Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Agent,

When his first love is killed in a prom night car wreck, teen genius Daniel Frank uses his award-winning science research to bring her back from the dead. Daniel instantly becomes a national hero and media superstar, but when Jane’s health begins to fail, everyone, including Daniel, wonders if defying death is really possible. Public adoration turns to suspicion, a criminal investigation, lawsuits, and a restraining order. Daniel must find a way to save Jane or he’ll have to watch her die again, knowing he’s responsible for her suffering. Jane's life may depend on factors Daniel’s logical mind can’t grasp. Why does she keep having “near-death” visions of heaven? Daniel doesn’t believe in fate, souls, an afterlife, or anything that can’t be proven scientifically. Then again, Daniel didn’t believe in love--before Jane.

I am an SCBWI member and a former alternative high school English teacher and elementary school library volunteer. My interactive plays have been produced by mystery dinner theaters in Arizona and North Carolina.

Thank you for considering BODY AND SOUL, a YA light science fiction love story, complete at 45,000 words. The first 250 words are included below.



Jane is dead, but I don’t know that yet. I don’t remember how the night ended, so I wake up happy.

I don’t realize where I am. I don’t even realize I’m awake yet. Jane is lying dead, and precious time is passing, and my half-awake mind is playing scenes from last night, prom night, just like some cheesy date movie.


I ride my bike to Jane’s house wearing a rented tuxedo, pedaling fast so that I don’t have time to sweat in the heat that radiates from the Phoenix streets. Soon I’m standing in an air-conditioned entryway with Jane’s father and grandmother, and of course I’m sweating anyway as we watch Jane come down the stairs, all blond and pure-looking.

She actually says, “Wow, you look great!” when she reaches the bottom of the steps, and she leans forward, on tiptoes, to kiss my cheek. I inhale sweetness--vanilla and sugar--and feel a strange ache inside my chest, like a tender spot, which seems to appear whenever I’m close to Jane. And then I’m just standing there staring at her. I can never quite figure out why she’s so much more beautiful than any other pretty girl.

“Do you like my dress?” Jane asks, probably because I’m gawking at her like an idiot. “It was my mom’s,” she adds.

The dress is cream-colored lace, old-fashioned--different from the slinky prom dresses most girls wear--and it hugs her body.

“Yes,” I answer stupidly. I can’t think of what else to say.


Sharon Bayliss said...


I love your premise, it sounds really sweet, and the query did grab my interest. 45,000 words is rather short for a novel, even YA, so that stood out to me. Also, I don't know if you need to call it "light" sci-fi. It's pretty clearly sci-fi, not hard sci-fi like mililiary sci-fi, but that's clear from the query.

Good luck with this! It sounds like the kind of thing I might enjoy reading.

-Sharon Bayliss

Kelley Lynn said...

I really love this premise!

One thing I would change in the query:

Daniel must find a way to save Jane from the suffering he caused. (Just making the sentence more concise.)

The only thing that jumped out at me in the 250 words was the second yet 'I don't even realize I'm awake yet.' I don't think you need it. The first one implies it.

I do really love the premise. I would definitely read this.

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

This is intriguing and I like the idea. The word count threw me too.
Also, different tenses seemed confusing at first in the sample. Not necessariy bad, but I did reread it a couple times. This could just be me.
I like the voice and would love to read it (longer : ) ).
Great job!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Wonderful query and first 250. Not even the type of premise that usually excites me but this I would read!

erica and christy said...

I think this is a great premise and I definitely want to read it! In my query, I've struggled with the light sci fi vs. contemporary vs. speculative fiction genre-label, too. For you (based just on what I read here), I think "sci fi" is accurate since the operation seems to be the main focus of the story. Good luck!!

(and 45k is short, but I don't think too short as long as loose ends get tied up!)

The Agent said...

Your premise is intriguing from the get-go. I hesitate to say this, but I would actually prefer MORE details in your query to make it stand out. What kind of science is Daniel exactly a genius in? Can we have a hint on how he brings Jane back? Other than that, your buildup of how this situation spins out of control, and how part of Daniel's conflict is his own inability to accept the unknown, are all great suggested plot twists. They bring up just enough questions to make me want to read on.

Overall, your query and opening paragraphs make me feel like I'm reading a self-aware Mary Shelley/John Hughes mashup. A 45K word count runs the risk of being too thin for a YA sci-fi novel, but even so I would be curious enough to read more and see how your story unfolds.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say "thanks" to everyone for the comments, suggestions, and encouragement. I really appreciate it.
And thanks, especially, to Mr. Sherman. I love the "Mary Shelley/John Hughes mashup" comment. I think it captures BODY AND SOUL beautifully.

Brooks Sherman said...

SGF-- My pleasure. Thanks for submitting your work... I look forward to reading more of it soon!