Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Ms. Smith:

Eleven-year-old Linh Briggston loves daydreaming about Vietnamese fairy tales--so much that she rarely listens to her mother. Linh’s dreams come true when a winged horse whisks her away from Ireland to the parallel world of Lau Dai La. There, she meets the power-hungry Kerai who have destroyed that land with their dark magic.

When the Kerai learn that Linh is a human, they capture her and force her to retrieve a crossbow that will allow them to bridge their land to Earth. Linh refuses until they deliver her an ultimatum: locate the weapon or her mother will die. During her imprisonment, Linh encounters a fairy named Tombo who promises that he can help locate the crossbow if she takes him back to Earth.

But he’s one magical creature whose friendship doesn’t come easy. Linh must work with him to find the crossbow for the Kerai and save her mother.

CROSSING LAU DAI LA is 46,000-word MG fantasy that blends Vietnamese folklore and Western mythical creatures. It will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series and Grace Lin's WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON.

The complete novel stands alone, but has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

H.T.


CROSSING LAU DAI LA

Linh stepped into the living room with her broom, its bristles wrapped in a plastic bag and double-sided tape. She’d be Tam tonight, wearing a yellow headband and a ponytail, from her favorite Vietnamese fairytale Tam and Cam.

Con oi, what are you doing?” Linh jumped as Mom spoke behind her.

“I’m imagining myself as Tam. I’m figuring out what she’d do if she had to fix clogged pipes.” Linh turned to face her. “So you won’t have to spend money.”

Mom shook her head. “That’s sweet of you, but you’re daydreaming again. You can’t just fix the pipes with a broom. We’ll talk about it later. I have to go to the restaurant.” She tossed her keys in her bag--a familiar, tired music.

“Don’t leave!” Linh dropped the broom and seized Mom’s arm. She didn’t like staying home alone at night.

“Who’ll make your favorite pho for you, if I don’t work?” Mom sighed.

Linh looked at the floor, the tip of her bangs dipping into her eyes. In fact, she’d never thought about this. “No one but you.”

Brushing the bangs aside, Mom touched her nose to Linh’s forehead. “I’ll be back soon. I need to do some paperwork. Just heat up pho in the microwave, okay?”

Linh nodded. “Yes, Mom.”

Mom left. The car engine roared. Linh returned to the living room and sat on the worn couch to read her Faerielands book. Back to the drab lighting, drab furniture, drab wall. I wish I had a magical friend.

Eeek! Eeek!

6 comments:

Megan Reyes said...

You did a good job laying out the plot in just a few paragraphs, which isn’t always easy to do. I feel like I understand exactly what happens to Linh and what’s at stake.

I would really like to know more about her personality. Is she spunky? Brave? Funny? Timid? In the first chapter she seems delightful—imaginative and adventurous. This should come out in the query a bit more.

Also, the query almost reads like a list of events… this happened then this happened… I’m wondering if your voice as a writer could shine through a little bit more?

I am curious to learn more about Tombo. Why doesn’t his friendship come easy? Do they have more conflicts along the way as they venture off to find the crossbow?
Overall, I like the idea and would probably check out the first few pages if I saw this book at B&N.





Samantha Sabovitch said...

This is an interesting premise, but the first paragraph seemed choppy to me. In the second paragraph, I'm confused, or maybe curious, about the crossbow. Why a crossbow? Why Linh? And in the final paragraph, Tombo's "friendship that doesn't come easy" doesn't tell me enough. I'd like more details about what that means, perhaps deepening the stakes.

Take this with a grain of salt because I don't read MG: The voice doesn't seem as smooth as I'd expect. I've read some YA, and it's more... for lack of a better word... colloquial. Casual, maybe. I would expect MG to be more accessible. (I wish I could be more specific in my descriptions, but I'm not sure what to say.)

The story sounds intriguing. I wish you luck.

Meradeth Houston said...

I feel like I'm getting the bare bones of the story here, but not enough of the voice of the main character, and her personality. I love that you're weaving in Vietnamese and western creatures, but I kind of want to know more!

In your excerpt, you have a few great lines that really grabbed me--like the music of her mom's keys. Here again I think you could infuse a little more of Linh's personality, especially in the opening paragraph. Is she excited? How could we see that? My two cents, for whatever they're worth :)

Melinda said...

I like the premise involving Vietnamese fairy tales/folklore, but the query isn't really hooking me. I think it reads too much like a synopsis listing the various events of the story, but at the same time doesn't tell me enough or have enough voice.

Some specific comments/questions in brackets:

Eleven-year-old Linh Briggston loves daydreaming about Vietnamese fairy tales--{so much that she rarely listens to her mother--I would cut this}. Linh’s dreams come true when a winged horse whisks her away from Ireland to the parallel world of Lau Dai La. There, she meets the power-hungry Kerai who have destroyed that land with their dark magic.

When the Kerai learn that Linh is a human {what did they think she was before?}, they capture her and force her to retrieve a crossbow that will allow them to bridge their land to Earth {Why must she do it? Is the crossbow back on Earth?}. Linh refuses until they deliver her an ultimatum: locate the weapon or her mother will die. During her imprisonment, Linh encounters a fairy named Tombo who promises that he can help locate the crossbow if she takes him back to Earth.

But he’s one magical creature whose friendship doesn’t come easy. {It doesn't seem like any of these friendships were easy, considering the others captured her.} Linh must work with him to find the crossbow for the Kerai and save her mother. {Is there a consequence to doing this? What do the Kerai plan to do once they have it? If Linh faces a choice of save her mother or the rest of the world, I think this conflict should be more clearly stated.}

CROSSING LAU DAI LA is 46,000-word MG fantasy that blends Vietnamese folklore and Western mythical creatures. It will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series and Grace Lin's WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. {Great.}

CROSSING LAU DAI LA

Linh stepped into the living room with her broom, its bristles wrapped in a plastic bag and double-sided tape. She’d be Tam tonight, wearing a yellow headband and a ponytail, from her favorite Vietnamese fairytale Tam and Cam. {Intriguing start.}

“Con oi, what are you doing?” {Need a dialogue tag for the mom and a paragraph break here.} Linh jumped as Mom spoke behind her.

“I’m imagining myself as Tam. I’m figuring out what she’d do if she had to fix clogged pipes.” Linh turned to face her. “So you won’t have to spend money.”

Mom shook her head. “That’s sweet of you, but you’re daydreaming again. You can’t just fix the pipes with a broom. We’ll talk about it later. I have to go to the restaurant.” She tossed her keys in her bag--a familiar, tired music. {Nice.}

“Don’t leave!” Linh dropped the broom and seized Mom’s arm. She didn’t like staying home alone at night.

“Who’ll make your favorite pho for you, if I don’t work?” Mom sighed. {'make' doesn't seem like the right word here, considering she's leaving and Linh has to heat it up herself anyway. It seems like it should be: How can you have your favorite pho, if I don't work?}

Linh looked at the floor, the tip of her bangs dipping into her eyes. In fact, she’d never thought about this. “No one but you.” {I like this.}

Brushing the bangs aside, Mom touched her nose to Linh’s forehead. “I’ll be back soon. I need to do some paperwork. Just heat up pho in the microwave, okay?”

Linh nodded. “Yes, Mom.”

Mom left. The car engine roared. Linh returned to the living room and sat on the worn couch to read her Faerielands book. Back to the drab lighting, drab furniture, drab wall. {I couldn't tell if 'back to' here meant she'd returned to the drab furniture, etc., or if she'd turned her back to it.} I wish I had a magical friend. {Not sure why this is suddenly in first person--was it meant to be in italics?}

Eeek! Eeek!

Molly Pinto Madigan said...

I'm really interested in fairy tales, folklore, and faerielands (as you can tell from my own entry), and I think your premise is a welcome change from the usual Western world of Grimm and Andersen. I'm interested in learning more about Vietnamese fairy tales.

One thing that stuck out to me was the way you referred to her mother as "Mom." If the narrative was in first person, then it would be a non-issue. But because it's in third, it felt like it should have read "her mom," because just "Mom" made it seem like whoever was narrating had a relationship with the character of the mother, like it was being told from the perspective of Linh's sister or something, who would emerge as a character in a few paragraphs. Does that make sense? Basically, the use of "Mom" made me wonder about a narrator, which is fine, unless the narrator is supposed to remain impartial and anonymous as a vehicle for relating Linh's story.

Other than that, I thought it was an interesting premise, and I like the MC already. Good luck!

Bridget Smith said...

I like that the stakes are so high: Earth, or Linh’s mother? But I think that this question should be explored more in the query. Does she fight for both, or just for her mother? Can you use this dilemma to increase the tension in the query? In addition, I find that portal fantasies like this tend to be stronger if the character has some agency in their crossing to the other world. Accidental crossings are less convincing than intentional ones.

In addition, I’m a little confused about the backstory here: it seems to me that Linh is half Vietnamese, half Irish, living in Ireland, right? But she calls her mother “Mom,” which is distinctly American. (The Irish say “Mam.”) It may be that this is all explained within the novel, but there isn’t enough textual evidence here to confirm any of my theories, so I thought I’d bring it up. I do very much like the mix of source materials, though: I’m always glad to see multicultural influences!