Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Ms. Martindale,

Sixteen-year-old Justine Kwiatkowski doesn’t believe in magic, she doesn’t believe in reincarnation, and she never planned on having to fill King Arthur’s shoes. All she knows is that last night, the best friend she’s ever had, Gwen Martinez, went missing outside the town of Avalon and she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back.

But if she wants to rescue Gwen, she’ll have to believe in a world she thought only existed in legend, because her best friend happens to be the reincarnation of Guinevere, and fifteen hundred years after the fall of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table have returned, reborn as New Jersey teens.

Problem is, Mordred and Morgan le Fay are back too, having kidnapped Gwen, and unlike most of the knights, they remember who they once were.

With Mordred murdering the knights before they can regain their memories, Justine has to figure out how to track down the few remaining survivors--a star football player, a brilliant artist teetering on the brink of madness, a high school dropout working odd jobs to support his family--and convince them to bury centuries-old grudges and work together. If she can do that, she just might save her friend, and maybe, the world.

Knights of Avalon, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at 95,000 words. While intended to be the first in a series, the book can stand alone. Hopefully this manuscript will be of interest to you. Thank you for your consideration!



Ringing. My eyes fluttered open. Why was there ringing? I scrambled to get my bearings in the darkness. I was in my bedroom, the Bruce Lee posters on the walls told me that much. Through bleary eyes, I could see the alarm clock shining 3:11 back at me. I froze as my gaze settled on my cell phone, lit up with an incoming call. Why would someone call at 3am? I peered at the phone, trying to place the number. Then I took a deep breath and picked up. “Hello?”

“Hi, Justine. I’m sorry to be calling so late.” I immediately recognized the shaky voice on the other end of the line. It was my best friend’s mom, Mrs. Martinez, but I had never heard her sound like this. “Gwen’s not with you, is she?”

My mouth dropped, the question a punch to the gut. There was a murderer on the loose, cutting down the best kids in the state--a fencing champion destined for the Olympics, a martial arts prodigy, an organizer for Habitat for Humanity. Now, three in the morning on a school night, my best friend’s mom couldn’t find her daughter. And Gwen? She was the most incredible person I had ever met. A straight ‘A’ student, she was going to be a heart surgeon and work for Doctors Without Borders one day. There had always been something different about her. She was like the other victims. Special.


LMT said...

I like the reincarnation/Camelot theme and I think you've done a nice job on the query.

I like the suspense in your sample, but the line about waking up and the Bruce Lee posters stopped me. Why would she need to see the posters to know that she is in her bedroom? Did she normally sleep somewhere else? Also, how can see see the posters in the dark?

I also expected her to respond to the mother right away.

I would read a few more pages to see what happens.

Good Luck!

Holly L'Oiseau said...

Wow, this is a very unique premise! It's clear and concise and the stakes are obvious, which is great. I agree with the above comment. No matter how long my day is, even after drinking, I know where I'm waking up. So I don't think you need that part. lol. But you immediately hooked me with the whole "serial killer" statement.

Ru said...

I also think your concept and query are great. I am going to disagree slightly though and say that your sample killed the suspense for me in the third paragraph. The second paragraph is fantastic--mom calling in the middle of the night can't find her kid. But the third paragraph gives a lot of back story that could possibly be moved later.

While your MC is probably aware of a murderer on the loose, I find it slightly less credible that after being woken at 3am, she remembers precisely that they were a fencing champ, martial arts prodigy, and an organizer for Habitat. I would save that info for later, since it's not necessary right now, and because I think in a moment of panic, all you would be thinking about is your friend. ("There was a murderer on the loose and now, three in the morning on a school night, my best friend's mom couldn't find her daughter." - something like that.)

Just a suggestion. :)

Kathleen Basi said...

The very opening of your excerpt hooks us in, but the last paragraph is a lot of background--important, but we're not solidly hooked in yet enough to hold us through that kind of narrative. Can you condense it to one thought, and try to work the rest of it into the conversation?

Tamara said...

I agree with the above comments about the last paragraph of the excerpt, and want to add my own: CAN I READ THIS STORY NOW PLEASE?

Cortney said...

Love your premise! I'm hooked! I would cut out your opening query lines, though, about her not believing in magic, reincarnation, etc. It makes the second paragraph "she'll have to believe in a world she thought only existed in legend etc" redundant, for me, and I'd rather have you jump right in to her friend going missing.

I'm with Ru on your excerpt. Too much backstory in that last half. It really slows down the momentum. Also, I would cut or condense her freezing as her gaze settles on her cell phone, etc. It just feels too slow, like there's almost too much description.
But I love it, I want more too!!! Great premise, I love the King Arthur stories!

cynthia said...

You totally had me in your manuscript until paragraph 3 which read as if you wanted to get backstory out of the way.

I do love the idea and would be eager to read.

Karen Akins said...

I like your premise, but it wasn't until the fourth paragraph that it struck me as different from Avalon High. If there's a way you can bring the murders up a little earlier as the stakes, that might help to set it apart.

Katrina S. Forest said...

I think the query is very solid except for my one pet peeve -- talking about what your character "never expected." I've critiqued a ton of queries and honestly, that phrase is an instant turn-off for me, because I've read it so many times.

I like the disorientation in the opening lines of your sample, but I felt like your mc was missing the sheer terror that should come with getting a phone call at 3am when there's been numerous murders in the neighborhood. Some of her thoughts about Gwen seem distant and analytical to me, like she's already at Gwen's funeral rather than on a quest to save her.

I think you picked a perfect opening scene, lots of suspense and drama, I just wanted to feel more afraid for Gwen.

Sigal said...

Hey M.B. I always loved King Arthur stories and the idea of having the knights reincarnated and needing to bury old grudges is great! I wonder if you can bring up the fact that this is a King Arthur reincarnated story earlier in the query. Also, to me it was clear that Gwen is Guinevere (maybe because I love the legends so much), so I wonder if you need to mention that. I really want to know if Justine is also a reincarnation? Wish I could read the rest! Good luck!

Taylor Martindale said...

At first glance, I was concerned that this was centered on King Arthur, as that subject matter is so thoroughly written on in YA literature. However, this query really caught my attention and I found the concept unique and engaging. It suggests humor and drama, and I am interested. The first page is good, though my initial thought is that I would probably suggest the book start just a little before this scene. If the reader has a small connection to Gwen and knows all these wonderful details about her from the context of meeting her, then we can avoid summarizing her character here and the panic can be conveyed better. Given this concern, though, I would keep reading to see how the story begins to take shape.
Thank you for participating in this Agent’s Inbox!
Taylor Martindale
Full Circle Literary