Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Melissa Jeglinski:

Instead of putting her telepathy and ability to see sound as color to good use, rebellious sixteen-year old Lottie would rather be listening to Sonic Youth. A mysterious group from a world called Karnock gave Lottie her powers, but she has never known why she was granted these abilities, nor has she known anyone with powers like hers.

That is, until she meets Charlie.

Charlie is a quirky bookseller who can manipulate light into tangible matter. After Lottie catches Charlie displaying his power, she coerces him to admit that he too, is aware of Karnock’s existence. For the first time, Lottie doesn't feel so alone with her abilities, and realizes that Charlie can help her understand more about Karnock. 

Lottie and Charlie journey to Karnock where they see how Earth’s climate change has affected Karnock’s population and landscape. The two worlds have a symbiotic relationship, linked through ecological disaster; for what happens on Earth is paralleled on Karnock.
With Karnock’s landscape in ruin, an enchantress named Theodora wants to reverse the ecological destruction on Karnock and obliterate Earth. Soon, Lottie and Charlie must flee from Theodora who is determined to kill Lottie before she can use her powers to stop the enchantress’s plans. 

On Earth, Lottie never had high expectations for herself, but she knows that with her abilities, a good dose of stubbornness, and maybe some assistance from Charlie, she can figure out how to defeat Theodora on Karnock before Earth is destroyed. 

TWICE AFFECTED is an 80,000 word YA light science fiction/fantasy novel with an environmental twist. The manuscript has elements of A WRINKLE IN TIME and ULTRAVIOLET, with a dash of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. 

I have included the first 250 words of the manuscript for your review. 

I worked on this manuscript at Simmons College as a project toward the completion of my Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children, which I received in May 2014. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 



Evelyn was always full of idle threats. I never thought she’d do it. I never thought my mother would actually follow through and dump me off here. 

I’d been at my great aunt's for two weeks, and was bored out of my mind. The day, like every other day before it, had been gloomy and humid, with a thick air of stillness about it. Now, at dusk, the most exciting thing that was happening was that I was precariously hanging out of a window. 

This wasn't my idea of a good time, but it was the only option that I’d had. 

Evelyn had threatened with shipping me away a hundred times before, if I didn't turn things right. It’s not like I wanted trouble, or that I went looking for it. But I sure as hell don’t back down when trouble finds me. 

It was the fight at school that landed me here, though it probably would have been something eventually to trigger Evelyn's decision to deploy me. 

When I slammed my fist into Jennifer’s jaw, the noise had resulted not in me seeing red, as the saying goes, but a dancing pattern of teal and lavender. 

Harold’s disembodied voice was loud in my head, and interrupted my thoughts:

--Lottie, you know that there are easier ways to break your neck. Are you trying to get caught?

I responded back:

--But I’m not trying to break my neck. I’m just trying to get out of here.


black cat said...

Couple comments:

In the query, it states that what happens on Earth also happens on the co-joined planet, so why would the Enchantress (I think it was the Enchantress, but now the comment screen took me away from the query and I can't double-check--sorry if I have that wrong) want to destroy the Earth? (I'm sure this is explained in the book, but it jumped out at me)

Liked the start of the 250 a lot (the voice is great), but got distracted by the intrusion of Harold. I wasn't sure where he came from, but I'm sure it would be explained in the next 250.

Laura Moe said...

Interesting that your ms crosses genre. I have not heard of "YA light sci fi." as a genre.

Since I am not a sci fi reader my comments will focus on your sample.
Tighten your opening sentences. Evelyn was always full of idle threats so I never thought She would actually follow through and dump me with my great aunt."

In your second paragraph, maybe just say each day blended into another...THEN give us the inciting incident.

Good luck to you.
Laura said...

In the query, I'd stick with just the telepathy and also make the whole thing a little shorter. Also, the Sonic Youth reference is dated and if the agent even knows them would make it seem fringe. I was just at a conference where three editors were were read the first 200 words of a few mss and when one ms talked about Bikini Kill, it just confused the editors (all of whom were in their late 20s).

Kara Reynolds said...

I agree with Waugh Wright on the Sonic Youth comment. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't seem to connect at all with the next sentence of the query. And as those are the first sentences, it's vital to get them perfect.

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

I stopped reading about halfway through, because the query reads like a synopsis. Not that that's bad--for a synopsis, but the purpose of a query is to entice, not to reveal everything in one condensed information dump. You need a hook, something at stake, and the reader needs to see it right away.
As for when you worked on the mss, I'd leave that out. But keep the degree.

I think the sample is much better, and the query doesn't do it justice. there is some tension there, with the mother's attitude. there are a few words you could lose here and there. Search for "that", and try and cut as many "thats" as possible. That is one of those words that you don't really need.
Good luck,
Spike (aka M.P.)

Nicole said...

The voice in your first paragraph is great -- there's nothing like a teenager calling their mother by her first name to tell a reader how they relate to each other!

I also really appreciate that the protagonist is a female MC getting into fights. This subverted my expectations in a really pleasant way.

CHadge said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone! It's always great to get constructive criticism since try as I might, I can't keep track of all the trends that are happening with querying and what agents are looking for, etc. etc.

Melissa Jeglinski said...

Query: I lost your premise and conflict in all the details--just too much information. Needs to be short and read less like a synopsis. It's either sci fi or it's fantasy. They are very different genres.

Page: I like the first line but then the story jumps all over the place.

Overall: There is something here. You manage to get a lot of characterization in a short while. I think this just needs fine tuning.