Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #31

Dear Agent,

They say not even Death can get in the way of love…but this is exactly what happens when seventeen-year-old grim reaper, Xia, falls for a human boy.

Since Xia’s job is to collect dead souls, she has to follow the three Rules of Reaping to protect the world of the living:

1. Do not interfere with someone’s death.
2. Do not become emotionally involved.
3. Do not show yourself to the living.

The last Rule doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to Shilah, a mysterious Native American boy who can see reapers. Xia is irresistibly drawn to him, curious to know the background behind his unnatural ability, despite the trouble she can get into. She has never been a stickler for rules anyway, as she’s always being punished for something. Still, she is caught off guard when she starts breaking Rule Two, since she isn’t familiar with human emotion. Xia’s feelings for Shilah frighten her, yet she keeps seeing him, even though she has to leave his side often to respond to someone’s death. His suspicions lead her to admit she’s a reaper, but he accepts what she does. He even refuses to let her push him away when she is forbidden from seeing him. However, when her father, the Angel of Death, claims Shilah’s soul, it puts their relationship to the ultimate test. With Shilah’s life now on the line, Xia is willing to break the most important rule and answer the age-old question: can Death be stopped?

Grim Crush is a YA paranormal romance novel that shows how love can transcend the boundary between life and death. This novel also has series potential. I have been a finalist in many writing contests, such as ones for best pitch and best novel beginning, and I have a short story published in the Without Title anthology.

The manuscript is complete at 60,000 words and available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



He was taking too long to die.

Sometimes it seemed like these things took longer than usual. I guess I shouldn’t be too eager to collect a person’s soul, but the waiting and anticipation drove me nuts.

I stepped up to the precipice of the cliff until the tips of my boots hung off the edge. Leaning forward, I stared down the fifty or so yards to the ground below. When I shifted my feet, tiny rocks tumbled down the red-orange crags of the cliff face.

Yep, a fall from here will do it all right.

Sighing, I stood up straight and crossed my arms, staring off to my left. I hated that I had to be here early. Death had some pretty stupid rules. I could be doing something else rather than waiting for this guy to kick the bucket.

He was probably in his mid-twenties. A guy of average build, with black hair like mine. He had on a backpack and held a camera in his hands; an expensive one with a large lens like what photographers used. He was taking pictures of the birds in the trees, while standing way too close to the precipice.

A nature buff. Great. I’d picked up another one of these last week. They needed to learn to be more careful.

The nature guy took another step back, his foot inches from the cliff edge. He continued taking pictures without paying attention to the sheer drop behind him.


Janice Sperry said...

I've seen this around the blogosphere and I really like it. I think your query might work better if you use the same voice you use in your MS. Also, the query is too long. Just ask your MC what her story is about and let her answer.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

As I was prepping all the entries, this was one of the few that really stood out to me. The query gives us a good sense of Xia and how the story will unfold without giving everything away. You could cut it down a little (I'm not sure we need to have the three Rules spelled out for us right away, for instance, and you probably don't need to mention that you were a finalist in a bunch of unnamed writing contests), but on the whole, I think it works.

I also thought the writing and the voice in the first page were solid, but there are a few words and phrases you could probably chop. For instance, in the fifth paragraph, "staring off to my left" doesn't really add a lot to the narrative; it just comes across as an unnecessary stage direction. But that's definitely a minor issue.

Best of luck with this. Even if The Agent doesn't love it, I hope another agent will.

The Agent said...

If you've read my comment earlier you will guess that grim reaper stories don't appeal to me personally, as the premise just feels too done. While I like this query, I'm concerned that the story doesn't bring anything fresh to the genre. It feels like a fairly straightforward romantic conflict story and while that's not to say that it couldn't make it based on that alone, the paranormal market is so crowded that I'm just not sure there is enough here to break out.

I really like your opening page; it feels just about perfect. The premise makes this not right for me, but I would love to see other work by you in future.

danielle devor said...

I love the start of your query- its catchy, but I felt that the giant paragraph should be condensed or broken up. It just seemed huge when I read it. Your story idea is very interesting though.

great hook line on your first page

I loved the line about death having stupid rules- that made me chuckle.

You've got a good first page here.

Vikki said...

I love your sample...I liked the query as well, but I feel like the query doesn't do your writing voice justice. There's the right amount of humor in the sample but I'm not feeling it in the query. But I love the premise! Best of luck to you!

MarcyKate said...

Loved the first page - that made me want to read on. The query, I'm afraid, did not. It starts off good, though I think your hook could be improved to tease out that special something that makes your book unique. But the long paragraph felt a bit meandering to me. It also left me puzzled over a couple things. For example, if she's a grim reaper, how does she meet Shilah unless she's collecting his soul? Did she save him and break Rule #1? If so, what are the repercussions of that for her? That's the sort of stuff I kept wanting to find out in the query, but didn't come through. Overall, though, I was totally hooked by the page and that is the most important part. :)

Shanika L. Bynum said...

I wish I knew where to find these 'grim reaper' stories that have been overdone. I've been searching for other novels with a grim reaper as a main character, but I couldn't find any.

Also, there are thousands of books out there about vampires. I don't think another one about a grim reaper would hurt.:)