Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Agent,

Bo Wolf is not your average bully slaying eleven-year-old. Sure, his arms look like flexi-straws, and other kids tell him to go back to his home on Dweeb Island, but Bo doesn't care. With his mad fencing skills and soon-to-be smoking good looks, he's convinced he's on the road to awesomeness.

After impressing a schoolyard gang by defeating their leader in a broomstick combat, Bo agrees to help them take on the meanest and ugliest bully known to middle school--Grendul--who's taken the playground jungle gym for his own.

However, when Bo puts the smackdown on Grendul, he finds a much more powerful adversary in the bully's mom, the school lunch lady. Angered by her precious son's defeat, the lunch lady, who's actually a witch, plots to poison the entire school with her irresistible gingersnaps. But with the help of a spunky girl named Reagan, Bo discovers the witch's diabolical plan.

In his attempt to stop her, Bo befriends a drocket (a dragon that shrinks to fit in your pocket) that's been enslaved by the witch's dark magic. Bo must face his doubts and embark on a rescue mission with the drocket to save the middle school from an imminent cafeteria-induced death.

Complete at 36,000 words, I'm Here to Save Your Day--The Adventures of Bo Wolf is a middle grade humorous/adventure and a modern version of the epic poem, Beowulf, set within the tumultuous battlefields of the middle school playground.

Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you. The entire manuscript is available at your request.

Warm Regards,


I hated first days.

I turned toward my mom with big glossy eyes behind my glasses, (well, one eye actually. Yeah, I wear an eye-patch, so what?)

“Just one more day,” I pleaded. “Please, Mom? Don’t make me suffer.”

"Give it up, Bo. You’ll have to go to school eventually, might as well be today. Now, you don't want to be late. It's good to be prompt and make a good impression."

She always insisted I be on time. Ugh.

"But, Mom," I said, "school doesn't start until eight. It's only seven-thirty."

She smiled and leaned over, giving me a big mom hug. "You need to sign in at the Administrations Office. They're expecting you." She paused, tapping her lip with a purple painted fingernail. "Well, maybe I should go with you. You might need some help signing in." She took off her seatbelt.

"No, I got this," I said. "I'll be fine, Mom."

She smiled. "All right, I'll see you at two-fifteen. Good luck, honey. Go get 'em."

She kissed me on the cheek and I looked around frantically, hoping no one saw what very well could've been my imminent downfall before ever setting foot at my new school. How was my coolness bound to spread if my mom was giving me kisses in the open?


Janice Sperry said...

Your premise is so cool. Beowulf is one of those classics that most people have heard of but never read. I love the middle school twist.

On to the first page. I didn't love it. (sorry) The voice is there but it's such a common beginning. I think if you start with him meeting the bully or the lunch lady and seeing something strange about them - other than their mean natures. I'm trying to think back to the original. He agrees to help the king. He could agree to help the principal instead.

Love the imminent downfall line when his mom kisses him.

One more little picky item. It should be I hate first days. Not I hated first days. Hated pulls the reader out of the moment and makes it feel like you're setting up for a flashback in the first line.

Unknown said...

I agree with Janice about the first page. It is a very common beginning, but I do love the voice (and the line about the eye patch, haha.)

I'm not sure how I feel about the query. I loved the beginning and the visual of your character (I actually laughed out loud at the flex straw arm bit), but the comment about the lunch lady being a witch threw me. The first half of the query had me thinking this was going to be realistic, and with that I assumed the witch comment was metaphorical. But then it wasn't. Not sure if it's a big deal or not, it's just my impression.

Aside from that, your query feels pretty tight.

Ambiguous_A said...

I thought the query was great--though it seemed too detailed and a bit too long for me. I'm not sure we need to know about the drocket and some other details up front like that. Still, the voice is great, and it's also great in your 250 words. I agree with Janice and Nicole, though. It's a very common beginning for what seems like a story that is anything but common.

Dee said...

Great start! Even though this is a Beowolf spin, I can almost feel the originality oozing from the edges. The voice is distinct and clear, snappy too. I really dig it! I would love to hear more about the drocket- so cool!! I can imagine many kids (and adults) enjoying this...
I would say look a bit further along in the manuscript and see if there is another place to start...closer to the action...but I think for an MG level book it's not a bad place to start either. But I suppose you could get the reader a bit more drawn in, quicker...very, very cool!

An Agent Intern said...

I loved the query. While the beginning doesn't hook me, the voice is spot-on and so real. I'd continue reading for sure. Maybe in the future you could start the story closer to this broomstick battle?

Unknown said...
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Sharon Bayliss said...

Fantastic query! I love the way you called him a "bully slayer". I wasn't sure how a "Dweeb" is slaying all these bullies. Does he have powers? Is he a wizard? It wasn't clear to me. Still, I loved the voice and the premise.

Danielle DeVor said...

The query- at first sounded like a contemporary MG, but then fantasy elements appeared. I would try to introduce the fantasy a little earlier. But- I will say that I loved your voice.

The first page:

I think we need a little more of what makes Bo different. I kind of get an inkling that he could be a cyclops or something. You might want to add some hints.

erica and christy said...

Love it!! (and I'm one of those that has read Beowulf - great premise!) My only question (as the mom of a 10-year-old boy) is whether 11-year-olds still fight over jungle gyms (my kid's school doesn't even have one)...but if it's set up right, it can work! I would totally read on, great job!

The Agent said...

I was thrown when your contemporary middle grade adaptation of Beowulf suddenly became a fantasy adventure, especially because all the characters seem to take this sudden world shift in stride. Is Bo at all perturbed to discover that the school's lunch lady is actually a witch who is going to murder everyone in the school? And if the stakes suddenly take on a life-and-death tone, why doesn't he tell any adults?

Perhaps your story itself addresses these questions, but we need to see that in your query as well. Right now, the query reads unevenly because of the abrupt shift in tone and conflict from dealing with middle school bullies to homicidal, supernatural adversaries.

Also, you might want to start your story at a different point, such as Bo's first encounter with the schoolyard gang or with the seemingly normal lunch lady. Your story (particularly because it is fantastical) will draw the reader in much more easily if you start it at a less mundane moment.