Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thirteen-year old Luke knows how to repair cell phones, tablets and laptops so the other kids in middle school remember he’s worth keeping around. He understands how to reprogram any piece of electronics to make it work faster and more efficiently. But all his technological skills still can’t tell him how to deal with the new prototype cell phone his father had recently asked him to test.
With a faster chip, ultrafast Internet, better games and apps, crisp and lifelike display, and the concierge interface P.H.I.L. summoned with just a press of a button, the phone is everything that Luke could have ever dreamed of...until he discovers its secret. P.H.I.L. can grant wishes...but with autocorrect, even the simplest wish can have catastrophic consequences.
My MG magical realism ms, UNLIMITED WISHES is 41,000 words of Aladdin, if Aladdin were a thirteen-year-old, game playing, app-using, tech-head with autocorrect-fail and monster issues.



And then there was a resounding crash.

I lurched backwards, barely escaping the plunge of the huge, over-sized box of spare parts I salvaged from the computer lab’s Annual Spring Cleaning. Only after lifting it off the ground and carrying it for several blocks, did I realize I had greatly underestimated both its weight and my ability to carry it. I stayed on my knees, watching helplessly as the box fell in slow motion. In the moment it took to hit the ground, all the painstaking work I had done sorting the smaller parts into glass jars was lost, as they exploded in a thousand razor-sharp shards upon impact and scattered across the sidewalk. I froze, waiting for the tinkling sound of broken glass to stop before I dared move again.

My name is Luke Price, I’m thirteen years old, and I’m waiting, sometimes rather impatiently, to be . . . older. Having lived in the small town of Claxton, North Carolina for my entire life I’ve been both very comfortable, and exceptionally bored, but encouraged by the fact that I know it can’t last forever.

I have blond hair, blue eyes, and I’m a little smaller than I would have hoped for, but I make up for it with my roguishly good looks and my ability to fix anything with a mother board. I’m funny, a die-hard tech-head with a limitless imagination, and I’m hopeful.  Unless you have a miracle or a magic wand, these three qualities are an essential combination to survive any given day in middle school.


Karen Clayton said...

I really enjoyed this story. The concept was cute and the writing fun. I really liked the last line about what is needed to survive middle school. It made me laugh.

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

I'm a Disney fan, and I love the idea of your Aladdin being a thirteen year old trying to survive middle school.
I also enjoyed the first paragraph of your 250 - it set an opening scene quite well!

However, as Luke started to describe himself, I drifted off. He didn't sound like a thirteen year old boy to me, and I wasn't very comfortable with him just listing details right off the bat.

My personal taste tends toward learning little bits of the character as we go along - but that's just my opinion :)

GSMarlene said...

So I felt the query sounded a little unrealistic (yes, even for fiction!) but you totally captured me with the autocorrect sentence. OMG! So much fun there must be in this book.

The first 250 didn't quite capture me - it was a bit too self aware, too self analyzing for a 13yo and the description doesn't kick the real story off. I think this 250 could be condensed to a few sentences, get to some real action (not dropping a box) and let the physical description work in naturally.

I would keep reading, even if I had to force myself, just to see what autocorrect did to a wish. Still laughing, so good job with that.

Anne Tedeton said...

Definitely liked the humorous potential I saw here. And I love the spin on an old fairy tale!

I agree with the other commenters--Luke's immediate self-description threw me off. The second paragraph kinda made sense, but the third jarred my suspension of disbelief.

I think your query is pretty clean and tight. Only suggestion I have is maybe bopping up the info about the interface. That's the real meat of your query--make it as urgent as you can :)

Hope this helps, and I hope you get some bites.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Just popping in to say this was one of my favorites. After formatting thirty entries, I don't remember many of them, but this one stuck out to me. I think the premise is adorable; it's the perfect modern twist on a familiar fairy tale.

I'm not sure about the ellipses in the query, but then, I'm not a fan of ellipses in exposition, so that could just be me. Also, I don't think this really qualifies as magical realism. It sounds like straight-up fantasy--or maybe sci-fi--to me (but that's certainly not a bad thing!).

As for the first page, I agree with the other commenters that the self-description isn't doing you any favors. I'd much rather learn more about Luke by seeing what he does in the scene.

Good, good luck with this! I'd love to see this one on the shelves someday.

Anonymous said...

Krista thank you so much. I's m glad you like the idea, it was fun to write and then still fun to read, over and over and over :-)

I agree with some of the comments. The action in the first paragraph wasn't really action like some of the others. No running from bullies etc. But it was action that was important to Luke as gadgets, gizmos and electronics are his life. I changed the paragraphs of him describing himself but left in the last line about "unless you have a miracle or magic wand" as that fits him to a T as well.

Thanks so much.


Mandy P. said...

I love a story about a tech wiz, so I'm completely on-board with your concept. It's a really fun idea and Luke sounds like a great character.

The first sentence read strangely to me. I think what you're trying to say is because Luke fixes things, the other kids don't bully him (which makes perfect sense. That was pretty much me in high school, lol.) But it says that in a rather clunky way. Try cleaning it up. Something like:

"Thirteen-year-old Luke knows a tech repair a day keeps the bullies away. It's not every middle schooler who knows how to reprogram any piece of electronics to make it work faster and more efficiently, so it's no wonder the other students aren't willing to bully him in fear that he might not repair their latest gadget."

I like the second paragraph, though like Krista I'm not a fan of ellipses in prose.

I agree with the other commenters about the self description in the 250. You get off to a really good start and then suddenly it's derailed in description. You want to keep the momentum going, especially in the beginning.

But you have a great concept, a good voice, and your writing is solid! Keep up the good work!

Good luck!

Bridget Smith said...

This one’s in my query inbox too!

It’s a clever concept, a very modern interpretation of Aladdin in a cool way. I think this could be a very fun and accessible book for middle graders, and the query gets it all across as efficiently as possible!

I also really like the first line: the sentence fragment is very effective in this case. The second paragraph is similarly engaging. But then we back out of the moment so Luke can narrate a bunch of information that’s either not necessary right now or better conveyed in another manner. We don’t need him to tell us what he looks like at this moment, and I’d much rather see him crack a joke than tell us he’s funny. The voice is good, but can you display these facts instead of explaining them?