Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Ms. Gref,

Twenty-five-year-old Arlyn Dianore Moore has always known two truths--the elves of myth are real, and her father is one of them. 

Arlyn sells handmade bows at Renaissance festivals and spends her free time practicing archery. Never fitting in and curious about her elven father, Arlyn is more than willing to honor her mother’s dying wish--to find the father who never knew she existed.  She makes the arduous journey through the mysterious Veil, the misty realm leading to a planet called Moranai’a.

Just after arriving in the strange new world, Arlyn is welcomed by her father and grandmother, meets an elf who claims to be her lifebonded--one whose soul could bond with her own--and learns of magical abilities she never knew she had.  But not everyone is happy about her arrival, and Arlyn must face prejudice from those who scorn her human heritage.

After a series of murder attempts, she must quickly learn to use the secrets of her mixed blood to defeat the unknown assailant.  As head of House Dianore, Arlyn’s father is the gatekeeper between Moranai’a and Earth.  Should her family fall, there will be no one to stand against those who would destroy humanity.

At 93,000 words, THE HALFBLOOD is a complete fantasy novel.  Fans of Mercedes Lackey and Ilona Andrews will enjoy this novel.  

I have a B.A. in English from Middle Tennessee State University.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



She might never escape the swirling mists.  For endless days, Arlyn had walked across a ground she could not see, not even when she lay down to sleep.  There was no sky, no plants, no trees, no life visible anywhere, just the rolling gray mists shot through with a rare strand of color.  Only the occasional pool of water, clearer than any she had ever seen, interrupted the monotony.  With no point of reference, accurately measuring time was impossible, but she had slept and eaten enough to account for about a month.  As her supplies dwindled, entering the portal began to seem like a mistake, but Arlyn had promised her mother.

The request had seemed so straightforward as she had stood before the unassuming rock formation carved into the hill at the back of her family’s land.  Cross through the barrier, find her father, then return home.  Though her mother had warned her that it might take some time, Arlyn had not expected to wander through the strange mists for this long.  She tried hard to hold on to the description her mother had given her of the place she sought, but the details were frustratingly few.  No surprise since her mother had never actually been to the land called Moranai’a.  Thirdhand stories were rarely precise.


Katy White said...

This sounds really interesting, and I think with some tightening up, it could be great. I'd leave out her full name from the query, as we'll figure the Dianore part out in context, and you can leave out that the mysterious Veil is a misty realm and just cut straight to the planet. It sounds like a lot happens "just after arriving" in Moranai'a, and that reads a bit awkwardly to me. The stakes are huge, but I'd like a sense of them earlier, or an explanation of why some elves want to destroy mankind.

Your writing is beautiful and descriptive in the first 250. The idea that she has a sense of how long she's been in the Veil and that it's upwards of a month is...terrifying. That long in what sounds like sensory deprivation? Shudder. Perhaps she could feel a little more senseless, like it could be days or months? If that's important, though, than obviously take this with a grain of salt. :)

Also, the "unassuming rock formation" line in the 2nd paragraph stands out a bit oddly. You may want to consider the wording there. :)

In all, I think the premise is really interesting and there's a lot going for this query and first 250. Good luck!

Rebecca Kagan said...

I like the premise and the stakes, but I think it would be good to know why some--or maybe most, of the elves want to destroy humanity. I would also like to know how she feels about the elven world and her new-found family. Is she willing to fight not just for humanity, but maybe for her family too. Maybe make the stakes in the query more personal.
In the first 250, I'd like to feel how she feels about the veil. Is she beginning to hate it, dread it, feel at home? Feel desperate like she's never going to get out and see the light of the sun again? A month seems a long time of not knowing. It also seems a bit unrealistic to carry a months worth of food with her, especially when she didn't expect it to take so long. She might not have brought that much food, which could add to her difficulties.
Your writing is clean and clear, very visual.
Good Luck on the contest.

Margaret Telsch-Williams said...

Hi B.A.,
Your query opens with a nice base--learning about the elves and her dad--but the real hook for me was that she'd never met her father. Perhaps see if you can place that information earlier. Likewise, the tension disappeared again at the front of the third paragraph when she's welcomed home no problem. Your first 250 show us that it wasn't even that easy to get there, so give us some of that in the query. Tell us about this awful trek through the dark, misty Veil, then we'll be glad she's welcomed. As for the fourth paragraph, I wasn't clear if the murder attempts were against her or her father, so maybe clarify that with a word or two. But we see the stakes and how big this is that she take action, so that's great. This sounds like an interesting story and is a pretty strong query as is.

As for the 250, I like what you have here. From an editing POV, you lean on the word "had" a lot here, so you could clean that up easily, but this is a strong start. We feel lost with her, and sense her hesitation, yet duty to proceed. Love the line, "rolling gray mists shot through with a rare strand of color." Your voice comes through with ease, and we trust Arlyn from the get go.

Mostly, I think you can clean the query pretty fast since the basis of the story is all there. Good luck with Halfblood!

Emily Gref said...

Hi B.A.,

Your query kept me on my toes - first I thought I was dealing with an urban fantasy, then I thought it was a portal fantasy, and then you through in the gatekeeper and the high stakes and it became a bit more epic.

Unfortunately, that's not necessarily a good thing - you want to establish exactly what an agent should expect right off the bat. When you mentioned Arlyn's work at a RenFaire, I was expecting a light-hearted opening - instead I got a bleak portrait of what I assume is the Veil.

It's important to make sure the tone of your query and your manuscript match - if these first 250 words are a flashforward prologue, consider starting earlier.

Hope that helps!

All the best,

Beth Adams said...

Thank you, everyone, for your advice. It's invaluable to get feedback after looking at this project for so long.

And thank you, Ms. Gref, for taking time out of your weekend for this. Your feedback confirms what I've been thinking. The rest of the book is not so dark in tone. I think I'm going to take out the prologue and incorporate the information elsewhere. I really appreciate your help.