Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Awesome Agent,

All girls have hopes. Unfortunately, some hopes die before they have a chance to bloom.

Eighteen-year-old Mallory’s dream of the perfect senior year is disintegrating. Her father’s a victim of long-term unemployment, her brother drags a shadow of misery around the house, and her sister is missing. The only bright spot left in her life is her boyfriend--that is until she catches his lips attached to another girl’s at the end-of-summer party. After barely surviving a disastrous first day of school, Mallory lands at a mini-mart known for selling more winning lottery tickets than any other store for hundreds of miles. Desperate for a spot of hope, she’s unable to resist the allure of playing the biggest game of chance.

As Mallory’s senior year continues to unravel, she becomes increasingly dependent on her lottery hope. Each set of tickets gifts her with a dream of a different life, one in which new adventures replace the suffering that surrounds her. Soon, though, her lottery pipe dream becomes an absolute necessity, and Mallory’s habits and hopes lead her astray.

With a little help from a new friend--the tough yet totally hot transfer student who’s got struggles of his own--Mallory just may see that a jackpot win isn’t the only magic the lottery delivers.

HOPE IN BLOOM is a contemporary YA novel complete at 72,000 words. I am an English teacher--spending my days immersed in the joys, problems, and dreams of young adults--and a believer in my own lottery dreams. I’m also a member of SCBWI and CBW-LA and a new member of the She Writes community.

Thank you for taking the time to review my work. The first 250 words are included below, and the completed manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.



I should have worn the emerald green shirt, the one with the ribbon of rainbow embroidery near the neckline. Then maybe things would have gone differently. That shirt held magic power. It’s the one my boyfriend Ben told me I was wearing the day he fell in love with me. It’s also the shirt I wore the day I found out I’d finally made the varsity cheerleading squad and the one I’d worn on the day I’d gotten my first ‘A’ on a pre-calculus test. That shirt gave me confidence, something I lacked at times. And I wished that I had worn it to the party that night.

My giant smile led us up the stone walkway toward the front door of Kyle’s house. Sara, Taylor, and Nicole trailed behind me, gossiping about something, but I wasn’t interested in my friends’ conversation. My heart somersaulted in anticipation of seeing Ben. He left for college a month ago, and I missed him. A lot. I missed that fresh-from-the-dryer smell of the sweatshirt he always let me wear. And the taste and feel of his soft lips when he kissed me at the end of our dates. And most of all, I missed his smile, that special treasure that always melted away my troubles. He was home that weekend for the end-of-summer party, and we’d be reunited after four long weeks.

At the door, a stoner kid who graduated three years ago stamped our hands, and we walked inside.


Stellaluna said...

I want to read more of this. Sounds interesting and full of real life experiences. Great twist on YA genre.

Arianna said...

Feels very Sarah Dessen-ish. I like it. Plus I've never read a lottery-addict's story. Definetly different. Good luck in the contest!!

Robin said...

I'm intrigued. Gobbled your 1st page. I have a lucky shirt too, so it was fun reading about hers and also knowing how she believes in luck with the lottery stuff in the query.

Good luck!

Kristy Shen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristy Shen said...

I agree with Arianna. very Sarah Dessen-like. Nice writing!

Charlotte said...

Great start to a novel. I love the style so far. The summary of the book sounds very interesting. The lottery fantasy is great. Who hasn't imagined hat their life would be like if they won the lottery? I would like to see how that plays out in a book.

Renee DeAngelo said...

I like this idea and your beginning reminds me of another story I read. Would like to read more...Good Luck!

Deserae McGlothen said...

The query sounds good and the first 250 are just as good... It seems like a great contemporary read (which I love). As was mentioned before, the lottery angle is new and interesting to me so I'd definitely want to read more. :)

Best wishes,

Nazarea Andrews said...

I read this at WOC and really like it. My big question is--if this is YA how can she play lotto?? Other than that, I love if!

Anonymous said...

In California, anyone 18 or older can play the lottery.

The Agent said...

I like this query--I think the setup is good, and I like the idea of lottery addiction. I wouldn't have minded seeing a little more of how "Mallory's habits and hopes lead her astray" (some kind of example), but I'm curious enough I would keep reading!

I think it's worth noting, for anyone who's reading through my comments on all the entries, that part of why this query works is because it fits well with the feel of the genre. It's definitely slower-paced than some of the SF/fantasy queries, but that's okay for a contemporary, which is less plot-driven.

I'll admit that I wasn't as excited by the first page as the query. I love the detail of the shirt, but I don't think the foreshadowing of "maybe things would have gone differently" works--it pushes me away from the character and her experiences. I'd rather stay closer in her head, so her voice can come through more clearly. That's a fairly minor point, but honestly, I've found that the first page is usually a pretty good predictor of how the writing in the rest of the book will be, so it's important that the voice be immediately clear.

J. Kaitlin Adams said...

Hi L.H.,

The query really grabbed my attention, mainly because it's unique. It seems like a simple, heart-warming story, but unique enough to stand out from the pile.

The first page didn't grab my attention as much. It's still really good writing, but I wasn't as intrigued. Maybe get to something a little more exciting/intriguing first, and then put in this info later. Just a suggestion- all in all, good work!

Good luck!