Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Ms. Scuito,

Art is a weapon.
Hubris kills empires.
Music saves them.

Capitàn Sabre’s hamartia has torn apart the very empire he’d lost his wife trying to salvage. With Sabre’s coup d’état in tatters, the insidious Count Valken is free to reign over Tyrrania and incarcerate Prince Alexander--the true heir to the throne--in very palace he used to call home.

Now the fate of the Royalist rebel cause rests in the hands of the Capitàn’s daughter: Scarlet. A feisty eighteen year old mech pilot, Scarlet Sabre is a force to be reckoned with if only she could set aside her quest to avenge her mother’s death and swap her revolver for a guitar.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Royalist’s must now place their faith in an unconventional propaganda campaign if they have any hope of usurping the sordid vampyre that rules over their beloved Tyrrania. By placing Scarlet as the frontwoman of the punk rock band 'The Sonic Booms', the Royalists channel her fiery passions into inciting a revolution and proclaiming art as a weapon.

As the hangman’s noose closes around the rebels the only question remaining is Vigilante or Valkenite?

SCARLET SABRE AND THE SONIC BOOMS is a 79,000 word young adult novel which forms the first part of a possible series and aims to revolutionise the steampunk genre with musical themes, supernatural undertones and romantic suspense. I have approached you  Ms. Sciuto, as I believe your affinity for YA fiction featuring artistic themes will allow you to see the potential my novel has to succeed in today's preteen fiction market. I'm confident that SCARLET SABRE AND THE SONIC BOOMS conceptually unique premise, fiercely strong character voice and steampunk theme will win over the hearts of many a book worm.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your time and inform you that I've pasted the first 250 words of the manuscript below this query letter.

Kind regards,


Even in the dark of winter the view from the zeppelin was breathtaking. The skyline was filled with floating lanterns, a sea of intermittent light that put the black glass of the ocean below them to shame. They’d been released by the residents of the capital’s lower quarter in honor of the recently deceased King Peta the Kind; a show of mutual mourning for a respected leader on the day of the Fiesta of the Dead. The people had lost a father and The Empire of Tyrrania: a son.

It was a sentiment that Capitàn Sabre shared, yet the brilliant spectacle failed to make his heart swell with pride. The lanterns only seemed to remind him of the dire task at hand. The King may have passed yet his legacy needed to live on if Sabre’s homeland were to last the year.

Lieutenant Nikolai--his second in command--slipped through the gondola door to join him out on the veranda. For a brief moment the din of the party within seeped out with him. The dull chink of champagne flutes and the rich timbre of violins seemed at ill ease with the pained look the men shared.

“It’s not too late to turn back you know,” Nikolai whispered guardedly, sensing the Capitàn’s apprehension.

Sabre’s hand tightened on the cold balcony railing, “It’s bigger than us now Nikolai.”

Nikolai exhaled, “Perhaps a little too big…”


Andrew said...

Oh! Yeah! Steampunk! Awesome concept. Like the modern twist you added to the genre.

Angela Brown said...

The query and 250 sample left me speechless. I found the steampunk angle very intriguing.

Margaret G. said...

Intriguing concept. I have a few comments on your query:

First paragraph -- I think you're missing a "the" -- "in THE very palace he used to call home."

Third paragraph, 1st sentence -- should be "Royalists" v. "Royalist's"

Last paragraph -- as YA, shouldn't this be teen v. preteen?

Love the combo of steampunk, music, romance and suspense -- very fresh!

Good luck!

Karen lee Hallam said...

You got me with those first three sentences. I'm asking What? & Why?

The first page sets the scene and I'm kind of floating into it. Very nice. I'm a jazz Vocalist--and totally DIG this concept. Like-- a Lot!

The first page is lovely. Best of luck with this!

Sarah Turnbull said...

This looks to be a totally unique concept – I know I’ve never read another query with a storyline quite like this one!

In your first 250, I do like how the dialogue starts, with the two characters talking about the point of no return – as the reader, I want to know what it is they have done, and what is about to happen. I did noted two things about your dialogue:

“Nikolai whispered guardedly, …” You use an –ly adverb, which I don’t think you need. Let the dialogue speak for itself.

Also, I suggest changing “Nikolai exhaled,” to “Nickolai exhaled.” <-- changing the comma to a period. We don’t really exhale full sentences. (Just try saying the whole sentence while exhaling!) We exhale or sigh, and then speak.

Good luck and happy writing!

Agent Sara Sciuto said...

Ooh, I loved your "Art is a weapon" opening--interesting! For the main description though, I wish it started later, from Scarlet's pov. The first character we read about in the query is who we assume to be the POV character--so when I read first of the adult male character I scrolled down quickly to be sure this was indeed YA.

Further, the overall description felt too long, and the most interesting part to me was the third paragraph where she joins the punk band to incite rebellion. Very cool! I would get to this part as soon as possible and trim much of the earlier description.

Also, I did notice several grammatical errors, which can be really off-putting. Make sure you proofread! This is your first impression and you don't want an agent to think you're less experienced than you are--or don't take it seriously.

For the sample pages, just like with the query, I would start the story with your POV character. Is this adult perspective necessary? Kids like to read about kids their own age so it's usually best to keep the adult characters in the background, and not make them POV characters.

I did think the world was really cool! I love the war-torn steampunk elegance in the pages. It has potential but I feel needs a bit more development.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for all your advice, I'll be sure to take it on board when pitching this project in the future.
Big thank you for Ms. Sciuto, your comments have proved invaluable as always.