Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Ms. Shea,

By the time seventeen-year-old Tyler Falls meets Emma, his "Thirty-Days-Left-to-Live" plan is already in place--and falling in love isn't part of that plan.

Tyler has suffered from manic depression for as long as he can remember. Through medication and a good therapist, he's managed to keep his life together. But when his parents are murdered, practically in front of his face, he decides he's had enough of living as a broken person with a broken life. So, in thirty days, he plans to stick the barrel of his Ruger SP101 into his mouth and pull the trigger.

Emma Perez's brother, Ethan Giovanni, sits in a mental institution for the murder of Dr. and Mrs. Falls. Deemed mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial, Ethan has one weekly visitor--Emma. She doesn't deny his guilt, he's her brother and even though he's paranoid schizophrenic doesn't mean she has to stop loving him.

They say when you cross paths with someone more than once, it's fate--you're destined to meet. Tyler doesn't know Emma is Ethan's sister, and Emma doesn't know Tyler's story either. When Tyler learns who Emma's brother is, the world he's rebuilt around her begins to fall apart all over again and it leaves both of them wondering why fate has such a cruel sense of humor.

I am pleased to submit for your consideration TYLER FALLS. An edgy 65K word YA contemporary. I believe TYLER FALLS will appeal to readers of Ilsa J. Bick, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher and Hannah Harrington.

My second novel, a MG fantasy, was recently picked up by a small local publishing house in St. Louis (Walrus Publishing) and is scheduled for publication in 2014. TYLER FALLS is my third novel.

I've included the first 250 words below. Thank you for your consideration.



My name is Tyler Jacob Falls and I have exactly thirty days to live.

This is my assignment for summer. The special school I attend--not short bus special--and my shrink Dr. Dynerbaugh co-conspired against me. They think this will be great therapy, part of the healing process, for me to put my thoughts and feelings down on these pages since talking about it doesn't seem to help.

I've got news for them; there are more pages in this empty journal than I have days left. Sure, there might be some days when I have more to say. Like today. Today's entry will be longer because my assignment is to talk about myself. Who I am and a brief history of my life. That way, when somebody reads it later they'll understand what was going through my head and why.

I'm not supposed to just talk about things like the weather. Or current events around the world. It's all supposed to be about me and my life.

I'm seventeen and live with my aunt and uncle on Loon Island. I've lived here since April last year. No, my parents didn't get a divorce or kick me out. Dealing with that would be a piece of cake compared to what really happened.

My parents were murdered--on Valentine's Day.


Ninja Girl said...

Hi there,

This is such a cool concept. I love the idea of this young boy having his life all mapped out, only thirty days and counting, and then throwing something like love to derail all his plans. Very cool. Also, love the fact that these two characters have this tragic connection neither of them knows about. I thought the query was good, but needs work in a few places.

This phrase--"practically in front of his face"--I think is a bit confusing. Instead of upping the tension, for me, it takes away--especially the word "practically." Maybe take that word out? I think the para about Emma is almost there, but could be stronger. I think it should hit harder, like Tyler's did. Same with the third para. I love the structure: 1st para about the boy, 2nd para about girl, 3rd para what happens when they meet, but it could be so much more, build up the story/tension. A great reference would be the jacket of Jenny Downham's "You Against Me." Similar to your project--though a completely different plot.

I really love this first page, thought you did everything you needed to do. I might consider actually having Tyler writing some of the things he thinks in the second to last para (i.e. I'm seventeen and live with…).

Great concept and writing. Also, love the title!

Ninja Girl

Mary Vettel said...

I agree with the comments above re: the query needs a bit of tweaking:

the line with 'practically in front of my face' needs work.

How about: Ethan Giovanni sits in a mental institution for the murder of Dr. and Mrs. Falls. Deemed mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial, Ethan has one weekly visitor, his sister Emma Perez.

Good premise. I'd like to read more.

Good luck.

Leslie said...

I like this story idea, as well. Another good male YA character. Also, I like the play on words with his name.

The query was good- the hook at the beginning, the summary, and ending with your credentials. My only question arose from your 4th paragraph. It wasn't clear how Emma and Tyler crossed paths. You seemed to speed past that while developing other parts more thoroughly. Maybe cut some of the 3rd paragraph (I could understand Emma would support her brother; that didn't need to be said necessarily) and tweak the 4th so there's more explanation or lead-in of how the paths crossed. That seems like a hook that would get me even more interested.

I liked the writing. I like the "not short bus special" line because I think it makes the male teen voice authentic.

I want to read more.

Good luck.

James Koonce said...

Right at the top of the first 250 you set up a great premise, and do it in a way that grabs the reader immediately. I think the energy and immediacy of the excerpt needs to be injected into the query part of the letter -- introducing Tyler and his "Thirty Days Left to Live" plan is way less arresting than "Tyler Falls has thirty days to live."

That said, I like the story that's introduced -- Ethan, Emma and Tyler have a horrible event in common, and I really want to know how they will resolve their sizable differences. But again, I think it's the jolt of the excerpt that needs to appear more than fate's cruel sense of humor.

Really nice. Would definitely read this book.

Susan said...

I thought the query was a little long to keep my attention, but the first 250 hooked me. The first line is very intriguing, as is the fact that his parents were murdered on Valentine's Day. I'd want to read more.

Jodi R. said...

Love the concept, the writing and the title - good luck!

Katie Shea said...

This novel seems a little too dramatic for me. I'm also not sure if I'm 'buying' this storyline. As I read further, I wasn't impressed by the writing style. This one isn't for me.

Jemi Fraser said...

I like this. In the query, I think you might want to mention a bit more about Tyler and Emma's connection - how they get involved in each other's lives.

I like the 250 pages as well. Strong wry voice - makes me want to know the character more. Nicely done :)