Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Ms. Testerman,

My 82,000-word novel, Silhouette, is a young adult fantasy romance that combines the love story of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight with the fantasy world of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. And because you are actively seeking novels in this genre, I thought we might be a good match.

After her mother’s death, seventeen year old Leira Sky has no other option but to go live at the mansion where her only aunt works. It’s here that Leira meets Tristan Harper. From their first encounter she finds herself oddly drawn to him. His otherworldly beauty, his pointed ears, his eyes that change colors--it all adds to his mysterious allure. But when an unexplained incident happens in his presence, Leira can’t help but think there’s more to Tristan than meets the eye. Determined to find out what he’s hiding from her, she trails him into the forest behind his home. And there, she stumbles upon something he never meant for her to see--the way into his world. Watching as he presses his hand against the trunk of an old tree, she sees a gap form beneath his palm--a gap just big enough for a person to fit through. And, when Tristan ducks down and disappears inside the hole, Leira makes a decision that will forever seal her fate with his. She follows him.

Emerging in a land called D’or, Leira finds herself faced with creatures from folktales and mythologies including a Pombero and a Leshy couple. But it isn’t until she sees Tristan again, that Leira realizes the severity of what she’s done. Will Tristan be able to forgive her for discovering his secret? And will he care enough to protect her when her fate begins to unravel before his eyes?

Told entirely from the viewpoint of the teenage heroine, this emotionally driven story is filled with lush descriptions and captivating adventures while still retaining the delicate voice of a girl in love.

If you would like to see the entire manuscript, I’d be happy to e-mail it at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Driving down the old dirt road, I stole a glance in the rear view mirror at the boxes stacked on the back seat. Everything I was able to bring with me, I had. Everything else, well, I’d already said my goodbyes. I gripped the steering wheel and looked through the windshield at the branches of the trees lining the narrow lane. They were reaching out to touch the sides of the car like fingers lightly stroking the cheeks of a delicate face. And dark green ivy was running along the sides of the car, keeping steady pace with me.

I looked over at the empty passenger seat and imagined Mama was there with me. I could picture her watching the scrolling green outside her window, unconsciously twisting her tiny fingers through her hair, sunlight sparkling off her pale skin.

I personally didn’t think I looked very much like my mother. Yes, we both had long brown hair and her eyes were only a few shades darker then my own honey colored ones. But Mama’s features were alluring and beautiful. She had a smile that was contagious. People tended to gravitate toward her like moths to a flame. Me; I was just happy floating around in the shadow of her bright light.

But last year when Mama got sick, a silent fog crept over our lives. And suddenly our roles had reversed. Now I was the one pulling the quilt over her when she fell asleep in the living room chair.


K. L. Hallam said...

This entry brought me in the entire way. The query sounds intriguing and then reading the first page I feel sympathy for this young girl already. The description is light and delicate. Love this.

Unknown said...

I think you could cut this from your query: "Watching as he presses his hand against the trunk of an old tree, she sees a gap form beneath his palm--a gap just big enough for a person to fit through. And, when Tristan ducks down and disappears inside the hole,". Then just add "She follows him into his world." The portal to his world doesn't really matter for querying purposes.

I think you could also cut this paragraph: "Told entirely from the viewpoint of the teenage heroine, this emotionally driven story is filled with lush descriptions and captivating adventures while still retaining the delicate voice of a girl in love." It's telling. Just show us she's in love with him and what repercussions that has.

The sample page is interesting. I'm curious if her mother was some kind of paranormal with the sparkling and light. Speaking of sparkling, you might be a little careful with the "sunlight sparkling off her pale skin." It's become kind of Twilight cliche, sparklepire and all that.

I like the image of her driving cross country by herself, leaving an old life behind. Makes me wonder what's next for her. :)

Anna said...

From the query, the pointy ears are really throwing me off. That seems so overtly paranormal but she just finds them alluring. It's a small thing, though. I agree with Karen's query critique. I think her suggestions will keep the focus on the important information in your query.

I can feel the sadness in your MC's voice. Nice work.

Hope Roberson said...

Very intriguing! I would definitely read it! You have great description and I love the idea!
I really like the part of the query letter with the questions, that would be a good ending point.
I think you could cut paragraph four (Told entirely from the viewpoint...) in your query.
From my editing standpoint, watch out for starting your sentences with 'and', sometimes it helps sometimes it detracts. You don't need it in the paragraph two of your query ('And, when...') or the last sentence of your first paragraph in your story ('And dark green...'). I've read somewhere too that avoiding cliches is a good idea (you have one in your query and one in paragraph three), coming up with a new twist on the same idea is preferred.
Good luck and I hope to read this book when it gets published!

Rachel Searles said...

I would be very wary of comparing your book to Twilight, since that is a Big Dog and there are other fantasy romances out there that might make a better comparison. Twilight is known for its love triangle, and you don't mention anything like that in your query.

In your second paragraph, your description of Tristan (very similar name to the protagonist of Stardust, btw) makes him sound kind of like an elf. Then you say that Leira can't help but think there's more to him than meets the eye, and I'm thinking, there's already quite a bit about him that meets the eye! It's a cliched phrase and I don't think it works the way you intend it.

I do like your opening page quite a bit; you write strong description.

Don McFatridge said...

I also agree with the Twilight comment by Rachel above.

Concerning the first page, maybe this isn't the best place to start the story as nothing happens to draw the reading in. We feel the sadness in the voice but I'm not sure that's the best place to start.

A few nitpicks, you echo the word look three times. Consider replacing the second one with glance. Also be careful that you don't have a ms that's filled with your character always looking about before you describe what she sees. Because you do this three times on the first page, once with the glance in the mirror and twice more with looking through the windshield and looked over at the empty passenger seat

You also use two similes and the second one "toward her like moths to a flame" is cliche.

On the plus side, I do like your writing.

Good luck.

Jessica Love said...

I'm going to third the suggestion to get rid of the Twilight comparison. Try to find a great title that really pinpoints the nature of your romance. A perfect comparison to a lesser-known book can also show that you are well-read in your genre. :-)

Great submission! Good luck!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I would read on based on the query and the first page.

My suggestions for your query are to change "might be a good match" to "would be a good match." It just sounds a bit more confident. I would delete the word "entirely" from paragraph four. In the last paragraph, I wouldn't rule out her requesting a partial. As it stands it sounds like you are only willing to send a full ms.

Best wishes with your project!

Maggie Hall said...

Intriguing! I was a little thrown in the query by the pointy ears and the eyes that change color--is he obviously a paranormal creature, or is he just a boy with slightly odd features?

I also agree with Karen's comments on what to cut, and with others about the Twilight comparison. I liked it, though!

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

Yet another query that I already saw and rejected from my own inbox. In this case, as others had said before, I would have left off the Twilight comparison -- not only do you reach too far in comparing it to such a successful franchise, but you risk turning off a reader who dislikes it.

Personally, I had a lot of problems with the "love story" in Twilight, and so my mind immediately envisioned this as another sort of creepy older stalker-y guy and young, passive woman who spends a lot of time being rescued. Probably not what you meant to invoke.

The sample felt somewhat overwritten to me, and that, combined with the attitude that Tristan is the dominant character, even if Leira is the narrator, makes this not for me.