Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Ms. Nelson,

Reading on your MSWL that you like heartwarming MG with a dash of magic, I am hoping that MY SOMETHING AMAZING would be a good fit for your list. It is contemporary about a childhood friendship evolving into something different and perhaps more. In the vein of FLIPPED with a touch of magical realism. 

When a mysterious lady moves into the ramshackle leftover farm in the woods, 12-year-old Evie cannot believe her luck. Suddenly, there are horses on the edge of her suburban neighborhood. Evie decides that she is going to ride one of the horses if it’s the last thing she does. She hooks her best friend Oliver into helping her sneak a ride.

As seventh grade comes to an end, Evie thinks of nothing except learning to ride. Well, maybe Oliver is popping up in her thoughts too. Lately, she is not thinking of him as just a friend.

Turns out the lady at the farm is more than mysterious. When Evie secretly witnesses what she suspects is the horse lady bringing a bird back to life, she strikes up a friendship with her. Her name is Jemima Blaze and she allows Evie to hang around the barn. It becomes Evie’s favorite place to be, especially when Oliver starts ignoring her in favor of his baseball team.

Jemima grows more fascinating to Evie. Although she explains it away, animals seem to heal in seconds flat after she gives them a little encouragement. As her friendship with Oliver seems to slip away, heartbroken Evie escapes to the barn and Jemima. She finds that a little magical healing works wonders. 

MY SOMETHING AMAZING is complete at 31000 words and my first 250 words are below. Thank you for your time and consideration.



I was never supposed to be alone in the woods, but I had to veer off the path to see the horses. It was dumb luck I guess, but a lady with horses moved back into what my dad called the old ramshackle place. No way that should have happened in my regular neighborhood. But just at the peak of my horse obsession, there they were. 

The owner of the horses was considered a mystery on my street. All we knew was she inherited the place about a year ago. It stood empty for years looking pretty sad and saggy. Then all of a sudden, the barn was being renovated and a new roof was put on the house. Moving trucks showed up in the late fall. As me and the other kids walked to the bus stop, we watched what was going on through the trees.

Once winter hit, we usually got a ride to the school bus so it wasn’t until last spring that I was walking through the path and saw him. The palomino horse appeared first. The leaves were just getting full so when I saw movement through the trees, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things or not.

I thought I was dreaming or something. I could not believe that a horse was right there. I crept through the woods as though if I moved too fast, I would scare him away forever.


RC Hancock said...

Your query was great. I loved how you set up her goal right away. And the stakes seem to be her not getting to ride, and her losing her friend. I think flushing out the stakes and tension a little more (even if it is a MG) would help hook me. Right now it feels kind of like a warm fuzzy blanket. Which is comforting but not something that demands to be put on. Haha excuse my awful metaphors. The writing itself felt a little stilted and not like a child was actually speaking. (At the peak of my horse obsession.) at the same time you don't want it to sound too coloquial or insipid. (I thought I was dreaming or something. ) It's a tough balance. Which is why I don't write MG. I really love your concept though, and I think you'll do well. Good luck!

Katherine T. said...

In your first sentence, I would change "am hoping" to "hope" to avoid passive tense. Also some of your sentences in the first paragraph are fragments; in particular, "In the vein of..." has no verb.

I would also move your fourth paragraph to your third paragraph, to mention the magic sooner. I think this is a cool part of your query that should come up right away.

For your 250 words: this might be a radical suggestion, but I think you should start with your second paragraph. I agree with RC that the language in your first paragraph is odd--a bit heavy with the cliches. Also, I find the first line about the owner of the horses to be a more interesting beginning.

Cool concept for your story! I wish you the best of luck.

KEM said...

Great feedback, thanks for the helpful comments. MG voice can be hard and the rest of my story has far more dialogue and action through which it's easier to capture that voice. I will go over the opening again, really good ideas.

Janice Sperry said...

For the query: She talks the boy into going with her to sneak a ride - did they do it? Did they get caught? It seemed like a pivotal moment that you skipped.

For your 250, I like the fourth paragraph as a beginning. Start with your character doing something. The other paragraphs tell about backstory. Work that information in later.

It sounds like a lovely story. I like that it is more about horses than boys.

K. said...

This sounds like such a great story! :)
Query: I think it sounds a bit like a synopsis, especially at the beginning. It's a little stiff and I feel like you could condense it a little, possibly insert a bit more voice.
250: It comes off as a bit tell-y. The fourth paragraph really shows how the MC feels about the arrival of the horses, and I feel it a lot more strongly. She's so excited she can barely believe her eyes. I love it, and that makes me want to know more about her. :)

Great job!

Patricia Nelson said...

I *loved* the query here and the story sounds like exactly the kind of heartwarming middle grade that I adore and am dying to find more of. But the author lost me at the sample page, which relies very heavily on a telling/talking to the reader voice. This is a common problem I see in queries, and it's usually a sign that the novel isn't going to be quite ready yet - if a first page has this issue, I generally find that the rest of the book does as well. Showing vs. telling is an aspect of craft that I generally expect an author to already have a strong grasp on when I take them on, so when I see a heavily "telling" page 1, it often deters me from reading further.