Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Ms. Jeglinksi:

I seek representation for my young adult science fiction novel, WHERE THERE WERE DESERTS, I SAW FOUNTAINS, complete at 91,000 words.

Joni Margulis and her best friend Kelly Grebe don’t know where in the world they are. Or even which world.

Three days ago, the pair snuck into her parents’ lab and, after fiddling with some suspicious equipment, discovered something astounding: namely, that their world is but one of many, extending in bubbles all around them.  Not even Joni’s parents know this, but they will in the future, because somehow Joni’s dad sent the girls a transmission across time. And his advice was to run.

Joni and Kelly soon find themselves chased through several of these worlds. They steal cars in a futuristic, gang-infested underground city, repel invaders in a tiny medieval-like kingdom, and duck gunfire at a chilidog stand on the Sunset Strip. They meet assassins and spies, earls and innkeepers, many of whom believe that Joni is the latest of the Josephines, extraordinary young women who have repeatedly changed the course of history. Joni must decide if she believes this too, and how much she is willing to sacrifice for these newly found worlds.

Where There Were Deserts, I Saw Fountains has the cohesive worldbuilding and gripping adventures that SF and fantasy fans expect, but will attract non-genre readers with its strong, engaging characters. Add in a bit of romance, a little mystery, some Japanese folklore set in center city Philadelphia, and a few Vikings (or at least their descendants) and this is a book that will appeal to a diverse audience.

After reading your various interviews, I was really drawn to the care that you put into your agent-client relationships. I want an agent for the long haul, someone who will be there because she has a passion for my work and my potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
W.W.


WHERE THERE WERE DESERTS, I SAW FOUNTAINS

It was a beautiful spring afternoon in Philadelphia and a crowd had gathered along the Schuylkill River to look for monsters. Joni Margulis climbed over the art museum hill, saw the spectators spread out on the grass, and gritted her teeth.

“Idiots,” she told her dog Bramble. “They’re such idiots. And they’re in the middle of your spot. Well, that’s their problem.”

She tugged on Bramble’s leash and together they jogged down to the grass by the old water works. They set up on the grass behind the crowd, which was mostly near the river’s edge. Bramble ran out twenty meters in front of her and plopped on the grass, staring at Joni. Joni loaded up her tennis ball launcher and reared her arm back for the throw.

“Ow!” yelled a voice behind her.

“I’m so sorry,” Joni spun around. “I didn’t see you there.”

A young man was rubbing his head where she had struck him. Joni pegged him at a couple of years older than her, maybe seventeen or eighteen. Good looking, but smiled like he didn’t know that. He was tall and thin, with light brown skin and dark brown hair down to his shirt collar. He pocketed his cell phone.

“It’s all right,” he said, with a faint accent that Joni couldn’t recognize. “I should have been watching where I was going.”

“Yes, you should have. But I probably shouldn’t have hit you with my atlatl.”

“Your what?”

“My atlatl. Isn’t it awesome?”

8 comments:

Nicole said...

I like the idea of painting a detailed portrait of your potential audience, but wonder about the lack of concrete comp titles (toward end of the query). Could you cite a few other novels or authors that share some (not necessarily all!) of the elements that make your manuscript strong? I'm one of those "non-genre" readers you're mentioning and would love to see the title of something that feels closer to my comfort zone to entice me!

Good luck with your manuscript!

Ann Noser said...

Great query. Nice tension.

Loved this part: "And his advice was to run."

I think I need your ball-throwing device for my dog. :)

Laura Moe said...


Great query. I'm not a sci if reader, but I know teenagers would engage with this. ( I'm a recently retired HS librarian.)
You have a. Way with dialogue. Nice work.
Good luck.
Laura

Kara said...

I think the idea of the Josephines is pretty cool, and I think it could be expanded in the query. "How much she is willing to sacrifice" seems like very vague stakes to me. Maybe there is something about the Josephines that is risky? I would take out the list of different worlds she goes to in order to make room to expand the stakes. It's much more important in a query than the list of cool things in your novel. (and they are undoubtedly cool!)

alienor33 said...

There are a lot of interesting things happening in your story and it's probably a good idea to mention as many of them as you can in a short paragraph. Where I'm less sure it's a good idea is that you tell the agent how interesting and appealing your characters are and which readers are going to be attracted by your writing. I think that's for the agent to decide. Maybe a case of show not tell.

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

First, this is a great title. It hints at so much, and reminds me of a Ray Bradbury title.
Now on to the query. You have a missing word in the opening sentence. It should read "I am seeking representation..."
The query part lacks punch. Nothing really hooked me, but it did get interesting in the second paragraph.
In the bio, you should avoid telling us about the book, who it will attract, etc. Agents don't like this, and it will get you rejected. Let them decide for themselves based on the query and any other material you send them.
Best of luck,
Spike (aka M.P.)

Melissa Jeglinski said...

Query: I think this could use some trimming; I'd rather know more about your protagonists. And the paragraph where you just throw in everything leads me to believe the story isn't focused. Also, avoid telling me who this would appeal to; let me decide.

Page: I was a little confused by this opening; a little all over the place. But good use of dialogue.

Overall: While I'm still a little fuzzy about what the real conflict is, I think the set up is intriguing and you have a nice way with words.

TC said...

I really like the premise of this but the query was a little top-heavy. Too much lead in and not enough about what the stakes are (Who is chasing them? What sacrifices is Joni thinking about making? Why does she need to even make a sacrifice in the first place?).

Liked your 250--solid writing and I was starting to get a feel for the MC already. I liked the way your first sentence is a mash-up of an ordinary spring day with the strange (looking for monsters). I'd keep reading.

P.S. LOVE the title. Very unique!