Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #25

Dear Ms. Sarver--

A suspense novel for Young Adults, THE LUCKY FEW is complete at 98,000-words and is the first in a potential series. Similar to Richard Condon's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, but for teens, THE LUCKY FEW is full of the twists and turns found in Jennifer Rush's debut YA novel ALTERED, mixed in with a splash of the mystery and humor from Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY, combining to create a tale that might just make you wonder if it's all possible.

Sixteen-year-old Blakely Sullivan just happens to be the sole heir to billions, thanks to her father who created Sullivan Enterprises--the largest private aeronautics defense company in the world. And following in the mysterious footsteps of her recently murdered mom, she's destined to become one of the most brilliant bio-chemical engineers to ever grace the planet.

Only that last part, she doesn't know yet.

When a mysterious invitation shows up at Blakely's door, she can't help but wonder what she's gotten herself into now. And dinner with none other than her grandfather--along with twelve strange kids her own age, who each bring an incredible sense of déjà vu--wasn't at all what she was expecting.

For over six-hundred years, 99.9% of the world's most powerful and influential leaders, scientists, CEO's--and yes, even most of Hollywood's elite--successfully achieved greatness because of one thing...they were chosen by the clandestine Society of Scion.

And Blakely Sullivan? Well, she's the next in line.

I'm very fortunate to have just completed an exclusive R&R on THE LUCKY FEW with Steven Malk from Writers House. Unfortunately Steve is overwhelmed with his current client list--which now includes those that belonged to his assistant that left late last year--and is unable to take on any new writers at this time. I’m an active member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association--and had the good fortunate to pitch to you a few years back at their annual conference--as well as the SCBWI. I founded and head up YAwesome Writers (a critique / support group for YA writers with over 70 members), and love to read all things YA and follow up with reviews on my website. Per the submission guidelines for this contest, I've included the first 250 words; however, if you'd like to consider THE LUCKY FEW, I'd be happy to forward the completed manuscript your way. As well, I'd love for you to visit, for more information on myself and my writing.

Thank you so much for your time, I look forward to hearing from you soon.



The honour of your presence is requested this evening. 6:00PM.

Those were the only words in perfect, jet-black calligraphy that crossed the formal white parchment of the invitation.

I rubbed a thumb across the ink and felt the fine linen texture of paper between my fingers, then flipped the envelope back over and re-read the front. Miss Blakely G. Sullivan was printed in the same elaborate lettering, leaving no doubt this was for me and not my roommate, Amie.

It all felt oddly familiar, even though I couldn’t place why. Maybe it was the richness of the paper. Or the intricate calligraphy that addressed my name in an elegant brush stroke I thought I recognized. Whatever it was, I knew I’d seen something like this before. I just couldn’t remember where.

Setting it down, I turned towards the black garment bag now hanging from the door of my closet. It had been one thing to see the white letter shoot across the floor from under my door. But then when I opened it and found only the bag and not a soul in my hallway, well...

Head cocked sideways with hands on my hips, I drummed my fingers as I stared at the poufy black bag. It could’ve easily contained a body, but since it weighed almost nothing, I already knew that couldn’t be true.

A few quick prods to check for any unnatural groans, I tugged at the zipper, not at all expecting the mass of white feathers that spilled out around me.


Anonymous said...

Hi E.L.S. I liked your writing and thought Blakely's was strong. I think my struggle with your query is that I felt there wasn't a lot of conflict. Okay, so Blakely is chosen for this, but does she want it? Does she not want to be just another elite? Other than this, I'd be interested in seeing more if I were an agent :)

Good luck!

-R.S. :)
entry #29

ChunkyMonkey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna Lehne said...

I agree with the comments above on the lack of conflict.

I think the pages are great - they definitely leave me wanting more.

Good luck!


RH #18 said...


When I read your title, the first thought in my head was "The Lucky One," which I assume isn't anything like your novel. Perhaps a title that shows more of the stakes or the secret society. Just putting that out there!

Love the name Blakely. "What she's gotten herself into now" leaves me wondering if she's a trouble maker or get's into odd situations? Because that wasn't mentioned before. I suggest deleting "now." Or else, mentioning that she has a habit of getting into trouble. I know, it's picky!

Also, whenever I see numbers, like "six-hundred years" and "99.9%", my eyes gloss over because I feel like it's just reeling off facts that aren't important. I'd suggest tightening up your sentences overall. Short and sweet adds more punch than the lengthy sentences you've got in there.

And I would shorten the bio. I would cut out the Writers House bit and that you enjoying reading YA. Also, the bit about being able to send the completed manuscript, because agents expect your novel to be complete and they know you're willing to send it.

First 250 words: as soon as she rubbed her thumb across the ink, I was immersed in the voice and setting. Good job! I would love to read this! :)


Stephsco said...

I think the query is mostly there, but would possibly be helped by borrowing some text from that last paragraph and adding in more about your story. The paragraph about yourself and writing connections seemed a little long and maybe not quite enough about the story. Once she is chosen next in line, then what? How does this upset her world and what is at stake if she does--or doesn't--choose this fate?

It sounds like you have a strong story, just make sure those extra details about the story's overall conflict get in there. It sounds like a cool story! Heist Society seems like a good comparison. Good luck with everything.

Jessica Peterson said...

I found the comparisons in the opening paragraph a bit distracting. It's great that you are so well-read in your genre and you clearly know what you're talking about, but I feel like it took the focus off your book a bit, at least for me.

Although your query is good, I have to agree with some of the other comments. I do feel like it's lacking the build-up.

Your 250 was good. You really got me hooked when I read about the mysterious black bag. You've got me wanting to know who put it there and why.

Caryn said...

Just attended a pitch conference and the agent panel said that giving your opinion about your story is a no-no. Drop the phrase "full of twists and turns" and "mixed in with a splash of mystery." Let the story stand on its own merit.

I agree, drop the word "now" in first sentence of that paragraph. The whole paragraph is a little awkward. I'd break up that long sentence into shorter, punchier ones.

I like the story idea and enjoyed the first page. I want to read more!

Good luck!

Ann Noser said...

I'd combine the first and last paragraphs to tighten up the query:

1) A suspense novel for Young Adults, THE LUCKY FEW is complete at 98,000-words and is the first in a potential series.

2) I had the good fortunate to pitch to you a few years back at their annual conference--

THE LUCKY ONE is a cross between Richard Condon's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, Jennifer Rush's debut YA novel ALTERED, and Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY. (Keep it short so it's easier to read)

I’m an active member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the SCBWI. I founded and head up YAwesome Writers (a critique / support group for YA writers with over 70 members), and love to read all things YA and follow up with reviews on my website. (emphasize your accomplishments--I'd avoid talking about the rejection)

I'd include our website under your name.

I hope this helps. Obviously, what I slapped together needs smoothing and tweaking, but it gives you an idea of what points are strong, and which take away from the query.

Good luck--love the 250 and the image of the feathers falling from the bag--good hook for this contest!

Ann Noser said...

ACK! "your" website, of course, not "our" website


Melissa Sarver said...

I think you are on the right track with your query but it could use some tightening. It started and stopped a few times for me so I wasn't clear on the real conflict. Make sure to lead with the most important and interesting parts of the story. I would combing paragraphs four and five and lead with this info right after your intro paragraph (which I don't think should include the comp titles - save most of those for later. you could leave in "Manchurian Candidate for teens"). Work in her recently murdered mom. But right now that second paragraph isn't doing much except saying her father's rich and her mom was murdered - points that can be worked into sentences that explain the story and the conflict.

I wouldn't mention that you did a revision for another agent who ultimately passed. In my opinion, that works against you.

I appreciate you creating intrigue right away in your first 250; but you spend too much time describing the stationary and calligraphy. Once is enough - and only mention that it feels familiar if that is really going to be significant later.

I love Ally Carter and she seems like a good comp for your ms so I think if that is the type of novel you are writing and you can tighten the story in the query, you'll have much interest in this project.