Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Brent Taylor:

Emmaleen is the only thing standing--literally--between the Empress and a rebel assassin. She's only a girl, but her Tremanat Talents, magical abilities she was born with, give her an advantage. The Empress saved Emmaleen's life three years earlier, and Emmaleen is glad to repay the favor.

Then Tristan, the foiled assassin, enters the Palace Tremanat School undercover to discover Emmaleen's weaknesses. Rebel command gave him three weeks to finish his assignment, but he's convinced he can persuade Emmaleen to come back with him.

With the latest attempt on the Empress's life, Emmaleen uses her position in the palace to insert herself into the escalating events of the conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion. She learns to question her own loyalty to the Empress as her relationship with Tristan develops. Then she discovers Tristan's true identity and has to choose between the Empress she’s come to love as a mother and her own waking conscience.

PREDICAMENT is a YA Fantasy and is complete at 87,000 words. It is a stand-alone novel with sequel potential. PREDICAMENT will appeal to audiences who enjoyed EON and EONA and CINDER and the Lunar Chronicles.

As per contest guidelines, I am including the first 250 words in this entry.

I have been attending SCBWI conferences for the last four years. I have completed two YA novels and a picture book, and I have three other novels in various stages of writing. I feel my BS in zoology helps with world building and accuracy in my sci-fi/fantasy worlds.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
S.P.


PREDICAMENT

Emmaleen leaned back against the marble wall of the hotel behind her. From her spot in the side yard, Emmaleen could see both the mountains she’d just crossed and the plains in the distance. Near the river a city glistened in the twilight, a sparkling gem of hope.

Emmaleen shifted her mug of tamak to one hand. Her free fingers sought out the rumpled parchment in her pocket and wrapped themselves gingerly around it. She didn't dare pull it out into the stiff breeze, but she didn't need to look at it to know what it said.

Tremanats!

The Extermination Order is rescinded, by order of the Empress!

Fear for your lives no more!

Report to the Empress's Palace in Heissa or to your local Enforcement Squad Commander and volunteer to work for Her Majesty's government.

Receive payment in official pay notes.

Aunt Renee said it was too good to be true, and they had yet to meet an Enforcement Officer who was inclined to follow the new edict, but Emmaleen dared to hope.

Emmaleen jerked her head up at the crunch of grass. Someone was coming. Then she heard voices coming around the side of the building. The fingers holding her mug trembled.

"Have you ever had to kill a Tremanat?" Now she could make out their words. Two shadows flowed across the grass, and Emmaleen’s breath caught in her chest.

"A few." The second voice was deeper, bolder, with a cockiness to it that made Emmaleen shudder.

"Is it hard?"

6 comments:

Torsha Baker said...

This is an interesting concept and one I'd like to read more on. If I can offer a little constructive criticism, I would say choose a different opening line. Your first line should be strong and enticing. Maybe some inner thought on how she feels about the Empress's proclamation. Good luck! :)

J.S. said...

Ooh! I like this one! The concept really intrigues me. Your first sentence could use some rewording, maybe take out literally. I was a little confused when I first read it. Also, could you specify what her magical abilities are? Other than that, your query was good. For the first 250, what is tamak? I would like to be a little more familiar with the world before you start throwing unknown terms at me. Your writing drew me in and the promise of action left me wanting more. Good job and good luck!

L. Ditton said...

Your first page makes me want to read more. I'm interested in the girl and her abilities already. And your zoology comment makes me hopeful the story will include animals.

In your query, I originally thought the girl was perhaps twelve, until I read about Tristan. Would it be helpful to state her age in the first paragraph of the query?

Good luck!

Spring Paul said...

Thank you so much, guys! You're right, Emmaleen is fifteen, but my word choice (especially "only a girl") makes her seem much younger. I'll definitely work on that first line. Thanks!

Lm Hersch said...

So, your query... The first line sounds really interesting... your book starts immediately in danger! Then... you drop it with backstory and you don't even conclude the stand off. What happened? Reading the second paragraph suggest the assassin didn't kill the Empress, but you leave that part hanging.

At this point, a prospective agent is not going to care that three years ago anyone did anything IF YOU OPEN WITH AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN PROGRESS.

Never ever ever ever use the word "then" in a query. It suggests you're listing plot points. It's a no go.

Okay... if this underground secret assassination group is so ruthless that they assassinate the rulers of their own country - WHY not assassinate the girl? Why would a grown man, a killer no less, go in disguise and try to learn 'weaknesses' of a girl. Why wouldn't he just sneak into the girl's bathroom and stab her while she's busy?

Just wait - is this girl in school or the palace? What IS she? A noble? Just a girl with cool powers? I can't imagine a "girl" could insert herself into any political arena and be taken seriously. How old is she? When I read "girl" I think prepubescent.

Just wait now, what rebellion!!?!? Just wait, Emmaleen has a relationship with Tristan? Since when? You explained that he thought he might be able to "convince her to come back with him." Back WHERE? Is he part of the rebellion? WHAT is the rebellion? WHY does it matter?

WHY does she question her loyalty to the Empress. WHAT happens to question her faith? What about her "waking conscience" is at risk? What is her "waking conscience?" Her doubt in the Empress? Her switching sides to the rebellion?

There are a LOT of questions this query raised, but I have no real feel for what's at stake, or what the characters actually want. Despite all the plot points you mention, I couldn't tell you what this book is about.

As for your biography, do not include anything you have written that has not been published. I may have written over a hundred books but if none of them were published, it does not come off as impressive. I also wouldn't say "I feel" - either something helps or it doesn't. Don't make excuses - using "I feel" insinuates that you feel too boastful or you're not confident. You're writing a query! This is YOUR arena. Say, "I received my BS in zoology from (where), which I have used to bring accuracy to my world building."

I hope this helps!

Brent Taylor said...

The plot here was easy to follow and you were very clear about the characters' intentions and goals, so nice job! I don't know that I would have continued reading, however, because something about it felt stagnant. I would try to incorporate more voice into the query; with YA fantasy, there's usually so much material for culture and world-building and voice and I like to see those things portrayed in the query. It shows that you really have a handle on your craft.