Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Ms. Martindale,

I am seeking representation for HERE TODAY, a humorous women’s fiction novel complete at 84,000 words. After reading your interviews on GotYA and Mother.Write, I think we might be a good fit.

Nate Cather, a world-famous actor, is stalking his own biggest fan. In the public eye since age 15, Nate doesn’t have many normal friends, but he does have Mary K Dallof, a fan who has written him every week for ten years. Nate looks forward to hearing from Mary K more than anyone can ever know--after all, people pay to watch movies starring dashing-and-refreshingly-scandal-free Nate Cather, not the real one.

But when Mary K’s wedding announcement arrives, Nate realizes his one chance at true love is slipping away. Ignoring the protests of his brother/manager Tom, Nate sets off to break up Mary K’s engagement, hopefully without destroying his career in the process. Unfortunately, wooing Mary K requires avoiding her suspicious older sister and maintaining a healthy dislike for her infuriatingly nice fiancĂ©. And he thought shaving his head to disguise himself was tough.

When Tom reports that the tabloids are on his trail, Nate has to decide whether he’s going to risk his career for Mary K--who, as it turns out, isn’t as easy to talk to in real life as she was in his head. Mary K, on the other hand, must pick between true love and a life-long crush. Told from the alternating perspectives of Nate and Mary K, HERE TODAY takes place over the five days before Mary K’s wedding.

I was a columnist and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle, my college newspaper, from 2003 to 2007. I have also worked as a marketing assistant for Shadow Mountain Publishing. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time.



One of the many, many nice things about being both rich and good-looking is that I’m not going to be convicted of a crime anytime soon. Take stalking. It’s technically a crime, and I suppose I could be accused of dabbling in quote-unquote stalking.

See, I’m Nathan Cather. Yeah. The Nathan Cather--the one who probably has a couple stalkers of his own? You’ve probably seen my movies, watched my TV shows, read my interviews. Some of you might have even visited my website.

This isn’t arrogance--it’s fact. Sometimes I meet people who pretend they’re too smart to know who I am, too mature to pay attention to who I broke up with last or how much money I make. “Nathan Cather, huh? What do you do for a living?” They, my friends, are full of it. Everybody knows Nathan Cather--anyone who says otherwise is lying. I’ve been in two TV series and twenty-three movies, dozens of magazine covers, and hosted SNL three times.

So I pose the question: Who is going to find me guilty of stalking? Most women want me to stalk them. And sure, laws probably should apply to everyone equally, but let’s be real. Don’t some apply a little more to the dude who drips his own blood on a girl’s car, and a little less to the international movie star?

I’m just saying.


Anonymous said...

I really liked this query. You do a great job setting up the characters and the major conflict without giving too much information away. Also, the first 250 provide a really interesting and engaging look inside Nathan's worldview. Well done.

--B.C. (#18)

Theresa said...

I like the voice in the query. I also like the concept, it's different. The only thing I'm going to nitpick at is your use of the word "normal" it might be me but I don't like that word because honestly, what is normal?

Reading your first 250 words I do not like Nate. However, in 250 words you provoked a feeling for me and I think that is key in writing. I love to feel anything towards a character because it makes them relatable and real.

Cortney said...

Great concept, I like the idea of a celebrity stalking one of his fans. Your query is a little long, and I found myself losing interest as I hit the third paragraph. I'm sure you can condense things, just get right to who Nate is, what his goal is, and the setback/stakes.

One concern I had--if he's been in the public eye since he was 15, how old is he now? And is this considered YA if the girl is getting married? It almost sounds like it would be more of an adult genre, depending on how old Nate is.

I'm with Theresa, you've got a great voice, but I found myself not liking Nate. I love the writing though, and I can picture him clearly. It reminded me a little of that book Beastly. Nice work.

Cortney said...

I apologize, I thought you said it was YA, but looking back, you just mentioned Ms. Martindale's interview on GotYA, not that it was your genre. So ignore that part of my comment!! :D

Gina said...

This is so cute. Definitely has me interested. Nathan's voice is funny and sarcastic, which I love.

Is Mary K really his "one chance" at true love though? That line kind of jarred me, because the first paragraph didn't give me the sense that he had a crush on her. Maybe instead of saying he looks forward to hearing from her, you could say something stronger, like his heart speeds up each time one of her letters arrives (or, something a little less cliche:)

Great job!

Cynthia said...

Wow! A very original concept. I'd like to know where this is all headed. Like your turn of phrase and humor.

Alex said...

I think the query is well written but it points out a few things that give me pause. Why if Mary has written Nate every week for ten years is he just now getting in contact with her if her letters mean so much? Also why if Mary is that obsessed with Nate does it take any wooing at all to woo her. Or rather why if she is in love with her fiance is she still sending Nate a letter a week?

I think if you gave a little more back round on the nature of their relationship, or if there really is none, what they mean to each other the query would draw me in more.

Tara said...

I loved this! The first line of the query really grabbed me—I love the idea of a big-time movie star stalking his own stalker. The plot definitely reminds me of My Best Friend’s Wedding, but I would hope that the movie-star male protagonist would give it a different twist. My one recommendation for the query would be to jump right in, because you’ve got a great hook, and save the title/word count/personalization for the end.

The voice in the sample is great and didn’t disappoint after the great setup in the query. In the first paragraph, though, I didn’t love the repetition of the word “stalking” twice. I think that you could replace “quote-unquote stalking” in the last sentence with “it.”

Good luck--this sounds like a really fun read.

Sandra Cormier said...

Hi, R.F.

First, your query. I'd steer away from using the phrase "Fiction Novel." It is redundant, as all novels are fiction. Many agents have clearly tweeted, blogged and bitched (but in a nice way) about it.

I like your second paragraph. The voice really comes out. It gets straight to the point.

We need to know why Nate feels he only has one chance at love. Why is he risking his career to pursue the one woman who stuck with him, albeit through letters?

We need a little more of Kate's POV in this.

I'd skip the college paper unless it was a paid gig.

In your opening page, I instantly disliked Nate. But as I read on, I became rather afraid of him! However, I loved his biting sarcasm. I sure hope we get to see his tender side soon.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Lots of good comments about the query already. My only addition would be, I was surprised this was told in alternating POVs because we know very little about Mary K from the query. Why is she so great that Nate thinks she is the only one? Why is she still sending this guy letters after all these years?

For the opening pages, I would suggest maybe starting in the scene, and show him stalking her. What is he doing as he thinks these thoughts? Then weave these thoughts into the action.

A lot of people said he doesn't seem likable, so maybe you need to give a hint of why he is stalking her. Give us a reason to like him.

Taylor Martindale said...

I liked this query letter. It set up a charming concept, promising romance and humor, and it was well-balanced clear. I like that the author had done research on me by reading interviews, and I haven't heard this concept before. I was definitely interested to see the writing here, and wasn't disappointed. The first page starts off with good voice and humor. I love that it started off right away in the middle of the ironic actor "stalking" his fan, and didn't waste time in lots of backstory and risk losing the reader. I would keep reading based on this query and first page.
Thank you for participating in this Agent’s Inbox!
Taylor Martindale
Full Circle Literary

Ru said...

Thank you all for your comments, they were very helpful and encouraging.