Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Ms. Martindale,

All seventeen year old Princess Cinderella ever wanted was to marry her soul mate and live happily ever after, and she thought that was exactly what she signed up for when she tied the knot with the handsome Prince Eric Charming. But, it seems that a union based on shoe size, good looks and dancing ability may not have been the best idea after all. Cindy and Eric have discovered that they don't really like, much less love each other and despite Cinderella's pleas for help, the Fairy Godmother who rescued her from her life of servitude has not responded. It seems that she has retired, leaving Cinderella in the hands of an annoying, second career FG who is still in training.

Life is not at all pleasant around the palace but the worst is yet to come. When Eric disappears, his self obsessed step mother and power hungry brother accuse Cinderella of being responsible. They have her thrown into the Tower of Torture and soon her former unhappy life begins to look like a day at the beach. When she manages to escape, she has no choice but to embark on a journey fraught with danger, loss, coming out, life threatening creatures and surprising friendships. It isn't easy learning how to survive in the Forest of Fear. It's even more difficult deciding if you can love a husband you've never really known. But the toughest challenge of all is figuring out how to be your own Fairy Godmother.

AFTER HAPPILY EVER AFTER is a YA comic fantasy, complete at 49,000 words.

I am a multi Grammy winning lyricist. My web site [redacted] contains my biography, discography, and a list of the films and theatrical projects I have written for. I was also the co-writer of a television movie, “The Stranger Game”, presented on the Lifetime network and have co-authored a recently released children’s board book, [redacted], published by Sterling. [Redacted] won First Place in the 2011 Purple Dragonfly Awards Board Book category..

The first 250 words appear below. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



Chapter 1: Princess Cinderella

Cinderella had completed her daily Pilates class and was halfway through her power walk in the royal garden when a footman appeared with an envelope on a silver tray. Since she had never received a letter in her entire life, that in itself was quite strange, but what was stranger still was the news it contained.

It was addressed in a precise yet flowery hand to “Princess Cinderella Charming, The Palace, Kingdom of Once Upon A Time, Fairytale Land, (no zip code required)”. Cinderella sat on a stone bench, staring at it for a long moment. She could think of no one who would possibly write her a letter. She had given her stepmother and stepsisters more than enough money to keep them from ever contacting her again. The letter couldn't be from them, but for some reason she had a bad feeling in her chest. Her heart began to pound. Taking a deep breath, she unsealed the pale pink envelope which opened a bit too easily. Inside was a sheet of pearlescent stationary, so delicate it had to be unfolded very carefully. It had a twinkly wand mounted in the corner. Her eyes raced over the sparkling rose colored script as she read...

My Dear, Dear Clients,

It is with sadness and regret that I am writing to announce my retirement from my position as your Fairy Godmother.


Theresa said...

I love retellings and this one sounds like so much fun. I like the query I would just suggest not having two large paragraphs. I would break it up a little. For example in the first paragraph I would make, "Cindy and Eric have discovered...." a separate paragraph. Too much writing blocked together, to me at least, can seem overwhelming.

As far as your first 250 words, I would keep reading. That last line was great.

Robin Weeks said...

I'm completely intimidated by your bio paragraph. :) Way to go!

I was a little nervous during the first paragraph that your story would include affairs and looking outside marriage for happiness. I was comforted by the reference to "deciding if you can love a husband you've never really known."

I think you can shorten and condense your query blurb to make it even more effective, but it works well enough as is. I do wonder how this fits into YA, since it's about married people, but the fairy tale setting does make it younger. I am also a bit confused by the reference to Pilates in the sample--what time period is she in?

Overall, very interesting, and I love the end of your query blurb about being your own fairy godmother. :)

Holly L'Oiseau said...

I love the premise! After all, the idea that marrying a prince=happily ever after always made me sort of want to gag! I was hooked with the query right away as well as your first 250 words. The only worry I have is that you're considering this a YA. If the MC isn't a teen, it might be more in the adult genre.

Cortney said...

Cute premise! I'm with Robin and Theresa, I would definitely condense your query, cut out whatever you can so that you can get the main point across. It does sound fun. Also, I know the cut off for something to be considered a novel is 50,000 words, so I'm not sure, but that might be something you need to look at.

As for your opening lines, my interest wavered a teeny bit. (Sorry!). I was like, read the letter already, we get it, you've never gotten one before. I think the problem is that it all sounded a little "tell" to me. Maybe you could describe the sun shining and the smell of the flowers around her, or if she's sweaty from just doing pilates, or has a hard time lifting her hand because she's so nervous about who the letter is from.
I also want to know what time period this is in and how the world you've created works. If it's modern enough for Cindy to be doing pilates, then why would she need a fairy godmother? If it's Fairytale Land, why does she reference the zipcode, isn't that more of a contemporary reference, would she even know what one was? Just something that I would look for to be answered as I read on. :) Cute premise, I would pick it up and read it!

Gina said...

I love your concept- my blog post today is about favorite fairy tales, and this is definitely something I'd read.

I think your query could be more concise, the sentences a little snappier.

Also, I could be wrong, but isn't 49,000 words a bit short for a novel?

Great job- best of luck!

Kathleen Basi said...

I like the concept a lot, and the query is strong--I am another one intimidated by your bio!

Like another commenter, I found the juxtaposition of the modern (Pilates, zip codes) on the fairy tale to be somewhat jarring, although I know what you were going for, and it definitely adds a humorous ring to it. So that may just be my own personal taste.

Suzi R said...

I don't have anything original to say, I agree with most of what the others posted so I won't reiterate.

But I really like your story idea--it sounds interesting and fun.

Melinda said...

The others have mentioned most of the questions/concerns I had, but overall this sounds like a cute story and I want to read on.

One other thing, you say in the query that 'the fairy godmother seems to have retired' and imply that Cindy is trying to contact her. But since she receives the letter at the beginning, she wouldn't be questioning if she's retired.

Escape Artist said...

Sounds like fun, but for me, I would have liked a bit more voice in the beginning paragraphs.
I don't know. I liked it but it didn't pull me along the way I wished it would.
I'll think about it and pop back!

Sigal said...

Hey CW, I love your concept, and the idea of a fairy godmother retiring made me laugh. I wish I could read the rest of the novel. Just an idea, but I would make your second paragraph less complicated -- a lot happens in it, and it felt confusing to me. But I'd join in with others who said your last sentence about becoming your own fairy godmother is a great hook. Good luck getting it published!

lyle and julia said...

This is so fun!! I know I am nowhere near thinking like an agent but as a consumer I would buy it :)

Lisa said...

I totally get the mish mash of current references and fairy tale setting. For me it's original and funny. Might make this a cross genre into adult.
I wish I could read more. The run down of her adventures include "coming out" and I'm interested in that in a fairy tale setting.Wonder who and how it will be handled.

Anyway, I'd love to read it. Seems like it's kind of a new take on something like The Princess Bride.

Jody said...

Very funny concept. I'm often searching for a comic YA read and have a hard time finding one.

I agree about breaking up the query paragraphs but I really liked the 250.

I would like to know what happens and isn't that what it's all about?

Taylor Martindale said...

The first paragraph of this pitch is very strong and really had me interested in the concept and what promises to be a unique take on this fairy tale. The second paragraph raised a few questions for me, though. Is Cinderella being tortured in the Tower of Torture? When she goes on the journey, is she looking for the Prince, or something else? It sounds like you have some really nice writing credits, and the premise is promising. Unfortunately, I wasn’t swept away by the first page. The first sentence raised some world-building confusion for me, as I didn’t know if we were in a fairy world or a modern world with Pilates and workout routines, etc. I also felt that there was too much summary and I wasn’t getting any voice from Cinderella. With these concerns in mind, I would keep reading a few pages to see if the voice got back to the same charm of the query opening.
Thank you for participating in this Agent’s Inbox!
Taylor Martindale
Full Circle Literary