Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #23

Dear Ms. Smith,

Fleeing with bloody hands and a stolen BMW, Leah must escape charges for a murder committed by shadow creatures only she can see. At least she thought she was the only one. Running from the cops, she stumbles onto a small group who share her ability, only they’ve learned how to fight back.

Leah jumps at the chance to join the group, especially if it means she gets to fight with the hot shadow hunter Adam. They’ve all noticed the shadows are up to something even more sinister than forcing people to act on their darkest, most violent thoughts. The shadows are banding together and tracking down the hunters, and everything they thought kept them safe is no longer secure. When the hunters piece together that the shadows are from another world and have big plans that make an invasion look like a tea party, they know it’s up to them to stop it. Leah will risk her life--and the lives of the hunters--to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT is an upper Young Adult Sci-Fi, complete at 75,000 words. I believe it will appeal to fans of Julie Cross’ Tempest series. My novels, Colors Like Memories and The Chemistry of Fate, were released through MuseItUp Publishing. I am a molecular anthropologist (translation: I sequence dead people’s DNA) and am currently teaching at the University of Montana.

Thank you for your consideration!



The dead don’t blink. My father’s blank stare seemed to follow me around the room. My mother beside him had a narrow-eyed glare that made me flinch.

I couldn’t bear to look at my sister.

The wail of a siren in the distance settled reality around me like a heavy shroud. I’d called 911 when I saw the front door ajar. I hadn’t expected to find this inside. Now I had to get out before anyone saw me.

Blood, cool and sticky, seeped through the knees of my jeans. Hitching back a sob, I pressed my lips to the forehead of each of my family members. A silent goodbye that should have been so much more.

With stumbling steps, I hurried through my darkened house. They’d made sure not a single bulb worked, which pissed me off enough to worm through my grief. Out the back door, I hurried out the gate to the side yard as the police siren cut off out front.

I couldn’t be there when they arrived. I couldn’t explain to the police what happened. They wouldn’t believe me when I told them strange, horrible, shadowy creatures created the carnage. No one ever believed me when I mentioned them.

Hurrying down the darkened street, my wet jeans slapping against my skin, I succumbed to my tears. The overwhelming grief ate at me from within, taking too-large bites from my soul.

I didn’t care where I ended up, so long as it was far away from here.


Unknown said...

GREAT first line. Oh my gosh, seriously. I'd keep reading just based on that. But really, you do a nice job of setting up the conflict in the query, showing us the stakes (though I think you could be more specific about the Shadows' plan, if it's not a secret).

Meg said...

Very attention-getting opening scene! The query makes the rest of the story sound just as interesting. I'd definitely read more.

Mandy P.S. said...

I love this. My only comments for the query are super nitpicky. With the phrase "hot shadow hunter Adam", my mind immediately went to The Mortal Instruments, where the characters are called "Shadowhunters." So you may just want to change it to "hunter."

This sentence also read strangely "everything they thought kept them safe is no longer secure." I don't usually think of thoughts or methods as "secure" unless I'm thinking about classification levels and people stealing ideas/methods. I think what you really mean is that their methods no longer work. So maybe reword that.

I love the first 250, and I'm immediately wondering why she's running from the scene of her family's murder instead of waiting for the cops. I would definitely keep reading.

Unknown said...

Oh, I like the idea of creepy shadows. I can already tell this is something I'd love to read.

With the query--I got bogged down in the second paragraph because there was so much information introduced. I was still curious to learn more about the shadows--their characteristics, what makes them so scary, etc.

I think you could probably slide more info about them into your first paragraph to keep it strong. With a foundation for understanding the shadows in the story, I would be able to follow the overall conflict without getting overwhelmed.

I got nothing for your 250! It grabbed me from the start and didn't let me go :)

Good luck with this. Hope you get some bites!

Liz Hollar said...

Wow. I thought this was great. I thought the query was very clear and that you showed the MC's voice well.

You opened the book with an extremely powerful scene. I thought you did a nice job of explaining why she ran away since no one would believe her.

I think you could spend more than a page on this scene and it would be great too.

Hong said...

The first paragraph of your query hooked me!

When I read "shadow hunter" in the second paragraph, it reminded me immediately of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instrument Series.

To possibly avoid agents thinking that your query could be a copycat, I'd suggest changing "shadow hunter" to a different word.

Overall, I enjoyed your query and first 250 words, so I don't have further suggestions.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your query. And from the title alone, I'd want to read more. Your translation for molecular anthropology made me smile. All in all, I think you nailed the query.

The first 250 words were also good. Opening line drew me in and left me wanting more. The story did not disappoint.

Bridget Smith said...

This query is solid and well-constructed, but I see a lot of queries that look like this every day. It’s good, but there’s nothing that really stands out. What makes this book different from the others that are similar? This is the basic premise of CITY OF BONES, down to the name “shadow hunter”: give me something new and awesome to grab onto!

The sample is strong and just horrifying enough, but I wonder – why doesn’t she tell the police she doesn’t know who killed her family? She doesn't have to go straight to the explanation that no one will believe.