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  1. #1
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    Re: NEED SERIOUS HELP

    Hoping I can get help with my query. I have already made some changes based on the advice of someone on WritersNet but need a couple more sets of eyes. Thank you so very much in advance!




    In 2010, I was an award-winning CNN producer who was addicted to painkillers. And while it was a solitary existence, my recovery was a collective one led by my beloved father, a former alcoholic who knew what to do with a body gone mad. So begins THE OTHER SIDE OF COMING THROUGH, a 100,000 word-count memoir in which my father faces his past addiction in order to help me overcome mine.

    All there was to inherit from my father, I had. He was there for me when I underwent two liver transplants before turning 30. And I stood sentry when I found him jailed or drunk in the ER. So, it was fitting that this once broken soul inadvertently taught me to master the culture of addiction and living day-to-day with unmet expectations.

    Following a medical procedure, I became addicted to painkillers. Once doctors stopped refilling my prescription, I put my already tenuous health at risk by buying thousands of pills from the Internet, even pilfering painkillers from my arthritic dog. When a fateful accident forced my past and present to intersect during that fateful summer of 2010 I reluctantly entered rehab. Eventually, I detoxed amid a cast of colorful alcoholics and addicts—each providing enlightenment and levity—as I faced a classic tragedy: the tool you use to save yourself (pills) becomes the one thing that ultimately destroys you. In time, I coped with the shame of having chased one disease (addiction) while running from another (liver failure), all while examining the variances of how black and white women deal with depression.

    After rehab, I traveled home to Colorado intent on discovering a healthy sense of self after years of self-inflicted damage. Further I mined the impact my addiction had on my family, fiancé, and most importantly my father. Soon, I accepted the dynamics behind a family who competed to be the most victimized and tried in their own way to foster my recovery, yet curiously hindered my father’s sobriety decades earlier.

    A former Peabody and DuPont award-winning journalist at CNN, I’m currently a freelance writer for The Huffington Post. A recent essay went viral garnering over 60,000 likes in two days. Later, it was included in a writing course at Morehouse College. Additional essays can be found in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post’s ROOT Magazine, The Atlantan, Jezebel, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and sundry others. Further, I have extensive media ties that will help me market an addiction memoir that is unlike those already in print.

    May I send the manuscript?

    Best,
    xxxxx



  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Here are several writing sites that might help you. Although most sites deal with fiction, the query letter format for a memoir is similar (e.g., queries should be around 250 words; yours over 400).

    Query Shark is hugely popular. It's written by a bona fide lit agent, so you can trust her advice. Be sure to scroll through the archives.

    Absolute Write has a lot of forums, at least one dedicated to non-fiction. Advise you to read the newbie FAQs before you plunge in.

    Agent Query focuses on query letter how-to and critiquing. Again, read the intros.

    ..and back to Janet Reid (a.k.a., Query Shark) for solid, in-the-know gen on the writing business.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    First, remember that the one getting this has no idea of what kind of story this is. My first thought, as I read, was that this was a poorly worded intro to a novel. So open the letter with the genre and word count.
    In 2010, I was an award-winning CNN producer who was addicted to painkillers.
    This is a fact, and as such carries no emotional content or impact. And in general, that continues. But it's your emotional journey that will make it interesting to the reader, and the one getting this is a reader, so hook them the same way.

    Suppose you'd used something like: In 2010, I was an award-winning CNN producer, successful, respected, and balanced on the edge of catastrophe, as my addition to painkillers reached the critical point and forced me to face what I had become—and where I was bound.Not a great line, but look at the difference. Instead of reporting, I place the reader on an upward emotional path, and then contrast that with the crash that comes unexpectedly, for greater impact.
    Your background urges you to write in a fact-based and author-centric way. That will inform, not not entertain, and for good or evil, your reader is expecting to be entertained by your misfortune and struggle. So shifting to more of an emotion-based approach will help.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    My first thought, as I read, was that this was a poorly worded intro to a novel. So open the letter with the genre and word count.
    My first thought as I read your comment was: geez, you're really bad at reading. It's a memoir, not a novel. Says that right in the first paragraph. Might want to get your magnifying glass out.

  5. #5
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    It does help! Thank you!

  6. #6
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    Very valid points that I will certainly take into account. The first draft had a more detailed intro but I simplified it. I was trying not to pack every detail into the first sentence. I hope agents will read the query because I do included all the points u made. Now I am off to tweak the intro. Thanks a million for offering your opinion !

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    My first thought as I read your comment was: geez, you're really bad at reading. It's a memoir, not a novel. Says that right in the first paragraph. Might want to get your magnifying glass out.
    As always, instead of trying to help the one asking for it, you attack me. Those who don't drink out of the toilet come here to respond to the question.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    As always, instead of trying to help the one asking for it, you attack me. Those who don't drink out of the toilet come here to respond to the question.
    I already commented in the author's previous thread. Twice even.

    That's why the author said this:
    I have already made some changes based on the advice of someone on WritersNet but need a couple more sets of eyes.
    Try to keep up.

  9. #9
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    Ahh, so you're making excuses now, as to why it's okay to act like a schmuck? There are none. And in the end, you do it because, as always, the points I mentioned are the ones you missed—and so obvious you shouldn't have. And no amount of excuses will change that.

    So in the end, your "advice" is generic and your attacks sophomoric. Look at the responses to my advice this week and then yours. If you want to keep up you're going to have to work a lot harder.

  10. #10
    Rogue Mutt
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    Awww, the poor geriatric toddler can't handle being shown he's wrong so he's got to stamp his feet and say what a meanie I am. hahaha

    Of course he conveniently forgets when he "contributed" to a thread just to attack me.

    But I suppose at his age the memory comes and goes. Like how he keeps forgetting there is no scoreboard or even a thumbs up or Like button to determine who "wins" at critiquing.

    BTW, your "advice" about putting the genre and word count first is terrible advice. Just about any credible source (like the sites jayce mentioned) will tell you that you put the hook first.

    An example of a hook would be: When an award-winning CNN producer becomes addicted to painkillers, the only one who can save him is his alcoholic father. Although as a memoir, first-person would probably be better like: I was an award-winning CNN producer until I became addicted to painkillers. The only one who could save me was my alcoholic father.

    The second sentence is technically passive but I just like it loaded at the back end better for the mild shock value. Another way to say that would be: The only who could save me? My alcoholic father.

    That's the fun (and torture) of writing queries; you can write and rewrite a lot easier than the actual book to decide what sounds better.
    Last edited by Rogue Mutt; 10-16-2015 at 12:38 PM.

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