Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Ms. Sarver,

Lora Winters' dyed hair and stick-on tattoos are the disguise of a fugitive. A one-way ticket to London and a fake passport are shoved in her bag. She doesn't know when she'll see her parents again, but there hadn't been time for a tearful goodbye to ruin her heavy mascara. Because Lora is on the run.

When con man Charles Holguin slipped from his high-security prison without a trace, he had one goal: to find Lora Winters. But Lora doesn't know why. The last thing she wants is to spend Christmas vacation with a bodyguard watching her every move. She wants answers. Starting with the boy she's stuck with.

Bodyguard Cole Davis is infuriating with his crooked smile and mysterious past. At 18, he looks more like one of Lora's classmates than a deadly secret agent. He's hiding something behind that strong-and-silent fa├žade. And Lora plans to use her own means of sleuthing to find out--even if it means losing Cole.

Lora delves into Cole's world of espionage: sneaking behind locked doors in Milan, stealing Vespas (and kisses) in Paris, and knocking out a would-be assassin with a roundhouse kick. But even Cole's high tech gadgets can't uncover Holguin's motive. Lora must be the one to unearth her family's dark past, and in the process, decide if she can trust anyone but herself.

NO REST FOR THE WANTED, a high-concept YA thriller, is 99,000 words and might appeal to fans of Ally Carter. Although I have never stolen a Vespa or owned a fake passport, I do tend to count the surveillance cameras when I go to a museum. Just in case.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
R.H.


NO REST FOR THE WANTED

The surveillance room was empty. The guard who usually worked the night shift had disappeared down the hall in search of caffeine. He'd worked there for twenty-seven years, and not once had there been a breakout. That was, until he took that ill-timed coffee break.

Surveillance videos covered the large wall. There must have been hundreds of different screens showing every square inch of the underground complex. Some cameras showed empty hallways; others displayed large rooms filled with unoccupied cubicles. It was much harder to stay awake when there wasn't anyone to watch at 1:14 am. Most of the occupants were asleep in their apartments. One screen showed a lone swimmer doing laps in the pool. Another showed five people convened at the center console, analyzing a map of the Transylvanian Alps. Even the hangar was closed for the night.

Everything was quiet.

But not for long.

There was one man whom the guard should have never taken his eyes off. He wasn't particularly interesting. The man was sitting on a spring mattress, his head bent so that only the top of his slicked dark head could be seen. His own clothes had been switched out for a gray jumpsuit. His hands were clasped behind his back with handcuffs. The room was bare except for a bed with a ragged blanket, a toilet in the corner, and a Bible, which sat on his pillow, forgotten.

There was nothing about the man that could have foreshadowed the events to follow.

8 comments:

Guzin1 said...

Hi R. H.-

I, too, check out surveillance cameras and always plan my escape route :-)

Query: I guess I'm a little confused with the query. If Lora doesn't know the con man, then how does she know he's after her? And if he's just a con man, then why is she on the run with a bodyguard?

250: I like where this is going, but I see a lot of telling of foreshadowing and not enough showing. I would probably take out the last sentence in the first paragraph. Also, the 'But not for long'. Maybe even the last sentence of your 250. I think the premise is strong enough so you don't need to keep reminding up something is going to happen.

Otherwise, great job!

Guzin

Guzin1 said...

*us, not up :-)

Guzin

Mim said...

RH

I love the concept. I enjoy this type of story a lot. I like the voice in the query. From the query I would definitely want to read on. Also I think your comparison is good in the query, but I would use will instead of might.

The 250 words feels like a prologue, and I feel more distant from your main character. At points with all of the detail, I feel like you are getting ready to tell me something without actually getting there. I would try to condense some of the details down and move the action up so that we see some of it in the first 250 words.

I like the concept that you have created for the book, and I'd definitely want to read it.

Good luck!

M.C.

Sarah Diviney said...

First off......love the title! And the first paragraph of the query.

As for the rest of the query, i agree with Guzin about the con man. But there are other sentences that seem out of place. It's not that the writing is unclear, it's just...something feels off.

And...18 year-old deadly secret agent? I'd be more likely to buy the premise of "bodyguard" if he were a few years older. I realize YA is all the rage, but i think you're limiting the story's potential. A dark plot like this would be better served by mature characters that go deeper than stealing Vespas and sneaking behind locked doors.

The first page could use some tightening up. The writing is good, just needs some trimming to keep up the momentum.

Good luck
#13

Jessica Peterson said...

I agree with the post above. When I first read the boy was 18 and a bodyguard, I felt myself fighting disbelief. Perhaps this novel would work better with more mature characters? I also found myself asking if they don't know why this man is after Lora, than how do they know he's after her? If there's some sort of lead in your book perhaps you might want to include that in your query? Other than that, you've got an interesting concept and your book sounds intriguing.

I think your 250 is a good start but I do think you could rework it a bit to make it more exciting and really keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Best of luck!

Leiann Bynum said...

I agree with a couple of the other comments. First, the query. I also was a little skeptical of an 18-year-old bodyguard. Then, I felt the query was too long. I don't think it needs too many specifics, like saying she knocked out an assassin with a roundhouse kick. Also, 99,000 words is a little high for a YA novel. Maybe you could make this into an Adult or New Adult novel instead, and then you can change the age of the bodyguard with no problem.

I do feel there's a lot of telling in the first 250 words. The reader can tell something is about to happen, you don't have to keep mentioning it. This must be a prologue since the main character isn't in it, but if this is YA, you should consider if this prologue is really needed.

Overall, you have an interesting concept. Good luck!

-L.B. #21

RH #18 said...

Thanks everyone for the helpful comments!

I'm reworking the query to combine paragraphs 2 & 3, justify Cole's age (he's old enough to be an agent, but young enough to pose as her classmate to keep tabs on her at school too), and explain Holguin's reasoning for coming after her. I think I set up my query to sound a little too serious because my book actually has a lot of humor and lighthearted moments. So I'll work in some humor into the query too! It's definitely a YA book, I just didn't convey it well enough in the query.

Also, my 250 is a prologue, so I am unfortunately losing my main character's voice. But I'll definitely move up the action!

You've all been very helpful! Thank you! :)

-RH

Melissa Sarver said...

While I think you've succeeded in building intrigue and suspense in your query, you've also left me confused. It's impossible to put every detail into a query but you need to leave the reader with a clear understanding of what to expect. I get that she's on the run (don't need to state this multiple times) but why is she in this situation? Give us just a little more background - are her parents con artists? Did she witness a crime?
I love the idea of her falling for her bodyguard.

The query is far too long so look to condensing it and focusing on the story conflict.

The intro 250, to me, don't work because they aren't from the protagonist's POV, which is key in YA fiction.

I love the line in your query about you looking for security cameras in museums. It's a cute detail about yourself and a perfect example of something to include if you don't have a long list of published works.