Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Agent,

Fifteen-year-old Zoey can’t put herself back together after her kidnapping two years ago. Daily panic attacks, crippling anxiety and trying to push down the memories leaves her exhausted.

Now her life coach has published a book detailing the nightmare. Thrust back into the national spotlight, a fragile Zoey gets a phone call from a man who calls her his “sweet girl.” The kidnapper’s found her, even though she’s moved three thousand miles away. Too bad no one believes her, especially the cops who think he’s dead. 

When a friend dies from a bullet Zoey believes was meant for her and another friend is found dead, Zoey’s worst fears are confirmed when the kidnapper texts her that the deaths are surprises for her. Not wanting anyone else to die, she pushes everyone away until a neighbor girl who looks eerily like Zoey turns up missing. 

After the kidnapper contacts her with a proposition that could save the missing girl, Zoey scrambles to follow the clues he leaves on her blog. She knows if she finds the girl, he will not let Zoey escape, but it’s a chance she has to take. She can’t let him shatter another girl.

SHATTERED, a dark contemporary YA thriller is complete at 79,000 words and is in the same vein as POINTE and SPEAK.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
K.S.A.


SHATTERED

I don’t do well in crowds. 

The shoving and jostling, sends me into panic mode. I should be able to get through this--no one else is panicking about their first day of high school. Old friends embrace one another, lockers bang, laughter rings out but it all fades to a distant echo as my heart speeds up and my palms sweat. Eager to get away from the crowd, I spot an open door up ahead. 

Please don’t let me pass out.

The bubble of panic lodges in my throat and swells. Footsteps echo behind me. Through the door is the sweet scent of rain.

Holding my bag in front of me like a shield, I rush out. My gaze darts searching for a place to hide. The rain-soaked air cools the hot bubble. The bell rings for first hour and I breathe easier.

Welcome to the first day of high school, Zoey. Congratulations, you made it a whole ten minutes.

Careful not to get too wet, I duck under the eaves to watch the rainwater gush from the ends of the half-broken gutter pipe onto the dirt making muddy puddles at my feet. Glass panoramic windows afford me a view into the school. But if I can see in, my classmates can see out. I catch a girl staring at me and I duck around a corner, jumping when I encounter a boy who smiles the kind of smile I wish I could keep in my pocket. 

16 comments:

Pen-Up Girl said...

I really like this one. From an agent perspective, I would request the first chapter for sure. This sounds very intriguing and the writing flows really well. Good luck!

Sherri Ogden said...

I'm a bit confused. If it's on her blog, wouldn't it be out in the public for others to also see? Other than that, seems intriguing!

Angie Azur said...

I like, "The bubble of panic…" and "...smile I wish I could keep in my pocket."
You have a nice easy way of writing with interesting POV.
I haven't seen a kidnapping victim before as a MC - nice choice and keeps me wanting to read more.
Good job!

The blog idea is interesting, yet might complicate things for you the writer - I'd be interested in seeing how you pull it off without tipping off others.
AA

MVB said...

Hi KSA,
I thought your query was very good. Your premise is very interesting and full of ideas. In the query Zoey has a life coach who's written a book about her, a kidnapper who's meant to be dead but is still stalking her, 2 soon to be dead friends and a missing girl. Given all that material and those ideas, I was a little disappointed when your pages opened with the first day of High School and a romantic interest. In your query, the launching of Life Coach's book sounded like the inciting incident. I think I was expecting you to start with that...

Martha Mayberry said...

I love the premise of this!

I have one suggestion in your query. You repeat when in your third paragraph. You could fix that by taking out the second one, putting a period after fears, and starting a new sentence with The kidnapper...

I really love your last line, the smile she wishes she could keep in her pocket. Bittersweet. Perfect.

All the best!

HLDavis said...

This is a great premise and truly scary as the kidnapper comes back for her! I hope you don't mind but I have quite a few ideas for streamlining the query and so I am pasting a revised version here--just suggestions. I think the first 250 is good, but starting with the first day of school is not particularly fresh. There may be a more unique place you can start.

Ideas for Query:

Fifteen-year-old Zoey can’t put herself back together after her kidnapping two years ago. Daily panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and trying to push down the memories leave (should be leave instead of leaves) her exhausted.

Now her life coach has published a book detailing the nightmare. Thrust back into the national spotlight, a fragile Zoey gets a phone call from a man who calls (can you use something different than call? already used that) her his “sweet girl.” The kidnapper’s found her, even though she’s moved three thousand miles away. Too bad no one believes her, especially the cops who think he’s dead. (whoah, really scary--this is all good)

After two friends turn up dead, the kidnapper texts Zoey that the murders are surprises for her. Worried that anyone close to her could be a target, she pushes friends and relatives away. But that doesn’t stop the disappearance of a neighbor girl who looks eerily like Zoey.

When the kidnapper contacts her with a proposition that could save the missing girl, Zoey scrambles to follow the clues he leaves on her blog, knowing she can’t let him shatter another girl. Even if it means coming face to face with a monster. Even if it means she’s walking straight into his trap.

Good luck with this! It sounds like a real page turner!!

Heather said...

Your writing is so lovely. I especially like the last line of your sample and the idea of the smile she wishes she could keep in her pocket.

Laura Moe said...

I want to read this book.


The only thing your query lacks is something about you as a writer. Even if you have not published, your deeds or other qualifying information are important. Why are YOU the one to write this book?

Best of luck.

Sara said...

I think your query is well written and does a good job of building the tension and setting the stakes. In your excerpt, you do an amazing job of setting up the scene and making the reader attach to the character. I'd definitely want to read more. Nicely done!

SA said...

Very interesting concept! If I were an agent, I'd probably request it based on the book-deal part alone-- seeing how she'd react to that kind of intrusion would be very interesting. And then you bring the kidnapper back... Love it. And the way you brought in the title at the end-- brilliant.

As for the pages-- starting off on the first day of school is quite common, but seeing it through Zoey's eyes gives us an entirely different experience, and it works well.

Mike M said...

Love the concept. Turned off by the writing. Your second sentence in your words is split by a weird comma. It might be intentional, but I couldn't get past it.

Jo said...

Oh my goodness, I am HOOKED! You have so many intriguing twists and turns going on: post-traumatic disorder from kidnapping, a book that intrudes on her privacy, a reconnection with the man who kidnapped her, deaths, and a girl who eerily resembles her. You clearly show what's at stake, and I'm on the edge of my seat just from reading this query.

Perfect genre--dark contemporary YA.

Please get an agent ASAP.

Secret Agent said...

Query:

Immediately, I’m hooked, but I have an issue. Zoey is a minor. She’s been through a horrifying incident and the person who did this to her hasn’t been caught. What the heck is her life coach doing publishing a book about her? Is that even legal? My guess is probably not. I need to know details here. Is the life coach a horrid glory-hog who doesn’t have a problem selling her out and facing possible legal implications for a shot at fame and fortune? Did Zoey’s parents ok this book for some reason? A cut of royalties? Duped by the life coach into believing it will help their daughter move on? Did her life coach use a pseudonym for Zoey but the press figured out anyways? And the media attention is probably a pretty tricky line to walk here, too, because of Zoey’s age. I want to know in the query that you’ve addressed some of these issues in the book. I don’t need all of the answers, but a little explanation on how a traumatized minor who’s kidnapper is still on the loose ends up in the media would be helpful.

I love the creepiness of this unidentified kidnapper following her into her new life. It is utterly terrifying. It’s great that she has to find strength within herself to face her kidnapper to save someone else.

Also, this might be a personal issue, but 15 feels a little young for a plot with this level of intensity. I would feel better if she was 17. Again, that may just be my own personal bias.

Feel free to add any personal antidotes, writing credentials, writing awards, SCBWI membership, etc. to your last paragraph in your query.

Pages:

I really appreciate that you put the reader inside Zoey’s skin. That we feel everything she’s feeling in that panic stricken moment.

Thank you for the opportunity to read your work.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I do address the issue of the book (her mom gave the life coach permission because she thought it would help Zoey heal) but didn't put that in the query. I did add it back in with a revision. Thanks again.

Joseph Miller said...

Wow, powerful query and pages. Well done, you do an excellent job of drawing readers into Zoey's intense world.

Best Wishes,
Joseph

Heather Ezell said...

I'm so intrigued by your query and opening pages! So compelling.

Your query does a fabulous job of setting the intensity and initiating the reader to ask big questions (what really happened, who, how, etc). I am, however, totally thrown off by the psychologist publishing a book on fifteen-year-old Zoey's trauma. I can't buy this piece unless you give me some form of an explanation.

I'm also wanting just another small piece of info on the mentioned blog. Someone with Zoey's anxiety, who is trying to forget, well, I don't quite understand why she'd have a blog.

That said, even with those two blockers, I was totally into this and hurried to the actual pages--and your pages are rock. I'd keep reading. You do an incredible job of thrusting the reader into Zoey's skin, into that panic. My one beef was the crash run in with the pretty-smiling boy. I'm all about pretty-smiling boys but it does make me wonder if this is going to head into a predictable direction. Something to think about.

Regardless, I'd keep reading. This is definitely a book I'd devour quickly.