Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Mr. Taylor:

I am seeking representation for Three Drops of Magic, my 21,000 word, middle grade fantasy, and would appreciate your consideration.

Lucy Rose Hay is an orphan. Or is she? It's true that she lives at the Ayrshire Orphanage for boys and girls. It's true that her mother is deceased. It's true that in eleven years, no one has inquired after her. But the slim folder that contains Lucy's records holds one blank page: her father's. And Lucy is certain that he lives.

One extraordinary evening, Lucy meets a fairy child who promises to share knowledge of her father in exchange for silver coins. What follows is a tale of magic, mischief, and adventure as Lucy, with the unwitting help of a boy named Miles, travels to a fantastical land where the histories of all mortals are guarded in the Timekeeper's palace. But the fairy child soon vanishes, and Lucy and Miles find themselves alone in a world both astonishing and perilous.

I am a graduate of Washington State University and this is my second completed middle grade novel.

Thank you for your time.



That August evening, when she first saw the fairy, she was crouched beneath the parlor window, oblivious to the bramble thorns scratching her legs, and the darkening sky that would likely bring rain. Peering in through the rippled glass, Lucy's blue eyes widened in astonishment.

More than once she had suspected an intruder in the crumbling stone manor. Her manor, where she had a mother and a father, and occasionally a sister or a brother, but mostly she was a beloved only child. She knew that squirrels sometimes found their way inside, but it seemed to her unlikely that a squirrel could carry her cracked teacup across the room. Or toss her arrangement of violets into the fireplace. She had been prepared to find Miles, or perhaps another child.

But not a fairy. 

Lucy had never imagined a fairy.

She shifted her weight carefully and raised her fist to rub away more dirt.

The fairy child--at least she thought it was a child--stood by the fireplace, still as a statue, one arm draped in the air. She looked absolutely nothing like the beautiful creatures in story books; story book fairies were small and lovely and kind. This fairy had pointed ears and tufts of wispy hair that stuck out from a nearly bald head. Her feet were absurdly long. Her wings, while delicate and brilliantly colored, hung awkwardly between her thin shoulders, and her mouth was set in a grimace, as if she'd eaten a particularly disagreeable supper.



This sounds like quite an adventure and one I'd definitely pick up off the shelf! The word count is a little short for MG though, with a normal range of 30,000-50,000 words. The only other thing I found myself wanting more of was specific details in your query. The idea of mortals' histories being guarded in a palace by a Timekeeper is really unique, but I want more vivid descriptions of the fantastical land and the specifics of their adventure (magic, mischief, and adventure is a little vague). Great start though - good luck!!

Spring Paul said...

I really like your first 250. I can picture the manor house and the prickly bushes outside the window as Lucy watches the fairy inside. Your descriptions are fantastic, especially the bit about how different the fairy is from what everyone expects. I think it's a really strong start.

I had the same comment about word count that has already been mentioned.

I was thrown off a little because she's an orphan in the query, but in the first 250 she's a beloved only child. I'm sure there's an explanation, if we read the book further.

Overall, I'd be interested to read it. Good job!

C.E. said...

I love the voice you've established both in your query and your first 250, it suits the genre really well! Like Hilary said, 21,000 is a little short for MG, so some extra length couldn't hurt. This is a little nit-picky but I the phrase "Lucy is certain he lives" stuck out to me, it might be better to go with "Lucy is certain he is alive." I'm also a little curious about the time period the novel takes place in, is it present day? Past? The phrase "disagreeable supper" in the first 250 made me thing it was early 1900's, it might be good to mention this in your query or find a way to weave it in somehow. Your writing is really lovely though, and I look forward to reading this when it's published!
Good Luck!

L. Ditton said...

Thank you for the kind comments and helpful suggestions!

Brent Taylor said...

21,000 words is on the super-short side for middle grade fantasy, so that's one piece that disengages me as a reader. Although you've done a great job incorporating voice into the query letter, I'm not getting a clear sense of the stakes.