I’m sharing here my recently submitted cover/query letter, my synopsis, and my chapter breakdown. Even though producing the actual book is the hardest bit, a lot of writers, me included, baulk at the thought of doing all the bits and pieces around the submission. Maybe having a look at some examples might help those in a similar position.
My main advice for writing a book (and for life) ‘You’ve got to keep going, and you’ve got to make it good.’
Good luck to anyone who is in the middle of any kind of creative endeavour
Thank you for visiting
I attach a synopsis and the first three chapters of my book I fell in love with you and I cried, a spiritual, personal and travel memoir of a year in India and South East Asia. Word count 147,500
(Something about why you chose them in particular ‘I see from your profile that you are looking for…. and that you enjoy food writing)
I fell in love with you and I cried relays my journey from deciding to pack up my three bedroom home and career at the age of forty-eight to embark on a year of travelling and writing. It details my outer and inner journey as I find myself in foreign lands, with time and perspective to reflect on my life up to now and to come.
I have a long running personal blog on WordPress thisisrachelann.wordpress.com with readers who are supportive of me personally and have followed my travel journey with great interest, commenting that my travel writing makes them feel as if they are there too, admiring my honest vulnerability, and enjoying the descriptions of different foods.
I have been a dedicated writer for years, attending creative writing classes, self publishing small books and am a published writer of short stories of women’s erotica under the pen name Sadie Wolf.
I feel my book will appeal to people who enjoyed All the Way to the Tigers by Mary Morris, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.
I live on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal, an hour and a half from London which I visit regularly.
Thank you very much for your time
I fell in love with you and I cried
In April 2017 my husband and I asked ourselves, what would we do if we could do anything? It was scary but we decided to sell up, leave our jobs and go travelling, along the way unpicking the conditioning of property, career and security and exploring what a life with less stuff would look like. We gave away most of our possessions and in March 2018 we went travelling for a year to India (where we spent seven months in all), Thailand, Tokyo, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam.
My book documents the trip through the eyes of a relatively inexperienced traveller. The sights, sounds and colours of India and South East Asia, the physical and emotional ups and downs, my anxieties and my increasing confidence. I share the personal challenges, discussions, reflections and spiritual realisations of a year of travel and a mid life rebirth.
I write openly and honestly about the experience of being completely out of my comfort zone and then finding security living out of a small back pack and staying in forty different places. I describe the sensory and spiritual overload of India, the feeling of freedom in India to be oneself and the friends and connections we made.
At the same time, I describe my inner journey. Ever since I was eighteen my life had revolved around my son. I also had a mother with very strong opinions and I found it difficult to fully live my own life outside of her shadow. I had also struggled with suicidal feelings on and off since I was a teenager. The trip was me doing something completely for myself.
Towards the end of the trip, events with my son brought me back to the most difficult periods of his teenage years. More than a decade later, on the trip of a lifetime, I was forced to relive and confront my worst moments of pain, shame, guilt and regret; to return to that place which I had never really left, and find a way to accept it and move on.
My journey is about self acceptance and finding a way to forgive myself. It’s also about reclaiming the life I wanted before it’s too late and about trying and learning to be happy.
I fell in love with you and I cried
Chapter breakdown with word count
Chapter One Following the White Rabbit Harleston UK, Delhi- Goa India 10,000
Arriving in India, first impressions, culture shock, getting sick. Also the journey of dismantling our home and lives in the months prior to the trip.
Chapter Two Happy Hippies Hampi- Goa India 10,000
The sweet sensory overload and spirituality of Hampi, the moment I fell in love with India. Self esteem wobbles, and finding myself as a writer in Goa.
Chapter Three I stand by myself and I am not afraid Kerala India 10,000
A serendipitous meeting on a rooftop at Osho’s guesthouse in Varkala led to an evening of connection with others on the same path, discussing spirituality and our life purpose.
Chapter Four The Rains Kerala India 12,000
The monsoon. A big spider and a mental health wobble.
Chapter Five I fell in love with you and I cried Kochi- Chennai- Pondicherry India 14,000
Staying at the famous amongst backpackers Broadlands Guesthouse in Chennai, visiting a temple with our Indian friend for an unforgettable evening of spiritual bliss.
Chapter Six Yes to Everything Thailand 10,000
A necessary visa and R&R break from India, meeting a friend and my step daughter. ‘You can have a spiritual moment even in a party place,’ a friend said later.
Chapter Seven Not all those who wander are lost Tokyo 9,000
I went to Tokyo alone for two weeks to meet a friend and fellow blogger and writer I had met on WordPress. Descriptions of Tokyo and discussions about writing and the big questions of life.
Chapter Eight Mountains are meant to be quiet Kolkata- Varanasi- Delhi India 11,000
Being overwhelmed in Kolkata, plus train journeys, sickness and doubt in a hotel room in Delhi and the intense spirituality of Varanasi on the Ganga.
Chapter Nine Sab Kuch Milega Pushkar India 14,000
Spiritual reflections, life discussions and self acceptance in Pushkar, which along with Varanasi is one of the holiest places in India. Stories of other travellers we met; ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In the UK, my son had most of his teeth removed, after years of neglect due to him suffering from anxiety. I stayed up talking to my husband half the night, trying process and accept the mistakes of the past.
Chapter Ten Every day beautiful, Everyday shit Kathmandu- Nagarkot Nepal- Kerala India 9,000
Meeting and connecting with fellow travellers. Meditation. Low mood and toilet troubles. A trip into the mountains and a view of the Himalayas. Discussions on life and spirituality with the beautifully named Oasis, manager of the Hotel at the End of the Universe. Returning to Varkala in Kerala to press pause and reflect on what we’d done, what it meant, and how we were going to approach the future.
Chapter Eleven So many things to Love Bangalore- Hampi- Bangalore India 9,000
Returning to Hampi, one of our favourite places, for Christmas. Soaking up the beauty of the temples, the scenery, the monkeys, cows, the food and the people.
Chapter Twelve A string of epiphanies Phnom Penh- Koh Rong- Otres Village- Siem Reap Cambodia 10,000
After India, the fun relaxation of the city, then the paradise beach of Koh Rong, meeting a fellow traveller in Otres Village. Whilst I was on a paradise beach, my son did a television interview in the UK about his side of his teenage years, which was personally devastating, dragging me back through the years to one of the worst periods of my life.
Chapter Thirteen Opposite the clouds Hanoi- SaPa- Dong Hoi- Hue Vietnam 8,000
Descriptions of Vietnam, interspersed with anxiety; my husband got very ill in Hanoi and did not fully recover until we were in Hue.
Chapter Fourteen Lord give me a song that I can sing Nha Trang- DaLat- Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam 10,000
Whilst we were in the modern Russian holiday resort of Nha Trang, another interview by my son in the UK brought me to the depths of suicidal despair. In DaLat, saved from bombing in the war by both sides, I experienced a spiritual high. In Ho Chi Minh City, spelling out my dreams for the future- to write and to travel- realising at last that I am responsible for my own happiness.
Total word count: 147,500