Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Ms. Nelson:

Seventeen-year-old Prince Vael meets his long-lost brother, Mordred, for the first time, only to discover that they’re destined to become enemies. 

After years with only swords and tomes as companions, Vael finds his first true friendship with the arrival of his surly half-brother, Mordred--a boy even more familiar with rejection and loneliness than Vael. However, an ancient prophecy haunts Mordred’s footsteps--he is destined to kill King Arthur in a battle that will destroy Britain. Vael may not believe in fate’s power, but that means little to the superstitious kingdom that wants his brother dead. 

When Mordred’s sorceress mother gathers an army against Camelot and plots to use him as her pawn, Vael vows to show Mordred that destinies can be chosen, even if it means challenging the fearsome sorceress himself. If Vael cannot free Mordred from the sorceress’ twisted grasp, he will have to watch his father and Camelot fall or defend his home from the only friend he’s ever had--his brother.

THE PENDRAGON’S SON is a standalone YA fantasy complete at 97,000 words with series potential. An excerpt from this manuscript received the Superior Award from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Creative Writing Contest and the ACSI Regional Creative Writing Festival. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 



As I hurried down the castle’s vast stone corridor to meet my half-brother for the first time, his name echoed around me, whispered like a curse: Mordred.

The vaulted doorway of the Great Hall loomed ahead. Pushing my shoulders back and making my spine straight as a sword, I marched toward the raised dais, careful to keep my pace steady. Calm and collected as a Prince of Camelot should be. My muscles strained as my legs urged me forward. Every step proved too fast, and the dais still seemed so far away. 

Armored knights and soldiers filled either side of the high-ceilinged hall. I passed them, my gaze focused ahead. Poisonous words infused the room, burning my ears and hardening my jaw.

“How is that bastard Mordred still alive?” one asked.

“Vermin never did die easy,” a knight said, sneering.

I bit my tongue, not for the first time that day. Such disrespect, all because of an unfounded--and unreliable--prophecy made decades ago. One that set Mordred as Camelot’s greatest enemy. 

My steps clipped the stones, leaving the boorish speakers behind. No point in arguing with them; they’d not heed me, prince or no. In terms of garnering respect, Mordred and I stood on almost equal ground. 

But all of the rumors were whispers on the breeze compared to this resounding truth--I had to meet him, had to know my only brother. Surely he’d understand me, a fellow outcast. A mere shadow in Camelot’s cold stone walls.


KEM said...

I have always loved the King Arthur legend which drew me into your query right away. I like the twist of Arthur having another son. It seemed a little odd that Prince Vael would be so lonely however, I was curious about that which might be a good thing leading the reader to want more. You also set the stakes of both freeing Mordred and saving the kingdom well.

I liked your first sentence, it put me right in place and set the tone well.

I would want to read more, nice job!

Unknown said...

I don't know much folkloric British history, but this sounds really interesting! I think you set up the stakes very nicely: he's got to betray his friend or his country. Maybe tell us what happens if he fails at each? Also, I think you can cut the first paragraph of the query. It seems like a logline, but is too general to really grab attention. I love how the second starts right with specific conflict.
I didn't enjoy the first page as much as the query. Maybe it just needs a polish. It felt like you were spoon feeding us facts instead of trusting the reader to pick up on subtle cues. Try to take out explanations and make the scene more real. Right now it feels a little rushed and like you're just trying to get everyone on the same page so you can get to the good part. Make the first scene the good part. We can pick out the back story little by little and it will be more satisfying.

Leslie S. Rose said...

Mordred is a character that has always made my blood boil! I'll bet it's a blast to play around in the world of Camelot and go after the super baddy. I'll grab my sword and gleefully come along with you on this ride.

Unknown said...

Good premise, strong writing.

I would play up your own credentials to write a twist of the King Arthur story. This seems to be a re-imagining of that legend. Likely, some of your first readers will be those who adore the whole King Arthur period, and thus know a LOT about it. If you only have a passing familiarity with the legend and its variations, the agent and publisher will have a hard time with your book. Those first readers will get annoyed with inconsistencies and "errors." Conversely, if you nail it, those first readers will be your best salesmen. Thus, I think the agent needs to know you've done your homework. Did you become fascinated with the legend as a child, and then do some academic work in college? Give the agent even more of a reason to trust your expertise. It shouldn't be more than another sentence or two in your query, but I do think it would be helpful.

Patricia said...

Strangely enough (given that it's a fairly unusual topic for YA!), I actually have a client who has published a YA fantasy series based on the King Arthur legend - Kathryn Rose's CAMELOT BURNING and AVALON RISING. Because I make it a point not to take on projects that would compete directly with my existing clients' work, I would have to pass on this based on subject matter.

K. said...

Ms. Nelson,
Thank you so much for your comments and for reading my work! I really appreciate it. :)

Also, thank you to everyone else who took the time to give me feedback!