Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 85,000 Adult Urban Fantasy novel, AFFAIRS OF THE DEAD.

Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can fade to the afterlife. However, after her often illegal methods of helping her clients lands her in trouble (she helped a virginal ghost get laid for example), she’s downgraded to tracking ghosts who hide out, since ghosts that linger too long become murderous beasties. And here Selene thought having an affair with the boss would get her out of trouble, not into it.

While tracking, Selene finds Ethan, a ghost who claims he was ousted from his body and someone else jumped in. Selene suspects reanimation; a power only a minority of necromancers have, including Selene. Reanimation entails bringing a corpse back to life using the soul from a living body, but that doesn’t add up to how Ethan became a ghost. What’s worse, partnered with Micah, a one night stand who turned hostile after, Selene investigates murders where the evidence pinpoints Ethan’s stolen body as the culprit.

When Selene accidentally binds herself to Ethan, she begins to understand the scope of reanimation, and gains power that could put Ethan back into his body. Selene has more than one reason to help Ethan though, because being ghost bound incurs the Rot, which will gradually decay her body due to constant exposure to ghost energy. Throw in a shifting relationship with Micah and a suddenly possessive boss, and Selene will learn just how much trouble you can get into when you don’t follow the rules.

AFFAIRS OF THE DEAD can stand alone but has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.



I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging, but not impossible. It was just extremely taxing on the necromancer extraordinaire (me) who had to channel energy into the ghost to make her corporeal enough to entice one of the stripper boys. Technically what I was doing was illegal, but it was my job to help ghosts settle their affairs so they could move on to eternally ever after, and Julia’s unfinished business was that she’d died a virgin. I’d made it as easy as I could for her by starting at a strip club; if she couldn’t get some here I wasn’t sure how much lower I could scrape the barrel.

Julia’s prolonged virginity was an enigma to me, even though she claimed she’d been waiting for her soul mate. I just didn’t understand why waiting for her soul mate meant she couldn’t hit up a bar, get drunk, and have a fun, regret filled weekend that included the walk of shame. At least she’d have been in better shape once soul mate came around.

“What do you think about him?” I asked, pointing to one of the oiled up men who were gyrating for the benefit of all the screaming women. He had blond hair and green eyes, and was well muscled but not overly so. Julia looked at him then quickly looked away. I took that as a sign of approval.

“I think this was a bad idea,” she stammered.


CallMeKarma said...

I love the premise of this one!

But I am a little confused through your query - have a handle on what she does, but am not clear on the why or how? Was she born into this talent? Did she develop it somehow? What made her 'special' enough to jump the boundaries between life and ghost town? I'm also not clear on who Micah is or why he matters enough to be in the query.

I would likely keep reading, though, because I was curious to know if she did in fact get the ghost laid after all ; )

Ashley Turcotte said...

Let me start by saying that I love the voice in your 250. I was drawn in immediately, and would absolutely keep reading.

In the query, there were some touches of the awesome voice in the first 250. But there was also a lot of explaining, which came off a little dry and (at times) a little confusing. I really like the first paragraph (easy to follow, good voice), but after that, it could maybe use a little work. Especially the part about reanimation. First you say she suspects it, and then say it doesn't add up. Why does she suspect it in the first place if it doesn't add up? Plus, the way you describe reanimation lacks the voice you have in your 250 (same with your description of Rot). I'd love to see these descriptions more in line with the voice of the book.

Also, why is she investigating murders if she's looking for ghosts? Not really sure what binding herself to Ethan means, either, and would love a little bit of explanation in the quick, awesome voice in your 250.

Seriously, can't tell you enough how much I liked the 250. I think if you can get agents to read your sample pages, you'll be golden. :)

Kristy Shen said...

I like your concept and your opening line for you 250 words is great!

The query is a bit on the wordy side and can be tightened up a bit (again, this is just my preference for short, punchy sentences.)

Overall, great job!

Deserae McGlothen said...

Ashley pretty much summed up my thoughts entirely. Great first 250 despite a few sentences that could be cleaned up and a great first paragraph in your query. It was really crisp, really clean, really interesting...

Then the query dipped a bit. The pause to debrief us on reanimation and the Rot are like asides in the middle of a monologue. USUALLY, these don't work. The Rot thing is easily fixed. If you just remove the "due to..." you take away the excess. We don't really need the explanation, the science, when we know what it does. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. The reanimation part is trickier. I would suggest something like, "Selene suspects reanimation. Only a few necromancers can bring a corpse back to life using another living soul. But that doesn't explain how Ethan became a ghost..." Sometimes all it takes is a bit of restructuring. The last bit of nitpicky business is that I don't like the parenthetical hanging out in the first plot paragraph, but it's not a biggie. Just mentioning it whilst on the topic of restructuring...

Overall query wise, I think this is an alright query, but could be reworked to be as crisp and clean as the opening. There seems to be some really good stuff going on in the manuscript and Selene seems like a pretty cool character. I wish you both the best!

Good luck!

Nazarea Andrews said...

On your query--I like your voice until you break to explain the Rot and Reanimation. You have two typos but that could be messed up formatting, but give it a looksee.
I like the voice in your first 250, but I probably would need to see something unique to make me keep reading since--urban fantasy is everywhere these days.

The Agent said...

I think there's a great story here--I really like the idea of a snarky necromancer, and the romantic-comedy odd-couple vibe of Selene being bound to Ethan.

That said, I think those exciting elements are getting buried in the query a little bit. The query felt a little long to me, and I think you're explaining a little to much about how necromancy and the world work. While it's important to give key details so the magic isn't confusing, it's just as important to leave out extra explanations so that the reader can focus on the most important points of worldbuilding.

I also felt your sentence structure was a little awkward in the query, especially in the parenthetical comments and the funny closing lines of each paragraph (while they were funny, they felt out of place with the rest of the voice). When I only have a query letter to judge your writing, it's really important that every sentence be as clear and smooth as possible.

I also loved this first page, though. It gives a different, and much funnier, vibe than the query does, and I'd love to see the query bring out some of the romance and humor elements that I think are real selling points for this project.