Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Mr. Cusick,
People always leave.

Seventeen-year-old Ivy learned this the hard way when her mom took off one day during the summer after eighth grade. She left Ivy with a broken-but-hardened heart and the difficulty that comes with trying to figure out how suddenly to be a family of two instead of three. But she also left Ivy with an unbridled enthusiasm for music--especially for The Mary Kennedys, an 80s alternative rock band out of Ireland with a short but critically-acclaimed six-year run.

As time begins blurring tiny details in Ivy’s memories, the only clear connection she has to her mom is their shared love of The Mary Kennedys. So a desperate Ivy convinces her lone friend Matt--a fellow devotee and equally abandoned soul--to join her in a plan to reunite the band and build a bridge that might lead to her mom.

The road to Ireland isn’t easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Not only do Ivy and Matt have to convince the band to play, but their adventure sets them up against their pop music-loving peers, a sprightly wannabe leprechaun, and some frisky meerkats. But the biggest challenge comes when Sean Kelley, the undeniably cute prep-school kid, joins their crusade and forces Ivy to face her fear of attachment. But no obstacle is insurmountable for Ivy. She’ll do anything to bring back the music, her memories, and maybe even her mother.

THE MARY KENNEDYS is a 61,000 word contemporary YA novel. I am an English teacher as well as a member of SCBWI and CBW-LA. In your recent Writer's Digest interview, you stated you're a sucker for a great contemporary realistic story, so I thought my manuscript might appeal to you.

Thank you for taking the time to review my work.



In order to accomplish great things, I not only have to plan but also believe. The bold yellow lettering on the banner overhead screams this at me. I’m one step ahead of it. For a week Matt and I planned our playlist, and I believe with my whole heart in the lyrical magic we’re about to spin into this musty gym.

Lives are going to change when they hear this band. It’s going to be epic, I just know it.

Matt’s face is glued to the computer screen at our DJ table. A vibrating speaker to our left thumps out music, so I yell into his ear, “Is it ready?”

He tilts his head toward me. “Geez, Ivy. I just put the disc in.”

“Okay, okay…sorry.” I scuttle backward. He sweeps his blond hair out of his eyes and returns his focus to the computer.

I pace behind him, carving out a tiny square of excitement. Musical enchantment will soon weave through these bodies and drift into every ear, and my heart floats up like it’s one of the blue and yellow balloons covering the ceiling like a latex fog.

Matt still fidgets with the computer. Ugh. The dance will end before the music loads on this archaic school-issued laptop we borrowed . My hand nervously strums on my thigh, and I watch Principal Henry standing with Narc 1 and Narc 2 off to the right. Yawns travel across them like falling dominoes. The newbie freshmen line the walls and cluster in groups, and the mood is more like a casting call for an acne medication ad.


Summer said...

I really like this concept!

I think, though, that you have too much background info loaded at the top of your query. All we really need to know is that her mom left, and the only memory that connects them still is this band.

I know how hard it is to want to get everything in, but trust me, you don't need it!

The only thing seventeen-year-old Ivy's mother left her with when she abandoned her was an unbridled enthusiasm for music -- especially...

For your first page...I suggest diving right in with "Lives are going to change..." That's really specific line and gives a good picture of what Ivy wants right from the start.

Great job!

Suze said...

I loooove the image of blue and yellow balloons forming a latex fog on the ceiling. Very nice.

I, personally, would like to see a lot more contemporary books for young audiences. I miss them! :) All the best to you with this project, L.H.!

John C. said...

Hi L.H.

I'm particularly in the market for contemporary y.a., and as a former musician myself, I love the sound of a band story! That said, I worry this story is a bit "low-stakes." Even contemporary realism needs a big hook to help a manuscript stand out, and while the writing here is lovely, I'm worried it would get lost among other, higher-concept titles.


Author Amok said...

You had me at "80s alternative rock band." I found the concept of a group of misfit teens uniting around an obscurish band appealing. I agree with others that the descriptive information in your query could be pared down.

hlynn117 said...

I hope this wins. Your voice is original.