Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Ms. Nelson,

All Lucas Evans wanted was to make his father proud. So when his dad dies days after Lucas singlehandedly loses the championship game, Lucas feels he’ll never have the chance to make things right again.

In BROKEN, a 71,000 word YA novel, football is the furthest thing from Lucas’s mind. But a little urging from his best friend, Weeds, as well as from Emily, the mysterious girl he met during his dad’s chemo, draws him back into the sport. As the season progresses, the hits keep coming, both on and off the field. By the time the championship rolls around once again, Lucas understands that holding on to his past leaves no room for his future, and that his life is far from the only one that’s broken. Can he win the game and, with it, redemption for himself? Or will he drop the ball again, losing not only the game, but those he holds most dear?

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with an MA in English, I have spent the last few years of my life teaching teenagers and still have most of my sanity somewhat intact. When I’m not teaching, I am an active participant in SCBWI, enjoying the perks of being a real-life wallflower and testing the human body’s ability to survive on a diet made up exclusively of dark chocolate.

Thank you for your time. I have included the first page of my manuscript, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Two hours into Dad’s fourth round of chemo, I watched as a sickly yellow liquid oozed into his body through a matchbox-sized port the doctors had implanted in his chest. He lay on his back, trembling. Before this, he’d been a tall man with laughing eyes. Now the laughter was gone, replaced by a terrible weariness. 

One of the nurses came in. As she checked to see how Dad was responding to his treatment, he asked her if he could have some water to drink. I volunteered to get it--I was sick of sitting in that chair.

Standing at the water cooler, I noticed the door to one of the other rooms was open. I could see a girl about my age inside getting chemo. And as I filled the cup, I wondered how she’d look if she had hair--immediately becoming ashamed at the thought. No one else was with her, so she just stared out the door, looking lonely. I gave an awkward wave, spilling water onto my pants. Embarrassed, I turned and sped back to Dad’s room.

The nurse had already unplugged him. I handed him the water, helping his shaky hands steady the cup.

“Lucas, would you help me with your father?” the nurse asked. “Dr. Matthews wants to speak to him privately.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I nodded, taking Dad’s hand in my own. Although the room itself was cold, I was immediately stricken with how icy and damp his hand was--and how terribly weak.


Laura Moe said...

Your query letter is well written and draws me in. Hopefully the agent will agree. And your sample is heartbreaking and real. I care about Lucas right away.

Ranee` said...

Football. I so wanted to keep on reading in your story. I think your query is very well written and certainly gives all the right elements--setting things up, showing us the stakes, leaving us wondering how Lucas' story will work out! Good job!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Not my typical genre but your opening paragraph broke my heart. Great hook! The problem is, you then start the (real?) query and his dad is suddenly alive again. I get the concept of a logline or hook, but why not start from the death? The second paragraph is not as strong as your first and doesn't really add much. Especially when it devolves into generalizations at the end. You don't even mention his dad's death in the second part, which seemed like it was the whole point.
The first page was frightening and well written. Nice work! You're gonna do well!!

Leslie S. Rose said...

I agree with the above comments that this beginning your compelling and heartbreaking. I feel strong truth radiating from your words.

Patricia Nelson said...

This is a well-written query with a strong, emotionally resonant first page. But unfortunately, YA contemporary is a very tough, crowded genre right now, so I'm having to be very selective about what I take on in this area. This story deals with themes that I see quite a bit, and I'm personally not seeing the hook or unique spin that would help me pitch this to editors in a way that would allow it to break out from the pack. When I read a query, if I don't get at least an inkling of how I would pitch it (and some ideas of who I would send it to), I know that I won't be able to do service to a book in terms of placing it. But that doesn't mean that another agent won't feel differently - often it's a matter of finding the person who has the right vision for the story.