Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #24

Dear Agent, 

Not many women are magicians in 1870s Paris, but that doesn’t stop Valentina Gianetti--until the day her father is killed onstage. She abandons her dreams to find his killer, and soon finds herself entangled in an underground society of spectacular performers that are much more than they seem.

Helping Valentina in her quest are the honest, Daire O’Flynn and not so-honest, Cooper Mathers. The three follow new leads to old murders, uncovering family secrets, and discovering a conspiracy that transformed a government and removed a king. As Valentina moves in on the truth, she becomes the killer’s next target. With her life, and the lives of those she cares about in jeopardy, she devises a plan she expects will bring due justice. The last thing she expects is to fall in love. 

The Magician’s Daughter is an NA Historical Mystery, complete at 92,000 words. Readers who enjoyed The Historian, The Night Circus, and The Thirteenth Tale will appreciate this novel.

I’m a technical writer by day and an aspiring author by night with an unhealthy addiction to the BBC.

Thank you for your interest,


The Eve of Vienna – 1871

The custard of the small fruit tart gently jiggled with the rumbling of the train.  I was hypnotized by its slight vibration, if only to distract myself from what I soon faced.  The tranquility of my private carriage lulled me into a moment of calm.  I lit the small candle poking from the tart’s middle and closed my eyes. 

“Happy birthday, Mama.”  The flame extinguished before I could take a breath to blow it out.  I smiled.  I didn’t have to turn around to see him standing in the doorway, though he made no sound. Sterling Caindale was, after all, the best magician in Europe.

“Are you prepared for tomorrow?”  His English accent sounded like home.

“I’ve practiced the three acts so many times I could perform them with my eyes closed.”

“Good girl.”  He smiled, the wrinkles around his eyes deepening.  I couldn’t ignore the sad look in his eyes. I wondered what he kept from me.  It wasn’t only his growing paranoia that tipped me off, but the way he became more and more distracted during his performances, almost expecting an interruption.   

 “I have a gift for you,” he said, producing a small red flower between his fingers and presenting it to me.  The instant that my fingertips brushed against its stem, the flower disappeared, and in its place, hung a gold necklace with a simple red pendant.

“It’s beautiful.  Thank you, Father.”  His eyes twinkled.  I knew he appreciated the term.


Sherri Ogden said...

I can already tell I would like to read more.

Angie Azur said...

I love this title - intriguing from the start.

I want to know how good she is at magic. I love that she is a magician even though she is a girl! And the idea of murders among magicians sounds like a fun and fantastic time!

I'm intrigued and would definitely read more!

Great work!

Bam said...

This is intriguing and your descriptions are hypnotizing. If I were an agent, I would request your first chapter as I'm sure it would be very exciting.

Unknown said...

Yes, this does remind me of Night Circus so kudos on that! I'd request more because I love historical novels with secret societies in them and murder? I'm in! I'd request pages, probably the full manuscript because I couldn't wait to read this. Stellar writing too! Good luck!

Rosalyn said...

I'm a sucker for nineteenth century anything, so I like this premise a great deal. I can't quite tell from the genre and comp titles if the magic here is real or only illusory? Also, I thought the opening scene was beautifully written, but it didn't have much sense of tension or conflict to pull me onward. I'd be much more interested closer to her performance (and I say this as someone who nearly always starts too early . . .)

Mike M said...

I like your premise, but your query needs work. Don't open with 'not many'. Make it about your character. Try 'VG is the only woman magician in 1870 Paris'

See the difference?

Like your words. I would read more. But I don't love your first paragraph.

ivl said...

This is so evocative, right from the first line. I can instantly see the fruit tart jiggling, and as I read on I could picture the entire scene so easily. Great job capturing my attention right away. Sounds like a rip-roaring adventure – wish I could keep reading!

Heather said...

I second Mike's comments above. I would like the query to focus on your main character more -- and right away. Otherwise, fantastic job and I really don't have any criticisms of the query or your writing sample. Good luck to you.

Laura Moe said...

We'll done. I agree with Mike on the opening.
I love how "his English accent sounded like home."
I expect to see this on the shelves soon.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I agree with the commenters above. This is chock full of intrigue and leaves me with a feeling of . . . what? I don't get to read more?

Well done!

Unknown said...

Love your first page, very intriguing, and the father and daughter come off as very sympathetic characters, so you immediately feel for them, knowing that tragedy is on the way. Good luck with this!

SA said...

Your query is great-- "Helping Valentina in her quest are the honest, Daire O’Flynn and not so-honest, Cooper Mathers." Lines like that are just brilliant-- very well put together.

Your page was good, but I'd like to see at least a promise of more tension very soon-- maybe start us closer to her performance? So we know it's going to be in the next few pages? I'd read on anyway, so maybe I'm just being picky, haha.

Secret Agent said...

This is an interesting concept. I love that your MC is a professional show-biz girl in the late 1800’s.

Good, concise query. And I love your comps. They give me the perfect feel for your book. (Just capitalize them, please.)

Throw away phrases like “an unhealthy addiction to the BBC” are perfect in your bio paragraph and that phrase specifically, will coax a smile from many an agent.


I like your setting, but the dialogue isn’t working for me. It’s a little stilted and tells me too much. The line “I’ve practiced the three acts…” doesn’t sound natural. Even for a period piece. The father knows how many acts they have. That’s not for his benefit, that’s for the reader’s. And, honestly, the reader’s don’t need that much help. They’ll catch on.