Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #23

Dear Agent,

DESIGNS OF EUPHORIA, a YA science fiction novel complete at 69,000 words, can be likened to Red Rising meets Lightless.

Seventeen-year-old Lottie accepts that her first love is a genetically modified warrior loyal to an emerging AI. At least until she discovers that the machine is systemically stamping out all dissent and diversity on its quest to build Plato’s perfectly just city.

When the lives of her family get caught in its path, Lottie realizes the fight to save them is much bigger than herself. Pockets of impoverished provincials and groups of vengeful exiled warriors have launched a counteroffensive. But the uprising captures her father, thinking he works for the AI.

Now with her love and family on one side and a ragtag cabal that she believes in on the other, Lottie must choose what--and whom--she’s willing to sacrifice to stop the encroaching army of warriors and exobots.

I am happy to send the full manuscript upon request. Thank you very much for your time.



The second to last time Dad lay buried between the sacks, every part of me hoped he’d stay there. I had no idea that the next time, I'd be a sobbing mess, begging him to get up.

Grains of sand whipped around us, scattering as we neared West Gate. Our transport cruised along with the low hum of autopilot, running a methodical scan over the deserted terrain. I’d stopped paying attention hours ago. Now sitting hunched over, I flipped through page after page of the tattered book. A slow ache rippled through my shoulder blades. Everything hurt, everything always hurt, by the time we got to the gate. 

The transport’s display ignited. A growing orange glow scrawled across the interface the same moment a shrill ding sounded warning: they’d identified us. Cursing myself for not moving sooner, I slammed the book closed and jumped up. A hollow slip ran between the interior wall and flat deck. Two quick bangs and the rusty casing opened enough for me to hide the gift inside. A good kick and it closed. Once settled, I switched navigation to semi-manual mode and queued a couple controls. We floated forward.

Up ahead, warriors stood erect with their backs against chiseled stone, looking as greyed and weathered as the wall they guarded, but also as proud. On our approach, the darkened silhouettes shifted, drawing electrified braided spears outward. Black synthetic leathers ran smoothly over their bodies, concealing the source of their inhuman strength: exogear. A cold shiver ran down my spine.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting query that promises to introduce you into strange new worlds...which just happens to be my cup of tea. :)

As for the query, I did get a little confused when you referred to the AI as the machine, and wondered if you meant her genetically modified boyfriend, but that might just be me. You laid out the tension very clearly here, and I'm already saddened by what I know will be a hard choice for Lottie.

I wondered if she has already met her first love, when I was reading the first page. I wondered if the query might benefit by not starting here, but starting with the fear of the army taking control.

Either way, the page was intriguing and definitely inspired a great image in my head about Lottie's situation.

Thanks for sharing!

Unrepentant Escapist said...

I like your writing style. I'd say the transition between the first and second sentences in your query might could use some polishing. I'm not sure what non-acceptance looks like specifically, and what she's not accepting anymore. Presumably the AI, but the sentence structure isn't clear. It could be she just dumps her boyfriend.

The first line of the actual sample confuses me, especially since there's an immediate time jump between sobbing and her reading. I don't know what the sacks are. And her father just disappears.

Who's "they" who are indentifying the main character? Any reason we can't know that right at that moment?

Something about that transport/gate description made me think both things were really high in the air, so I was distracted when I found she could see ground warriors ahead of her.

You might consider starting the book a couple of paragraphs on, when she pulls in at the checkpoint. I think it would create more tension then starting with her being bored.

I like your style. I would definitely read on.

The Agent said...

Your first line is great! Genre, word count and comp titles front and center! I know exactly what I'm getting myself into. Well done.

I'd love to know Lottie's first love's name, but otherwise this is a strong start. When you say "the machine" I'm assuming you mean the AI? Maybe make the clearer - and what does that have to do with her boyfriend? Do they live on Pluto? I like the idea, but I'm not clear if that is where the book is set yet.

"When the lives of her family get caught in its path" - I'm assuming you mean the path of the AI/the machine? But what does she need to save them from? How is their life impacted? I'd rather have this be explained in a concrete detail or two (as in: her parents no longer approve of her boyfriend - or something like that)

I'm also confused by the provincials and the vengeful exiled warriors because we haven't been given enough context for us to understand their role and who they are - and I'm assuming you mean a "counteroffensive" against the AI, but maybe you should make that clearer.

And where is her boyfriend in all of this?

I love that your query is simple and short and very well planned out - but I think a bit more detail will help a lot.

I also get no bio about you - even if it's short and sweet, I do like to know a bit about an author...

But there's enough here to have me intrigued and I like your comp titles. I'll keep reading.

The text:

There is a great voice here but I'm confused by what you mean by "Dad lay buried between the sacks" - I'm assuming you mean he was sleeping? But why would she want her dad to stay asleep?

There is almost no bridge between the first sentence and the next paragraph - what does her dad sleeping have to do with grains of sand whipping around them? Who is us? Maybe you should start with the second paragraph. But I still want to know who "us" is.

The next paragraph still doesn't tell me who is speaking here, who is in the transport with her. I really like to know from the get go the names of the characters - "us" feels very nondescript and generic.

Your query had so much promise! But I'm not feeling that the writing here is working for me. Be more specific and not quite as generic in your opening - tell us who is in the scene and why we should care about them. There's definitely the spark of something very interesting here but it needs to be developed more.