Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #8

Ms. Victoria Marini:

Amanda Leonard doesn't know who her mother was. She wishes she did.

Amanda does know when the world is going to end. She wishes she didn't.

There's a clock inside her head, and it's counting down to the apocalypse. She has never told anyone--not even her only family, the four "uncles" that adopted and raised her after her mom died. She has spent most her life trying to ignore it, but time is finally running out. The doomsday clock will strike midnight shortly after her upcoming eighteenth birthday.

Desperate for answers, Amanda digs through the remnants of her family's history, unearthing dark truths about her past, her uncles, her mother, and even herself.  She is not just a bystander to the approaching apocalypse, but its harbinger. For the first time in her life, she has power--but that power comes with a price. She will be forced to give something up: her life, her family, or her world. If she doesn't…she will lose everything. The walls of isolation Amanda spent her whole life building will come crashing down when she finds that the end of the world starts at home.

TIMES NONE, complete at 86,000 words, is a YA contemporary fantasy that examines the end of the world through the lenses of small-town intrigue, the bonds of family, and one young woman's journey to adulthood. I chose to query you because you have indicated a desire to see manuscripts that are about relationships, and TIMES NONE is at its heart about relationships: between friends, between family, and even between the self and the external world. Thank you for your consideration.



The other clock ticked.

Amanda Leonard looked out the window and saw the end of the world. The bus ride was not going well.

The flat, snowy fields of Minnesota were gone, replaced by a desolate wasteland, pocked and cratered like a burn wound. No sun was visible behind the low-hanging smog of ash and smoke, but a lurid, bloody glow illuminated the scene.

It was a nightmarish pairing: a clock in her head to let her know how much time was left, and visions to show her what was to come every time it ticked. Well, "clock" was a bit of a stretch--it was closer to instinct than timekeeping. The units of measurement were so erratic she had given up trying to make sense of them years ago.

She hated it.

There were no signs of life visible in the empty desert of blackened rubble. It wasn't much a view, but at least it was always the same. Or it had been, until recently. A bitter, rusty taste filled her mouth as she realized she was biting her the inside of her cheek hard enough to draw blood.

Wait. Be patient. Be calm. It will pass.

Finally, the images faded, shimmering like a heat haze on a summer day. The world returned to normal, and the other clock was silent once more. Amanda let out a sigh of relief.


Suja said...

I loved the query. It drew me in, especially the sense of impending doom, and made me worry about the MC (a good thing, since you made me, as a reader, care for her). You also have clearly defined stakes.
The first 250 had some telling. I did get sort of lost, but it might just be me. I tend to do that a lot.
Best of luck

Lanette said...

Oooohhh! Are her uncles the four horsemen of the apocolypse? Cool! Aside from that bit of coolness factor, you did a great job with the query. In that short space, you made me care about Amanda and her situation.

As to the first page, it seems you started in the right place which is sometimes hard to do. But I felt like I should have gone deeper into her vision. It's like you were telling what she hates while showing us her vision. Take the first paragraph for example. You let us know that you're about to show us her vision, but first you throw out a telling statement, "The bus ride was not going well." What does the bus ride not going well have to do with the vision?

You have an interesting premise and it shows in the first page, but you need to trust your story and your writing so that it can shine. BTW, the last paragraph is very good.

B.C. said...

Great points, and great feedback. I appreciate the critiques!

I agree with the comments that my opening here has too much telling. After I got some comments that what was happening was too unclear, I tried to make the vision part more explicit. Clearly I overshot the mark-- hopefully I'll get it right on the next version!

Thanks again, and good luck to all the other entrants.

Amanda Foody said...

I really really liked your query, and not just because you named your MC after me (it's okay to admit it haha). My only suggestion is that your tidbits of her personality (she seems like a loner) don't come till the end. You should put them a little more to the beginning, or at least hint at it.

In your opening, your paragraph where you explain her other clock is confusing. I only really understood it because of your query. But this story intrigues me and I would definitely definitely definitely keep reading!

Ella Schwartz said...

I love the query. It totally pulled me in. My only comment... and this is a nit really... is there is a bit too much cliche in the following:

"She will be forced to give something up: her life, her family, or her world. If she doesn't…she will lose everything."

It doesn't really add anything. Your query is so crisp and snappy until you get to this line. The stakes are there without it.

But even with this line, I'd definitely be compelled to read on.

I agree with some of the other comments that this beginning section has a bit too much telling. Perhaps its a little to early to describe the gift in such detail? Maybe peal the onion back a little more slowly?

But really well done! I love the premise and your hook. I'd definitely read!

(entry #1)

Unknown said...

I really like your query and first words. The first two lines of the query drew me in. I also agree with the previous comment about the line "She will be forced to give something up: her life, her family, or her world. If she doesn't…she will lose everything." The query starts out with a punch and doesn't end quite the same way.

I think in your first words you have a minor typo. In the line "realized she was biting her the inside of her" I don't think you meant for the word 'her' after biting to be there.

Even so, the first 250 were intriguing and I would definitely keep reading!

Victoria Marini said...

I think there's a lot to like here. The four horseman Uncles makes me think that there's a plaintive sense of humor about this. The first paragraph of your 250 pages is a bit too reliant on telling, but that can be polished easily I think. The one thing that gives me pause is that she's going to get this power, but only in exchange for sacrifice. And if she doesn't make the sacrifice, she loses everything... but it's the apocalypse so isn't she going to lose everything anyway? XOXO