Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Ms. Sara Sciuto,  

I'm currently seeking representation for ABEGALE FORCE, my complete, 66,000 word, upper middle grade adventure with supernatural elements. 

Twelve-year-old, Abegale (almost thirteen) has to take care of everything, including her eight-year-old asthmatic brother. She panics when her little brother's asthma sends him to the hospital, for what may be his last trip. Abegale wishes her grandmother had been successful finding a cure in the Andes before she disappeared three years ago.

Weird old Mrs. Egremony tells Abegale to find a "medicine" book her grandmother left behind. Though, it appears Mrs. Egremony may need Abegale's help locating Grandma Rose, herself. When Abegale finds the hidden book, along with mystical cards she’s never seen before, memories of her grandmother surface, and shed light on who her grandmother really was. She learns about strange uses for plants and weeds, including the desmodium adscendens her grandmother disappeared searching for. Abegale becomes determined to pick up where her grandmother left off: find the plant, and save her brother.

Guided by deer, a crow, and dreams she can't explain, Abegale and her friends are led to her grandmother's forgotten cottage in the woods. Abegale, is horrified when she discovers Grandma’s cottage transformed into a foie gras factory. It’s polluting the aquifer and could devastate the small town of Three Points. Abegale figures out a plan that might save her town from the environmental nightmare, despite threats from the illegal factory workers. 

While reading through the mysteries of her grandmother's medicine book to help Jeremy, Abegale discovers where her grandmother disappeared. And she’ll need weird old Mrs. Egremony's help to bring her home, who also needs Abegale’s help. But if they don’t act quickly and clear Grandma’s cottage before the next solstice, Grandma Rose will be trapped between the fabric of space and time for eternity.

I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.



I sure don’t want to meet weird old Mrs. Egremony, without my best friend Stephanie with me--it’s her landlady after all. The way she stares at me creeps me out. But she says she knew my grandmother. And told me to come alone.

The Maiden Villas sit on the highest peak of Pine Crest. It’s a tough hill, even though Stephanie moved in two weeks ago, I’ll never get used to the almost 90 degree climb. It’s like a vulture's hideaway. Stephanie and I joke how Mrs. Egremony slinks around her garden stalking prey.

I have stand on my pedals to reach the top of Ridge Road. Heaving and pedaling, harder and faster, swaying and dipping low, a black crow swoops in front of me. I swerve, and nearly crash, banging my knee against the handle bar, but catch myself before the asphalt met my face. The crow lands in a tree branch. He’s watching me, and laughing, I swear. Thinking it’ll return to finish the job, I race out of there, and up the hill.

The old Cabins became the bright white Maiden Villas when Mrs. Egremony took over. The cottages hide under a shadow of giant oak trees and tangled vines. I leave my bike on the side of Mrs. Egremony’s “villa” It’s unusual she’s not in the garden.  I ring the doorbell, looking around for suspicious crows. There’s no answer.

I know she’s just an old woman, but something’s not right.


Carrie-Anne said...

I like the concept of the story, though it seems like there's a bit too much going on in the query. Some of it reads a bit like a synopsis instead of providing the most important basics. I would also recommend naming the brother in the first paragraph, since I was initially a little confused as to who Jeremy was in the final paragraph.

Since I worked as a newspaper proofreader for 5 years, I noticed a couple of grammatical things in the first 250, like the run-on in the second paragraph, the missing period in the fourth paragraph, and the first sentence of the third paragraph. I think you meant "I have to stand"?

K. L. Hallam said...

Thank you, Carrie-Anne. One should never use the cell phone for formatting.

Unknown said...

This query does run a little long. Sit down and figure out what you really want to focus on in the story, and the best hook for it. You have what you need already, just shorten it and keep clarity in mind. Adding a paragraph about yourself coupled with the novel information would be good touch, too.

There are some things you could also clean up in the first 250 words, but you have some great description. Already you get a sense of characters, which is great! Keep it up!

S.A. Turnbull said...

A 13-year-old taking care of her 8-year-old asthmatic brother certainly makes for an interesting (and sympathetic) MC! I do love MG stories that include, and even focus on, grandparents. It sounds very sweet.

With you query, I agree with the others and feel like you could stop at the line, “Abegale becomes determined to pick up where her grandmother left off: find the plant, and save her brother.” Everything afterwards starts to sound more like a synopsis and you’ve already gotten to the main stakes.

“I have stand on my pedals to reach the top of Ridge Road.” Is there a typo in this line? Should it read, “I have to stand on my pedals…” ?

Also I think there should be a period after “villa” and before “It’s unusual”. They look like two separate sentences.

Good luck and happy writing!

Agent Sara Sciuto said...

I appreciate the unique concept of this query, but it felt like there was a lot going on. It started off sounding like a sentimental family story with the sick brother; then it had this environmental twist with the fois gras factory (this feels intense for a MG book), and then it has this sci-fi element at the end with grandma getting trapped in a space-time continuum. That's a lot going on! I feel like each one of these concepts could be a book in themselves and I can't picture how all of these elements would come together in a cohesive way.

For the sample pages, I wanted more of a connection to our MC. I think her personality could have come through more in her narration. For instance, the voice didn't always feel young to--like the first sentence where she mentions her friend's landlady. I think a kid would refer to her as her friend's parents' landlady, right? Also, it seems there was almost more focus on Mrs. Egemony and Stephanie than our MC. Make sure readers connect with MC early on so they care about her and her story.