Query Letter Sample

Dear Ms. XX,

CLAIRE is my 96,000 word mainstream novel set in a small American town in 1961.

David Morgan, fourteen, leads a simple, happy life, but Claire, the new girl next door, believes that happiness always ends in tragedy. She has evidence—her father is dead, she limps, and her body is severely scarred. So while Morgan lives for today, Claire is tormented by the past and obsessed with the  near-certainty of a tragic future. But even with their differences, Morgan is drawn into her world of Tarot cards, cigarettes, vodka, and sex. And then he falls in love. A different kind of happiness.

But Claire is in love with the president, and when her cards foretell an “unforeseen catastrophe,” she vows to save him. She and Morgan will travel to Washington so Claire can show him the future with her Tarot cards. But these are poor kids, and it takes two years to save enough. By that time they are seriously, dangerously in love and totally unprepared for the catastrophe she predicted. The day they arrive at the White House, the president is in Dallas. Despondent that she missed him, when she learns that JFK has been shot, Claire turns to stone.

For the next two years she shuns Morgan and turns self-destructive. Distraught and disillusioned, he seeks other girls, but ultimately finds that he can’t fall in love with anyone else. With graduation approaching and no clear future ahead of him, he signs up for the Army and expects to fight in Vietnam. As he boards the bus for basic training, Claire gives him a single Tarot card, his future. But he can’t bring himself to look at it because so much depends on which card she gave him. He expects no happiness. Will he die in the rice paddies of Vietnam? Will he return without arms or legs, without eyes? He only has to turn the card over to know.

My stories have won major contests in Glimmer Train and Black Warrior Review. Other stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, The Battered Suitcase, The Adirondack Review, Narrative Magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Indiana Review. I have an MFA in fiction writing from Vermont College.

Thank you for your consideration.


Philip Tate

Copyright 2021 by Philip Tate