Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Agent Inbox:

Nearly eleven years ago, Maggie Mangan was born with the most powerful luck the world’s ever seen--so much so that the International Luck Council declared her the Luckiest Girl in the World. But for reasons no one can explain, Maggie’s luck soon disappeared, leaving her luckless and ordinary.

Maggie’s about to change all that. She senses her luck is buried deep inside her, and she’s desperate for it to come out. A dash will get her friends parts in the school play, while a smidge can help her brother’s grades. Plus, now that she’s old enough, she’ll be able to travel with other Luckers and help divert hurricanes, find buried treasure, and do other cool stuff to save the world.

But Maggie’s luck recovery project totally backfires, and she becomes a walking, talking, storm of doom who disperses rotten luck wherever she goes. With scientists lending little help, Maggie invents a sort-of unauthorized way to get her good luck back. Problem is, she needs help from the super show-off and incredibly annoying rules-stickler Luckiest Boy to pull it off. Worse, a new threat is rising--the Yellowstone supervolcano--that requires both of their abilities to prevent an eruption. If Maggie can’t figure out a way to work with her archenemy, not only will she have to live with a bad luck stench, but the planet may face the biggest environmental disaster yet.

Complete at 53,000 words, THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD is a magical realism adventure featuring a main character with the spunk and tenacity of Merida from Disney’s BRAVE in a magic-tinged world akin to that in Ingrid Law’s SAVVY. Pursuant to your submission guidelines, I've pasted the first 250 words below. Thank you for your consideration.



The orange glitter storm wasn’t one of my better ideas. For one, glitter’s impossible to clean up. Days later, I found specks in the strangest places, like my toothbrush and under my toenails.

What’s worse though is that the glitter bomb tipped off my parents to what I’d been up to--trying to coax the super-powerful orange luck I was born with to return. Truthfully, I couldn’t believe it took them so long to realize what I’d been doing. You’d think painting myself orange or sleeping on a bed of orange peels would have done it. But no, it took the glitter fiasco, specifically the sparkly orange flecks in the mashed potatoes, for them to figure it out. I should have expected as much. Dad loves his potatoes.

But now they knew, and they weren’t on board. At all. That’s why it was such a big deal when I entered the corner convenience store in search of supplies for my next luck recovery project. My stomach knew it too. Forget somersaults. We’re talking backflips, cartwheels, and handsprings so big my entire middle ached.

The door’s bell chimed, and I jerked a moment before ducking and scooting into an aisle. Weaving through rows of pet food, candy bars, and beef jerky, I made my way to the lucky charm display at the end of the far row.

Packages containing four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, rabbit’s feet, wishbones, ladybugs, and number 7s littered the rack. Perfect. Everything I needed for my super-scientific plan, aka Maggie Mangan’s Luck Recovery Project 12.0, was here.


Anonymous said...

I think this is super cute. The query really appeals to me because she's searching for something inside herself, which I think a lot of girls are at that age. The voice is fun, and I had a good giggle at the mashed potatoes!

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

I also really liked this one! It's adorable. One thing I would change is the second paragraph. It can be summed up in a sentence, something like "she tries to reverse her luckless existence, but it backfires..." and it'll lead into the third paragraph perfectly. But I do like the snippets of what she uses her luck for, so definitely get second opinions on this!

Another minor thing is that "luck" appears a lot and starts to get repetitive. If you can find a synonym, that would probably strengthen the query! Good luck!

PS- sorry I deleted before, technical difficulties!

Unrepentant Escapist said...

This is super cute. I liked it when I saw it picked for another pitch contest, too. You definitely write with a lot of charm. I like the concept. I wonder if having brave in your comps adds anything, since there are so many other tenacious characters out there. I feel like it doesn't tell me much that I don't get from the query.

Your writing is great, with a lot of little nice specifics, like the glitter in her toothbrush. The voice is vibrant, maybe a little too cutesy for my own personal taste. I'm not the target audience, so take my critique with a bit of salt, but I wonder if you should scenify your first few paragraphs? Instead of beginning with exposition, begin with her parents lecturing her? It seems kind of odd to me to begin with the glitter when she's actually at the convenience store buying stuff. What's the in-character reason for her thinking about the past glitter incident?

I would read on.

Caroline said...

This idea sounds fun! I *love* magical realism and love that this sounds like a discovery story.

I love that there's an International Luck Council -- that tells us immediately a little about this slightly different, magical world.
I know this is just the query to hook us, but I wanted to know what took Maggie's luck away, especially if it isn't actually gone, but rather buried deep inside her, as the second paragraph states. That seems slightly contradictory/confusing. That might be cleared up well in the manuscript itself, but just thought I'd point it out.

I agree with what Jessica said above about the line in the second paragraph. (Her revision suggestion sounds great.)

In the third paragraph, I think I would take out "that requires both of their abilities to prevent an eruption." Leaving it with the new threat rising and then "If Maggie can't figure out..." clearly tells the stakes.

I love how we get more of a sense of the magical world in the first 250 words, like that a convenience store would have a charm aisle/display. And the voice is great!
I did want to know what orange luck meant compared to other kinds of luck, but hopefully we'd find that out in the rest of the chapter. I also agree with the comment above to perhaps start it a little differently. If you wanted to start it as you did, perhaps expand the moment where the parents fuss and then let the reader follow Maggie as the decides to the go to the store, etc. (For example, continue the whole moment/scene after this line, which is GREAT line: "But now they knew, and they weren’t on board. At all.")

I would definitely read more!

The Agent said...

I'm really looking for middle grade and I'm intrigued by the concept here though I wonder if this would be better phrased as:

"Eleven year old Maggie Mangan is the Luckiest Girl in the World." - something more direct. I would also say, instead of "Maggie's luck soon disappeared" - something like, "but when Maggie's luck disappears..." then what happens? Add something here.

I would cut "Maggie's about to change all that" and skip to the next sentence. Instead of saying "she's desperate for it to come out" - tell us what she is going to do to make it come out? In the next sentence I wasn't sure what you meant by "a dash" and "a smidge" - say, "Because a dash of luck....and a smidge of luck..." etc. I would also have it say "and what Maggie wants most in the world is to travel with other Luckers..." etc. however I was confused by this because this is the first time you tell us that Maggie isn't the only one in the world with luck...

So, in the next paragraph you tell us that Maggie does have a luck recovery project! Best to mention this in the previous paragraph - tell us she has a plan to unlock the luck inside her! Then in this paragraph tell us that her plan backfires. "Walking, talking, storm of doom" feels a little harsh...and I'm not sure what you mean by "with scientists lending little help" - since when did scientists get involved? I'm confused. And oh....there's a Luckiest Boy in the World too? I had no idea - maybe find a way to mention this earlier? Is there a luckest Man? Woman? Dog? tell us more. But what in the world does 11-year-old Maggie have to do with a super-volcano? This really confused me. I'm not sure about the environmental twist this story seems to take. Seems like it might be better to keep this smaller - how does Maggie get her luck back?

53,000 words feels a little long for Middle Grade, but I do like your comp titles!

The text:

I do like your first line. But why is her luck orange? There is a great voice here in the first two paragraphs and I'd be interested in reading on.

Paragraph three: "But now they knew..." knew what? That her luck was gone?

From your query I expected the book to start by telling us about Maggie before she lost her luck, not to start with the aftermath. But I'm definitely intrigued and I would keep reading.

Jennifer K. said...

This is a cute idea - I can already picture a fun cover! I know it must be hard to find another word for luck, but I felt like it was repeated a lot in the query. And maybe there's another place to start that would give it a little more punch? Like the day she loses her luck? Best of luck! ;-)