Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Ms. Marini,

Banished from the palace after her father’s death, fourteen year old Nara is no longer a princess. Now her egomaniac cousin Roman sits on the throne as king. But Nara is the only one who can hear the Gods, and those Gods are angry. Darkness is the first plague, followed by the frogs and the flies. And the Gods are just getting warmed up.

By unraveling the cryptic clues the Gods send to her dreams, Nara thinks she knows how to stop the plagues. The Gods want a temple. Nara advises Roman to begin construction on the temple at once, and Roman commands the commoners work as laborers. While Roman enjoys massages and pedicures, Nara must continue to decipher the mysterious clues from the Gods to end the worsening plagues.

Damian is a crippled commoner, but he has a big voice and bright ideas. Despite his disability, he smarts his way onto the construction site. But Damian doesn’t believe a temple is the right solution to the worsening plague problem. The laborers grow weary and angry, and rally around Damian; the visionary with a crooked leg.

Nara must stand in Roman’s shadow while trying to save the kingdom. She misses her father, and aches for palace life again. And now Damian, a mere commoner, is challenging everything. But when Nara and Damian’s mothers fall victim to the worse plague yet, a mystery illness that puts them near death, the teens must work together before the Gods destroy everything they hold dear.

TEMPLE FALLS, a middle grade fantasy novel of 50,000 words, is told from the point of view of both Nara and Damian, appealing to girl and boy readers. The book stands alone, but has series potential. I like to think of it as a PG rated version of THE GAME OF THRONES meets THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this submission. Per your guidelines, I have included the first 250 words below.



Nara pushed her way through the soup of darkness. Her shoes clicked against the marble pathway towards the royal palace. Blackness covered her like a thick cloak, weighing her down; even though it was only lunch time. The absence of daylight still gave Nara the creeps. It had been like this for three weeks.

But she knew how to fix it.

And she would tell her stupid cousin, even though he hardly deserved it. Anything was better than living under a dark cloud all day, every day.

It was strange coming to the palace without her maidens and royal guardsmen. But now that Nara and her mom were no longer palace residents, the entourage was gone.

The guardsman at the palace gate, a fellow by the name of Warner who Nara had known since birth, bowed his head slightly as he pushed open the heavy iron gate letting Nara inside. “Good day, Lady Nara,” he pronounced.

Nara with a dismissive flick of her wrist said, “Day? Is that what this is? I can’t tell anymore.”

The oppressive darkness covering the kingdom of Chernadova indeed made it hard to tell day from night. For three weeks, since the death of Nara’s father, it was as if the Gods decided it would be a good idea to cover the kingdom with a large, dirty, dishrag. And every day the dishrag grew dirtier.

“Yes, my Lady. It certainly is a strange phenomenon.” Warner paused for a moment, shuffling his feet before continuing. “What do you make of this oddity?”


B.C. said...

Interesting! I like the way you clearly lay out the conflict between the characters and the different goals that drive them. I do have a few suggestions.

First, the query is a bit long. I think what you have in there is good, but you can cut it down--generally speaking, most queries should be only a page or less.

Second, given that this is a fantasy world, you should spend at least two or three sentences of the query doing some worldbuilding. When I first read your query, I thought it was going to be historical fiction. You need to establish in some way how the world you've created is different from ours.

I like the first 250 you give us, which introduces us to Nara's personality and gives us a little information. I think you could polish it a bit more-- for example, you say "three weeks" twice. Once is probably sufficient. Also, I wonder whether Nara would use the informal term "mom," even in her head, given how important her position as royalty is to her.

Good work, and a neat story idea!

Karen lee Hallam said...

I thought the query was wonderful and made me want to read all about the conflict. A lot of detail with a short amount of space--great job.

Nara has enough snark, and I like the contrast to her royal bearings.
The clicking shoes, darkness like a dirty dishrag, give me bits about the environment, and a lot of atmosphere. I am Very interested in reading more about Chernadova. Love this.

Akoss said...

I agree with the fact that the query is a bit long, but I still enjoyed reading it and was intrigued by your premise.
May I suggest something? If you can find a way to reduce the second paragraph down to a sentence or two that could be worked into paragraph one, it can help with the long query issue. :)

SM said...

How about shortening the query a bit by editing and combining the second and third paragraphs to read something like:

By unraveling the cryptic clues the Gods send to her dreams, Nara thinks she knows how to stop the plagues. The Gods want a temple, so under Roman's command, construction begins at once. But at the construction site, Damian, a crippled commoner with a big voice and bright ideas, disagrees with Nora's vision and starts to stir the laborers to rally around himself.

Either way I like it, good job!

Mia K Rose said...

I do agree with the others that the query is a bit too long, and I think condensing certain points would help. I am intrigued by your comparison that it is a PG version of the TV show 'Game of Thrones', as I love reading 'A Song of Ice and Fire'.

As for your first 250 I'm not sure about your first line, the 'soup of darkness' just throws me. I'm not sure if this is a common sort of phrase that gets used, but to me it just sounds odd? Overall though I think you got an interesting character with Nara and her personality.

Good luck with it.

S.S. #20 said...

I have to agree with the others on the length. It’s a little long, but I think there are ways to shorten it, such as combining paragraphs one and two.
When the meet, Nara and Damian are on opposite sides of the temple issue and they come together when both their mother’s get sick… It sounds almost too convenient. I’m not saying it is in the book, but in the query it sounds like Damian kind throws all his beliefs out the window. I wonder if you could give more insight into what causes him to change his mind. Does Nara tell him something that’s going to happen and it does? Does she plant the seeds of doubt in him that bloom when his mother falls ill? I just feel like I’m missing the set up. I hope that makes sense.
Now, I love the idea of having the former princess and the commoner at odds with each other. It really sets up the challenge of the alliance they are going to form!
As for your 250 words, I get a pretty clear image of Nara. She’s a firecracker… no fear. I also get a really clear idea that it is dark. And I get that it’s important, but it comes off a little repetitive. You have some great lines, like “Blackness covered her like a thick cloak, weighing her down,” and “it was as if the Gods decided it would be a good idea to cover the kingdom with a large, dirty, dishrag.” I would suggest picking the one or two that you like the best and then getting into the action… maybe have her actually enter through the palace gate and see what is happening to her former home and then weave some of the backstory in… maybe she sees a former Maiden now working as a kitchen helper… something to show us what she had and how her stupid cousin has ruined everything living it up in what she believes to be her rightful place(?).
Those are my thoughts. Overall, I like it. Good job and good luck!

Kristen Wixted said...

I felt like the query was a bit too synopsis-y also. Maybe too much detail.

Love the writing! Gotta love a story that has maidens, royal guardsmen, and a dishrag metaphor on the first page.

Jennifer Malone said...

Lucky CP weighing in here to say that this is a great story- and coming from someone with little interest in fantasy, that's high praise! I can't wait for agents to snap this up!!

michelleimason said...

I agree with the others. Get the main body of your query down to three paragraphs, and you could probably even take out Roman's name. The fewer names in the query the better, especially since he seems like a main character and then we find out Damian is actually one of the POVs.

I'm also not sure about using THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY as a comp. At least from the query, I'm not seeing that, although the other one sounds in line.

Good luck!

Ella Schwartz said...

Thanks everyone for your great feedback! I know the query is long. I've been struggling with the length! But with two POVs I tried to inject a little bit of both characters into the query...and this takes lots of text! ACK! Will see if I can get it down. Your suggestions are all great. Thank you!

Victoria Marini said...

I'm liking this. I think Nara has just the right amount of snap and sincerity to her voice. I agree it's a big long, but I have no doubt you can find a way to pair it down. One thing I might suggest is clarifying that this is a fantasy world and not a biblical one. For a moment, I thought this was Old Testament historical MG, rather than fantasy.