Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #38

Dear Agent,

Fifteen-year-old Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will comeback from the dead--just like the prom queen did.

Afraid the local cemetery might be something out of a Stephen King book, she buries some of her mom’s heavy things in her grave to keep her there. When the strange, but kind of beautiful, caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh jacks up her punk music to drown him out, and keeps digging.

She should have listened to him.

Two resurrected sorceresses discover what Leigh has done. Apparently giving gifts to the dead is an offer to join the sorceresses inside the prom queen’s magical, and now empty, grave. Which means death, resurrection, and enough dead sorceress power to break open the prison inside the earth. But Leigh isn’t the only one who has gifts for the dead. Her sister does, too, and the sorceresses find out. Now Leigh must make a choice: lose another loved one or give the ultimate gift to the dead--herself.

THE GRAVE WINNER is a young adult dark fantasy complete at 64,000 words.

My short story “Alpha Female Office Wolf” was published in the May 2011 issue of Work Literary Magazine. Two of my horror short stories will be published in future issues of Weirdyear and The Red Asylum.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Dad, Darby, and I stood rooted in place long after Mom’s funeral. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. Instead, I focused on the black birds cutting across the sky in a sharp V formation. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me.

A different flutter in the corner of my eye pulled me back to earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain. It was a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling headstones, her body thick with mud and grime. Torn scraps of what looked like a prom dress hung from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open like she was about to scream.

A shudder raced across my shoulder blades. I shook my head, afraid I might be dreaming. Darby stood next to me, and I reached out to touch her. She was real. Her ache was real. I felt it in the quiver of her bony body. But beyond her and the heaviness pinching my lungs, I couldn’t be sure of anything.

Inky black footprints tracked behind the dangling hem of the girl’s dress like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it. More darkness pooled at her feet and crept up the trunk behind her.

Sweat trickled down the back of my dress. What was this girl doing? And what was all the black stuff dripping underneath her?


Janet Johnson said...

I thought this was really well written! Calling the cemetery's caretaker "beautiful" threw me (I thought it was a girl), but really, that's just nit-picking.

You evoke a lot of emotion in a few words, and gross about the inky darkness (in a good way). :D

Great job, and best of luck with it. :)

Roxanne said...

I feel a bit like you're buying the lead here. The prom queen came back from the dead? That's big! What if you said something like...First the prom queen came back from the dead and now 15 year old Leigh Baxton worries her mom is next!

In the second paragraph I'm confused about whether Leigh's fears are justified are not. (I think it's the word "afraid" that confuses me.)

But in the fourth paragraph it seems that they are. This paragraph gets a little convoluted to me. There's a lot going on with the sorceresses and a prison inside the earth and Leigh's sister. As a reader, I would like this to be more concise.

I do really like the last line of the query. It's punchy!

Now the 250 words, I loved. It was so gross! You did a great job with the setting and I loved the detail about the prom queen's mouth sagging open. Yuck!

Roxanne said...

That was "burying" the lead. Sorry! I cut my finger this morning and it's making it harder to type!

Jackie said...

You had me from your opening line in your query! Great work.
And your first page? Awesome! You captured creepy, sadness, and loss all in one swoop.
I'd for sure continue to read on!!!

Jenny Kaczorowski said...

Ok, I love the little bits of The Grave Winner that I've read. I really love your voice and your imagery. But I had trouble with your query. So much going on and I had trouble keeping up. Is the prom queen a sorceress? Why is the grave magical? Why is her sister bringing gifts for the dead? I think maybe You could cut the first line of fourth paragraph and rework the second line to make it clearer.
Like I said, I LOVE your first page. I really want to read more. You really write well and I can't wait to see where this goes.

Michael G-G said...

The query is a little confusing in places--especially the part about the prom queen.

I also think you don't give us enough time to get to know the narrator before she sees the stramge apparition--so I find myself a bit detached, which is not the effect you want.

Also, the part about the "shuuder raced across my shoulder blades" seemed overwritten.

I think this is a very interesting idea, but I also think you need to work it a bit more so that we are truly in grief, and then shock, and horror with the narrator.

The Agent said...

This is a great, tightly-written query that gives a good picture of the type of story. The opening paragraphs too seem to begin at just the right spot and put you right into the action. This feels really well done, though not quite to my personal taste at this time.

mjh said...

Your title immediately intriqued me. You know the horror genre well and I love the creepy, shivery opening and all the detail. Excellent setting and the second paragraph sold me. I'd defintely read more. I think the query needs a bit of work, but with an opening like that, you'd grab an agent or editor into this genre in a second!