Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #41


Lilah Kingsley is unfailingly polite, even when she puts lead between the assassin's eyes. With much regret, she decides it would be imprudent to attempt the same against the man who sent the killer--her surrogate father, the president of the United States. 

President Temple wouldn’t be surprised, though. He knows she was responsible for the death of the criminal who kidnapped her and her best friend Harry when they were teenagers. Harry had insisted on taking the blame for it, and Temple had kept their secret. It would be five years before she understood why. As an heiress with connections to two of the world's biggest oil companies, Lilah is the linchpin of Temple's scheme to control the energy sector. Unfortunately, by the time she figures it out, she has already lost to Temple's influence the man she'd planned a future with: Harry. 

But Lilah will not let President Temple dictate the operations of the oil cartel built on her sacrifices. When she chucked aside her Harvard law degree to create the consortium, she'd decided she would be no one’s puppet. Not the president’s and especially not Harry’s though he controls one-third of the votes. 

Forced to work with her treasonous lover, hating and needing with equal passion, she is confronted by the discovery that Temple's assassin was targeting Harry, not her. Endure, expose, or execute? If Lilah cooperates with the president and agrees to be a rubber-stamp ruler, she can save Harry's life. She can, of course, expose the president and let the cartel disintegrate. Or she can put her own bullet through Harry's heart.

At 108,000 words, The Insurrection is an epic thriller spanning the tumultuous seventies and eighties. An excerpt is pasted below.



January 1974
Egypt-Libya border

The blades of the search-and-rescue helicopter cut through salty air one thousand feet above the Mediterranean. The steep escarpment came into Temple’s view, sparse vegetation between ridges. His headset sputtered over the roar of the engines.

“Senator,” said the pilot, “I think that’s Lilah.” 

Fingers clenched around the doorframe, Temple leaned into the wind and surveyed the scene below. Vehicles bound for Alexandria were stalled on the hilly pass by Gaddafi’s border patrol. The soldiers had separated the men from the women, holding them at gunpoint away from the caravan. Temple strained to spot the girl. “Where?” he shouted into the mouthpiece, blinking away gritty sand.

“Not with the crowd, sir. Check the port side,” the pilot said. “Look for yellow clothes.”

There. A figure running between boulders, her robes fluttering behind. Lilah was a couple of hundred feet from the group under inspection, concealing herself behind the limestone formations. She looked up at the chopper before plastering herself to the side of a rock. After weeks of reconnaissance, they’d located one of the abducted teenagers, the daughter of the late ambassador. “She’s hiding from the border patrol,” Temple muttered. “What about the boy? There were two kids.”

“Probably with the caravan. Let me--” The pilot stopped to curse. “We have a problem, Senator.”

One of the soldiers had detached himself from his team to follow Lilah. If she got caught, there was little a single search-and-rescue chopper could do to help. Temple grabbed the AK-47.


CMiller616408 said...

I loved your first sentence but think it can be stronger if you flip the phrase and start with: Even when she puts lead between an assassin's eyes, Lilah is unfailingly polite.

Also, I would specify "her daughter" instead of just "her" when you open your second paragraph. :) Sounds interesting!

Melissa C said...

Love the excerpt!

Melissa C, #15

L.Ryan Storms said...

Oooo, yes, CMiller is right on! It would be exceptionally more intriguing if you flipped that first sentence. "Even when she puts lead between an assassin's eyes..." I'm already wide-eyed wondering what the follow up is! It really make the reader go, "Wait...hold up...did I just read that?"

Courtney Lott said...

Love the opening paragraph. Immediately hooked and curious. I had to read the next two paragraphs a few times to really understand what was going on, but that could be because it's the end of the day and I'm worn out. Haha!

First 250:
Instantly intriguing, my only question is why you start with Temple in the first bit but start with Lilah in the query. I assume she is your MC so I expect her to be first. My expectations might be wrong though. The scene is super vivid, intense, and well written and I want to know what happens next!!

Thank you for sharing your words.

TM said...

I love both the opening line of your query and your manuscript. You're able to paint a picture without getting too wordy (enter writer's envy here) and I felt like I was right in the middle of the action.

One suggestion might be to connect the reader a bit more to Lilah immediately. When she looks up at the chopper, is she angry? Hurt? Focused? Maybe her expression could tell us about what she is feeling. The last paragraph of the query hooked me the most and I wanted to feel more from her. If she is the MC, what is she experiencing during this scene?

Great job overall and good luck!

JP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

Anyone who happens by, please do crit.

Thanks to all who critted so far.

Most readers appear to like the excerpt.

I keep hoping to find an agent who'll read the sample before the query since queries don't seem to be my thing.

JP said...

There is no option to edit, so I redid what I said here and posted as another comment.

MJ Marshall said...

Just wanted to jump in--though I think you've got some great feedback already!--in your query, you need to make this sentence more active "Harry had insisted on taking the blame for it, and Temple had kept their secret" Harry instead on taking the blame for it, and Temple kept their secret.

Also, along with some others, not sure why the query focuses on Lilah and the pages begin with Temple. Is it an omniscient POV? I know I've tailored my query to try and focus on the opening pages so an agent will see what you promise.

Still, sounds very exciting! Best wishes

JP said...

It's not omni.

3rd person multiple with 4 PsOV, but Lilah is the main character, by far, with the most on-screen time (>80%), and we see >50% of the story through her eyes.

I thought about writing the query from Temple's POV since he opens the story, but it will give potential agents the wrong idea.

Not sure how to reconcile story with query.

JP said...

Most recent similar opening I can imagine would be Harry Potter - opening omni and zooming in.

This opens in another POV to give a dramatic introduction to Lilah, and then shifts to her POV.

The Agent said...

I wasn't sure what you meant by "the" assassin - which assassin? I'm missing genre here, though I'm guessing adult thriller? Your opening lines are interesting, but I'm not sure they're enough to hook me.

By the next paragraph you already take us deep into the story, when I still feel like I haven't had enough of an introduction - how old is our main character? Who is she? What does she do for a living? Tell us more about her.

This query also feels too long.

Your last line tells me what would have been helpful to know at the start. But I like thrillers so I'll read on and see what the voice is like.

The text:

I like the idea that this is set in Egypt - not what I expected.

The writing here is strong! I would definitely keep reading, but think about working on your query so that it reflects the energy of the prose you have in the text itself.