Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #1

Ms. Johnson-Blalock,

Sixteen year old Ivy longs to learn more about her mother stricken with a brain tumor nine years ago. When she finds her mother's journal from the summer of 1992 in a box clearly marked "Private--KEEP OUT!!!" she can't resist taking it to read with her best friend.

Within the handwritten pages, Ivy discovers her mother Angel at eighteen bound for college and rock stardom in a world on the eve of the digital revolution. But first, Angel secretly believed that God had sent her to the beach with her two best friends to save her lost true love from his own self-destruction.

While reading about her mother's seven tumultuous and unforgettable seven weeks in Ocean City, MD, Ivy learns things about her mother she wouldn't have guessed. With best friends and big dreams, she realizes they have more in common than she ever thought. But who is this mysterious true love she's never heard of? Definitely not her father!

She's dying to know, but can't risk letting on that she knows about anything in journal for fear of her father's punishment and ruining her own summer dreams.

Complete at 94K words, SUMMER,1992 is a YA/contemporary novel with a love story at its heart that will likely appeal to fans of ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell.

Thank you for time and consideration.


SUMMER, 1992

The Discovery

“Mom? Mom! What's the matter?!” the terrified girl cried, her seven year old heart beating faster than it ever had before. Ivy watched, frozen in helplessness, as her mother shook and convulsed right there beside her. Horror filled her big blue eyes.

Just moments before on that rainy September morning, the little blonde girl had snuggled close on their yellow pull-out pinstriped couch to listen to her mother impersonated a pig, a spider, a rat, bringing them all to life. But something happened. She stumbled over a word. Then another. And another. The next one got stuck in the middle and she couldn't stop, like a talking doll low on batteries. Then she started to shake.

Still clutching Charlotte's Web, the shaking intensified. When her green eyes rolled back into her head, she dropped the book. Ivy screamed. 

“Dad! Dad!” the little blonde girl shrieked, exuding urgency like only a child can. “Something's wrong with Mom!” Her father rushed in with her younger brother Jude a few steps behind. 

That was almost nine years ago. And there hasn't been a day in the 3,195 since then, that she hasn't wished her mother hadn't had that brain tumor. Things could be different. I could know her.

Ivy checks the computer's clock in front of her for the fifth time in five minutes. Her father has been droning on with an impromptu lesson on derivative functions in the living room chair beside her for what feels like an eternity--maybe two.


BRM said...

Hello A.C.,

Thank you for sharing your query with us! I love that you start off with our protagonist doing something she knows she shouldn't - immediately adds tension to your query. I'm intrigued by a YA novel split between a teen protag and her mother as a teen. How interesting!

I am a bit confused as to structure though. Are we gaining perspective through the mother's journal entries, or will this be a sort of split perspective between the daughter and mother? Also, some grammar issues - your first sentence to paragraph one is a little clunky, and the intro to the second paragraph tells us "seven" twice. Make sure to read it over :)

Regardless, I'm definitely intrigued by a mother/daughter story!


Jennifer Johnson-Blalock said...

Thanks for submitting, A.C.! I like how you start with the character's age--it hints at the genre without stating it. (I, personally, love the title and genre to start, but some agents don't.) You touch on a lot of big issues in this query, which I love, but I think you could be a bit more precise: What's the structure of the story? What's happening in the present? You talk much more about what happened to the mother years ago than what's happening with Ivy now, so my concern when looking at the query is that all the action seems to be taking place in the past. That's emphasized with your opener, which is a dramatic event, but happened years ago--I'd look back to that later in your work. But your story has some elements that appeal to me specifically, with the 90s and music--since I've talked about that with #MSWL, I'd put that up top!

Vanessa Peay said...


Thank you for sharing your story. I really like how your protagonist shares things. Since this book is contemporary I think it would be better if changed to first person. I want to feel Ivy's emotions.


Tabitha Bird said...

I so love the idea of a teen reading about her Mom as a teen and would love to see how that played out on the page. The query captures this wonderful premise. I am wondering though how much of the action plays out in the past or how much in the here and now. Perhaps the structure of the book could be made clearer in the query?
All the best though. A great idea!

Valerie Bodden said...

Hi AC, I love the premise of your book! I feel like we get a good idea of the mother's part of the story in the query, but I wasn't as sure about what's happening with Ivy--why would she get in trouble if her father found out? What does she want to do this summer that would be discovered if she is caught? Also, I love the idea that it's a love story at heart, but I wasn't sure whose love story, Ivy's or her mothers--or both? In your 250, I think you have a really deeply emotional and tense experience, but I wonder if it would resonate more if we knew more about Ivy in the present before being given this backstory--then we'd feel even more strongly for her. Overall, I'd keep reading. Nice job! I'm also the author of entry #5, so if you're still interested in potentially exchanging mss as CPs, feel free to e-mail me at valbodden(at)gmail(dot)com.

JJM said...

Hello AC,

I enjoyed reading your query. What teenager stumbling upon a secret diary of a parent, would not be fascinated; I wonder if the book will flash back and forth between the present and 1992, comparing both lives at similar ages?

The short 250 words allowed in the query, hints to a mystery of romance and suspicion. Without the ability to read further, I am not entirely sure if Ivy’s mom has died, or is alive and affected by the brain tumor .“Things could be different. I could know her”.

There are sentence structure issues, but I agree, we all need to take our time and read through our work, before making the final presentation. Your query held my interest, I wish you luck in turning out a winner.