Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Agent,

Danielle Angeletti isn’t a straight A student. She doesn’t do sports or paint or sing or play chess. But if there’s one thing she knows she’ll be good at, it’s magic. So when her 18th birthday comes and goes, and her magic remains dormant, she’s crushed. Still, Danielle stubbornly buries her disappointment, replaces healing runes with prom dresses, levitation spells with college applications.

After a sorcerer ambushes her and her brother Jamie, Danielle is torn between elation and a panic attack when her magic finally awakens and saves her life. But she’s ready to give it all up again if it meant the knife buried in her brother’s gut would disappear too. Worse, removing the blade does nothing but aggravate Jamie’s condition, and a misguided attempt at a healing rune triggers a curse that turns his own magic against him.

With her hold on her new powers strenuous at best, Danielle must ask Chris, Jamie’s best friend and her best enemy, for help in destroying the curse. After they get trapped in a deadly labyrinth that’d put the Minotaur’s to shame, Danielle, Chris and a dying Jamie must battle mythical creatures, sorcerers, unwanted attraction and the most merciless enemy of all: time.

LEGACY is a 70,000 word YA contemporary fantasy. I believe it will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series and Jim Butcher’s HARRY DRESDEN series.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Danielle stared at the ground fifteen feet beneath her, and screwed her eyes shut as her breakfast threatened to make an unwelcome reappearance. Funny, she’d never had vertigo before. Then again, she’d never contemplated jumping out of a two-story window before.

Her hand sought the cold comfort of the metal bracelet strapped around her wrist. It pulsed with the same power it always did, sending sparks of warmth through her arm. The magic stored inside--her mother’s magic--felt different, though. On edge. Like a knife balanced on its point, about to tip over.

Reckless insanity on one side, bitter disappointment on the other.

Danielle blew out her breath and channeled her will through the bracelet. The metal slowly warmed against her skin--reluctant, a warning. But the shield obediently appeared around her, encasing her in a bubble of green-tinted energy.

Still, she hesitated.

She couldn’t stand here forever. Jamie was bound to come looking for her sooner rather than later, and then she’d have to explain why his sister was hanging over her balcony’s railing. She couldn’t imagine that conversation going well.

But she wasn’t suicidal. Just desperate.

Once the clock struck midnight, she’d officially be eighteen. She’d officially be normal. Powerless. Her mother’s bracelet would be the only spark of magic left to her. And what use was a shield against a horde of sorcerers?

Who would avenge her mother’s memory then?

Danielle took a deep breath, prayed to Gods she knew couldn’t hear her, and let her hold on the handrail slacken.


The Agent said...

This is one of those queries that doesn't shout at me, one way or the other. Your first paragraph gives me a good sense of who your main character is, but then that's lost with too many plot and characters details.

Sample Page: Good balance of narrative and action. I know who she is, what she wants, and, though I know she isn't going to actually die, I want to know what happens next.

Work on your query and you should see more postive feedback from agents.

Riley Redgate said...

Hey there!

One thing that stuck out to me a cold reader was the contradiction in your hook. You say Danielle "knows" she'll be good at magic. I take that to mean that she legitimately knows. Like, it's been proven, prophesied, etc. - not that she just ASSUMES she will be. When you said her magic stayed dormant, I was like, wait. But she *knew*...

I think something that could really give your query some oomph is a more present antagonist. You say the most merciless enemy of all is 'time' - but whose labyrinth is this? I'm picturing an urban fantasy at the beginning, and then halfway through we've got BAM a labyrinth. In my mind's eye, it falls out of the sky and traps them.

I don't know if a sense of place could be the thing to help this query. What type of city do they live in, where they can just stumble into an unsolvable labyrinth? This magic thing - is it heritable? An ancient family thing, etc.?

I think we're missing a few key elements. The query was easy reading for me and had nice flow, but at the moment it feels so middle-of-the-path that I don't feel like I can pass any judgment. The more detail we have, the more sure we'll be about the story we're getting, and imo that would be wonderful.

As for your first page? I loved it, for the most part. Your writing is squeaky-clean. The only part that gives me pause is the 'horde of sorcerers' bit. If she's getting chased, I don't get a sense of that frantic chase feel. The beginning conflict of vertigo/acrophobia is so internal that it makes me think from the start that she's absolutely alone, that the conflict is ONLY having to force herself to jump out of a building. (oh, only jumping out of a building... you know, easy stuff. :P) But the thing is that a horde of sorcerers chasing her is a battle against time, whereas vertigo is a battle against herself. They don't mesh in my mind unless you introduce them simultaneously. Get what I'm saying? Oh lord this comment is obscenely long. Maybe I've just misinterpreted it, anyway. Could be that she's NOT being chased, which would be great too.

Anyway. I hope some of the above is usable. The very best of luck to you and LEGACY!

Unknown said...

Another option for the beginning:

Danielle is excited to finally start practicing magic but then her 18th birthday comes and goes and she still can't cast a spell.

Who is this sorcerer who stabs her brother? It's worth bringing him up again, I'm sure he has something to do with the rest of the plot.

Sample page: I thought she was supposed to get her powers at age 18 not lose them. I'm confused.

Sharon Bayliss said...

I found your query to be engaging. It's well written and shows the character well, especially in the first paragraph. I suggest cutting down paragraph two. Just let us know that Jamie was cursed, Danielle found her magic, and she has to save Jamie. All the other stuff in that paragraph doesn't seem necessary for the query.

Good luck!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

With some tightening this query would be perfect, something I would read. I enjoyed your sample page as well and would continue reading. Good luck!

Beth said...

I enjoyed your sample and would definitely keep reading. Your query was well written as well. there is always that struggle between telling too much and not telling enough. Good luck.

Melinda said...

For me the query had too much info and my mind started to wander a bit.

Loved your line about seeing breakfast come up. Good job!

Sara said...

Thank you everyone, all your comments have been really helpful! And special thanks to the Secret Agent for doing this! I'll try to work on my query, tighten it some more as suggested. Thanks again!

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the beginning of your story.

I'd recommend taking out most of the first paragraph of your query because it's backstory. It becomes more interesting in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs.

Good luck!