The query letter
Dear ________:My first book, God Forbid Anyone I Know Reads This: Glimpses Into an Impish Child’s Life, is around 26,000 words and uniquely includes pictures from that era. Also inimitable, each chapter is its own story. Set in the '40s, a six-month-old flips over her crib and crawls down an unrailed winding staircase. During her terrible twos and threes she sets a wastebasket on fire, cracks an egg into the floor’s electrical outlet, and disrobes in front of her peers. The next couple of years the clever child sneaks into a Roy Rogers’ movie, skips off to the forbidden river, and runs away in the middle of the night, but a bolt of lightning sends her scurrying home. She smokes cigarettes at 5 and steals a $20 bill to buy chocolate ripple ice cream at 7.
She’s badgered and belittled in the parochial grade school. “Sheron, Sheron, beautiful but dumb” and “You’re going to lose your soul” are comments from the mean-spirited nuns. They smack her hands with a ruler, wrongly accuse her of damaging school property, and send her to the cloakroom to sit amongst the galoshes for a morning-long time-out.
At age 3, Sheron is determined to be like Shirley Temple or her older, lyrical soprano sister. She stands in the backyard mimicking and bellowing out the scales her sister practices, undaunted in her dream when told she “can’t carry a tune in a barrel.” When the baby sitters can no longer handle her and her working parents are at their wits' end, the 9-year-old is presented with a latchkey and cares for herself after school. She bungles through and discovers life on her own terms. She spills tears when a gift turns out to be a box of rocks and the neighborhood girls leave her behind after inviting her to a movie. After fighting off bullies, she dusts herself off and charges forward. She often shows the stubbornness and independence of her fiery Irish ancestors. The stumblebum conquers, the teenager lives her childhood dream, and the 18-year-old graduates high school, admitting she is still a life in progress.Similar books: An American Childhood, Little Heathens, An Hour Before Daylight, Daughter of the Saints, Gringa and The Liars' Club. Still, God Forbid is unique in that each chapter brings a separate episode in the child’s life, and is written simply without slipping into endless jargon.
I’m working on a sequel that deals with her later years, which includes a forced marriage, rape, a mother and wife sent to an unwed mother’s home by a corrupt judge, and the physical and mental abuse of a second husband. Amidst the horror, she raised five children—one who takes an ax to a school bus. It will be 14 torment-filled years before she leaves. Still, she stumbles briefly again in what’s called her legal affair. Romance and love are new to her, but two separate men disappoint her. The scars remain, as she heaves romance, opting for the single life, being alone but free to follow her heart. It might be two books, but each would be presented with a theme that connects the dots, not a series of short stories like my first book.Thirty-nine articles published to date: 2009-2010 in [list includes about 12 publications]. ... Chapters of God Forbid can be viewed on my blog: [includes URL].