Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear John Cusick,

Two years after her mom's death, thirteen-year-old Grace is devastated with her dad's decision to date. Fearing her mom will become a distant memory, Grace reaches beyond the grave for help.

Guiding Grace is the premiere book in a series about an adolescent’s struggle to grow up.  This is my first contemporary middle grade novel and is complete at 29,000 words.  I plan to write the series from Grace’s eighth-grade year until she graduates from high school.  Each book will grow alongside Grace, and the genres will mature from middle grade fiction into young adult.

As a middle school English teacher for the past 12 years, I have a distinctive insight into the dilemmas of my target audience.  I also lost my mom when I was 9 months old, and I know firsthand the struggles of growing up without a mother’s guidance. 

I chose to query you when I discovered "An Agent's Inbox" contest.  Upon further research, I found you're interested in contemporary middle grade fiction, and that you also represent children’s picture books.  I write both genres and would like an agent with experience in these styles.

Thank you for taking your time in considering my novel.  I look forward to hearing from you.



October 6th

Dear Mom,

I miss you more desperately today than I did yesterday.  I don’t know what goes on up in heaven, but down here, on Earth, life sucks! Dad and Gabby want to make today special, but it isn’t the same without you.  It’s been two years since you left, and I still feel like I’m living in a vacuum.  My life’s always spinning in chaos, and I can’t seem to catch my breath. So, in case you somehow forgot, I turned thirteen today.  Do you remember when I was ten, and I couldn’t wait to be a teenager? Now I realize it isn’t exactly what I envisioned. Life suddenly doesn’t make sense, and I feel like a fraud. 

I’m tired of pretending to be cheerful, when everything inside of me burns with rage.  I’m a volcano, and all I do is erupt on people.  Dad’s usually my target, because he frustrates me daily.   He won’t talk about you, and he avoids your memory like it’s a curse or something.  There’s this layer of silence between Dad and me now.  Sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs, so he’ll notice me again. He doesn’t understand me anymore, but honestly, neither do I.

I actually thought today was looking up when Dad said I could go to the dance at school.  I missed the first one because he was over protective, as always, but this morning he seemed different somehow.  He was grinning and happy.


Anonymous said...

You've got some really good writing in your excerpt.

I think your query needs a bit more detail beyond those first two sentences. Is this just about a girl writing to her mom in a journal or something, or is there some communication in the other direction? Either of these would work well, although the latter would edge it into the paranormal zone.

Molly Shaffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Author Amok said...

You did a great job tying your bio paragraph into the novel's premise. I wonder what the current thinking is regarding pitching a series. Are you better off pitching the first book as a stand alone, leaving you space in the query for greater detail? Should series be discussed with an agent later, after he or she shows interest in your pitch?

Regarding your first page, I could hear Grace's voice. I did want to know whether the whole novel was epistolary.

Cindy Schrauben said...

I liked the "voice". I can feel her pain already. Good luck

Making Trax said...

I agree that you need more info on the current novel and less on its series potential. Your first paragraph is a hook or logline. Then you need to give us some more details on what the MC wants/needs and what's standing in her way, and what the stakes are.

John C. said...

I'm not quite clear on the content of the story, which I'd need to be to request a full. Is this a paranormal adventure? How does Grace reach beyond the grave?

Further, I'm not sure I see the series potential here. Is Grace battling some larger conflict over the course of the series? Series are very difficult to place just now, and I'm not sure one that crosses from middle-grade to young adult would have an easy time. Though readers of course get older as a series progresses (Harry Potter is a great example), publishers typically purchase series as an all m.g. or all y.a. product.

As suggested above, I'd add more detail to your synopsis and ensure that this first book stands alone as a complete story (with series potential).


Kristine Poptanich said...

Molly - sorry to be commenting after the fact, but I am so glad you wrote this book. Losing a parent is something people simply can't understand until it has happened to them, so kids in this situation deserve a character who understands, even if their peers don't. Having lost a parent, albeit not at so young an age, I see the series potential. It isn't an acute loss; it sticks with you, and changes everything that comes afterwards.

Best of luck - you will definitely find a home for this!