Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Agent,

The sky looked black for days after the bomb killed her parents, and seventeen-year-old Lena Lowell will do anything to make sure the sky stays blue from now on.

When Lena’s boyfriend, Will, tells her that he feels an agitating energy surging through his body, he asks her to keep it quiet. As the son of the President of the Republic, Will doesn’t want the press to know he’s losing his mind. But Lena can feel the electricity humming beneath his skin and one touch sends a prickly sensation through her body.

Lena hates to watch her stalwart boyfriend suffer in private, so she investigates the cause of the energy on her own. Before she can find an answer, Will goes missing and the President suspects that the King of the enemy nation has kidnapped him. Lena must discover the secret of Will’s affliction and help bring him home before the Republic stops searching and starts bombing. If she fails, war will take away everything she loves for the second time in her life.

STORMLAND is a 70,000 word young adult fantasy. It was a runner-up in the Made of Awesome blog contest judged by agent Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates. I have also been published in small press magazines such as Nerve Cowboy.

At your request, I would be pleased to send you more of STORMLAND. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
S.B.


STORMLAND

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?”

The man sat under a bridge with his niece huddled beside him. The black rain seeped through the cracks above and left little pools of ash on the girl’s pale skin. He moved her over in the hopes of finding a dry spot. The child reminded him of a doll left out in the rain. He had cut the tangles from of her hair and now it rested around her ears in uneven clumps. She deserved something better than this.

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?” she asked again.

“Lena, dear, I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do.”

“The sky is a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans. But someone threw a rock at the sky and it shattered. So now we only see what was behind the sky.”

“Can they fix it?”

“No.”

“I’m hungry,” she said.

The brush nearby crackled and in an instant the smuggler was there. Far too soon. The child pressed herself closer to him.

“Lena, I want you to go with this man.”

Her little green eyes went wide with fright. “I want to stay with you.”

He took a deep breath to hold back tears. “I am no good at taking care of you. He is going to take you to a better place. He is going to take you to a place where the sky is still blue.”

“Will Mommy and Daddy meet me there?”

Each time she asked about them, he felt like his heart would burst. But this would be the last time he would have to say it.

“You won’t see Mommy and Daddy for a long time. They will meet you in heaven.”

10 comments:

The Agent said...

I get no sense of what the world is like here. And your first sentence, rather than hooking me, confuses me. Too much plot setup in the query; you need to do a breif overview of who your main character is (setting since it's fantasy), and the main conflict without the specific details.

Good overview of your bio, add another magazine for more credibility.

Sample Page: I'm assuming this is prologue. If I had had twenty of your pages, I would have skipped all of the prologue and went to the first page. You rely too heavily on dialogue to TELL and forward the plot.

Sharon Bayliss said...

Thank you for the great feedback! It helps a lot.

Sharon Bayliss said...

Hello feedback givers!

Based on the agent's feedback, I reverted to an earlier draft which has more world building. If you don't mind, let me know what you think about this one.

Thanks!


Dear Agent,

The sky turned black for days after the bomb killed her parents, and seventeen-year-old Lena Lowell will do anything to make sure the sky stays blue from now on.

Living as a refugee in the Republic, Lena dates the aspiring young politician, Will Cole. She hopes that as future President and First Lady they can end the violence between the Republic and Lena’s homeland of Trion. However, the genetically engineered royal family of Trion plans to assassinate the son of the General who bombed their Capital, who happens to be Will.

When Will tells her that he feels an agitating energy surging through his body, he thinks he’s losing his mind and wants it kept quiet. But Lena can feel the electricity humming beneath his skin and one touch sends a prickly sensation through her body. Lena hates to watch him suffer, so she investigates the cause of the energy on her own. Before she can find an answer, Will goes missing and the President suspects that the King of the enemy nation has kidnapped him. Lena must discover the secret of Will’s affliction and help bring him home before the Republic stops searching and starts bombing. If she fails, war will take away everything she loves for the second time in her life.

STORMLAND is a 70,000 word young adult fantasy. It was a runner-up in the Made of Awesome blog contest judged by agent Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates. I have also been published in small press magazines such as Nerve Cowboy and Nomad's Choir.

At your request, I would be pleased to send you more of STORMLAND. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
S.B.

Sharon Bayliss said...

Oops, I meant to change it to, "the President suspects that the King of Trion has kidnapped him." in paragraph three.

The Agent said...

Sharon, this is a better version. Your opening sentence works in the long run, but at first it's confusing whether it's metaphorical or literal. I'm not certain it's necessary for you to detail the "electic humming." Makes me wonder how much magic is in your book, but without more details (which I already warned you against) it isn't needed. It's enough that he's kidnapped and she has to fight against her greatest fear (bombs).

Sharon Bayliss said...

Great suggestions. I'll put some more work into the hook and re-examine the electrical humming detail. Thanks again!

Jessica said...

The second query I like a lot better.

The sample page: I loved it when I read it on Shelley Watter's blog but after reading the query the first page confused me and lost me. By itself it brings you in and makes you want to read more.

The concept is cool and I think you are very close. Good luck.

Beth said...

I agree with Jessica. The second query is much clearer. I would keep reading. I like the premise. good luck

Sharon Bayliss said...

Thanks ladies!

Nick Sanford said...

I enjoyed your first page a lot! I personally love the long section of dialogue and think it works to draw the reader into your story.

As for the query, I think the second one works much better. I'd be interested in seeing more of how magic itself plays a role in your world. Aside from the strange energy buzzing inside Will, I don't get a strong sense of the magic that will be present later on.

Thanks so much for sharing! I definitely read the entire query and finished the sample page without stopping. I enjoyed it a lot. Good luck with everything!