I’m going to a writers’ conference in a few weeks and looking forward to the bushels of advice I will gather to improve my writing. In anticipation of meeting some agents to discuss my book, I have reworked my query (for the nth time) and wanted to run it by all of you.

Please, take a minute to read it. I don’t need detailed advice. Just a simple answer to this question: based on this query, would YOU want to read my book?


On November eleventh, Anna Wixim, mother of three, finds herself dead at the ripe young age of forty-four. After exploring the universe and watching her family grieve, Anna learns that she may choose life over death. Her space-time gap, the two-way portal between her life and death, remains wide open. Though no loving mother would stay on the dead side when offered the choice to live, Anna hesitates to return to the man she loves. Don’t judge; she has many reasons, real and imagined, to hesitate. For one thing, the universe is full of wonder. Time is boundless. Exploring it all at light speed is exciting. And she doesn’t have to do laundry.

Eddie is devastated by his wife’s death. Before she died, he feared Anna would leave him. After her death, he fears she won’t return. Based on his travels to death and back on his own deathday, he understands the rules of the universe and knows all about Anna’s free choice to come back. But he also knows that she doubts his love. See, Eddie forgot to tell his wife that he loved her. For twenty years. On top of that, he wasn’t even nice for the last two months of her life. Don’t judge; it wasn’t fair for the universe to reveal his wife’s deathday to him. Eddie couldn’t function normally, couldn’t have a conversation or take a full breath, faced each year with the relentless approach of November eleventh.

From her view on the dead side, Anna’s perspective of the earth and the life she left behind should be clarified. Instead, she is confused and wanders aimlessly through space and time, dodging her decision while she tries to understand why she died. Alive, Anna considered leaving her husband. Dead, Anna naively believes she has escaped this difficult choice. How cruel for relationship problems to tag along to the dead side. Ultimately, Eddie decides for her.

Told in two voices with a cushion of humor to ease the pain, OR NOT TO BE (OA (old adult) contemporary fiction) is complete at 66,000 words, ready to be fervently discussed in book clubs and class rooms, and shared sister to sister, mother to daughter, husband to wife.

By day, I am a chemistry professor, mother of two, and wife of the same man for almost thirty years. My knowledge of the molecular structure of (almost) everything, coupled with my long and strong relationship with my husband, contributed to the anguish of this tale of life, death, and love.


4 thoughts on “Becoming a better writer

  1. “And she doesn’t have to do laundry.” Ha! Mom, this is great. Only thing is I’d lose “ripe” in the first sentence…it sounded sarcastic to me and the rest of your tone was pretty somber and reflective (I think?).

    Love you! You’re wonderful 🙂

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