Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #26

March 14, 2017

Hello Agent!

To participate in #AnAgentsinbox, I am respectfully submitting for your review the first 250 words of of my middle grade, magical realism novel, JAZ AND THE MYSTERIOUS TABLET: FARAWAY WORLD.

Twelve-year-old Jackson Alexander Zane--aka Jaz--wants more than anything to live the kind of life he reads about in his books. In his novel-life, his mom’s job would be able to afford a big house with a yard, instead of a tiny, apartment in a building filled with senior citizens. He would have lots of friends nearby and they’d ride to school together, hang out at each other’s houses and share interesting adventures. His chief modes of entertainment would be much more than escaping into library books and playing chess with an elderly neighbor. Oh--and he would also have a dad.

When Jaz and his mom suddenly inherit a farm in Michigan, he is excited and terrified at the same time. But the shock of the move is nothing compared to the knowledge that the farm was left to them by paternal grandparents he didn’t even know he had. And to top it off, his mother confesses that his father didn’t really die before he was born. In fact, he had disappeared, never to be heard from again.

While exploring his new hundred-acre “backyard,” Jaz discovers items with inexplicable properties. Giant boulders that can be moved with one hand and bushes that can block sound are early indicators his new home isn’t a normal farm. But when he uncovers a hidden box containing a tablet covered in strange markings and indentations, Jaz begins to realize all the bizarre components are related to his father’s disappearance.

With the help of his two new friends--science nerd AJ, as well as sassy, street-smart Issy--Jaz sets out on a quest to decipher the cryptic clues needed to solve the mystery of the tablet. He’s certain if they’re successful, it will lead to finding his dad, and just as certain his dad will be lost forever if they are not.

Jaz and the Mysterious Tablet: Faraway World is a story of an isolated boy who will risk his life and his dream of a home and friends for a chance to save his father. It is complete at approximately 71,000 words, and will be enjoyed by fans of THE LABYRINTH SOCIETY: THE VERSAILLES VENDETTA, by Angie Kelly.

I am an upper middle-aged debut author gearing up to retire, at which time I will write full-time. Like Jaz, I grew up isolated on a Michigan farm reading for adventure. I welcome your constructive suggestions and critique.

Thank you in advance for your review of my submission. I hope to receive a request for further reading. Please feel free to contact me with any question you might have.



The last normal thing he did was try to beat Mr. Thompson in a game of chess.


At twelve years of age, Jackson Alexander Zane--a.k.a. Jaz--had yet to best the man who had introduced him to the game five years before. He had immediately become hooked, loving the stealth and strategy in pretty much the same way boys like to play Army. His chess matches kind of felt like he was on an adventure, deciphering clues and solving a mystery at the same time. It was such a contrast to his own routine life.

However, despite the elderly man’s effort after the games, patiently explaining what the boy did wrong, Jaz had yet to win a game.

The game had been in progress about an hour when a knock vaguely penetrated Jaz’s concentration. He knew it would be his mom telling him she was home, so he rested his chin on his stacked fists and kept his attention on the game.

Sure enough, in response to Mr. Thompson’s “come in,” he saw his mother walk gracefully through the door out of the corner of his eye. “I see you’re at it again,” she said, smiling while her son glared at the chest board.

He didn’t look up. “It’s a tight game.”

Focused, he missed Elizabeth Zane roll her eyes. It was the same thing day after day. “Alright, but come straight upstairs as soon as you finish,” he heard her say. “I’m going to get the mail.”


Dianne Gardner said...

Love the premise! How fun, a magical farm, and I'm a sucker for magical realism.

Whereas I simply loved reading your query I think it's a little long. I think you can condense the important plot points into three paragraphs easily enough and still hold interest. You've enough hook and magic to reel us in without going into so much detail.

I like that Jaz has to get his entertainment from playing chess with Mr. Thompson, and indeed it shows the scene that Jaz wants to escape from, but maybe we could have a tad more of his wandering mind, showing his bordeom, and when his mom walks perhaps we could have just a hint of what's to come...that's there something new waiting for him. I don't know. Those are just my thoughts. You have a neat story here. Good luck with it! Also 71k is long for MG.

Carol ElederEllis said...

Hi D.D., your query does a very good job laying out the story yet still keeping it an exciting description to keep the reader interested. Your sample pages allow you quickly to gauge the personality of the MC, and sets the scene nicely. Good job and good luck -#22

KEM said...

I love your concept of a magical farm! I also liked the descriptions of Jaz and his friends and a quest is always appealing. I agree that your query is a bit long. I don't think you need all the details in the paragraph detailing his dream life. I might start the query with something like:

When Twelve-year-old Jaz and his mom suddenly inherit a magical farm from grandparents he never knew, he discovers the life he only read about in books.

I'm sure you can do it better, but along those lines to hook the agent right away. Then detail the quest to find his missing father and what is at stake for Jaz.

Best of luck!

Deborah Drick said...

I SOOO appreciate everyone's comments. This has been very helpful! :)


The Agent said...

I'm really looking for Middle Grade so this sound great and I love that your tell me the genre, title and age-range right up front.

Great first paragraph. Great second paragraph. I'm totally intrigued and want to read this already.

The third paragraph takes the story into a more fantastical direction, but I'm totally still intrigued. While this is a long query it totally works because the pacing makes sense and every paragraph logically follows the one before it and gives us information we didn't have before.

71,000 words is quite long for Middle Grade but your comp titles are strong and I'm intrigued, so I'll definitely read on.

The text:

I prefer not to have vague pronouns in a first sentence - I'd rather see you say: "The last normal thing Jaz did was..."

But otherwise this is intriguing and well written (watch our for words like "vaguely" and "gracefully" - the text doesn't need them. But I'm definitely curious from your query to see where you take this.

Jessica Gorbet said...


I really liked your query. It had two nice gut punches (living in apartment complex full of senior citizens...and wishing for a father). That's a lot of wallop in just a few sentences and it's deftly done.

I think the characters are set up nicely (although I might steer away from "street-smart" Issy. That expression just feels a little tired for language that otherwise crackles here).

Your first 250 is great, like your query, the feeling is coming through without being hit over the head. That exchange between mother and son is just perfect.

This is great, D.D. Best of luck!