Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #24

Dear Agent's Inbox,

A.J. Sinclair thought losing her husband to a drunk driver, and raising two young sons, one with autism, was hard enough. Mankind’s largest volcanic eruption proved her wrong. Navigating across a country dealing with the aftermath, she’s on a desperate journey to the epicenter to find her missing son, with a mysterious stranger by her side. 

A trip to Yellowstone National Park with her brother and her two young sons, Will and Finn, seemed the perfect way for A.J. to honor Harrison a year after his death. It had been his dream, after all, to take Will, their gifted son with autism, to the place of his obsessions. For the first time in ages, A.J. doesn’t feel alone as her now family of three makes the first step toward healing. But when the return flight is overbooked, and Will is overcooked, she flies home with just him, leaving her brother and Finn behind to catch the next flight. She didn’t expect the belly of the earth to erupt only hours later. 

On the road with Will, she must get to Colorado from the East coast, at any cost. She’s driving blind, with hope as her compass, in the ash-ridden bedlam that’s beginning to overtake the country. Along the way she meets up with Reid Gregory, a man harboring his own secret demons; he travels the road of perdition west to find his sister. A.J. is thrust into a journey where she’s forced to heal her past, accept the present, and embrace uncertainty. With the most unlikely of companions, she knows they will not fade away without a fight. 

WILL NOT FADE AWAY, is women’s fiction (98,000 words). It’s a story of hope and redemption for two tortured hearts and one quirky boy. My background is in science, education, and parenting my own special needs children. I write for Outdoor Families Magazine and have published in peer-reviewed science journals. My historical-supernatural romance, A Hundred Kisses, is set to be released by The Wild Rose Press on May 17th. 

I look forward to hearing from you. The first 250 words are pasted below.

Kind Regards,


The scream burned like molten lava. It raced through my veins like a painful lahar, chunks of volcanic rock tearing my capillaries.

Jolted awake, I sat up, my heart racing as I listened. Silence.

I shuddered with recollection. The searing heat still charred my skin. I rubbed my temple.

Who? What-?

G**, it had been a dream. I could taste ash on my tongue.

I blinked a few times. Pre-dawn light crept across the meadow and rocks as I scanned our campsite. Were we camping again? A foggy heaviness filled my mind. I pinched the bridge of my nose. Will hated camping, despite his love of the outdoors. Where was Harrison? He knew he couldn’t duck behind a bush for a quick pee, not when he was the one assigned to Will for our camp nights. Will grew scared if left alone. Will wandered. Finn was the one usually nestled close to me, snoring through all the bumps in the night, with his knee digging into my back.

I blinked again as my cognition shifted from the blurry haze of sleep to the sharp perception of waking. I rubbed my eyes…there was no tent. And no Finn or Harrison.

A soft drizzle pattered on the ground. Rain. Darkness. I shivered in my sleeping bag.

I saw only two sleeping bags: mine and Will’s, and his lay empty. Panic gripped me as my brain caught up to my eyes, the rain clarifying my memory. I was not camping with the family.


Dianne Gardner said...

Very nice query and a strong premise. This novel has promise.

I love your opening line. Your scene is very descriptive and I'm left wanting to turn the page to find out where she's at. Very good job on this. Good luck!

TM said...

As a sister to two special needs children (one on the austism spectrum) and a mother of a son with 22q, I especially love your premise. One part that jumped out at me was the word "Overcooked" in your query. After reading over it again, it made sense of course. But I did pause. Maybe I've read one too many bloody queries tonight but when taking it literally my first thought was not a good one. Was he burned IN the lava and this is her way of telling me?

I'm looking forward to hearing more about this!

Unrepentant Escapist said...

The first paragraph of the query hits me right in the feels. But then I get momentarily whacked off kilter when we jump back in time for paragraph 2. I'm not sure it contained much info that makes it stronger. I'd personally cut everything from that paragraph but the detail about why her son got left behind.

I'm confused about the bad dream in your opening, if it's a memory or dream or her son howling his head off. Lahar is a new word for me. Screams like lava strike me as a touch over dramatic.

I like your prose style a lot. I think it's awesome. I would read more.

The Agent said...

This is an interesting set-up and feels a bit apocalyptic, so I was confused when you said she ends up at Yellowstone - now that I think on it more - mainly because I wasn't sure where she was to begin with. But as I read the second paragraph I realize that she traveled to Yellowstone to go into the heart of the volcano? Something is confusing me here, and at first you say there's a mysterious stranger my her side, but then you say that her brother was with her too? This is a good premise but something about this query feels disorganized. And what do you mean by "overcooked" - I'm not sure I'd use that word in this context.

The third paragraph makes more sense but also repeats some things you've already said. I would re-work all of this to a more logical narrative arc that explains things a bit better.

Having said that - I am intrigued and I'll read on. It's good to know from your bio that there is some personal experience here that you're basing this on.

The text:

I totally get what you're trying to do here with the volcanic metaphors but they aren't working for me...

The last line of these pages is super cryptic and chilling - but I am definitely confused about what's happening here - from your query I didn't expect this to be thriller or a mystery, but you've definitely given us a cliffhanger here and I'd read on even though the writing doesn't feel that strong - mainly because I want to see what happens next!

Jean said...

Thank you for the feedback, everyone! The best way we can grow as writers is to take in the critiques and hone our skills. I appreciate it and I am already rolling up my sleeves and digging into revision of the query as well as some text. An extra thank-you to The Agent as well. I appreciate your taking the time from your schedule to review our queries here.