Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Agent:

A steam-powered Earth, where civilised men live in the skies and the land is a battleground, is facing annihilation. The only one who can save it is a disaffected young man who would rather watch it all burn.

The dystopian society aboard the flying city of Himmelberg has robbed eighteen-year-old Konrad Adler of his parents, his home, even his right to exist as a member of society. All he wants now is to find a place where he can live in peace, but that will be a long road for Konrad. Lord Dragomir, who conducts gruesome experiments on people, has a special interest in acquiring Konrad as his next subject.

Desperate to avoid landing on the Lord's operating table, Konrad stows away on a salvage gyrocopter. When the gyro crashes in the wilderness, Konrad finds himself hunted by both Dragomir and the savage synari whose martial prowess forced normal humans into the skies. As peace eludes Konrad, he finds himself at a crossroads--turn and fight Dragomir or simply save himself.

The journey will take Konrad across the Atlantic, battling sky-pirates alongside the alluring, yet aloof Zylphia, to the trenches of battle in the Carribean and back again.

Aetherstorm is a young-adult steampunk (for contest purposes this could be YA light fantasy or alternate SF, either is true) adventure at 77,000 words.

I am an army veteran and a member of the SCBWI. Thank you for your consideration.



Konrad Adler wormed his lanky frame up the steam conduit, and tried to ignore the burning in his shoulders. The duct had been shut down for maintenance moments earlier and the heat was enough to suck the air straight out of his lungs. In five minutes it would be cool enough for the cleaning crew; he had that much time to sneak into Otto Dragomir's laboratory, steal a couple of vials and escape.

Sweat ran in a steady stream down his face, heat and nerves drew moisture from him like a wrung sponge. Normally Konrad avoided anything that whiffed of criminal enterprise, he picked through refuse to sell, or ran errands for half-pennies to help his father out. That would not cover it this time though, they needed some serious coin, or he and his father would be finished.

He squirmed past the sixth access hatch. The brass wheel that opened the seventh hatch, the one leading to Dragomir's laboratory, was just a floor above. Another minute of squirming through the thick, oily air brought him abreast of his destination. Konrad reached out to turn the wheel, but the metal seared his hands. He choked back a gasp of pain and rolled his sleeves over his hands to try again. The wheel would not turn.

Konrad shifted his position and pressed his back against the duct wall. With only a thin layer of algensilk fabric to protect him, his skin began to scald within seconds.


Leigh Ann said...

Really great concept: steampunk dystopian!

Query: a bit confusing to me. It seems like you've interspersed sentences about the main problem, the basic plot, and the resolution all a roundabout order. In the first paragraph, I want to read who the main character is and what is his problem?

First page: Nice writing, love the worldbuilding done just in one page. I assume this is meant to be broken up into seperate paragraphs - the single huge one made it difficult for me to read.

Hope this helps! Best of luck! :)

Mark Fenger said...

Yeah, it was meant to be broken into multiple paragraphs. Sorry for the confusing read everyone.

amber said...

Your query reads very smart for a YA – too smart, actually. I mean, steampunk is a great genre, and I'm intrigued by the idea of a steampunk dystopia, but I feel like it's a bit ... what's the word ... rich? Deep? Verbose? The storytelling is great, so maybe it's just the query that needs to be pulled down a few notches. Can you write it in the character's voice?

Krista V. said...

Paragraphs added to first page! My fault entirely! It came through the e-mail in one big block, and a tiny voice inside me whispered, "You should e-mail the writer back to make sure this is how it's supposed to be," but I ignored it.

My apologies to AETHERSTORM's author. Carry on, everyone!

Melanie Stanford said...

It sounds interesting, I like the concept. The first sentence of the query was off-putting to me. I think it could be reworded. I loved the second line though- you get a sense of Konrad right away. Later in the query, I don't get why he would turn and fight though. Why wouldn't he just save himself? It seems like what he would do based solely on the query, after all he would rather watch the world burn. So it seems out of character to turn and fight- there's no motivation for him to do so.
The mention of Zylphia (kind of a mouthful to read- I've got name issues) seems thrown in. Like she's not a big part of the story. If that's the case, don't mention her at all. But if she plays a bigger part, we might need a sense of that.
I was intrigued by the page and would read more except for your use of commas. I think some of those could be replaced with periods, just my opinion.

Perri said...

I love the level of detail in the query and page. It's clear you have really built this world.

The query definitely grabbed my attention. i want to know more about Konrad and his rationale for fighting.

The pages were great!

The Agent said...

M.F. - Steampunk is not my area of expertise, but on a query level, I think the 1st paragraph can be deleted altogether. I was a bit confused by the premise and wanted to know why Konrad was of such special interest. The run-on sentences in the query also make me question whether the novel would be written in the same way.