Oprah, do you know Ang Lee?

I went out to lunch with my parents, feeling a touch discouraged by the progression of my book (still waiting to hear back from two interested agents).  My mother, always a cheerleader, suddenly said, “Oprah, do you know Ang Lee?”

We all laughed, even as we wondered who out there, with our six degrees of separation, knows Ang Lee.  So, if you read this, and somehow your cousin once made a tall, skim, extra hot, no water Oprah Chai Latte for Ang Lee’s cousin…well, perhaps you could put in a good word?!?

Here’s my pitch:

“Inside the River,” is a story about carrying the shame of someone else’s wrongdoing and then letting it go.  It’s a story about reclaiming that which is divine and magical within all of us.  My book is an affirmation and a prayer of sorts, in whatever way you believe that to be: Ana grabbed a fist full of dirt with one hand and let the shadows out; Emma burned a bouquet of scents representing Antonio’s life of yearning and misread intentions; Carmen, the large and looming white-haired tambourine playing gypsy declared herself the leader of her tribe; and Eloisa carried the green bag with the magical book inside, believing it her destiny to search for the blue haired girl who made the fish forget their pact of silence and sing for freedom.

Ultimately, it is a story which asks the question: Is our life predetermined, already sketched in a magical book, or can we change what is on the page?

Thank you for reading, sharing, and maybe becoming some degree of separation…


“Inside the River” Query Letter

Thank you readers (and Ang Lee, even though he doesn’t know it yet) from 52 different countries for sharing this journey with me.

I’m seeking representation for my novel, “Inside the River.”  I believe this story will appeal to you because it explores the raw emotions of suffering and forgiveness.  There is also a magical book, a white haired tambourine playing gypsy, and the fish who forgot their pact of silence and sang.  “Inside the River,” bridges Magical Realism with Contemporary Women’s Fiction, and totals 94,000 words.

No life comes without some struggles — the toughest trick in life though is how to heal ourselves and love.  “Inside the River” follows the poignant stories of two women, separated by centuries, but connected by their shared history of having suffered as girls and then struggling to learn how to heal themselves and love years later in their lives.

In an ancient time when magic was still real Ana, a blue haired girl, hears fish singing, and jumps inside the river beside her small village to get away from her suffering.  In modern day New York City, Emma mysteriously hears the same song and responds, also to get away from her own suffering.  But are these two stories intertwined beyond a song from inside the river?

After crossing the river, Ana becomes a fortune teller and meets Eloisa, a red haired gypsy, who has been searching for the blue haired who made the fish forget their pact of silence.  Emma, on her way to a Starbucks in New York City, meets Antonio, an old man who tells Emma how the tinges of blue in her hair remind him of Ana, whose story was passed down through his family for centuries.  Indeed, Ana and Emma’s stories are eventually revealed to not only parallel, but also mysteriously interact and, in the unfolding of their lives, the reader learns how both women are able to heal and break the cycle of suffering.

“Inside the River” will appeal to book clubs — it is “The Shadow of the Wind,” meets anything by Paulo Coelho.  This is my debut novel.  I hold a BA in English Lit and a Masters in English and Writing Education.  The manuscript is complete and available at your request.

Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to the possibility of working together.


Mindy Levine



Picking a thread

I am inside the fascinating and slightly torturous exercise of writing the synopsis of “Inside the River.” I have to summarize the entire book into one single-spaced page.  My book is over 94,000 painstakingly chosen words and I’ve just spent the last week writing out every scene in the book so I can start paring it down, and cutting out periphery characters and moments.  I need to find the one thread of the story, and let that thread capture the magic and entice the publishing world.

How to pick one thread? If we went through our lives, or even a year of our life, how can we pick the thread that wounds itself around the scenes of our lives propelling our story forward in ways memorable as well as full of mistakes.  Do we ignore the errors (we only get a page) or do we recognize how those choices led us to where we are now?  And what about the minor characters who were fun and exciting or memorable for their reasons…how hard it is to not mention them at all.

The skeleton of our life becomes those moments when we decided to do something or were terrified and did nothing and let others decide. What happens to a story or a life when that thread is not our own?  What happens to the thread when pulled ragged or left slack for so long? What happens if the thread doesn’t make sense by itself or is so complex that it ends up becoming a knot?

Oh, the thread analogy can go on for a long time, and so can this part of the process if I let it.  I guess I just have to trust the story I’ve written, and let the hook speak for itself:

Ana is forced to wear a cap to hide the blue in her hair because her mother believes she is a demon born from the river.  When the fish sing to Ana, she dives in and away from her suffering, washing the blood off her thighs. She becomes Ana the fortune teller, and meets Eloisa, a red-headed gypsy who has been searching for the one who made the fish forget their pact of silence and sing.

Emma lives in today’s world, with a young daughter and an abusive husband.  One day, she meets Antonio, a blue-eyed old man who tells her she looks like Ana, the story passed down through generations of his family –a son of sons, born beside a daughter of many daughters.  Emma becomes enraptured by the story that tickles her memory.  Was their meeting coincidental?  How comes she feels like Ana is real?  And why, upon hearing the story of Ana, does she begin to harness her courage to heal?

“Inside the River,” is the character driven story of two women, set in different times, seductively crossing the line between reality and magic.

So grateful for any advice….xoxo



Eloisa, the red-haired gypsy fortune teller of “Inside the River.”

So, what does Ana do after the fish sing to her and carry her away? She meets Eloisa, a red-haired gypsy fortune teller who teaches Ana how to use her gifts — the magic that is already inside of her.

Upon their meeting, Ana serves Eloisa tea, and as it is written in my book:

I poured the hot water onto the mint leaves and rested the cup beside her.  The top of her left hand was painted in a blue design of two circles with a dot inside and dots all around.

“Your hand is beautiful.  What does it mean?”

“It means one drop of water can create a ripple of change.  I had it done to remind me.”

“Remind you of what?”

“To keep looking for you.”  Eloisa gently touched my shoulder.  “I didn’t want to leave The Great One.  I spent many seasons learning the ways of truth from Him.  He taught me in order to teach the one with blue hair.”

“What will you teach me?”  I looked up.

And so the story goes…

What I love about Eloisa is her fierce sense of teaching.  All my greatest teachers have,  in subtle and more obvious ways, forced me to ask myself…

What do I want to learn?