Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #29

Dear Agent,

Ever since her mama drove her car into the Mississippi, sixteen-year-old Bria Dauphine's made it her mission to leave behind her overbearing dad and get the hell out of New Orleans, before the city drives her mad like it did her mom. Since her daddy won’t pay for her to attend college outside the city, and leave her duties as heir to one of the oldest supernatural families behind, she decides to earn the money herself by becoming a paranormal investigator. For the world she lives in is full of strange and magical things--and most of them don’t play nice with humans. That’s where Bria comes in. Takes a clairvoyant to catch a, well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. The only cases Bria receives at first are requests from old ladies asking her to find their cats. And old ladies don’t pay much, if at all. So when the ruling body of supernatural creatures enlists her and Ty--a hot wizard with a past as dark as her own--to consult on a series of murders with ties to voodoo, Bria figures, with her abilities, this will be easy money. But when there’s powerful voodoo, there’s a bokor--a sorcerer who practices dark magic--behind it. And now that bokor knows Bria’s name. If Bria and Ty don’t stop the killer soon, they’re going to be the next ones dead, washed up on the riverbank.

So much for easy money.

At 72,000 words, POSSESSION is a YA Paranormal Noir that I like to think of as Veronica Mars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a dash of Southern Gothic. I believe it will appeal to fans of the aforementioned TV shows as well as those of Rosemary Clement-Moore's YA novels, Kiersten White's Paranormalcy, and The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. 

Although I'm not a New Orleans native, I visit often and consider the city a home away from home. I won the 2014 Winter SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship for my writing, and I'm a senior at Wellesley College, studying English/Creative Writing and Political Science. I also blog at [redacted] where I review books, interview authors, and discuss diversity in kidlit among other topics. More about my writing projects and myself can be found online at [redacted]. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely, 
P.C.


POSSESSION

I would’ve been back in bed hours ago if my nose wasn’t acting up, again. I kneel on the ground like I’m about to pray. Only, I’m not. I’ve prayed to St. Anthony three times tonight, yet seeing as I’m still here, cat-less, with less than two hours before school starts, it’s time to turn, once again, to magic. Another power that seems to fail me when I need it most.

The wind’s howl pierces the air as I’m kneeling in the middle of the park. "Here, kitty, kitty." I squeeze my eyes shut and then open them to speed up their adjustment to the darkness. Thanks to my shifter dad, on a good day I can track a smell better than a bloodhound. However there hasn’t been anything good about this summer. My powers have developed a mind of their own, working when they please rather than when I need them to. My therapist said it’s my body’s way of grieving. I stopped seeing my therapist because, well, no duh. Google could’ve told me that.

Alright. Come on, Bria. Focus. What's one little cat? I snort at my mental encouragement. One little cat has been leading me across the entire city. First it was the Warehouse District, then the French Quarter, and then all three St. Louis Cemeteries.

I shudder. Cemeteries, ew.

Now, I’m crawling on dog s*** or something, "Come on, kitty." I clap my hands; the sound echoes through the park. When I picked up the cat’s scent from the third cemetery, I got a vision of the City Park sign. I’ve been searching this park for the past hour. What's the point of being clairvoyant if I don’t see complete images? I shake my head and stand.

I'll just have to tell Mrs. Kato the truth: I am the worst detective ever. I can’t even find a cat.  

13 comments:

Angie Azur said...

I'm interested.

I like the voice, it's snarky but likable.

I think your query could be cut down a bit - there are many characters mentioned which starts to be confusing. You've got mama, Bria, dad, old ladies, Ty, and a bokor -- a sorcerer.

I would clean this up and only mention the two main characters and their main journey in the query. Other than this --- I am curious.

I love that she is a somewhat clairvoyant and not a very good one - funny. I am expecting humor among the hysteria in this piece. :-)

Kathleen said...

I would read more because the premise is interesting. I agree that the query needs to be tightened. The pages are well done though. I'd request more because who doesn't love a Veronica Mars/Buffy mash-up? Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The opening sentence in your query is awkward. It doesn't reflect the quality of your writing when instead it should be you at your best.

Grab me. That lead doesn't.

Kendra said...

I also love the voice and the comps. The query does contain a few too many characters and feels too long. There are several places you can cut words and still keep the voice amazing. I don't know if you meant to leave out the category and genre, but most agents like to see it in there even if it's a bit obvious.

As for the pages, love it and would definitely like to read more.

nicoleroder.com said...

Hi PC. What a concept for a story!

A few thoughts. You do have a good voice shining through here, but you seem to lose it in a few places. I recommend reading this out loud to yourself so you can hear it. Also, you have several pretty long sentences here that make your letter sound clunky. If you broke them up, it would read much smoother.

For your comp titles, Veronica Mars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer certainly draws up some interesting images, but I've been told that it's best to keep your comps current. What sold fifteen years ago will not necessarily sell today.

Great bio!

In the pages, nice juxtaposition of praying to a Catholic saint with using magical powers. You've got tension from the first line!

I understand what you're doing here with the snark in your MC's voice. I write Southern fiction myself. But knowing that her mother recently died, when she thinks "cemeteries, ew," that just sends the wrong message. It just sounds callous and cold.

Again, the voice here is good in places, but drops off in others. Try reading some good Southern fiction authors (Joshilyn Jackson is my favorite, and Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall has excellent voice and a teenaged protagonist). Make notes of your favorite lines, and then read your book and your letter out loud to hear the difference.

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I love the voice and the query! I'd definitely request more, especially after the buffy comparison.

I feel like the first paragraph of the query could be cut down a little- I like that she has a motivation for earning the money, etc, but i just think you should get it out of the way more quickly.

sa said...

I love the voice and the query! I'd definitely request more, especially after the buffy comparison.

I feel like the first paragraph of the query could be cut down a little- I like that she has a motivation for earning the money, etc, but i just think you should get it out of the way more quickly.

Melissa Mires said...

I agree with all of the above. Having said that, this is a book I would definitely read!

Heather said...

Personally I liked the writing sample a bit more than the query. I think it's b/c the query has several pretty long sentences that begin to feel overwhelming. But I'm very interested in the story and I love the main character already! I don't even read this kind of fiction normally, but this impressed me.

Laura Moe said...

Lots to like here. Consider paring the novel description just a. Bit in the query, and changing the title. In fact, I love your line So. Much For Easy. Money. Would make. A great title.

Kimberly VanderHorst said...

LOVE the voice here. I agree that the query is a bit heavy, but even in the query there are hints of the compelling voice we see in the excerpt. Not an easy thing to do! I think if you prune away the excess, this will really shine. :)

P.C. said...

Thanks for all the comments, I really appreciate them. It has made my weekend reading over your comments and seeing how interested you are in this story.

I know paranormal is a tough sell right now, in fact I've had agents who really liked the premise but asked me to send them my next MS because they didn't think they could sell this now (which I get because publishing is a business). But, I believe in this story and I am getting requests. Hopefully with your feedback I can make my query as strong as my opening pages are.

Take care & good luck with your own writing!
P.C.

Secret Agent said...

Query:
The query is a little long for me. Those a long paragraphs to get through and when you read as many queries as I do, white-space helps me feel a little less nuts.

You could especially trim that first paragraph since it’s backstory. Yes, I need to know a little bit about where Bria comes from, but most importantly, I want to know where she’s going. I love the second paragraph. It’s packed with exciting information and it’s constructed really well. It makes me want to read your sample!

Also, word count, comp titles, comp shows, and your writing background is all important information, but could you trim these paragraphs, too? More than anything, when I read a query, I’m looking for the story information. I don’t need a resume. I can find information about you if I want to pursue things further.

Pages:

You mention that her dad is a shifter in the pages, but I didn’t see that in the query. I would think that’s an essential part of her character. You did mention that her family was an old supernatural family, but I’d like to know that there’s shifter blood in her upfront.

I enjoy that she has aspirations of a grand detective agency, but when we meet her, she’s stuck in the mud, looking for a cat. It’s a great juxtaposition.