Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #12

Ms. Nelson,

16-yr-old Travis wants to get married. Alas, there aren't enough lasses to go around. 

Stupid genetic apocalypse.

To satisfy his nuptial needs, Travis enters the Husband Trials. Within three years he must prove himself worthy of the object of his affection and then get busy repopulating the earth. Unfortunately 500 other lads have similar plans for Wendy.

Despite rigid tournament rules, high-ranking "Alpha" suitors are enforcing some of their own. Those lads they see as threats are neutralized in "shaving accidents" or "random toilet viper attacks".

If the Alphas discover Travis was Wendy's best friend growing up, they'll kill him. But if she never learns Travis is there, he's just another faceless contestant. With no athletic ability. Or experience in hand to hand combat.

His only chance is to make it into the top twenty, earn a private dinner with Wendy, and warn her not to give away their history. No big deal. He'll only have to beat 480 genetically improved sixteen-year-olds in dozens of deadly challenges. While hiding from the girl he loves.

Good thing he's got inside help.

At 92K words, GROOMED is a YA sci-fi with series potential. (The Selection meets Red Rising without the gore.) My previous publications include An Uncommon Blue (YA Fantasy- Cedar Fort 2014) and a series of comedy sketches by Pioneer Drama (2009). I read in a recent interview that you're a fan of Blake Snyder. I used his Save the Cat outline to write Groomed. He's awesome!



Mr. Candace was three hundred years older than his wife but he certainly didn't act it. When he learned he'd be required to attend his son's childhood graduation he made such a fuss that all of Travis's younger brothers came into the kitchen to watch. 

"I don't have time for this!" he shouted. "I'll miss my shows."

Eventually the tantrum wound down and Mr. Candace retired to his room to change into his tuxedo. The nine younger boys wandered back to their telegame and Travis, who'd been dressed and hairsprayed since three o'clock, followed his mother into the entryway. 

Travis couldn't keep from grinning. This time tomorrow, he'd be at the bachelor colony. Nonstop telegames and pastries. No creamed carrots. No little brothers using his toothbrush. No snide remarks from Da about his weak chin and red hair. 

Those would be the first things Travis would change when he transferred into his clone. Hair color, chin/jaw prominence, and areola size. Although it would be a few more decades before he had to select his genetic improvements, he kept a running list. When he entered the husband trials, he would be as tidy as any father. And if anyone called him nipplits he'd tear off his own shirt right there and show them how grand and symmetrical his nipples were.

"That smile makes me nervous," Candace said. "Have you fallen in love?"

Travis made a face. "That's balmy. I'm barely sixteen."

Candace straightened his collar. "I wouldn't mind if you had a weensy crush. Wendy, perhaps?"


Leslie S. Rose said...

I laughed out loud at your lead line. Your voice drew me right in. This beginning made me super curious to traipse deeper into this world.

Laura Moe said...

This is delightful. Such an original premise, and yes, I, too laughed out loud. I loved it. This will appeal to non Sci fi readers because of the humor. Puts me in the mind of The Hithiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Ranee` said...

Your query drew me right in from the first line! I was immediately trying to figure out why a 16 year old would have a drive to get married. You did such a good job of explaining in the bits and pieces as you should while still keeping me enthralled. Great!

KEM said...

I agree with the other comments that the first line in your query made me want to read more. The concept is humorous and unusual. You set the stakes very well.

Your 250 words did a great job introducing Travis.


Unknown said...

Wonderful query. Simply wonderful.

On the 250 words, I got hung up on Da's first comments (which I condense here), "I don't have time for this. I'll miss my shows." This feels a tad generic. What exactly does Da do when he hears he has to go? What show is so important to him (another chance for your sense of humor to shine, inventing a name)? What wonderful, funny, idiotic thing are the little brothers hoping Da will do? I think with something more specific right here, you'd add even more punch.

The humor you put into your writing is wonderful. I can see this going over very well indeed.

Unknown said...

Debbie, I really appreciate your suggestions. I'm excited to add a few lines to make the beginning more engaging. Very helpful!!

Unknown said...

Love the humor.

Only problem I had with the query--you say in the first sentence there "aren't enough lasses to go around." Then, you have the line "Unfortunately 500 other lads have similar plans for Wendy." I thought you might want to briefly state who Wendy is (it didn't take me long to figure it out--just a little jarring at first).

And i thought MAYBE start the action of the story with Travis since he's the main character--but gotta say i also love that first line. Decisions, decisions.

Good job, overall.

Katherine T. said...

I really love your query! You have an original premise and a great sense of humor. Your voice really comes across in the query. I don't have anything to suggest there.

But for your first 250 words: I suggest starting with either the bachelor colony or the clone. Those both seem like the really interesting parts of your story--the place where I go, "oh, this is cool." So I think either of them would make a better opening.

I really enjoyed the humor in your opening too! You've got a winning story here.

I'm also the poster of NPC (#14). I was really intrigued by your offer to CP. However, I recently joined an online writer's group and ended up with 4 critique partners, so I'm just too swamped to read with someone else too. But it looks like your book doesn't need much polishing, it seems great already!

Unknown said...

Thanks for letting me know. Look me up if your other CPs don't work out. 😜

Patricia Nelson said...

This is a great query (with very effective personalization!) but alas, it falls victim to the dystopian issue. As I mentioned in my response to entry #11, post-HUNGER GAMES/DIVERGENT ( and THE SELECTION, too), publishers significantly overbought YA dystopian, much of which did poorly... and as a result this kind of story is very tough to sell in the current market. So, while this does sound like a fun twist on the genre, anything YA dystopian is nearly impossible with the big houses right now - which means that despite the strong writing, I'm not confident I could place this, and would have to pass.

Anonymous said...

Nice opening line :-)