Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Mrs. Testerman,

Suburban teen Sophie MacNeil only wants two things in life: to dance and to visit Paris--her secretive mother’s hometown. When Sophie finally gets an offer to spend the summer in the City of Light, she leaps at the chance. Once there, however, a strange woman attempts to steal Sophie’s mother’s gold medallion, triggering an impossible journey backward in time.

Now in 1895, Sophie is mistaken for Rachel Lazare, the daughter of an affluent Jewish family. In addition to a roof over her head and quiche in her belly, living temporarily as Rachel has perks, like meeting the handsome and passionate Alexandre, the intended fiancĂ© for Rachel’s older sister.

The strange woman succeeds in stealing Sophie’s mysterious heirloom, threatening Sophie’s comfortable life with the Lazares. Sophie must retrieve her medallion and unlock its secrets before her affection for Alexandre destroys the life of a friend from her own time and permanently changes her future.

SOPHIE is a young adult manuscript complete at 68,000 words. While SOPHIE can stand alone, it is the first in a planned trilogy that will follow the women of Sophie’s family in reverse chronology.

I was recently commissioned to write a non-fiction book for a leveled reader program. A member of SCBWI, I am also a French teacher and an avid traveler. I studied in Paris during college, and focused on 19th century French literature.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I have pasted the first 250 words below.



I fall out of the darkness and my feet slam onto the pavement. My ankles fail and I cry out in pain and surprise.

I squint at the lights shining from streetlamps and rushing cars. Music blasts, car horns blare, people talk, laugh, sing. I touch my temple and groan. Everything is too much.

“Est-ce que tout va bien, mademoiselle? Avez-vous besoin d'aide?” a man asks, kneeling at my side.

Why is he speaking French? Is everything okay, as he asked? My whole body hurts, but especially my ankle. I can’t remember how I got here, or where here is.

I check out my surroundings and recognize the plaza hemmed in by five- and six-storey buildings sporting arched windows, dominated by a building with more columns than I can count, winged gold statues at each corner of the roof, and a green dome. Two French flags billow in the still air. The Paris Opera.

Okay, deep breaths. I’m in Paris. Mom's birthplace.

My head feels stuffed with feathers and it only gets worse the more I try to remember. I frown at the long, dark skirt I’m wearing. Pointy-toed black ankle boots? No wonder my ankle is weak and swollen. A long-sleeved cream shirt scratches my neck. What happened to my shorts and flip flops?

I stand, vaguely wondering where my good samaritan went, when a necklace bounces against my chest. I grab the gold medallion and stare at the engraved pattern. Memories blast into me, pushing out the feathers stuffing my mind.


Unknown said...

Very intriguing! I had one question with your query. Was the strange woman in modern day Paris or 1895? Or both? Just a little confusing.

I like the first page. I'd definitely keep reading. :)

Anna said...

I think the writing is lovely. The line "What happened to my flip flops?" sort of jerked me out of the lovely flow of your prose. You've already done a great job of showing that she doesn't know where her current outfit came from. It's a small detail in a great first page. I'm interested.

Maggie Hall said...

What an interesting concept! And I love the idea of the other books in the trilogy following her family members.

I was also a little confused about the strange woman's reappearance, and about the problems caused by her feelings for Alexandre--does "a friend from her own time" mean from now, present day? I just wonder because I assumed it would have caused problems with the sister from 1895.

These are nitpicky. I'd read on! :)

Melodie Wright said...

You've hooked me bc I love Paris AND time travel AND family sagas. Yay! I'd love to read this book!

Nitpicky stuff from your excerpt: First sentence - I'd like to be more in the moment. Rather than telling me her feet slam, she cries out, etc., SHOW me this: My feet hit the pavement so hard, skin burns, muscles twist, bones grind. I cry out...
then you don't have to tell us it's in pain/etc. bc we know.
Also the "Is" in the next graph could be in ital. for emphasis and to signal it's actually a different thought from the previous. Make sense? Or, move that sentence to the end of that graph, after she's mentally checking her condition. Just IMHO.
Good luck!

Don McFatridge said...

This sounds like fun. The description of her wearing a long, dark skirt, pointy-toed black ankle boots and a long-sleeved cream shirt tells us that she's travelled back in time.

But the rushing cars and car horns blaring is not Paris of 1895. The city still used mostly horses.

What you could use is the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race which highlighted France's superiority in automotive technology at the time and had 46 entries in the event. Perhaps Sophie appears while the race has just started on June 13, 1985. On a side note the top speed at the time was about 15 mph.

Great line "What happened to my shorts and flip flops?"

Good luck with the story.

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

I've always liked time-travel stories -- they feel so romance-y to me, so escapist. I'm a little leery of another book about an American teen living in Paris (after ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS), but the historical aspect would, I think, make it feel different enough.

Where I'm confused, however, is in wondering what happened to the original Rachel. Did Sophie replace her? Is Rachel missing? Does the strange woman have anything to do with it?

While I'm not entirely taken with the first page, I'd read on a little more to see if I get some answers.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I immediately thought of a book by Jane Yolen, The Devil's Arithmetic. It's a similar concept, in that the MC takes the place of her aunt in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. That might be a good comparative read for you to consider. I love the idea of time travel.