morning breeze. We’re too close. I let go of the wooden door and take a giant step back. Why won’t he leave for work already? I look down to adjust the legs of my comfy pants that don’t need adjusting. When I look up again, he's studying my red-rimmed eyes. My arms automatically cross in front.

"Zella, I’m just saying you love Paris. And if you get some distance from all this, you might start to see things aren’t so bad." I stop looking at him when he says this last thing.

But--Paris. He’s referring to that phone message Ana Frangetti left on our machine yesterday. Apparently, she has this fabulous hotel room on the Left Bank. And now that her husband isn’t coming, she's looking for someone else to share the room.


BRM said...

Hello C.D.,

What a clear and powerful query! I get a sense of the three women, and the main characters conflict. I also had a very clear sense of the genre. I love it - can't wait to read!

I just might clarify this: She doesn’t want the year-long separation her husband Charlie just surprised her with.

I'm a bit confused at this, before I realize he's a soldier. Perhaps say something like "the year-long station at X" so we have a clear idea of why he is leaving.

Can't wait to read your book someday :)


Jennifer Johnson-Blalock said...

Thanks for your query, C.D.! I really like how you've presented the comps in your first paragraph. The last sentence there loses some clarity in favor of cuteness, though; always make sure you're hitting the former. I'm super intrigued by everything here--Paris (publishing loves Paris; we just do), a marriage on the rocks, female friendship dynamics, a potential romance. I think you could give us a little bit more specificity about Zella (what's her character like?) and her situation (what is this separation? how did the Paris trip happen?); I feel like I learn more about the other two women in fewer words. My only real concern that jumps out in the query is your word count--for debut women's fiction, you probably need to cut at least 10 thousand words, 15 would be ideal. But your themes here are very compelling.

Vanessa said...

Hi CD. What a powerful query! The conflict is set up so well! I wish I was an agent I would take this in a heartbeat! One thing I don't understand is if the husband is a soldier?

Carolyn Lieberg said...

Paris -- any time! The adventure of three women in such a city is a huge draw. I'd love to read more and hope you're picked up soon, so I can!

JJM said...

Hello C.D.,

I enjoyed reading your query. Zella stands out as a very strong character, her painful relationship, and apprehension with leaving for Paris, is well conveyed.

I am sure your work will be received well by many agents.

Best of luck,


CFBDouglas said...

Thank you everyone - huge gratitude to Ms. Johnson-Blalock for her time and advice and to Krista for providing this contest. Best of luck to all these writers!