Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Winning Query #2 - Point Blank

Today's winning query comes from Nancy O'Berry.  Point Blank is currently being peddled to publishers in New York (NB: I'm sure you'll join me in wishing Nancy all the best of luck in that process).  You can find out more about Nancy and Point Blank at her website, or tweet her

Nancy knew her book was 'niche' market and approached her query appropriately.  Here's her explanation:

"...Its probably not your standard letter, but because my work is set in the American west and considered a hard sell I felt I had to really sell the emotion of the Texas Rangers...I used the query letter in the Writers Market as a guideline. However I threw out many suggestions and really wrote from the heart keeping the story outline more like a blurb. After the signature, I did include what I planned on writing for the next four books. I wanted them to know I wasn't a flash in the pan."


Our American heritage is filled with amazing people, none that captures the imagination more than the men of the Texas Rangers. They helped tame a lawless frontier and went from mortality to mythology when they pinned that silver and gold badge upon their chest. The Texas Ranger website states it so passionately; a ranger is law officer who can “…handle any given situation without instructions from his commanding officer or a higher authority…”. So it is that my hero, Tyrone Calhoun Dixon is bound by honor and the brotherhood under the star, all for the glory of Texas .

In POINT BLANK, Captain Tyrone Dixon, a Texas Ranger, is on the trail of Frank Prentiss, a small time crook working for a gambler named Yellow Jack Anderson. Prentiss is the prime suspect in the killing of Judge Ambrose Lambert from Balscome, and the theft of signed land deeds. Tyrone trails Frank to Cold Creek, where in the middle of a downpour, he finds Lily Prentiss, Frank’s wife, bathing his body for burial. Keeping his identity a secret, Tyrone agrees to help Lily get the ranch back on its feet. A Ranger wouldn’t leave a widow stranded besides, she is his only lead at this point.

However, problems arise when Tyrone’s heart takes over control of his actions. When he falls from her roof and nearly lands in her arms, Ty finds his badge is not enough of a shield for his heart. Slowly, as much as he wants to resist, Tyrone Dixon is falling in love with the Widow Prentiss. Slipping into town, hoping to put some distance between himself and Lily, Tyrone finds some well-crafted forged deeds in Yellow Jack’s desk drawer. He begins to put the crumbs together and realizes that Frank was only the front man for Yellow Jack’s schemes. Now he has to catch Anderson before Tyrone finds Lily or himself in the crosshairs of Yellow Jack’s deadly aim.

POINT BLANK is a western romance set in the 1870’s, in mythical Cold Creek , Texas . It weaves the tale of love, double cross, and redemption as big as the state itself. POINT BLANK is 88,061 words and 429 pages in length. While it is a stand-alone work, I envision doing at least three other tales involving Tyrone’s fellow Rangers, Sergeant Joaquin Balboa de Montanna, Private Lance Reese and Major Joshua Reynolds.

I am a member of RWA, Hearts through History, Chesapeake Romance Writers. As you can see, I am still just beginning my career in writing.

I plan on writing until the stories stop flowing. When this series is complete, I’d like to work on other Americana stories staying within the years 1800 to 1890, perhaps, working on an American Regency set in San Francisco , but my first priority is to complete these four novels.

I am enclosing a full manuscript as per your instructions on your submission page. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance for taking your time to read this letter and my manuscript.

Kindest regards,

Nancy O'Berry
QUESTION:  Do you have a story that needs a unique approach?  How will you target your query letter to give your story the best chance possible? 


  1. Thanks for posting these Aimee, and thanks to the authors as well. These motivated me to work on the intro to my book proposal. I had skipped beyond and written much of the rest of the proposal, but getting started eluded me.

    These were a big help. Thanks.

    I will be back to share mine just as soon as it works.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Tammi! Glad you found some help.

  3. Hi Aimee,
    Thanks for posting my query. One thing to note, sometimes its not enough just to write what the books is about. Like your manuscript,choose your words with care to sell the story to your prospective agent. Let him or her see your passion beneath the words. They have to WANT to see your story. They have to feel the need to ask for it. They want to understand your obsession. Be as passionate to include your concept. The first query showed that. I didn't. I'm the first to admit it might not have been the best, but my agent was curious enough to ask for a full and a tweak before she signed me. But I am very satisfied with our partnership. It is a good fit.