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The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne

How I Pitched The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne

Pitching books for agents is a lot like querying books for authors. We all need to write something to capture someone’s attention. This is essentially the query letter, pitch letter or cover copy.

At the request of readers, we’ll be doing a series of posts entitled How I Pitched. This will give you a peek at the agent’s pitch process, but also a sample of what are essentially query letters you can look at when writing your own.

The Secrets of Lost Stones

When I first read The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne I had a ton of thoughts, the first was that what she had pitched to me as a mystery was really women’s fiction. And while I wanted to represent the book, it also needed to be completely rewritten.

Melissa and I got on the phone. I explained my desire to work with her, but also what my expectations, thoughts, and revisions would be. We talked for an hour and a half. After much thought, Melissa signed and after a great deal of work we had a manuscript ready for submission.

I love this book and am so grateful that my vision for it matched Melissa’s and, eventually, an editor’s.

It is with great joy that I celebrate the release of The Secrets of Lost Stones by sharing my pitch.

The Pitch

I don’t believe we’ve met before, but Rachel Brooks and Jessica Alvarez both recommended you for my debut women’s fiction of magical realism. It’s a genre I have a special passion for and I am always excited to find an editor with similar interests. I’m excited to tell you about THE SECRETS OF LOST STONES by Melissa PayneLoose Ends –unfinished business the dead leave behind

Jess Abbot has never recovered from the violent death of her son eight years ago. Desperate for a job and a home, Jess finds herself the caretaker for Lucy, the “witch” of Pine Lake, a small mountain town that just might provide the refuge she seeks.

Unwilling to believe that Lucy is really a witch, Jess will admit that the elderly woman certainly has her eccentricities, including an obsession with “loose ends.” When Lucy invites Star, a homeless girl, to live with them, claiming she, like Jess, is a loose end, strange things make Jess wonder what really goes on in Pine Lake.

Star is plagued by nightmares of a past she won’t talk about, while Jess is suddenly haunted by visions of her son. And when Jess discovers a hand-painted rock in Star’s room, one that once belonged to her dead son, she is forced to confront the loose ends she never saw coming.

I look forward to sending you this manuscript.

Category: #PubDayBlogFaustLiterary/Upmarket FictionWomen's Fiction



  1. Wow. I that query made me want to know fill all the holes posed. I got a strong image of Lucy and Star, their mood and attitude, and indirectly connected to MC.

    Jessica you said this was pitched as a mystery but in the query it says women’s fiction and magical realism in housekeeping. Did you mean the genre that came across to you in synopsis paragraphs was mystery? And you wanted it to be straight women’s fiction?

    The idea it needed to completely re-written is a little frightening . But was that due to the genre switch?

    1. When Melissa first pitched this to me she had written a mystery. After rounds of edits, we had taken most of that material out to make it strictly women’s fiction with elements of magical realism. And yes, the rewrite was entirely because of the genre switch. The most beautiful elements of the book she sent to me were the elements of women’s fiction. The pieces that didn’t feel like they fit were the mystery elements.

  2. Ah I get it. This pitch is to the editor/publisher and the book had been rewritten already, hence genre being women’s fiction and magical realism

  3. I picked this book as my Amazon free First Reads of the month choice. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and picking a book can be painful. They sometimes pick me. Who is to say. My ebook library is full of unread choices that I can’t remember why I chose them. This was one I dove straight into without hesitation and just finished after a very little night’s sleep. I couldn’t put it down. I found this site after following the guides the book led me to. I was so curious! I’ve learned a lot that I needed to know.
    I’m nearly 70 years old and have been told many times I should write a book. I have an unfinished project that I started perhaps a decade ago. It’s a total mess and I may never finish it. Then again, I sometimes experience moments of inspiration from the work of published authors. This is my first time getting inspiration from the agent who pitched the book I just read. Thank you sincerely for that. It may not mean I will ever finish my novel (or short story if it comes to that). But for this bright happy moment, I feel magically connected to the written word in a new way.
    I look forward to any new pieces by Melissa.
    Best wishes to you and all involved in The Secrets of the Lost Stones.

    1. Thank you so so much, Cindy. That’s wonderful. Melissa is currently working on her next book, so stay tuned!

  4. That’s an enticing pitch, but what caught me with this post was the fact you took on a book that needed a complete rewrite and a switch in genre. I know this question is probably really about “x-factor” but I’m always curious about what makes an agent take on a manuscript that isn’t there? Does that happen often?

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