Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Agent Inbox,

Seventeen-year-old Kara Delancey manages her OCD with a sense of humor and fiercely loyal friends, especially the boy next door. Kara’s been best friends with Riley Jenner since they cage-fought in the same playpen. They share everything from an addiction to game shows to their own signature dance style (picture drunk ninjas with an inner ear infection). Sure, Riley has buff biceps and sex-bait eyes; he's also the boy who ate her glue stick in preschool and barfed on her birthday cake in the third grade. They have a friendship that predates hormones and hotness, a bond that's stronger than their growing attraction to each other. Or so she thought.

Everything changes when Kara's sister dies in a tragic accident her junior year. As her family falls apart, her relationship with Riley grows deeper. He’s always there for her, even when her OCD goes manic: panic attacks drive her to quit the gymnastics team she loves; excessive double checking results in an ACT score that's so low, she couldn't get into college with a crowbar; and compulsions lead to a humiliating driver’s ed accident and a new nickname--Beware-A-Kara. But when Kara’s anxiety ultimately causes her to sabotage her budding romance with Riley, she’s completely on her own. Now it’s up to her to fight her way back to normal before she loses something more--her life.

Please consider my 84,000-word YA contemporary novel NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE BUT ME. I’ve pasted the first 250 words per the contest rules. Thank you for your consideration.



Riley Jenner is more obvious than a fat guy in a Speedo. At least, he is to me.

I can always tell when he likes a girl by the way his eyebrows do this split-second twitch. I know that he’s bluffing when he holds his poker cards with two hands, and that he’ll always throw a curveball on a three and two count. I can guess what songs are on his latest playlist and which of my miniskirts he thinks are too short.

After being friends our whole lives, we’re like those twins who communicate with their own secret language. So when he starts to get weird on me, I know something’s up. All I’ve got to do is read the closed captioning of his body language.

He plops down on the couch next to me and takes a swig from his can of Cherry Coke.


I pretend I don’t hear him. Jeopardy’s on and Alex Trebek is announcing the first round categories.


I fix my eyes on the game board, hoping Annoying Best Friends is one of the categories. I could kill in that column.


“I know what you’re doing. Knock it off.”

He tilts his head like he’s draining water from his ear. “What do you mean? I’m not doing anything. I’m just enjoying my drink.” He raises the can like I need proof and takes another slug.


Out of the corner of my eye, I see him snicker.

“Very funny,” I say.


Melanie Stanford said...

Awesome voice! Loved it. Laughed from the start of the query. The only thing I didn't like so much was "sex-bait" (but that's a personal preference, and all the "slurps" in the writing. Other than that, awesome. I would read this.

Unknown said...
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kfillius said...

Read the sample first. When it caught my attention I went to the query. Same reaction. I'm definitely interested. (Not sure I like the present tense, though.)

Leigh Ann said...

I need to read this book now. And I normally hate contemporaries.

I worry that your query is too long. I think you can do without the "They share everything" sentence in Paragraph 1, because the sentence after it is plenty strong and communicative.

Second query paragraph is awesome.

I am stunned by your first page. Even though nothing happens, the strength of their relationship is communicated so well that I just want to read more. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the others - loved the voice, and I felt like I already know the characters. The only problem I saw was mentioning Jeopardy - I was surprised they were watching Jeopardy - especially with Kara's manic OCD. But, I would still buy the book! Nice job :)

Alex said...

I really liked the voice. I read the page first and the query second.

I really liked the opening paragraphs finding them very strong and engaging.

I would keep reading for sure but seeing how nothing happened in the first page though even if it was enjoyable I wonder what will happen over the course of 84,000 words. If this is character driven which I think/hope it is I think I would really like it.

Ru said...

I really liked the premise and voice. You have some very clever phrases - drunk ninjas with an inner-ear infection, cage fighting in play pens. The only one I didn't like was your first sentence: "Riley Jenner is more obvious than a fat guy in a Speedo." Fat guy in a Speedo doesn't scream "obvious" to me, so I'm not sure this one is working. But that's just my opinion, obviously.

I was also a little put-off by "sex-bait" (sounds too much like jail bait, I guess). But really, I seriously liked it.

Mim said...

I really enjoyed the first page, and the voice in the query is great. The concept is solid, and I'd definitely love to read this book.

The story idea is refreshing and I'm interested in the journey she's going to take to take back her life. Good luck!

Melissa said...

I have to say I love YA contemporary novels so this is right up my alley. I love to read books about characters with interesting relationships (that's what my novel has) - characters that come together for reasons other than the hot factor. I like the closeness of them - such good friends they are almost like siblings. You can see that right from the start. It makes me wonder what it's going to take to get them together. Which is a good thing for the reader - so well done on that note. Her voice is good. Believable. YA Contemp voices are hard to nail. She seems real.

Linda Wilt said...

You had me at "Jeopardy." ;)

Although I felt your humor was a little forced in some places, the rest of it was intriguing enough that I would read more.

I was curious about your depth of knowledge re: OCD, since you indicate in the query that your MS deals with the main character's recovery from it (or not), and was rather surprised that you didn't mention anything about it in your bio paragraph. I think that you probably should, to indicate some level of credibility in your handling of the topic.

erica and christy said...

I really like this, great job! (and my contemporary romance involves a Jeopardy scene, too, haha).

My only question is how the query ends in her possibly losing her life - there doesn't seem to be any indication that could happen (unless it's her driving skills, but I'm already assuming she doesn't have her license). But it wouldn't stop me from reading it, so maybe that's a good thing?

Anonymous said...

To answer Linda's question, the MC is based on my 17-year old son, who battles OCD with a sense of humor and great courage. My research and experience is vast, but personal. Since it's not professional, I didn't include it in the query.

The Agent said...

L.L. - I really liked Kara's voice and a character with OCD is a nice twist on what would otherwise be a common theme. However, I'd be worried if it was enough. Stories where the romance is the focus don't usually fall within my interests, so my concern here would be that not enough is happening to these characters (especially Riley) outside of this relationship.