Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear Ms. Nelson,

GLOW is a futuristic Science Fiction Middle Grade with steampunk elements complete at 65,000 words.

Twelve-year-old Enna has only one desire--to fly. She has the ability to telepathically see how other living creatures work, and after studying flying squirrels, designed a wingsuit of her own. Her parents worry that the wingsuit will kill her or Ari slavers will spot her while she’s learning to fly. But the slavers are far away, and jumping off a little tower isn’t going to kill her. 

During a secret flying adventure with her partner in crime and cousin, Tahoma, her eyes begin to glow, a sure sign that she is an anomaly and will attract slavers no matter how well she hides. Determined to keep her family from getting captured with her, she glides into the canyon known in ancient times as the Grand Canyon and meets other anomalies heading to Sona for refuge. But Sona isn’t as safe as she thought it would be. Someone is helping the slavers capture anomalies and Enna is next on their list.

Enna must constantly watch out for captured anomalies who have been turned into terrifying steampunk slaves called gearheads. Once captured, she too would be turned into a gearhead and forced to fight in a war against her own people. Then Enna learns that Tahoma has been captured and her ability as an anomaly could be the key to freeing him. If she can’t figure out how to free the gearheads before war breaks out, Enna’s people will be enslaved and the slavers will rule the world.

I work with learning-disabled middle grade students, have three children, and two very spoiled cats. My debut novel, Rebel Princess, was published through Cedar Fort, Inc in 2014. My Christmas pamphlet, The Candy Cane Queen, was also published through Cedar Fort. 



Red dust swirled around Enna’s buckskin boots as she hurried to the top of the canyon butte. Her foot hit a small stone, sending a noisy cascade of loose gravel over the side of the cliff. She froze and pressed her back against the rock face, pinning her long black braids behind her. For once, no one came running to see what she was doing. The hunters had gone north with their ligers to hunt bison, and those left behind were busy inspecting the ropes and pulleys used to get the meat in and out of the massive canyon. 

Her plan was working perfectly so far.

The path continued to narrow until it was too thin to walk along. She tucked her braids into the back of her shirt and grabbed a protruding rock with her dusty brown hands. No one minded when she scaled the butte; she’d been climbing since before she could walk. The adults only went volcanic when she tried to glide off of it. All she needed was enough time without adults around to prove that her wingsuit would fly. Being twelve didn’t mean her ideas wouldn’t work. If squirrels could glide, anyone could.

Her wingsuit was made out of an enormous sword plant leaf cut down to her size that attached to her wrists and ankles with leather straps. So far she’d only managed tiny jumps that barely caught any air before she was stopped by an adult, but this time would be different. This time she was really going to fly and there wasn’t anyone around to stop her.


Leslie S. Rose said...

As soon as you mentioned flying over the Grand Canyon in your query, my heart started pumping. I taught in the middle grades for years and I hear the sense of immortality those kids embrace echoing through your beginning.

Unknown said...

Yay! A fellow CF author! Loved your first page. Great writing. Your query seemed a little disjointed though. I think the problem is can't see what her flying has to do with her saving the world? So she's telepathic and can see how things work? Put that in. Not what she does with it. Flying seems irrelevant. Why do glowing eyes help her to get caught? I like the idea of gear heads, and her using her powers to save the world (and the other anomalies) but I need to know more about how she's supposed to do that. By flying? How will she use her telepathic ability to see how things work to save the day? (And what exactly does saving the day involve?) What horrible thing will happen if she fails? What worse thing will happen if she succeeds? You have a lot of cool stuff in here, but trying to fit it all into your query can be tough. Simplify. For example do you really need to introduce her cousin by name? Queries are hard. I'm basically spouting stuff I read on Query Shark, which I highly recommend for learning to write a streamlined query. Just set aside a couple weeks to get through all the archives lol.
Great work! Hope Patricia loves it!

gretchenwrites said...

I love this! I have two eleven year old children and this story would really resonate with them. I love the voice in the first paragraph of the query, laughing off the danger envisioned by parents. I do agree with the previous poster that I had a few questions about the conflict. For example, I feel like her ability has something to do with glowing eyes, but I'm unsure how that is going to help her cousin. Apologies if it is clear and I am not seeing it. I also have some experience with Query Shark, and that is fabulous! She is awesome and helpful and donating her time to all of us freely. Also Evil Editor is good (and not evil).

Unknown said...

I agree with the previous comment--not sure what the flying has to do with the plot. I want to hear more about the danger of the slavers, and the third paragraph of the query seems disjointed from the rest of it.

When you get into the story itself, i was jarred by the second paragraph--it seems to contradict the entire 1st paragraph (she freezes after sending the gravel cascading, alerting the adults to what she's up to--so how is her plan working perfectly?)

Also, I'd work the description of the wing suit into the 1st mention of it in the previous paragraph--something similar to:

"All she needed was enough time without adults around to prove that her wing suit, made out of an enormous sword plant leaf she'd cut and attached to her wrists and ankles, would fly." Then I'd move the sentence "Being twelve . . . . anyone could" to the end of this section. I think it reads better if you have: "...there wasn't anyone around to stop her. After all, being twelve . . . anyone could."

Good Luck!

Patricia Nelson said...

I read the query on this one several times and had a tough time following it - the author gives me a lot of detail, but I wasn't clear on motivation (why does Enna want to fly so badly? Where did the slavers come from and why do they want people with glowing eyes?) or stakes (Why is Emma the only person who can save the world? How do the gearheads fit into all this?) This is a case where I would suggest the author pare back the amount of information included here to make the query easier to follow, because generally if I read a query twice and still can't fully grasp what the story is about, that's a pass for me - even if the pages are well-written, as they are here.