Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Mr. Cusick,

Sia’s is to be the next Protector, the one tasked with harnessing the pure magic to keep all five scattered tribes safe and invisible from humans.  Now seventeen, lonely but independent, Sia will soon ascend to the position, but not without reservations from her tribe. Ascending to the position of Protector is her only chance to prove herself, and to gain the respect she’s always wanted out of her people, not the shunning she’s had to endure all these years.

In the eyes of the Unseen, the humans were responsible for their near extinction during the War, their Exile from their beautiful homeland and their miserable way of life having to hide away, scattered in the wilderness. But one morning, as the first and only warning alarms go off alerting Sia to a tragedy that’s occurred, Sia chases the human culprit to the edge of her forest, unable to follow into the forbidden village. One of her tribesmen had been killed. Her people blame the humans for the deaths that keep accumulating. But when Kita, her mentor, is the next victim, Sia is thrust unprepared into her role as Protector, taking over from Kita without completing her training.

Killian, sent from another tribe to be Sia’s betrothed foremost and secondly as her trainer. Despite his and her parents’ pleas for her to keep safe, Sia takes matters into her own hands forcing Killian to go along.  During her  hunt for the killer, Sia meets Galen, a human Seer who can penetrate their magic, who can see the Unseen, something that should be impossible. Sia’s convinced she’s found the killer in him, but given the chance, Galen doesn’t kill her or hurt her,  not like the man that hurts her during her nightly patrols with brutal and vicious attacks that drive her closer to insanity. But when Galen begins receiving sinister messages and threats from an unknown sender Sia realizes that she, Galen, and Killian are connected in ways Sia would have never imagined.

As the brutal murders and Sia’s nightly assaults continue, Sia must battle her growing paranoia and regain control of her fraying, weakening magic. Each death is one closer to her own, which could mean exposure to humans and the extinction of her people.

UNSEEN is a young adult fantasy  complete at 92,000 words that is a mix between Victoria Schwab’s THE NEAR WITCH and Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW & BONE with ideas to expand it with multimedia including video, photography and social media along the lines of NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl.

UNSEEN is inspired by the old world heritage, beautiful landscape and Slavic culture of my birthplace, Bulgaria. I have a BFA in Photography and am a professional photographer and filmmaker. I have worked with Simon & Schuster, Harper Teen, Bloomsbury and Little Brown to create book trailers, extra content and various social media campaigns for house books. I have worked very closely with some of the top young adult authors developing book trailers, photographing book tours, and creating innovative social media strategies to help build buzz for their books via all social media platforms.

UNSEEN is available upon request. You can see more of what I do by visiting my website,

Thank you for your time,


Chapter 1: The Warning So Loud

The heat was slowly creeping down Sia’s back like a hot wet tear. Paired with the too quiet forest, it was dulling her senses, her steps, her moves. She leaned against a tree willing the minutes to speed forward until the next Guard could come relieve her of her patrol.

She shouldn’t be patrolling alone but she preferred it that way. She could focus, could practice her magic without another guards’ sidelong glances and unease. She was beginning to appreciate and even welcome being alone.

She leaned back against the bark and closed her eyes for a minute thinking of the coolness of her chamber that would gladly embrace in a few more hours.

A crash broke through Sia’s thoughts. Than a snap of a branch. Sia turned in a circle in the forest clearing following the sounds.A crunch here. A stomp there. Leaves rustled and Sia spun, a massive weight setting her off balance.  A collision with--

Nothing. No one.

She blinked once, twice, but  there was only the clear path and rocks shimmering from the heat. A whoosh of fabric had Sia pulling out her knife. Something wasn’t right. Then Sia heard it: the sound of footsteps as they quickly receded behind her. Within a blink of an eye, a turn of her head, and a man had appeared only to quickly disappear again a few feet away. Moving fast.

She cursed under her breath--tired--as her feet instinctively moved into a chase.


Anonymous said...

Your query letter is far too long. Don't worry, mine used to be too (maybe it still is).

There are lots of sources to help with query letters, but I got the most help by plowing through the entire history of It takes a while, but it pruned a lot of problems out of my work.

The simile in your first sentence ("like a hot wet tear") is imaginative, but a bit awkward. The rest of the writing is good, except the sentence that starts with "within a blink of an eye." that needs to be reworked.

One suggestion: "She turned around. Within a blink of an eye a man appeared a short distance away only to quickly disappear again."

Rae Chang said...

Sounds like an interesting idea, but (as my compatriot said above) this query letter is at least 200 words too long. Query letters should usually be between 250-350 words, so go through your query and see what you can cut. I would suggest taking the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs and combining them into 1 much shorter paragraph that sets things up, but doesn't give away anything and doesn't use nearly as many details/plot points.

John C. said...

The writing here is strong, and I'm all for the action-packed fantasy plot, but remember that agents and editors really prize uniqueness, some special twist to help a title stand out, and I don't quite feel that here. The war between races, the teen savior, the enemy who is also a semi-love interest-- these tropes are a great starting place, but I do feel like I've read similar stories before, and I worry this doesn't quite feel "fresh" enough.

I'd suggest punching up your nomenclature a tad. "Protector" "War" "Exile" - these proper nouns are all fairly generic, which is perhaps the intent, but overall I worry this fantasy universe doesn't have that extra special and unique *something* to make the story break out from the pack.


Author Amok said...

I thought the first paragraph of your query was well-written. I agree with the comments, though, the following three paragraphs could be combined -- or even cut -- and you'd still get the key elements of the pitch across.