Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Ms. Marini,

Becoming a witch isn’t what sixteen-year-old Hannah Slaughtery expects when she enrolls in an exclusive boarding school. Neither is fighting against monsters she doesn’t believe in.

After an aerial assault by mythical basilisks, Hannah discovers she’s one of five students that make up the next generation of Partizans, a band of supernatural warriors whose origins date back to the dawn of man. In order to stand against a ruthless and tyrannical empire of demons, Hannah must make a choice. She can refuse her calling and enter a supernatural witness protection program to save her adopted family, or overcome her fear and accept her battle-filled legacy.

Regardless of her decision, there’s one thing Hannah knows for sure: the carefree days of her youth have come to a screeching halt.

THE PARTIZANS, is a completed 74,000 word YA paranormal with series potential. I saw in an interview on the blog Shiny that you are seeking works with a fresh take on the paranormal and a fully realized world, which has been my goal with this manuscript. It meshes together several different paranormal creatures with classic mythology and will appeal to fans of the Hex Hall series.

Per the submission guideline, the first 250 words are enclosed below.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.



Hannah Slaughtery’s courage faltered as the iron gate creaked open. The late afternoon light filtered through the snow-topped pine trees as she steered her car through the fence, the only thing that seperated Piaculum Academy from the rest of the world. Inching forward, something in the wind caused a shiver to ripple down her spine. It was as if the air was charged with bursts of electricity. Like something wasn’t quite right, and yet, as she continued down the drive, she felt protected for the first time in her life. Up ahead was a security checkpoint with tinted windows manned by a guard with a military haircut and aviator sunglasses. As he opened the window, Hannah noticed the faint scent of coconut sunscreen, which struck her as odd. After all, it was mid-December.

“Identification,” he said, surveying the back seat.

She fumbled for her wallet and pulled out her driver’s license, giving him a shy smile, which he didn’t return.

Hannah faced him as he confirmed the honey blonde, blue eyed girl in the picture matched the driver in front of him. He thrust the license back through the window and said, “So you’re Hannah. Huh. Not what I was expecting,”

Her ears registered disappointment, but she didn’t understand why. He certainly didn’t offer any further explanation.

“Just stay on this main road until you get to Garrett Manor. If you get lost, don’t bother using your phone. You won’t get a signal.”

And that was it.


SM said...

I like this! In the query, it's a tiny bit confusing as to whether her adopted family is toast if she "accepts her battle-filled legacy." Is entering the supernatural witness protection program the only way to save them, or the only way to save them while avoiding the battle-filled part?
I like your opening page as well, but would change the second sentence to read "as she steered her car through the opening in the fence,"
I would definitely keep reading this one.

Amanda Foody said...

I like your query a lot, but the adopted family part was very sudden. You might need to mention that earlier. I also thought the last line of it was unnecessary.

My only comment on your opening is that your first paragraph can easily be split into at least two. I think the feeling she gets should be all to itself, particularly to give it emphasis.

I'd keep reading!

Don McFatridge said...


I agree with SM's comments above. Concerning "steering the car through the fence", I would consider replacing fence with gate.

The line starting with "Inching forward," sounds a little odd as cars aren't perceived to inch forward. Unless you mean Hannah inched forward in her seat.

The guards comment--"Not what I was expecting,"--ends in a coma instead of a period.

I liked your first page and would keep reading. Good luck!

Suja said...

I love the query. The MC's voice and spunk is clearly shown. And I like the idea of a supernatural witness protection program.
The pace in the opener is a bit slow, but I'm okay with it since you do an excellent job with setting the scene. I'd read on.

Kristen Wixted said...

An academy for witches would probably be interesting to teens--very out there, but still school, so relevant to their lives. I see a lot of comments about the fence bit-my only thought on that is--is that fence really the only thing that separates the Academy from the rest of the world?
I think your writing is strong. Good job.

S.S. #20 said...

Thanks for the feedback... the gate part is actually a visual representation of a magical "protection", but I'm going to see how I can reword the first few lines.

Also, Kristen, you mentioned it's an academy for witches, but in actuality, Hannah is the only student who is a witch. And there are only 5 students who are Partizans... everyone else is your normal, everyday kind of teenager. It's hard to figure out how to get that detail in during the query, but I'll give it some thought!

I appreciate all the words of support! Now I'm off to return the favor!

Chelsey said...

I like your pages. I might lead with something else in the query, though, because of how played the school for witches business is.

Carmen said...

The query is strong and you had me at flying basilisks!

My only suggestion would be to trim down the first paragraph a little.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

I would definitely keep reading! The query was clear and to the point and the first 250 really got my attention without being over the top. Great job!

Victoria Marini said...

This is tough. There's a lot to like here: World-building, high stakes, imagination. But right out of the gate this is is a tough sell. YA Paranormal is saturated, and I worry that this voice isn't strong enough to stand-out amongst myriad similar titles, especially those featuring demons and witches. Neither the query nor the sample, gives me a sense of Hannah's real self. I gather she's shy, a reluctant hero... but that's been done before and there's not much else here to sink my teeth into. Additionally, with the Query itself, the adopted family feels rather sudden and I suspect it will come off heavy-handed in the manuscript. There are also some basic issues (which wouldn't have stopped me if I'd fallen in love with this, but might help you going forward). First, you needn't say "fighting against monsters." The word "fighting" already implies "against." To use both is redundant. And in general, I'd avoid non-specific phrases like "the dawn of man" as they dilute, rather than concentrate. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this!

Danielle La Paglia said...

I'm a big fan of UF and paranormal novels and this sounds like it could be fun, but, as the others mentioned, I was surprised by the adopted family in the query and I felt like the writing in the sample could be tightened. For example, the third line could read something like "A shiver rippled down her spine, as though the air were charged with bursts of electricity." Little changes like that give the narrative a more active flow.

Good luck!

Utsav said...

Ooh! Flying basilisks! Magic school! Nice and awesome premise. PLus your writing is succinct and flows smoothly.

S.S. #20 said...


Thank you for your feedback! I know it's a tough sell, but I'm sure, with your advise, I will be more prepared for the day when the YA Paranormal is ready for a revival! ;)

Since the adopted family threw everyone for a loop, it's probably best to take it out, especially since it's an import point in the book, but not something that is talked about in depth.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

S.S. #20 said...

Ack! Important point, not an import point... internal editor must be on strike!

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

The query here is very clear. Interesting premise that I think a lot of young readers would be interested in!

One line in your query that I would reconsider is: "Neither is fighting against monsters she doesn’t believe in." Monsters just seems so vague. I'd make this more specific or delete the sentence entirely.

As for the first page, I love it. Very strong writing. Clear sentences. Strong, sensory descriptions. I would change "It was as if the air was charged with bursts of electricity" to "It was as if the air was charged with electricity." I had trouble feeling the how the air could be "charged" (which seems to me like a constant hum) with "bursts" (which seems kind of on and off).