Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #48

Dear Agent:

Lucy's always wanted a horse and a big sister. Now her mother's remarried and she has both. But her sister is a Little Miss Perfect and is always bossing Lucy around. And she doesn't even like horses!

Lucy's new horse is the love of her life. But she only has him on a thirty day trial. If her parents find out her horse ran away with her, they'd take him away. Lucy has to find a way to make Valiant behave. Maybe her new sister, the animal behavior 'expert', could help but Lucy's not sure she's that desperate yet.

I am a published author and librarian.

LITTLE MISS PERFECT AND ME is a contemporary middle grade complete at 20,000.

Thank you for your time.



My Perfect Plan was a bust. Mom and Mike said, “No way!” when I wanted to go to the barn after dinner.

And I said “No Way!” to staying home when my new horse was arriving at Aunt Margaret’s barn any minute. Of course I didn’t say it out loud.

Perfect Plan B: Operation Sneak Out.

I was ready. Dark blue T-shirt, dark blue jeans--I’d blend right into the shadows.

I eased open my bedroom door and listened. No sound from Charlotte’s room. Probably doing homework. Being Little Miss Perfect as usual.

I picked up my barn boots and tiptoed to the stairs. I listened again.

“M! Pick an M!” I heard my stepfather say.

“No, Mike,” Mom said. “He needs a D.”

I smiled as I inched my way down the stairs. Mike really loved those TV game shows. He and Mom probably wouldn’t even notice I was gone.

One step, two steps, three! Duck into the dining room. Dash into the kitchen and...

Charlotte!” I skidded to a stop inches from Charlotte’s backside.

“Watch out, Lucy.” Charlotte straightened from the refrigerator, her long brown braid swinging across her back. “You almost made me drop the pickles.”


“Why should I shush?” Charlotte eyed the boots in my hands. “You’re sneaking out!”

To think I’d been happy when Mike married my mother, and Charlotte moved in with us. A big sister! Someone to talk to and share secrets with.

But instead of my dream sister, I got bossy Charlotte.


Alex said...

I like the brevity of the query and it sets up the story very well but there are some confusing sentences in it.

"And she doesn't even like horses!" to me could mean that Lucy upon finally getting one makes that discovery not that her new sister does not.

This sentence too is confusing.

"If her parents find out her horse ran away with her, they'd take him away."

The horse did run away and then came back? They ran away together? In this case the horse isn't misbehaving Lucy is.

If you are not going to say where and what of your work has been published I wouldn't say it at all.

I liked the first 250. It had good pacing and it set the tone and scene of what sort of house hold Lucy lives in while making you root for Lucy to make it out of the house and be free.

I'd read further.

Though I have to say 20,000 is very short of a middle grade.

Janice Sperry said...

This is cute. I like your premise. I think you could cut the first few paragraphs and start with: I was ready. Dark blue T-shirt... The beginning sounds like when kids talk to each other. and I was like, no way! and she was like, no way! For some reason they all had surfer accents in my head. That's all I could find. I really like this.

Michelle Mason said...

I agree with the comments above. Also, I'm wondering how old Lucy and Charlotte are. 20,000 words makes me think they're younger than typical middle grade, as does the reference to Charlotte as Little Miss Perfect. I think it's the use of the word "Little." You can take care of that just by mentioning Lucy's age in the query. Also, you should mention where you're published or agents may assume self-published.

The tone of the sample seems appropriate for the age. I like the voice!

Kaitlin Adams said...

I agree with the above comments. I do really like the voice, and definitely think it's appropriate for the age group.

I would recommend bringing more of what makes your book unique in the query. A girl who loves horses and has an older, bossy step-sister isn't too unique. It doesn't make me want to read more because I feel like I've already read the same thing a million times.

If you are a published author, I would definitely mention your publications. Since you don't mention them, it seems as if you are trying to beat around the bush about something.

Write Life said...

Okay, other than what's already been said, I really liked this. There's something about this that pops out. The voice is strong. I like the storyline you're setting up here and I think it could end up being just beautiful.
I'm not too sure about story length with MG, but look into that, and otherwise, tweak those few lines and keep going with this. I think it will be wonderful. It really grabbed me! : )

Anonymous said...

I really like the premise, since I loved horse books when I was that age (and still do!). The voice also sounded very believable for a child of that age.

I agree about 20,000 words seeming rather short for a MG, and some of the sentences in the query seeming confusing. I'm assuming you're referring to the untrained horse running away while Lucy is riding him instead of Lucy deliberately running away with the horse?

The Agent said...

This is a clear, succinct query, though my main question is: How old is Lucy? The last "she doesn't even like horses" appears to refer to Lucy, which is confusing (I realize it is meant for the sister). And the "little miss perfect" feels confusing for someone who is older than the main character. Overall this query feels like it needs a little more polish and focus, though you've got a good start here.

Of more concern to me is the length: 20K words is too short for a standard MG, and from reading the sample paragraphs, it reads more at chapter book (or very young MG) length. However, Lucy's behavior suggests that she is older than chapter book age, maybe 11 or 12. If staying MG, I'd suggest that you go a little more in-depth into the character and story, otherwise perhaps consider aging your character down to 8 or 9 for a perfect fit all around.

Melanie Stanford said...

I wasn't blown away by the query but I loved the sample. It was quick and to the point.
20,000 words? I agree with the agent and see this as more of a chapter book.

mjh said...

Excellent query, tight and to the point with a clear voice. I also liked the sample, but do have to agree it felt younger than middle grade. Chapter books are in demand so that's a good thing! Best of luck with the contest and your story!