Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Agent,

Payton has 5 people in her life and they will all break her heart.
Her dad will use her.
Her mom will betray her.
Her boyfriend will manipulate her.
Her best friend will lie to her.
And Bunny will mold her into a monster.

In a near future, where the wealthy graft animal parts on their bodies so they can be stronger, look younger and live longer, 17-year-old Payton doesn't know who she is or where she fits in, yet she has the means to craft herself into any creature she can imagine. But even money can't save her, especially, when everyone has an agenda, even the ones she loves.

SKINNED: Payton Whitworth - Phase One is a complete 87,000 YA Sci-fi Thriller. Think The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Uglies.

Sincerely,
A.A.


MONSTERED

I never thought about the strength of a chimpanzee or the roughness of its fingers until the first time Jimmy touched me. This will be the second. We're hiding out in my closet with it's purple painted walls and pink trim, one of the many ways Mom tries to keep me young and silent. Yet my mind questions everything as my body continues to grow, molding me into a woman. And by the hungry look in Jimmy's eyes, a desirable one. That scares Mom all the more. People notice me now, some even listen. I'm a threat. A threat to her, this house, Dad's clinic, their entire way of life.

Yet here Jimmy and I are, no matter the cost. My parents would disown me for this betrayal and sever Jimmy. My head knows this but my heart doesn't care and neither does Jimmy's.

My chest rises and falls as excitement builds beneath my skin. Jimmy's eyes devour me with a need mostly human. But the other part of his gaze, the animal part, scares me more than he knows.

He moves toward me and the fur on my neck heats up and I want to scratch it like a mangy cat.

"I love when that happens," Jimmy says and for a moment I think he can sense my uncomfortable itching. Then I notice my feathers splaying. I pull them back down and shove them back behind my ears.

"I can't control them," I say, feeling my cheeks warm.

16 comments:

Angie Azur said...

:-)

Pen-Up Girl said...

This is...interesting. It's defintely fresh. The voice is strong. The query is a little too vague, I would consider adding the stakes. You write, "But even when money can't save her..." save her from what? Good luck!

Carolee Noury said...

I am fascinated by this world where people have not only embrace being animals (we seem to try to forget! :), but fuse themselves with them.

I agreed that the query needs work--more specificity and more about the story. (I rec Query Shark--tons of resources and she's so highly respected by other agents).

The story itself it so close. I think work with a good CP would polish it nicely.

If that CP was me, here's an example of what I'd suggest:

"Yet here Jimmy and I are, no matter the cost. My parents would disown me for this betrayal and sever Jimmy. My head knows this but my heart doesn't care and neither does Jimmy's."

> (taking some liberties)
That notion dies quickly as Jimmy wraps his thick arms around me. What matters now isn't how my parents would disown me, it's how I love him despite all of that.

Keep up the good work!

I'd read more for sure.

Best of luck.
Carolee

Kathleen said...

This is something I'd read more of right now. I love the X-Men feel to it and love the animal parts being fused to humans. I agree that the query needs work. It's too vague. Focus on your main character's goal, what obstacles stand in her way to get that goal and what happens if she doesn't achieve it. I love the title too. Good luck!

Mike M said...

Pages are really good. Really good. Hooked me immediately.

Query, not so much. You have an awesome premise. Lead with it instead of the generic 5 people stuff. That smacks of gimmick and it doesn't set you apart.

Laura Moe said...

The Uglies is definitely a good comparison her. Your letter itself needs to be longer. Tell the agent something about your background as a writer. Even if you have not published, what workshops have you attended? What degrees do you hold? What job experience nice makes YOU the one to write this book?
Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for your help. I am AWFUL at query letters --- UGH. They are the worst for me. I am never quite sure how much or how little to put in them. QueryShark is a great place to check out - thanks!

I love that you guys were willing to read more. That made me happy!

Thanks for everything!
AA

Anonymous said...

Even though your query is short and kind if vague, I actually think it might be enough to hook an agent, as long as you had some pages attached. Really great, fresh writing. I disagree that it needs more work. You've clearly put in the work and have polished this scene well. Good luck with it!
JE

Anonymous said...

Okay - I've been working on my pathetic query. Here's another attempt. Anyone like it better?

In a near future, where the wealthy graft animal parts on their bodies so they can be stronger, look younger and live longer, seventeen-year-old Payton has the means to craft herself into any creature she can imagine. It's expected, no demanded, that by the next debutante ball she is fully skinned, like her classmates, or she will be kicked out of her home.

But Payton believes killing animals so the rich can wear their skins is inexcusable. She wants to keep the rest of her human flesh. She doesn't want anymore animalia. So she runs away with her boyfriend and joins The Movement. But soon Payton realizes this anti-animalia group is not what it seems.

The Movement is kidnapping teen girls and impregnating them with animal-human hybrids to create the next evolution of humans. When her boyfriend's young cousin goes missing Payton must help rescue her and end the hideous experiments on all the girls or risk becoming a monster mommy herself.

But even money can't save her skin, especially, when everyone has an agenda, even the ones she trusts.

Pen-Up Girl said...

A, Yes! This gives me a better sense of the stakes and what this world looks like. Good job! This makes me want to read more :)

SA said...

Okay, so your second query is a huge improvement. This is a very unique concept, but those high stakes make it accessible. Very good.

I like your pages-- I think I'd definitely read on, just to see where this goes.

Carolee Noury said...

Agree! Nice work on revisions!! Wow!

Patrice said...

Great way to open your query, and your comp titles definitely got my attention. Yes, it's a "thinner" query that usually seen, but I think it works. I'd definitely read more!

Secret Agent said...

Query:
I’m not a huge fan of bullet points at the beginning of a query. Your novel (most likely) won’t contain that format, so your query letter shouldn’t either. Though writing a query letter is different than writing a book, the query letter is the first place for me to see that you can string sentences together. Bullet points don’t give me any indication that you’re capable of that. Can you give me the information in the bullet points in a narrative summary paragraph? I want to see the structure of your book laid out in front of me.

Also, this would be a good title to list some comps. I’m thinking maybe THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER and STARTERS could be interesting comps here.


Pages:

Powerhouse opening sentence.

I think the exposition about Payton’s budding sexuality and her relationship with her mom can be cut. Could you simply show this instead of telling me? When you live in the moment of Payton and Jimmy, it's magic, but the talk about the mom pulled me out of the moment.

Angie Azur said...

Thank you Secret Agent!

Thanks for the comps - I read the Madman's Daughter and loved it --- but never read Starters - going to buy that today.

I thought about comps like Uglies and The Island of Dr. Moreau too.

Will cut the Mom/Payton stuff and show that later in the chapter -- as I think it's there already, just needs to be tweaked.

Thanks again! Huge help.
Angie

Angie Azur said...

Thank you SA!

Thanks for reading my second attempt.
I'm still revising it…but it's getting there.

I'm so happy that you would read more.

Angie:-)