Dark arts in Pasadena

With my MS now beaten mercilessly into (what I hope is) pretty decent shape, it was time for my next Writer’s Digest Conference. This year, instead of going to the big event in New York that is held each summer, I decided to fly to LA for the 2018 Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena.

Pros: it’s a slightly smaller event where you can more easily meet other authors and network. It’s also in the fabulous Westin Pasadena, where I splashed out for a room at the conference hotel instead of having to commute from an Airbnb. Cons: there are no agent pitch sessions, unlike the NYC conference.

However, there was a really great panel session on query letters. About 10 pre-submitted letters from attendees were read out loud, and each of the four agents would raise their hands at the point they would dismiss the query. They would then go on to explain why they would have stopped reading, and what could be done to improve the query.

With 150-plus people in the room, I didn’t expect my query to be read out loud, but it was about the sixth to be read. What was incredibly gratifying was that not one of the agents raised their hands – all four said they would have read it to the end and requested pages! I was thrilled. So after the session, I introduced myself to two of the agents as the person who wrote the winning query, and they both asked me to send them 50 pages with a reminder of who I was. So exciting! One of them is a hugely successful agent working with women’s fiction authors, so she’s right at the top of my list, and I couldn’t be more thrilled she wants to see my pages.

For anybody who’s interested in my successful query letter, especially if you’re struggling to write one yourself, here it is below.

Dear XX Name of Agent,

I am seeking representation for THE OTHER ME, a commercial women’s novel that is complete at 111,400 words.

This is the story of JOSIE, a British expat living in New York City. Or rather, it is the tale of two Josies, as her life path split three years previously, when she did or did not meet the love of her life—wealthy, handsome ROB. One Josie is now a single radio show host living in Brooklyn, with a huge crush on her friend PETER; the other is happily married to Rob and living in a fabulous Manhattan penthouse. It’s both Josies’ 36th birthday, and each is set to celebrate when they crash their bicycles at the exact spot where their lives split three years ago. In an instant, each Josie is catapulted into the other’s reality—and the other’s body. 

Suddenly, single Josie has everything she ever dreamed of: wealth, a perfect figure, and an adoring husband—who, when Josie doesn’t recognize him, assumes she has amnesia from the crash. But in this new reality, her beloved brother DAVID is dead. Josie is faced with an impossible dilemma—to try to return to her old life, in which David is alive, or to embrace this wonderful new world without her brother. Moreover, as Josie falls deeper in love with Rob, she increasingly realizes that there is another version of herself, living her former life—and that this Other Josie wants her husband back.

Told from each of the split-protagonists’ points of view, THE OTHER ME is a story that will appeal to fans of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and the movie SLIDING DOORS—a fantastical premise that becomes a story about love, betrayal, self-identity and the big question: “What if?” 

I am a writer and editor, and former radio show host, specializing in real estate news in Vancouver, B.C. I am originally from the U.K. and I emigrated to Canada nine years ago. THE OTHER ME is my debut novel.

Thank you for your consideration.

CJ Connolly