Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Agent,

CHILDREN OF THE WOOD is a dark middle grade fantasy complete at 54,000 words. Best described as Coraline goes to Neverland, it will appeal to fans of A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN and SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK. 

Alistair Toddlefin spends his days in the haunted woods behind his house, collecting trash pile trinkets, longing for a friend. So when spooky, freckle-faced Lucy Punch appears near his fort in the laurel bushes, he believes she could be the answer to all of his problems. 

Ali follows Lucy deep into the forest, to a dark and looming willow tree. There, she pulls back the Curtain of Illusion, revealing a world where children rule. A world of lantern-lit treehouses and endless fun where Ali might finally belong. But when Ali and Lucy accidentally let in a Left Behinder--a cursed, dark spirit hunting for the last living relative of the witch who first cast its curse--Ali’s newfound happiness is threatened. Telling their leader could mean banishment for Lucy and Ali both, not telling him could lead to something far worse. 

If Ali doesn’t come clean and find a way to take down the Left Behinders, he and Lucy and the Children of the Wood will remain captive, their minds ensnared for eternity, and Ali may lose the only place he’s ever truly belonged.

I amicably parted ways with my first agent and am seeking new representation. A previous middle grade project of mine, THE TRINKET GUARDIAN, was a 2015 PitchWars finalist and the winner of the 2016 Pikes Peak Zebulon contest in the MG/YA category. My middle grade fantasy, LAIMA MONTROVE WANTS TO BE A WITCH, was a finalist for the 2015 Eldin Memorial Fellowship, an award to honor Christine Eldin’s memory and recognize talent in unpublished middle grade writers.

The CHILDREN OF THE WOOD manuscript is available at your request. It has not yet been in front of any editors. Thanks for your time!



Alistair Toddlefin closed his library book and peered out his bedroom window for the fifteenth time that day. He imagined he was a dragon and breathed plumes of fire over the forest, scorching it, burning it to a crisp, forcing his parents to move back to civilization. Then he leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head, resting against the wall behind his bed, admiring his smoke-singed work. 

His parents had moved to the Connecticut woods just four months earlier, wanting a break from the effervescent zip of the city, or so they’d said. Ali couldn’t deny the freshness of the air and the soothing chirping of spring peepers, but he hadn’t quite gotten used to this new loneliness, and he figured he probably never would. 

He shoved aside a stack of library books and climbed down the ladder of his bunk bed, shaking off the pins and needles. If they’d been in the city, he’d have walked himself to a museum or to the iron-gated park around the corner. But here, there was nothing but miles of trees in every direction. No friends. Nothing much to do. 

With a quick look down the hall, he dusted off his hands. Perhaps someone could take him to see a movie. Anything would be better than another minute trapped indoors, alone. They’d taken the house over from his great Aunt Hulda who’d died last year. The leftover smell of her mothbally clothes still curled Ali’s nose hairs today.


Adrianne said...

Your story sounds so interesting! I think your bio paragraph can be trimmed a lot (especially the part about your agent--I don't think we need to know that). Great explanation of world-specific terms in such a short query.

Love the line about Aunt Hulda's mothbally clothes. I think this is a solid, decent first 250. There might be too much backstory in it for some people's tastes, but I wasn't put off. I do like how you've captured his lonliness and homesickness.

Elissa Hunter said...

The query and the first 250 words are both very strong! The query sets up the stakes and leaves me wanting to know more. The first 250 words have a good setup and also leave me wanting to read more. Love the line about Ali's nose hairs curling!

Christian Smith said...

I really enjoy the voice you've set up here, very readable and flows quite well! I agree with the comment on the query letter to leave out that part about parting ways as it may scare off some agents. Other than that, I would love to read more!

The Agent said...

Both the query and the sample are well written. I have no critique that would help. But, despite that, it just does not work for me. I like it, but I don't love. So I am not the right agent for it.

Katherine T. said...

Love your concept! And great credentials!

In the sentence "Telling their leader could mean banishment for Lucy and Ali both, not telling him could lead to something far worse." I think you need a semicolon or dash instead of a comma here.

That's all I've got, it's a great query.

Candace Davenport said...

I love the way you write. The voice in your 250 is excellent. I could feel his boredom. And you certainly have the creds!

I'm curious as to mentioning the other agent. While other commenters say you shouldn't, I'm thinking it may be a plus- that you wrote well enough to have an agent in the past (and left on good terms). Doesn't mean for a new agent that this book is good enough for them, but it shows someone likes your writing enough to represent you. Just presenting the other side!


Thanks so much for the feedback guys - great to hear what's working and what needs tweaking. :)