Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Ms. Testerman,

Seventeen-year-old Heiren Delaire should’ve killed the captain before he sprouted claws.

As a peasant raised in the wretched slums of Andumir, she’s never set much store in fairytales. But now a creature from stories, the demon Arawn, has possessed the captain of the kingdom’s guard and slaughtered countless innocents, including Heiren's father. With Andumir falling and the nobles’ swords and spears doing nothing to quell Arawn’s fiery wrath, Heiren takes it upon herself to find a solution.

If demons are real, maybe the sword Erhistaut is, too. Legend tells that the demons forged it to store their powers before the star-born angels cast them to the sky. The sword is the only weapon that can exterminate the possessed captain before his unquenchable fire envelops the land in shadow.

Heiren just needs to find it.

THE DEMON SWORD is a 75,000-word fantasy novel for young adults. I have included the first 250 words below. Thank you for your time and attention.



In the dim lamplight of the cabin, the man’s fingers curled around his dagger. He slammed its point into the edge of a piece of parchment, pinning it to the table.

In the shadows behind him, Heiren Delaire watched her father with uncertainty. The cold of the night raised goosebumps on her skin. She shivered. “What are you doing?”

He didn’t answer.

She clutched her arm with trembling fingers and stepped forward, letting her green eyes trail over the black ink as it curved and flowered into lakes, rivers, and mountains. A map. The tiny dashes trailed from her home in the Kadian Mountains northward to the walled city of Beniin, and farther.

A trail to a sword of miracles.

Of course. Her father would be obsessed with a thing of legend. A sword that doesn’t even exist. “The map’s a fake, you know.” Heiren combed her tangled hair with calloused fingers, watching him. “I don’t understand why you bought it.”

Still he did not reply.

“You want to use the sword to bring Mother back, don’t you?”

He turned his head a little, and greasy black hair fell over his eyes. He listened now, she knew, but refused to acknowledge her. Like he did when he fell from his depression into one of his manic states. When he stopped listening to reason.

Heiren folded her arms.

"You're a fool if you think Erhistaut can bring back the dead. The demons forged it; why would they make it useful for anything good?"


Mint Juleps 'n Muddin' said...

Can't wait 'til this is published to find out more.

Hope Roberson said...

Great writing!
I was a little confused in the query (paragraph two is a mouthful), but figured it out after reading it again. I like your cliffhanger sentence, perfect!
Your first 250 words are excellent also!
Good luck!

Ninja Girl said...

I love your use of active verbs! The premise has a lot of appeal, but your word choice brings out the action in the query. It's short and interesting, love the first sentence and the last. The opening is exactly what it should be. It introduces us to the MC in an interesting way, tells us about her situation, and even goes so far as to tell us what's going to be the driving force of the story: the search for the sword. I couldn't help but picture the father as Snape (but that's just b/c I'm a dork :)). Great, great job.
Ninja Girl

MarcyKate said...

Love this - it's only gotten better since I beta read this a few months ago!

My one suggestion would be for the query. it's short & sweet, which is wonderful, but you use some form of the word "store" 3 times. In such a small space, that sticks out to me. If you can replace one or two of them with different words, that might help a little.

Great job and good luck! :)

Don McFatridge said...

Nice job all around. The only thing I suggest is cutting watching him below.

"Heiren combed her tangled hair with calloused fingers, watching him."

It's not the echo of the word, but the echo of information that stands out. The reader already knows Heiren's watching her Father from the third line "In the shadows behind him, Heiren Delaire watched her father with uncertainty."

Good job and Good Luck.

Rachel Searles said...

I like the sound of your query, though the first sentence doesn't really grab me--there's a vagueness in calling him just "the captain" and I think if you stated up in the first line that he's the captain of the king's guard, you'll have my attention much faster. But if she should have killed him before he sprouted claws, then I assume you mean when he was just a normal captain, and then I wonder what 17-year-old would be in a position to kill the captain of the King's guard? The story may answer this question perfectly, but that's where I'm scratching my head. The rest of the query flows smoothly.

I like your writing sample too, you're a good writer. I do think you can dial back on some of the descriptive words, you've got trembling fingers and tangled hair and calloused fingers and the like, and I think you could trim out a few of those and it would make your scene stronger.

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

I have to admit, I'm not a fan of YA novels that read as if they could be played as D&D campaigns. In other words, high fantasy. What I'd want to know with this query is how it transcends the genre, how it's more than just a quest novel.

Additionally, I'm unsure why finding the sword is Heiren's job anyway. Why does the quest fall to her? What business does she have seeking it out, and how did she have the previous opportunity to kill the captain? Who is she?

I'd need to know more before I would really feel invested in the story.