Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Agent:

When orphans Tommy and Gina’s stay at their uncle’s mind-numbingly boring farm is thrown into chaos, they are transported to Aetheria, a wondrous world of flying sail ships, terrifying monsters, and amazing creatures (squid-folk, giant snakes, gnomes)! With the help of the world’s only living ship--the magnificent Veda Zhi--and her crew, the children must flee the villainous wolf-man Lord Malloc and his vile Crimson Hand thugs who are bent on capturing them. 

Together, Tommy, Gina, Veda Zhi, and the crew will race to save a family of mind reading little people from being enslaved by the Crimson Hand and try to get the brother and sister back to their own world before their chance to return home is lost forever!

Veda Zhi Chronicles: The Crimson Hand is a middle-grade adventure story complete at 30,000 words. Fans of adventure series like The Edge Chronicles are sure to enjoy this thrilling tale filled with action, humour, and genuine heart. While this story stands alone it does have the potential to grow into a series.

I have always being a fan of the everyday kid forced into incredible circumstances. While in college I minored in English studies, including literary analysis, children’s literature, and creative writing. I have previous graphic novel and comic book work published by Ronin Studios, am currently the Vice President for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and recently won third place in the Collins Writing Contest (Short Story). This is my first novel.

I have included the first page of the book. May I send you the full manuscript?

Thank you,


“Stay here,” ordered Uncle Harrison.

He was a tall man, rail thin and foul tempered. Beside him, Aunt Beatrice stalked, her arms crossed over her chest.

“This is a working farm,” she added. “Don’t go into the fields or the barns.”

Tommy and Gina had heard this speech before. Every day, in fact, for months. They sat sulking on the front steps of the two storey house, Tommy on the upper step, Gina on the lowest.

“Don’t go near the dugout.”

“Or the combines.”

“Or the tool shop.”

“And don’t even look at the storage bins,” the two adults said together.

“Understand?” demanded the man, scowling.

“Yes, Uncle Harrison,” chimed the two children.

“Just stay out of our way,” finished Aunt Beatrice.

She glared at the two children then looked over to her husband and nodded. The adults turned around and walked off to start their work, leaving Tommy and Gina to their misery.


Deborah Drick said...

I like your opening pages. I can feel their misery.

I think the first two paragraphs of your query is scattered and doesn't explain things well. The sentences are too long and too descriptive.

Try something like this:

Tommy and Gina didn’t know what true mind-numbing boredom was until they went to stay at their uncle’s farm. Or at least that how it was at first.

Before long chaos erupts as they are transported to Aetheria, a wondrous world of flying sail ships and terrifying monsters -- not to mention amazing creatures such as squid-folk, giant snakes and gnomes.

With the help of the crew of the world’s only living ship – the magnificent Veda Zhi – the children must flee the villainous wolf-man Lord Malloc and his vile Crimson Hand thugs who are determined to capture them.

Together they race to save a family of mind-reading little people while also trying to get Tommy and Gina home before they too are captured and enslaved!

Anyway, good luck -- this is an awesome story! DD #26

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Your query's first line makes it sound like the the farm being thrown into chaos is what causes the kids to get drawn into another world. Thrown into chaos is also kind of imprecise.

I'm a big fan of living ships, so that interests me. I wonder why they are being chased?

I sounds like you've got a lot of good stuff, but I feel like the query might be better if you dumped some of the world-building stuff and focused on character more.

It's not clear to me who the pov character is in your pages.

Caroline said...

This world sounds interesting! I also find the flying ships, living ship, etc. intriguing.

I agree with Deborah's statement about rewriting the first paragraphs of the query. The first sentence as it stands now is confusing.

I think I would restate the first line of the second paragraph to something like, "Together, Tommy, Gina, Veda Zhi and the crew must race to save a family of mind readers before they are enslaved by the Crimson Hand--and get Tommy and Gina home before their one chance to return fades away." (If this fits your plot, that is. And I would just state "mind readers" instead of "little people" since we don't know what that means in the query, but it can be clarified in the story.)

I've always read not to state that it's your first novel in a query. I've also read to shorten your bio as much as you can, and start with the strongest information. Perhaps shorten it to: "I have previous graphic comic book work published by Ronin Studios, am currently the Vice President for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, minored in English studies, and recently won third place in the Collins Writing Contest (Short Story)."

I also agree with the comment above that I'm not sure what POV you're writing from -- is it Tommy or Gina? Or an omniscient POV? Also, it seems a little odd based on what we know of the Aunt and Uncle that they'd waste their time restating ALL of these rules every day for months straight (how many months?). It might be a more powerful start if this is the first (or second or third) time they've heard this speech rather than for months.

Good luck with this! The premise is interesting!

Jessica said...

Very interesting premise!! I don't read middle grade, but if I did, I have a feeling I'd love this.

I don't have much to add, but there are a few nuts and bolts in the query to iron out. First, don't say "may I send you..." Only send them what they ask for, and if they want to see the full, the agent will ask. I'd also recommend cutting down on the exclamation points. They should be used sparingly. I agree with shortening the bio section as well. All you really need is the fact that you published before (congratulations btw!!). The last thing is that the title of the book isn't underlined, but in all caps.

The 250 words were great, especially the last line! I'm also confused about why the aunt and uncle would say this same thing for months on end. I also thought it was a little weird that both the aunt and uncle said something at the same time as well as the kids. If you're going for a parallel structure thing (two people united against their perceived enemies), then it's fine! If not, I think it's a good way to show characterization early on. Maybe one of them is shy and won't speak, or one mutters something under their breath. Other than that, I have no complaints!

You're close! Good luck!

The Agent said...

There's something grammatically off about the first sentence - fix. So, while I like the idea of squid folk, giant snakes and gnomes, it feels like there is too much going on in this first paragraph. How are they transported to Aetheria? You say that it is a world of flying sail ships but we don't know that's how they get there until the next sentence - also, is a flying sail ship the same thing as a living ship?

You also lost me at "mind reading little people" and "the brother and sister" - does this refer to Tommy and Gina? Or to someone else?

The word count is right and I like the comparison the The Edge Chronicles - definitely a book I like. I would read on with the hope that the writing blows me away.

The text:

I would like the first sentence to place Tommy and Gina more front and center - like "Stay here," Uncle Harrison said to Tommy and Gina..." etc. - there is a "The Cat in the Hat" feel to the beginning here and I like that a lot!

It's hard to tell so far from the writing if it's as fantastical as it seems from your query or if that fantasy actually works. I'd have to read on to know for sure!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a cool idea.I love the idea of a living ship!
I agree that the query needs some polish and the first line was too long.
I also wondered why Lord Malloc wanted to capture them and would
have been interested in a few details about Aetheria.
The first 250 gave me a good sense of the children's plight.
Best of Luck!

Dustin A. said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I really appreciate it!

I'll work on everything you commented on.