Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Sara Sciuto: 

From reading your website and online interviews, I understand you enjoy contemporary with an authentic voice and that you have a soft spot for gritty narratives. I hope my young adult fiction CHICK MAGNET will fulfill these aspects of your wish list and be a good fit for your agency.

Eighteen-year-old JD Marshall has a power most guys would trade their left nut for. With one hypnotizing look, he can get a girl to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. And for three years he’s racked up more scores than Brett Favre. But his power’s not a blessing.

It’s a curse.

A curse a witch put on him three years ago. A curse he’s got four months to break or lose any chance of ever having a real relationship. The only way to break it--learn to love and be loved. Like that’s going to happen. JD needs to focus on quarterbacking his team to the state finals. He needs to pass freaking English. And he needs to quit thinking about Susan Milton. She’s taken. She’s forbidden. Worse--she seems to be the only one immune to his power.

But JD can’t get away from her. The principal (aka Mom) arranges tutoring with Susan to save a shaky English grade. But when football botches the after-school sessions, the “tutoring” with Susan continues over late night phone calls. JD discovers he'll have to do a little more than just look at a girl to charm the skirt off her. And he finds that underneath that tight little body lies a pretty screwed up past, one that parallels his own.

What blooms is a relationship JD can’t tell anyone about--not even his best friend. Because Susan--the one he wants, the one he can’t avoid, the one who could break the curse--just happens to be his hot new English teacher.

At 98,000 words, CHICK MAGNET is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a Paradise Lost twist. It explores second chances, defying odds, and the bonds of friendship.

I am a member of SCBWI, the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Write Brained Network. I am also a founding member of the group blog YA Confidential, a resource for YA writers devoted to all things teen, all the time.

As per contest guidelines, I am enclosing the first 250 words of my manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Getting with Susan Milton should be the last thing on my mind.

I should be thinking about Northeast and their defensive line, the one that racks up eight QB sacks a game. I should be running through Coach’s five new plays--the ones the Panthers won’t see on the scouting tapes. I should think about how David and I are going to get a keg for the beach after the game. Or how if I don’t play the game of my life, we won’t even need one.

Maybe I should focus on my senior project.

Or the Pre-Calc test I have in thirty minutes.

But I just can’t get my mind off her.

Ever since she walked into English on the first day of school, I haven’t been able to focus on much else. And not just because Susan Milton’s the hottest chick I’ve ever seen. I mean, she is: tight little body, sexy smile, shiny blond hair that smells like the flowers growing in my backyard. She has a habit of wearing these low cut tops, and if she bends over just right, I almost get a free show. And God, her voice. The way she recites poetry, it’s like she’s singing--just to me. I used to hate English. Now I hate the wait until third period for my new favorite class.

But Susan Milton is forbidden. Off limits. I can’t have her.

And unfortunately I can get practically anybody.


Andrew said...

Oh wow! That is awesome! So much here. Love it.

Anonymous said...

This is sooo good. I would definitely read this, but in the interest of feedback, the query does have a lot going on. The set-up is perfect, but maybe there's a bit too much detail in that paragraph about the tutoring. But that final line in the following paragraph? Whoa!

The first 250 is great, too. The only thing that caught me a bit off-guard was the final line. I'd almost want to cut it off at the previous one because the question about why he can't have her would certainly keep me reading. Otherwise I'm thinking what 18-year-old boy would say "unfortunately" he can get practically anybody? But even so, I'm sure this will get you requests. Good luck!

R.F. said...

This is such a bold concept laced with lots of potential. I love the voice in your first page, and I think it definitely matches the tone of your query. I struggle a bit with the initial idea that an 18-year-old boy would even want to break this spell, but characterization in the MS could convince me otherwise.

Well done and best of luck!

Jamie Corrigan said...

Wow. Just... wow! I agree with what Michelleimason said about the last line. Maybe if there was another sentence before it to explain why he'd feel it was unfortunate then it'd make more sense. Other than that, I'd totally read this. Great job & good luck!

Carrie-Anne said...

As a name nerd, I love that the love interest's name is Susan! I'm so tired of seeing Top 100 names and obviously predated naming trends in contemporaries, so a name like Susan is a breath of fresh air. I also love that the protagonist is a guy, another breath of fresh air.

Trellis said...

Well-written. Just be prepared for comparisons with Alex Flinn's Beastly which has quite strong parallels with your story.


This is my kind of voice. I also write boy POV. I thought, like the comments on my own (similar), that the query was a little long. It's so darn hard. But that doesn't mean it lost my interest. I think you have something great going on here. It might be a little heavy on the word count side, but that's fixable, even though I won't utter the word revision here. Ooops.

The voice is fresh and all boy. Unlike some of the other commenters, I didn't have a problem with the last line of the 250. You say that he knows he has the curse in the query. Maybe, it's the "unfortunately" that people are reacting to. Perhaps you could say something more along the lines that challenges his prior belief that he could get anybody.

Just a thought. Overall, I really like it.

Cindy Williams Schrauben said...

Nice job on the first 250. I like the POV. I do question a few lines - would an 18 year old guy use descriptions like "smells like the flowers growing in my backyard" and "low cut tops"? Maybe they would, it just didn't hit me right for some reason. This is petty, I know. I'm not fond of the last line - maybe it is the "unfortunately" that throws me. I really like your concept though. Nice job. Good luck!

Elizabeth Prats said...

Wow just wow! Query rocks btw! You had me hooked with the curse bit. What guy wouldn't trade his left nut for that kind of power (love the voice). And to find out Susan is his new English teacher? Oh man!

The only thing is that it reminds me a little of Beastly, but I think there are enough differences here to make it stand out.

The last line of the first 250 was a little jarring--I agree it may just be the word unfortunately, but overall I like where his thoughts go. He sounds just like a guy looking to score some tail. So good job. Hopefully he'll develop some nicer feelings has time goes on but I really like the voice. Seriously great job!

Agent Sara Sciuto said...

This was a strong query. You piqued my interest with "gritty contemporary", though, when I read the description it perhaps felt too much about high school drama and not as gritty as I usually go for. Still, the premise did sound interesting, though I think the description would be more compelling if it were cut in half, it felt too long.

Also, like I've said in comments for other entries, fairy tale retellings are a really tough sell now--there's just so many out there, or soon to be. I don't think the Beauty and the Beast reference adds anything to the query. I didn't really see the comparison, and like I said, pitching this as a fairy tale retelling will only hurt you.

For the sample pages, I thought they were well executed. Though, one concern I have is with the likability of the character. I'm not sure teen girl readers (despite the male protagonist--this definitely feels like a "girl" book) are going to want to be stuck in this womanizing guy's head for the whole book. Also, 98k words feels REALLY long for what reads like a contemporary YA (despite the curse element) and I would expect it to be more around 60k words. I can tell you're a strong writer, but I have concerns about the market here.