Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #25

Dear Bridget Smith,

When others bow out, heroes step up. Milo Minor, like any other child of superheroes, knows the code, even though most heroes no longer live by it.

Fourteen-year-old Milo can’t tell his parents about his powers, and the Superhero Assembly chairman won’t admit they exist, shutting the boy out of the life other heroes enjoy. But when Milo’s parents disappear and the superheroes can’t stop the Phantom from causing disasters all over the earth and discrediting the entire hero community, Milo must step up and confront the menace with the help of the only two people who believe in him: one girl with superpowers and another with no powers at all.

My 57,000-word young adult novel The Mighty Milo should appeal to anyone who appreciates an adventure story or the struggles of a teenager trying to prove to everyone--and to himself--that he belongs.

The best comps for The Mighty Milo are probably Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 and Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles and Hunger Games books also come to mind.

For the last 20 years, I’ve honed my craft as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, along the way winning several journalism writing awards. I’m a member of SCBWI, and I’ll market The Mighty Milo aggressively. Blogs, book signings, speaking to groups, interviews, whatever it takes to build the brand.

In an interview with Writers Digest, you said you’re looking for a fresh twist. The Mighty Milo brings you a boy from a hero family who hides his own superpowers, and who suffers because of old grudges nursed by adults, both hero and mundane. In another internet interview, I read that you’d like to see more awesome girls doing awesome things. In that case, you’ll love both of Milo’s co-conspirators--his best friend, who doesn’t let her lack of powers keep her from becoming the team’s secret weapon, and the heroine he’s loved since kindergarten but who now won’t speak to him.

As per the contest guidelines, I’ve pasted the first page below. If you’d like to see more, please e-mail me at [redacted] or call [redacted].



“We were made to be courageous …”

The bass line burst into my ears like a gunman kicking down a door. But it came too late to wake me. A catfight in the alley behind the apartment did the job an hour ago. With all that snarling and banging trashcans, they must have been lions. Or at least leopards.

I took a deep breath, rolled over, and shut off the alarm.

That song and a dozen more like it were my parents’ brilliant idea. Ever since they discovered I don’t have superpowers, they’ve worked hard to convince me I can still be a hero. So every morning I wake up to a song on my Moto X phone designed to empower me, as Mom likes to say.

But here’s the problem: I don’t need empowerment because I do have superpowers. I just can’t tell my parents--or anyone else--about them. All the encouraging songs in the world won’t change that fact.

This morning I didn’t have the patience to go down that road again. Instead, I tossed my phone on the bed and opened the door. Where a dark hallway swallowed me.

No light, no movement. Like a ghost town.

No Dad singing in the shower, no clinking plates with Mom pumping iron in the gym.

Never, in all of my 14 years, have I awakened to a dark, empty apartment. I rubbed my arms, cold inside and out.

I walked from room to room, calling out, “Hello? Mom? Dad?” Turning on the lights didn’t help much. “Mom? Dad?”


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of young superheroes. I just have a couple of questions in the query. If he's from a superhero family why is he hiding his powers? Why won't the Superhero Assembly admit they exist?

This goes into the 250 as well where there is certainly a reason he can't tell anyone but without a partial explanation it seems as if it is almost encouraging keeping things from your parents. We need a hint.

Karen Clayton said...

Love how the character is awaken an hour ago by a catfight in the alley.

GSMarlene said...

Alright, we have the Mighty boy heroes side by side!

This sounds like a ton of fun. I do think that both in the query and the first 250, if you're going to say he can't tell his parents about his powers, we need a hint of why.

In the query, "...Assembly chairman won't admit they exist..." I'm confused what "they" is - his parents, or the powers? And why wouldn't the chairman admit either exist?

I think you can shorten the comps, plus add more confident language - probably, come to mind make it sound like you're guessing.

In the first 250: I'm a huge fan of incomplete sentences, but "Where a dark hallway..." doesn't quite work for me.

I am intrigued, would probably read on hoping to know why very quickly he couldn't tell his parents about his powers, but not too far if I didn't get that.

JasonMWeibel said...

I have to agree with above on most points, especially the why he can't tell his parents. Other then that I'm interested and I have no doubt I'd pick this up to read.

Anonymous said...

I love the concept of superhero families, sort of like The Incredibles but obviously a little more sophisticated.

My problems with the query were that I had more questions than answers, and half of the query is about the author. From what I've read about querying agents, you shouldn't start talking about your movie deals or whatever in the query letter. Only include a bio if one is specifically requested, otherwise just make it about the book.

The first 250 had some nice language and voice. I wanted some more showing not telling. Don't just TELL me that he can't tell his parents. He has to show that he has a secret and what it makes him feel or do. I have a hard time with showing vs telling, too,

Good luck with this!

Bridget Smith said...

I think you need to go into more depth here. Why can’t Milo tell anyone about his powers? That seems like a pretty important part of the premise, especially since everyone expects him to have them. And the pitch here is admirably concise and well-honed, but it’s not distinctive enough. It sounds similar to The Incredibles to me, which is fine! But the movie is so full of personality that you need to make sure your pitch can stand up to the comparison.

In addition, rather than mentioning the two great female characters in a tag on the end of the query, is there a way to work them into the pitch? They’re mentioned once already; why not elaborate on that, including their names? Show me that I’ll love them!

I do really like the code in the first line of the query. Concise, accurate, admirable.