Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Secret Agent,

Presley O’Connor’s life has always been about keeping secrets.

As an Empath, eighteen-year-old Presley O’Connor feels perfectly in tune with those around her--until a note arrives wishing her a happy last birthday on her mutilated senior picture. Believing it’s a classmate’s sick idea of a joke, Presley keeps the threat to herself and bides her time.

But Presley is wrong about the note. Away at college, Reid Montgomery, a long-time crush, is having visions of her abduction and murder. When a serial killer makes his move, Reid is the one that rushes back to thwart the attempt. Blissfully in love, Presley is willing to ignore the dark secret Reid carries deep within his soul. When an accident reveals that secret, Presley’s life hinges on her ability to convince Reid that no matter what, she would have loved him anyway.

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 89,000 words. Pasted below are the first 250 words per the contest rules. Thank you for your time and consideration of my work.



The ants go marching two by two.

The words of a childhood song loop through my head. I swear that’s exactly the way I feel—like an army of red ants are marching just beneath the surface of my skin. Definitely creepy. Even for me. My heart thuds erratically as a blistering pain travels up my arm. The ants go marching seven by seven. The little one stops to look at heaven.

A blur of white flashes before my eyes; squealing tires drown out the beats of my heart. “Jerk!” I yell as a panel van speeds through the stop sign at the end of our street, almost taking out my car. “Can’t you read?” The driver doesn’t look my way. You could have killed me. And dying on my birthday isn’t what I had in mind when I got up this morning.

My heart, but not the trembling in my legs, slows as I turn onto Oak Tree Lane. The safety of home is only a half block away. Our house, a two story white brick, sits behind four large oaks. Our neighbor, bent over in her flower beds, straightens up when I pull in our drive. Her lawn, like most of those along our street, is manicure-perfect. “Happy birthday, Presley,” she calls as I walk to the mailbox.


The Agent said...

You rely too much on the romance aspect to carry the weight. Without caring about the characters, the agent/reader can't be convinced of the romance.

Sample Page: In an opening like this we either need more voice or more action. I might read a few more pages just to see if I can get a better sense of who Presley is, but you have pletny of opportunity on this one page that you don't take advantage of.

Sharon Bayliss said...

I'd like to get a little more taste of the paranormal aspect of your story in the query. How does being an Empath impact the story? I know you don't want to give too much away, but can you say more about Reid's dark secret? Maybe just a little tease? Is it paranormal?

Good luck with your story! I liked the description of the ants.

Jessica said...

The query: What is she biding her time for? And I am guessing that whomever is trying to kill her is the one who sent the picture and that is what it leads to Reid. Maybe you could take out the part about the picture and then give more details about the suspense and/or paranormal in the book. I think the query is good but I agree with Sharon what is the impact of being an empath?

Sample page: I liked the beginning, but I would have stopped reading after the first paragraph. I am sure something will be happening soon but the beginning is somewhat slow. I do like the tone of the character but I am not getting that much from her.

Good Luck and I think this story sounds like it will be very good.

Ru said...

I feel like I'm missing something in your second-to-last paragraph. It goes from serial killer to in love to her life in danger again. Is the serial killer still around? When did she go from crush to in love? Is the dark secret connected to the serial killer or not? By having it all in the same paragraph, it makes me assume it's all connected, and I'm not sure if that's the assumption you want the reader to make.

The other thought I have (grain of salt alert) is that Presley seems very passive in the query. She feels in tune, she keeps threats to herself, she "bides her time," she has to convince a boy she loves him -- whereas Reid has visions and thwarts a serial killer. I'd maybe describe the action that Presley is taking in a more dynamic way so she doesn't seem like just another a damsel in distress.

I love the aspect that both of them have paranormal abilities, fyi. Good luck with everything!

Beth said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I can see the flaws in this query. It was an older version I was trying to rework and there is more work to do! In short summary: Presley can feel others true emotions, read them like a lie detector ( if you will) and when she gets the threatening note she remembers the feeling of a classmate and thinks this is just a sick joke. It's actually from a serial killer. (he enjoys the cat and mouse game before he actually takes them). Relying on her ability instead of reporting this to the police is what gets her in so much danger. I will say Reid's visions are not the usual kind. Hundreds of years ago the Montgomery family sought a spell from a witch to protect their family and all first born sons have the power to protect themselves and those destined to be their soul mates: Presley for Reid. And so the story goes: Presley loves Reid and is willing to accept him and all the conditions of the spell (yep always those dang conditions)but Reid wants to walk away again rather than chance hurting her (and no he doesn't become any type of monster. How he can hurt her is in the story). If Presley's going to have that happy ever after,she has to show him that magic has nothing to do with their love...but first she's got to live through another round with the killer (yep, he comes back.) Thanks for all your comments. There's some awesome stories in this contest.