The Importance of the Query

Posted in Romance on March 14th, 2006 by Cynthia Eden

Yesterday’s post on Romancingtheblog was about synopsis how-to. There were several helpful links on synopsis writing, and a good discussion ensued.

However, in my nice, humble little opinion, I think that–in terms of catching an editor’s attention–you need a really strong query–and then you need to follow that query up with a powerful synopsis.

So…I’m going to talk about queries today. I really like writing queries–I have a simple formula that I use and my formula has worked pretty well for me so far. Here are my query steps:

  1. Begin with a nice greeting (Dear whoever).
  2. Go into the story hook. At this point, I usually insert about 2-3 paragraphs of strong, descriptive story material–kind of like what you’d see on the back cover jacket of a book.
  3. It’s the wind-up! I write a one paragraph summary stating the technical facts of the manuscript. For example: Shane and Mckenna’s (ficitional characters) story is told in my 90,000 word manuscript, Stolen Hearts. Stolen Hearts is a fast-paced paranormal tale of love, adventure, and danger. It is targeted for the Sega Genesis line (yeah, um, here you’d fill in whatever line you’re targeting).
  4. All about me! In this paragraph, I summarize my writing credentials–you know, publishing credits, membership affiliations, etc. I don’t put in personal info here–I try to be as professional as possible.
  5. Thank you very much! I end with a nice thank you–I mean, come on, the editor has just gone through all the trouble of reading my query. She deserves a thank you–even is she thought my query sucked.

So, that’s it. My Five Simple Steps for a Query. And, just so you can see my query steps in action, here’s the actual query I sent to my Red Sage editor for Bite of the Wolf:

(Note: I’m just writing Dear Editor for my greeting b/c I want to protect my editor’s privacy–but if this letter were really going to someone, I’d darn well have the actual editor’s name in place. Editors like to know you’ve researched the publishing house enough to know their names.)

Dear Editor,

Werewolves mate for life. And Gareth Morlet, alpha werewolf and leader of the strongest pack in the world, has finally found his mate. Gareth will not let anything stop him from claiming his woman–not the rogue wolf who is on her trial and certainly not his mate’s own fear.

Trinity Martin is a modern woman. She doesn’t believe in superstitions, magic, and certainly not werewolves! Or at least, she didn’t believe in them…until a werewolf abducted her. Now, the gorgeous wolf known as Gareth has told her that she’s his mate. And she doesn’t know if she should be terrified by that news…or thrilled.

With every moment that she spends with Gareth, Trinity’s self-control weakens. Her hunger for him soon knows no bounds. And as their passion grows, the evil stalking them grows closer and closer. Trinity knows that if she and Gareth are to defeat the monster hunting them, then she will have to accept the Bite of the Wolf.

Trinity and Gareth’s story is told in my novella, Bite of the Wolf. Bite of the Wolf is a sensuous paranormal story. It contains approximately 23,000 words.

Recently, I sold my novella, Never Enough, to your company. Also, I have sold two paranormal romances to ImaJinn Books. My first paranormal romance, The Vampire’s Kiss, is available now. (It was the 1st place winner in the 2003 San Francisco Heart to Heart competition.) The Vampire’s Kiss has received many great reviews, including a 5 star review from Coffee Time Romance, a 5 star review from eCataRomance, and a 5 star review from I am a current member of the Romance Writers of America, and I belong to the RWA special interest chapter–Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance Writers of America. Additionally, I have joined RWA’s Published Authors Network.

I have included a partial manuscript with this query. If you would like to view the complete manuscript for Bite of the Wolf, please contact me at

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Cynthia Eden

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Setting the Mood

Posted in Romance on March 13th, 2006 by Cynthia Eden

It’s supposed to storm down here in Mobile today. “Severe weather”–that’s what the friendly morning weather guy just said. And, frankly, I’m kind of looking forward to the rain, to the wind, and, yes, even the thunder. I write better when it rains. I don’t know why, I just do. I write faster, I focus easier, and I tend to even feel better about the pages I write.

Now, since I don’t typically go outside and do rain-dances to produce my optimal weather writing conditions, I have to try and set a writing mood in other ways. Usually, I do a few of the followings things to try and get in the right writing frame of mind:

1. Eliminate all distractions–ummm…this would mainly be the TV. Last night, I was trying to edit a submission that I want to send to TOR. My husband and baby were in the living room, and I wanted to stay with them–you know, I was trying to get some in-the-same-room family time while still getting some work done. So, while little Jack slept, Nick watched the premier of Sopranos, and I sat next to them both, trying to focus on my vampire story.

I kept getting distracted. I would edit a page or two, then catch myself looking up to see what Tony was doing. I’d edit a bit more, then glance up in time to see someone die. Edit more…glance up…see a splash of blood.

Oh, yeah…I definitely didn’t set the scene right last night. I did get my story edited, but it took a huge force of will (and I tend to have a weak, weak will). Anyway…next time, Sopranos will be off (or at least I’ll be in another room).

2. Play some soothing music. While the TV distracts me, the right music can completely focus me. Classical music works well for me. But so does the not-so-classical Buffy Once More With Feeling soundtrack. And, of course, there’s the Scorpion King CD. (Hmmm…can you say eclectic?) Sometimes, what I’m writing will actually predict the music I need. If I’m in an intense, emotional scene, give me classical music. If I’m doing a lot of action and suspense, give me a hard and fast beat.

3. Comfort. I have to find a comfortable seat to write. My cushy sofa. My leather desk chair (ooohh…how long has it been since I got to use that???). My recliner. Any place that’s comfortable will work for me.

Well, those are a few of my scene-setting necessitites. If I can get them…well, then mentally, I’m more primed to write. Anyone else have a good recipe for setting the “write” mood?

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Posted in Romance on March 9th, 2006 by Cynthia Eden

eHarlequin has posted the writing guidelines for the new Nocturne line! The editors are looking for strong, sensual paranormal tales with powerful alpha males and strong females.

Books by Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, and Sherrilyn Kenyon are listed as examples of what the editors want in terms of story lines.

Submissions (query, synopsis, first 3 chapters) should be sent to:

Tara Gavin
Silhouette Nocturne
233 Broadway, Suite 1001
New York, New York 10279

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Writing Space

Posted in Romance on March 9th, 2006 by Cynthia Eden

Where do you write? Do you have a perfectly arranged writing desk that sits in a cozy corner somewhere? Or is your desk currently hidden under about two feet of printed manuscript pages?

Me…well, I have a home office that I share with the hubby. Got a nice desk, several bookshelves full of reference material. Or at least, I had all that–there’s so much junk in my area now that I think mean little gnomes must have come and stolen my books and my once faithful desk! Now, I write on my laptop any place that I can–the couch, the kitchen table, the recliner. If the baby’s quiet, I grab my LT and write! Oh, but I do miss my desk…

Michele Hauf’s blog is currently featuring an assortment of writers’ desks. After looking at the desks, I’ll admit…I feel a lot better about myself. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who isn’t driven to keep that oh-so-perfect space.

One day soon (yeah, right? who am I kidding?), I plan to clean and reclaim my space. I plan to dust off my old Snoopy writing figurine, clean up my wizened dragon friends, and get back to an organized writing space. Yeah…I’ll do that…someday.

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The First Line

Posted in Romance on March 8th, 2006 by Cynthia Eden

The first line in a book is by far the most important sentence in the entire novel. The first line can instantly hook readers…or it can completely turn them off.

When I’m trying to come up with a new book concept, I always come up with the first line, then I work out the rest of my story. Cause if I can get a strong, powerful first line…well, then everything else falls into place for me.

Each October, Tina Wainscott hosts a “Best First Line‘” contest. I love this contest! I entered it a few years ago and came away with third place and an honorable mention. And I got a lovely autographed book from Tina for my effort. The reason I particularly enjoyed her contest was because I got a chance to just sit down and brainstorm ideas. One wonderful first sentence after the other.

In my idea file, I have tons of first sentences, and someday…I’ll write complete books to go along with them.

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