Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Melissa Jeglinski,

I am looking for representation for a fantasy series of which I am working on the second volume. Angelhaven is a follow on series from The Green Woman which I finished self-publishing this summer after retrieving my rights from Musa Publishing. Angelhaven (70,000 words) picks up the stories of the main characters of The Green Woman three years into their utopian dream. Which is beginning to turn just a little sour.

This is a YA/crossover series. There is no ‘adult’ content, gratuitous gore or sex, so although the main characters are in their late teens/early twenties, the story is completely accessible to teenage readers. It is a story of a utopia, a place where myth and fantasy play a part, and a love story for some of the characters, who still have to find themselves in a new world where the old laws of brute force and obedience no longer hold sway.

After the grim dystopia of Providence, the people liberated from the tyranny of the Elders have begun to build a new life in the Garden. The magic that created the Garden is fading as they take their destinies in hand. But a wind of change is blowing through the idyll. Two winds. A strange, soft wind from out the west brings a hint of summer to the end of the hard winter, and the whispered promise of better things to come from an unknown golden man. At the same time, a black wind howls down from the barbarian fort in the mountain pass promising bloodshed and death.

The love that built Angelhaven is faltering and the wild Scyldings will wield the axe that puts it to the test.

You can see The Green Woman books and read a short bio on my Amazon author page here:

[redacted]

As well as Angelhaven I am also querying a YA apocalyptic (not post-apocalyptic) two part story set in a crumbling shopping mall at the end of the world.

Thank you for accepting to read my submission.

J.D.


ANGELHAVEN

Prologue

Scyld stood on the edge of the rocky outcrop and looked down from the mountain, over the treetops and the river Wildbach. He held a hand over his eyes to shield them from the glare of the sun. In the other hand he held an axe, its head resting on the ground at his feet. He noted the plumes of white smoke that the breeze caught and dispersed, and he scowled.

The wind veered briefly round to the west bringing with it the spring smells of damp earth and pinewoods. Scyld wrinkled his nose. He could not quite smell the fires in the hearths, the cattle in the pastures, the food cooking and the thousand other smells that meant settlement. But he knew it was there. Beyond the river Wildbach, beyond the forest of beech and oak it was there, the outlanders’ village.

The man frowned, drawing shaggy brows together. His fingers tightened around the haft of the axe, not in fear but in anger. Scyld was not the chief of his people for nothing. He knew where the outlanders came from, knew what it meant. While the Scyldings had fought to survive the terror unleashed by the furious gods, famine, cold, and man-eating demons spawned by the endless night, others had had an easier time. The völva who sent him blood dreams and war visions had shown him.

In his dreams he had crossed the Wildbach, crossed the mountains beyond, to the Great River and the desolation of its further bank. He had seen the strange fort, the dome of steel and crystal that protected the lucky ones from the death and destruction around them. And now they had emerged. Like butterflies.

5 comments:

Ann Noser said...

Lots to like here.

This 250 ends with a lovely image, and the writing thus far promises a story filled with lots of sights and sounds.

I like that the query is written with such carefully chosen words, it's as if you're painting a picture.

I hope things turn out well for you--the bit about retrieving the rights of the first book hints at some heartache and pain on your part as a writer.

Best of luck, Ann Noser

Patrick said...

I really like the sound of the world you've built here. I also love the idea of the winds and how they carry special significance.

If I had one major suggestion with your query, it would be to get a character in there. I get a small taste of your world but I have no idea who or what the story is about.

I also don't think you need to tell what the story is, aka utopia, love story. Show it in the query and in your pages.

Hope this helps.

Spike Taterman (M.P.) said...

I would've stopped reading in the first paragraph, due to the grammatical errors alone (which exist throughout the query). Aside from that, as an agent I don't want to hear pitches for a series; I only want to think about THIS book--nothing more. Mention the series potential after the query, and do so very briefly, if at all.
SECOND PARAGRAPH: All too general. don't describe the books attributes, "accessible", etc., just get to the story. Your job is to entice us to read the mss--that's it.
THIRD PARAGRAPH: Some clumsy constructions: you mention a "wind of change", then go on to describe what sounds like three winds.
CLOSING: only pitch one book at a time! Your other YA book has nothing to do with this one.
By the query's end, we have no hook, no main character--no characters at all.

But there is good news: the writing itself is not so bad! Although not a fan of prologues, I read this and it kept my interest. I'd suggest picking one single detail per sentence to set the tone. For example, instead of "could not quite smell the fires in the hearths, the cattle in the pastures, the food cooking and the thousand other smells that meant settlement" try "could not quite smell the fires in the hearths that meant settlement."
I strongly urge you to study the query form, and get an account on agentquery connect, where you can view some successful and not-so-successful examples (such as my own, sadly).
Writing the query is harder than writing the book, but keep at it. You do have some writing chops, but they need some serious woodshedding to work out the rough parts.
Good luck,
Spike (M.P. mine is entry #12 in case you want to lambast me :))

Laura Moe said...

Your query needs work. The negative tone put me off.
But your sample shows you are an accomplished writer.
I think writing a novel is easier than a query letter.
And yes, only pitch one project at a time.
Good luck to you.
Laura

Melissa Jeglinski said...

Query: I prefer to hear about one story at a time. Knowing they are connected to other books which you are self publishing doesn't work for me. If this is a totally stand alone story, yes. If the other books are necessary to any plot or world building, it's an auto pass for me, not always for others. But this query also starts out slow with too much explanation. I want to know about the plot immediately. Don't focus on what your story isn't; focus on what it is. And I will never click on a link to go see your previous work, please don't make an agent search for information. And don't mention other projects you are querying. I would stop with the query and not read any pages.

Pages: Personally, I am anti prologue because I'd rather be in the "now" than the "before." I just wasn't compelled to read beyond the first paragraph, sorry.