Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Ms. Marini:

Running from post-college responsibilities, Amanda Smith travels to Pécs, Hungary to research her grandpapa's beginnings. Instead, she falls in love with the history and culture of the city, a Gypsy dancer named Luca, and Luca’s family. A shocking photograph of her grandpapa wearing a hammer and sickle makes her abandon her search for answers and focus on her relationship with Luca. She agrees to marry him despite her family’s protestations.

Before the wedding, her grandpapa’s brother comes into town with family secrets that exposes old wounds and a connection with Luca’s clan. As the Gypsy family rejects Amanda, no one tells her why except to acknowledge her innocence. Even her fiancé walks away because of clan loyalties. Now she questions everything she knew about her beloved grandpapa and must repair the wounds she didn’t intend to open.

I am a regular attendee of DFW Writer’s Conference and have recently spent time in Pécs, Hungary, exploring the city and its culture.

WITHOUT BORDERS is multi-cultural/women’s fiction complete at 80,000 words.

Below you will find the first 250 words of the novel. Thank you for your consideration.



Music distracted Amanda from her search for her mother’s gift. Wild, erratic tones that couldn’t be ignored. She dropped the scarf she was considering and followed the sounds through the mild scattering of shoppers, down the street she had become so familiar with in the past week of her visit. She turned a corner past a peach-colored building.

In front of the café Amanda visited often, a plump woman in blue jeans fiddled on a cracked violin. Her dark hair danced and jerked with the movements of her playing. A boy, no older than fifteen, sat behind her beating a drum, and a man whose face had been baked in the sun provided harmony with his accordion. In his yellow and crimson tunic, he was the only one who wore the traditional garb of his people. Amanda had read Gypsy bands had gone out of style, yet this group of musicians gathered an audience on the corner of a walking path in Pécs, Hungary.

A gasp in the crowd drew Amanda’s attention to a man who somersaulted from out of nowhere. He must have been lurking among the spectators, waiting for his cue. He wore a gold vest over his bronze muscles, looking reminiscent of idol statues often seen in India. His quick steps moved to the music and he slapped his body in a rhythmic percussion. The audience clapped as the music escalated faster and louder as the dancer kept in time.


Janice Sperry said...

I like your premise. I love settings outside of the US. Other cultures have so much to offer. Your conflict is very clear in your query but I'd like to know what your MC's goals are. What does she want when her fiance walks away? Does she try to get him back?

Mystic Wyngarden said...

I would probably like your book. I love the wild music and the setting. The first sentence of the 250 confused me at first, because I didn't realize she was shopping FOR a gift. For a minute there, I thought it was some kind of quest. This is the fist entry that I've read all the way through...

Carrie-Anne said...

I fell in love with Hungarian history, culture, and language when I was 15 (in 1995), so this is right up my alley. I also love finding other writers who set their stories outside of the usual North America and Western Europe. I love all your descriptive details in your opening 250. It's nice to see slower-paced, more descriptive openings.

Mia K Rose said...

Your first line opens stating that she was searching for a gift for her mother, but the query is all about her grandpapa. I'm assuming her mother never really enters the story, maybe instead drop the mother's gift reference and just state that the music distracted her from her the shops/stalls. Or something. If her mother is important later than keep it in, but opening with that reference makes me think it might be important.

I like your descriptions through the rest of your 250 words, and I think it works well.

Good luck with it. :)

Kristen Wixted said...

This is really interesting. I'd read on to see where it goes, and what the mystery is.

Anonymous said...

I like the premise. But I think your query needs a bit more life to it. As it reads, it's almost like a mini-synopsis, which can be (and often are) boring. I like the first two sentences of the query (although I might change "research" to "learn about"). But when you get to the sentence about the photograph, I really feel like I'm reading a synopsis instead of a query.

Also, because so much of this story seems to center on Amanda's decision to delve into her grandfather's past, you might want to tell us a bit more about who he was to her-it's not until the last sentence of the second paragraph that we find out he was pretty important.

In your 250, I'm taking a leap and assuming the dancer turns out to be Luca? If so, EXCELLENT. Bringing him in so soon makes me that much more invested in their relationship. Oh, and he sounds hot :)

Utsav said...

The premise is unique and the link between grandpapa and the clan intrigues me. That said, the query can stand to tell us the exact nature of the wounds the MC is trying to avoid opening!

K.A.S. #5 said...

The phrase "wearing a hammer and sickle" confused me. Is this a tattoo? Clothing? Perhaps he's holding a flag? Be more specific.

As other have said, I think your query could benefit from being condensed. Basically she goes in search of her heritage, falls in love with a hot guy, gets engaged, then it all falls apart when a family secret is revealed. Now, she has to heal a wound that she never meant to uncover.

Focus on your MC, on her desires and her conflicts. What's at stake for her? Her love? Her family? Her own identity?

As for your first page: lovely descriptions! Very sensory. I feel immersed in a world that I would like to stay in. I would agree with others that the first sentence should be reworked or cut.

That said. I love this premise. The post-college student running away from responsibility, I think, will hit home with a lot of readers rights now. I love the setting, the identity crisis, and the vividness of your descriptions.

Good luck!

Victoria Marini said...

I think gypsy culture is fascinating, so I'm intrigued by the setting, tone of this novel. I'm also interested in the mystery of the grandfather's political and personal history (though "wearing a sickle & hammer" doesn't quite make sense). Unfortunately, what I'm not really interested in is your protagonist. All I know about Amanda is that she is "running from post-college responsibilties" and then she's researching her grandfather. Why? What does she want to get out of this? What's stopping her? Additionally, when you say "The Gypsy family rejects her and no one tells her why except to acknowledge her innocence." I'm not sure what that means. Is she looking for answers? I think if you strengthen the emotional core, here, this would be even more appealing.