Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #44

Dear Agent,

People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta. Like the rest of the citizens, seventeen-year-old Kai pretends not to notice. With her own survival to worry about, she doesn't have much concern to spare. But when her brother vanishes, Kai will do whatever it takes to find him, including using the ability she promised her brother to keep secret--Kai can see the threads of time and manipulate them.

With the help of an annoying and distracting friend--distracting because he's beautiful, and annoying because he knows it--Kai discovers a secret war between Ninurta and a rebel named the Black Rider. The Rider has been kidnapping Ninurtans and transforming them into cybernetically enhanced soldiers called Golems.

Kai sets out to find the Rider and discovers a shocking secret: the Rider is actually the Harbinger of Famine. And Kai? Not as human as she thought. Now, Kai will have to face down the Harbinger and uncover the link between herself and the secret war before her brother gets sent for dehumanization.

Equal parts scifi and fantasy, HARBINGERS is a YA cyberpunk fantasy complete at 68,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Death lived in a high-rise penthouse at the center of the South District. I could see it from anywhere in the city, and it cut the skyline like a blade. Death--she probably had a real name, but I didn't know it--was Governor Ninu's right hand and his personal executioner.

Or, at least, that's what the rumors said. I didn't really care if they were true so long as it wasn't me on the chopping block.

The governor's executioner living in the most impressive building in the city wasn't the only reason the South District unsettled me. It was just too weird here. Even though I never went any farther than the barracks along the inner wall, the vadverts were large enough that I could see the images flicker at every street corner. At least half of them were promotions for the upcoming Tournament.

We called the South District the White Court because the buildings were pristine. It made me wonder if the residents were afraid of dirt. It was just as well. We'd have to call it the mostly-white court.

The strap of my messenger bag dug into my shoulder, and I hoisted it up as I reached the South Gate. The White Court was separated from the rest of the city by twenty-foot walls, and only people with the right permissions could pass through. As a carrier for the District Mail Center, I had access during work hours.

"See you tomorrow, Kai." The Watchman on duty waved me through.


Francesca Zappia said...

Both the query and the first words of this really caught my attention. With the query, it was the idea of the Black Rider. Although I did wish Kai's power over time got a more significant sentence.

With the first few words, it was Death. Because I can already see the four horsemen of the apocalypse idea forming here, and I love it.

MarcyKate said...

This is a great premise and sounds very cool!

Overall, I like the query, but it could use some tightening up. For example, when describing Kai's friend, there's no need to use the words "annoying" and "distracting" twice and cutting them from the 2nd clause would strengthen it IMO. In fact, you might want to cut that bit entirely, since we never hear about the friend again and it doesn't feel like we need him for the query to work. Also, the genre line feels repetitive--I think you can cut the equal parts bit and just call it a cyberpunk fantasy. It gets the point across more succinctly.

On the Opening: Love the first line, but the first 4 paragraphs all feel like back-story and world-building being delivered by a talking-head because we don't know who the MC is, where she is, or what she's doing until the very end. You've got some great descriptions, but I think this would work better if you ground us in the scene first. For example, keep the great first line, but weave the fact that she's going through the gate in. Instead of "I could see it from anywhere" perhaps try, "I could see it as I approach the South gate..."

Also, this may just be me, but the part about the white court in the 4 paragraph felt kind of off and confusing to me.

Just my two cents - it's a great start! Good luck! :)

gretchen said...

I enjoyed this alot, which surprised me. I don't normally gravitate toward fantasy, but the name of the city is what caught me as I was strolling through...Ninurta. Then, as I kept reading, your ability to add complicated word-building but make sense is what held my attention.

Also, I enjoyed the world-building in the first 250 words, but wonder if you could add a few more details about the protag, just so I can connect with her as quickly as I did the world around her?

Overall, nice job. Cool voice. Cool concept. :)

Mandy P.S. said...

I love the query, especially the ending thought that she has to do it all before her brother "gets sent for dehumanization". I love that.

But I completely agree with MarcyKate about the world building. We need to be better grounded in the main character.

I think the first two paragraphs are great. They pull you in, give you a sense of character, and make you want to know more. But the third paragraph really through me off. I'd rather know what the character was doing, I'd rather get to know her. I think honestly, you could cut both the third and fourth paragraph, give a brief explanation that the name White Court and South District are interchangeable in the fifth and go from there.

But overall, I love your concept. I like your character's voice and I think you have some really great and strong stuff going on here. I would keep reading!

The Agent said...

This query strikes just the right balance of detail and big-picture feel. I found this very intriguing, and ditto for the pages. Definitely interested in reading on!