Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Agent:

When a mysterious lady moves into the ramshackle leftover farm in the woods, 12-year-old Evie cannot believe her luck. Suddenly, there are horses on the edge of her suburban neighborhood. Evie decides that she is going to ride one if it’s the last thing she does. She hooks her best friend Oliver into helping her sneak a ride.

As seventh grade comes to an end, Evie thinks of nothing except learning to ride. Well, maybe Oliver is popping up in her thoughts too. Lately, she is not thinking of him as just a friend.

Turns out the lady at the farm is more than mysterious. When Evie secretly witnesses what she suspects is the horse lady bringing a bird back to life, she strikes up a friendship with her. Her name is Jemima Blaze and she allows Evie to hang around the barn. It becomes Evie’s favorite place to be, especially when Oliver starts avoiding her in favor of his baseball team.

Oliver even ignores Evie at the school dance, and when he doesn't stop his friend from insulting her - she runs away to the one place she's happy. Heartbroken, Evie decides to risk a nighttime ride alone. The horse is spooked and throws her, knocking her unconscious. Unexpectedly, Evie finds her life depending on Oliver and whether Jemima will reveal her ancient healing magic.

RIDING INTO MAGIC is a Middle Grade Contemporary with a touch of magic, complete at 33,000 words. It will appeal to readers of THE INFINITY YEAR OF AVALON JAMES and any of the horse lover's series such as the Canterwood Crest or Quartz Creek Ranch novels.

Thank you for your time and consideration



I crept through the woods toward the broken-down place on the edge of my neighborhood. It’d been empty for years. Some kids dared each other to go in and get back out alive. Everyone knew animals like raccoons and skunks lived there. Maybe even bats. 

But a strange lady named Jemima Blaze moved into it last week. I’m always on the hunt for something exciting in my neighborhood and am usually pretty disappointed. This was different. Nothing was going to stop me from investigating, so I weaved through the trees. Almost there, I held my breath and tried not to make noise. Snow flurries floated all around, and I picked my way carefully over the cold ground. Coming to a fallen tree, I hopped over it and wound around a puddle just turning to ice. I made it unseen to the paddock fence and couldn’t believe my luck. 

There they were, practically in my back yard! I didn't care who she was, Ms. Blaze had done the one thing that was better than anything else--brought horses with her. 

Sticks crunched under my feet making the palomino one swing his head in my direction. Not wanting to scare him away, I stood perfectly still. I rode horses in my dreams almost every night, but this one was real. 

His ears tipped forward and he looked right at me, as though asking, “Who are you?”

I whispered, “I’m Evie, what’s your name?”


Anonymous said...

First of all, I love the concept of your novel, especially as a horse lover myself. It immediately brought up memories of the American Girl series. The book where Felicity tames the wild horse was always a favorite of mine as a child.

The query is definitely interesting, but I feel like the second paragraph is unnecessary and breaks up the flow. You don't even have to tell the reader that Oliver is more than a friend here. I feel like the things he does could hurt her with or without that. Also, I worry you might give away too much in the last paragraph. It almost feels like I know the full story.

As for the page, I feel like you may have jumped into the story a little too quickly. I would really love to see the moment the main character learns Jemima has moved in, and maybe when she goes to investigate. Take a chapter to lead up to introduce us to her and her world, so the moment she finds the horse floors us along with her.

Thank you for sharing with us! :)

Anonymous said...

I adore this concept (horse owner, lover, and instructor here), and I adore magic, so this really appeals. I think the mystery of your plot is super intriguing, and I really wanted to know more.

I have to agree with Justine though. You get into the story too quickly. I think you need to take a little step back and build up the mystery and suspense a little more, give it a little more development in the atmosphere you are more than capable of creating.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

The "as seventh grade comes to an end" paragraph in your query kind of feels like it comes out of nowhere and breaks up the flow.

Is there any reason the main character loves horses so much? Something that might make me more sympathetic as a reader?

I like the first paragraph of your sample. It's cute.

I wonder how the kid knows the lady's name already. I'd like to see a deeper description of the woods, focused on smells, touch, etc. it feels more like a list of actions rather than a place.

The Agent said...

If a farm is ramshackle I don't think you need to use the word "leftover" too. But the rest of the first paragraph is cute and I'm intrigued. I would say something about why Evie "cannot believe her luck" - because she loves horses? Because she's obsessed with them? It's implied, but I think it's important to tell us why.

I wouldn't mention the Oliver part yet - leave just this sentence: "As seventh grade comes to an end, Evie thinks of nothing except learning to ride."

I'm super intrigued by the potential for the neighbor to be a witchy horse lady!

In the last paragraph I would say: "When Oliver ignores Evie at the school dance..." etc. Also - is this night-time ride that Evie takes the first one? Or did she get a chance before - did the neighbor let her? Explain.

"Unexpectedly, Evie finds her life depending on Oliver and whether Jemima will reveal her ancient healing magic." - this sentence is awkward - I think it would be better if you said something like "Oliver follows her and runs to get help, and suddenly Evie's life depends on whether Jemima will use her healing magic" - or something like that.

The word count is good though and I like your comp title - I'd definitely read on to see if the voice hooks me.

The text:

I'd use the word "farm" instead of "place" - which is a bit too nondescript. The first paragraph feels disjointed.

I think I'd rather "see" Evie "discover" that someone moves in, in real-time, rather than have her tell us that Jemima moved in already - it would be more intriguing if we got to discover it together with her - through her eyes. The snow threw me - I think if it's snowing you should mention that in the first paragraph.

While your query definitely intrigued me - the voice just doesn't feel right here. I would recommend starting your book in a different way - like I suggested - having us discover Jemima together with Evie. Right now this isn't reading "voicey" enough for me to continue reading...but there is definitely potential here!

KEM said...

Thank you for all the comments and special thanks to the Agent for taking the time to give detailed feedback!

I will take your advice and review my opening because right after the opening, Evie sees Jemima for the first time and gets a hint of her magic. Perhaps it would be better to start immediately with that.

Love getting constructive critiques - so helpful. Thanks to Krista for hosting!