Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Ms. Jeglinski,

Following the death of her father, shy, bi-racial eleven-year old Wren doesn't know where she belongs. Her mother spends most of her time locked in her healer's hut, hardly noticing her daughter. This leaves Wren to fend for herself in their little town of Edgeton, the only human settlement in the Never Never, a land where mythical creatures like the Irish Sìdhe and the Cherokee Nunnehi live together in less than perfect harmony.

When Wren is kidnapped and locked in a tower woven of living trees, she learns that a Sìdhe girl, Finola has taken her place in Edgeton. The dangerous and cunning Finola intends to gain access to Wren’s mother’s work and start a war with the Nunnehi, Wren’s mother’s people. The Queen of the Sìdhe comes to Wren with an offer. She will help Wren escape, but Wren has to find a way to stop Finola from destroying the delicate peace of the Never Never. In order to win this battle, Wren must learn to control the wild cords of magic hidden within her, all the while knowing magic is prohibited by her mother and her town.

Complete at 70,000 words, STRANGE KIN is a middle grade fantasy with series potential that explores folklore from all over the world. I’ve included the first 250 words of the manuscript, per contest guidelines.

After completing my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, I graduated from the University of Memphis in 2012 with a MFA in Creative Writing. I am a member of SCBWI, and I am hard at work on my next manuscript. While I am currently teaching English in South Korea, I will be returning to the U.S. in early October.

Thank you for your consideration.



Wren was not pleased with the bargain she had made for herself. She should have been happy to be outside instead of tied to her desk and her studies. She should have been excited to be kicking her way through last fall’s leaves, swinging a bucket and whacking the ground with a broom. But her mother had made certain sure that Wren’s punishment would be nothing like fun. If Wren had been able to control her temper, she would have been studying for her test on edible plants rather than making her way through the woods with an impossibly long list of chores. She swiped at a tree trunk, using the broom as a sword. Her mother was intent on punishing her, and no one, not her mother, not her teacher, not even the head of school, had listened when she had told them that it hadn’t been her fault.

The first item on her list of chores was cleaning the tree house. She couldn't really even call it a tree house. The little shack perched on a steep hill was surrounded by trees, but it wasn’t in one. There was no rope ladder, no limbs to climb onto, nothing to keep anyone out of her space except a door with rusty hinges. The door squealed when she pushed it open. Wren shivered as she set down her bucket. Cooler inside than it was outside, something about this room always made her skin crawl. Wren grimaced at the cobwebs hanging around the single, grimy window and fervently wished she hadn’t lost her temper at school.


Nicole said...

I love the idea of weaving folklore into a novel. The descriptions in the opening 250 do a nice job setting the scene.

I also like the image of "wild cords of magic" within Wren. If this is something she only discovers through the course of the novel, I think that's worth noting; if the magic has always been a part of her (and her mother's) identity, perhaps this can be alluded to earlier on in the query.

Patrick said...

Your story sounds really cool. I think we get a good sense of Wren's voice in the pages too.

I think there may be a few too many subplots in the query. I had a hard time figuring out which one was the core of the story. Is it the war or the struggle with Wren's magic?

I'm almost sure that this is a formatting thing, but I think your opening needs to be broken into a bunch more paragraphs.

Hope this helps!

Ann Noser said...

Good voice and tone in the first 250 words.

Although it may be important to the book, and most agents say they're looking for diversity, I found the "shy, bi-racial" adjectives distracting in the first sentence. Also, I think the reader gets the idea when later you mention both Irish and Cherokee, so it may not be needed.

Otherwise, I enjoyed reading this. Good luck!

Kara said...

I really like the voice in your sample. You get a good sense of Wren and her mother right off the bat, and set the tone really nicely. I particularly loved that she is hitting the tree trunk like her broom is a sword. Great touch for an MG character.

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

The query lags energy, mostly because there is too much information presented--the dreaded "synopsis" syndrome we have seen here so many times (I'm among the guilty). In the first paragraph, too many character, etc are introduced. Keep the focus on Wren. Give us the hook.
The second paragraph only becomes more sysnopsis-like. It's hard for an agent (or anyone else) to be hit with all these characters, etc so quickly. Stick to what means the most to the story, which is Wren.
SAMPLE: It gets off to a slow start with too many details. I would cut everything up to here, then use this as your opening line (and it's a good one): "If Wren had been able to control her temper, she would have been studying for her test on edible plants rather than making her way through the woods with an impossibly long list of chores."
Tighten more beyond that. For example "The first item on her list of chores was cleaning the tree house." becomes “The first chore was cleaning the treehouse.”
Best of luck,
Spike (Key to Okenwode guy)

TS Liard said...

I agree with Ms. Noser about the shy bi-racial part in the beginning. There is too much info going on for me in the first sentence I had to read through it a couple of times to make sure I got it all.

Maybe stating the death of her father leaves Wren not knowing where she belongs. Maybe add another sentence after that about how her shyness and being bi-racial adds to that. or does it? I am reading from the first paragraph that being bi-racial does add to this so give me a little something on why.

For the first 250 is there a way in the first paragraph to show some of the action going on? Maybe through dialogue or internal thoughts?

Overall, very good query. It's very interesting. Good luck to you.

Melissa Jeglinski said...

Query: It's just too long and complicated for me to get a sense of what's really going on. Don't bury your main conflict with subplots and secondary characters. I also feel it's about 10K too long for MY personal taste for an MG novel.

Page: Your chapters are too dense for the reader, any reader. You need to do some self editing. Honestly, I'd see these dense paragraphs and not even read them. So please fix because you have a way with words.

Overall: The plot didn't intrigue ME personally but I can see the appeal. But work on making sure the project and writing is appropriate for the market.