Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 93,000 word, adult urban fantasy novel, IMMORTAL UNREST.

Novan Rivestra spent the last three years at Summoning School being an almost total failure at summoning demons, which is why she risks her career by practicing an un-authorized summon the night before her final exam. However, instead of a low level demon, she somehow summons Thirren, the gorgeous King of the Underworld and a strictly forbidden summon. Thirren also becomes inexplicably bound to Novan, who thinks she’ll be skinned alive when she’s found out, but Thirren seems to have reasons for keeping his presence a secret.

Novan’s subsequent failure and re-assignment to a mundane library job soon take a back seat to bigger issues when demons start going on murderous rampages, because being bound to Novan is rapidly weakening Thirren. Without their King’s strength to tether them, not even the Summoner’s control runes are enough to reign in the demons.

The bad news ball keeps rolling when Novan discovers that she’s a descendant of the malicious Succubus Queen who was put to rest centuries ago. That explains Novan’s life draining ability, but to make matters worse, someone close to Novan aspires to awaken the Queen, and Thirren’s weakness is an integral part of it. Novan now has to learn how to use her passion fueled power to keep Thirren strong, and figure out how to stop the Queen from rising, because her quest to enslave Novan and Thirren’s worlds will start with reclaiming the power she sealed away before she was put down. The power that not arbitrarily ends up in Novan’s hands.

IMMORTAL UNREST has the potential to be a series, but can stand alone. With this query I have included the first 250 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



In less than twelve hours I’d be embarking on a career where following the rules was an absolute requirement, and here I was breaking the rules for the sake of that career. Oh the irony. After weeks of internal arguing and two recent shots of vodka, I was mostly convinced that what I was doing was justified, because if things didn’t go well for me tomorrow, I’d be stuck with the most depressing life fathomable. And I wasn’t exaggerating.

For an early summer night it was chillier than I thought it would be, and I was sure my shivering and the fact that I was skulking through a dark graveyard made me the picture of a horror movie victim. The lack of light to guide me wasn’t really a deterrent since I knew my destination well, and I soon came to the clearing in the middle of the graveyard where we Summoners pulled demons from the Underworld. In the middle of the clearing was a large, circular stone; the Summoning Sphere. When I stepped onto it, I noticed that it was messier than I’d ever seen any Summoning Sphere, and I wondered how cleaning up could have possibly been overlooked. There were splatters of blood all over the rune marked floor, as well as crumpled up pieces of paper, and bits of broken glass. I looked around, really hoping I didn’t get caught, because I didn’t want the added burden of having this mess pinned on me.


Kelley said...

This sounds like an interesting story however I think you give way too much of it away in the query. Here is my suggestion:

Novan Rivestra's desire to better her performance in Summoning School forces her to practice an un-authorized summon the night before her final exam. Not only does she summon Thirren, the gorgeous King of the Underworld, but an inexplicable bound forms between the two. The bond weakens Thirren who loses his ability to tether the Demons to the underworld.

Novan discovers she’s a descendant of the malicious Succubus Queen, put to rest centuries ago. That explains Novan’s life draining power, but to make matters worse, someone close to Novan aspires to awaken the Queen, and Thirren’s weakness is an integral part.

Novan must learn how to use her passion fueled power to keep Thirren strong and together they must figure out how to stop the Queen from reclaiming the power she sealed away. The power that Novan possesses.

Or something like that anyway :)

I like your first 250 words though I do think you could tighten it up a little and really put us there. What does she feel? Smell? Get us out of her head a little...

The whole premise sounds very cool. Good luck!

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

I agree with the above comment to tighten up the query and make us want to read more - keep some of the story a secret : )
Also, I'm a huge fan ov visceral reaction and I think a bit more would work well with this sample. Did she flush, get goosebumps?
Great job. Very interesting!

An Agent Intern said...

Cut the paragraph that starts with "The bad news ball..." The paragraphs before that are fantastic, even though they need some fine-tuning, and I think they present enough of the conflict to intrigue readers but still leave mystery in the story itself. This sounds like a fantastic world.

On another note, although this is "adult" I was totally thrown by "Summing School." I don't normally picture adults in school, and I admit I read the rest of the query as if it were YA.

Krista V. said...

The other commenters have already mentioned most of the problems I had with the query. As the agent intern pointed out, I thought there was a disconnect between the category and the mention of Summoning School. I'd worry that adult readers aren't going to be interested in reading about a character who's still in school. Also, by the time we reached that fourth paragraph, it seemed like we were deep into the plot, so the query took on a synopsis-like feel, and my interest waned a little.

As for the sample page, I thought it started in a good place, but several elements - the mention of her career and the vodka shots - almost made me think that you were trying too hard to convince us that this is adult and not YA. Most adults don't have to take a test to start a career; they have a job interview or something. Now, admittedly, I don't read a lot of adult urban fantasy, but I wonder how well adult readers will relate to Novan's life.

On the whole, I found the writing to be clean and readable, and I liked the combination of demons and succubi. Good luck with this! I hope The Agent loves it!

Tory Michaels said...

Surprisingly, I have to disagree with the idea of Summoning School making me think of younger audiences/readers. Having done four years of under grad work and two years of grad work, it makes perfect sense to me that you might need a school for something as complicated as magic.

However, the query definitely has a more synopsis feel to it than you might want. I read some great advice not long ago about how a query should only focus on the first third of the book, ending right around the first major plot point.

Given I like your topic matter (love UF), I might have skipped over the query to get a look at the writing. And that I liked. Testing is such a common facet of looking for a job (be it typing tests, ability to use software, etc) that I completely connected with a character who has to do so. I would definitely keep reading here. It's good to see that they so carefully regulate magic that users need to pass a test. :)

The Agent said...

This query reads more like YA than adult at the moment. Setting your protagonist in a school environment and summoning the "gorgeous" king of the underworld sets up an expectation of a YA paranormal romance, not an adult urban fantasy. I wouldn't stop reading after the first couple paragraphs of your query, but I would definitely be less invested in continuing (although this is primarily because I personally am not seeking paranormal romance).

Your query could also use some trimming; you're trying to shove too many plot details into a small space, so at the moment it feels a bit crowded. Remember, this should read like the copy on the back of a book: hook us with your premise, then leave us craving more with a couple hints to the larger conflict.

The opening paragraphs feel a little more like the author setting the scene than the protagonist explaining her dilemma. Focus more on the character's trepidation, and less on her detached voice. This is an exciting, dicey moment for her -- so let's see it!

In the end, I think you have a good premise with a manuscript that likely needs some tightening. I would not request to see more, but after some tweaking I'm sure you will find an agent who would.