Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old London Howell is stunned when the girl he finds rummaging through his closet claims he "created" her. But before he can get her to the police, he's confronted by the House of Dering. As the city’s ruling family, the Derings maintain the order and secrecy of the city’s magi. London learns that he's a magus, and the only way to determine how he created the girl is to find a sieve, someone who can siphon magic and reveal his abilities. Sounds great, except sieves aren't listed in the Yellow Pages, and London's not interested in leaving his ailing dad to chase fairy tales. That is, until his dad goes missing.

A magus' power lies in his soul, which can be ripped free and harnessed as a weapon, and the Derings aren't the only ones who think London's got one h*** of an arsenal. With his dad abducted by an unknown enemy, London must accept the help of the Derings, including Abby, the beautiful but exasperating Dering princess with a penchant for kicking him.

Saving his dad means uncovering where the girl came from and what, exactly, London is, but as the search for answers grows desperate, he begins to question whether the Derings are his protectors or his captors. Add to that the fact his dad's been keeping some pretty serious secrets, and London has no idea whom to trust. Now, he must piece together the truth before he loses not only his dad, but his soul as well.

SOUL WITHOUT A BOY is complete at 80,000 words and is set in modern-day England. Its opening pages placed as a finalist in the YA category of Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fabulous Five contest. My short fiction has been published in Daily Science Fiction, and I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.



On his thirteenth lap around the block, London Howell spotted the monster watching him. It was crouched against the wooden post of a neighbor's mailbox, little more than a shadow with large-knuckled fingers that raked at empty air.

London stifled a groan. Sprinting through his neighborhood at midnight was annoying enough without an unwanted audience. He stopped to catch his breath beneath a lamppost, his hand braced against the cool iron.

The monster across the street moved, shifting on spindly legs that trembled like branches in a storm. Its eyes glowed in the dim evening.

London had learned that if he ignored the monsters hard enough, eventually, they went away. Didn't help his doubts about his sanity, but at least it had worked. But they'd been showing up more frequently in recent weeks, and the watching-him thing was new. Pretending something wasn't there was a lot harder when it was staring at him.

His mobile vibrated in his back pocket and, with a glance at the screen, he picked up.

"You sound like a goat on the rack," Amun said in greeting.

"How," London asked between breaths, "do you know what a tortured goat sounds like?" He shook out his legs, but it didn't help. Even running for three miles hadn't burned off the energy. Great. He considered just rolling into a ditch and letting the monsters have their way with his bones. Or whatever it was they wanted.

"Animal Sacrifices Hour. Wednesday nights at eight. Bring your own blood bucket."

"Brilliant mental image. Thanks."


amber said...

OK, a few things: Naming a kid London when the story takes place in England ... not sure about that. Could be OK if you address it somewhere. I think the query is good, but you give A LOT of info that you don't need to. I would definitely err in the direction of shorter rather than longer. I mean, the info is great, but it's just too much -- I hope this makes sense.

Tatum said...

I like the query, it sets up the story well. But I would cut the paragraph that starts "Saving his dad". It seems like just a bit too much info. I was already hooked.

And perhaps there is a reason for the name London, but I agree it is a bit confusing.

Kelley said...

The first paragraph is wonderful and hooks us in right away. I would agree that the other two could be shorter.

Love the dialog between the two, even though it is a bit confusing as we can't keep reading. Intriguing though too :)

Laura C. said...

I think the query is good and the ideas are fascinating. I love that you started the 250 out with the scary, lurking monster. You did a great job with the tension.

Just one suggestion:
Its eyes glowed in the dim evening.
You already wrote he was running at midnight--so it's not dim evening.

Good luck!!

erica and christy said...

It is a lot of information, but you made it easy to read and I didn't have a problem with it - except that I have no idea how all the events lead to him losing his soul. Maybe put something about that earlier to point us in that direction (that the Dering's will take it, or whatever the reason is).

My blog partner and I both have teaching degrees from UW-Eau Claire and I still live in the area. Go BluGolds!

Melanie Stanford said...

I agree about the name London when it's set in England.

The query was good, but I think you could cut the line "A magus' power..." And I'm not a fan of the words, "Add to that the fact". They're awkward. I also didn't get the bit about the soul. Why would he lose his soul? You don't say anything about that previously so a little set-up would be nice.

The writing was good, loved the dialogue. But I was confused about the monster. Obviously this is a contemporary fantasy story, but I assumed it was just magic. The monster threw me.

The Agent said...

M.L. - The 1st paragraph of this query asks a lot from the reader. Every sentence in that paragraph has me learning something new, and in that way I felt like I already read the entire book and didn't need to go on. I would condense it to "London learns two things - 1) he is a magus and 2) he created a girl. I don't need to know about sieves or orders as plot points yet, or even where a magus' power lies. Just knowing there's a chance his soul might get ripped out is conflict enough for a query.