Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Ms. Smith,

As your agency website states that you are seeking genre-bending young adult fiction, I thought you might be interested in my dark fantasy novel for teens, A MURDER OF ANGELS.

Seventeen year-old fugitive Alex is contemplating her inevitable, grisly end. Targeted by the Hunters, the militant nephilim sworn to destroy the sinful members of her kind, she knows exactly what her chances of survival are. She’s watched them destroy her home and butcher her mother, and she knows that the same end is waiting for her, too. Alex lost the point in running and hiding like a terrified animal a long time ago, and after years of being a liability to her foster family and her best friend, Eidean, she’s given up hope on the idea that she’ll ever escape. While hiding in a small town deep in the Carolina foothills, Alex decides that it’s time to stop running and finally face her death.

There are worse things than death, though--things like the divine entity the Hunters are so desperate to find. When it awakens to save her and Eidean from a Hunter attack, Alex discovers that she’s the host to an angel charged with bringing the war between the nephilim to a final end. The price? Her life--and this time, Alex isn’t being given a choice.

With the Hunters stalking her at every turn and a bloodthirsty angel threatening to take over her mind, Alex will have to face the reality of her own sacrifice. Dying for a cause might have seemed easy before, but she’s starting to have her doubts. As tensions rise and her people rally behind her, Alex will be forced to act quickly--or the angel inside her will decide her fate instead.

Told from the perspectives of three characters, A MURDER OF ANGELS is complete at 82,000 words. With its monstrous interpretation of fallen angel lore, elements of psychological horror, and deeply flawed characters, I believe the novel will appeal to fans of Brenna Yovanoff's THE SPACE BETWEEN and Brodi Ashton's EVERNEATH. It is my debut. I have won awards for my short stories and poetry, and my work has previously appeared in A Near Miss, Southern Voices, Writers INC, and Young Emerys Journal. As per the contest rules, I have included the first 250 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Before tonight, I never understood why our people were forbidden to say goodbye.

Now--standing before a funeral pyre, watching sparks and ashes dance on a cold wind--now, I finally do.

Goodbye. Such a kind, soft word, as though a separation like this could be anything less than painful, as though it was a word anyone could survive. I'd never fully understood before why something so common in human speech was so taboo in ours. In all the books I'd ever read, it was customary, expected; almost an assurance that the two parties would meet again.

Among Watchers, "goodbye" is a word that means they never will.

Eidean's hand tenses around mine as we watch the flames. His features--sharper now, since he turned fifteen--are solemn and concerned as he glances at the sandy-haired man to my left. Liam doesn't notice, though, doesn't see anything but the fire. Its reflection gilds his wet cheeks, burns in his eyes as though it is inside him, as though he is the one being incinerated by its flames.

And in a way, he is.

For three weeks now, the Hunters have been destroying our safe houses. No one knows how they finally found us or why they're attacking. All anyone knows is that they won't stop.


Karen Clayton said...

Love it. Love the first few opening lines - draws me in right away.

My son and I also write about nephilims but ours are the middle grade age. It is neat to see your spin on YA nephilims.

Go nephilims!

If you are interested we are post #29

Samantha Sabovitch said...

By the end of the first paragraph in your query, I'm not clear on what "kind" Alex is. The nephilim hunt her, but what is she? I also think that paragraph is too long. Think on how much of that information you need to give us to make us understand the plot you're setting up. Remember--You don't need lots of details in the query.

The line "There are things worse than death" doesn't resonate with me. I've looked for what's worse than death, but I can't find it. It sounds like Alex is going to die, but is there more? The stakes sound strong, but they're not coming across to me.

Is it necessary to include "told from the perspective of three characters?" (I would say no.) It feels as though you're not sure what information to include throughout the query and which information to leave out.

I thought the first 250 words were strong. The only nitpick I have is that I don't know who Eidean and Liam are to our MC.

Janelle said...

I'lll admit I had to read the query twice to get all the details straight; however, I don't read the genre you're writing, and it's possible an agent who does wouldn't have a problem with the density of the query. Once I understood the core of the story, I found it intense and intriguing. It seems like it would appeal to the audience you're targeting.

The phrase "lost the point" jumped out at me as not quite the most accurate word choice. It seems like the idea there is "gave up on." Alternatively, if you were looking for a place to cut, I'm not sure you need the first part of that sentence at all. I think you could skip to the foster family part (which sets up conflict nicely) & be fine.

Your first 250 definitely drew me in. I get a strong sense of the narrator's voice, and there is a ton of emotion and urgency there. I agree with prev poster it would help to know who Eidean and Liam are in relationship to MC, right up front.

Very intense read! Good luck with this!

Christine L. Arnold said...

I agree with some of the above comments that your query needs condensing. The whole first paragraph feels like backstory. After reading the whole thing, it's clear that there are some necessary detail in there, but take out the extra stuff. What do we actually need to know to understand the plot? That Alex is a fallen angel in hiding after losing her family, but now she's ready to face her pursuers? My question is, what causes this change of mind? I feel like this is really important because it's a turning point for her.

The other two paragraphs are pretty good, and I really like your first page. I love this description: Its reflection gilds his wet cheeks - just beautiful!

Bridget Smith said...

I mentioned elsewhere that I’ve seen a surfeit of angel queries – a veritable unkindness of them – over the past two summers, for unidentifiable reasons. It’s hard to stand out in that, but this one does a pretty good job. (It helps that I thought THE SPACE BETWEEN was great.) I’m intrigued by Alex’s attitude towards her own death, and you’ve done a good job portraying the stakes as both universal and personal. The plot is very well depicted here. I would, however, also like to know who the other two narrators are and to get a sense of them as characters.

Anne Tedeton said...

Thanks for the pointers, everyone! Many, many thanks for the critiques--it gave me a fresh perspective and got me out of the rut I'd been in for a while now. And it's given me some hope!