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TrixieBelden
09-22-2005, 12:50 AM
Woman Condemned

Conversations From Death Row

Kelly Sons



Overview

A female killer is a rare beast. A curious monster who never fails to confuse and enrage us. When these cases emerge the media frenzy is instantaneous and long lasting . People are compelled to find out why. Popular culture teaches that females are soft and gentle nurturers. How could a woman commit such a horrific crime?

Upon hearing of the Aileen Wournous' of the world, intrigued readers are forced to glean knowledge from tabloid-like interviews or dry, clinical explanations of their troubled psyches.

Until now.

The crimes that put each woman on death row are only half of the story. Based on meticulous case research and long-standing, uniquely personal relationships with the inmates themselves, Woman Condemned: Conversations From Death Row presents the whole story from every angle, including intimate, revealing conversations with the convicts and in-depth interviews with witnesses and the families of their victims.

Being the crime reporter for my city newspaper I have ridden along on many police runs and sat in on numerous closed court proceedings and investigations .

I have witnessed so many women well on their way down this same path. I hear in their testimony the same death march as the women condemned.

I have hundreds of their letters. I have collected their poems, photos and dreams. I have accepted countless collect calls. I have visited many on death row and plan to see more. Some of these women consider me their closest and sometimes only friend and yet others can be vicious and taunting.

I enable them to circulate a newsletter across the country among themselves. I am well known in their circles and considered one of them.

Each letter, each phone call, each request for help and suggestion to go to hell has granted me a view inside the minds of these women that no one else is privy to.

I envision Woman Condemned: Conversations From Death Row as 300 pages and approximately 10 to 15 pages of photos.

TashaGoddard
09-24-2005, 07:17 PM
I don't think it sucks, no. Sounds interesting.

A few points I would look at:

Do another proofread for punctuation. There are few places where a space could be taken out or a comma inserted, etc. Nothing major, but a query letter (I'm assuming that this is the basis for a query letter?) needs to be completely free of punctuation errors.

You should put the title of your newspaper in there, so that the agent/editor can verify your claim. (Though perhaps you just left that out here for security purposes?)

I would concentrate more on what is going to go in the book, rather than having too many 'I statements' about where the information has come from. Perhaps condense those 'I statements' into one paragraph about the research.

Rather than stating number of pages, state the number of words and number of photos (not number of pages of photos) as it would be down to the publisher to decide the format of the book.

You should probably also state whether or not you have a complete manuscript and offer to send a synopsis (and get one written up ready).

If you have any other writing credits other than for your newspaper, you should make sure you mention them, too.

Good luck!

christa
09-25-2005, 02:40 PM
I don't usually jump aboard on query discussion threads, there are so many experts on these boards with really good advice and experience. (Such as Tasha's already come in.)

I couldn't help myself this time though, only because this definitely doesn't suck!

I do think your query could use a little polishing though. As an editor I can tell you that there is a danger of losing me before you hardly even begin. I think your letter becomes much stronger as you move deeper into its body. I would recommend omitting much of the first paragraph. It left me a bit confused--which actually did force me to read on, but I don't think that's what you want editors to come away with. Also, are female killers really quite rare? It is my understanding the prisons are full of them--I'm not saying their ratio against men isn't much less--but still not "rare" maybe...
That word also forces a contradiction when later on you state you have "hundreds" of letters.
I'm not sure what the right word might be--I think maybe what I'm sensing from you is your second paragraph's word "intrequing": (Then use a different word in paragraph two.)
"A female killer is an intriguing beast...."
"A female killer is a mysterious beast...."

I think you might have some really decent material and it's apparent you have the ability to write, but I do think you need to tighten, tighten, tighten up. Way too many extra words especially the "I have's".

Good luck!

A female killer is a mystifying beast. She is a curious monster who both fascinates and infuriates--perfect for drawing in sensational media frenzy.

Perplexed readers are forced to glean knowledge from tabloid-like interviews or dry, clinical explanations of the troubled psyche of a woman murderer.

Until now.

TrixieBelden
09-25-2005, 10:28 PM
Wow, thanks so much you guys. That is exactly what I was looking for. I need all the help I can get before I gather up enough nerve to send this to someone.

Susie
09-25-2005, 10:40 PM
Hi, Ruralwriter, I think this was really well-done and kept my interest throughout. I was just wondering if the title shouldn't be Women Condemned, since it's about many women? I think what the others have stated are very good points. Much good luck and hope it becomes a bestseller!

TrixieBelden
09-28-2005, 09:00 PM
Is this any better or still to much in the "I" statements?

Woman Condemned
Conversations From Death Row

Kelly Sons


Overview
A female killer is a mystifying beast. She is a curious monster who both fascinates and infuriates--perfect for drawing in sensational media frenzy.
Perplexed readers are forced to glean knowledge from tabloid-like interviews or dry, clinical explanations of the troubled psyche of a woman murderer.

Until now.

The crimes that put each woman on death row are only half of the story.Based on meticulous case research and long-standing, uniquely personal relationships with the inmates themselves, Women Condemned: Conversations From Death Row presents the whole story from every angle, including intimate, revealing conversations with the convicts and in-depth interviews with witnesses, law enforcement and the families of victims.

Being the crime reporter for my city newspaper I have ridden along on many police runs and sat in on numerous closed court proceedings and investigations.
I have witnessed so many women well on their way down this same path and hear in their testimony the same death march as the women condemned.

I have hundreds of their letters, poems and photos, have accepted countless collect calls and enable them to circulate a newsletter across the country among themselves. After many visits to death row some of these women consider me their closest and sometimes only friend and yet others can be vicious and taunting.
Each letter, each phone call, each request for help and suggestion to go to hell has granted me a view inside the minds of these women that no one else is privy to.

I envision Woman Condemned: Conversations From Death Row as 65,000 words with approximately 25 to 30 photos. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular woman and consists of two sections; one focusing on case research and the other on the letters from that woman.

AdamMac
09-30-2005, 08:18 AM
Greetings from a fellow journalist and former crime reporter.

This is missing a small sample of the content, which sounds like it could be wonderful. You don't mention any of the women, their crimes, regrets, daily lives, etc. I'm sure that would come in the sample chapters but I think you should get that across in at least a couple of paragraphs here. Depending on your material, I think you should even lead with it and scrap the ``curious monster'' graph.

``Mrs Peacock once thought the worst sound she ever heard was the dull thump as she bludgeoned Col. Mustard with a candlestick . But far more ominous, the 105-pound librarian knows now, is the hum of electricity from the bare bulb in her cell on death row.''

I have hundreds of letters and unprecedented access to women on death row and am writing a book on their intimate thoughts and dreams and the anguish and hopes of the families of those they have killed ...

Well, you get the idea.

I think the query letter could sizzle more than it does. Hope that helps. I'd be very interested in seeing bits of the material. Thanks

Adam

September skies
09-30-2005, 09:03 AM
Hi ruralwriter.
I agree with the others on the opening. But definitely does not suck. Though I had to read on, I found it to be a very interesting subject. I agree with Adam, I'd love to see a bit of the content in there.
Polish it up and you'll have a winning query.
September

TrixieBelden
09-30-2005, 03:33 PM
Adam~ Food for thought to be sure and you made me laugh which Ive found hard to do after looking at this proposal day after day now. This may be what I need.
What do I owe ya? :)

Thanks September, I appreciate the input.

AdamMac
10-01-2005, 09:41 AM
No prob ruralwriter. As payment, maybe you can let me beat you at a game of Clue if we're ever in the same city (or rural area).

You've got an interesting topic and, by the looks of it, you're in a better position than pretty much anyone to write it. Sounds like you're gonna get many requests for sample chapters, etc.

AdamMac
10-11-2005, 06:59 AM
Hi Ruralwriter. I just read your thread from further down about the editor's lukewarm reaction to your idea.

A more fiery query may overcome that but how about sharpening your idea?

A book about ``Mommies on Death Row'' or ``Jilted Girlfriends on Death Row'' might well be unique. I'm just throwing ideas out there and have no clue as to whether they would work, or are possible. I don't even know whether moms can be sentenced to death in the US. But I would read a book of that sort.

Any of that useful?
Adam

TrixieBelden
10-14-2005, 10:27 PM
Adam, you area wealth of information, my freind. I suspect you are john Grishom or Stephen King secretly haunting our forums incognito!
I have considered going with a format like the women and thier own daughter or the women and their female victims families. Women on death row are alomst all mothers and everysingle on has a man involved in the crime. The male usually received much less of a sentence. Go figure.
I am reticent to change because every reply Ive gotten has said Im on a very interesting track but its the marketing issue that causes me problems.
Other similiar books just havent sold well but mine is already different the others because I am much closer to these gals than the other authors. I help them circulate a newsletter among themselves. They send me thier columns and I put them together, print them and mail them. And that is amon other things. Im really determined to get this printed because Ive been told by to many editors and agents that its a wonderful idea but I cant seem to make it wonderful enough.
Sigh...
PLEASE keep these ides coming...