Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Ms. Gref,

SEEKING MANSFIELD is a young adult romance complete at 85,000 words. It’s MANSFIELD PARK meets ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS with a fresh, contemporary twist.

Fifteen year-old Finley Price knows two things better than most: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar.  The first she inherited from her movie star father before he died three years ago.  The second she mastered after her mother became an alcoholic.  Finley continued to use the latter skill when her disapproving godparents, the Bertrams, took her in. The only person who seems to notice her is her adorable, do-gooder best friend, Oliver Bertram. If she could just take Oliver’s encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d chase her dream of joining Chicago's prestigious Mansfield Theater...and maybe chase Oliver, himself.

But next door to the Bertrams, teen megastars Harlan and Emma Crawford have just moved in.  They’re used to getting who they want, when they want them.  So when they set their sights on their attractive new neighbors, well, it’s only a matter of time.  But as Emma and Oliver Bertram grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley.  Leaving him puzzled, wondering why she wants nothing to do with him--frankly, a new emotion for heartthrob Harlan.  

The more he seeks to win her, the harder he falls.

But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else.  To claim Oliver’s heart--and keep her own--she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most:  step into the spotlight.




Finley Price stared at her computer screen.  Her hands had hovered above the keyboard for so long, they were starting to cramp.  The words “Mansfield Theater Youth Council Application” mocked her in bright red font.  She should really answer another question.  Any question.  But a highlighter smudge on her computer desk caught her eye.  She rubbed at it, trying to get the streak of orange out.  Hmm.  It was stubborn.  She swiped her thumb across her tongue and tried again.


She leaned back in her chair and stretched.  She started to yawn but her jaw cracked.  She winced and sat stark upright.

How could you apply for this? she asked herself, hearing Nora’s voice in her head.  Is this how you repay the Bertrams?  Have you forgotten how they saved you? 

Finley wiggled her jaw, rubbing just below her ear.  No.  She hadn’t forgotten.

Her eyes returned to her laptop and her mouth went dry.  A knock at her door interrupted her.  She exhaled and rolled her chair away from her desk.  “Come in.”

The door opened, and Oliver entered in a Pac-Man t-shirt.  His light brown hair was messier than usual.  “Hey, Fin.  I was going to ask if you--wait, is that your Mansfield application?”  He crossed the room, squinting at her screen.  “You still haven’t completed it?” 

“It’s not due till April,” she said as Oliver approached.  He dropped to his knees beside her.  “I still have a couple of months to get it in.”


Jenni Enzor said...

You hooked me with the tie in to Mansfield Park. I am a big Austen fan, and I haven't seen a retelling of Mansfield. The tie in the theater is also very intriguing! (Nice nod to the Mansfield theatrical.) I thought your set up (para 1) was really strong, but I got a little confused with who was who and what they were doing in para 2. This may just be your pronouns, because you use "they," but it's not clear who you're referring to. I'm also not sure why "Finley stepping into the stoplight" is going to fix things.
The writing on the first page was clean, but I didn't as drawn in as I'd like. I don't know what the application really means and why applying would be "being ungrateful" to the Bertrams. Perhaps if you made that clear, that would help raise the stakes on this page.

Heather said...

Finley sounds like a really interesting MC who has her act together. The last sentence of the second paragraph could be reworded. It's a little confusing as it is. But I love how you wrap it up with Finley needing to overcome her fear of being in the spotlight.
I started skimming in the first 250. It just didn't seem to have much in the way of stakes. Maybe start a little later in the chapter, and it could work.

Rebecca Kagan said...

I think your query is good, but may need a little tightening. It might have been me this morning, but I had to read the second paragraph twice to have it sink in.
I think you can do away with the line "The harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls." The book isn't about Harlan, but Finley.
In the 250, I can feel her conflict over getting her application in, and appreciate her small procrastination.
The paragraph about the Bertrams saving her I think needs to be clarified. They saved her by taking her in, I understand, but I think you can make clearer that they would be horrified - or something - that she's thinking about joining the theatre. I would think the alcoholic mom would be a worse fate.

Emily Gref said...

Hi K.W.,

You have a very intriguing premise! Your query is strong, although the detour into Harlan's POV is a little confusing. If he has his own POV in the novel, better to make that clear.

You start at a good place, but the bits about the highlighter smudge and the crick in her jaw get too much focus - they feel like "filler" details, and don't really serve any purpose. The opening also makes it seem like the Bertrams wouldn't approve of Finley applying to Mansfield, which seems like a central conflict that should be present in the query - perhaps moreso than Finley needing to step into the spotlight.

I hope this helps!

All the best,