Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Ms. Testerman:

A humanlike girl empowered with a strange affinity to plants, arrives on earth to defend our garden against invasion. Nameless at five, to learn English she deciphers Dr Seuss and christens herself, Sam I Am. At seven she devours the complete works of Shakespeare. At ten she develops a strategy to end world hunger and disease. When older she plans to attend high school, desiring a Romeo to accompany her Juliet to California’s Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, where her matriarch the 4,768 year-old Methuselah tree will secrete a deflowering pheromone--so she can mate.

But at thirteen, humans discover her landing pod and remove her cloned little ones. More humans, wearing green with Yertle the Turtle shells on their heads hunt for Sam. She escapes helped by Brooke a girl of fourteen with leukemia. Sam starts to cure the rot circulating in Brooke’s red sap. Then stops. A message from the ship she calls Mother advances her timetable, leaving her five days to attract a male pollinator and reach Methuselah. Now with soldiers and aliens closing in, Sam’s fiber is torn between: saving her saplings, her wilting friend, or Mother’s airborne delivery plan for immunizing humans against the alien infestation before she turns eighteen-days-old and her spore sack explodes.

PLANTED (I CAN WATER MYSELF) is a 70,000-word young adult science fiction. I was the founder and president of Strategy First, a worldwide publisher of entertainment software for twenty years. Our franchise titles, Disciples, a fantasy, and Jagged Alliance, an adventure role-playing release, sold over one million copies worldwide respectively and were geared to a young adult audience.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Thorns spiked from the tips of my twigs, as I scurried along the branch, prepared to drop onto the Humans to save my little ones, but I stopped, letting eye water fall to the earth instead of me. My palms flew to silence the waste.

Mother said have patience, watch, learn and when it hurts, think about something else. “Stone had been known to move and trees to speak,” I whispered Macbeth. The Oak, sensing my stress, released a wave of calming pheromones.

If he lived today, would William welcome us?

A Human covered in white from head to roots, plodded from the dull colored cocoon enveloping my landing pod. He carried a box. He carried my children. Children was their word. Think about something else. The first mutilation I deciphered to learn their language in the dead forest named library. Its words helped when a female worker had asked my name.

“Sam I am,” I said.

She laughed. “Where’s your Mother, Sam?”

I pointed upward.

She touched my limb. “Oh, you poor dear.”

I almost forgot. Never reveal Mother orbited Earth.

No, thinking of the genocide called books did not help. I imagined my tiny boxed buds, screaming words from Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz. “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.”

Leaves crackled underneath. My stomata knotted. More humans, green like the forest, wearing turtle shells on their heads, prodded the bushes with stingers--hunting me.


Unknown said...

So...I'm a bit confused by the query. At first, you seem to be talking about a girl. Then, she switches to a plant. I recognize that you were going for voice with "Yertle the Turtle shells" and "Brooke's red sap," but it came across to me as, again, confusing and somewhat contrived. And I assumed you were talking "years" in terms of her age, but then it's days and that really threw me. I think you need to simplify your query and keep it clearer. To be brutally honest, after reading the query, I didn't really want to read the first page. I'm sorry.

Kelley Lynn said...

I'd have to agree with Karen. The query left me totally confused. Voice is VERY important, and that comes across, but you might have to pull back a little so that we can get an understanding of what the book is about.

Even the first sentence confuses me 'A humanlike girl empowered with a strange affinity to plants'. Is she empowered by? Empowered...what?

I did read the first 250 pages. And I was still confused, but that might not be the case if I read the back of the book (query, synopsis) and had an idea what the book was about. The writing is good.

Stephanie Diaz said...

You have an interesting premise, but I feel like you pack too many details into the query. You're clearly striving to get your voice across, which is good, but it feels over-the-top. Making the query more concise and the story's conflict clearer will help you immensely. Also, watch your comma use in the first sentence of the query and the first sentence of the 250 words. No comma is needed after "affinity to plants."

Anna said...

Let me be the odd one out then, as I very much like this query. I'd only remove the 'Yertle the Turtle' bit and have 'humanlike alien' at the start to make things clear.

The first page works for me as well. Alien-thinking, high stakes... I like.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I thought this concept was fascinating, but I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. As far as I understand it, the MC is a plant that can take human form. And she needs to find a mate she can take to the bristlecone pine forest and her mother tree. Is that it?

If so, maybe I understand it better than I thought. Maybe it's just the nuts and bolts (roots and stems?) that confuse me? Where did plant girl come from, and how does this part-plant, part-human thing work? So maybe you could build the world a little better, clarify a few of these things.

(Also, watch your grammar and sentence structure. The comma in the first sentence isn't necessary, and the second sentence would make more sense as "At age five, she learns English by deciphering Dr. Seuss and christens herself Sam I Am," for instance.)

As for the first page, you dropped us into an exciting scene, which is good, but because Sam is so foreign, I had a hard time settling in. Could you back up just a bit and ground us in the scene a little better? Slowing down might work as well, since I think we just need a little more time to chew on all the details. I just wanted something to connect to, if that makes sense.

Best of luck, D.M. (And I probably should have said this first, but I love the title:) )

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

Definitely unique, this does stand out from the crowd, but not entirely in the best way.

First of all, I'm distracted by a rogue comma in the first sentence. And the second.

Beyond that, while you've set up an interesting plot, I don't connect enough with Sam as a character to want to read more. How does she FEEL about the possibility of her spore sack exploding? Why does she try to cure Brooke?

I'm afraid this isn't for me.