Thursday, December 27, 2012

How Christmas Got from Jesus to Santa Claus

Centuries before Jesus was born, people were already celebrating light and birth during the winter season with various traditions. One celebrated among the Norse people was “Yule” and came around the time of the winter solstice, December 21st.


Yule Traditions

One of Yule traditions involved the men and their sons dragging evergreen trees into the house as remembrances of life. They also burned logs in the fireplace to symbolize good fortune – also called Yule logs.
 

Pagan God Mithra

Ancient Rome had its own winter festivals. Soldiers and government officials worshipped the pagan god Mithra, the Sun God. Mithra’s birthday was on December 25th and was the most important day of the year to his followers.


December 25th Selected as Christmas Day

By the first century AD pagan beliefs were being seriously challenged by Christianity which was sweeping across the empire.  Christ’s birthday was unknown and not documented in the Bible.  Since Rome already celebrated December 25th as Mithra’s birthday, it appears that the Church adopted this date for the birth of the Christ child. By the 4th Century it became official as the Church made it the feast day of the nativity.

 

Church Adopts Pagan Traditions

The pagan traditions of this time period were too ingrained for the Church to outlaw during Christmas so they merely adopted them to fit Christianity. For example, the evergreen trees they took and decorated them with apples so that they would symbolize the Garden of Eden. These eventually morphed into the ornaments we put on our Christmas trees today.


Saint Nicolas and Sinterklaas

It was during the 4th Century that the legend of Santa Claus gets started. A Turkish bishop by the name of Nicolas was known for his giving nature. There were many stories of his kindness in giving to others. The date of his death, December 6th, became “Saint Nicolas Day” and was commemorated by giving good children toys and nothing to the children who misbehaved.  This tradition lived on throughout Christian Europe until it merged with the celebration of the Christian Holy Day. Saint Nicolas went by many names throughout Christendom.  In Holland he was called “Sinterklaas.” Later when the Dutch settled the North Eastern part of the America’s his name became “Santa Claus.”


Clarke Moore and the “Night Before Christmas”

1500 years later an American, named Clement Clarke Moore, a professor of oriental and Greek literature, took the legends of Nicolas and Sinterklaas and wrote a historic poem called, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” later changed to, “The Night Before Christmas.”  It was a 58 line poem that created the modern American vision of Christmas.  In his poem Santa was neither a Priest from the 4th Century nor a Norse-type Odin character like Sinterklaas. Instead Moore dressed him in furs, and he made him more elfish with a twinkle in his eye and a pipe between his teeth.  He toted a sack on his back full of toys for the children. Moore is also responsible for creating the sleigh and the eight reindeer that pulled it through the sky – including the names of each one of them.


Thomas Nast Puts on the Finishing Touches

Santa Claus, as we know him, was on his way thanks to Moore, but he still lacked a place to live (the North Pole) and Elves to help him in his workshop, not to mention and naughty and nice list. These and other details came from the imagination of another New Yorker named Thomas Nast. He took Moore’s Santa and made him much more like we see envision him today. In 1862 an American Magazine called “Harpers Weekly,” commissioned Nast to draw its Christmas illustrations. Nast transformed Moore’s jolly old elf by making him taller and much grander. His images depicted Santa living at the North Pole and reviewing a naughty and nice list and eventually gave him elves and a host of other characteristics which are part of the icon of Santa Claus.

Of course the legend continues to grow today with cartoons, and various stories of how Santa got his start and how he involves himself in the lives of people who doubt his existence.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Joss Whedon TOP 10 Writing Tips


Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. But the writer and director has also worked unseen as a script doctor on movies ranging from Speed to Toy Story. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.

1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

2. STRUCTURE
Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’

4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.

5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.


6. LISTEN
When I’ve been hired as a script doctor, it’s usually because someone else can’t get it through to the next level. It’s true that writers are replaced when executives don’t know what else to do, and that’s terrible, but the fact of the matter is that for most of the screenplays I’ve worked on, I’ve been needed, whether or not I’ve been allowed to do anything good. Often someone’s just got locked, they’ve ossified, they’re so stuck in their heads that they can’t see the people around them. It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.

7. TRACK THE AUDIENCE MOOD
You have one goal : to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times. One of the biggest problems I face when watching other people’s movies is I’ll say, ‘This part confuses me’, or whatever, and they’ll say, ‘What I’m intending to say is this’, and they’ll go on about their intentions. None of this has anything to do with my experience as an audience member. Think in terms of what audiences think. They go to the theatre, and they either notice that their butts are numb, or they don’t. If you’re doing your job right, they don’t. People think of studio test screenings as terrible, and that’s because a lot of studios are pretty stupid about it. They panic and re-shoot, or they go, ‘Gee, Brazil can’t have an unhappy ending,’ and that’s the horror story. But it can make a lot of sense.

8. WRITE LIKE A MOVIE
Write the movie as much as you can. If something is lush and extensive, you can describe it glowingly ; if something isn’t that important, just get past it tersely. Let the read feel like the movie ; it does a lot of the work for you, for the director, and for the executives who go, ‘What will this be like when we put it on its feet ?’

9. DON’T LISTEN
Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system ; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter. But the process drives you in that direction ; it’s a homogenising process, and you have to fight that a bit. There was a point while we were making Firefly when I asked the network not to pick it up : they’d started talking about a different show.

10. DON’T SELL OUT
The first penny I ever earned, I saved. Then I made sure that I never had to take a job just because I needed to. I still needed jobs of course, but I was able to take ones that I loved. When I say that includes Waterworld, people scratch their heads, but it’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Anything can be good. Even Last Action Hero could’ve been good. There’s an idea somewhere in almost any movie : if you can find something that you love, then you can do it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how skilful you are : that’s called whoring.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Secrets to Writing a Killer Query Letter

The first thing to remember, and never forget as you write your query letter, is that the purpose of the query is to:   
GENERATE REQUESTS!!

There are 4 elements you want to incorporate into your query to make it a Killer Query Letter.

1. The Hook
2. The Setup
3. The Conflict
4. The Consequence
The purpose of the Hook is to:     

          a) Sum up the novel in one sentence
          b)  Propel the reader through the rest of the letter

RULES TO THE "HOOK":
1. Answer this question:  What is your book about?
2. Explain: in less than 40 words
3. Mimic the tone of the novel you have written
4. Never ask a question!!! NEVER!
5. Grab, Entice, Get Out

There is some debate as to whether a HOOK is really necessary. I still think it is the best way to grab a potential agent's interest. What's more, you probably already have the beginnings - if not more - of a hook already.

Remember you want to answer the question: "What is the book about?"

Imagine if someone came up to you and asked, "What's your book about?" No doubt this happens to you all the time. You probably respond, unprepared, by sputtering as you try to tell the person the entire story - without actually telling the entire story - if you know what I mean. 

Your best response, however, should be to simply respond with your HOOK. No more. A one-sentence tagline. Done. Generated interest and get out.
 
You can find HOOKS on the front cover of almost any book. Read the one sentence thing on the copyright page. There you are. Go to bookstores and read the taglines on the backs of books. Try Publisher's Marketplace. Every single deal that gets posted is a one-sentence summary of the book. It's perfect for this kind of thing.

 Examples:

                   In this town, you are what you hear.
          Whether its true love or magic he'll never know if he kills her first.
;           In a world of control or be controlled never trust the one you love.

Example of the HOOK for the book POSSESSION:

"In a world where Thinkers control the population and rules aren't meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces."

Example of the HOOK for the book BEWITCHED:

"When you're a level-headed school jock like Darren, the last thing you expect to be caught up in is a centuries-old prophecy about witches, let alone fall for a cute, mysterious new blonde girl who you must kill before she kills you."


As you can see, the hook "mimics" the tone of the novel (cursing, capitalization, voice), is about 40 words, does NOT ask a question, but uses strong statements instead. They "Grab," Entice," and then "Get Out."
 

RULES TO THE "SETUP":

     1. Provide a few details about your Main Character
     2. Include "World-Building" details, if it is pertinent
     3. The Catalyst that moves the Main Character into the Conflict
     4. Stick to the Main Character - What does he/she want?
     5. Introduce secondary characters as needed
     6. Get it done quickly (3-5 sentences, 75-100 words)
     7. Only include important details that build character or setting

DO      DON'T
- Drive the reader toward the conflict    - Bog us down in too many details
- Think of the Setup as a bridge - just go over it      - Name the whole cast of characters
- Give me the essentials I need to understand A) your character and B) your world      - Go on and on about your universe, or try to impress with 65-word sentences


Example of "Setup" for POSSESSION:

"After committing her eighth lame crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!)
     (details = Vi dislikes Rules and breaks them) (world building = the Rules are lame)
Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. 
     (world-building) 

She's found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn't think it's a word either) 
     (details = Vi is snarky) 
and exiled to the Badlands 
     (world-building = exiled to another land) 
--until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors."  
     (catalyst to the conflict = she's got powers and someone else wants them.)

Notice what happened:
1. The Setup sticks to what’s going on in Vi’s world
2. No mention of the male main character, Jag Barque
3. It is only 3 sentences in length, 58 words
4. A lot is told about the world, and the character in only a few words

Example of "Setup" for BEWITCHED: 

When Darren first saw Samantha she was floating above his high school gymnasium, invisible to everyone but him. The next day she's sitting in front of him in class, wowing his friends and causing unexplainable things to happen that only he seems to notice. But things really get strange (and complicated) when his dying grandfather explains to him that Darren is part of an ancient order, the “Pessum Ire,” whose duty is to destroy witches. He faces a serious dilemma since he’s almost positive Samantha is a witch…and he’s crushing on her pretty hard! 

Don’t spend the bulk of your words on the setup. Save that for the CONFLICT. Fiction is  all about conflict and what might happen if the main character doesn’t overcome that conflict.

Remember to mimic the tone of the novel. To help you do that: Write it in first person. Especially if the novel is written in first person.

Standard query letter rules say to write the query in third person, present tense. But who writes their whole novel that way? So write the query in the same style as the novel. Then convert it to third person, present tense.

Look at your setup. Is it too long? Is it bogging the reader down? Are you giving the essentials or the kitchen sink?

The Conflict 
Conflict is what your entire book is about

RULES TO THE "CONFLICT":

1. Identify what the Main Character wants
2. Expound on what's keeping him/her from getting what he/she wants = this is the CONFLICT
3. Stick to the main conflict

If you haven't identified what the Main Character wants during the setup, do it now.

State what's in the character's way. Highlight the main conflict, discard any secondary issues. Remember, this is what readers want: the CONFLICT. Be sure to lay it out for us. It should propel the reader to the end of the query letter.


What’s the main conflict here? Do we go into the whole love triangle thing?
No.
Main conflict: Vegan vampire wants to suck the blood of human girl. But he loves said girl. Love is preventing him from getting what he wants (her blood).

And here? What’s the main conflict? Not just in this scene, but overall? What’s the main conflict of the first movie? What does Jack want? What’s in his way? 
What does Will want? What’s in his way? Elizabeth?  
Can it be summed up up in three sentences?
That’s what you need to do in your query letter.




Example of "Conflict" for POSSESSION:

"Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame sentence.
       (Rule-breaker, she doesn't want people using her. Oooh, and a Bad boy! They're nothing but trouble.)  
Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else.
      (She's got problems. Lots of them.) 
Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes."
      (Whoa. She's important? How so?) 

In this case it only took 42 words to get to the main conflict. The ball on the conflict really started rolling in the setup. Remember how it said she was sentenced to the Association? Right, that’s her main conflict. She’s not gonna go there. Ever. So she has to dodge Greenies (people in her way), hovercopters (things in her way), her absent-father (emotional issues in her way), an ex-boyfriend (emotional issues in her way) and then Jag (who’s not really in her way, but he sort of is). So she’s got all this stuff combining against her. But that’s not all, my friends! She has power too. And sometimes that’s not a good thing.

Example of "Conflict" for BEWITCHED:

He doesn't know if his feelings are real or if he has been bewitched. But he hasn't much time to figure it out since his best friend is soon smitten by Samantha's gorgeous familiar and together they battle school warlocks posing as teachers, stop an evil witch from another dimension bent on fulfilling an ancient prophecy, and finally recover an ancient spellbook that holds the key to preventing witches from enslaving all of mankind.
The Consequence

What will happen if the main character doesn't overcome the conflict?
This is the element most frequently missing in a blurb. But it is equally important that you not give away your ending. You want to finish with a cliffhanger so that the agent is left wanting to know what happens.

RULES TO THE "CONSEQUENCE":

1.  The reader is hooked, set up and all conflicted...so now what will happen if the problems don't get solved? Answer this in the Consequence section.
2.  In the query letter, DO NOT spill your ending.
3.  Leave it a cliffhanger
4.  Tie to the hook = come full-circle

5.  Don't use questions - use only strong statements instead

Example of "Consequence" for POSSESSION:

 

"When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled."
     (Ooh, what will it be? You'll have to read to find out...)

Example of "Consequence" for BEWITCHED:

"But when Darren discovers his brother's death was due to a bewitchment he has to summon all his inner strength to know what he really must do: trust his feelings or do his duty."

     (Which one is more important? Which way will he go?)


You want to finish the query letter in such a way that the agent goes, “Oh, man I have to request the full manuscript of this RIGHT NOW and stay up all night reading to find out what’s gonna happen.” If you don’t elicit that response, you're probably going to get passed over. And remember that the purpose of the query letter is to… 
GENERATE REQUESTS!!

Look at your consequence. Has it come full-circle? Have you laid out the consequence? Have you left the reader hanging, salivating to know more?

TIP: Match up your first sentence (hook) with your last sentence (consequence). It should encapsulate your book. Be succinct and specific

Hook + Consequence = Book

The book POSSESSION:

In a world where Thinkers control the population and rules aren’t meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces. + When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled. 

And that’s the book. When people ask what this book is about, the response is: "It’s a young adult dystopian about this girl who lives in a brainwashing society and fights against the system.”  Nice and concise.
“Regular” people get brainwashing. They have no idea what dystopian is. And they get that teens don’t like to follow rules. So yeah. 2 sentences, 51 words. This query received full requests with this “skinny query.” Four of them. So make sure every word counts and serves to fully encompass your book. 


Look at your letter. Read the first sentence and then the last.

Does it make sense?

Has your query come full-circle?

Nothing Just Happens
You've got to realize that writing a Query Letter is a process. Break it down into the four parts and work on them individually.
Study other successful query letters. Identify in each one why they worked and then incorporate those ideas into your own letter.
Experiment if necessary, try new things. Write it out by hand in a notebook; leave the house and go outside and work on it.
It takes time and practice to craft a powerful query letter. Spend time on it! Take at least 2 weeks to work on the individual parts and get feedback from others. Test it on everyone you know. Show them several different attempts and ask which one they think works best.

Query Critiques
From the Query to the Call is available for free download at www.elanajohnson.com 
QueryTracker forum: http://querytracker.net/forum/
Agent Query forum: http://agentquery.leveragesoftware.com/
Absolute Write forum: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/
Query Shark blog (run by literary agent Janet Reid): http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
The Public Query Slushpile: http://openquery.blogspot.com/

Have your critique group read your query, just like they read your manuscript.  Get different opinions. See if you can’t make it better and better and better. Get more feedback. Make sure you have time for this step, as I’ve seen people do like, fifty drafts in an afternoon. The best piece of advice I got came from literary agent Janet Reid who said,“MUCH better! Another polish or two, just the kind of thing you'd do after you let it sit a week and go back to it with a fresh eye, and you've got a good letter. Good job!”
So make sure you give yourself time to get fresh eyes. And use others’ fresh eyes.
Query Basics 

Things often missing in many query letters. Basics that will set you apart from the rest.

1. Titles go in all caps: POSSESSION, BEWITCHED, ETC. Don't use italics or quotes.
2. Round your word count: POSSESSION is complete at 75,000 words, (they don't need 73,637 words).
3. Format the letter as a business letter using block-style. Use TWO hard returns between paragraphs, no indenting.
4. Put only 1 space between sentences.
5. Invite, don't ask. Never say: "May I send you the complete manuscript?" First of all that's a question, and second, it's easy for them to simply say "No." Invite them to read it instead: "The complete manuscript is available upon request." Then tells them they have to request it from you. You invite them instead of asking if they want it because they don't know yet whether or not they want it. It's all about generating that request.
6. Be assertive. Don't gush and don't use words like "I think," instead say, "I believe." It is stronger.  One last word that weakens things you say is "almost." Don't use it.
7. Almost NEVER ask questions. There are times to do so, but it is very rare. It is always better to use strong statements.
8. Remember to invite. Include: "The complete manuscript is available upon request." As mentioned above, this is an invitation to them to read it, not a request.
9. What about exclusives? They're a bad idea. Exclusives are not just bad for you, they're bad for everyone - plus, they're just pointless. Agents expect you to be querying widely, so there's absolutely NO REASON to limit yourself with an exclusive. If they won't read your manuscript because someone else might be reading it, I daresay you don't want them anyway.
10. One last reminder: Don't leave out the consequence in your query.

ONE MORE THING!        

Agents/Editors want to know about YOUR BOOK not… YOU
This might sound mean, but it’s true. You need to spend most of your time on your book, your query blurb and MUCH LESS time on you. They want to sell books. And yes, you help with that, but they don’t care if you were the first woman in Greenland or that you have five kids or anything like that.
Give them what they want. Remember you’re trying to generate requests, and to do that, you have to give them a query letter that makes them salivate. And it won’t be because of your finely crafted paragraphs about YOURSELF. It will be about your book. So, as far as a bio goes: Limit them to a sentence or two.

Outline
1. Introduction
2. Blurb (hook, setup, conflict, consequence)
3. Genre, Title, Word Count
4. Market Comparison
5. Author Bio
6. Publishing Credentials
7. Conclusion
8. Contact Information

These parts complete the business letter. Don't forget that a query letter is a business letter. Treat it as such!

Example Query Letter 1


Dear Ms. Andelman, (personalize the name and spell it correctly)

I read on your Agent/Query profile that you're "drawn to fiction with a unique voice." Because of this I believe you will be interested in my young adult novel, CONTROL ISSUES. (introduction)

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces. (Hook)

After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!) Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She's found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn't think it's a word either) and exiled to the Badlands--until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors. (Setup - the Catalyst to the Conflict) 

Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen. She bust out of prison with sexy bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame sentence. Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend--and Jag as a possible new one--leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she's more important than she realizes. When secrets about her "dead" sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled. (Conflict + Consequence) 

A dystopian novel for young adults, (genre) CONTROL ISSUES (title) is complete at 75,000 words. (word count) Fans of Lois Lowry's THE GIVER and Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES will enjoy similar dystopian elements, and a strong teen voice. (market comparison)

I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author of the QueryTracker blog by night. (author bio: brief - publishing credentials would go here if I had any) If you would like to consider CONTROL ISSUES, I'd be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you. (invitation) I have included the first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of this email. (conclusion)

Thank you for you time and consideration,

Name
Address
Phone number
Website/email
 



Example Query Letter 2


Dear Mr. Jackman, (personalize the name and spell it correctly)

I read on your Agent/Query profile that you're "interested in edgy YA fiction with paranormal overtones." Because of this I believe you'll find my young adult novel, BEWITCHED the type of fiction you are after. (introduction)

When you're a level-headed school jock like Darren, the last thing you expect to be caught up in is a centuries-old prophecy about witches, let alone fall for a cute, mysterious new blonde girl who you must kill before she kills you." (Hook)

When Darren first saw Samantha she was floating above his high school gymnasium, invisible to everyone but him. The next day she's sitting in front of him in class, wowing his friends and causing unexplainable things to happen that only he seems to notice. But things really get strange (and complicated) when his dying grandfather explains to him that Darren is part of an ancient order, the “Pessum Ire,” whose duty is to destroy witches. He faces a serious dilemma since he’s almost positive Samantha is a witch…and he’s crushing on her pretty hard!
(Setup - the Catalyst to the Conflict)

He doesn't know if his feelings are real or if he has been bewitched. But he hasn't much time to figure it out since his best friend is soon smitten by Samantha's gorgeous familiar and together they have to battle warlocks posing as school teachers, stop an evil witch from another dimension bent on fulfilling an ancient prophecy, and finally recover an ancient spellbook that holds the key to preventing witches from enslaving all of mankind. But when Darren discovers his brother's death was due to a bewitchment, he has to summon all his inner strength to know what he really must do: trust his feelings or do his duty.
(Conflict + Consequence)

BEWITCHED (title) is an urban fantasy novel for young adults, (genre) and is complete at 95,000 words. (word count) Fans of J.K. Rowling's HARRY POTTER series will enjoy similar magical adventure exploits with strong teen characters. (market comparison) 

I teach English online and write for several online marketing companies. My book, WHERE'S CHERRY SODA a middle grade book was published by Schmirnoff Publishing in 2010.  (author bio: brief - publishing credentials) If you would like to consider BEWITCHED, I'd be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you. (invitation) I have included the first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of this email. (conclusion) 

Thank you for you time and consideration,

Name
Address
Phone number
Website/email