Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #33

Dear Secret Agent,

For sixteen-year-old Emma Hawthorne, a touch is never simple. Even brush of skin can draw emotion from another person, like drawing poison from a wound. Only one person has ever been able to keep her empathic abilities in check--and Gabriel left four years ago. Now that her best friend is dead, a death that wasn't an accident, she needs Gabriel more than ever.

When Gabriel comes home for the summer, their connection to one another is stronger than ever and his calm presence helps Emma regain control of her life and her abilities. Just as their childhood friendship kindles into something more, Emma captures the attention of Patrick, a Soul-Eater who promises to free her from the constant bombardment of extrinsic emotions. The cost? Everything that makes her human.

Gabriel steps in to protect Emma, revealing that he is a Guardian, dedicated to hunting and killing monsters like Patrick. But with Gabriel and Patrick h***-bent on destroying each other, Emma realizes she is the only one who can end the battle--and only if she embraces her abilities. Faced with a choice between an immortal, yet soulless existence or fighting for a single lifetime of danger and heartache, she must figure out what she really values and if she is willing to pay the price for her decision.

RIVERS UNDERNEATH is a 63,000 word YA urban fantasy. I have included the first 250 words with this e-mail as requested in your submission guidelines.

I earned my B.S. in journalism from Kent State University. I have also co-written two independently produced short films. I live in Los Angeles, where I work as a grant writer for Sound Art, a non-profit organization that teaches music in inner-city neighborhoods.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



A shiver ran down Emma’s spine as she watched a cluster of mourners gather around the fresh grave below her. They clung to one another, finding comfort in the knowledge they did not mourn alone.

On either side of her, dark pathways wove between twisted trees, dividing the cemetery into irregular sections. Name etched in soft, malleable limestone endured as faded reminders of mortality, while glossy marble monuments stood in polished defiance of the strains of time.

Emma shifted her feet and the frozen dew clinging to the grass crackled under her. The wind shaped her dark hair into softly waving tendrils and she brushed it away from her face with the back of her hand. She knew she should join the other mourners. She knew they expected her to share in their public display of sorrow.

And she knew she couldn’t.

She felt numb. Far too numb to grieve. The slightest touch, the slightest betrayal of emotion and she would lose everything.

She remained frozen, a silent witness to their grief. She saw every detail in stunning clarity. The lurid green of the indoor-outdoor carpet covering the hole in the ground and the cold, dead smoothness of the coffin that contained the mortal remains her best friend. The hardened ground and dull sky burned in her mind. Overwhelming sorrow surrounded her, but she felt none of it.

She knew her parents were worried. Not that she blamed them. She’d never handled loss well. She’d nearly self-destruct when Gabriel left.


Jackie said...

I remember your query from QT. It's catchy and intriguing.
Your first page is excellent. The only thing that tripped me up was your last sentence, but I would for sure keep reading!
Awesome work!!!

Leigh Ann said...

CP here, just coming over to pour on the love. Go Jenny Go! Ra ra ra!

Roxanne said...

I enjoyed your query. I like the romance-y aspect of the story. There were a few spots that seemed a little vague to me. To me. :)

When you say, "Now that her best friend is dead," I read that as Gabriel is dead, because I think he was her best friend.

When you say "everything that makes her human" can you be more specific? I assume it's her soul, since it's a soul eater. Does your soul make you human? (Now I think I'm getting a little existential here.)

When you say "fighting for a single lifetime of danger and heartache" what do you mean by this specifically? I think I'd like to concretely understand what's at stake. I understand that she can choose immortality, but why heartache if she doesn't?

I really like how in your first page you set up the distance between Emma and the rest of the word and how a gift of empathy would actually keep her distanced from everyone else.

The Agent said...

Interesting premise but I'm concerned that it feels somehow familiar; for a paranormal to break out in the current market, it really needs to be hands-down unique, and I worry that this one fades into the background a little.

I was confused by the first paragraph of the query; I understood that Gabriel was the friend who had died, but then he came back so that was apparently someone else. I think you can distill the plot down further, which would eliminate some of the confusion, and I'd really play up its unique aspects to make it stand out.

The paragraphs are nicely written, and based on that I would read on further.

Melanie Stanford said...

I thought the query was great- really interesting. I too had to reread that first paragraph to make sure it wasn't Gabriel who had died.

To me the sample was beautiful, but a bit much. As a reader, I don't know if I would have kept going. I think the second paragraph, although beautifully written, could be cut completely. A lot of description in the first page and you lose me. But that's just me. :)

And the last sentence, I feel like it should be, She'd nearly self-destructED when Gabriel left.

Stephanie S. said...

I like the premise of your novel but I feel your MC gets lost in the query. You start talking about how special she is but then you focus on the two boys which pushes your MC to the backgroung. She comes through as an observer and they shine has being active.

I think you did a good job showing her conflict however.

Your text has great images but I would have liked to know who's funeral it was. You mention her parents are worried about her dealing but we are unaware of what (I am sure it is clarified later in your text but I would have liked to know why we should be worried too, who died?)

Jenny Kaczorowski said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments! I'm already reworking my query based on the feedback. I love pretty words, so I'm having to learn restraint to keep people reading. I think that will make some things clearer and keep it from getting overly flowery ;)