Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Ms. Nelson,

After reading your page on the Manuscript Wish List website, I was eager to see if my work might be a fit for you. I’m grateful Krista’s contest presents an opportunity to connect.

I offer PINK GUITARS AND FALLING STARS; a YA contemporary RAPUNZEL meets ROMEO AND JULIET mash-up from the prince’s point of view set against the backdrop of the music industry.

In fair Hollywood where we set our scene, sixteen-year-old indie musician, Justin MacKenzie, is determined to kick it to the top of Rampion Records’ Summer Number One professional vs. amateur singing competition. The chickadee to beat in the annual televised contest is the rock establishment’s pop princess, Zeli, our Rapunzel. Her trademark Joseph’s Coat of extensions stretch as a long as a football field with designs ranging from a neon flexi-straw weave to original Peter Max art. Zeli’s bubblegum brand of pop played on a pink guitar is an affront to everything Justin loves about music.

On the eve of Summer Number One auditions, Justin unwittingly puts Zeli and her million dollar extensions in danger. Enraged, the label’s creeptastic president, Grant Gothel, banishes Justin from the competition and locks prize pony, Zeli, in the Rampion Record’s Tower to protect his investment. Now Justin must create an alternate identity for a shot at the competition. In the process, Justin sees through the veneer of Zeli’s fame to find a girl worth saving from the tower.

This story would interest readers who enjoy the fairy tale twists in THE LUNAR CHRONICLES series. PINK GUITARS AND FALLING STARS works as a stand alone, but has series potential for other playful fairy tale/Shakespeare mash-ups. Its word count is approximately 96,000.

While on the faculty of the Department of Theatre at UCLA, several of my plays were produced. Short stories of mine appear in small presses. I teach in elementary education and am a member of the SCBWI.

Following please find the first 250 words of my story. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Chapter 1: Jumper

You only get one parachute. No point packing two for a B.A.S.E. jump since you’ll be pavement art before the second chute blossoms.


Uncle Timmer startles me, and my toe jerks to a stop an inch above the trigger pedal of my launcher. Is his gray matter shredded, distracting me during a safety check? There’s no chute on my back. One accidental tap on the business end of this launcher, and I’ll be eye to eye with the flock of seagulls patrolling Hollywood skies. I retreat onto the non-ballistic end of my perch. Peering over the edge of the Rampion Records Tower, I analyze the antics of the wind.

“Join us,” Unc calls, teeth clenched in a smile. He hosts a cluster of reporters near the center of the circular roof. “Meet the youngest member of the Slinging Seven.” Their faces morph into a collective portrait of panic as I leap more dramatically than necessary from launcher to the terra firma of the rooftop. After saluting the Hollywood sign, a photo op Unc will appreciate, I join the party to keep a smile on Timmer MacKenzie’s face. He controls the green light for my carcass to launch off skyscrapers, bridges, and cliffs in a wing suit.

Unc adheres to a superhuman canon of safety, but he can’t control the wreath of clouds adorning the tower. Humidity. Trickier conditions. My bangs congeal into a sweaty clump. Sixteen is too young to die when you have plans, and I have plans.


Laura Moe said...

My comment applies to the sample: While I applaud the use of interesting verbs, I found the series of hard sounds in succesion difficult to read. Try reading this out loud and you will see where it sounds choppy.

Katherine T. said...

Here are my thoughts, hope they help:

I'm not sure why you're mentioning the MSWL unless you found a match between what the agent wants and your book.

Your query has a funny and cheerful flavor. I liked it! At the end, I wanted a few more details about the competition to flesh out the plot for me: why is this audition so important and what does the heroine need rescuing from?

For the first 250 words: nice, exciting place to begin! However, the description of the scene was sparse, requiring careful reading to follow what was going on. Since B.A.S.E is such a new concept, it needs a bit more explaining.

Good luck!


Ranee` said...

I love your concept and it's totally something I would read. I agree with above that while the query is humorous, it was pretty difficult to follow. Simplify a bit and consider how hard it's making a reader work to figure out what the story is about. Good luck! Loved it!

Unknown said...

Your concept and query are both quite strong. That said, I found myself a bit bogged down, which makes me think this could be even better.

In the query, I got bogged down with the number of names, but when I counted, you only named three characters. On re-reading, I think the names of the record company, the reference to Joseph and Peter Max made my brain overload. I've heard that two or three named characters is a suggested maximum for a query, and technically you meet that. But because of the other names (I am guessing), I started to feel lost even though the plot description wasn't overly complicated.

I found the first 250 a bit confusing, though I think it is a great place to start. We don't meet Uncle in the query, and also have no clue why they are setting up for a BASE jump from a tower. It was also odd that he'd be over the launch pedal during a safety check without a chute on, especially after the opening line is about packing one chute. And is the Slinging Seven a band? Or the name of a daredevil group? I'm expecting music references, so I'm making the assumption it is a band, which doesn't help me understand the connection to BASE jumping.

Again, I think the concept, query and opening are all strong, but lingering confusion makes me think some tweaks would improve things further.

Patricia Nelson said...

This is a voicey, engaging query with a lot of personality that just isn't quite a match mostly because it has several elements (Hollywood/celebrities, fairy tale retellings, Romeo and Juliet retelling) that often don't tend to be for me. Now, I'd always rather the author err on the side of trying me if it's a genre I represent. The worst I can say is no, and I've certainly been surprised in the past by queries that take an element I'm not necessarily drawn to and convince me I want to give it a try. But in this case, although I think the author has a nice voice for YA, it just doesn't feel like a "me" book, so I would pass.

One small note: the author mentions that they looked at my MSWL, which is great, but I'm not entirely sure what in my MSWL profile called to them -- if you're going to reference that site, it's great to go one step further with the personalization and tell me what you see as matching up with what I'm looking for.