#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: FACES

Title: FACES

Category and Genre: Adult General Fiction w/Romance Elements
Word Count: 95,000
Leia Faces
QUERY
 

In the aftermath of a car crash that claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musiciaJonah Wilder spirals into the hell of heroin addiction. To avoid publicity during rehab, Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date, becoming John Walker — a bearded, long-haired, reclusive auto mechanic. Under the guise of Walker, Jonah checks himself into a sobriety house in upstate Minnesota, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his tragic past hidden.

Divorced from her abusive, controlling husband, Andi Sawyer’s first priority is to provide a stable home for Charli, her musically gifted, special-needs daughter. Then an unexpected friendship blossoms with John Walker, the new arrival at the men’s sobriety house next door. But when the feeling that she’s met him before drives Andi to put her artistic skills to work, she realizes that John may not be the man she thought she knew.

As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker envisions a future for the three of them as a family. But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband arrives in town, and Peter Sawyer will stop at nothing to reclaim what’s his. Jonah must reconcile his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he will lose everything he’s come to cherish—Andi, Charli—and his second chance at life.

FIRST 250 Words

God, do I need a hit. One little hit. Just one.

Jonah Wilder tried to silence the thought as soon as it appeared. But those in charge of his treatment program had changed the daily routine he’d come to depend on, and free-falling into agonizing withdrawal was the result.

Stay in your room this morning, the nurse who brought his breakfast said. No activitiesDr. Vance will be in shortly.

With nothing to do but pace his room in this prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center, Jonah stopped and gazed out the window at the beautiful view it offered. Oh, how he longed to be out there with sunshine, fresh air, greenery, and not trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.

Until today.

One hit. Just —

His emaciated body twitched.

Gripped by a wave of nausea, Jonah moved away from the window just as there was a soft knock on the door and the man of the hour stepped into his room.

Dr. Vance was a bespectacled, thin, gray-haired man with a New England accent, an enormous beak of a nose and kindly brown eyes.  “Hello, Jonah,” Dr. Vance said, closing the door. “How are you today?”

Every morning it was the same greeting, as if he was expecting a different response than what Jonah always provided, whether it was true or not.

“I’m okay.” But this time he added, “What the hell is going on?”

22 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: FACES”

  1. Very glad to have this entry on #TeamLeia. This is right up my alley.

    Query:
    [If I’ve cut out parts, it just means I’m not commenting on that part, NOT that I think you should cut those parts out.]

    In the aftermath of a car crash that claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into the hell of heroin addiction. [You don’t really need “the hell of”- most people picture heroin addiction as hell anyhow, and I think it might actually have more of a bleak impact to say “spirals into heroin addiction”.]

    Divorced from her abusive, controlling husband, Andi Sawyer’s first priority is to provide a stable home for Charli, [I would take out the name – too many names in a query is confusing & you don’t need it here] her musically gifted, special-needs daughter… But when the feeling that she’s met him before drives Andi to put her artistic skills to work, she realizes that John may not be the man she thought she knew [I’m not picturing how her artistic skills bring her to this conclusion, and since the “seen him before” dynamic doesn’t get resolved or touched on in the query again, I would just remove this sentence].
    …But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband [you don’t need the “dangerously obsessed”. We understand that already]arrives in town, and Peter Sawyer [take out this name and just say “he”. It’s clearer that way, not as confusing] …

    250
    With nothing to do but pace his room in this prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center, Jonah stopped and gazed out the window at the beautiful view it offered. Oh, how he longed to be out there with sunshine, fresh air, greenery, and not trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.
    [The first sentence here is sort of contradictory, and then you “tell” what’s out the window before you “show”. I’d change it to something like, “Jonah paced the (plush-carpeted? You can sneak in a little visual here to give us a feel for the place) floors of this prison-masquerading-as-a-treatment-center (you don’t need the “chemical dependency”- we know that already), then stopped at the window to gaze out at the sunlit garden (you could even give slightly more description than that). How he longed….]

    After you talk about being gripped by nausea, show him struggling with it while talking to the doctor. I’ve been dopesick—thank God it’s been a while—but I still remember how horrible it was…if he’s on the downside of it, even, in my experience he’d be gripped by nausea (and probably dizziness and cramps) and would probably need to sit down. Hopefully you’re not writing from experience, but if so, maybe your experience is different.

    Thank you for your entry and for your great characters!

    1. Thanks for the input! Your feedback is so important to me, given that the subject matter is in your wheelhouse and I couldn’t ask for a better team leader.

      Queries…ah, the bane of my writing life. I’ve rewritten mine to death and I run into some sort of something each time. The original query describes Andi as an artist, she draws and paints. She had the feeling that she’d met him before because he looks familiar, and decided to draw him sans beard to see if she can place him. It’s an important part of the story (as is, but that may change, as I have an alternate scenario in mind). Any input you can give on this and, in general, how to make this query clear and shiny I will be forever and ever grateful! 🙂

      the 250

      The gazing out the window thing I added at the last minute when revising the query after the feedback round. I’ll try to wordsmith that a bit and dump the telling aspect of that paragraph. I agree it could have a bit more ambiance.

      I wish we weren’t limited to 250 words. So much of what you touch on with Jonah’s mental and physical state is depicted immediately or very shortly after this excerpt.

  2. These are my opinions only. Please take what helps and ignore the rest.

    In the aftermath of a car crash that claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into the hell of heroin addiction. To avoid publicity during rehab, Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date, becoming John Walker — a bearded, long-haired, reclusive auto mechanic. Under the guise of Walker, Jonah checks himself into a sobriety house in upstate Minnesota, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his tragic past hidden.
    (Great set up! I am interested.)

    Divorced from her abusive, controlling husband, Andi Sawyer’s first priority is to provide a stable home for Charli, her musically gifted, special-needs daughter. Then an unexpected friendship blossoms with John Walker, the new arrival at the men’s sobriety house next door. But when the feeling that she’s met him before drives Andi to put her artistic skills to work, she realizes that John may not be the man she thought she knew.
    (So this is dual POV, I think. I don’t think I need to know Charli’s name. I don’t understand “drives her to put her artistic skills to work”…what does that mean? What does she realize exactly? Does she suspect who he really is? Does that matter in the query? Does she find out who he is and that effects her decision to start a relationship?)

    As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker envisions a future for the three of them as a family. But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband arrives in town, and Peter Sawyer will stop at nothing to reclaim what’s his. Jonah must reconcile his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he will lose everything he’s come to cherish—Andi, Charli—and his second chance at life.

    (I don’t think I need to know the ex’s name. Sounds like WF to me! Jonah wants a new life with a new family, but what stops him? Andi’s ex? His feelings for his family? Then what is the moment of decision? To love Andi and find a place for that in his heart or leave? What do those choices mean to him, for his life?If this is dual POV…what about her moment of choice?)

    FIRST 250 Words

    God, do I need a hit. One little hit. Just one.

    (Love the opener!)

    Jonah Wilder tried to silence the thought as soon as it appeared. But those in charge of his treatment program had changed the daily routine he’d come to depend on, and free-falling into agonizing withdrawal was the result.

    Stay in your room this morning, the nurse who brought his breakfast said. No activities. Dr. Vance will be in shortly.
    (Is this different than normal? SHOULD I BE WORRIED?)

    With nothing to do but pace his room in this prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center, Jonah stopped and gazed out the window at the beautiful view it offered. Oh, how he longed to be out there with sunshine, fresh air, greenery, and not trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.
    (What does his room look like? Don’t need “it offered” after “view”. Had he enjoyed the sunshine before? Well, written. I love the inner thoughts! Does he think of what got him there?)

    Until today.

    One hit. Just —

    His emaciated body twitched.

    Gripped by a wave of nausea, Jonah moved away from the window just as there was a soft knock on the door and the man of the hour stepped into his room.
    (Nausea…from what? From detoxing? From thinking of outside? Why move from the window? I felt that this moment of nausea and moving from the window was interrupted by the knock…like there was an unfinished thought.)

    Dr. Vance was a bespectacled, thin, gray-haired man with a New England accent, an enormous beak of a nose and kindly brown eyes. “Hello, Jonah,” Dr. Vance said, closing the door. “How are you today?”
    (What does his voice sound like?)

    Every morning it was the same greeting, as if he was expecting (Or hoping for?) a different response than what Jonah always provided, whether it was true or not.

    “I’m okay.” But this time he added, “What the hell is going on?” (Wait…”What the hell is going on?” That struck me as an odd thing to say. If this is different than normal…the being told to stay in his room…up the tension about that for us…let us get worried. I do like this look inside his addicted mind. One hit…very impactful.)

    1. Thanks Kathy!
      This is dual POV, though I’ve thought about revising it to 1st person Jonah’s POV. I think it would be great to dig deep into Jonah’s mind and I did write some of it that way on an earlier revision to experiment with it. But I “missed” Andi too much and gave up.

      Yeah, his routine was disrupted, which put his mental state into a tailspin, brought on his detoxing withdrawal symptoms (nausea is one of those, as is the twitching). I’ll have to try to amp up his anxiety at being told to stay in his room, and go a bit more deep 3rd in that part.

      Thanks again!!!

  3. Argh, I came late to this critiquing round! My goal is to critique queries that don’t yet have comments, but I’m compelled to stop in and tell you just how fabulous this is, especially with Kathy’s input (she said everything I was going to, but curse this Australian time difference)

    I like stories that get to the point, that don’t over describe, that keep me glued to the page, because I have the attention span of a — oh, look, an email.

    But seriously, please keep writing. Personally, I don’t like dual POV, (unless it’s JA Konrath’s Afraid). I think you’ll have more fun revising it so that it’s through Jonah’s mind. It’s funny how we can get attached to characters — my publisher asked me to wipe a whole character from existence, but I fought to keep her! In another instance, even though it was difficult, sometimes to benefit the story, you have to either say goodbye to a character or give them less time in the spotlight.

    That said, I would read this book. And I don’t say that lightly. Go, girl, go!

    1. Hi Tyrolin!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. It means so much to me!

      Oh boy…now I’m re-contemplating a whole MS revision to 1st (Jonah’s) POV. I tried it as I said, and boy, did I dig deep into the character. It was loads of fun. And loads of work, too. I got overwhelmed and stopped, but I kept the revision that I did thus far (I never throw anything away). It’s doable, especially since I’m on my second to last night at the soul-sucking workplace. I’m starting a new job that’ll afford me 4 blissful days a week to hit the keyboard full-time.

      I believe that my struggle with developing Andi’s character, voice & story, as well as my blockage in shaping the antagonist and his story, would be resolved should I revise to only Jonah’s POV. Thanks (I think??) for giving me something to really think about tonight at work 🙂

  4. YOUR QUERY

    In the aftermath of a car crash that claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into the hell of heroin addiction. To avoid publicity during rehab, Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date, becoming John Walker — a bearded, long-haired, reclusive auto mechanic. Under the guise of Walker, Jonah checks himself into a sobriety house in upstate Minnesota, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his tragic past hidden.

    [This is a bit wordy and buries your hook. I would suggest rewriting this paragraph so the hook in the 2nd sentence comes first. As for the first sentence, you might try something like, “After a car crash claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into heroin addiction.]

    Divorced from her abusive, controlling husband, Andi Sawyer’s first priority is to provide a stable home for Charli, her musically gifted, special-needs daughter. Then an unexpected friendship blossoms with John Walker, the new arrival at the men’s sobriety house next door. But when the feeling that she’s met him before drives Andi to put her artistic skills to work, she realizes that John may not be the man she thought she knew.

    [You don’t need Charli’s name. How does the feeling that she’s met him before drive her to put her artistic skills to work? I’m not clear on what that means or how her artistic skills are relevant to solving that mystery.]

    As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker envisions a future for the three of them as a family. But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband arrives in town, and Peter Sawyer will stop at nothing to reclaim what’s his. Jonah must reconcile his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he will lose everything he’s come to cherish—Andi, Charli—and his second chance at life.

    [I like the conflict here, but you already set up conflict in the second paragraph. You might need to tighten the tie-in in this frst sentence so it doesn’t seem like you’re working at cross purposes here. For instance, “When the truth comes out, Jonah’s walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life. But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband…”]

    YOUR FIRST 250

    I’m really liking this! A couple of suggestions for you. 🙂

    God, do I need a hit. One little hit. Just one.

    [I would remove the word “do”. It messes up the flow for me, but I love this as an opener.]

    Jonah Wilder tried to silence the thought as soon as it appeared. But those in charge of his treatment program had changed the daily routine he’d come to depend on, and free-falling into agonizing withdrawal was the result.

    [The last sentence could be stronger! I’d rewrite to get rid of the “was the result” statement, and then show us a little bit more about his agonizing free-fall into withdrawal. Show us what he’s going through because most of us have never been there and don’t know what he’s feeling.]

    Stay in your room this morning, the nurse who brought his breakfast said. No activities. Dr. Vance will be in shortly.

    [Personally, I would cut this out because it doesn’t really add anything as is and work it in through action and dialogue to play it up.]

    With nothing to do but pace his room in this prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center, Jonah stopped and gazed out the window at the beautiful view it offered. Oh, how he longed to be out there with sunshine, fresh air, greenery, and not trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.

    [This could be stronger as well. Maybe something like:

    Jonah gazed out the window as he paced his room in the prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center. Every part of him wanted to be out there, reveling in the sunshine and fresh air, instead of trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.]

    Until today.

    [I get where you’re going with this sentence and the tidbit about the nurse, but it’s not really working. If you really want to show that he’s stuck in the room, do it with dialogue when Dr. Vance comes in. Have Jonah say something like “You’ve kept me locked in this room all day. How do you think I’m doing?”]

    As for the rest of the 250, I like where it’s going, but I would recommend focusing on showing more than telling. You tell us he’s nauseated. You tell us someone knocks on the door. You tell us what Dr. Vance looks like. You tell us it’s the same greeting every day. Show it to us instead and this will be so much more powerful an opening!

    Best of luck!

    1. Hi Ayden and thank you for the feedback! Queries…argh. I take a teensy bit of comfort in the fact that a year ago I didn’t even know what a query was…I’m still trying to perfect the craft of query letters and will for some time to come, I’m sure 🙂

      I am mulling one thing over: if I were to revise this novel into Jonah’s POV only (whether I go 1st person or 3rd), I’d probably want to revise the query into Jonah only, though introducing Andi and her child and her ex, just not in Andi’s POV. Right?

      I guess I didn’t realize how much telling I’m doing. I’ll have to work on that as well :/ that’s another challenge!

      I’ll be posting revisions below.

      Thanks again!!!

  5. This is off to a good start and you’ve done a nice job of describing the protags. Focus on the true conflict and the ending quagmire. Like the phrasing and plot. I added some thoughts and musings – they may help- or not. Best of luck.

    After a car crash claims the lives of his wife and child, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into the hell of heroin addiction. (like that phrasing) To avoid publicity during rehab, he slips into his most ambitious role to date, (becoming – needed?) John Walker — a bearded, long-haired, reclusive auto mechanic. Under the guise of Walker, Jonah checks himself into a sobriety house in upstate Minnesota, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his tragic past hidden.
    Divorced from her abusive, controlling husband, Andi Sawyer’s first priority is to provide a stable home for Charli, her musically gifted, special-needs daughter. (I like the potential connection with music – nice touch) Reluctant to engage with any man after her disastrous marriage, an unexpected friendship blossoms with John Walker, the new arrival at the men’s sobriety house next door. Andi can’t fight the feeling that she’s met him before and the dejavu drives Andi to put her artistic skills to work(what does that means? Is she a painter or a sculptor? She soon realizes that John may not be the man she thought she knew. (why not? Need to understand the connection with her art here?)
    As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker envisions a future for the three of them as a family. But Andi’s dangerously obsessed ex-husband arrives in town ready to reclaim what’s his. Jonah must reconcile his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he will lose everything he’s come to cherish—Andi, Charli—and his second chance at life.
    So, I like the sound of the last line but I’m not sure why john/jonah has to reconcile his past at this juncture. I think a little more detail in the middle may help flesh a bit of this out more.

    I’ll come by later for the First 250.

    All thoughts/suggestions/opinions are humbly offered. Thanks for sharing your words.

    1. Hi Elsie!

      Wow, thanks so much for the thoughtful and detailed feedback. I really connected with a lot of what you had to say, and am formulating revisions now of both the query and the 250, and I’ll post them below, hopefully later today!

      As I replied above, I’m considering a revision to only Jonah’s POV. I’ve been struggling for some time with Andi and her ex. I can’t get into her the way I can get into Jonah. His voice shines almost naturally, whereas I have to really work at it to get Andi beyond a “cardboard cutout”, and get to a deep 3rd place with her … and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reworked the story of the antagonist. It’s so frustrating, especially since Jonah (and a couple of other supporting characters not introduced yet) came so effortlessly in comparison.

      I believe the query will read so much better if I write it about Jonah and not flip-flop to Andi and where her mind went. I see a universal question in feedback about how she used her artistic skill to realize John isn’t who she thought he was. So that’s obviously going to go 🙂

      Thank you again!

  6. Your 250

    FIRST 250 Words
    God, do I need a hit. One little hit. Just one. (this says so much!!)
    Jonah Wilder tried to silence the thought as soon as it appeared. But they changed the daily routine he’d come to depend on. The free-fall into agonizing withdrawal had begun.
    Stay in your room this morning, the nurse who brought his breakfast said. No activities. Dr. Vance will be in shortly.
    With nothing to do but pace his room in this prison that masqueraded as a chemical dependency treatment center,(this voice here conveys tons! Love it) Jonah stopped and gazed out the window. (I’d keep it clean without adjectives since he’s on edge. It’s hard to see a beautiful view if you need a hit – IMHO) God, he longed to be out there. The sunshine, fresh air, greenery. But he was trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become.
    Until today.
    One hit. Just —
    His emaciated body twitched and a wave of nausea gripped him. Jonah moved away from the window as a soft knock rapped on the door and the man of the hour stepped into his room.
    Dr. Vance was a bespectacled, thin, gray-haired man with a New England accent, an enormous beak of a nose and kindly brown eyes. (So many descriptions right there…) “Hello, Jonah,” Dr. Vance said, closing the door. “How are you today?”
    Every morning (he used) the same greeting, as if he expected a different response than what Jonah always provided, whether it was true or not.
    “I’m okay.” But this time he added, “What the hell is going on?”

    I love the voice used here and feel like you capture the scene well. I tinkered a bit and you may find the tinkerings helpful or not – 🙂 this is off to a great start.

    All suggestions/opinions/thoughts are humbly offered. Thanks for sharing your words!

  7. Elsie, your suggestions here were really helpful. I can’t wait to dig in and start applying the changes you and everyone has suggested. I’ll toy around with a few things and post them, hopefully later today!

  8. Okay, here’s the first attempt at a revised, Jonah-only POV query:

    After losing his wife and child in a car accident, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into heroin addiction. After a near-fatal overdose, Jonah lands in rehab, but finds no help in the facility’s one-size-fits-all program. He needs something more. Something different. Something far away from the glittering lights of Hollywood and the fishbowl of fame.

    Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date. He becomes John Walker, a bearded, long-haired, and reclusive auto mechanic. In the guise of Walker, Jonah flees Hollywood for the tranquility of Northern Minnesota, where he checks into Pine Serenity House. There, he begins a year-long Methadone program, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his identity hidden.

    When “John’s” mentor brings an ancient, broken-down truck to the group home, the first sparks of passion kindle in Jonah’s wounded soul. Putting his pre-fame skills as a mechanic to work, Jonah begins restoring the battered heap to its former glory. But every day he lives as John Walker, a little bit of Jonah Wilder fades away, leaving Jonah asking himself which of the two is the real man inside of him.

    That question roars to the forefront as an unlikely friendship develops, and then deepens with Andi Sawyer, the divorcee living next door to Pine Serenity House with her musically gifted, special needs daughter. As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker can see his future with Andi. But Jonah Wilder can only see his tragic past.

    But the realities of who they are and where they come from boil over when Andi’s ex-husband arrives in Pine Valley. Jonah must come to terms with his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he risks losing everything he’s come to cherish — Andi, her little girl — and his second chance at life.

    1. This has lovely detail, but it’s too long for the meat of a query, and you don’t need all of this in a query (it’s good character development for the pages). You really only need something like this:

      1. After losing his wife and child in a car accident, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into heroin addiction. After a near-fatal overdose, Jonah lands in rehab, but finds no help in the facility’s one-size-fits-all program. He needs something more. Something different. Something far away from the glittering lights of Hollywood and the fishbowl of fame.
      Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date. He becomes John Walker, a bearded, long-haired, and reclusive auto mechanic. In the guise of Walker, Jonah flees Hollywood for the tranquility of Northern Minnesota, where he checks into Pine Serenity House. There, he begins a year-long Methadone program, determined to keep everyone at arm’s length and his identity hidden.
      He develops a friendship with Andi Sawyer, the divorcee living next door with her musically gifted, special needs daughter. As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker can see his future with Andi…but he can’t forget Jonah Wilder’s tragic past.
      When Andi’s ex-husband arrives in Pine Valley, Jonah must come to terms with his past and accept the better man he’s become, or risk losing everything he’s come to cherish — Andi, her little girl — and his second chance at life.

  9. Here’s a reworked 250:

    God, I need a hit. One little hit. Just one.

    Jonah Wilder tried to silence the thought as soon as it appeared. But the free-fall into agonizing withdrawal had begun the instant his daily routine was abruptly changed.

    Stay in your room today, the nurse who brought his breakfast instructed. Dr. Vance’s orders. He’ll be here to see you shortly.

    Jonah paced around his room in this prison that masqueraded as a posh, private treatment center for the wealthy and famous. He paced until dizziness forced him into a chair. Then he gazed blankly out the window. God, how he longed to be out there. Sunshine, fresh air, and freedom. Instead, he was trapped in the same shit, different day, meaningless lump of inertia his life had become — until today.

    One hit. Just —

    Jonah’s emaciated body twitched and the room swam as he rode a wave of nausea. His teeth slammed together as he fought the sour taste of breakfast threatening to make a return trip. A moment later, it subsided. He’d won the battle … for now.

    There was a soft knock on the door, and then the man of the hour stepped into his room.

    Dr. Vance was a bespectacled, thin, gray-haired man with a New England accent, an enormous beak of a nose and kindly brown eyes. “Hello, Jonah,” he said, closing the door. “How are you today?”

    “I’ve been ordered to stay in my room, no reason given. How do you think I am?” Jonah snapped.

  10. You did a great job with his POV. Beautifully written but could be tightened. And the truck passage is gorgeous… but… I agree… it could go.

    Love the new 250. Changes are strong. (Question the need of the word blankly. 🙂

    Nice work!

    1. Not too bad after a long shift at work and no sleep in about 20 hours 😉

      The truck thing is something that I wanted to include because his mentor bringing it to Pine Serenity House & Jonah throwing himself into restoring it is a big part of the story. I’d really like to manage somehow to keep it, though maybe pared down; I agree the query is a tad overlong and detailed (I threw it together in about 20 minutes, then spent another 20 trying to keep it from going overboard…I guess I didn’t though). Any suggestions on how to retain a little of that piece without bulking the query so much?

  11. The query is long, but if that truck is important and is the detail needed, find a way to keep it! Maybe mention it in a way that will add a memorable punch…all a man needs to recover is a broken down truck. Or…something about a broken down truck can be it’s own form of treatment. Something that will make us want to know what it means. That’s all a query is…something that makes us want to read the story, where the beat up truck really shines.

    I like your new 250! Super great!

    1. I think it’s important, but that doesn’t mean it is LOL…meaning, I probably don’t have to have it in there, but I’d love to if I can. I used one of your suggestions about the truck restoration being a form of therapy (because it truly is in the story…it sort of saved his life).

      Thanks again Kathy and I’m glad you like the 250! I’m pretty happy with it too 🙂

  12. Tweaked Query (I knocked about 50 words out of it). I’m not 100% happy with the segue between paragraph 3 and 4 & throwing it out there for suggestions how to make that smoother.

    After losing his wife and child in a car accident, world-renowned actor and musician Jonah Wilder spirals into heroin addiction. After a near-fatal overdose, Jonah lands in rehab, but finds no help in the facility’s one-size-fits-all program. He needs something more. Something different. Something far away from the glittering lights of Hollywood and the fishbowl of fame.

    Jonah slips into his most ambitious role to date. He becomes John Walker, a bearded, long-haired, and reclusive auto mechanic. In the guise of Walker, Jonah flees Hollywood for the tranquility of Northern Minnesota, where he checks into Pine Serenity House. There, he begins a year-long Methadone program, determined to keep to himself and his identity hidden.

    An old broken-down truck ignites passion in Jonah’s wounded soul. Restoring it becomes a powerful form of therapy. But every day he lives as John Walker, a piece of Jonah Wilder fades away, and he struggles to know which of the two men he truly is.

    He develops a friendship with Andi Sawyer, the divorcee next door, and her musically gifted, special needs daughter. As his walls crumble and love opens the door to dreams of a new life, John Walker can see his future. But Jonah Wilder can only see his tragic past.

    Then, the realities of who they are and where they come from boil over when Andi’s ex-husband arrives in Pine Valley. Jonah must come to terms with his past and accept the better man he’s become, or he risks losing everything he’s come to cherish — Andi, her little girl — and his second chance at life.

  13. I love your final query. I can tell this will tug at the heart strings. Please do the world a favor and get a deal for this! Wonderful work!

    1. Squee!!! Thanks so much! I’ve got more work to do (as you probably can tell from the thread above!) but I absolutely will get this book baby of mine out into the world one way or another 🙂 You’ll be among the first to know when it happens!

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