Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Agent,

Liz Kavanagh was excited about school starting.  She was hoping that with her loudmouth younger sister, Anne, attending the same school, Liz would finally be able to shed her wallflower image.  Her other goal was to sort out her feelings for a longtime family friend, super-cute freshman Christian Doherty.  But everything changed when, on the night of her thirteenth birthday, Liz's parents  took her from their home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, to a place between Heaven and Earth. There, they let Liz in on the family secret: They are faeries. What Liz discovers is that she and her family are nothing like the tiny pixies she pictures from movies and books; faeries are actually strong, protective warriors.

Juggling her two worlds seem impossible at times especially when her secret not only ruins her once tight relationship with her younger sister but the strain exposes them both to great harm. Adding to her misery is an intense faery, Mac, who unlike Christian doesn’t mask his feeling for Liz. At last she feels comfortable with her progress to balance her two lives and she thinks her life can be normal, again. But when she discovers that an enemy has been lurking at her school she realizes neither of her worlds are safe and reminds herself that her life will never be normal again and must embrace her fate to save the people she loves, even if it means letting them go.

In Iron’s complete at 60,000 is a young adult fantasy that stands alone, but I have an outline for a series. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active member in my local writer's group.  I appreciate your consideration and would like to send you the entire manuscript at your request.

Thank you,
J.L.


IN IRON'S

In the coolness of the summer night, Liz Kavanagh crossed her backyard, trailing uncertainly behind her mother. Her heart beat faster with each step. Sure, it was her thirteenth birthday, and she was excited to hear that a surprise was waiting for her. But the party and the presents had been more than enough, and she found it strange that her mom had stopped her just as she was going to bed and led her outside. What kind of surprise would be out here, anyway, near the tree-lined edge of their property?

Her mother’s ivory skin seemed to glow faintly in the moonlight. Liz’s confusion grew as they drew closer to the cliff’s edge, and she concentrated on the comforting sound of the waves rolling onto the shore below. Her mom offered a gentle, reassuring smile as she stopped beside the largest oak, the one Liz’s little sister loved to climb.

Liz watched, wide-eyed, as the tree began to sway, and then shudder. The bark sank inward in spots, forming a rectangular seam. Then a section of the trunk just...swung open. The blackness inside looked dense and impenetrable. Instinctively, Liz reached for her mom. But her shock was so intense that, by the time her arm obeyed her brain’s command, her mother had already stepped through this bizarre doorway and was signaling for Liz to follow.

“Come now, love, and don’t be afraid, ” her mother whispered. “They’re all waiting for you.”

8 comments:

The Agent said...

This query doesn't scream at me, neither good nor bad. I started skimming during the second paragraph. A little too much detail.

Sample Page: I get no sense of who Liz is. Otherwise, it's written well enough.

Jessica said...

Agent,
Any advice, tips or suggestions to improve either? Thank you for your comments and for taking time to do this contest.
-JL

Marquita Hockaday said...

I like how it seems to be a normal story of coming to terms with a new step in life & then BAM- we're hit with the fairy idea. I think that can be grippig to an agent looking for a different fairy story-the warrior factor seems to be unique.

The first 250 words are interesting, but I do agree that we don't learn a lot about Liz. However, I like how you started right with the major conflict of the story.

Good job and good luck!

Melodie said...

I, too, like the way you jump right into the action...if you can do that AND give Liz a personality in 250 words, you are awesome.

your query is too wordy. It's a synopsis, not a blurb. As an editing idea - and you know your story better, just use this as an example - here's your first graph:

Liz Kavanagh thirteenth birthday present does two things: rips the veil off the faery world and introduces her to her heritage as a faery warrior.

Something like that is your hook. Then go into your blurb graph.
Good luck!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Hmmm... it does seem like you have two separate story lines in the query. What I mean is, it must take awhile for Liz to get to the place where her life "normalizes" -- and then you have a whole new obstacle. Not that this is bad, but I just wonder how long it will take to get to the bigger obstacle (ie. the enemy lurking at her school). Maybe focus on the problem(s) that occur in the first 50 pages. That may help you to simplify a little.

About the pages, this is completely subjective, but I stopped reading after the second sentence. I think talking about character's heartbeats is overdone in YA lately. Is there another way you can show that she's nervous?

Best of luck! This story sounds very interesting. :)

Amy

The Agent said...

The main reason I would reject this query--even above all the great advice the other readers have given you--is the age of the protagonist. This might be subjective, but to me, 13 is MG, not YA (and I don't represent MG).

Nicole Zoltack said...

There are too many details in your query and the hook gets buried. Start with something like Liz Kavanagh's life changed on the night of her thirteenth birthday when her parents took her to a place between Heaven and Earth. There, Liz learns the family secrets - they are faeries. And not Tinkerbell fairies, but strong, protective warriors.

The opening is well written but there needs to be more voice, more personality from Liz. Maybe you could describe the party and some of her presents.

Ruth Donnelly said...

Perhaps I've missed something, but I don't think there should be an apostrophe in the title. I'm assuming Irons is meant to be a plural, not a possessive. That immediately jumped out at me as incorrect, and may have subtly influenced my reading of the rest of the excerpt.