Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Agent,

While running with scissors, seventh-grader, Lucienne trips and loses her eye. By age sixteen, Lucienne feels like a freak despite having a prosthetic eye, and wonders if the sloth Jeremy tripped her on purpose. She wished she knew the truth.

One morning Lucienne can not only see through her prosthetic eye, but sees her mother’s lies.  Losing the dad she loved to cook with was bad enough but being stuck with her workaholic mother who lies isintolerable. The eye reveals the secrets she’s always suspected her mother is hiding about her missing dad. Lucienne must decide whom to trust when everyone she loves harbors secrets.  And she must decide to dig for untruths that may upset the house of cards she lives in. The truth will put Lucienne in danger, and she’ll have to use the magic that created her eye to save lives.

Readers of Far from You by Lisa Schroeder will connect with Lucienne’s grief over her father and strained relationship with her mother, while readers of Divergent by Veronica Roth will be swept up in the plot twists. This manuscript is written in the first person from Lucienne’s point of view. It alternates chapters between Lucienne’s past and present. These mosaic tiles culminate to reveal several betrayals and one deadly secret.

Thank you for your consideration of my 66k-word YA fantasy Naked Eye.  A synopsis and complete manuscript are available upon request.  This is a multiple submission.

I’m a member of SCBWI.  My short story “Daisy” was included in the 100 Stories for Queensland anthology and my vampire short story “Allured”will appear in the upcoming YA Fangtales anthology. I’m a substitute teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools, which gives me ample opportunity to observe teenagers in their natural habitat.  Thank you for your consideration of this manuscript.



You know how adults always warn children not to run with scissors because they could lose an eye and to stop tipping back their chairs because they could crack open their skulls?  I’ve never cracked open my skull from tipping back a desk chair, but in 7th-grade, I ran with scissors and lost an eye.

Three years later, my prosthetic eye looks and works almost like my old eye.  The unusual amber hue of the left eye has been recreated to an amazing degree. If my left eye moves to the left or right or up or down, so does my fake one, though not as well.  At this point, most people have forgotten I’d lost an eye.  I didn’t forget. For one, it doesn’t feel like my old eye and I know if I step into sunlight, my left pupil dilates while my right one does not because it’s always set for “moderate light” as Doctor Ocular calls it.

I also haven’t forgotten how the other kids at school treated me for the year I'd refused to get the glass eye.  Only Orion and Morgan have stuck with me.

Sitting in the rustic kitchen eating yogurt, I watch my mother blab into her cell phone at the other end of the table. “Yes, if there’s anything really wrong after the inspection, you can walk away without penalty….  Yes,the inspector will be very thorough. Don’t worry, I’m here for you.”

I smirk because at least she’s there for someone.


The Agent said...

I'm not sold on the premise. But this might be subjective. Your comparables need to be more in the same genre. Divergent, especially, shouldn't be used because it's Dystopian. Recheck your own genre too--fantasies are set in other worlds.

Sample Page: Your transition between backstory and current action is jarring, a device to convey information then move on with the story. An agent might continue reading but they'd be wary.

Melodie Wright said...

Concept aside (how does a glass eye get magic?) I think your query needs a little tightening. Here is what I mean w/ my edits (this is just an idea, you'll obviously write it much better!) :

One morning Lucienne can not only see through her prosthetic eye, but sees her workaholic mother’s lies. The eye reveals the secrets her mother hides about her missing dad. Lucienne discovers everyone has a secret and digging for the truth grows a danger that threatens those she loves.

I suggest giving an idea as to what ths secret re: dad is - is he a secret agent? either narrow this down or tell us this to give an idea of the stakes.
Good luck!

Unknown said...

At first I didn't think it had anything to do with magic and that she just discovered a lie her mom told. So that could be more clear.

You could also include more about what happens after that. What does she do about this new knowledge? What happens in the story? Where do Lucienne's actions take her? What are the consequences of her actions?

You could cut paragraph 3 and the line about being a teacher.

also change the other part to:

NAKED EYE is a 66,000-word urban fantasy. (or contemporary fantasy) Thank you for your consideration.

sample page: I like the idea for the first paragraph but you might get better impact if you reword it.

When I was in 7th-grade I ran with scissors and lost an eye. Laugh all you want but it really happened. I should have listened to my dad.

I don't know if that's exactly what you want. Play around with a few versions and get friends to tell you what they like better.

I like the last line. Snarky.

Sharon Bayliss said...

This sounds like a creative premise. I am confused about how the eye works. How can she "see" a lie? I know you don't want to add too many details, I think it would help the reader to know a little more about how the magic works. I suggest removing the entire third paragraph.

Good luck!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

I get the premise with the magical eye, but as the others mentioned, this sounds like urban fantasy or paranormal to me. Otherwise, I would read on to see where this is going.

Nick Sanford said...

Hey there! I love the idea of a magical prosthetic. Like others, I'm a little confused on how the eye "works," but I'm sure that can all be fixed with a line or two in the query. I imagine it comes across clearer in the manuscript.

Perhaps the most perplexing part is the "seeing" a lie. Does she see something specific on a liar, a certain something that she can't see on people who aren't lying?

Also, this sounds more like an Urban Fantasy because it appears to be set in our own world.

Thanks so much for sharing your work with us! Good luck with everything!

Melinda said...

I think you need to focus more on the interesting part. Like others have said...what's the deal with this eye, what changed, and how does it work?

Also cut the chair tipping back make the eye losing part more banging. :) Nice job on the sample page.

Jennifer Pickrell said...

The premise definitely caught my attention.

With the query:

In the first paragraph - will Jeremy have anything to do with the story? Seems like you could remove that part and have the hook of the magical eye sooner.

Like the other commenters, I'm confused over how the eye works. Think the part about her missing dad could be reworded, because when I read "losing," I thought at first that he'd died. And when did he disappear?

"House of cards" sounds cliche, so would remove that. Also, third paragraph isn't really necessary - it's telling, rather than showing, and reader will figure out quickly the story is in 1st person and alternates between past/present.

Sample page:

Would take out the leaning back in chairs part to give first paragraph more "umph." Transition between the narrative and action is somewhat jarring. Like MC's last line b/c it shows right away there's tension b/t her and mom.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

There seems to be a big question about genre. I've been told urban fantasy is gritty and takes place in a city. High fantasy takes place in other worlds.

I did some research after reading your comments and realized that contemporary fantasy is the correct sub genre.

I've worked on transition as well.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I don't think the first paragraph of your query is necessary, especially since Jeremy is never mentioned again.

Other than that, I think the query is fairly good. I would like to know how the eye works exactly, and what changes so that now she can see lies when before she couldn't.

As others said, this is YA urban (or contemporary) fantasy.

I enjoyed the voice of the excerpt, although I don't think all of the details in the second paragraph are needed, or at least not right in the beginning of the story. Other than that, I enjoyed it.