I’ve been writing Query Letters to agents and publishers (think cover letters for employment resumes) for 11 years now, and I still find distilling a story line and characters into 1 page or into 300 words to be – in its own way – more difficult than writing the book itself. You try it: with 300 words max, summarize the plot of your favorite book to convince the reader s/he simply must have the book ~ have it right away and at any cost ~ (that “at any cost” part is especially important!)
What follows is the pitch I offered the Amazon novel contest judges for “The Dangerous Thaw of Etta Capstone.” It appears simple enough, but believe me ~ a lot of time and many rewrites went into the finished product!
“ ‘Revenge is very good eaten cold’
For most people food serves a purpose and the purpose isn’t complicated. You eat it. But for Etta Capstone it’s not that simple. An excellent cook and the owner of a successful Texas restaurant, she’s had years to perfect other uses for food besides the obvious. Food as shield. As wall. As love letter. As peace offering. Food as life—well, half a life, anyway.
Etta’s not like other women. She’s been frozen in the past, frozen heart and soul for a long time, captive to memories of unbearable violence. Until suddenly, with the sighting of the man she holds responsible for her painful history, Etta begins to consider the possibility of a more satisfying future. She knows that with a good cooking fire and the steady heat of a patient man’s love, a lot of things are possible—even change, even happiness—and to her way of thinking, all that stands in the way of a bright future is one wicked man, one necessary execution, and lessons in good penmanship. So as a woman used to creating dishes from diverse and rare ingredients, Etta concocts a deadly recipe using just those elements. She knows better than most that life offers few guarantees, and if all it takes to free her from the past is one wicked man, one necessary execution, and lessons in good penmanship, she’ll take the risk and make the effort, no matter who gets burned. Because after years of keeping the fires of love and the warmth of hope at a distance, Etta Capstone is finally ready to thaw. ”