Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear Brent Taylor,

I am excited to present to you my debut novel Watcher. Watcher is a 72,000 word YA sci-fi fantasy book that is a mix of Terminator and the Clone Wars in a futuristic dystopian world.

10 years after the Bots and Carbons turned on what's left of humanity, there are a few still left fighting to keep what remains of the human race alive. Sawyer Russo is one of those people. She's the only female Watcher, and one of the best. Sawyer’s world is turned upside down when the Carbons start to pick them off one by one. Forced into a lockdown, she is asked to train the new guy Kenzie, but he may not be what he seems, and soon she realized everything she thought she knew and everyone she trusted may have all been a lie. It’s up to her to save what's left of humanity.

I am a debut author with a passion for young adult books. A Health and Wellness Coordinator by day, I spend the majority of my free time reading, writing, reviewing and seeing as many movies as humanly possible. This is my first novel, but I am active in social media through @watcherbook which has generated over 1000 followers in less than a month. I also write a book blog reviewing anything YA as well as sharing my own writing experience (watcherbook.wordpress.com).

Below I have provided the first 250 words of my novel.

Sincerely,
A.E.


WATCHER

I sit perched on the edge of a rooftop high above the boulevards below. The ruined city, once a place I called home, is now nothing more than a pile of rubble thanks to the Bots and Carbons roaming the streets. Buildings have been torn to pieces leaving gaping holes in those that still stand, uninhabited but for a few survivors. This is not a livable place, not the refuge I knew ten years ago, but it is my reality now. My eyes scan over the dark metropolis. Quiet and cold as it always is, but I know I am not alone.

I am invisible to those below me, but I see them. I see them all thanks to Adam. He was a scientist with a fascination for Robotics before the war broke out.

Once we managed to capture one of them, we took it apart and Adam went to work. He invented “The Eye,” a small glass lens worn over our right eye so we can see up to ten miles away. We can detect Bots and Carbons through The Eye because they light up bright green on the tiny lens. No matter how human-like the Carbons may look, they all have one flaw; a microchip at the base of their skull. They are carbon copies of us, hence the nickname, but despite their obvious human appearance, they are not of us. They are the deadliest foe mankind has ever known.

I see six Bots below me now.

11 comments:

Kristina Ruth said...

Can I just say that I envy anyone who can create a one paragraph blurb? I always read them and with I could do that. Moving on: I don't really have much of a critique on the blurb other than I kind of want to see Sawyer mentioned in the first sentence/hook. That may be personal preference so if no one else agrees you're likely fine.

Also, you probably don't have to mention you're a debut author. If you don't include any published works, they're just going to assume that anyways. It's not something that needs to be changed. I figured I'd point it out.

250: I'm wondering what the difference between Bots and Carbons are. Carbons are humanoid robots, but I'm curious about Bots. Are they the same thing? Knowing would make that last sentence, "I see Bots below me now", a bit more punchy and add tension.

Otherwise, loving the blurb in the query, 250 shows us the world, but I kind of wish we had a bit more of Sawyer's voice, but it is only 250 words so it's hard to cram everything in.

catherine eastman said...

I really like the opening paragraph to your manuscript. Ruins, destroyed buildings, dark, quiet and cold. I could immediately see it. I don't normally go for sci-fi stories, but I really liked the scene you have presented so far, and I'm intrigued enough to read more.

I think in the query, there is a grammar tense issue. "and soon she realized everything she thought she knew..." I think it should be 'realizes'. I am by no means an expert in grammar (so take it with a grain of salt), but it sounded funny reading it and kind of tripped up my flow. I had to stop and reread the sentence again.

Great job on what you have, though. Good luck!

Amy Eversley said...

Thanks for the feedback guys! I appreciate any tips and critiques I can get so I can become a better writer :D

Amy Eversley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.S. said...

I like your unique premise! In the query, could you specify what the Carbons are? I assume the Bots are robots, but at first I thought the Carbons were humans. (Your first 250 makes that much clearer, though). Also, the second to last sentence in the synopsis paragraph is a little long. I would break it up. I like how descriptive your first 250 was. It really pulled me into your world. Good job and good luck!

Amy Eversley said...

Thanks. I originally had (clones) after carbons and then thought to leave that out...I'll work on figuring out a better way to say that! And shorten or break up the long sentence. :) great advice.

Lm Hersch said...

Some great points - dude, kudos for doing a SHORT query.

That first paragraph should be moved to the middle - it's NOT your hook. I'd take out your first sentence "I'm excited to..." - the agent KNOWS your beyond elated to query. Simplify to "WATCHER is a 72,000 YA SFF novel..." but you need to find BOOK comparisons. NOT movies or TV shows. If you don't know any, read more. If you still can't find any, at least compare it to stories with similar voice/theme/conflict.

Now onto the second paragraph. (which should be the first).

Try to write everything in present voice. It makes the tension more immediate to say "The Bots and Carbons continue their relentless onslaught against humanity, but freedom fighters struggle to reclaim their right to live." I don't know, something like that. Also, it might be helpful to simply explain what the Bots and Carbons are. Are they two warring factions? Robots? What makes them against humanity? What makes them different?

I would be cautious about saying "only female." The direction of publishing is to stray away from these kinds of distinctions. Most societies that face violence daily have no problems with co-ed military/fighting forces (just look at Israel). This sounds more antiquated than making Sawyer sound like the bad ass that she most likely is.

I would HIGHLY suggest going through your manuscript and simply changing a few of your characters genders. Sawyer can still be unique and the most baddest bad ass there ever was... this doesn't mean other women must be included for this special designater. She might be the "toughest" or the "first leader" of the group.

I also have a difficult time figuring out what the conflict is. It's very cliched to say "everything she thought she knew" is wrong. WHY? HOW? WHY DOES IT MATTER? Is Sawyer's life built on apathetic, battle-hardened, mission-focused work? Does she get locked in with others and discovers the importance of emotion, love, feeling? Is Sawyer being back stabbed by everyone (or does she do the back stabbing to get to the top?) and has to realize the importance of trust? Can you see how these simple questions are more enticing than saying "well, here's the part where everything she thought she knew was wrong."

Just reading that paragraph leaves me unsure what the conflict of the book is. We need to know who Sawyer is. "Sawyer Russo is among the best Watchers, but what it took to get to that spot left a lot to be desired. Between battling the Bots and Carbons and ensuring she stays on top, Sawyer has little time to care about who she has needed to become. But when their squad gets pinned down by heavy enemy fire, Sawyer finds herself with time to dwell, and subordinates with beef of their own. As the lock down draws out, Sawyer must decide whether to open the well to her feelings or remain the tough soldier the world needs her to be."

I don't even know what your book is about, so sorry if I missed badly, but that says more about the character struggles a prospective agent will care about.

And this is a personal thing - but if your book is military-centric, PLEASE find someone with military experience to read it. Even post-end-of-the-world worlds will follow a very standard military structure. But this is a personal pet peeve for me ^^;

As another commentor said, DO NOT mention you are a debut author. The agent knows this. When you write your biography, think of what is enticing about your life that LEADS INTO your writing. Everyone watches movies. If you review these things, say that you are an actual blogger, and that's it. A lot of your bio is fluff and very repetitive. You're a blogger, and you've got a large following (no need to explain how quickly you got to 1000 followers). Mention your day job. Do you have a degree? Life experiences? Travel?

Amy Eversley said...

Thank you for the detailed response. I really appreciate all your advice and comments regarding the query as this is my first crack at it so I will take what you've mentioned and fine tune my query!! Thanks :)

Lm Hersch said...

NP :)

Brent Taylor said...

I'm going to be brutally honest: I would have stopped reading at the first paragraph. "Scifi fantasy set in a dystopian world" gives me a few impressions. This is a genre mashup, which is fine, but this description doesn't feel accurate to me. Reading the query, I would just call this scifi. Dystopian is completely dead in the water right now.

The tense issue also threw me off, and since there's a tense issue in the query, my instinct is that there are tense issues in the manuscript as well. Agents, especially younger agents, are usually willing to give their projects a lot of editorial care, but tense is such a big issue and gives the impression that the manuscript needs more work than an agent's time would be worth.

I did really like how concise this was, and it wasn't that confusing to me either. Nice job in those respects!

Amy Eversley said...

Thank you for your honesty Brent. I will make the adjustments needed to the query...this being my FIRST query ever I am all ears to making it better and better every time. Thanks