Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Agent,

Ella Grayson has one goal: to white knuckle her way through her first art show, anxiety be d*****. She can do this. She just needs to get through a few hours without vomiting, hearing voices, or creating another terrifying painting. No problem. With enough caffeine, anything is possible.

Then Sebastian Baldasarre barges into her life, and nothing is ever the same again.

At first, she thinks his story about rival clans with extraordinary powers means he's as crazy as she's afraid of becoming, but she soon realizes that every word he's said is true. What's more, she's the Storm Rider and is key to the final outcome of this battle, in which hangs the future of all humanity. The irony of being responsible everyone on the planet, when she doesn't even like people, is not lost on her.

Ella throws herself into training, to learn to wield her abilities. Without it, she could level city blocks the next time she runs low on caffeine. The passion and sensuality she discovers in Sebastian's bed...well, all work and no play would make Ella a dull girl.

When a traitor delivers Ella into the hands of a rival clan warrior, she's terrified. The one-eyed face in front of her is the one from her horrifying painting. A serial killer, with centuries of experience, he's determined to use her to guarantee victory for his own clan. She'll have to save herself...if she can.

EYE OF THE STORM is urban fantasy, with elements of romance, suspense and humour. It is intended for adult readership, and complete at 89,000 words. 

As a person with a severe chronic pain disability, and accompanying issues with anxiety and depression, I believe that I bring a unique perspective and reality to writing about a character grappling with disabilities. I am a mutli-published freelance writer, and my credits include articles with the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and BuzzFeed. My article, "Princess Or Not, How The H*** Does She Look Like That?" was the top performing article at Scary Mommy in 2015

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Malevolence, like a palpable force, emanated from the painting as if evil had been splashed upon the canvas.

Ella swayed where she stood, her fingers clenching the paintbrush so tightly they ached. The smell of paint thinner stung her nose as she stared at the painting in front of her. 

A dark-haired stranger glared out at her. His narrow slash of a mouth had a slight twisting of lips, a mockery of a smile promising pain and terror. The left eye, a dark brown close to black, reflected the image of fire. Where his right eye should have been, there was only a ragged, gaping hole dribbling blood down his cheek. The background was a cacophony of jagged red and black.

Blood and death, her mind whispered.

She didn't know how she'd gotten to her studio, and had no memory of creating the terrible vision in front of her.

The last thing she could remember was stepping out onto the deck. And voices. The voices had come again.

Hurling the paintbrush away from her, as if it were a deadly snake she'd picked up by accident, Ella shook her head. A helpless moan tore from her throat. This wasn't happening. It couldn't be happening. She couldn't have painted that! She turned to escape the studio but couldn't leave the painting visible. Cursing herself for being stupid, she threw a sheet over it with trembling hands. Immediately, her breath began to ease.


JP said...

Query - Para 1 good. I have a sense of who Ella is although I would recommend shortening it.

Para 2 and 3 should be combined. I don't think you need the 'irony' sentence. It's clear enough she's anxious.

Para 4 - leveling city blocks? Am not sure you need to add this to the query. if you absolutely want to, you have to preface it by saying she's discovering abilities which, if left untrained, may cause her to accidentally level city blocks.

Para 5 - This should be high-impact. Then, she'd abducted by the rival clan and comes face-to-face with the monster she's seen in her nightmares. the one-eyed man she paints with her brush. STOP THERE.

Excerpt -

Sentences need to be trimmed and there are some copy editing issues.

Ex - Opening sentence needs to be polished. It's too wordy. 'Malevolence leaped off the painting' will capture the essence of what you're trying to say, IMO.

Ex 2 - 'paint' appears 3 times in one short para. Use synonyms, if you can.

Melissa C said...

Thank you for your feedback, very appreciated!

Kim Long said...

I like this idea a lot. My main suggestion would be to condense. Your query is a bit long. For example, you don't need, "She can do this" in the first para. You can skip that altogether because the next sentence tells us exactly the predicament. Same thing for paras 3 & 4. I think you can combine these and make it more succinct. Final suggestion on query is that I'd be a tad more specific on what she has to do to save herself and how she's exactly being used as a pawn so we understand the conflict.

I like the writing in the sample. You can shorten here and there. She can hurl the brush or hurl the brush away, you don't need from her. I did feel the beginning dragged a bit. You say she has no idea how she painted the image in front of her, but then right below you say it again. I'd see if you can pick up the pace a bit in this first page.

Overall though, this sounds real interesting. Good luck!

Jessica said...

I agree with what the other two said, but I also want to say that I loved the 250 words! I'd say it needs some light editing (don't use exclamation points unless you absolutely need them, minor repetition, opening lines are a bit confusing), but overall it was great!

As far as your query, I like it too, but it can be condensed. I'd also suggest cutting the specific terms like "storm rider" because I don't know what it is w/out reading the book. And in the final paragraph you bring up the painting (that we see in the opener), but the reader hasn't been introduced to it yet in the query...if that makes sense haha.

Hopefully that helps! Good luck, you're really close!

Perrin said...

I love the premise. But I also agree with the others to tighten and condense. Use of passive, too, dilutes your prose. Example: "The background was a cacophony of jagged red and black." => "Jagged reds and black pitch slashed through the background." or similar.

Perhaps to create a stronger beginning, rearrange some sentences. The action of hurling away the paintbrush as she stared at the malevolent being splashed across the canvas could have greater impact at the beginning. Then go into the being's description and her wondering how she even arrived at the studio.

Excellent material to work with. You are getting close. All the best.

The Agent said...

Your setup and first paragraph are great - I'm intrigued, though I would like to know your genre and the age of your character from the outset - I'm guessing YA, but I'm not sure.

Wow your second paragraph really takes this book in a different direction - I was sure this book was YA contemporary. I would find a way to make it clear from earlier on that this is a fantasy book.

In paragraph four we find out that she's in Sebastian's bed, so now I'm guessing maybe this isn't YA...but it really read like one in this query up until now.

At the end I now realize that this is Urban Fantasy and and adult novel - that's why it's important to make these things clear earlier. I was a bit confused by the whole "clans" thing - I didn't understand what they were - Vikings? And if so, how does this jibe with the very contemporary way you start the query? But since so much of UF relates to great voice, I'll read on to see if the writing blows me away.

The Text:

I'm not sure I would start with the sentence you use - I think I'd rather have you start with "Ella swayed..." and move your first sentence to after your first paragraph.

I'm intrigued by the idea of someone creating paintings she has no memories of - or paintings of some kind of Viking/clansmen which is where I feel like you're going with this, but the writing doesn't feel "voicey" enough for me to necessarily read on.

Phrases like "as if it were a deadly snake she'd picked up by accident" I would cut, they distract from the immediacy of the narrative because as readers we try to picture the paintbrush looking like a snake, rather than focusing on the action and immediacy of the moment which is actually more important here.