Dear Literary Agent [I always personalize this with a specific agent’s name],
Fourteen-year old, found art collector Penny Reynolds doesn’t think she’ll find anything unique ever again after she and her family move from lavishly weird Portland, Oregon, to the middle of nowhere in Coill, Montana. To her thankful surprise, Penny strikes trash art gold when she finds a pair of shoes in the gutter, locally known as Lost Soles. These forsaken footwear contain cryptic riddles written by an anonymous author who has been scattering a bizarre masterpiece in the streets of Coill for decades.
How can there be culture and art, in a town that doesn’t even have a vinyl record store? If Penny is ever going to survive in Coill, she needs to follow the foot print clues of the Lost Soles to find their beginning, and prove that her new hometown isn’t a dead end. Penny sets out on a quest to find the author of the Lost Soles by questioning potentially dangerous street denizens, performing stakeouts, tracing police broadcasts, and without overdoing it whatsoever, breaking into the vault of the local art museum. Along the way, she learns to question what art is, and what being a true artist is all about. And that she has an unhealthy obsession with footwear.
Complete at 60,500 words, THE SIDEWALK LABYRINTH is an adventurous middle grade mystery that will appeal to audiences who enjoyed following the clues in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and the emotional need to solve the mystery of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I will be simultaneously submitting this query letter to other agencies. I have a B.A. in Literature and Writing for Secondary Education from Carroll College, and am hard at work on another novel.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your reply.
Kristan Edward Delaney
The Sidewalk Labyrinth is full of music, and I have created a soundtrack playlist of the all the songs in the order they appear on Youtube.
This book would not have happened without the help and guidance of a some very talented people.
Brendan Davis – Author of private investigation curriculum materials, and the genius behind Penny’s scanner trick. Currently a fugitive extradition specialist, Brendan is merely biding his time until the world is ready for what he is intended.
Heather Dickerson – Teen services librarian, and visionary reader who emphasized the book’s playlist.
Gretchen Edelen – High school English teacher, and editor, Gretchen gave the book the final polish before I began querying.
Jesse Franzen – Middle school English teacher, and author, Jesse had the patience to read very early drafts of the book and give me his advice.
Suzanne Schwichtenberg – Librarian and writing coach, Suzanne was the leader of the Last Chance Writer’s Workshop, the group I attended for many years before finally finishing my novel. Editor, reader, listener and friend, Suzanne gave the book, and my writing, guidance that turns simple words into memorable prose.
Nikki Whearty – Librarian and author, Nikki’s enthusiasm and support made me feel like I was writing something teens would like to read.