Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #34

Dear Agent's Inbox,

Fifteen-year-old Marley Faye Tessinger doesn’t want to be a criminal anymore. Her abusive, meth-dealing bio-mom is dead, giving her a chance to live the clean life she’s always longed for. Her new adoptive family accepts everything about her, even her magic.

But Marley throws away that risk-free life to break into the headquarters of a multi-million dollar software company. Their CEO knows Marley’s secret: She is one of the last descendants in a family of ‘Slicers’--witches whose blood can bring art to life. The company’s white-collar witches have already kidnapped her half-brother Liam--a schizophrenic seer who, like Marley, knows exactly when and how he’s going to die.

Now Marley knows that she only has thirteen months left to live. Thirteen months to save the brother who stole peanut butter for her when she was hungry and who tried to protect her from their bio-mom’s abuse.

Too bad thirteen months just isn’t enough time.

THE ART OF IN-BETWEEN is a YA contemporary fantasy novel complete at 88,000 words. It’s a bit like Y.A. Dresden Files mixed with a dash of Orphan Black, meant to appeal to fans of Holly Black and Maggie Stiefvater. I’m an award-winning former newspaper reporter and editor. My manuscript was a winner of the #pg70pit YA writing contest under the code name, “She Blinded Me with Science.” 

Thank you for your time,



On the night of my kidnapped brother’s twenty-first birthday, I jumped off the roof of a skyscraper with a rope in one hand and a live, bagged chicken in the other. At this altitude, the wind hit me like a cold battering ram. It ripped through my dark ponytail and slammed against the goggles strapped over my ski mask.

My adoptive sister, Ninette, rappelled down beside me. Our nylon ropes unreeled from our harnesses, hissing as we paralleled our own reflections down eighteen stories of lightly-tinted glass. I’ve never really been afraid of heights before, but sitting in our farm’s backyard peach tree was different than jumping down a 180-foot drop.

I shouldn’t have been so terrified. I knew I wasn’t going to die tonight. That’s because I was going to die on my seventeenth birthday, crushed under the bumper of a blue Honda Civic. I knew that because I’d seen it in a dream. My visions about the future were rare and muddled, but if the Make-a-Wish Foundation accepted prophetic dreams as diagnoses, I’d definitely be getting a free trip to Disneyland.

Knowing I wasn’t going to end up as some pulpy red smear of sidewalk putty should have been reassuring. Too bad logic didn’t keep my stomach from tying itself into tight pink knots. I tried to focus on our target instead--a twenty-fifth story window. It was the only one that had lines of magic light wriggling against the glass.


L.Ryan Storms said...

Okay, I'm hooked! The query is interesting enough to make me wonder what on earth is going on, but I do feel as though it could be tightened a bit in focus. I'm assuming Marley's purpose is to save her brother, and I feel like that's the part that got the least 'WOW' factor in the query. That being said, I still read on, so you're still doing something right!

The opening scene - INTRIGUING! I love that she's jumping off a skyscraper and cannot even begin to fathom why she has a live, bagged chicken with her. It's such an absurd idea that it works really wall to entrance the reader immediately. Marley instantly has a personality that makes me want to follow along with her. Great voice!

Anonymous said...

The bagged chicken is what got me. I wasn't a 100% on the query, as it was a little too issue-y for me. I do, however, find the pages interesting (though visions aren't really for me). I'd have read more though. Totally subjective.

Ally O said...

Ooh I love this! The query is pretty strong, but the opening was what really got me.
A small thing on your last para of your query: instead of saying "it's a bit like", perhaps put "it could be compared to..." to make it sound a little more polished.

The voice of the beginning is so strong, and the premise is really intriguing.
Good luck!

Lisa Leoni said...

Awesome premise! I like how you set up the difference between her bio mom and adoptive family in the query. Talk about stakes with a ticking clock. Love it!

In the opening 250 it took me a bit to realize we were in the moment of the jumping. At first I thought she was thinking back to his bday. The sensory detail is great. Maybe with a tweak to the opening line it would be stronger. Even start with the jumping while holding a live chicken? I'd keep reading to know why in the world someone was doing both of those things simultaneously.

The Agent said...

Great first line! Interesting that you incorporate magic here too! I'm intrigued.

Wow! The next paragraph takes this query in a whole different direction! But it's interesting and well written, I'm still with you.

The only thing I don't understand here is why she would only have 13 months to live - might help to explain that in the query a bit more. Queries don't have to give everything away, but we do like them to give enough away that we understand the basic plot.

Anyway, I'm totally read to read more - Dresden Files meets Orphan Black? Sign me up. I'm really hoping the text holds up.

The text:

Yeah, okay, I'll not likely ever forget that first line! Fabulous!

There are some places that I would tweak the sentences that follow - but not important enough to mention. The voice is solid and clear, definitely consistent in both the query and the text! Which is rare!

The writing totally holds up and I would absolutely keep reading. Well done!