Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #21

Dear Agent:

Murder, blackmail and power plays are as common as street signs in the gritty, mob-run town Nick and his younger sister call home. When she gets kidnapped, the texts that follow give him one choice and no options: do the hits or she dies.

Nick's reward for a kill is a fist-full of precious seconds to hear his sister's voice. He wants nothing more than to find her and exact revenge on the men responsible. But one hit leads to an unexpected rescue, and he spends the next three weeks avoiding the woman who looked at him like a savior, instead of a killer. Any contact could make her another pawn in the mob’s sick game of blood-chess, but Nick’s restless, lonely mind keeps dragging him back to the headstrong, fearless, and beautiful Scarlet.

Three weeks of hell in a splint leaves Scarlet with far too much time to fantasize about her knight-in-shining-hoodie. And even though her near-mugging with a side of injury showed her firsthand the darkness lurking in her city, she’s determined to go on like nothing happened. That is, until a blown light bulb puts her face-to-face with the hazel-eyed hero of her desperate, ridiculous dreams.

When another terrifying attack paves the way for tragedy, Nick and Scarlet’s passion overwhelms them in the aftermath. But one stupid mistake is all it takes for Nick's worst fear to come true. Now Scarlet is caught by a sick mobster with designs on her family’s apparent position, and he’s forcing Nick to choose between saving his sister or Scarlet. Or lose them both.

LOVE IN THE SHADOWS is a romantic thriller that sits at 75,502 words. It's a stand alone novel with a planned series and has a HFN.

I'm an avid romance reader and a PR Intern with Inklings Literary. My tasks vary, but presently I create ad images, set up book signings, and maintain the agency’s Twitter account. Seeing first-hand what marketing an author entails has given me huge insight into how to run the business side of writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Nick rested his back against the cold, gray brick wall of the alley. The air was thick with the stench of damp pavement and he took a steadying breath. Just another hit. Just some thug that needed to be put down. No big deal.

He should have closed the store early and taken his sister to that stupid party himself.

A patrol car rolled past the opening, and Nick froze, then frowned and cracked his neck.

If he had, they might be at home, arguing over why she couldn’t have a boyfriend. Or why he thought her music was stupid. Now his thoughts were filled with how she’d be the next time he heard her voice. If she was eating. If they had hurt her again.

Nick gripped the 9mm, twisting the silencer again for good measure, and closed his eyes as he tilted his head to listen. Rustling trash from his left, a bat chitter from above the roof lines, and voices. He leaned away from the wall and scanned the area. Two men staggered down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Nick shook his head. Probably out looking for drugs or late night action. He checked his watch. One minute. A boisterous voice seeped through the hinge crack, and he steeled himself.

“--Valentine punks are all the same. Bring my d*** money tomorrow, Matches. I ain't playin'."

The steel back door of the club scraped against the molding as it inched open, and Nick rotated to face it, gun ready in his outstretched arm.


JP said...


Being a sucker for romance, I liked the premise. The query and excerpt need some cleaning up, though.

Ex. Nick's reward for EACH kill.

You could ditch the sentence about how Nick wants revenge. the rest of the query makes no mention of this.

One kill leads to an unexpected rescue - I initially thought Nick rescued his intended victim. I believe (not sure, ye) you meant Nick killed someone who was about to make a corpse out of Scarlet.

Love the 'knight in shining hoodie.'

Para #4 is confusing. Why would Nick's romance turn the mob's attention to Scarlet? And if she's already in a powerful position, wouldn't they have known about her, already?

Excerpt -

'Just another hit' - made me think he was waiting to dose himself.

Cracked his neck? You mean, like crack the joints?

Rotated - Pivoted?

Unpublished newbie here, so take my comments with a spoonful of salt.

Roller Coaster Robot said...

Thanks for the comments!
Yes, the mob absolutely knows about her, she had no clue her family was anything other than dysfunctional at best. She was in the crosshairs way prior to all of this, including Nick rescuing her. They were already using Nick's sister to coerce him into knocking off competition in a way that couldn't be tracked back, and as a twisted retaliation for a past family thing (told in story) But when they found out the two of them were in each other's orbit, is when it all came to a head.
And no, he performed the hit, and rescued her right after that, right around the corner, in fact.
Yeah, it means cracked the joints, that's how we say it down here. I can for sure adjust that.
Good point about the revenge.
Intersting about the 'hit' I've never heard anyone think that! I'll look at how I could adjust that, possibly.

MJ Marshall said...

I was just going to comment that I was ready to suspend any disbelief and roll with anything that came next. This query and opener NAILED IT for me. I want to read more!

Kenneth W. Barber said...

Love this. I get a sense of the characters from this query. I know the conflict and stakes for Nick and understand the internal struggle he's feeling. Great job!

Chris Owens said...

Your query is sold, and your first page sets an gritty tone. The only thing I really question is the third sentence of the excerpt - I think placing it in that position disrupts the flow of events/thoughts. That could just be me though.

I'm not seeing major problems, and it sounds like a great story. Good luck!

The Agent said...

While your first sentence is intriguing, it doesn't tell me that much about the fact that Nick and his younger sister and involved in the corruption. What kind of family are they from? Are they in a mob family? What is his sister's name and how old are they? Some of this information feels missing in the first paragraph. I'd also like to know your genre - or at least have hints to it here - clearly this is a crime/thriller/mystery of some sort, but what is the age range?

Your second paragraph is strong - but who is Scarlet? His sister? Or the woman he saved? That's unclear to me.

Your third paragraph makes it clear that Scarlet is the woman he saved and "in a splint" must mean she was injured? But you don't tell us that in the earlier paragraph and it feels to me like that's an important detail.

I'm a little bit unsure what you mean by this sentence: "That is, until a blown light bulb puts her face-to-face with the hazel-eyed hero of her desperate, ridiculous dreams."

And where is Nick's sister in all of this?

"When another terrifying attack paves the way for tragedy, Nick and Scarlet’s passion overwhelms them in the aftermath."
Hmm. Nothing up until now told me that there was something brewing between them - maybe make the clearer earlier?

The genre and word count to intrigue me, even though I would have liked to understand more about Nick and Scarlet's families earlier in the story to up the stakes a bit (they are clearly pawns in some kind of mob power play but if they are both part of big mob families that would definitely up the stakes...)

I actually wasn't familiar with the term "HFN" - other agents might also not be?

The text:

This is well written, but three paragraphs in and I'm still not sure the family that Nick and his sister come from or their age - it really could still read as YA. I'd like more hints in the text as to the characters ages and backgrounds. What kind of store did Nick close?

From your query I was expecting to hear about or "see" her kidnapping in the beginning of the novel, not to have it start after the kidnapping already happened. I wonder if this is the right place to start your book - seems to me like as readers we are missing out on a very dramatic heart-wrenching scene and I'm not sure why you chose not to include it?

The word "boisterous" threw me and didn't feel like it matched the tone of the excerpt.

This is definitely well written and I'm intrigued, but consider the things I mentioned about stakes...for now, I'd keep reading!