Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Victoria,

Ally Rodriguez doesn’t daydream about prom, first kisses, or midnight strolls on the beach. When skin contact has the power to immerse you in visions that will eventually strip your sanity and leave you in a world where you can’t tell flashbacks from reality, you don’t dream of being touched at all.

But Ally’s fear of touch takes a back seat when detectives discover the body of a classmate dumped in the orange groves. With no suspects or leads, the entire school is spooked and a bully decides Ally is going to be his next outlet, but testing the limits of her no-touch-attitude is the wrong move. During the struggle Ally has a vision and accidentally shoves it back into him, knocking him unconscious. When the green-eyed god of baseball, Eric Nichols, tries to break it up, he catches a glimpse of the vision and is determined to find the truth about what he saw. His new mission brings them closer than Ally imagined possible, forcing her to question everything she thought she knew about her ability, like how and why Eric can see the visions, and why they can sometimes touch without her seeing a vision at all. But when a video of Ally having a flashback lands on the cell phone of Eric’s dad, the lead detective in the murder case, he pieces together the truth and reveals a family secret in order to enlist her help in finding the killer.

All she has to do is touch the body.

Touching Darkness, a YA Mystery, is a stand-alone novel with series potential. It is complete at 80,000 words and will appeal to fans of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder. My Romance novella, “One Last Shot”, is contracted for an October release with Evernight Publishing.

Thank you.



I should have kept my mouth shut. I should have sat in my chair, ducked my head, and ignored the fact that Kyle Pollard was being a complete a** for no reason…again. But there was something in the look on Shane’s face; fear was part of it, but there was more. Impotent rage. That feeling that no matter how mad Shane got, he would never be able to retaliate; a feeling I knew all too well. Girls with secrets don’t make so much as a ripple in the glassy surface of their peers’ awareness and they sure as h*** don’t make a tidal wave by mouthing off to a jerk. Shane obviously agreed that cowering in the shadows was better than bleeding in the spotlight, but the smug satisfaction in Kyle’s eyes pierced something inside me and I was on my feet before I knew what happened.

“What did you say?” Kyle asked.

Sweat erupted from my pores, but it was too late to walk away. “Why can’t you just leave people the h*** alone?” My heart threatened to explode; words continued to spew. “If you spent half as much time paying attention in class as you do harassing everyone else maybe you wouldn’t be taking this class for the third freaking time.” D*** it felt good to be on the giving end for once.

Kyle’s eyes widened then narrowed into the glare of a predator aching to pounce. His fists shook at his sides. No one so much as breathed, much less moved to intervene.


Unknown said...

Your premise and first words are great! I was left wishing there was more for me to read. There are a few things I think you could do to tighten and improve your query.

I didn't realize that Ally sees flashbacks when she touches people until the middle of the second paragraph. If you changed a few minor things, your intent would become clearer. I'd consider rephrasing your second sentence to read something like "When skin contact has the power to immerse you in flashbacks that will eventually strip your sanity and leave you unable to tell a vision from reality, you don't dream of being touched at all."

i'm wondering how this "shoving a vision back into someone" works. I mean, does she know this can happen? Is she actually shoving him or is it only the vision she is shoving?

Although I'm still left wanting to read it based on your query, is there a way to show us how high the stakes get? Does she want to touch the body? Is she afraid? Will the visions she sees be horrifying beyond belief?

Again, I really, like your query and i'd want to read more of the story.

Unknown said...

Hi there. I love the first paragraph of your query. Great premise! Ally reminds me a tiny bit of Rogue from X-Men. Rad!

The second paragraph has a lot going on, and I think the query would benefit from breaking it up a little bit. I had to read it a few times to understand it. Try to think about what's important to the story and what isn't. You go from detective, to dead body, to bully classmate, to Eric Nichols very, very quickly. And in the very last sentence, you throw in "revealing a family secret," which was never mentioned before. If these are the stakes, considering mentioning this fact earlier. I was also a little confused how a video of Ally's flashback could be captured on a cell phone. Does that mean the actual flashback is captured, or of her having it?

I think the voice of your first 250 is great, but there's some confusing punctuation in the first paragraph -- a lot of semicolons, for example. I get a good idea of Ally right away, and I like that she's standing up to a bully. Love strong female characters.

Mia K Rose said...

I agree with the above that your second paragraph in the query does seem to have a lot going on, and maybe could use breaking it into two smaller ones and also help clarify your stakes.

Your end line 'all she has to do is touch the body' makes it sound too easy to solve for a mystery. Or am I missing something?

I like the overall sound of your premise and sounds like it could be an interesting read.

Good luck with it.:)

S.S. #20 said...

I feel like there is so much potential with this query... I definitely get a Rouge (X-men) vibe from her... as in the image of Rouge and the first kiss image popped up immediately. However, the second sentence of the first paragraph threw me for a loop. I think I get the emotional imagery you're going for, but the long sentence tempers it a bit.

You can probably divide the second paragraph and tighten it up. Half the paragraph is dedicated to this one altercation which I have to wonder, other than bringing them together, why is it more important than other scenes that would warrant so much space. And you say her fear of touch takes a back seat when a classmate's body is found, but that doesn't ring true, at least according to the query. Is there any way you can simplify the bully part and jump to the issues that arise between Ally and Eric.

I think this is really intriguing. I get a feeling it's about a girl with a gift who doesn't want anything to do with it but must accept her power in order to help find a killer. I love it when the MC is a powerful girl who stands up for what's right. However, I did find myself wondering how old she is.

For your first 250. Not sure I can picture someone channeling both fear and rage at the same time... now battling for control, I can see. Also, not sure if a teen would use the word peers to describe their classmates.

I like the bleeding in the spot light line!

Kyle asks what she said, but as the reader, I wasn't aware she actually spoke yet. Yes, she says she should have kept her moth shut, but I wasn't sure if she spoke before that of if she was foreshadowing what was about to happen.

I do get her voice pretty well in the sample. I like how you show us the internal struggle she's going through while the external struggle is going on.

Great job and good luck!

Kristen Wixted said...

In the writing sample, I would be wary of phrases like "sweat erupted from my pores..." Because now I'm picturing that and its taking away from what's really happening in the scene, which is compelling.

The beginning of the 250 is also compelling. You begin right off with an interesting scene, and it's all full of secrets and rage and mouthing off. Nice.

I think you got a lot of good feedback already on your query--
Good job!

K.A.S #5 said...

I scanned through all the posts quickly, seeing what would catch my eye first (I feel like this is probably how an agent approaches a full first skimming), and your query immediately caught my eye! The premise gives me chills. I would be so excited to read this!

Okay, now for some hopefully helpful suggestions on your query:

-As a few people have said, I think that second paragraph of your query is a bit confusing. There's a lot going on. Why does a town murder cause the bully to pick on her? How do you shove a vision into someone? How can someone experiencing a flashback be caught on camera?

-I would take out the description: "the green-eyed god of baseball." This is confusing, especially with so much else going on in that paragraph. I think it is meant to describe him as dreamy, but it conjured images of envious gods.

Now, for your first 250 words:

I love that you begin with such an intense scene and that we immediately get the main character acting and standing up for someone else. Great characterization!

But I do feel like that first paragraph is a little confusing. There's a lot of people: MC, bully, Shane. Who is Shane? Is he a main character or even an important character? If not, I'm not sure he should be named in the first paragraph.

I'm so excited for this book! I love the premise, and I think with a few tweaks, your query will be getting plenty of responses! Good luck!

Victoria Marini said...

I think this is good. The second paragraph of the query could be pared down a bit, and I think there's some confusion in the 250 - who's shane? who's kyle etc - but it would likely be answered with just a few more pages. My only concern is that this sounds almost too much like THE BODY FINDER. I'd have to keep reading to know for sure.