Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #22

March 20th 2017

Dear Agent,

Please consider my science-fiction novel, The Guides, complete at 80,000 words. This is a standalone work, or could serve as the first in a trilogy. The book features an obsessive connection between two predestined beings exploring an amazing parallel dimension, set in the lush backdrop of the past and future of the Bavarian forests of Germany.

Lena is a blonde, brainy twenty-something high school physics teacher who has just started her summer break. She is traveling back to her mother’s childhood home in Germany to save her family’s heirlooms after her awful aunt has threatened to sell the house and all of its contents. There, she meets Sebastian, a strikingly handsome young physicist at the nearby university, and she falls hard. Swept away in what seems like the picturesque summer romance, Lena gets grounded fast as she makes a disturbing discovery. Sebastian reveals to her that he is one of hundreds of immortals on Earth called Guides, who have the ability to travel to another dimension. The ultimate goal of these mysterious beings, is to transition the inhabitants of our dimension to Beta when the earth is no longer hospitable for life, or other forces threaten our current dimension. Lena learns that like him, she has no copy of herself in Beta and is destined to become a Guide.

With this newly discovered reality staring her in the face, she quickly realizes she has to leave the life she knows and break from all of the relationships she has created. Giving into the pull of the overwhelming magnetism Sebastian has over and the beauty and radiance of Beta, she agrees to help in whatever way asked of her by the Guides.

Because of the physical differences of Beta to our dimension, like gravitational forces and the chemical makeup of their atmosphere, it will take months of Lena training in a dream-like state before she is prepared to make the full journey through the portal to Beta. During those training sessions, Lena finally begins to feel like she belongs for the first time in her life and becomes obsessed with the life she has been living on Beta. She learns that she is a well-respected scientist with high power and intelligence. She is stunned to discover that she and Sebastian are anything but strangers, they are, in fact, married. Anna, the leader of the Guides, teaches her that there are many threats to their kind. The portals have become increasingly unstable and a pair of rogue Guides have their target set on the newest addition to the order, Lena.

At the advice of the elder Guides, she is forced to travel to Beta alone to avoid becoming discovered. With very little training, Lena finds herself in a foreign place, faced with the consequences of her decision, and searching desperately for Sebastian and the Guides who promised her this new world.

About me:

Outside of my incessant daydream of becoming an inspirational and notable author, my real life day job is that of a pediatric practice administrator, for a busy, six-provider practice. I live in High Springs, Florida with a most amazing son and hilarious and musically talented husband.

Much gratitude and love,


The plane touched down with an emphatic thump, nicely capturing the essence of the trip to Germany with my mother up to this point.

I looked over at my mother and met her eyes, gave a weak smile, and slowly released the grip of her hand, now that we had landed safely on the ground. I broke our stare to watch the wing flaps thrash roughly against the air, challenging their hinges, and making the wind whistle loudly outside of my window. I felt the power of the brakes and reflected on the physics behind this thrilling feeling. Understanding the science behind slightly frightening events always brought me comfort. 

I was surprised that this tradition still continued, that of reaching for my mother’s hand upon takeoff and landing. Something about the sheer speed it takes to launch the 200 ton barrel of steel into the air instills a sense of excitement, finality and fear into my heart. I suppose the reason for the trip also had my emotions on somewhat of a turbulent ride, an uncomfortable feeling for me, an expert at tucking them completely out of sight, out of mind.

As the plane taxied up the runway, I started to make out the familiar silhouette of the Munich airport. A sense of relief rushed over me as I realized I was once again back in the country that I have always had an undeniable connection to. My sentimental moment was quickly interrupted as Mother managed to irritate the passenger across the aisle by rushing to get her bags from the overhead compartment before the seatbelt light had been turned off.


L.Ryan Storms said...

I know in your query you say the genre is science fiction, but I'm having trouble seeing this in the first page. is it possible this is more urban fantasy? The query is long, far too long, which resulted in me skimming most of it. A query is supposed to leave the agent with a very basic idea of the story's premise. This query is written more like a book report with the way the facts are told. Chuck Sambuchino lists a great example of successful query here (though there are dozens to look at!) if you want to see what I mean. (

It's not that this query is bad, per se, but it's so long that I find myself wondering what the book is actually about. There's just so much information.

As for the first 250 words, the writing is solid, but there's no hook for me. I don't feel as though I've been captured. I'm not asking questions. It's a plane landing, beautifully described, but a plane landing nonetheless. The most urgent question I can think to ask while reading this passage is "Why is she surprised the tradition of hand-holding during landing still continued?" Is the relationship between her and her mother strained? Is her mother suffering from dementia? If neither of those things is the case, I shouldn't even really be asking the question about the hand-holding. And that makes me feel like I've been misled as a reader. It's hard to say without reading further.

I hope you'll take this as honest criticism and not too hard! The writing is good. It's solid. Work on something that draws the reader in, something more than a plane touching down and the main character marveling descriptively at all the ways in which a plane works.

E.D. said...

I'd recommend putting your opening query paragraph at the end of the query and jumping right into the hook. It might capture the agent's attention, and interest, more. Also, it's a very long query. Try tightening it a bit and only revealing the main thrust of the work.

I agree with the comment above about the pages. I had a hard time getting a sense of science fiction from your opening page.

Thanks for sharing!

The Agent said...

While your first paragraph is a bit unconventional and I think it could be rewritten in a stronger way, you do give me the word count and genre and tell me what the novel is about right away - and right away I'm intrigued and what to read more. Science Fiction set in the Bavarian forests of Germany? I'm in.

The first half of your second paragraph is strong. It sets the stage well and tells me the age of the characters, their background, and the setting. Well done. But when you get to the sentence: "Sebastian reveals to her that he is one of hundreds of immortals on Earth called Guides, who have the ability to travel to another dimension." - I was a bit confused. First, maybe you'd want to put that in the next paragraph. And second, you lose me when you keep going: "to transition the inhabitants of our dimension to Beta when the earth is no longer hospitable for life, or other forces threaten our current dimension. Lena learns that like him, she has no copy of herself in Beta and is destined to become a Guide." - I have no idea what is going on here. What is a Guide? What is a Beta? Why does Lena have no copy of herself there?

Why would Lena realize the she needs to leave the life she knows and break from all relationships?

While I like a lot of what is going on here I'm having a hard time following the idea that in another dimension Lena is a different person and married to Sebastian.

However, I really do like Science Fiction, so I'd be interested in reading the text to see if there's a great voice or great writing. Perhaps the text explains a lot more than the query.

The text:

I think you spend too much time describing the plane's landing and her feelings about flying, being there with her mother etc.

I like the last paragraph a bit better because you tell us we are in Munich, but then you skip to her mother irritating other passengers and in general I feel like there's too much going on in this first scene - but also not enough. What do I mean? On the one hand, you focus on so many details that it makes me feel like something is going to happen on this flight landing - but then the flight landing ends up being completely normal and nothing much happens. When you draw a reader's attention to so many details, it makes us think that they are important, and by the end of this very short passage I was confused as to why all these details were important when it just feels like a run of the mill airplane landing. What if you started your book in Germany? Also, from your query you didn't mention that there was a mother involved at all, so it surprised me that she is present so early on in the book.

I'm not sure there's enough here to cause me to read on - but I might skip ahead to see what happens when she meets Sebastian and see what the science fiction element are like.