Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Agent Awesome,

Persephone Mead wakes up in a house with no ceiling, a bed covered with flowers, and with a giant shard of glass embedded in her chest. Normal fifteen-year-old girls would start freaking out here. Persephone Mead is not a normal fifteen-year-old girl.

“Did it work?” she asks desperately, to no one in particular. “Am I back?”

“Yes,” someone says, but she can’t see who. “We’ve been waiting for you…”

But it doesn’t last. It never lasts.

And soon enough, she’s thrown back. Back down towards Earth. Back down towards a world full of smoke, debris, and wailing ambulances.

Persephone Mead is not a normal fifteen-year-old girl.  Because she just can’t seem to stay dead. And she has no idea why.

THE OTHER SIDE is a completed YA Dark Fantasy with an approximate word count of 82000, and is intended as the first in a three-part series. Thank you for your time and consideration.



You know that ringing you get in your ears? Like, when you stand too close to a speaker at a concert? Not a lot of people know this, but that’s actually the sound of the cells in your ear dying. What you’re hearing is actually the last time you’ll ever get to hear that particular note. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

And when your eardrum gets blown apart like mine just did, it’s kind of like that, times about a million.

It was as if there was an entire orchestra of notes, all ringing, all dying, and even though my other ear still worked I couldn’t hear a thing. That sound just drowned out everything. It drowned out the sirens, it drowned out the screaming. It even drowned out the firefighter who was trying to drag me to safety. I think he was yelling something at me. Was he saying “No”? Or maybe “Go”? I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t hear. And I was never really good at reading lips.

I blinked, staring up at the sky. Everything was coming in and out of focus for some reason. Blurry, sharp, blurry, sharp. Was there something wrong with my eyes too?


Delia said...

Hi KS! I'm really loving this query. I'm not sure how the dialog will go over with agents, but for me it works.

In the first two-fifty, I'm not sure the first paragraph needs to be there, but I'm torn. It feels like a good buffer between the reader and too much immediate action, but I'm not sure it grabs my attention the way it should. It's as if her thoughts are too coherent for someone whose ear has just been blown out.

That said, I would read on, especially knowing what I know from the query, so nice work. I hope someday I get to find out why she won't die. (Is her name a clue? I hope so.) :)

Good luck!

G.B. Skye said...

I really liked the first 250 a LOT. The opening, with the sort of introspective musing about death and cells dying, reminds me of other books I've read that start off similarly... I think SUICIDE NOTES was one. Anyway, really great stuff! I got an excellent sense of voice right away and was sucked right in!

Your query worked for me. I don't really know what the main conflict is yet (is it her inability to die, or is that setup for something else...?), but it certainly hooked me. And since your 250 hooked me, too, I would've just kept on reading! :D Great stuff!

Robin said...

Hi KS,

What a great 1st line. Seriously, you hooked me. And then the rest of the query just got better.

btw: Approximate word count makes me think it's not done, agents know it's not exactly 82000, so you could omit approximate.

1st 250 words: confused with 1st paragraph-"last time you'll ever get to hear that particular note." I understand ear cells dying, but I want to get to the next paragraph faster.

I like with the firefighter and the line :And I was never good at reading lips.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

I liked so much about this- especially the hook. A few nitpicky things about the query- I would put a comma into 82000 and eliminate the "approximately". I also might add a line about the novel's ability to stand-alone, yet have series potential. There was a lot on WriteOnCon this week about marketplace weariness with everything being a trilogy and I am under the impression most publishers want to market-test book one before committing to a series, so that first book really has to stand alone well. I also would be interested in hearing more of the plot/conflict in the query. The line "Because she just can't seem to stay dead." is so great and unexpected, but then I think you might need a little bit more about the story from that point on (though this would make for a great back cover!). Now I'm off to Google the thing about my cells dying every time I hear a ringing sound:)

AimeeLSalter said...

I really liked this. I was especially impressed with how solidly you inserted your voice into the query.

The really cool thing is that your query really reads like the beginning of a scene. I thought it was the beginning of your pages (put in out of order). It's good - and hooky, so I think you'll get away with it. That's a way to break the rules to your advantage.

All in all, well done. I don't really see a way I could help you improve on this.

Leslie said...

I agree with all the comments above...I loved the query! It was different, and that's what I liked about it.

I also like the story concept. I'm not a big fantasy reader, but I would definitely want to keep reading this.

Good job. And good luck!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Just wanted to pop in and say that I loved your query. It breaks just about every rule in the book, but it still drew me in hook, line, and sinker:) I have no idea where it's going, but I don't particularly care. The setup is intriguing and well-written enough that I'm willing to take a chance.

As for the first page, I didn't think it was quite as strong as the query, but that was only because the query was out-of-the-park good. It was well-written and interesting, although I thought it didn't always focus on all the right details. Is it significant that the MC knows so much about hearing and ear cells? If so, those first two paragraphs are a great detail. If not, another opening paragraph might be more impactful (although, by the time I got halfway through the third paragraph, I was hooked again).

Best of luck with this! THE OTHER SIDE was one of the few entries I remembered once I finished formatting everything.

Deserae McGlothen said...

I agree that although it breaks the rules, it's very interesting. I kept thinking, "What is this even about?" as I scrolled down to read the first 250 but as I did I realized I was doing just what you'd intended. You got me to be intrigued, to want to read on and I wasn't disappointed when I did.

This story is about Persephone and I have to say I really like her. Her mind from this excerpt seems like a scary, but wonderful place to be. A friend of mine loves to tell me "Have sweet dreams or beautiful nightmares..." I'm really interested to follow Persephone's nightmares... to see if she gets her sweet dreams...

Best wishes, Author, and great work,

Nazarea Andrews said...

Your query starts out good. I like it--but then you break into dialogue, and that...not so much. I think if you just stick to telling us why Persephone isn't a normal girl, and what she's trying to achieve, you'd be good.

I like the start, even though I'm not sure where it's going, I'd give you a little more time to convince me to keep reading. Good luck! :)

Kate Brauning said...

I think it's a bit of a risk to start out with questions- if I say "no" to them, then you've lost me. It might be more impacting to say "When my eardrum was blown apart..." Otherwise this sounds like an interesting concept and I'd read more.

The Agent said...

There's definitely a great hook here--I really wanted to read more after "Persephone Mead is not a normal fifteen-year-old girl. Because she just can't seem to stay dead. And she has no idea why." That line alone made this query work for me.

That said--that last line was the strongest one in the query. I'm not convinced the dialogue works within the query--it feels too leisurely to me. I read queries really fast, and the dialogue broke the rhythm for me. It also probably won't surprise you, if you've been reading my comments on previous entries, that I'm really not crazy about the afterlife setting, so it's not my favorite opener. I'd rather see you open with the hook, then mention the setting, and then add a little more--to tell me what happens!

I don't think mentioning a trilogy is necessarily a problem, but particularly if you want a series, there needs to be more hint of where the plot is going. I would keep reading based on this query, but I really want to know more.

The first page is strong, I think. And since the query had already hooked me with that last line, I'd read on.

J. Kaitlin Adams said...

Hi K.S.,

This query really grabbed my attention! Normally, I would advise against using dialogue, but it did make me want to read more. I'm not sure how agents will view that, but for me, it totally grabbed my attention.

The last line of the query was AMAZING. That's what kept me reading.

The writing is very strong in the first page. However, I do think there is a little too much weight on the ringing noise. You could maybe jump into something else a little bit sooner.

All in all, though, I loved it. Good luck!

Kristy Shen said...

@Delia: I will definitely insert a stronger hook for the 250.
Thanks so much for your feedback and to answer your question, her name is not a clue, but that's an interesting take on it :)

@G.B: Thanks for letting me know about SUICIDE NOTES!
I really like your entry too. It's one of my favorites!

@Robin: Thanks so much, Robin! Good point about the word count and the 250 words. I'll definitely keep that in mind when I'm editing.

@Jennifer: Great point about the "series potential" line. I'll take it out since other people have mentioned the market being flooded with "series books". And yes, the fact about cells dying is true. It really freaked me out too.

@Aimee: Thank you so much, Aimee! You rock!

@Leslie: Wow. I'm so happy you said you would read it despite not being a big fantasy reader. You made my day! :)

@Krista: If it wasn't for you, I would've never gotten this opportunity. I'm so touched that you took the time to write such kind words, and although I knew I was taking a risk with this unconventional query, you made me realize the risk was worthwhile.

I completely agree with you on the 250 words. The beginning could be stronger (others have mentioned this too) so I'll revise it.

The query trenches is a tough place to be, but reading all these amazing comments really inspires me to keep going. Thank you.

@Deserae: I'm so grateful for all the kind words you left. Thank you so much!

@Nazarea: Thank you for being so honest! I love it when people are not afraid to tell you the truth to make your writing stronger. Quite a few people have mentioned that the dialogue doesn't work, so I'll be replacing it with something better.

@Kate: I completely agree with you. *rolls up sleeves and puts on revision hat* Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback!

@Agent: Thanks so much for your keen insights and industry perspective, and most of all, thanks for taking the time to read all our entries. It's great to know what works in my query, and even better to know what doesn't! It means so much to me that you liked it, and I'll definitely get rid of that dialogue.

@J.Kaitlin: I'll definitely try to jump into the action sooner. Thanks so much for your feedback and kind words!