Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #27

Dear Ms. Smith,

Since you represent historical YA, I thought you might be interested in my novel, PIRATE JENNY, a 50,000 word historical YA novel set in the 1500s during the time of Henry VIII.

Seventeen year old Jenny was left on the doorstep of a tavern when she was an infant. She was wrapped in a scarlet cloak pinned together with a brooch in the shape of a Tudor rose. Raised as a servant, she longs for a more adventurous life until one day she gets what she asked for. 

A female pirate dressed in a scarlet cloak enters the tavern and introduces herself as Jenny's mother. Known as the ruthless Red Lady pirate, she is wanted for murder and treason against the crown. She wants two things: Jenny to join her on her pirate ship and the brooch. When Jenny discovers that the brooch belongs to the king's consort, Lady Anne Boleyn, she pledges to return it to its rightful owner even if it means betraying her mother. 

PIRATE JENNY is based on the true story of the Red Lady pirate who was active during the time of Henry VIII. She was known for her beautiful singing voice which often served as a distraction while her pirate crew began their attack. 

I am a published author and my latest novel, a YA contemporary, How to be Almost Famous in Ten Days was released by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in March, 2013. Please let me know if you'd like to see more of the manuscript. I am enclosing the first 250 words.



The black ship stole into the harbor just after dark. I happened to be looking out the upstairs window at the full moon and its reflection on the blue black water. I liked how the image wavered back and forth as the waves moved. Was the ship a reflection of the light? I blinked and the image vanished. Thinking I had imagined it I turned back to the room with the cleaning rag in my hand and jumped. Meg watched me from the doorway.

“Girl? You dreaming again? Get to work before I whip you,” Meg flew at me with her hand raised and I ducked scurrying out of her way running down the stairs taking two at a time. “Get back here, girl.” Meg was old and had a substantial girth so I knew she would not be able to catch me. I giggled as I rounded the corner and ran smack into Thomas who carried a full tray of mugs filled to the brim with ale. Of course they spilled all over him, me and the floor. I landed on my bottom, my dress soaked. He glared at me. 

“Fetch me six mugs of ale and take them to the table by the window,” he snarled. He shook himself like a dog would sending more droplets of the nasty smelling brew all over me.

“I smell like ale,” I wailed wringing out a handful of hair dripping with the stuff.


Christine L. Arnold said...

Interesting premise for a YA historical! I've actually seen a bunch of agents saying they're looking for pirate books. The first thing that caught me though is that 50k might be a little short for YA? I'm not sure, I think it's on the border.

Anyway, in your query, the one thing that caught me was the thing about betraying her mother. Are we supposed to gather her mother is Anne Boleyn? Because that's not entirely clear.

I think your first page is great. Short intro about what is going to happen, followed by interesting action. Nice work! I'd keep reading.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I for one would definitely read more female pirate books. Love the fact that this is based on a true story (glad you included that tidbit in the query) and it looks like you've got some great conflict with Jenny's mother from the query. The first 250 definitely drew me in. Great details, and the first line really set the mood. The only thing that struck me as maybe a little odd was that neither Jenny nor Meg struck me as from the Tudor era. I'm not an expert, so I could be completely wrong, but just something to consider. I would definitely want to read more though.

Karen Clayton said...

I've heard the same thing. Historicals are hot right now and this one sounds promising. Good luck.

Meg said...

Love that this is based on a true story. How interesting!

I wasn't quite clear on why the broach is so important though. Why do both the Red Lady and Anne Boleyn want it?

Samantha Sabovitch said...

The query is intriguing (yay for King Henry VIII stories!), but it feels like back story. I would suggest cutting down some of the first paragraph and getting some more of the plot in there. The stakes are halfway clear--she will betray her mother--but I don't know what the consequences are.

One nitpick: You have a couple missing commas: "Thinking I had imagined it[,]" and "He shook himself like a dog would[,]" I would also put the part about her landing on her bottom before the part about ale going everywhere.

I can't put a finger on why, but the first paragraph didn't work for me. However, the rest tells us something about the character and set us up for the rest of the chapter. I know that she's clumsy, and the people that she works for disdain her.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Having written a pirate novel myself, this caught my attention right away. It's totally different than mine, but I think it's beautiful. The query, the first 250, all of it. I have no advice, I guess. Good luck.

Carrie-Anne said...

As a former newspaper proofreader, I also noticed the missing commas. Other than that, I really enjoyed the opening 250. I also like the premise of the book.

50,000 for a historical seems very, very, very short to me, however. I know shorter books are in vogue these days, esp. in YA, but historical is one of the genres where long books have always seemed like the expected norm to me.

Bridget Smith said...

You’ve painted the Red Lady in such a fascinating light that I almost want to follow her story! But that ties into what I want from this query: more Jenny. She wants an adventurous life, and it’s offered to her, so why does she turn it down simply to return a brooch to its owner? I need an explanation for that, and I’d love a better sense of her personality as well.

I love the first line of your sample, but the rest of the first paragraph slows it down somewhat. We’ve got this great atmospheric introduction to the pirate world, but then we’re back in the mind of a maidservant in the castle. It takes me out of the story a bit.