Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Mystery Agent,

Being Cupid's assistant was never the plan, Megan doesn't even believe in love. But, that's what happens when you hit him with your car!

Sixteen-year-old Megan Cooper doesn’t believe in love… not the familial kind, and certainly not the romantic kind. How could she? Since her mother’s death, her father’s been stuck in a fog of grief that has left little time for Megan. The closest she’s come to romance is sharing workspace in home economics with a flaky and highly irritating hunk. And now, instead of girding up her cynicism and moving forward, she’s second-in-command to an annoying little man with wings. 

For the past five years, Megan has built a wall around her heart with little room to experience true feelings. That all changes the moment she crashes into Cupid on her way home from finals. With his shooting arm significantly injured, she has no choice but to take his place. Now, as Megan races to find Cupid’s final three love matches in order to meet his quota by the new year, she comes face to face with the very emotions she has been pushing away for so long, the basic need for love and connection. Megan finds herself caught between what her head is saying and what her heart longs for. As she comes to terms with her emotions, she realizes that she must make a decision that will impact her for the rest of her life; to either open herself up and risk getting hurt, or keep her heart safe and live life alone.

An eclectic mix of My So-Called Life meets The Fault In Our Stars, STRUCK BY LOVE is a YA novel complete at 71,000 words. It is a standalone novel with series potential. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warm Regards,



The moment Mom said goodbye, my young heart shattered into a million jagged pieces. In my childhood imaginings, I had pictured death taking her as an old woman. She would be nearing a hundred years old, maybe older, her white hair wispy and uncouth, her warm smile wrinkled deep, spilling over her cheeks as she passed peacefully in her sleep. 

But, it wasn’t like that at all. 

Fate had caught me off-guard, plunging its silver tip deep into my heart and twisting before I could parry. 

Those last days at the hospital were the worst. She had just been through another round of chemotherapy and radiation. The treatments had taken a toll on her body, grey skin sagging from her long bones like torn, dusty sails on a pirate ship. She was barely able to eat--no more than a few bites--without fearing it might all come back up.

She motioned for me to sit on the bed. Not wanting to hurt her with the strength and awkwardness of my pudgy eleven-year-old arms and legs, I was afraid to get too near. 

With a voice long since faded, she insisted I lie next to her. I crawled up onto the hard bed, moving carefully around the crinkles in the blankets, not knowing if it were her legs creating the thin, stiff lumps underneath or if it were just the folds of the heavy industrial fabric.


Cassandra Wilsted said...

I love this. It's something I would be very interested in reading. Your query reads well and is straight to the point. Your writing is great and had me hooked right away. Great work!

Caroline said...

This is an intriguing premise, especially for YA!

In the query, I think I would start with the bit about crashing into Cupid first. That way we'd get the premise and setup the conflict. Then address more of Megan's issues because of Mom passing and Dad in a fog of grief. (But see what other folks say first as they comment!)

The opening lines are very strong, lots of atmospheric details and emotion. Great writing! My big question here is I wonder if it's best to start with a flashback to when the 16-year-old character is 11 years old. It might be better to relive this scene in a later chapter and start in the present time right at the beginning of the novel.

I would definitely read more!

Carrie Scott said...

Query: You have a great concept here and a strong query letter. I love your opening sentence about being Cupid's assistant. And the third paragraph kept me wanting more. However, I would delete the second paragraph. You don't need it. Stick to your hook: Cupid and how Megan gets wrangled into being his assistant.

Writing sample: I would also consider changing your opening so you don't start with a flash-back. These are all great details that give us insight into your main character. I feel they would be stronger if you add them in little pieces at a time throughout the book. Give us just enough to make us wonder, without telling us everything at once.

Again, I love this concept. You really had me wanting more with your query.

Best of luck to you!

LT Shade said...

Firstly, STRUCK BY LOVE is the cutest name. I can imagine a cover for it already :)

I was browsing entry’s and stopped to read the first sentence of your 250. Something about it caught my eye. I knew I had to read more and opened it. I know it is considered a flashback, but I think it’s great. It hooked me instantly and made me want to read more.

With that being said, after ‘Fate had caught me-off guard, plunging its silver tip….’ I think you could transition into *now*. Some flashback, to me, is okay, but in the first 250, the reader should really be rooted into the perspective of the main character. I think that’s what keeps them flipping pages. Overall, you've got a good style. I would read more.

Query: Again…great opening line and it gives us a huge insight into Megan’s personality. This is one that forces you to read more. What a cute concept!

The second paragraph: I would remove the adverbs from ‘flaky and highly irritating hunk’. Is there another way you can describe him? To me, these sound vague and don’t give me any substantial insight into this character. What is he really like? (Looking back…is this the love interest?) I had to read ‘annoying little man with wings’ twice to realize you were talking about Cupid. Personal preference but consider saying something after this that mentions his name. Maybe: Does Cupid have to wear those stupid wings? (Something that shows her personality a bit and ensures the read that Cupid is who she is speaking about)

Reading on to the third paragraph:

I think ’that all changes the moment she crashes into Cupid….’ should be higher. I would take off the ending of the second paragraph and replace it with this, so it reads:

The closest she’s come to romance is sharing workspace in home economics with a flaky and highly irritating hunk. That all changes the moment she crashes into Cupid…

As for the beginning of the third paragraph:

“For the past five years, (Info we can gather through the book. I don’t think it’s necessary in the query), Megan has built a wall around her heart. (You do a great job of showing us this in the second paragraph. At this point, you’re telling the reader something they have likely already implied.)

Finally, ’she has no choice’ to take Cupid’s place?’ Why? Can you explain what her alternative choice is? Did Cupid give her an ultimatum? I also think “make a decision that will impact her for the rest of her life” and “open herself up and risk getting hurt or keep safe” is vague. What are the actual stakes here? Who is involved with these stakes? Overall, I think the query can be tightened.

Thank you for letting me read your works. Good luck!

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Great query. I love the idea. You set up such a compelling, strong character internal arc for me. I would just gobble this up. I hope hope hope her father gets a love match.

I'd cut the line in the query about building a wall around her heart. That's already been explained well enough,

The sample page isn't as good as the query for me. It feels overwrought. Like she's sixteen going on fifty. For example, I've never thought of my heart as young. Or used the phrase childhood imaginings. Especially when they're about her mom's death. Did she really fantasize about that when she was a kid? Am I the weird one for just crossing my fingers and hoping everyone I loved would be just turn out to be immortal?

Uncouth is also not a word I'd expect to hear from an 11 year old or teenager. I feel like your query is so conversational and light, but the prose is heavy. I'd prefer a more casual prose style, personally. Something more like your query.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

To ad, also, it feels like the description of her mom dying is pretty divorced from her feelings. Like she's just watching. That might be intentional on your part, but it doesn't feel to me like her heart is shattering. She feels very clinical.

The Agent said...

So I think this is a cute start, though I had a bit of trouble making the logical leap between hitting cupid with her car and why that necessarily means that Megan becomes his assistant. I also don't know her age or the setting, though I am assuming it's Young Adult because you're talking about love - though this could also be an adult submission, which is why it's good to let us know early on what genre/age range this is.

Ok so now in the second paragraph I find out that she's sixteen, but you're telling me a second time that she doesn't believe in love, so I would fix that. But I do find it intriguing that you say she doesn't believe in familial love either. I was a bit thrown by the sentence "the closest she's come to romance" - because if she doesn't believe in love, then isn't romance out of the question? But "little man with wings" is cute, and I'm still intrigued. Though I do feel I have seen books like this before, so the writing will have to wow me - that's what I'm thinking right now.

I almost feel like paragraph three could be the start of your query letter - there is repetition going on here. Yes, I would definitely start your query with your third paragraph - it's tightly packed, but you basically have almost everything in there! A query doesn't have to be long to be effective.

I like your comp titles, but be wary of using "The Fault in Our Stars" unless it's really really relevant...I'm curious enough to see what the voice will be like.

The text:

You make it seem like her mom is just going away - not dying, and I wouldn't use the word "young" heart - if she's 16 then clearly her heart is young... - also, I'm not sure you would use the word "uncouth" to describe hair - perhaps you mean "unkempt"?

I think you would be better off putting this in the present tense - not just telling us about it, but showing us Megan sitting on her mom's bed - start with: "I sat on my mom's bed in the hospital..." - that sort of thing.

As it currently stands, the voice here isn't quite enough to grab me, despite the really cute concept! So I'm not sure if I'd read on...

Kenneth W. Barber said...

I love the hook. You repeat that she doesn't believe in love at the beginning of the first and second paragraphs. This only needs to be said once and you could use the space to give more info. I think you should give us her age in the first paragraph, that way we know what we're reading. Why does she have to become Cupid's assistant? I'm confused why she would be trying to get romance if she doesn't believe in love. I would suggest beginning in the present and saving the flasback exposition for later in the book. It's great insight, but I really want to know who she is and what she's dealing with right now. Overall, I think this is pretty good. I love the concept and I would definitely read more.