Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #39

Dear Mystery Agent,

I'm delighted to participate in this round of Agent Inbox, and offer my submission for your slicing and dicing pleasure.

On the eve of their 13th birthday, Drew and Liz Raven can only guess what their father really does for a living. Drew thinks he might be a real-life James Bond. Liz isn’t sure she wants to know. Neither of them is ready for the truth. By sunrise on their birthday the twins have been initiated into a secret magic society, witnessed Mom offer herself (and their birthday cake) as a sacrifice to a demon, and been forced to watch as Dad was dragged off by a special forces team of Enclave magicians. And supposedly the Enclave are the good guys.

The Raven twins are thrust into a world of bewitched hair, soul-sucking leeches and beetlebum fart bombs, where betrayal and friendship await in unexpected corners. In their quest to clear Dad’s name and save Mom’s sanity, the twins discover a truly compelling need to toilet paper a local Enclave magician, and make a quick exit via zipline from an illicit magic bar where they’re no longer welcome. But saving their parents will require more than just taming their unpredictable magic and unlocking the family secrets. They have thirteen days to destroy the demon who framed their dad and possessed their mom, before he turns the world into a fiery hell and grills the twins up as his favorite snack--Ravenburgers.

13 Demon Days is a middle-grade urban fantasy novel, and is complete at 75,000 words. It has been written as a standalone, but my characters are clamoring for a series. It will appeal to readers who love the whimsy and magical wonder of Fablehaven and the dark family heritage of Artemis Fowl.



Liz Raven snuggled into her jacket as a cold wind blew up her spine. It was October, and almost midnight--even the stars were shivering. This birthday-under-the-stars thing was Mom’s idea, but Dad had jumped on the plan. Her parents would be thrilled to live in tents in the Amazon, but in her opinion, parties belonged inside. They were lucky it wasn’t raining.

Behind her, the kitchen door banged open and Liz’s twin came out. He dropped a present onto the patio table in front of Liz, then dropped himself into the seat next to her.

“It took forever to wrap,” Drew said in a voice of long-suffering. “I had to cleverly disguise the shape.”

Liz laughed. The present was clearly a book, and nothing but a book. “You’re obviously not getting this whole teenage deception thing. It takes a little more work than that.”

“You’ve always been the better liar--I'll let that be your special talent,” Drew said. “‘Sides, I was busy making the tag.” He reached over and nudged the tag into the light from the kitchen window. It read, ‘For my big sister, on the day she turns into a true teen and gets her first zit.’ Under the words he’d drawn a smiling face with a birthday crown and an arrow pointing to one lonely zit on its chin.

“Ha ha, Drew. Very funny.” Liz punched him in the arm. Truth was, she’d been getting zits for at least a year. A really long year with her emotions flying all over the place and Drew’s face perfectly clear.

“You’ll turn thirteen two-and-a-half minutes after me,” Liz said. “It’ll only be fair if a whole year’s worth of zits erupt in a giant zit-plosion.”


Janet Johnson said...

Your book sounds very exciting, with lots of adventure. I love the premise that the kids have to save their parents. I think middle graders will love that.

In your query, I felt like you had a lot of general details, but not enough specifics to really pull me into the plot. The details are fun, but they bury the important information and made it a little confusing for me.

As for the first page, I like how different the twins are. My one comment is that some of the dialogue felt a little stilted.

And I wonder if a 13-year old would admit that their emotions were flying all over the place?

Still, I enjoyed the bro./sis relationship. :)

Best of luck with this!

Lori M. Lee said...

This sounds like a really fun story full of adventure and antics. I would probably pick this up to page through :)

I do think the query is a bit bogged down by unnecessary details though. While they ARE fun and give a great glimpse at the tone of the book, I agree with Janet that you kind of lose sight of what the actual conflict is.

Jenny Kaczorowski said...

I agree with the others - there's a lot crammed into your query and I think you could cut down some of your sentences - but I love it anyway! You've give a lot of insight into your characters in the first page without it feeling like a data drop. Great job!

Mandy P.S. said...

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and agree with the others. At the end of the query all I could really think was, "But what does the dad really do for a living????" Not knowing whether he's a member of the Enclave or some outsider or some sort of James Bond, I feel like I'm not sure where the plot in your query is going (why do we have to clear his name?). And while the details in the query are great, giving it a very middle grade feel and a feel for your voice, I agree that I could use a little less of the details and a little more of the plot. But that being said, your query did make me want to read more. I jumped into the page eagerly.

I like your writing and I think the page is really strong, but I agree the dialogue seems a little stilted. I would also like to know how Drew reacts to Liz punching him in the arm, because I think that would tell a lot about his character and their relationship. Does he whack her right back? Does he stick out his tongue? Does he scowl? Does he ignore it? Each of these reactions gives me a very different feel for Drew, but right now I have no idea what he does.

And I concur with Janet that the "emotions flying all over the place" line doesn't really fit, but that may just be a personal thing. I'm fairly certain my parents thought my emotions were flying all over the place when I was that age and thought I was being completely irrational, but let me tell you, in my mind, I had a completely rational reason for every single one of my emotions (to this day, ten years later, I still contend that most of those "crazed" moments, where from my perspective, completely rational). So I'm not sure I believe a girl would be like "yeah, my emotions are just all over the place right now."

But who knows? Maybe she really does feel that way, and is just a completely different kind of girl from me.

Overall, I would keep reading. Good job.

Leigh Ann said...

Your query had me giggling in two places: (And their birthday cake) and "fart bombs." tee hee.

So funny. It did leave me with a couple of questions: Clear their dad's name from what? (Am I missing something?) And if their magic is unpredictable, does that mean they had it before their thirteenth birthday, or did it just appear?

It might be a tad long, but I don't think it's overly so. I think especially that third paragraph gives a great tease for the adventure in your book.

Page one gives me a sense of a sweet twin relationship, and has a nice voice. I'd love to understand some of the conflict for them, besides, "weird that our birthday party is outside."

Sounds like you've got a great adventurous book here! Wishing you so much luck.

The Agent said...

I was thrown off by the query at first, thinking that the demon sacrifice et al was intentional and part of the birthday celebrations. So the follow-up came a bit unexpectedly. I do think the premise sounds interesting so I would probably keep reading further to see where this goes.

Suzanne Warr said...

Thanks, one and all! It's wonderful to get your thoughts and feedback! It sounds like the query could definitely use a bit of stream-lining, which is good to know. I've had pretty good luck with this query so far, so I'm thinking more tweaks than an overhaul. As for the dialogue, you guys are soo right about the awkward spots--and now I think I know how to fix it! It's bugged before, but I guess I needed your prodding to get that flash of inspiration. Thanks!

Liz's take on her emotions is tougher to fix, 'cause that's part of who she is. Very rational, very uncomfortable with her new state as an emotional female. Hopefully the reader will be able to relate and enjoy her anyway!

Michael G-G said...

Your sense of humor really shines through! "Bewitched hair, soul-sucking leeches and beetlebum fart bombs..." And the humor continues onto the first page. And these seem like very interesting characters.

I think with just a bit of query tweaking you'll strike gold. Best of luck!

Suzanne Warr said...

Thanks! What can I say, if I can't be a little silly while I'm writing, I can't write! lol Unfortunately, all too true 'cause I don't deal well with boredome and it takes a lot longer to write a novel than read it!

Thanks again for stopping by my blog, and best of luck with yours, too! I think it's a pretty save bet YOUR book will keep us all entertained!