Q4U: What’s Your Book About?

Okay guys, work with me here. Close your eyes (AFTER you read this post). Imagine you’re at a writer’s conference, waiting for the elevator up to your hotel room. The agent of your dreams walks up and stands beside you. He/she smiles and says “Hi.” You manage to return a coherent “Hello” in response. “Enjoying the conference?” the agent asks. “Yes, it’s great!” you respond.

The elevator doors open and you both step in. The agent presses 15. You press 17 (even though your room is on the 5th floor).

Agent looks you squarely in the eye and asks, “So what are you writing?” You now have 15 floors to make an impression.

→ What will you say?

I’ll respond to these next week, so specify in the comments if you DON’T want to be publicly humiliated critiqued.

Update: I’m already noticing problems with people’s pitches sounding either too much like a written pitch (remember, this is a verbal pitch, you don’t want to sound stilted) or too vague. The agent doesn’t want to hear mostly about the theme of your book, i.e. “explores love and forgiveness, yada yada yada.” They primarily want to know the story, with perhaps a brief mention of theme. Keep working…

P.S. Good weekend reading: Time Magazine has an interesting article about the future of publishing. (Click here.)

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent who just might share an elevator with you one day.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. tinaraghul on March 17, 2009 at 9:37 PM

    >Hi Nice Blog.SoberRecovery & SoberRecovery Community Forums lists hundreds of drug rehabcenters, drug addiction treatment and alcoholism treatment resources in the U.S.

  2. christopher on January 27, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    >(Please keep this private)
    This elevator is a good metaphor for my book. Here we are both thinking that this is the acceptable and comfortable way to get where we are going. But one of us could very well be better served by taking the stairs. Anyway, my book is: “Not born that way: where did my homosexuality come from?” It’s my story of how I had to fight off everything around me telling me that I was okay – and born a certain way; and how I came to Christ with a great nudge by the Holy Spirit to learn that tolerance is not freedom. If it gets published it will be attacked but I have the life portfolio to support the story.

  3. Lindsay @ Not2Us.net on January 26, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    >”I’m writing about sex.” Smile Broadly “I wanted to write a book that would give women permission to enjoy sex without feeling ashamed or dirty. I also wanted to write a book that would help them talk to their husbands about what they wanted and needed. So…” shrugs “I wrote a book.” laughs “I wrote a story that will hopefully be an encouragement and inspiration to the average woman. It’s called Some Like It Spicy. I think it’s funny and freeing. I hope the readers do, too.”

  4. Craven on January 26, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    >Thank you, and I loved your speech at the conference.

    My book is set in the future, during a time after a genetic plague, when cloning is the only method for having children. Moyer Winfield, a meek computer programmer, would anything to get a baby for his wife. When a friend tells him Hogan-Perko, the corporation that has a monopoly on cloning, is sometimes willing to negotiate the price of a baby, Moyer meets with CEO, Victor Perko, and agrees to do a favor to pay him back.

    Perko’s enlists Moyer to spy on his enemies, a group known as Begat. As Perko’s demands escalate far beyond merely spying, Moyer feels helpless as his baby’s life is held in the balance. Ultimately, he must determine how far he will go. He must choose between his baby and murder, between crushing Begat or becoming part of it.

    Hey, this is your floor. Thanks for listening.

  5. casey on January 26, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    >Nice to meet you, Rachelle. I’m working on a Women’s Bible study called “From Fast Food to Fine Dining”. It uses food (which we all love) as a backdrop for different ways we experience prayer and worship. I hope to take women from a diet of fast food prayer – the 30 second petition – to opportunities for a gourmet, fancy meal. Maybe a prayer retreat or “Night of Praise”

  6. Adam Swedenburg on January 26, 2009 at 6:45 AM

    >Hello Rachelle, (Please disregard the first effort, I utilized your tips on this one)

    I saw that you accept memoirs written with a Christian world-view. I am currently working on mine entitled, Even Eyes Speak. After struggling through life and three combat tours, my love for God was bound by limits. It wasn’t until July 6th at 8:30 am, that I realized my past was just that, and His love for us is indescribable.

    Rachelle, for two divine hours, Jesus held me in the most marvelous place where colors were alive, eyes could speak, and hearts could hear. I didn’t understand why I was there, until it was too late. When I allowed the splendid beauty to blind my heart from hearing the cries from the eyes of God’s children, the day to be admired, rapidly vanished. After guilt and condemnation brought me to my knees and tried to destroy me, a man of valor and proven in battle, Jesus exploded in all His Glory to save me from myself! He’s so beautiful! His eyes were dancing like shafts of lightning as he spoke six simple words in my heart that changed me forever. Rachelle, you know God is Love, but I can guarantee you have never seen love like this!

    I know this may sound like a fiction book, but I can’t deny what happened. If you allow me to send a proposal and three sample chapters, I can promise you that you will be able to see the brightest day that we all long for, when you read Even Eyes Speak in its entirety.

  7. Carly Tuma on January 26, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    >My WIP is the story of Sunny, a political prisoner in the US after nuclear war has torn apart the government and forced the nation into martial law. She just wants to live a normal, quiet life, but because her parents have been convicted of treason for opposing the corrupt martial law, she’s under constant surveillance to ensure she’s not a threat.

    But when her best friend escapes the prison, only to come back later with a group of insurrectionists, she gets dragged into a plot to overthrow the martial law an put in power a governing body that’s less corrupt and has the nation’s best interests at heart.

    …Wow. That agent would be pressing the buttons for sooner floors like a madman by now. I really need to work on my pitches. And I understand that you don’t rep sci-fi, but I figured I could use this as an exercise even if you didn’t critique mine.

    Thanks for the great exercise!

  8. Julie Weathers on January 25, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    >@Anita Draper.


    My policy would be not to discuss my work anywhere except a pitch session etc, unless someone asks. In this case, Rachelle opened the gate. I can just imagine agents dread getting trapped with enthusiastic authors.


  9. Anita Mae Draper on January 25, 2009 at 10:43 PM

    >Okay, can I tell you what happened in the elevator at the ACFW conf last Sept? I had practiced my pitch but I’m not the type to pitch to just anybody. Then, a carload of us were on our way down and the doors opened around the 4th floor and a well-known agent walked in, turned around and stood facing the closed doors. He was right beside me. Silence descended.

    I thought it was hilarious. I watched the numbers and when we reached that point when the elevator has reached the floor but the doors haven’t opened yet, I turned to him, snapped my fingers and said in a loud voice, ‘Oh no! Elevator pitch.’

    The look on his face was priceless. Groans filled the car. The doors opened. He glanced at my name tag and then walked out shaking his head. Yes, I rec’d some ‘looks’ but that one event is branded into my brain. I loved it!

    As for my pitch, this is what it would have been if he had been my ‘dream agent’:

    I’ve written an Historical Romance set in 1875 Wyoming Territory. Dan’s father thinks he’s a coward so Dan goes west to prove his bravery by infiltrating an outlaw gang, secretly recording their activities and then turning the outlaws in for the glory. But, his plans go awry when the gang grabs an eyewitness. Now, Dan’s got to figure out how to keep the woman alive until he can safely return her to her family.

    Thanks Rachelle.

  10. Anonymous on January 25, 2009 at 7:01 PM

    >It’s a romance set in the early Byzantine Empire, about a Christian girl, married to the man her father chose, goes to live in a new land and discovers that she’s Wife Number Six – and Wives Number Two through Five are still living and still married to him. The story is how she escapes this polygamous slavery and returns to her home.

    Or it’s a science fiction novel where a middle-aged widow discovers an abandoned science experiment that controls the weather. As knowledge about this experiment expands, she runs for her life from her stepdaughter, the government and the surrounding nations ready to do whatever it takes to grab the technology.

    Which one would interest you?


  11. Achim Zahren on January 25, 2009 at 5:26 PM

    >”Wow! Hi Mrs. Gardner…is it OK if I call you Rachelle? Thanks… you probably hear this all the time but I’m a big fan. I read your blog almost every day. I’m the Orca, the big black and white whale thing…Yah, It has to do with a nickname one of my kids gave me before I lost the weight.
    Oh yah, I’m sorry…the pitch. Sure. It’s something I just finished, and I mean finished.How many revisions does a person have to do anyway?
    We’re half way to your floor? Oops sorry. OK..My story is about three teenage orphans who travel across the arctic in an old school bus ( well, that’s before the bus goes over a waterfall) and anyway they’re travelling with the last polar bear (his name is Wapi which means Fortunate One in Inuit)) and they have only a short time in which to to get to The Far North and save the world from global warming ( melting.) Yah, he’s just a regular bear. he doesn’t talk or wear armour or anything.
    No…it’s not really just a teen book. There’s lots of dialogue about cool stuff like native mythology, global warming, evolution…stuff like that and faith (lots of stuff about faith..I think you would like that.)
    The kids have this mysterious box that hasn’t been opened for thousands of years..Yah, It does contain the golden censor… So you did read my query letter!
    Cool…Yah…I’ve got the manuscript right here. Sure, contact info is inside. Thanks…You’re awesome.

  12. Yvonne on January 25, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    >110? this elevator is too crowded… I’ll wait for the next one, thank you.

    Dear Lord, give Rachelle the wisdom and clarity of mind to be able to do her job to the best of her ability. Thank you for her joy and patience that lets Your light shine through. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

  13. DeborahB on January 25, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    >Hey, I think you are great to do this at all!

  14. Rachelle on January 25, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    >FYI everyone, we have over 110 elevator pitches now. Awesome work! Please be aware I’ll only be able to critique a few of them on the blog. Everyone else will need to extrapolate and apply the lessons to their own pitches. Fair enough? Watch for three whole days of elevator pitch tutorials this week.

  15. DeborahB on January 25, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    >It’s a women’s fiction novel called “Reflections From the Hot Zone”. Say this elevator became stuck on floor 13 and the AC died and the doors wouldn’t open. My main character, Sylvia, feels like that. She’s going through menopause, feels like her life is almost over. But, she’s fiesty, and is desperate to find a way to cope. The story is her adventure through this stage, from the hilarious, to the poignant. She forms a club with some girlfriends. They even have a uniform, undies from Victoria’s Secret. Sylvia dallies with a few men, goes foxhunting. The club members get arrested in Las Vegas. The story involves men, horses, dogs, success, and failure. All the ups and downs of life, magnified by the power of hot flashes. I think readers will love Sylvia. I know I do. I want to be her!

  16. Jenn on January 25, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    >My book’s a lyrical fantasy about a fourteen-year-old good girl who doesn’t talk for three days. When no one’s noticed that she’s stopped talking, she freaks out and thinks that she’s disappearing. It turns out that she is.

    She was chosen as an infant to join a coven of wall-flower witches who operate in complete silence and obscurity. Eventually, the good girl is taught to rebel and make a break from her fate by her transvestite soul mate.

    I’m not lying. This is actually what I’m working on.

  17. Cheri Gregory on January 25, 2009 at 3:53 AM

    >P.S. Correction:

    Ideally, this would become a dialogue early on and last beyond the 15th floor. If not, I’d do a quick wrap at the 14th floor and be ready to say, “Have a wonderful evening!” by the 15th floor ding!

    (I got the floors mixed up in my original, leaving myself talking to the thin air for the last two floors. Of course, I’m used to talking with nobody listening, but that’s a different pitch . . . and I don’t dare write a snarky what-teachers-really-think-but-never-say-aloud book until after I retire!)

  18. Marla Taviano on January 25, 2009 at 12:30 AM

    >Oh my word. This is crazy. So many ideas. You asked for it… 🙂 Feel free to ignore mine.

  19. Randy Mortenson on January 24, 2009 at 11:10 PM

    >I thought the anonymous “hi” posts were from someone who really was that nervous, and that’s all they could get out. 🙂

  20. Anonymous on January 24, 2009 at 11:04 PM


  21. Joe Iriarte on January 24, 2009 at 9:59 PM

    >“Thanks for your time, and I’m sorry for hitting all the buttons between 6 and 15.”

    Okay, that made me laugh out loud. 😀

  22. Krista Phillips on January 24, 2009 at 9:56 PM

    >Wow! Tons of GREAT replies by everyone.

    Like many who have said before, after I stop stuttering and stammering and provided that I don’t faint dead on the spot (I’m kidding, it wouldn’t be that bad–I hope!)

    I’d say something like:

    “Well, I write Contemporary Romance, and my novel is about an introverted, shy accountant who meets a single dad in an Internet chat room. After she falls into ‘like’ with him, she senses she’s being followed, and becomes convinced he’s an Internet stalker. Her best friend convinces her to take a road trip to find out his true identity. Of course, this is a romance, so he isn’t really an Internet preditor as she fears, and they end up falling in love, but not before she’s attacked by the REAL stalker.”

    All that, btw, would be said on one really long breath at probably a speed triple faster than normal. (I talk fast, so when I’m nervous, well, let’s just say I get a lot of huh’s…)

    Working on that though *grin*

  23. Craven on January 24, 2009 at 9:43 PM

    >My book is set in the future, during a time after a genetic plague, when cloning is the only method for having children.

    Children are very expensive. Moyer Winfield feels his marraige slipping away. His wife, Robyn, is desperate to have a baby, and he would anything to make her happy, but they are still years away from saving enough money.

    One day, a friend tells them Hogan-Perko, the corporation who owns the cloning process and has a monopoly on baby production, is sometimes willing to negotiate the price of a baby. This negotiation places Moyer face to face with the man himself, Victor Perko, CEO of Hogan-Perko, and widely recognized as the most powerful man on Earth. Perko agrees to forgo most off the cost for a baby if Moyer will do him a favor.

    Over the nine months their baby is being cultivated, Perko’s demands escalate as he enlists Moyer to help destroy his enemies. Moyer must determine how far he will go to have a baby and save his marriage.

    Thanks for your time, and I’m sorry for hitting all the buttons between 6 and 15.

  24. Julie Weathers on January 24, 2009 at 8:47 PM

    >Forgive me for adding a second one. Please feel free to ignore, but I am curious about this story.

    It’s a historical based on true story about a devout preacher’s daughter who marries a hard-drinking, brawling Irish riverboat captain. They go on to build a sprawling cattle empire against a Civil War backdrop.

  25. Cheri Gregory on January 24, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    >It's awfully nice of you to ask!

    I’m writing a blog called “eBabies & iTeens and YouToo” that wrestles with questions about kids and technology.

    Since you have kids, I’ve been hoping you’d be willing to guest blog for me? (Your Tweet about your girls calling your cell when you’re out jogging with Reagan totally cracked me up!)

    We’re tackling issues that end up blind-siding a lot of parents:

    Like texting. When’s it okay? When’s it not? Say your 9-year-old’s friend is texting at your dinner table–because it’s okay at his house. What’s your plan for your house?

    Or, how to get kids to think before they hit “send”? (I had my students read the article about the social media trainer’s Tweet that offended FedEx. My seniors couldn’t see why one little sentence could be “such a big deal”!)

    Or something simple, like losing a purse. Whose “fault” would it be if your 11-year-old lost her purse with $500 worth of techno-gadgets inside? And what would be reasonable consequences? (Not to imply that your daughter actually has $500 worth of technology, of course! 😉

    I’m not taking sides — I’m not “fer” or “agin” Facebook, for example. But when I found out that my 13-year-old had a Facebook account for 2 years before I knew about it, I was against me, the adult, being that ignorant!

    So my blog (and, ultimately, book) is both a 411 and a 911 resource for parents playing catch-up with Generation M.


    Ideally, this would become a dialogue early on and last beyond the 17th floor. If not, I’d do a quick wrap at the 16th floor and be ready to say, “Have a wonderful evening!” by the 17th floor ding!

  26. Jeannie on January 24, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    >Well, my WIP is about a foster care social worker suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s trying to get her life back on her career path while coping with her mental disorder, but a severe flashback raises questions about her competency from a handsome attorney who has a client on her caseload. She’s also struggling with understanding why God would have allowed something so traumatic to happen to her in the first place.

    Hopefully the agent would be somewhat interested here…and I would go on to explain my qualifications in writing such a book (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) and how mental disorders affect 1 in 4 adults but are largely left untouched in Christian fiction.

    Please….any advice would be SO appreciated! I tried to write this like I would say it….what a GREAT post to get us thinking, as I definitely hope to have the opportunity to do this for REAL at ACFW.

  27. Alexandra on January 24, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    >I’m sweating and my knees are knocking together.

    *I’m going to blow it…*

    “Um, thanks so much for asking. It’s a historical fiction set in 1911, and it’s about 16-year-old Elizabeth Bronson, who has just finished school and is going to live with her great uncle, who is a mysterious old millionare who is hiding some secret past in his great mansion…”

    (The floors are ticking by, I’m about to pass out…my words are coming fast and faster)

    “Her biggest dream is to become an actress, but her uncle is totally against it. When she meets actor Donovan Murray, it seems that he’s the answer to her prayers and dreams.”

    (Tick, tick, tick…)

    “Uh, she comes to a crossroads of following her uncle’s commands or her heart. Maybe her uncle knows more than she thinks. And maybe Donovan isn’t all that he seems.”

    (One more floor to go…)

    “Anyway, uh, thanks so much for asking.”

    (Agent gets off the elevator, my knees buckle, and as they say in the books, everything goes black.)

  28. Susan on January 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    >“So what are you writing?”

    Well, I’m writing about our identity in Christ. God is called the “Great I am” and each chapter covers what I call a “little i am”. For example, i am … clay, salt, light, … a child, a runner, a bride, an ambassador, and so on. There are 31 chapters, each designed to be inspiring and empowering to the reader, but including a balanced perspective, for example, … i am just a vapor.

    If there appears to be interest, I might continue with:

    I know that the subject of identity is a crucial topic to be addressed, and there are no books out there that approach this issue the way mine does. I can even envision a companion music CD and future editions designed for teens or children.

    By the way, I must say that I am finding these fiction pitches fascinating, such great imagination!!

    And Rachelle, I so appreciate your blog. It has provided so much helpful info and insights. I look forward to each post, and have searched many of the older posts. Thank you!!

  29. carlaspathways on January 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    >It’s so nice to meet you in person! Love your blog, it’s very helpful.

    I’m polishing up Hope Springs Eternal. It’s a timeless tale of hope; one I believe that people can relate to today.

    It takes place in rural Maine in 1816, “the year there was no summer”. Winter conditions lasted most of the year which led to famine, illness, environmental concerns, economic crisis, dissension. It was a devastating time.

    In my story Rachel emigrated from regency England with her idealistic husband, a farmer. She finds herself alone when the weather claims both he and her infant. Micah, a hearty outdoors man, loses a wife he never even loved, in childbirth. Now only Rachel can keep the baby alive.

    Micah’s heart is cold, Rachel’s is frozen with fear. The two come together to survive. They discover a hope greater than themselves that will see them through – not only the tragedies of the long winter, but for the seasons to come.

    Here’s my my one-sheet so you can learn more about it.

  30. Basil Sands on January 24, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    >Anon, et al, all you have to do to stop these coming into your inbox is click the link at the bottom of the message that says:

    Unsubscribe to comments on this post.

    That’ll take you off the comment list.

  31. Rachelle on January 24, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    >Anon 11:33, When you commented originally, you may have checked the box that says something like “email me follow up comments.” I don’t know if there’s a way to stop it. Possibly if you delete all your comments from my blog? Good luck.
    P.S. Now you have a small idea of what MY email box looks like.

  32. Anonymous on January 24, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    >PLEASE EXCUSE my anonymous HI s. All the comments on this blog are coming to my email. Those HI s were tests. How can I stop this??? THANK YOU MUCH

  33. Jen and Kev on January 24, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    >My current book is actually “my secret life as a reluctant preacher’s wife” but I couldn’t name it that or the people we pastor might get offended, so I titled it “Custom Made Grace for Hope Starved Hearts.” It’s a humorous devotional with stories from my ditzy life, and encouragement for struggling Christians. I write a column in a newspaper with a readership of 5,000 and I speak at church and civic groups. I also… DING!
    What did you say your name was?

  34. Joe Iriarte on January 24, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    >My current project is about a boy named Chris who has spent so many years in hiding, living on the run with his fugitive father, that he’s actually learned how to virtually disappear. He’s not actually invisible; when he stands still in a crowded mall, people walk around him instead of crashing into him. But they don’t remember doing so, and they don’t react to him in any other way. Anyway, when his father and his father’s best friend, a sort of Fagin figure, realize he has this ability, they immediately start looking for ways to cash in on his ability, and use it in their scams. One scam they try is placing Chris with the Adamses, a wealthy couple looking to adopt, so that he can find out where they keep their valuables and how to disarm their security. While he’s there, though, Chris experiences something he never has before: love, and a real family. Scamming them hurts him to his core, and he stops cooperating with the two men, who become more and more abusive toward him. Chris starts looking for a way to break free of their control, and finally, after some disasters along the way, he manages to get free of the men and reunited with the Adamses, who forgive him for the part he played. The two crooks, meanwhile, get what they deserve and go to jail.

    Captcha: parti: (n) What I’m going to throw if an agent on an elevator asks me to pitch her.

  35. Anonymous on January 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM


  36. Philangelus on January 24, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    >Which floor are you going to? Me too. Hey, are you enjoying the conference? I enjoyed the fiction panel last night. I was the one who asked the question about Starbucks.

    So yeah, my novel is about a New York City woman who works as a car mechanic, dates multiple guys simultaneously, and can see her guardian angel. Oh, and she’s a compulsive liar. But only about what she does for a living. It’ll be my third novel.

  37. Jessica on January 24, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    >I get in the elevator. You push the button. You say your thing.
    I smile, but it probably looks more like a grimace.
    I say, “Hi Rach-ow!” I suck my tongue into my cheek and try to quench the blood.
    The elevator dings. You rush past me, clearly escaping.
    I faint.


  38. Anonymous on January 24, 2009 at 12:50 PM


  39. The Schroeder Family on January 24, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    >It’s about a girl who’s deluded herself for five years by believing her ‘toad’ was really a ‘prince charming’. Then when the real man of her dreams shows up, she has to decide if she’s strong enough to get rid of the wrong guy and start her future over again.

  40. Anonymous on January 24, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    >How sad is it that when I read the blog post I instantly realised I would never ever have had the brains to press 17 instead of 5. *cowers in shame*

  41. Cheri on January 24, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    >Hi, I’m Cheri. It’s nice to meet you.

    My work is a memoir. The prologue is a vivid account of the night our oldest son left home after we confronted him about using drugs. He was eighteen, and it crushed my husband and me. Our knee-jerk reaction was to vow that our other three kids would never betray us the way he had.

    I grew up with alcoholism, surrounded by all that implies, so that made the drug use doubly taboo to me. I didn’t want my kids to ever have to live with addiction. I came to Christ at 25, with this huge need to prove to Him that He’d not made a mistake when He saved me. I had many regrets about my own youth, and in a twisted sort of way, if my own children turned out well, it would be proof to myself and to God, I thought, that I was acceptable. This whole incident with our son threatened to unravel my (here I make little quote symbols with my fingers) plan.

    Jump ahead seven years to Chapter One and my discovery of our younger son’s drug use and the fact that he’d been introduced to the drugs by our oldest son. Obviously, the plan (again the little quote symbols with the fingers ~ can’t get through a speech without talking with my hands… sorry) to not let this happen again had failed.

    It was here I reached my breaking point. I had nothing left, no way to prove myself to God.

    The rest of the book gives the backstory and the details of what happened in the interim seven years, how we got from Point A to Point B.

    Once I stopped trying to fix everything, God and Teen Challenge ~ a faith-based drug rehab started by Dave Wilkerson in 1959 ~ took over, and God has brought complete restoration to our family, both sons.

    The book’s title is Worth Every Tear, and I hope it will minister to other hurting parents, to let them know that there is hope out there, and that God can get the job done.

  42. Chatty Kelly on January 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    >Thanks for asking! After leading a bible study for stay home moms for nearly 10 years now, I realize the need for a translation of the Bible that is less intimidating for women, something they can relate to. Since there are student versions of the Bible, The Message version and various others, I thought it was time for the “Modern Gal’s Bible Translation.”

    Here’s an example: Philippians 3:7 NIV says “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

    The Modern Gal’s translation will say “But what I used to call diamonds, I now realize are cubic zirconia in my platinum setting of Christ.”

    So, what do you think?

  43. Yvonne on January 24, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    >Rachelle, did you expect this many people meeting you in the elevator?

    I’ve been following this post and there are some interesting stories!

  44. Cathy Bryant on January 24, 2009 at 9:00 AM

    >My story is about a wealthy Dallas socialite who is homeless.

  45. Teri on January 24, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    >OHMYGOSH – I’m not talented enough to be a realwriter but this blog…I can’t get enough…I can hardly wait to see what everyone will write…what Rachelle will say. There’s no charge for awesomeness, apparently.

    I’m going to go figure out my pen-name so I can play.

  46. Sheryl on January 24, 2009 at 12:29 AM

    >My book is about a disillusioned young widow who inadvertently becomes the target of a jaded, 300 year old Genie who just wants to grant her wishes and get on with it.

    The problem is he can’t leave until he grants her three wishes and “I wish” are two words she refuses to say.

  47. Adam on January 24, 2009 at 12:14 AM

    >Even Eyes Speak

    8:30 am. With the blink of an eye, like a flash of time that didn’t exist, I stood in a place where colors were alive, eyes could speak and hearts could hear. Another blink of an eye and a flash of time that did exist, it was now 10:30 am . . . then I cried . . .

    An early Sunday morning in the heat torched lands of Djibouti Africa, Adam knew inside his life was about to change. Loving the Lord with a shattered heart, from 35 years of everyday life which defined the limits of his love, he never imagined what true love really is, until he stared Him face to face. Two hours of time, followed by six simple words, and one divine message is released in order to mend the hearts of God’s children in all Nations. Have you ever heard the Eyes of Jesus speak?

  48. roxtob on January 24, 2009 at 12:04 AM

    >Hi, Mrs. Gardner…It may not be just chance,meeting YOU at this elevator. People in high positions of responsibilty in two the world’s largest Christian organizations firmly believe in my nonfiction book regarding our nation’s future. One said it is THE book for America in the days we are facing. Another asked me to be on their TV program. I told him, “At the appropriate time.” He has called me for several years asking when my book would be published. Those facts are just the beginning of my pitch-there’s lots more. My book is at the point…where I’ll soon need to send out proposals. I have grown fond of your blog…and agree with so much of what you say; I think it is meant to be, meeting you like this. What do you think? My name is Jim. Would you like to look over my proposal?

  49. Rachel on January 23, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    >But…why would I pitch at a conference when I can just keep stalking you on twitter?


    “Oh, hi! You must be Rachelle Gardner, because you are SO BUFF, and I hear that chick works out every day…

    I’ve written a story about a messed-up little girl who grows up into a messed-up big girl because her mom is crazy. Well, acts crazy. Like a lot of us, she turns into a success-seeking-missile, and finds the answers and support she thinks she’s looking for among the academic elite in a Women’s Studies department at a major university. But a lot of things don’t add up for her. She’s in a loving marriage that is threatened by her reticence (okay, lies) about her past. Her childhood memories make for a cobbled-together personal history that should direct her rage and disappointment in a direction OTHER than her mom. Through the prayers of her Jesus-following aunt and “can’t-get-out-of-it” circumstances with work, she ends up in her old home town and face-to-face with a blinding look at the truth about her mother’s psychosis and her anger at–and need for–the Jesus she has never considered.

    Okay, but enough about me. How did you get those Madonna-arms?”

  50. Jenn Johansson on January 23, 2009 at 11:44 PM

    >Thank you for asking! I appreciate the interest.

    My story is about a 15-year-old girl who despises her own telekinetic abilities and lives an isolated lie in order to keep them a secret. She stumbles upon a portal to another world where she discovers an entire society with the same powers she has. They invite her to join them and be trained to use her abilities and she gets much more than she bargained for when she must learn to accept herself in order to save all their lives from an ancient and powerful enemy.

  51. Sarah Salter on January 23, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    >My story is about a beautiful, intelligent, 22-year-old judge’s daughter named Allie. She has breezed through life, a success at everything she attempts, and the apple of her Daddy’s eye. Her parents push her into law school, but she gets there and realizes that as successful as she is, she’s miserable. In the midst of this realization, Allie’s 16-year-old sister is in a horrific accident and falls into a coma. At her sister’s bedside, Allie has to decide if she’s going to follow her parents’ dreams for her or if she’s going to break out of the mold, find her own dreams, and in the process, maybe inspire her little sister to do the same.

  52. Megan DiMaria on January 23, 2009 at 10:28 PM

    >A 40-something copywriter discovers that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. When Libby digs up the past to honor her father’s memory she goes against her husband’s wishes and jeopardizes a relationship with the only mother figure she’s ever known. Can uncovering long-held secrets absolve her guilt or will they hold her captive forever?

    Set in the metro-Denver area and the historic city of Troy, NY, China Moon spans half a continent and a lifetime of memories as Libby travels east to right a wrong she did as a child.

    Thanks, Rachelle

  53. Adam Heine on January 23, 2009 at 9:22 PM

    >”Heh, I didn’t know the elevator pitch was an actual thing.

    “So it’s science fantasy. Hagai grew up thinking he’s weak, useless, incapable of anything. Then he gets a stone in the post that gives him these random visions of the future, but more than that, it was sent to him by his dead mother. So he sets off on a quest to find her, facing killers and air pirates along the way.”

    Beyond that, I kinda agree with Anne L. B. Whatever more I have to say depends on how they’re reacting. Do they seem bored? Interested? If so, in what – Hagai, the pirates, the setting?

    And of course what floor are we on?

  54. Stina Rose on January 23, 2009 at 8:16 PM

    >(My heart is pounding so loud, I know the agent can hear it. I take a deep breath, not really believing that this is happening to me.)

    “Amidst a king’s ambitious plan to conquer a nation, a young girl struggles to find the truth; a truth that will set her free. From her earliest memories, Katrien has known that she was destined to marry Prince Eadwine. Her entire education and existence has revolved around that one future event. However, her direction takes an extraordinary turn when she meets a strange woman, locked in the king’s west tower. A curious gift sends Katrien on a quest for truth in distant lands. Everything she had before believed is tested, and she must leave her prejudices and persuasions behind and see the world as it is. In the end she finds the answers to questions she didn’t know she had.”


    “Thanks Rachelle for taking the time to listen. You made my day!”

  55. Davey on January 23, 2009 at 8:03 PM

    >“I’m writing a novel that is set in a remote jungle. A young pregnant village woman discovers that the child in her womb is actually two. In her tribal society, the birth of twins is more than taboo; it’s a mortal curse. So she is confronted with the choice of either killing her newborns (thus eradicating the curse) or entering a life of exile from her people. Against the wishes of her husband and the rest of the village, she chooses exile, fleeing the village in the dark of night. Her husband tracks her down and finds she’s given birth to two boys.

    “The father takes one of the boys and raises him in a far-away village where no one knows them. The woman raises the other until she falls ill and dies. The orphaned boy seeks to be accepted back into village life but is rejected by all except a pert, independent-thinking girl who takes a liking to this mysterious and unusual boy.”

    “Ding,” the elevator door opens.

    “Years pass, and word eventually comes that a young warlord in a far-away village is on the warpath seeking to kill an evil spirit that is stamped with the mark of the moon. Unbeknownst to the orphaned boy, at the base of his neck is a birthmark that bears a striking resemblance to a half-moon.”

    “This is my room,” the agent informs.

    “Yeah. So anyways,” I continue –

    “Slam,” the door closes.

  56. Anonymous on January 23, 2009 at 7:28 PM

    >It’s the story of Jonah from the Ninevite perspective. My protagonist runs away from Nineveh to rescue her little brother only to inconveniently find herself on the beach where Jonah is vomited ashore. He charges her to return to Nineveh as part of God’s plan, but she fears for her brother’s life and refuses. But that’s not the end of the story.

  57. Linda Mae on January 23, 2009 at 7:15 PM

    >It’s a 1880’s romance, where a pregnant widow finds love and salvation on the shores of Soap Lake, WA

  58. Melanie Avila on January 23, 2009 at 6:55 PM

    >”Yes, I am a writer, thanks for asking!

    “My book, The Other Side, is about a young Mexican who learns what he’s willing to sacrifice for a chance at a new life in the United States.

    “When he leaves home with his life savings and his family’s warning not to trust anyone, he hopes his desire to escape Mexico will make up for his lack of experience being on his own. Traveling through the Mexican desert, he enters a world where people are a commodity and selling yourself doesn’t guarantee you’ll live to see tomorrow.”

    If there’s more time, I’ll go on to say:

    “Nineteen-year-old Mateo has never traveled beyond his southern Mexican town, but he’s always believed that there’s more to life than getting drunk and making babies. His first attempt to cross goes bad, so he turns to his sister, who already made it across, for help. She tells him where to find a coyote, a man who sneaks people past the patrols, for a price.

    “Mateo doesn’t realize that a military officer has infiltrated the coyote’s smuggling ring and the Mexican government is watching the group until he’s already locked in the trunk and headed for the border. When the Federalies thwart the crossing, Mateo is forced to rely on Alejandro, a man with his own agenda who knows more about the men pursuing them than he’s letting on.

    “As they race through the desert, Mateo must trust Alejandro – and possibly risk his own future – if he wants to get to the other side alive.”


  59. Lisa Karon Richardson on January 23, 2009 at 6:42 PM

    >Don’t blow it. Don’t blow it.

    Deep breath.

    “It’s a full-length historical romance titled Magistrate’s Folly. For a magistrate with a passion for justice, condemning a young woman he once knew is hard enough. But when he discovers that she was as innocent as she claimed, he risks his career to follow her to the colony of South Carolina and make things right. Can she find it in her heart to forgive or will his greatest folly be falling in love with her.”

    “What’s that? You couldn’t tell what I said because it all came out in one long run on sentence and I didn’t pause for breath even once. In fact I haven’t breathed since before I started. Oh I don’t feel so good.”

  60. lynnrush on January 23, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    >”I wrote a supernatural romance about an angry, foul-mouthed, tattooed, girl who despises everyone, especially God, because her dad was killed three years ago.

    But when God gives her supernatural powers and then a mysterious guy strolls into her life, she finds out that she’s chosen to protect her town from demons with this handsome stranger.

    So, she’s got to decide if she going to step up into this new role of Protector with this guy or just stay stuck in her anger and walk away from him.”

  61. Bill on January 23, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    >"Thanks for asking. It's about the events of the New Testament blended together with events from Roman and Jewish History, so you can read about Jesus & Joseph & Mary and Herod the Great and Augustus Caesar – and what they were doing, all at the same time. Because it goes historically, one year at a time.

    The first chapter is "9 BC", where Caesar punishes Herod for invading Arabia, right around the same time Zechariah sees the angel Gabriel inside the Temple. So you get to see how those events are buliding toward the birth of Christ. Then the second chapter is "8 BC", when the Governor's planning a census, and then Jesus gets born in "7 BC", and so on. I'm planning to take it as far as 70 AD, but right now the first volume ends shortly after Jesus turns 12, in 7 AD.

    Then I shut up. And wait.

    If the agent asks what it’s called:

    “So far, I’m calling it Jesus, Herod & Caesar: Year-by-Year

    If he/she asks about my scholarship:

    “I’m just an amateur but I’ve been working on this for twelve years or more. The book has a section in the back for academic support, written on a higher level than the main story. And I try to be real clear about the fact that this is a plausible reconstruction, and what that means. We have to fill in a few blanks, but we actually know a lot more than a lot of people think.”

    If they say ‘I’d like to read that book’

    “Could I send you a copy? There’s an early draft on my website but the latest revision is much better than that one. :)”

  62. Esther Jade on January 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    >”My book is about Ree, an intergalactic bureaucrat-in-training. She’s full of youthful idealism and ready to change the galaxy one planet at a time. Everything looks good on the surface. But Ree’s already hiding one secret from her husband-to-be and the books starts with her about to acquire another as her instructors want to her go on a super-secret mission that she can’t quite resist.”

    (I apologise for it being sci-fi. I know it’s not your thing, Rachelle, but it seemed like such an interesting exercise.)

  63. D. Ann Graham on January 23, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    >“Well… a little something called THE PUSHOVER PLOT. About this mysterious retired woman who–”

    “It’s about a retarded woman?”

    “Did I say retarded? Oh, gosh — I meant RETIRED. A retired woman.”

    “Not much market for books with retarded people as protagonists.”

    “Oh, don’t I know. I mean, of course not, because the percentage of –”

    A certain look comes into her eyes. I know that look. Know exactly what it means. She is wondering if they will be offering anything Italian at the lunch buffet. Her gaze drifts toward the illuminated numbers ticking off the levels at hyper-speed, so I plunge on…

    “Anyway, this retarded woman –oh, crap– has a SECRET. Only she — she’s kept it for so long she hardly ever thinks about it anymore. But then her apartment building gets sold — see? And she’s forced to take a job — you know, her fixed income isn’t enough to cut it on account of all the problems with the economy, and…”

    “Seems to happen a lot these days.”

    “Doesn’t it? Well — as I was saying — she is shocked to find out that– not only has everything changed since she had to function in the working world, but she has totally– and I mean TOTALLY — lost her capacity for adjusting to it. She clashes with coworkers… she’s offensive to the bosses (who are younger than her, of course)… all of which ends up making her the number one suspect in the murder of her department administrator! With a –” Here I try my own shot at looking mysterious. “A terrible case of deja vu, I might add.”

    There is a slight gasp. But before I can mistake it as piqued interest, it is followed in rapid succession by an expression that clearly means, “Oh, puh-leeze!” that is subsequently interrupted by a DING! and slight jolt, signifying we have reached number fifteen. I try to fit in the last three-quarters of the plot before the doors open.

    “But– don’t worry– she’s rescued by a fat man — they fall madly in love — realize they’ve BOTH been victims of deceit — PUSHOVERS, you know? And then they set out on the biggest adventure of their lives!”

    “Sounds… interesting.” A polite smile before she leaves. “Best of luck with it.”

    I reach a hand out to keep the doors from closing. “It’s the first in my Fat Man and the Lady detective series–” I call after her. “They’re gonna include a lot of Italian recipes!”

    I watch the well-dressed figure give a friendly wave without even looking back.

    “Hold the doors, please,” comes a voice from down the hall as a thump from my shoe makes them spring open again. A man in a rumpled suit gives an exaggerated leap past me into the elevator, then makes no effort to stifle a bit of delighted laughter at his own prowess. I recognize him as one of the agents on a panel discussion I listened to earlier in the morning. He is slightly overweight…

    “Excuse me, but do you…” I give one last shot at looking mysterious. “Like Italian?”

  64. Leslie Wilson on January 23, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    >I write non-fiction. However, if I were to write fiction, this is the story within a story I can’t get out of my head:

    The story: An aspiring writer pitches her idea for a legal/medical thriller to a brand-new agent at a writer’s conference. The sleazy agent recognizes the idea’s potential and asks to see the project. After he determines its potential, he disposes of the writer in a grisly fashion and sells the novel himself in a New York-house bidding war. When the book debuts to critical and financial success, a former editing partner of the writer comes forward with an early draft of the novel, threatening to become the agent’s undoing.

    The story within: A woman develops multiple sclerosis. Her husband of 15 years, a prominent businessman, remains loyal to her for a time. But when the illness progresses, he has an affair with a woman in his support group. In a Grisham-like fashion, his wife sues, supported by her doctor and a female attorney friend. She wins a huge settlement; he loses both his wealth and his reputation. The final scene—of the story within—shows the “sick” woman walking along a beach arm in arm with her doctor.

    A valuable and fun exercise, Rachelle. Thanks for taking the time . . .

  65. Jenna on January 23, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    >I’m writing a novel about a radio talk show host whose marriage is slowly but surely falling apart but she can’t seem to stop herself from using her marital strife as fodder for her popular show.

    Her producer thinks the show is getting off track. Her mother thinks she’s making a fool of herself airing her grievances to millions. Her best friend thinks her rants and raves are her way of telling off her ex-boyfriend.

    When she does a segment on gut-punch names, the name of the person who ripped a hole in your soul, she’s rocked to the core when her ex-boyfriend calls the show and proclaims her name to be his gut-punch name.

    After the call she slowly starts to realize that maybe her producer is right, that her mother is probably right, and that her best friend could very likely be right.

    Then an opportunity to reconcile the past comes along and she has to decide how much she is willing to risk for the closure she now believes will put her life and the show back on track.

    Thanks for asking.

  66. Randy Mortenson on January 23, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    >Really? Okay, great.

    [Glances up as one floor passes.]

    Seven Flags Over Antarctica. Not global warming, but a virus has driven survivors worldwide to the last sterile place on earth. The seventh flag is for the Purists. Think Nazis. Only one man, Lance Altru, can keep everyone from destroying each other. It’s like a frozen, techno, grown-up Lord of the Flies. Oh, and there’s a girl.

  67. Cristin on January 23, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    >I’m writing an historical novel that takes place in 3rd century Rome, Persia, and Armenia. It’s based on a true story and is about a demon-possessed Armenian king who declares war on God.

  68. Julie Rowe on January 23, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    >I’m writing a historical romance set in WWI. The heroine is loosely based on a real life British nurse who ran a Red Cross hosptial in German occupied Belgium. She was executed for helping British soldiers caught behind enemy lines escape. I want to give her a happy ending.

  69. Mark Adair on January 23, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    >A techno-suspense novel with bits of romance, adventure, and a few spiritual encounters blended in. The basic story is:

    John Truman, a bright, introverted, college student belongs to the New Dawn…he just doesn’t know it yet. The 300-year-old secret society designed him, created him, and built there organization to interface with him. They cannot survive without him; he cannot survive without them. All he wants is a simple, normal life of hanging with his friends, succeeding in business, and living happily ever after with his childhood friend, Susan. All they want…is to rule the world.

    What do you think?

  70. elaine @ peace for the journey on January 23, 2009 at 3:01 PM

    >”Peace for the Journey” is a collection of literary photographs, taken from my own quest for peace. Peace is not a state of mind. Peace is a person. His name is Jesus, and I have found him to be very present and available in my everyday–around the table with the “ancients,” in the desert, in the flood, on the mountains, at home, in the mirror, in the pain, in the pardon, at church, and on the road. No matter my daily pauses, God is active and present and more than willing to offer me his “Peace for the Journey.”

    Simply put,my collected snapshots/vignettes are an occasion for readers to pause from their ordinary and to contemplate the Extraordinary.


  71. Mark H. on January 23, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    >I’m working on a thriller about a guy named David who gets a late-night call from his brother to pick him up at the airport. When he arrives, he’s contacted by a mysterious woman who informs him that not only is his brother not on the plane, but there is a group of professional assassins surrounding the airport–and if they can’t get his brother, they’re going to want poor ol’ Dave. She helps him make an escape, and then, while on the run, they have to figure out just what his brother’s gotten himself into.

    This is the part where I pause and allow the agent a moment to indicate an interest in continuing, or note that he/she has suddenly pressed the button for the 6th floor and is halfway out of the elevator.

  72. sarah p on January 23, 2009 at 2:28 PM

    >This is a really intriguing question and it occupied my mind all evening until I eventually had to create a reply. But not being in the market for a critique I put my reply on my own weblog.

    Your blog here and your generosity are such great gifts to the writer community.

  73. Lee on January 23, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    >It’s a story of a young girl in the early days of the studio system. Her delusional mother abandons her marriage and drags the kids out to LA after the older sister wins Miss Dairy and mom seems to think the beautiful older sister is a shoo-in for films. However, money runs thin and our heroine ends up working as a typist at Paramount and witnesses the madness of early Hollywood.

    Eventually, the older sister ends up as a party girl who sleeps with producers (going nowhere fast) and the two younger brothers end up abandoned at Hollygrove Children’s Home (real place: Marilyn Monroe lived there).

    Our heroine, Carrie, eventually works her way to script girl and marries an older man to get her brothers back.

    It’s written in the style of the Scholastic “Dear America” books (my favorite example of a YA series that combines history and good writing) and aimed at teens. I think of it as a cautionary tale for those who do not have realistic dreams.

  74. Doug on January 23, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    >It’s an airplane thriller set just a few years from now. A passenger finds himself on a plane out over the Pacific Ocean heading toward a destination he knows they will never reach. He grapples with trying to turn the plane around, or simply joining his deceased wife and son, who were recently killed in a terrorist attack.

  75. Shelli on January 23, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    >Grace’s ranger father goes missing in a small North Carolina mountain town. One day, when she is out ocnducting her investigation, she meets a sexy boy. As her search deepens, so does her relationship until she discovers her new guys is a part of an extremist group training and plotting in the remote mountains. Grace goes from being the hunter to the hunted and is throw into a world of heartbreak, conspiracy and murder.

  76. Basil Sands on January 23, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    >Flashes a charming smile in return as heart skips a beat then leaps into improv pitch position just below Adam’s Apple.

    “Well, its about a former officer in the US Marines Special Operations units who fulfills his dream of becoming a pastor. While Pastoring he discovers he is addicted to fighting, even killing, terrorists and continues to do so in the reserves until military retirement at 40. His wife and child get gunned down in a gang shooting. He goes to exact revenge, in a very non-pastoral manner, and discovers a terrorist he thought long dead in cahoots with the gang. He unexpectedly finds himself in a desperate chase to stop a WMD attack in Columbus Ohio.”

    “Interesting concept.” says SuperAgent

    “Yes, and he suffers a lot of turmoil reconciling his pastoral life, with his violent past and present.”


    “Well here’s my floor.” says SuperAgent with a pleasant smile. “Enjoy the conference.”

    “Thanks.” Door slowly shuts. “If you ever get up to Alaska I’d love to have coffee with you.”

    Elevator moves up.

    “I don’t think she heard that last bit.”

    Heart winds back down to its natural postion.

  77. Anonymous on January 23, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    >Ah…nothing right now I’m riding on an elevator.

    Oh you wanted me to make an elevator pitch? Duh. Nobody said I was too smart. (insert fake nervous laugh here)

    I’m writing about a pregnant teenager that faces a tough decision. As well as judgemental parents.

  78. Timothy Fish on January 23, 2009 at 1:08 PM

    >Here’s another (completely fictional, of course) story idea I’m working on:

    On the verge of having more reading than she can handle, an overworked literary agent runs out of space on her hard drive for new e-mail messages and decides to ask blog readers what their story is about as a way to determine which e-mail addresses she can black list, but when all of the story ideas come in as speculative fiction, she must learn that speculative fiction is good, before the writers quit e-mailing her, to prevent the evil literary agent John Q. Flathead from stealing all of her clients.

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten and it might require some revision.

  79. Rich on January 23, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    >Well, I’m currently trying to show the effects heavy binge drinking has on the health of a talented young runner. I’ve got this gifted girl, who (poor thing) has lost her mother, and is now (understandably, given she lives in a depressed area) turning to drink as an off switch. Her competitive mindset soon escalates her drinking, and, by stubbornly refusing to sacrifice her running, she is soon burning the candle at too many ends. Sooner or later, something will have to give: either her running, her drinking or her life. Thanks for listening, I believe this is your floor. I’m Richard, by the way.

  80. Euthyphro on January 23, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    >”The story revolves around two brothers Thomas, who is a struggling alcoholic and born tinkerer with a major problem with authority figures, which is only made worse by his brother, Gaius, who, to much parental praise, makes a series of right moves and finds himself quickly climbing through the ranks of the military.

    In an attempt to clear the air Thom takes a trip with a friend out of the city for a week only to find himself butting heads with his brother again as he races across the county with a young girl whose family has been missing ever since the military was sent to her village to squelch a small band of revolting farmers.

    Everything comes to a head when Gaius stabs the young woman when she comes at him with a knife trying to avenge her family who have been ordered to the gallows. Thom finds that he can only make peace with his own guilt by sacrificing himself to save the girls family from their ultimate doom.”


  81. Johnnie on January 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    >”A broken-hearted and broken-spirited former dancer and Cold War spy longs to twirl in the sunshine one more time. Now on her deathbed and all alone, she feels compelled to tell her secrets to just one person. But who will care to listen to an old woman’s memories? She finds someone, but telling her secrets puts both their lives in danger from an old enemy.”

    Humiliate, um, I mean, critique away!

  82. Carol on January 23, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    >I wrote a suspense novel about a young woman who is plagued by the Shadow People, which her psychiatrist friend says is simply a brain aberration called sleep paralysis, but the character believes they’re paranormal encounters. The theme is evil vs. good. I’ll be querying agents starting in July. (So if I’m on the elevator with you in July, I’ll be offering you my business card as we speak. 🙂 Is offering a business card a good idea or inappropriate for the situation?) Thanks for asking.

  83. Camille Cannon Eide on January 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    >I am currently between pitches and brainstorming a new story, but feedback from any corner is welcome while I hammer this thing out.
    Charlie runs a tight ship. She is single-handedly realizing her childhood dream of providing a home for troubled and unwanted kids. But summer leaves her short-handed and she’s forced to employ someone far more challenging than bedwetting pyromaniacs and pregnant runaways – a giant slob of a man with less sense than a spoiled teen pop star when it comes to discipline. He’s a careless, transient fairy tale, the last thing she and these kids need to fill an impossible role shattered beyond repair by deadbeat drunks and perverts. Or is he?

  84. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary on January 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    >So what are you writing?

    I was raised in an atheist family and was a militant atheist most of my adult life. Now I’m an orthodox Catholic. I’m writing a memoir about that.

  85. Julie Weathers on January 23, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    >I would probably laugh first out of surprise.

    “How sweet of you to ask. I have an epic fantasy about a sixteen-year-old girl who wants to join her aunt’s elite cavalry unit. Instead, she gets assigned as an aide to a senile-acting sorcerer with a talent for irritating nobles, botching spells, building fireworks and solving mysteries. Now, someone wants them dead.

  86. T-Anne on January 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    >Rachelle, why thank you for asking!

    My novel is about a woman who loses her husband in a mining accident. She has two little children and struggles to keep her sanity and relationship with God in tact. A little later in time a new neighbor shows her a deeper level of love and trust as she redefines who she is and learns to let go of the misplaced anger she harbored towards her husband for abandoning her. In the end they discover he left a letter for her in the mine which ties up some emotional loose ends in their relationship. There is also a love story between her and the neighbor which takes a bitter turn when he’s arrested for a string of shootings in town. It makes her realize how vulnerable she is…and wonders why she is the only one convinced of his innocence.

    BTW Rachelle, I hope this isn’t too OT but I sent a query 12/4/08 is it still too early for a response or should I resend? I understand my timing with the holiday’s and all was a little off. God Bless you and Thank you!

  87. Stephanie Reed on January 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM

    >Wow, how kind of you. I know you’re exhausted.

    It’s book three of my historical fiction trilogy with a twist. The twist is that it’s based on a real Underground Railroad family who lived in Ohio.

    I’m a little afraid of this book, because the first two books were about sons who struggled with only certain parts of their faith. This youngest son, Tom Rankin, saw his preacher father kicked out of his own church because of his abolition sermons. So now Tom has little use for religion and religious people.

    It starts with Tom deciding to rescue four slaves just before the Civil War. He’s going against his elderly father’s advice: never carry the war against slavery into Kentucky, where you risk arrest or even death. But Tom trusts in machines like the new locomotives and steamships to keep his charges hidden in plain sight on the journey to freedom.

    There’s a surprise waiting in Canada–one that brings the story of the family’s forty year tradition of aiding fugitives full circle. When the book ends, Tom has some thinking to do–maybe his family’s work was in God’s hands all along.

    Whoa, was that your stomach? I bet you skipped lunch to squeeze in more appointments, didn’t you? Here, take this chocolate chunk cookie I smuggled out–there you go. Oh, don’t cry! Here’s a tissue. Now you march straight to your room and take a quick five. Bye-bye.

  88. Anne L.B. on January 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    >That Time article is a must read! Thanks for linking it. I bookmarked it in my Favorites. Sorry to admit it, Rachelle, but I noticed the article says the Modern Book Culture embraces longer novels. [I’m still working on my word counts : ( ]

    I can’t play today’s Q4U, because:

    1. I’m already blessed with CBA’s very best agent (anyone else would be a second choice for sure)

    2. Even if I pretend it’s my dream editor in the elevator, I don’t know exactly how my words will come out until I’m in person. When I do public speaking, I bomb if I script myself. I do prepare an outline and stick to it, but I’ve got to see my audience to go verbal. (Hope my agent doesn’t cringe when she finds out.)

  89. Yvonne on January 23, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    >*sigh* It’s hard, Rachelle! We’re writiers, not speakers… okay, I’ll try again.

    “Good morning, you’re an agent, right? I’m a writer.”

    (hopefully she responds with interest)

    “Yes, I have written a book based on various experiences in my life. It’s about a young girl who’s wishing for a home. She’s under the guardianship of a half-breed Indian who’s running from prejudice.”

    (if we still have time)

    “yes, it’s an historical novel, set in the Hudson Valley where I lived for awhile in our family’s travels.”

    “It’s been nice meeting you. Here’s my card with my email and phone number. Thank you for listening.”

    (Is this better, Rachelle?)

  90. Dara on January 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    >I just realized mine is probably entirely too long 😛 Oh well. It’s still up for critique, should it be chosen.

  91. C.J. Darlington on January 23, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    >My first novel is about two sisters who have been estranged from each other for 15 years. One of them works at a used and rare bookstore, so I also have some fun book facts woven throughout. In fact, a first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls plays an important role.

  92. Heather Zundel on January 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    >Ha, Lady Glamis, I really like yours. It actually sounds like dialogue!

    So here’s mine:

    [Enter elevator. Try not to panic].

    “So what is your story about?”

    “My story? Well, it’s a Young Adult Fantasy novel about this prince of a desert who is hunting a man he has never seen, but he believes has stolen his throne from him. They meet – only to discover they are the same person. One of them is confronted with what he sees as a better version of himself, and the other must reconcile that his only purpose in being created was to kill the other and take his place. They must come to terms of each other’s existence and determine who deserves to live, when that is what they both want most in this world more than anything else.”

    “—-” (hopefully along the lines of “Really? Here, send it to me when I get back to New York.”

    [Then try not to pass out from trying to not talk too fast. And hopefully we haven’t reached the 15th floor yet].

  93. Dara on January 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    >First, I’d probably stutter my entire way through this and it definitely would not come out as clearly 😛 I may be able to write, but when speaking, I have issues 😛

    “It’s a historical fiction novel set in Japan in 1890 about a young woman born of Japanese and American ancestry. She’s never known her Japanese father and she doesn’t want to–until one day two strangers claiming to be guardians from her father say her life is in danger and she must leave town with them immediately. She now has to leave what life she’s known and assume an alias is a remote mountain village, hiding from an unnamed menace and wondering who her father really is.”

  94. Thoughts from South Moon on January 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    >Well…my book is a cross between Mitford and Fargo. An agnostic female K-9 cop fights the growing attraction she feels for a handsome, single minister she gave a speeding ticket to. But when a sniper’s bullet wounds her best friend and colleague and shatters her order, inflexible world–especially when the investigation reavels the bullet may have been meant for her instead, Zoey’s vulnerability gets the best of her as she reaches out to the one man who can help her make sense of it all.

  95. Timothy Fish on January 23, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    >Here’s the one I won’t be pitching, on an elevator or otherwise (or writing for that matter):

    On the verge of running out of food, sixteen vampire cheerleaders discover a new feeding ground and set off for Earth in their sentient spaceship Eatmore II; but when they encounter a broken down space vessel, they must learn that you shouldn’t eat your friends before their spaceship dies and the werewolf football players destroy Earth first.

  96. David A. Todd on January 23, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    >My book is a baseball thriller, the story of a Kansas farm boy who makes the big leagues, then becomes an unwitting pawn between two Mafia Dons who have a long-term bet involving his team. After persevering through a swirl of strange events orchestrated by the Dons, he finds himself in a cross-fire in Yankee Stadium at the World Series.

  97. Bryan Allain on January 23, 2009 at 10:23 AM

    >”It’s called Prayers For Blowouts – The Christian’s Guide To The Frequent Collisions of Sports and Faith. It’s a humorous book that covers everything from a biblical history of sports to a Christian’s guide to playing Fantasy Football to the athletes who love to namedrop Jesus after a big win. There’s also some great stories from my life in sports that readers will relate to – from not making my little league team to where I am now as a sports parent for my two children. It’s a book that will hopefully leave readers entertained and encouraged that sports are more than just a trivial distraction to their spirituality.”

    you did say it wasn’t a high-speed elevator, right?

  98. Lady Glamis on January 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    >First I’ll flash a charming smile and thank the agent for being interested.

    “I’m writing a novel about Monarch butterflies and terrorists. I know that sounds weird, but it’s really fun! My main character is a CIA agent who was double crossed by his friend in the DEA. Nick, the CIA agent, is in love with a lady in West Virginia who is hiding his two daughters for him. You know, since terrorists are out to kill him. He’s been pinned for murder, and even the CIA is after him now. Sound interesting? It’s a mix of suspense, romance, and things that explode.”

  99. ~ Brandilyn Collins on January 23, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    >Rachelle, babe, off topic here. Just saw your comment on my “Weird Photo Friday–write the caption” post today. For heaven’s sake, YOU don’t have to earn a copy of Dark Pursuit. I’m embarrassed that you don’t have one. My asst. will send one over.

    Lotsa love, ~ Brandilyn

  100. Heidi on January 23, 2009 at 9:46 AM

    >”A small-town Texas woman’s diabetic daughter is diagnosed with an allergy to insulin. All that’s standing in her way of saving her daughter is her tenth grade education, a gaggle of Baptist women, and 1.8 million google hits.”

    I’d like to think I could add some chatty reparte, but I’m not always good at that under time pressure!

  101. Richard Mabry on January 23, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    >Oh, well, why not?

    “Thanks for asking. It’s a novel of romantic medical suspense featuring a young female doctor who flees a failed engagement to set up practice in her hometown, only to find that someone there wants her gone…or dead.”

    “Sounds interesting.”

    “Thanks. Oh, here’s your floor.”

    (Pulls out cell phone. “Rachelle? I just talked with…”

  102. Julie Butcher-Fedynich on January 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    >Mom’s a faery, Dad’s an elf, and their six children never knew. Arturo Dell, fifteen-year-old gamer geek, considers himself a man of science. However, scientific theories and data can’t explain the magic sparkles shooting from his fingers. The realization that he’s a supernatural half-breed from a thousand-year, magically-mixed marriage, discombobulates Arturo’s rational worldview. All he wants is to disarm bombs in his virtual game, Homeland Security. But at the appearance of his parent’s foe, Alkibiades, his family is beset by arson, drive-by shootings, and a giant murdering Easter bunny. Mom goes to jail for inciting a riot and Arturo’s attacked by ladies undergarments. When his sister Fayerie is kidnapped, he must accept the reality of magic or lose her forever. If Arturo’s fledgling powers fail, will his gaming skills be enough to save her life, or will they die together?

    As a mother of six I well know the happy chaos and magical energy of a large family. Violent Purple encompasses both aspects and draws on the reality of the power available to us all when we sacrifice ourselves for someone we love

  103. Rachelle on January 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    >Update: I’m already noticing problems with people’s pitches sounding either too much like a written pitch (remember, this is a verbal pitch, you don’t want to sound stilted) or too vague. The agent DOES NOT want to know the theme of your book, i.e. “explores love and forgiveness, yada yada yada.” They want to know the story. Keep working…

  104. Pam Halter on January 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    >I’m working on a fantasy trilogy called Fairyeater. The theme is self-sacrifice, not only for the main character, but woven throughout the story in all characters. A fifteen-year-old girl, Akeela, finds out her destiny as the next Fairy Guardian. This is important because the fairies are keeping the evil dark lord from rising form the ashes. But his daughter has been capturing and eating fairies to diminish their good power. The dark lord rises and begins his plan to destroy everything good. Akeela make the decision to find the Fairystone, which will give her the power to become the Fairy Guardian and will enable her to destroy the dark lord once and for all. It will save her world but end her life as she knows it.

    Boy, this is hard!

  105. Sara Henderson on January 23, 2009 at 9:19 AM

    >What happens when a phobic writer engages in a battle to the death with her own nom de plume, while her ex, his harem, and her crazy aunt “Elizabeth Taylor” lay minefields all around her? That’s “Living in Bliss.”

  106. The Wannabe Scribe on January 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    >John, that pitch sounds great!

  107. Ralene on January 23, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    >When I finally quit stuttering from the shock of an agent speaking directly to me:

    My finished novel, “The Impossible Choice”, explores the impact on faith and family when the opposing beliefs of siblings are challenged by anti-religious terrorists. The practical themes of terrorism and love balance the emotional questions of identity and spirituality in this 75,000 word Christian suspense novel.

    And if she found that interesting, I would be able to detail a bit more about the characters and plot in a follow-up spiel. 🙂

  108. Marla Taviano on January 23, 2009 at 8:59 AM

    >52 Zoos in 52 Weeks. My hubby, 3 young daughters and I hit our first zoo on August 1, 2008 and we’ll end on August 1 of this year. We’ve done 24 already, and we’re having a blast!

    The book is a story of our adventures and inspiration to other families to seize the day, live LARGE and do it all on a very small budget. Times are tough, but that doesn’t have to stop you from living a full–and FUN!–life. Don’t waste a single day!


  109. John UpChurch on January 23, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    >As a former atheist, I write with a heart to reach the lost and engage the culture with the gospel in a fresh way. So, my pitch for my novel, The Connection, is:

    Brent Nelson knows the road home, but he has no idea what waits for him there. When his brother falls under the spell of a New Age guru, Brent, a skeptic, returns to his hometown to shatter religious illusions. Instead, his rationality will be stretched to the breaking point.

    It’s a story of suspense with the smarts to stick around and theological chops to please a Christian audience–with the careful attention to detail that I love as an editor. The manuscript is completed and in revision, and I’m praying for God to provide the right venue.

    Thanks for listening.

  110. Lisa Jordan on January 23, 2009 at 8:44 AM


    Your generosity never ends. You’re the first (that I’ve seen) to offer something like this on a blog. Prepare to be deluged. 🙂

    Here’s my elevator pitch:

    Queen of the Shrinking Violets, the first in the Garden of Grace series, is an 80,000 word women’s fiction about four generations of women who head south to fulfill a dying wish. Their road trip, filled with unexpected detours and misadventures, becomes a journey of self-discovery. When hearts are opened and secrets exposed, God uses His garden of grace to draw these women together and closer to Him.

    Queen of the Shrinking Violets, told in third person past tense using multiple viewpoints explores the trials and triumphs of mother/daughter relationships and encourages today’s women to tear down emotional walls and find healing. They are extraordinary in God’s eyes and always blooming in His Garden of Grace, no matter their season in life.


    Lisa Jordan

  111. Debra E Marvin on January 23, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    >“Well, I’m glad you asked, Rachelle, because I didn’t want to be an annoying person who traps editors and agents in elevators! My name is Debra Marvin and my story is set in Glasgow, Scotland in 1837.

    My heroine awakens, violent and bloody, in an asylum with no memory but linked to a murder she can’t recall.

    The hero, a shy young reverend, anxious to end the guilt of turning his back on his mentally ill sister, promises to protect this fiery woman. But, by doing so, he forfeits any chance of the quiet, well-respected life he so desires–a life no longer shadowed by family madness.

    On the run, they begin to discover truths about each
    other–terrible truths that free them, but may force them apart forever. The only way to prove she is innocent is to find the murderer themselves.

    Taking place in a background of murders, greed, the outlawed slave trade, and other juicy plot twists, she learns that the value of a promise is only as good as its giver. That ended up being my theme. He finally understands the depth of God’s forgiving grace. Together they overcome all obstacles to, of course, find love and sweet freedom in God’s will.

    I believe it will finish around 80,000 words or more when I’m done polishing the heck out of it. I’d be thrilled to give you a full synopsis right now if you are interested.

    Oh, you are? Wonderful. Thank you. I’m thrilled. Did I already say that? As it turns out, I have an appointment with you later this week, so we can talk more details then!”

    (I’m practicing this spiel but I don’t think it would come out that smooth, so I didn’t include the “ums”but you can be sure they’d be in there.)

  112. D. Robert Pease on January 23, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    >1,000 years in the future, Noah Zarc and his three children: Ham, Sam, and JJ, set out on a quest through time to save Earth’s animals before they go extinct.

  113. Jim on January 23, 2009 at 8:29 AM

    >My WIP is a true love story of deception, grace, and forgiveness.

    If the elevator makes several stops along the way…I’d continue:

    My story presents the scriptural lessons a husband learns about love, forgiveness, and
    God’s perfect timing, when his dying wife confesses a thirty-year deception and rededicates her life to Jesus Christ.

    Ding…there’s the 15th floor.


  114. Yvonne on January 23, 2009 at 8:27 AM

    >My book is an historical novel about an Indian woman and a young girl wandering the hills of the Hudson Valley in the early 1800’s. One is running from prejudice and the other is searching for a home. They learn of trust and friendship along the way.

  115. Melinda Walker on January 23, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    >My current project is Secret Life of Bees meets the Secret Garden–a young nurse’s father disowns her, and she rebuilds her life while restoring a ruined garden.

  116. Janna Qualman on January 23, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    >Whoops… not to dominate the comments page… I did mean that second comment for my own pitches, no one else’s… LOL!

  117. Janna Qualman on January 23, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    >Oy. Already I’m looking at those and saying, “Stinky, stinky, stinky!”

  118. Karen on January 23, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    >I have a non-fiction to share:

    My working title is “Majesty” and it’s about finding God’s footprints around the world. I invite the reader to travel with me to such places as the magnificient glaciered mountains of Alaska to see His majesty; dive beneath the waters to wonder at His provision for the small detailed creatures of the Great Barrier Reef, and sing Amazing Grace in the middle of a small quiet river in China.

    Be gentle 😉

  119. Janna Qualman on January 23, 2009 at 8:01 AM

    >For the sake of brevity; The 15th floor comes quickly! 🙂

    Finished ms: A woman’s search for happiness is thwarted by things – and people – out of her control.

    The WIP: A woman expects a windfall of change with her thirtieth birthday.

  120. Timothy Fish on January 23, 2009 at 7:43 AM

    >The elevator pitch for my WIP:

    The story is about a wealthy businessman facing retirement with no grandchildren, who is visited by a con-artist claiming she is raising a granddaughter he didn’t know he had and demanding that his son marry her; believing she only wants money, he seeks to discredit her, with the help of his son’s socialite girlfriend, but when they discover the con-artist is telling the truth, he must learn that social status isn’t important, before his son leaves the family business, to prevent the homeless con-artist from joining his family.

  121. Mikki Black on January 23, 2009 at 6:24 AM

    >Yuk. This is mean. Every time I try to write it down, it sounds horribly kitchy.


    Guess that means I need to adjust something.

  122. The Wannabe Scribe on January 23, 2009 at 4:15 AM

    >Hi Rachelle I hope you don’t mind that my pitch is Sci-Fi (I know you don’t represent it) but your blog is always full of top advice…

    I’ll stop grovelling now…

    Thanks 🙂

  123. The Wannabe Scribe on January 23, 2009 at 3:51 AM

    >Ok deep breath… say it slowly, say it slowly.

    Hunted across the galaxy by a powerful religious cult, an amnesiac searches for clues to his past and the forgotten knowledge of a prototype weapon that has the power to enslave billions.

    OK, providing that took approximately fifteen seconds to say and didn’t sound like encoded message burst, then I will have delivered my first elevator pitch. Yay!

    This pitch is as much as WIP as my WIP is, but it’s getting there.

    I hope.

  124. Kim Kasch on January 23, 2009 at 2:25 AM

    >My latest WIP is about: A ghost, a girl and a deadly competition.

    RE: Time Magazine article:

    Language is always evolving maybe it’s time for books too – or. . . maybe it’s like my library books and overdue.