Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Mystery Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Isis has spent her whole life hiding. She hides the dreams that regularly come true, and the strange things that happen around her. She hides the bruises from her mom’s psychotic episodes. But it’s easier to hide her headaches that are steadily getting worse and hope that insanity doesn’t really run in the family, than to fight against something beyond her control.

All that changes the day Isis uses her powers to save herself from an exploding car. Dane, a classmate, witnesses the event and pulls Isis into a battle between two secret societies. Dane has the answers Isis wants. He can help her learn to control her powers and hang onto her sanity. She is drawn to his charms until her cousin, Kalli, shows up to persuade her to join the other side.

Then Isis discovers she has the power to control people through their dreams, a skill very few people possess. When Isis pieces together the warnings from her dreams she discovers an impending bombing planned by Kalli’s group. Isis can stop it, but she has to choose between saving her cousin and stopping the attack. A choice no ordinary girl should make. Good thing Isis is anything but ordinary.

DREAMING ISIS, a young adult contemporary fantasy novel, is complete at 56,000 words. It will appeal to readers who loved the intrigue of THE SUMMONING by Kelley Armstrong and to those who enjoyed the paranormal romance of NEED by Carrie Jones.

I am a graduate of Brigham Young University, where I studied English teaching with a focus on young adult literature. If you would like to consider DREAMING ISIS, I would be glad to send you the complete manuscript at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



"Peer tutoring?" I pushed my chair away from the table in front of me, making loud skidding sounds against the tile.

"Isis, it's the last step in the counseling program," Sonya peered over glasses at me as she shuffled things in the file. She had her PhD in clinical psychology and was running the program my mom had forced me into with the help of my old psychiatrist.

"But have you looked at my file?" I picked at a scratch in the table. Then forced my hands still in my lap. "I don't fit into the normal peer tutoring candidates. My grades are perfect. My attendance at school is good, and I've got friends. I get along with others. Not to mention I've already been accepted into all of the colleges I applied for. I could see this if you wanted me to tutor, but I'm not about to be tutored by someone else."

"Peer tutoring allows you to practice the skills that you have learned in this program. Your completion of the entire program will allow us to include you in the case studies and program brochures. It's the last step and then you won't need to come to the weekly support group meetings anymore."

"And if I don't do it?" I asked.

"Then I won't be able to graduate you from the program. And I'll have to call your mother." Sonya shrugged her shoulders and put the file on the table.


Leigh Ann said...

Query letter: Awesome. Only one suggestion - in the second to last paragraph: "No girl should HAVE TO make." The way you have it sounds a little off to me.

The first page felt a bit like an info dump to me, and the counselor shrugging at the end made me feel like this wasn't that big of a deal. So far what I get about Isis is that she is super smart and she is finishing a program with a shrink. Great writing, just maybe not my cup of tea. :)

Well done!

Emily said...

The query seems good. It's got the info and the story arc is clear enough. The last line in the first paragraph is too long or worded awkwardly. I stumbled over that one and had to read it again. The query could have a more distinct voice. Make it sound more like Isis is telling the story to a friend (in third person). It's not a problem, but could make the query stand out more.

Melanie Stanford said...

The basis of the story sounds interesting, but I feel like you could tighten your query a bit to really grab people. I'm not feeling the intensity of her choice between the two groups.
I felt as well that there was a lot of info in the page- we probably don't need to know in the second paragraph that Sonya has a PHD. Just a few tidbits could be removed so it's not so much.

Laura C. said...

I think this sounds great! Just a few suggestions.
* Then Isis discovers she has the power to control people through their dreams, [a skill very few people possess]. (Omit--it's obvious.)
* "Peer tutoring?" I pushed my chair away from the table [in front of me], (Omit--unecessary) making loud skidding sounds against the tile.
* "Isis, it's the last step in the counseling program," Sonya peered over glasses at me as she shuffled things in the file. (End dialog with a period--the following is an action, not a tag)

Good luck!!

Krista V. said...

I liked the query, especially the conflict you set up in the third paragraph. I did think the first paragraph wandered a little, though. What does her mom's psychosis have to do with the rest of the manuscript?

As for the excerpt, I didn't think it packed the same punch as the query. I thought Isis came across as petulant, which didn't make me like her very much, and this didn't seem to have very much to do with the issues you raised in the query. Is she going to meet Dane through this peer tutoring program? Can't help but wonder if there's a more exciting way that she could meet him...

(Also, I believe the comma after Sonya's first line of dialogue should be a period.)

Hope that helps!

erica and christy said...

I see the same things mentioned above. The query mentions her mom's psychosis, so I'm thrown by the first page where she's in a very controlled program with a psychologist.

I liked your simple explanation of your genre and comps. Good job and good luck!

The Agent said...

M.C. - I thought this query was a little confusing in setting up the conflict. In the 3rd paragraph, Isis "discovers" her power, but she seems to be already aware of it according to the previous paragraphs. I also wanted to know what her dreams were trying to tell her. How does controlling people play into this? Why is the choice between saving Kalli and stopping the attack if Kalli is the one planning the attack? Where does Dane fit in? It felt as if a lot was being said in this query, but I wasn't being let in on the story.