When I tell people I wrote a book, the first question they ask is, “What is it about?”. Summing up an 80,000 word novel in a few sentences isn’t easy. It was even harder when I sat down to write the dreaded query letter I would later send to publishers and agents, trying to interest them in seeing my manuscript. I spent hours researching sites that offer advice on writing queries. The one thing they all seemed to agree on was that the first couple of lines need to hook the reader into wanting to know more. I agonized over it for days, writing and re-writing those first sentences. Finally, I read something that made it click. Fiction stories nearly always start with a “What if”. What was Tranquility’s what if? What if someone was put into the dementia unit of a nursing home when they didn’t have dementia? There I had the premise of my story and the hook line for my first query letter summed up in one sentence.
Once I explain what Tranquility is about, it’s the characters people are interested in. No matter how plot-driven a story is, it’s the characters that matter. It’s hard for a reader to care what happens next if they don’t care about the characters. I want readers to become as invested in Tranquility’s characters as I am, to care about their goals, their dilemmas and what’s at stake for them.
Today, I’m including a brief synopsis of Tranquility and a few of the main characters. I hope it intrigues you enough to want to read on.
Tranquility belies its name. Behind the nursing home’s serene exterior hides a sinister secret as old as the home itself.
Soon after being transferred to Tranquility’s dementia unit, support worker Sarah Scott suspects the foul-tempered employee in charge of bathing residents of abuse. Doing the right thing could mean losing her job. Sarah’s a young, single mom, struggling to find a balance as she cares for her grandmother and acts as an emotional crutch for her mother. Unemployment is not an option.
Meanwhile, Sarah questions whether her newest resident, Edie, belongs in the locked unit. The feisty, Scottish woman certainly doesn’t act as though she has dementia. Sarah’s determined to have her released, but her plans are thwarted when Edie risks her own freedom to help find the proof needed to stop the abuse.