Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Ms. Smith,

I chose to query you because of your interest in new MG that is fun and fresh. DAX PELUSO: AWKWARD. APPREHENSIVE. AND COMING TO SAVE THE DAY would likely appeal to fans of Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini and John Flanagan. I believe you’ll appreciate Dax’s humor and his depiction as a “real teenager” as he awkwardly stumbles his way through a magical world.

Daxinthian Peluso died on the day he was born. So you might say he was off to a rough start. And then, as if his life were destined to be an exhibit in a museum of the bizarre, a parade of oddities permeated his childhood:  teachers suddenly began calling him the wrong name (weird); his classmates ignoring him altogether, like he didn’t exist (weirder); and there was the thing about him resurrecting dead animals (weirdest).

Running through a gauntlet of the peculiar--like being scolded by a pompous porpoise and almost eaten by a pair of feathered dinosaurs--15-year-old Dax finds out he is actually from another world, where he is heir to the throne, which might be kind of awesome if his super evil uncle weren’t sitting on it. The no-good, greedy king has found a new way to terrorize his hijacked Kingdom, and this time the consequences are deadly. He’s learned how to steal power from the land itself, leaving an eerie gray fog that is spreading slowly, killing everything in its path.

And as if that weren’t enough for Dax to deal with, it turns out that his childhood dog and the high school quarterback (whom Dax can’t stand) show up claiming to be his sworn protectors. Then after an awkward first-meeting with Dax’s royal servants, his long-awaited return is cause for a great celebration in which Dax must learn a few new dance moves, wrestle a chicken, and sport a fitted...a little too jumpsuit.

But as it turns out, being the legendary Chosen-One/ Long-Lost-Prince/ Only-One-to-Save-the-World (no pressure, right?) is not all fun and games. In order to save his people, Dax must do the unthinkable. With the help of his quirky and loyal sidekick trio, the reluctant (and often awkward) Prince Dax must find a way to stop his Uncle before there’s nothing… and no one…left to save.

DAX PELUSO is 85,000 words of MG fantasy. This is my first novel, though I do have ideas for a possible series, and I'd be absolutely thrilled if you would consider it for representation. Thank you very much, and I hope to hear from you soon.



Kadin Tarak wasn’t your typical alien, if there was such a thing. He wasn’t green or slimy or scary, and in fact seemed very much like an Earthling, which was the whole point of course. Because Kadin wasn’t from Earth. He was from Tarak, which was a planet and not really his last name. But he could do alien things: if he wanted to, he could run really fast, use his super strength, and control people’s emotions.  Oh, and he could read minds. Well, kind of. Okay, he could almost read minds. But he was getting pretty good at it.

Other than that, he really looked like the average sixteen year-old high school boy. (Though he was actually forty seven years old, considered a very young age where he was from, thank you very much). Indeed the fact that he was ridiculously handsome--with his tan skin, dark hair and bright blue eyes--and extremely popular was of no interest to Kadin. He simply was these things because he had to be. How else could he do his job so well?

“Hey, Kadin!” Dustin, one of Kadin’s classmates called out to him, a soccer ball under his arm. “We’re going to go kick the ball around. Want to come?”

“Sure,” Kadin replied, though kicking a plastic inflated sphere was the last thing Kadin wanted to do at the moment. However, he knew Dax was out by the soccer field reading a book, and this would be a perfectly acceptable excuse for Kadin to go check on him.


Anonymous said...

I liked the premise a lot. The query letter is good just very long. I think you could be much tighter and bring some of the ideas together, losing one of the paragraphs. Also his age in the query is 15 and he's 16 in the first 250. I do like the idea you may just need to tighten it up a little.

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

Humor abounds! There is no lack of voice in this query - there's almost too much! I love everything you have, but it's an overload of information for a query (imho). I'd pick your favorites, and then let the rest be treats for your reader.

Also, I'm a wee bit confused after reading the query. Starting with Kadin felt off.
However, if I'd started right off the bat with the book and never seen the query, I'd probably be fine with starting with a different MC.

Janelle said...

First off, your writing is fun and energetic and voice-y, things that aren't easy to come by! And the concept of the book sounds really imaginative.

I do agree with the previous poster that the query is a little long. There's a lot you could cut and still end up with a GREAT query.

And because the query is long, I'm guessing (don't hate me!) your book could be a little, if not a lot, shorter, too. The details shown in this sample seem to fit with a little younger character (of course, I've only seen a tiny piece!), making it more solidly MG, which would mean a lower word count.

I just worry that agents might pass over a potentially good book b/c of the length. (I know there are mega best-sellers with these types of word counts, but, as a debut author, you are fighting against big odds. Have you seen Mary Kole's post on the topic?)

I also wonder why the story starts with the focus on Kadin, rather than Dax? Is this book going to be multiple POV? From the query, I gathered the book would be from Dax's perspective; not sure if that's a problem or not. It just threw me a little.

Overall, I think the query and writing show a story BRIMMING with details and imagination that could probably use some shaping and trimming. Good luck!

Hong said...

I like the voice in the query and first 250 words.

However, a 15-year-old/16-year-old (how old is the MC?) is too old for a MG character. I've yet to read a debut MG book that features a MC in that age range.

Also, the query letter is too long as well as the word count as many pointed out above.

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

Alas, I'm commenting here twice...but I have a reason!!

A friend and I were talking about this contest, and when asked which ones I liked best...this one was one of the concepts I referenced back to. It stood out in my memory after reading 30, so while the Query could be shorter, you have captured me.

Thought you should know!

Mandy P. said...

I'm not going to rehash what other commenters have said though I agree with almost every comment above this. So take them to heart. :)

When reading the first paragraph of your query a couple of things immediately jarred me. You claim your story would appeal to fans of Riordan, Paolini, and Flanagan. Those are all popular and great writers (MG for two of them and YA for Paolini), but other than all three being fantasy aimed at younger audiences, they actually seem to have very little in common. Having read your query it seems maybe what you're going for is that your story is voice-y like Riordan but on the epic scale of Paolini. So I would maybe say something like that.

The second thing that jarred me in the first paragraph was "real teenager." I would hope every MG and YA book intends to depict a real teenager, or else it kind of defeats the purpose. So I would cut the sentence to be "I believe you'll appreciate Dax's humor as he awkwardly stumbles his way through a magical world."

Your first 250 definitely hit a MG style of writing and voice, so good job with that. However, for me that was a strange juxtaposition with the character's age. I do not expect high school students to have an MG voice.

Also nitpicky grammar thing there should be a hyphen in "forty-seven" in the second paragraph of your 250.

Your query and 250 both have great voice, so fantastic job on that. You know what they say, everything else in writing can be taught except voice, so the fact you have that is fantastic. I think with a little cleaning up, this could really shine.

Good luck!

Bridget Smith said...

This seems like a fun, quirky book full of whimsical details, but the wordcount is quite high for MG (you’ve beaten HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE by almost 10k), which makes me wonder if the manuscript is perhaps too verbose and full of unnecessary details. To find out, I look back at the query, which is long, verbose, and full of unnecessary details. They’re certainly fun details, but I only needed a few to get a sense of the whimsy in the novel. If you’re positive that the manuscript needs to be this long, your best chance of convincing agents of that is to write the tightest, snappiest query letter possible. Can you intensify the voice so that it gives the strongest impression in the least amount of space?

In addition, I don’t fully understand why the novel starts with a different character, from his (limited third-person) POV. Why don’t we start with Dax?