When Not Writing my Next in the Sterling Novels, I Blog to Amuse...

When Not Writing my Next in the Sterling Novels, I Blog to Amuse...

June 25, 2011

The Query that Worked

Folks, here's the query that got me moving forward, but, I warn you, it wasn't without numerous blisters atop my typing fingers; a number of new gray hairs, and plenty of middle fingers thrust forward at my laptop screen upon successive rejection emails:

Dear Mr/Mrs Agent

Finished with the danger inherent to clandestine missions, CIA Officer, Dr. Michael Sterling, is content with a career drafting policy.  While attending Middle East peace talks in Damascus, he is secreted a book of intelligence value by a Syrian agent.  Stolen from an esoteric organization, the book tells of their penetration into numerous governments, and of their plan to assassinate two high profile government and religious leaders.  During the peace talks, Hezbollah attacks killing all but Michael; hours later, the Ayatollah of Iran is assassinated and Michael is blamed.  Stalked by a rogue CIA team, his extradition demanded by Iran, and hunted by those responsible for the attack, Michael is forced back into covert action and disappears unable to trust anyone.  Learning that the real assassin’s next target is the Pope, whose death is designed to look like retaliation from a seething Iran, Michael relies on his expertise, skills, and network of resources to track down the assassin, clear his name, and avert an orchestrated war between East and West.

Michael tracks the assassin to the Vatican, but discovers a number of overlapping conspiracies along the way, including one where the CIA gave Iran the blueprint to build nuclear weapons.  Ultimately, Michael finds that the organization responsible for the attack has placed moles in the CIA, Hezbollah, and the Roman Church through political, financial, and subversive means.  Known as The Order, they used their mole in the CIA to gain control of Iran’s nuclear arsenal and Michael must work to stop them before they launch the missiles at the United States.  Believing that the Pope is the ultimate target, Michael soon realizes that the book he carries has the codes needed to fire the weapons – codes that only he can crack – and that it is he who is in their cross-hairs. 

Mr./Mrs. Agent, Iran has made it no secret that they desire to be a nuclear power, and their stance towards the US has grown increasingly hostile in recent years.  Unknown to most, the CIA botched an operation called “Merlin”[1]; it is believed that the failed mission gave to Iran the blueprint for a nuclear weapon.  The 158,000 words of my action-packed and topical thriller, THE HAND OF CHRIST, make the possibility of a nuclear confrontation between the two countries more plausible.  My novel will also take the reader on a blistering and scenic tour of Syria, the US, Rome, and the Vatican by using fascinating descriptions of art, architecture, military and commercial technology as rhetorical devices, which forcibly inject the reader into the scene.

A number of things have been instrumental in helping me to write this novel: my work in Military Intelligence as an Interrogator and Counter Intelligence Specialist, my unique experiences as a member of an elite unit of the 82nd Airborne, my current role with the firm that launches US Government payloads into space, and my insatiable affinity for art, architectural, and religious histories.

If you are interested in reading THE HAND OF CHRIST, the completed manuscript is available at your request; thank you for taking the time to read this far.

Well folks-that's it; it ain't fireworks, but it's close enough to the standard template-here's where it led me: http://amzn.com/B003PPDB2G


  1. Wow - that was a gripping query letter. I need to go back and rewrite mine!

    Congratulations on getting your book out there. I love the cover design.

  2. Can't tell you how many iterations that went through; I still think it's a bit long, but it fit the "one page" criteria. Also, the two biggest problems: 1) The length: that was a hard thing for agents to get past when they want 90-120k words-that's the financial side of the market; the biggest cost to publish is the paper. And, 2) The genre: many agents don't want to bring on an author that writes the same/similar genre as someone they already represent.

    Hope this helps.


  3. Great query! Glad you found me on Twitter:)

  4. Katie-thx for the comment; queries are a pain and I'm (fortunately) done with 'em. Never again will I put myself through the torture. I feel - I really do - for those in the process: it's nasty, frustrating, and often leads to late nights binging on something...