Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #30

Dear Ms. Smith,

I think your love of fantasy and world building would make you a great advocate for WHERE ALL THE MISSING PIECES GO, my YA fantasy set in a world that’s a mix of steampunk and fairytale and complete at 74,000 words.

A recently orphaned and vulnerable Jane Fisher is imprisoned by the High Sorceress, Madame Viola Grandosia, and tricked into performing the deadly ritual of painting the stars. Except that the ritual doesn’t kill her as the Sorceress hopes. Instead, it steals a piece of Jane each time she performs it, creating living, breathing stars that take the shape of glimmering nymphs.

All because of her locket. It’s the key to controlling a young wizard whose mysterious heritage could tip the scales of power between Gael’s Magical and Mundane communities--in whichever direction the necklace’s owner chooses. But Jane doesn’t want to control anyone, especially not this wizard. She feels an intense draw toward him, and not just because the locket flutters at her throat whenever he’s near. But having Jane control him was never the plan. Though Jane is a Mundane and immune to Madame Grandosia’s usual, mess-free murder-by-magic, she’ll have to figure out a way to kill her somehow. She can’t wield the locket’s power while Jane lives.

With the wizard’s help, Jane escapes, determined to track down the stars that stole her voice, vision, and memories, which are now running wild across the kingdom of Gael. Finding them is the only way she’ll be strong enough to keep Madame Grandosia from the locket that’s trapping the heart of the wizard she might be falling for.

WHERE ALL THE MISSING PIECES GO is a YA Fantasy that will appeal to teens who enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and the vibrant world building of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

I’m extremely dedicated to my writing career and always working to improve my craft. I’m a two-time attendee of DWF Writers Conference and Midwest Writers Conference, and a member of SCBWI.

The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Waiting in front of Lord and Lady Crocket’s dining room, I could only think of one possible explanation for why I’d been summoned. They were kicking me out.

Mrs. Cowl had her hands clasped behind her back as she stood beside me staring at the doors. Sunlight flickered down through the glass ceiling, casting a rainbow across her gray-streaked bun. She didn’t have to be here, waiting with me. As head housekeeper, I knew she had a million other things she needed to be doing instead. So she probably knew.

Thirty-three days. That was how long it’d been. I’d lived here my entire life, and while I didn’t expect to live here forever, I guess I didn’t think they’d actually kick me out. This was my home.

The footman appeared from behind the door and held it open for me. “Her Ladyship will see you now.”

After one last glance at Mrs. Cowl, I stepped inside and squinted. Of all the airy rooms of the solarium, this had always been my favorite. Arching stained-glass windows lined the outside wall, their sun-warmed scenes drenching the parquet. Combined with the glass ceiling, it sometimes felt like I was standing inside a kaleidoscope.

They were all at the table. Lord Crocket was reading the paper, Lady Crocket was swirling a biscotti in her coffee. Only Sari and Stella looked up as I approached.

“Our petition to ban Magicals from Picadell was denied,” Lord Crocket said, shaking out his paper and turning the page.


Megan Reyes said...

I was really intrigued by Jane getting "tricked into performing the deadly ritual of painting the stars--" that sounds fascinating. Really, that whole paragraph does a good job of hooking the reader.

I feel like the second paragraph doesn’t quite flow as well as the first one. Also “But having Jane control him was never the plan” kind of through me because until then, the narration focused on Jane’s perspective, and this seems to be from the wizard’s.

Also, Jane’s personality doesn’t quite come through. What is she like? Timid? Adventurous? Sassy or shy? Obviously, she’s determined to escape/defeat the Sorceress, but what else is there to Jane’s character? Why do we love her? I would really love to get a better glimpse of her! :)

It’s a really interesting premise! If this was the back of a book cover, I’d definitely flip to the first few pages. Well done!

Sarah said...

I love the concept of the stars coming to life, and how you say they "take the shape of glimmering nymphs." Great visual!

You also build a sense of intrigue around the wizard who is controlled by Jane's locket, and the line "trapping the heart of the wizard she might be falling for" is clever and fun.

Fairytale and steampunk are an awesome combination. Great job!

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

Your concept is so unique! I am captive to your idea. I'd agree with Megan above about the second paragraph shifting and not retaining the same perspective we originated with.

However, I'm up on board and delved into the first 250. The only thing that confused me (and could be explained within the next 250 for all I know) was:
"Thirty-three days. That was how long it’d been. I’d lived here my entire life, and while I didn’t expect to live here forever, I guess I didn’t think they’d actually kick me out. This was my home."
Does this mean she's thirty-three days old? I also think maybe it's 33 days since something big happened...maybe since she started painting stars. Hmmm. Curious.
The only way I would get to know would be to continue. So you have me hooked!

Anne Tedeton said...

Awesome premise. I too was especially taken by the idea of "painting the stars" being a deadly ritual. Very neat. Out of everything in the query, that was what grabbed my attention the most. But it was so strong and interesting that I had a hard time following the second paragraph. The first and third were both very strong, but the second is where it got tricky.

I think both your opener and closer were very strong. The worldbuilding aspect came across loud and clear to me, and your comps seemed spot-on.

In your 250, the only snag I had was here:

"Thirty-three days. That was how long it’d been. I’d lived here my entire life"

It made me a little confused what those thirty-three days pertained to. That was my only stumbling block. The rest is fantastic! I especially liked all the attention to light.

Hope some of this is helpful!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this line of your query: "Instead, it steals a piece of Jane each time she performs it, creating living, breathing stars that take the shape of glimmering nymphs." Gorgeous. I would definitely read based on that alone. The next paragraph of the query was a bit heavy on the info for me, so I admit I jumped ahead to read the 250. I also had to re-read the bit about the 33 days--and I love how you're setting up a mystery there. What's been going on for 33 days? What's changed for her? But I agree it could be a teeny bit clearer. In any case, I would definitely read on. :-)

Kathleen said...

I like the whole painting the stars visual too. I was confused about the living my entire life and the thirty three days part too. This is intriguing and I'd read more.

Liz Hollar said...


I really liked the concept of painting the stars and that whole paragraph in your query was truly lovely. I did get lost on the second paragraph and I think it was name confusion for me. Maybe simplify it a bit and avoid too many pronouns and I think it will be much clearer.

I thought the first page sample was paced well and was very interesting. You had a nice little hook at the end and I definitely would turn the page.

Anonymous said...

The premise is very interesting. I don't think I've seen anything like this before. I read your query earlier from my phone, and came back later to catch the first page.

Do be careful on that second paragraph, though. It seems a little trippy.

Best of luck to you!

Melinda said...

Unique premise. Love the idea of painting the stars and the title.

The paragraph that mentioned the wizard and the locket was a little hard to follow. Is he also a prisoner? Did he give her the locket? I think cutting out some of the names and details in this paragraph might help, but the plot/backstory about the locket needs clarification.

At the end of the first 250, I wanted to keep reading. The reference to 33 days pulled me out of the story just like everyone else. Unless she's actually only been alive for 33 days, I would cut it.

Bridget Smith said...

Yet another that’s in my query inbox!

There are so many cool ideas in this one – enough that when you compared it to HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, I could say, “Yes, I see Diana Wynne Jones in this.” I love that Jane is actively trying to put herself back together, and I love the way that she’s been scattered. The "deadly ritual of painting the stars" was the first thing to catch my eye. Based on the query alone, I’m a little confused about how the world is structured, but I’m willing to wait for an answer on that. All in all, a very strong entry.