Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Ms. Smith,

Grace has her life planned: get elected senior class president, get into Harvard on a scholarship, go to Yale Law School, and change the world. With the election right around the corner, she doesn't have time for any distractions, including the overeager new kid Colin, even if he is kind of cute (and also kind of a stalker).

After a mega-embarrassing mishap at a party, Grace discovers time travel is real. Colin is a time agent on vacation and her ticket to adventure--experiencing the fall of the Berlin Wall, spying on J.K. Rowling while she writes Harry Potter, meeting Jane Austen.

With a newfound penchant for fun and maybe-kinda-sorta feelings for Colin, Grace begins to imagine a new future for herself. But when she loses the race for senior class president, Colin finally tells her the truth. Not only was Grace not supposed to lose the election, but she's destined to become President of the United States. He came back in time to meet her, and now her future is in jeopardy.

But Colin's time agency will protect her timeline at any cost. Their methods are questionable at best (memory-altering drugs that make you a suggestible zombie, no thanks), and Grace must choose between the life she’s always planned and the one she never expected. But she’ll have to fight the time agency in order to have a choice at all.

FUTURESHOCK is a YA novel complete at 70,000 words. Pitched as Doctor Who meets Jack & Bobby, FUTURESHOCK is a standalone with series potential. It will appeal to fans of contemporary YA with a twist such as THE ART OF WISHING by Lindsay Ribar and TEAM HUMAN by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier.

I graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a degree in Magazine Journalism and currently work in international television marketing in Los Angeles. I am on the YA Literature staff for sci-fi/fantasy convention Dragon*Con and organized The Quill Track, a YA Literature programming series, for the 2012 Harry Potter conference Ascendio.

Best Regards,


"They can take our freedom, but they can never take our French fries!"

If there had been a desk in front of me, I would have smacked my head against it. Repeatedly.

The auditorium erupted into cheers, a decidedly uncommon occurrence for Dresden High's student council candidacy announcements. Usually, students simply said what position they were running for and why people should vote for them, to weak applause or the occasional overzealous "Yeah!" from the stoner kids in the back.

Apparently, all it took was a twinkly-eyed quarterback running on a French fries platform to get people enthusiastically engaged in student government.

I had to use all my strength to unclench my jaw. My fists, however, I kept balled at my sides, so that I wouldn't try and wring anyone's neck. I wasn't usually this tense, but there was something about pretty-boy jocks reducing student government to a popularity contest that seriously irked me.

Said jock extraordinaire, Jake Carlson, gesticulated wildly at the crowd to keep cheering. Then he ended his brilliantly puerile campaign speech with, "So if you vote for me, everything will be awesome, and you can have all the French fries you want!"

Head. Desk.

Before I could engage in any more imaginary stress relief, the student council adviser, Ms. Jefferson, nodded at me to go up to the podium despite the fact that the crowd was still whooping, catcalling and clapping. Jake, for his part, was encouraging them by way of a dramatic reenactment of last week's game-winning catch.


Anonymous said...

GREAT voice in this one. You have my attention, for sure. :D

Anonymous said...

I love the voice in the first 250, but there are moments where the query loses me a bit, mostly due to it being vague. What is the mega-embarrassing mishap and why does it lead to her discovering time travel is real? What new future does she imagine? What two futures is she choosing between?

I also think you could tighten it a bit to avoid repetition. For example:

...Grace discovers Colin is a time agent on vacation...
...But when she loses the race for senior class president, Colin tells her winning was supposed to set her on the path to becoming President...

Or something like that. I really love the idea of this story, and the first 250 is so strong. Good luck!

Jocelyn Adams said...

There's a great voice in the story opener. I'd love to read more of this one. The query is a little long and I'll admit I skipped down to the first 250.

Samantha Sabovitch said...

I feel as though the query lacks a certain type of "pop." I know your pain in trying to construct one that is eye-catching, and I feel as though you're focusing on some of the wrong things.

The first paragraph is all kind of "blah" back story. I would condense it to one sentence--or even half a sentence--or even lose it altogether. Interesting things happen when Grace finds out that Colin is a time traveler. Get to that right away, and give us more meat on the time traveling part.

Lists are one of those things that are a bit "blah," and I would lose those. Show us time traveling as it relates to the main plot rather than telling us about Colin's experiencing spying on J.K. Rowling.

For the 250 words, I like your voice and the premise fits right into the query/plot. I'd like a dialogue tag on the first line, but other than that, I have no nitpicks.

Megan Reyes said...

Ooh… “mega-embarrassing mishap” –love this alliteration! And I want to know what happened at the party, so good job leaving me wanting more! :)

“gesticulated wildly” is a one of my favorite phrases (I first heard it in an episode on THE WEST WING, and it was delivered so brilliantly by Glenn Close that I’ve been a fan ever sense! Of course this just shows my true NERDiness that I have a favorite phrase…Okay. Now back to you :oP )

“spying on J.K. Rowling while she writes Harry Potter” Although this sounds fun, albeit creepy/stalkerish (not that I wouldn’t do if I had the chance!! #JKRowlingFangirl), it wasn’t that long ago and I wonder if it might be better to use another more interesting historical event (Berlin Wall and Jane Austen were great examples).

I’m so glad you referred to Doctor Who, because I was going to mention it sounds like Colin is a Time Lord! (as a HUGE Doctor Who fan, I’m not complaining… just make sure your story shines with its own unique spin on time travel)

All in all, this sounds like a really fun book. I really like the concept of Grace having to choose her future, especially knowing that she is supposed to end up as the president someday.

I love your voice and your first 250 words are great—REALLY awesome first sentence. I would absolutely, most definitely read this book if I saw it at a bookstore!
Good luck!

Susan Oloier said...

I love how the voice in your query shines through. Even word choice speaks to a younger protagonist.

I suggest you tighten the first 250 a bit. I believe you will show more if you simply cut from "Usually, simply said..." to the end of the paragraph and skip to "Apparently, all it took..." Then we see what you explained in the previous paragraph.

Great premise and voice. I'd keep reading!

Melinda said...

Interesting! I like time travel and alternate timeline stories.

I'm a little confused about Colin's role though. If he's a time agent, how old is he? Did he mess up the timeline by coming to the past? If so, why did he come? Just to meet her doesn't seem like enough reason considering the consequences. Is he now in trouble with/in danger from the time agency, or is he still working with them? Is the life she never expected one with him, or something else?

Molly Pinto Madigan said...

You had me at your mention of Doctor Who!

I think the premise of FUTURESHOCK is really intriguing, and I would love to read more. I love all the head-desk action, and I agree that your first line is the cat's meow. Although intriguing, I also thought that the J.K. Rowling bit stuck out a little, but other than that, I thought it was all pretty darn good.

Anonymous said...

Love your title! And yeah, I think you'll really grab the attention of Doctor Who fans. :-)

I also really like your opener, but this was definitely a case where I felt like we needed more than those first 250 words to realize it's more than a funny and voice-y contemporary YA. I'm sure the first hints of sci-fi are around the corner though, so I would definitely read on to find out.

I agree that trimming the query a bit would help focus on the character and conflict, but it definitely piqued my interest, which is the important thing.

Bridget Smith said...

This query is currently waiting in my inbox for further consideration!

I think the stakes are fascinating, the characters are intriguing, and the voice vivid. Most time travel queries I get are of the “adventures in time” variety, so adding an extra, personal layer is particularly compelling. Plus, anything that can be accurately compared to Sarah Rees Brennan gets bonus points with me!