Thursday, September 30, 2010

2 Query Letter #49

Query Letter #49
Valerie Norris
Title: Shattered Glass
Genre: YA Contemporary Coming-of-Age

Dear Sarah LaPolla,

A teenage summer nanny tries to shield children from their parents’ alcohol abuse and violence, while sad secrets tear her own family apart. Your web page indicates that you like coming-of-age stories; SHATTERED GLASS is a YA contemporary coming-of-age story complete at 78,650 words.

Emily is a good, slightly sarcastic teen who expects her worst problems at the lakeside rental cottage to be the young children in her care. She discovers that their parents, the Lockes, fight, drink heavily, and cheat on each other, but she stays to try to shield the children from their parents. Mrs. Locke spends too much time with the man next door, and may have been messing around with a teenager the previous summer. Shocked, Emily seeks advice from her parents, but they are unavailable, emotionally and geographically. The summer continues to spiral downward, with the Lockes’ fights escalating into physical, and Emily is gashed with broken glass while trying to shield one of the kids from harm. She realizes that, although she would do anything for the children, the Lockes’ problems are beyond what she can handle. She goes home, but finds her family fractured beyond repair, her parents separating.

After a summer of trying to hold together another family, she is faced with the wreckage of her own. Emily must make an impossible choice between two parents who love her, but no longer love each other.

I’ve had short fiction published in Golf Digest, Mother’s Manual and The Petigru Review, and won first place in South Carolina Writer’s Workshop 2009 fiction contest. Would you like to see the manuscript?


Valerie Norris


  1. This story sounds great, though the last part sounds anticlimatic after the abuse and alcholic parents she was guarding the kids from. Somehow her own problems don't seem so great when you consider the danger the kids are in. When I got to the part that she just abandoned the kids and went home, I didn't care for Emily like I had at the beginning. Does that make sense?

    And I sure hope she didn't just leave the kids. Surely she would have said something to someone in authority, which you might want to put in the query. That would make her still a sympathetic character.

    Good luck with it. :D

  2. I agree with Stina. You've set up the major problem of the book being these kids and trying to protect and save them. I understand her coming to the conclusion that the problem is bigger than her, but there needs to be some resolution with them. Does she report the abusive parents? Call the cops? Something before leaving them. Compared to their problems, her problem of her parent separating is weak and leaves me not sympathizing with her. You've set up two different conflicts. What is your story really about? We need to feel for your MC and be cheering her on. Give us that in this query.

    Hope this helps. It sounds like you have an intense story with a strong protagonist fighting for a good cause. We need to love your MC by the end of the query and want to read about her solving these tough issues.

    Good luck.


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