Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Agent,

Getting sucked into a snow globe wasn’t part of the plan.

Not that twelve-year-old Lily had a plan, more of an impulse: run away to save Milo--her hero dog and best friend. The ‘No Dog’ policy hasn’t stopped the move to their soon-to-be new house, so when the snow globe transports them into a magical world and to Queen Ved’ma’s castle, Lily believes it’s a perfect escape: right up until Milo disappears.

The queen comforts Lily and promises to do everything in her power to find him. A cold comfort, as Lily suspects Queen Ved’ma is behind his disappearance. After witnessing the queen take off a second layer of skin, unmasking a hidden face, Lily escapes. Captured soon after, the snow globe no longer contains her dreams of paradise, but her prison. Ved’ma proposes an impossible game: find Milo alive before sunrise and Lily wins their freedom. Lose, and she becomes the prize: devoted daughter, trapped in the snow globe, unhappily ever after. Tick tock...let the game begin.

SNOW GLOBE is a middle grade novel with fantasy and horror elements. It is 36,000 words with sequel potential. I believe it would appeal to readers who enjoyed Coraline and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I am a British artist and arts psychotherapist living in Canada.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best wishes,


Lily Ellis wished her parents had waited until after breakfast for their latest fight. Or chosen to have it anywhere other than the kitchen. She was hungry. Her belly protested with loud pops and gurgles. But knowing better than to walk in on them mid row, she waited at the top of the stairs and stared at the wonky family photo slipped off its nail. Their smiling faces hung lopsided, ready to fall out of the frame and on to the floor. She straightened it up; saving her family and wishing it was as simple as that in real life.

Milo nudged her hand with his nose. Thank God she had him--her hero dog, her best friend, rescued from a shelter four years earlier when she was eight. Funny, it felt like he’d been rescuing her ever since.

His ears pricked as the sound of his name drifted up the stairs.

‘I heard that too.’ How did Milo get dragged into one of their fights? ‘Come on.’

They crept down the stairs and waited at the bottom, listening.


The tap gushed on. Off.

Still nothing.

A cupboard door slammed.

What was happening?

At last her mum spoke. ‘Well at least we’ll save some money.’

‘What?’ her dad said, his voice cracking. ‘I can’t believe you just said that.’

Huh? How did saving money become a bad thing? Money was all they ever fought about.

‘Look, I’m just trying to find something good to come out of this.’

‘Perhaps you can tell Lily that.’


Unknown said...

This reminds me of the snow queen story in a good way. I like the query and the pages. Make sure you format it correctly though. Double quotation marks are for dialogue, not single. I'd change the Thank God reference to Thank goodness, it would work better for your character. Good job and if I were an agent, I'd request pages! Good luck!

Carolee Noury said...

Intriguing premise, MS! I love this idea--being sucked into a snow globe and a "game" to get out.

Query Thoughts:
--Love that first sentence.
--But then the second one stomps on it. It contradicts the "plan." I think it could be tighter and more clear.
--Q: What kind of challenges are ahead of us? (I'm really curious/excited about them!)
--How is the queen's second skin related to the pitch? (It's a floating detail I'm unsure of.)

Writing sample:
I think your writing is strong--just minor polishing needed.
I.E. Do bellies "pop"? That was such a dramatic word for hunger noises it took me out of the story for a moment.
Give the protag's age directly, not requiring calculations though simple, it slows the reader.

Great work & best of luck!

Sara said...

Great premise! You did a nice job in the query showing the stakes for Lily. In your writing, I really enjoyed these two sentences: "She straightened it up; saving her family and wishing it was as simple as that in real life." and "Funny, it felt like he’d been rescuing her ever since." It made me connect with Lily and understand her. Great job!

Kendra said...

I especially enjoyed the second-skin/hidden face. It gave me images of Roald Dahl's WITCHES, combine that with the snow globe world and I'm hooked.

Excellent query that sets up the world, the major conflict, and the stakes. I'd definitely request more if it was up to me. Well done.

Laura Moe said...

A winning query ands ample. Great voice. Love your opening line. It grounds the reader, and sets up a whole litany of possibilities.

Sean said...

This sounds like a fun premise. I immediately thought of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I read the query. One thing I'd suggest is to make it more clear what "the snow globe" is. Is there any significance to it or is it an old snow globe her family owns? Also, does her family play a part in her wanting to leave or is it because they're moving to a new place that doesn't allow dogs? From the 250, it sounds like her parents have a rocky relationship, so I wondered if that played a part in her wanting to escape. Or is it just because of her dog? Maybe you clarify that later in the story, but it might be something worth mentioning in the query if it plays a big role in her motivation for running away.

This sounds like a fun story and I'm sure it will be great! Good luck!

Agent said...

I enjoyed the ties to THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Your story still feels fresh! Since the beginning of the story is set in the modern world, you could do some (very brief) world building in your query. I’d like to get a sense of the world inside the snow globe.

I’m slightly confused about Lily’s first escape. She sees the queen take her face off (!) and then she escapes where? Out of the snow globe or out of the palace? That’s important for me to know.

I’m unsure why the queen wants to imprison Lily. Lily ran away from home in the first place. Would she really be a prisoner if she didn't want to leave? Other than the queen being thoroughly creepy, the stakes aren't mentioned. Does she have child slaves? Nefarious henchmen? Does she turn puppies and fawns to stone?

Side Note: The "devoted daughter" phrase confused me. I'm not sure if the queen wants to turn Lily into her daughter or if this is implying that even though she ran away from home, Lily is devoted to her parents.

Finally, could you add just a little bit of the emotion of Lily’s desire to go home? Is it simply because she wants to escape the queen’s clutches or does she come to the realization that she needs to be with her family? So many good MG stories are about a character finding how they fit into their world. I don’t need it all wrapped up in the query, but I’d love to see acknowledgement that Lily's time in the snow globe lends her a new perspective on life in the real world.

Yes, I’m telling you to add things to the query which probably feels terrible because it’s so hard to cut down your entire book to a few paragraphs! However, the query needs to take me on an emotional journey in the same way that a full manuscript does. Beefing up these points (with little more than a few well-placed phrases) will do that!

I really love your opening pages. Well done!

Thank you for letting me read your work.


Mel said...

Thanks so much everyone-and secret agent. Will go back and look at how to include above points in query. Yes, everything is addressed in the story—her time in the snow globe gives her new perspective in the real world. I'll try to include more of her emotional journey. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

I loved your query and the writing sample! The first sentence of the query is a great hook! The query feels very fresh and interesting. I only felt the part about her running away and getting caught again was extra. I thought, perhaps, the query would read smoother without that. But it might be a good idea to explain why Ved'ma wants to keep her in the first place, why she's so important.