Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Agent,

Fleeing her village after a false accusation of witchcraft, Ebba stumbles upon a demon lying in the forest with his heart ripped out.

Not quite dead, he demands her heart as a replacement--promising her gold, unholy powers, and even rulership of the world. Ebba knows better than to believe a demon with a pretty face, but she’s dying from an infected injury, and she wants her death to mean something.

Ebba wakes up with no heartbeat. The demon, who calls himself “Kryptos of the Crimson Flame,” has resurrected her--not out of gratitude, but as a replacement for his late servant. And he’s conscripted her into a death match with eleven other champions of hell.

Between coping with the side-effects of a missing heart and trying to master the magical fire she’s been granted, Ebba learns that the prize of hell’s tournament is leadership of an upcoming invasion. Horrified, she tries to find a way to banish the demons back to hell.

But Ebba comes to rely on Kryptos more with each one-on-one match and sees another side of him when she accidentally initiates a courtship. How was she supposed to know that throwing a severed head at him would be taken as a proposal of marriage? Kryptos turns out to be charming, handsome, a bit awkward--and also utterly dedicated to world domination.

Which should be a deal-breaker. But without anyone left in her village cares about her, it becomes harder and harder to contemplate betraying her only friend. 

Although between the shadow-wielding knight, the witch who sees the future, and the God-King, she’ll probably be dead long before it comes to that.

THE WITCH AND THE DEMON is a 74,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.

I have had fiction published in the Whortleberry Press anthology Strange Changes, Every Day Fiction and Short Fiction Break, and I have a story forthcoming in Abyss & Apex Magazine. I also received an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. While studying for my economics PhD, I have coauthored eight nonfiction research papers and four blog posts.

Upon your request, I am prepared to send the complete manuscript. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.



The red sunset made the water dripping from Ebba’s dress resemble blood as the witchfinder dragged her past the window. He flung her into the cell at the end of the hallway. Her legs went out from under her and she fell hard to the ground. The lock clicked. 

The witchfinder grumbled as he trudged back up the stairs. Since her small village lacked a jailor or guards, he had to lock her up personally every evening. But he refused to spend the night in the town hall’s basement watching her--a small mercy.

Once again, she hadn’t been given anything to eat, but coughing up water had left her with a throat too sore to swallow, anyway. By now, she knew no one was going to help her.

Under the straw, Ebba found the rock she’d hidden. Then she crawled back to the front of her cell, where iron bars reached from the wooden floor to the ceiling. A padlock fastened the door. Groping, she found the place on the floor where three nights of work had left a deep gouge. Her right hand oozed yellow pus, so she used her left one. She set to work chipping at the wood, one white scrape at a time.

It took her a moment to notice when the bar first slipped out of the hole she'd made in the floor. Her eyes snapped to the barred window positioned by the ceiling. Still dark, thankfully.


Adrianne said...

I really like your query--the voice near the end is awesome, particularly about the marriage proposal/courtship. The last paragraph about the witch, knight, and god-king is interesting, but it feels like you're introducing new characters in the very end, which confused me for a bit. Is this a necessary conclusion, or can you just summarize them as "contestants"?

As for the 250, I like the image you paint with the first sentence, but it feels a little long, maybe even clunky to me. Great way to drop us in the action without pushing too much info or world-building on us all at once. I really like your voice.

Jonathan Mitchell said...

I definitely dig this query. It definitely sounds like my kind of story, and I love the moments where the voice really stands out (like with the severed head proposal). I do feel a bit confused about the jump between being made the demon's replacement servant and being forced into the tournament. There doesn't seem to be an explanation as to why she's entered. But the life-and-death tournament with a prize she doesn't even want while dealing with an unorthodox courtship sounds like great entertainment.

The first 250 definitely gets us into the moment and has some nice description. I would definitely keep reading.

Christian Smith said...

I love this premise! Such an intriguing concept that instantly makes me want to know more. The only thing I can think of is maybe reviewing the body of your query a bit to see if you can make it more concise. Usually if you can shorten your bit about the plot to 2-3 paragraphs, agents tend to appreciate it more since they have so many to look through. But I love the story and want to know more!

The Agent said...

The query is well written. However, it's a bit long for my taste. Unfortunately, I am also not all that much into demons with missing hearts , so for that reason alone I would pass.

Furthermore, the first sentence of the sample "The red sunset made the water dripping from Ebba’s dress resemble blood as the witchfinder dragged her past the window." reads awkward to me. I would advise to make that sentence stand out more.

winkchii said...

I loved this concept, I suppose I have a weak spot for a demon as a love interested. I did find it a bit long, I wanted to keep going because it interested me but I felt I was forcing myself.

Overall I think it starts out great, it hooked me right away. Hope that was helpful.

Brianne Zwambag said...

I love the concept of this and it is very much something I would read. I like that it's dark and twisty. That being said, the query is a lot of information and a little overwhelming. It starts out really awesome and you have some great elements that could be condensed in to making this really hook an agent (or whoever is reading the query)-- The demon without the heart and fact that she gives hers to him and then later starts to fall in love with him, despite his evil intentions.
But I was confused about whether or not she became the demon until the courtship thing came up, and I'm confused by how she is living without a heart (especially when you reference her death meaning something). And the last line is a little out of the blue because I have no idea who these three characters are. Condensing it down a bit would make it much more "give me more"! :) And the flip side, a little more expanding on what you've got will create a KILLER synopsis.
And I like the first 250 words! <3 <3 I'll read this someday, I'm sure!