Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Mr. Cusick,

I’ve been a follower of your blog for quite some time and love your informative posts. Because of your interest in finding YA literature for boys, I thought you might enjoy my book, The Last Orphans, a YA thriller/action adventure novel complete at 59,000 words.

Shane’s coach told him he had the makings of a great leader--too bad it took the death of every adult on the planet to prove it. He watches his family’s slaughter when a modern-day government mishap leaves everyone under the age of eighteen to fend for themselves. An out-of-his-league girl pleads for his help, and sixteen-year-old Shane reluctantly finds himself leading his high school friends on a desperate search for answers.

His metal is tested by a run-in with a gang of violent juvenile delinquents, and Shane learns a top-secret military weapon’s malfunction caused the massacre. What’s worse, the still-active weapon could, at any moment, turn on the survivors.

Attempting to keep their little brothers and sisters safe, Shane and his friends fight their way through gangs who have taken over Atlanta. Meanwhile he grows closer to the girl he hopes to protect, only to watch the doomsday weapon cause insects and animals to attack her. The weapon awakens murderous urges in the small-town teenagers, who must make it to the heart of the city and deactivate the deadly machine. Left unchecked, it will target younger and younger people until it kills them all.     

I am the author of Joshua’s Tree (MuseItUp Publishing, June 2013), a YA novel that was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (2012) and is currently #1 out of 882 books on the GoodReads 2013 Summer Reads List.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Dad twisted away from the steering wheel and glared, the veins in his leathery neck and temple bulging.

“You can’t keep carrying on about it, Shane,” he yelled. “She’s dead! That’s the short and sweet.”

“Bill! Look where you’re going!” Jackie put one hand on the roof and one on the dash, bracing for a collision.

Spinning forward, Dad jerked the wheel. The tires screeched, and the car veered into its lane. Shane’s six-foot-tall body whipped hard to the left and then right, his head slamming into the upper part of the doorframe with a loud thunk. A lifted four-wheel drive almost flattened the ancient station wagon. It swerved toward the opposite shoulder, roaring by with its horn blaring and the driver hanging his finger out at them. Cursing and rubbing the lump growing on the side of his skull, Shane almost wished the truck had put him out of his misery.

By the time Dad got his window down and hurled a mouthful of slurred insults back at the truck, it was already a quarter-mile down the road.

“Such a tough guy,” Shane muttered under his breath.

“What did you say, boy?” Dad shouted, his knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel so hard. At least this time he kept his eyes forward.

“Nothing,” Shane replied and looked out at the rolling hills covered in brown fescue, pastures separated by stands of twisted pine trees and rusting barbwire.

Jackie lit a Virginia Slim with trembling hands.


Anonymous said...

This theme looks like it's right up the alley of the current market, and more creative than the overworked "zombie" idea.

Just that first excerpt sets up the family's relationship nicely. That his dad's wife is "Jackie" not "Mom" says something. Stepmom? Too bad everybody but Shane is going to die.

In the query, it should be "mettle is tested." Otherwise fine.

Anonymous said...

Awesome comment, thanks Tomalanbrosz! I'll fix the query before I send it out anymore.

Ravina Patt said...

Great query opener and amazing job at keeping your YA word count at under 60k. I love your concept and the idea of doomsday weapons. The stakes are kept high with the “still-active weapon.” The book starts with action and draws me in. I want to keep reading!

Your opening line is good but focuses on Dad. I’d rather see something about Shane here.

John C. said...

This seems like a strong concept, and very plot-driven, which I like! Unfortunately, it does feel a bit too in line with the post-apocalyptic/survival genre. Editors have so many of these books already on their lists (or already on sale), that even great manuscripts of this kind are tough sells. For that reason, I'd have to pass on this one.


Author Amok said...

I'm enjoying reading everyone's bio paragraph in the queries. Yours is really strong! The descriptive portion of the query felt a bit long to me, more like a synopsis.
I do like re-envisioned "Lord of the Flies" stories.