Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Sara Sciuto,

I am submitting to you because of your participation in Mrs. Van Dolzer’s “Agent’s Inbox” Contest and because my Contemporary YA novel is set in the Deep South, on the riverbanks in Lower Alabama, which I understand holds special interest for you.

Bea Pearl Montgomery is a sixteen-year-old living with what is left of her family on Lake George, a recreational hot spot near the Alabama/Florida line. When a brief phone call jolts her memories, she becomes determined to prove that her brother is still alive. As her search progresses, she realizes she needs to find him, not just to reunite her crumbling family, but to put herself back together, too.

THE EXISTANCE OF BEA PEARL is a 50,000 word work of fiction that has the feel of paranormal as Bea Pearl questions what really exists and what does not, like disappearing brothers who quote Tennyson, hot boys who only appear near water, and maybe swamp monkeys. I am the author of various articles published in Wiregrass Living Magazine, Good Taste Magazine, Tanning Trends, and have work accepted for publication in Babybug. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,
C.M.C.


THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL

I haven’t said my brother’s name out loud in months. Not since Mom threw the catfish she was about to fillet at me and the dorsal spine caught in my forearm. Daddy rubbed the fish’s slime on the puncture wound when he found me. The throbbing dimmed to a dull ache though my throat remained painfully tight, holding back tears. He told me to never mention my brother around Mom again.

And now I say my brother’s name aloud into the phone receiver and it tastes like that sweet moment caramel goes from hard to chewy. “Jim.” It’s a short name but I try to savor the way my teeth click and lips touch.

“Yea, Jim Montgomery. Is he there?”

I don’t recognize the voice but I’m more focused on the echo of his name in my head.

“No.” It comes out as a whisper so I clear my throat. “No, Jim’s not here.” I just want another excuse to say his name out loud. As if saying it will bring him here.

“Can I leave a message? Will he be back?”

I cradle the phone on my shoulder and rub the little scar on my forearm. Even though the surrounding skin is tanned, it remains stark white. “I don’t know,” and then I hang up as the wooden creak of a floorboard behind me makes me jump.

Daddy winks at me as he enters the kitchen with an empty coffee cup in hand. “Who was on the phone?”

8 comments:

Karen lee Hallam said...

I really enjoyed your opening sentences. Throwing fish? Never mention brother?--why? (openinf up questions, this is good)
Love the sentence, when the sweet carmel goes from hard to chewy. Nice! and very gooey, and I'm sticking into the narrative here. Good luck! :)

Andrew said...

Ooh! I like this! So much tension in only a few words!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Just popping in to say this was one of the few entries I remembered after I finished formatting the posts. The first page in particular really sucked me in. It's such an interesting scene, and you've filled it out with little details in all the right places. Great job.

I do think the query spends a little too much time telling us what the story's about and not enough time showing us how the plot unfolds, but that's largely a personal preference. If it were me, I'd give the readers a few more plot points to sink their teeth into so we really get a sense of where the story's going to go. But some agents, including Ms. Sciuto, favor shorter summaries, so it's a toss-up.

Good, good luck with this. I'd love to see this one on the shelf someday (so I can pick it up!).

Cindy Schrauben said...

Nice job on the first 250! The emotion is palpable. You are able to take a slow (no action)scene and make it very "full". Good luck!

ami said...

I love the first 250! This looks really good and I was intrigued by the query but do agree with Krista that it needs more. I want to read this someday--good luck!

Summer said...

I thought your descriptions were great in your first 250. I can imagine her saying "Jim" by the way you've added the teeth click and lips touching. I too would love to read the rest!

Candice said...

Thanks for the kind words ya'll! Krista, that means so much that mine stuck out to you!! (And for the right reason, not my glaring mistake, oops!) I was unsure on the query too but, reading of Ms. Sciuto's preference, decided to stick to brevity. So, I'm eager to see what she thinks!

Agent Sara Sciuto said...

This query piqued my interest. As you already know, you had me at the deep south setting, but I was also intrigued by the mysterious absence of her brother. Though--I almost never say this--but I think I would have liked just a tad more info in this description. That first sentence of the description is pretty intense, the "what's left of her family" (creepy--it evokes massacre in my mind) and then there's that mention of her brother being alive or not. It would be nice to know right away that it's just her brother that's gone (I believe?) and some idea of the nature of his absence--murder, kidnap, runaway--these all would have very different tones. That said, I was still intrigued and compelled to read the full sample.

I thought the sample pages were really strong! I love that you were able to create such a strong sense of tension with her brother being gone, and not being able to say his name, and then this casual phone call comes in asking for him. I would definitely want to keep reading!