Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Agent:

In an ancient war being waged on modern streets, seventeen-year-old Caleb Dunnelly is an unwitting warrior and invaluable weapon that will guarantee victory for whichever side can catch him first.

As one of The Seven, he wields a portion of the power holding the cosmos together. It would have been nice to know something like that before he ended up on both Heaven and Hell's most wanted lists, which is the good news, by the way. The bad news? Countdown to Armageddon, the celestial Superbowl, and both sides want him on their team. And if he wasn't popular enough, Libra--a centuries old brotherhood whose sole purpose is to hunt down The Seven before they fall into the wrong hands--has developed an unhealthy interest in trying to mount his head on a pike.

With everyone gunning for him, Caleb's main concern is making it to his eighteenth birthday, not playing favorites in some Biblical blood feud. He didn't sign up for any of this, but when his angelic stalkers turn their attention to his friends family to get to him, he is left with two choices: sacrifice the ones he loves or watch humanity fall.

COVETED mixes the voice of a YA Dresden Files with the other-worldly feel of Paranormalcy. It is a young adult urban fantasy complete at 81,000 words and is the first in an outlined trilogy.

I am a freelance writer, a columnist for Writer’s News Weekly--my column is titled Fiction, from the First Draft Forward--an active member of Novel Clique, an established group of professional writers, and YA Lit Chat.

Thank you so much for your time and this opportunity,


Chapter One: Confessions

I’m going to kill him.

Caleb found comfort in that thought, and he meant it this time. At least that’s what he kept telling himself. A guy’s best friend should be the last person to bring out the murderer in him.

“Lighten up Azzy-baby, it’s a party!” Martin sat oblivious of any plots to end his life, too busy being the ham in a babe sandwich.

“Don’t call me Azzy-baby.” He knifed a scowl Martin’s direction. “You know I hate these places.” They sat in a sectional at the rear of Confessions, the newest club in downtown Kansas City. A wall of one-inch thick glass separated them from the dance floor, and the two hundred people grinding against each other to a dreadful techno oong-tss, oong-tss, oong-tss.

Martin grinned. “Not as much as you love me.” Under the black lights his teeth glowed a creepy purple. The girls on either side of him giggled, fueling the burn of irritation at the back of Caleb’s skull.

“If love means a desire to bludgeon you to death in a back alley. I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” He should be at home waiting for Connie, like a good big brother.

“I can’t believe I had to talk you into it.”

“We won’t be here for long, he says. Only saying ‘hi’ to a couple people, he says. Just five minutes, he says. That was over an hour ago.”


The Agent said...

First concern for me: Heaven-battles-Hell feels like an overdone concept. I can't tell if it's quite angels (better if it isn't), but still, the themes here don't quite feel fresh enough, and paranormal would give me a pause in any case.

That aside, the query feels strong and eye-catching, if a little long. I'd boil down the pitch to two paragraphs at the most. Right now it feels quite wordy, which makes me worry the manuscript will be the same. (And there's a sentence typo in paragraph 3.)

Opening lines have nice voice, but I'm not quite connecting with the character. Too harsh too quick, when we don't know the circumstances properly? What's with the "Azzy-baby"? We don't know what it means, and if Caleb hates it, why does he repeat it?

Leigh Ann said...

Query: *mouth hangs open* Want. To. Read.

One typo: "friends family" should be "friend's family."

I think you can axe "He didn't sign up for any of this," Since you already communicated that he just found out with "would have been nice to know" way up above. (Just a nitpick, it would make things tighter.)

Another nitpick/question - Do you want to put the titles of the other books you mention in all caps? Not sure. (Agent?)

Love the opening line, love the excerpt. I kind of want to read his full name in there once somewhere. Also, the last line seems to be missing some quotation marks?

Altogether FABULOUS.

So much luck to you!

Unknown said...

Query: The question I had when I finished with your query was this. If everyone is after him then who is he fighting with/for? I don't know if you necessarily need to answer that in the query, but it made me wonder since everyone seems to be after him.

First 250: I really like your opening line. I was a little caught off guard by the switch from I'm going to kill him to Lighten up Azzy-baby. I do like Martin, already we get a good sense of who he is (the jokester).

Good luck!

Jessica Leake said...

I think the query was great overall--very intriguing. It flowed well, until I got to "that's the good news, by the way". I think it's partially because it's unnecessary, and partially because it's a little awkwardly worded. Just a suggestion to help streamline it.

The opening page was good--I could definitely picture the scene. Caleb's voice sounds like an authentic male teen, and I loved the "techno oong-tss" line. If I'm supposed to like Martin at all, though, his voice needs to be toned down a bit. Overall, I'd read on.

Rosalyn said...

I thought the query did a nice job of outlining the stakes, although, like another commenter, I was a little confused as to whose side he is ultimately supposed to be on. (Does it matter?) I wondered, two, about the two choices: sacrifice himself or humanity. This is probably my academic background coming out, but I teach my freshman writing students that either/or options are often fallacies--there's usually a third option. If he takes sides, what then? If he doesn't take sides, what then?

I think I'd probably skip the references to other works--simply calling it a YA urban fantasy works for me.

As far as the first 250--I liked how the opening line immediately made me curious. I was a little confused by the line "A guy's best friend should be the last person to bring out the murderer in him," since it seemed a little contradictory to the "he meant it this time." I found myself wondering if Caleb actually had violent tendencies--or just wished he didn't let himself get talked into things? I was also a little confused initially by the ham in a babe sandwich--it wasn't until later that I realized you meant he was literally sandwiched between two girls.

I liked the interaction between the characters; I particularly like Caleb's voice. As another commenter said, he sounds authentic.

I'm curious to know how soon the paranormal aspect comes into play. There's nothing here to suggest anything other than a contemporary story. I'm assuming the paranormal comes out in the first chapter, but you might still consider giving us a few hints right up front about Caleb's power or something unearthly.