Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Ms. Johnson-Blalock:

Julie and her older sister Carter have different memories of the night of their mother’s accident. Julie was at the hospital trying to convince the doctors--and herself--that the traces of heroin found in her mother’s blood were a mistake. Carter was drowning memories of their latest mother-daughter fight with loud music and drinking games. 

Eleven months after their mother entered a medically-induced coma, the uncommunicative sisters attempt reconciliation by teaming up at a local celebrity’s annual scholarship competition. Carter wants to transfer a local school in the spring so she can stay with her friends. Jules has always dreamed of attending Cornell. But unlike the usual intricate puzzles and week-long scavenger hunts, this year’s challenge is in a league of its own: contestants must find the donor’s missing daughter.

Guided by the clues the kidnapped girl left behind, Carter and Julie’s search takes a deadly turn when the original kidnappers try to stop their investigation by any means necessary. The clues keep circling back to their mother’s accident, causing Julie and Carter to disagree on which trail to follow. Old tensions arise and the sisters set off on separate teams. But if they want to win their futures, they’ll have to find a way to mend their broken relationship and confront the truth about their family’s past.

Told in the sisters’ alternating perspectives, If You Find Me is a YA thriller, complete at 65,007 words and features a strong f/f romantic subplot. I am an MFA candidate at Fairleigh Dickinson University studying Writing for Young Adults under the guidance of critically acclaimed authors such as Donna Freitas, Eliot Schrefer, and Coe Booth. My fiction has appeared in The Stonecoast Review, Marathon Literary Review, and Rozlyn: Fiction by Women Writers. My writing for young adults has been awarded the Mitch and Lynn Baumeister Global MFA Scholarship in Creative Writing and the Adrian Tinsley Grant.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


PS. In case my FDU degree didn't give me away, I'm a fan and reader of your lovely client Nicole Melleby's work! She wouldn't let me join this competition unless I mentioned she was if you didn't already know :) 


Eleven Months Ago - Julie

When we received news of Mom’s accident, Carter was at a party. The hospital couldn’t get in touch with her. Auntie Kris couldn’t get in touch with her. I listened to dull ring after ring, that hopeful click followed by a voice message. Please leave your message for…Carter Thompson…at the tone. When she eventually got the message, she showed up drunk.

I don’t remember much of those days. I can feel them, prickly and hard against my skin, tight and suffocating against my arteries. But I can only recall scattered phrases.

Car accident. Induced Coma.


I remember Lev. I remember Carter drunk and sobbing in his arms and how--standing wrapped around each other--they looked like a couple. I remember wondering if they were a couple, and hating myself for caring.

I remember a hundred cards and mismatched flowers sent by classmates. I remember they were all addressed to Carter, that she never set them up. I arranged the cards around Mom’s nightstand, and I clipped the ends of each flower and arranged bouquets from the mismatched picks.

I remember Carter avoiding the hospital. Drunk and crying as she struggled with the house keys on our doorstep at night. I remember Auntie Kris pouring her wine after dinner, how they grieved together in a language I didn’t speak.

And I remember kneeling by Mom’s bedside and feeling, in my heart, that the only person who could get me through her accident was her.

The woman in the coma.


Jennifer Johnson-Blalock said...

I'm so glad you entered, B.R.M.! Nicole is awesome. :) And I would put that info at the top of your query if you're writing me--any personal connection to an agent is a good way to start. That being said, I really like your existing first paragraph. It sets up stakes, conflict, and starts to develop characters--nice work! From there, the plot and characters are still clear, but I get a little confused about tone. The first paragraph feels dark, and the "deadly turn" in the third paragraph definitely indicates a dark story. But the second paragraph--something about "local celebrity's annual scholarship competition" and the mention of scavenger hunts just makes it feel much lighter, almost middle grade. If there's a way to phrase that differently, I think it could be helpful. Overall, though, this is very well done.

AlisonHammer said...

I love the first line of your query - very attention grabbing and made me want to read more.

The second paragraph confused me a little bit. I didn't see the connection between the scholarship competition and the fact that Carter wanted to go to another school. I would separate those thoughts.

In the first page, I love the repetition of the 'I remember' phrases, gives it a nice cadence. I did question the age of the girl talking because she used the phrase 'auntie' - but that could just be a cultural/place difference.

I would definitely want to read more - good luck!