The Pitch

I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the Sue Allen story in that succinct, pithy way that gets other people to want to read it. I’m really struggling. Janet Reid has a simple set of things over at her blog:

If you’re having trouble with this part of the query letter, step back a moment. Write this sentence down: My book is about (write down what book is about) 

Then write: My main character’s name is:

Then write:  s/he must: (followed by a verb) 

Then write: My antagonist is: name.  S/he wants to thwart (main character’s name) goal by: verb.

My book is about Nashville’s greatest unsung medium and her strange family and a Thing and the Civil War and history in general and a cave and time-travel.

My main character’s name is Sue Allen.

She must first, thwart the guy who wants to marry her, and then protect herself and her family from his vengeance.

My antagonist’s name is Lee Overton.

He wants to thwart Sue’s goal by either marrying her or destroying her.

See, the story at the center of my book–boy meets girl, boy kills wife to be with girl, boy talks girl’s step-dad into marrying her off to him, girl takes drastic measures to ensure that doesn’t happen and then drastic steps to thwart his revenge–is the skeleton of the book. And the Spiritualism and The Thing and the Civil War and the history in general and the cave and the time-travel are all the heart of the book. I’m kind of struggling with how to marry those things in a succinct way.

I think the short, elevator pitch is something like “two occultists fight over the future of a post-Civil War Nashville.” I think that’s good.

I wonder if I could go something like

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Lee Overton is sending letters to his wife’s cousin, the widow Sue Perkins Hayes, instructing her in the ways of communicating with and controlling ghosts. When she succeeds beyond his wildest dreams and conjures up a demonic Thing, he realizes that with her, he would be the most powerful Spiritualist in Nashville. The only problem? Mrs. Hayes has no intention of replacing the conveniently recently-deceased Mrs. Overton.

Sue manages to banish Lee one-hundred and fifty years in the future–where he becomes Middle Tennessee’s best Civil War reenactor–but like a bad penny, he’s just turned back up looking to get even.

Ugh, that’s not quite right. But something. I guess my question is whether that sounds good.

I Suck at Old French People Blogging

Holy shit, WordPress just totally ate my post on Old French People blogging, as if it never existed. Can’t even find it in drafts. Never had that happen before.

But my main point was that I went up to see Blue Spring Creek, where Joseph Duraque died and I was delighted to see that there are all manner of Binkley roads out there–Red Binkley road, Elizabeth Binkley road, etc. Joseph’s grand daughter, Martha (Tim’s daughter) married Asa Binkley. And the name lives on.


We hadn’t had rain here for something like eighteen days, many of which were spent above a hundred degrees. As I said to someone on Saturday, my gardening strategy had changed from “aesthetics” to “survival.”

We’ve finally had some good rain here, in the evenings, these past three days. It comes in behind a wave of loud thunder (which can still send Mrs. W. to sleep in my dirty laundry) and then just breaks out in these huge, fat drops. With the ground so dry, it’s easy to imagine that each enormous drop must send up its own dust cloud. I didn’t look that close, of course.

But here’s the thing I wanted to share. Even with three days of rain, when Mrs. W. and I walked this morning, I could literally feel how it was barely putting a dent in the drought. It’s really only the top half, maybe three-quarters, of an inch of dirt that is actually soft and springy and, you know, dirt-like. Beneath that, it’s still like concrete.