Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Agent:

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work titled, Beyond the Lonely Oak

I am a student at Antelope Valley College and am working towards my bachelor’s degree in English. Beyond the Lonely Oak is currently finished, I've had it read and edited by a professional editor and it falls in the adult romance/fantasy genre. The word count is clocked at 75,180. 

Some say that a love story starts at the very beginning, but what if it doesn't truly begin until the middle? After suffering a horrible car wreck and loosing ten years of memories, Ava Radcliffe moves away from her home town to make a new life for herself. She is the star ballerina at a company in Dallas and things are finally looking up when a strange manuscript arrives in the mail. Before she can begin to read the story, her grandmothers passes and she is forced to return home to the town she had left behind years earlier. As a series of events unfold, she finds that she may have left behind more than she realized. Who is the elusive Braden and why does he claim to know her? She must navigate through the last book her grandmother wrote before her death to find the answers and rediscover her destiny. Even if those answers are the most unlikely of all truths. 

I have been developing a following on Wattpad and Facebook in order to promote the attached work. Within the first two weeks of my novel being on Wattpad it received 1000 reads and over 100 votes. I am including the first ten pages in the body of this e-mail and if requested can send over the entire book. 

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I hope to hear from you. 




There was so much blood. A crimson inferno of fear. His face kept slipping in and out of her vision, a mirage of molten beauty that she couldn't keep solid. He had become an intangible photograph, and that photograph was burning away to embers.

She screamed, pulling at the restraints around her wrists. Why couldn't they understand? She wasn't crazy; she was desperate.

More blood, bright red and brilliant against the white. They had warned her that if she couldn't stop hurting herself, they would give her the needle again. Didn't they realize, that once the pain was gone, he would be too? She thrashed and pulled wildly at the restraints, forcing her body to feel alive despite the medication and magic that was pulling her away from herself.

"Don't leave me!" she yelled over and over until her voice was raw and painful.

A woman's face came into view, the lines of time ravaging the familiar landscape. How had she aged so drastically?

"Grams?" she muttered. Her grandmother had been trying to say something to her, her face taut and concerned, as she reached out and placed a hand on Ava's moving body.

The room around her had grown chaotic. Three nurses ran in to hold her down. Her grandmother was still speaking, but Ava couldn't focus on anything other than her own desperation. 

He would be gone soon.

She let out a terrified scream as they thrust the needle into her arm.


Dustin A. said...

Thank you for sharing this! I think the first page has great intensity and intrigue.

The Query lacks stakes and urgency. What does she want and what is standing in her way? You mention the manuscript but not how it affects the story.

I've read claiming an MS has been professionally edited can seem amateurish.

Try putting this in your book decription:
"Beyond the Lonely Oak is an adult romance/fantasy complete at 75,000 words."

Cassandra Wilsted said...

Thank you for the feedback! I'm not great at writing queries so to hear this and get a little direction really helps me. I find it hard to condense my story down into one or two paragraphs. I will definitely take into consideration the remarks about using a professional editor. Thanks again Dustin.

KEM said...

I agree that you have good intensity!

I would not start your query with your bio, but rather put that at the end. Also, be careful of the little typos like losing, not loosing as they mar the query. I think you might want to cut the question about the love story and start with the next sentence. It seems that agents do not generally like questions in queries. Try to stay away from vague things like-rediscover her destiny- and see if you can give a little more specifics.

Queries are really hard! Keep at it and try looking up successful queries online, there is a lot of info out there.

Best of luck!

MJ Marshall said...

Use this sort of template to make your query more active and easier to read. Raise the stakes, if Braedon isn't integral, dump him from query. Add something about the grandmother to make us care.

Dear Agent,

Some say that a love story starts at the very beginning, but what if it doesn't truly begin until the middle?

Ava Radcliffe, star ballerina in a Dallas company, still suffers from losing ten years’ of memories after a horrible car wreck. The arrival of a strange manuscript coincides with her author grandmother’s passing. Drawn back to the hometown she hoped she left far behind, she realizes the keys to unlock her lost memories might be there. Who is the elusive Braden and how does he know so much about her? She’ll navigate the final book her grandmother wrote to (raise the stakes)

BEYOND THE LONELY OAK is 75,180-word adult romance/fantasy. I am a student at Antelope Valley College and am working toward my bachelor’s degree in English.

Thank you for your consideration,
Contact info
wattpad name, twitter handle, etc

Good luck!!!

The Agent said...

Your first sentence doesn't tell me anything about your novel's genre and word count. And in your second sentence you tell me about you, and that your book is finished and edited by a professional editor - all things I'm less interested in knowing this early on in your query. The truth is - telling me your book was professionally edited is not something I would mention in a query at all - while it tells me that your take your writing seriously, I have seen so many books badly edited by a "professional" editor that I'd prefer to let the text speak for itself. If it was well written and well edited, I will see that in the text - it will shine. So, try instead:

"Dear Agent,
Beyond the Lonely Oak is a 75,000 word adult fantasy romance" - that's really all you need as a first sentence!

I would cut this sentence: "Some say that a love story starts at the very beginning, but what if it doesn't truly begin until the middle?" and just get right into "After a horrible car wreck causes Ava Radcliffe to lose ten years of memories, she moves away from her home town to make a new life for herself" - then tell us where? What city? Where is this set? How does she become a star ballerina so quickly? You make it seem like she just moved to a new city, and if she lost ten years of memories - would she remember how to dance? You need to make some things clearer here. Is Dallas the new city? How many years does it take her to become a star ballerina in a new town? Isn't that something that takes years to achieve? There are also spelling errors here like "her grandmothers passes" - I think grandmother should be singular here, no? Watch our for pesky typos! I'm also unsure what is the fantasy element here.

The text:

I'm not the biggest fan of prologues - they usually needs to be a very good reason to use one.

In general I feel like there is too much description here: "crimson inferno" "mirage of molten beauty" "intangible photograph" "burning away to embers" - I would pick one description and stick to it.

I'm confused to hear that she's restrained - where is she?

Now she's hurting herself? I thought the blood was just in the her dream.

I think I might prefer to read you story where it starts and not with a prologue. I could tell by the end that she's in some kind of hospital and I understand that these memories might be important foreshadowing that there is some kind of guy in her past and something horrible happened, but I found a lot of the text here confusing and unclear and I'm not quite sure if the writing is strong enough to make me want to read on.

Cassandra Wilsted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassandra Wilsted said...

Thank you for such a detailed response. I completely agree with all of your critiques. I'm going to head back to the drawing board and take what I've learned from this experience to create a better query. I will also work on the writing. Thank you so much for your time and expertise.