Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #44

Dear Agent:

Dante Arzola stays as far away from his family’s illicit ​hotel ​business as possible. The need to distance himself from the blood-soaked dealings of his father is only exemplified the night his mother passes away, leaving him with a hole in his heart and three years’ probation. 

In his world of wealth and corruption, his childhood friend has stood as a beacon of goodness and light. Now he wants more than friendship. He wants her.

Sadie Trajkovski isn’t as innocent as Dante thinks.

Blackmailed by her partner during the search for her missing father, Sadie must find a way to protect herself from one man’s callous revenge and keep Dante from learning the truth that dangles right within his view. She is in love with his older, more successful, brother. 

Blinded by their desires, Dante finds himself tangled in the web of organized crime he fought to escape while Sadie follows clues that will lead her to her father and right into the hands of her blackmailer. BLOODLINES meets ABC’S REVENGE in THE ONES WE CRAVE, a 105k diverse family saga and book one of HEIRS.

Sincerely,
L.T.S.


THE ONES WE CRAVE

Sadie

I can't get caught. 

My stomach turns as I unclench my fists and wipe my palms down the side of my shorts. I can’t. I am so close…so close to the truth, I can taste it, and if I get caught, she’ll take it away from me. She did it once. She’ll do it again.

I keep my eyes locked on the kitchen archway. Toes curled in the plush living room carpet. Sweat gathers under my arms and behind my bent knees, in the area where my boobs meet the underwire of my bra, and I’ve never been so thankful for antiperspirant deodorant.

My heart drums in my ears, much louder than the air conditioning or the gentle wind pulling the smell of salt-water and rain through the open terrace doors. The wall separating us is streaked yellow with sunlight. I can almost see her through it, phone pressed against her ear, probably pacing and definitely with a drink in hand, but nowhere close to suspecting what’s going on right under her nose. With a shaky breath, I inch my hand into my mother’s coat pocket. Slowly. Slowly. Fingers touching metal and plastic. 

This is wrong. Stealing her keys. Breaking into her office.

I should stop. 

Maybe I should listen to Dante’s advice for once. 

The first time he told me ‘some things are better left alone’ was when I was twelve. It was during primary school; I would spend each summer at the Arzola Estate in Coral Gables.

16 comments:

L.Ryan Storms said...

Wow! First off, tense first 250! I'm almost holding my breath. That's a great way to start a book. I want to ask, "What is she stealing?" "What is going to be taken away?" "What happens if she gets caught?!" I'm almost sweating along with her.

I feel like the last paragraph doesn't quite fit in with the suspense of the scene, but that may be because it leads into something else. Hard to know with just 250 words. (Also, personal preference here, but I think 'antiperspirant deodorant' is a bit redundant. They're pretty synonymous and you can probably just use one of those words.)

As for the query, I think there's a lot going on here and it makes it hard to focus on what, specifically, the book is about. I thought I knew the central theme from the first paragraph, and then I realized it was about something else, and by the end of the query, I thought it was an entirely different premise. I know the book deals with several different themes, but there's got to be one central one that pulls it all together. What I'm getting from this is that it's about two lives, many secrets, and a way to overcome the past. I'd see if you could centralize that thought process.

Solid writing and an interesting premise! Nice!

JP said...

Query needs some cleaning up.

The need to stay away from his father's business is brought forcefully home the night his mother passes away - the probation bit makes no sense. 'Blood-soaked dealings' - not needed, IMO.

Add Sadie to Para #1 and mention her name. Avoid cliches like beacon of light. Plainly say his childhood friend, Sadie, has been the only bright spot in his life, and he's decided he wants more.

WHy shouldn't Sadie tell him the truth? if she is using Dante, make it clear.

Excerpt

Tense. The sentence about deodorant is funny, but IMO, does not belong in the scene.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to chime in on this one and say I agree with JP above. My thoughts exactly. Sorry not to be of more use!

Melissa C said...

Having read more of this ms than the 250, I'm just going to look at the query, LOL (waves to the author)

I think 'intensified' would work better than 'exemplified'. 'beacon of goodness and light' is a bit cliched. I would also suggest picking one plot arc for the query letter. The mention of the blackmailer, her father, revenge and Dante in a single sentance, and mention of a fourth character in the next is a bit overwhelming.

Courtney Lott said...

Query:
Whew! Lots of intensity and great stakes. I'm curious about why you start your query with Dante rather than Sadie if the story starts with her. This might not be an issue, but it jarred me some. I'm also wondering why he ends up with probation and how (if?) it's connected to his mother's death.

"partner" in paragraph three makes me think cop? All of this is really drawing me in, just think it needs a little smoothing. Great job!

First 250:
Love the image of her wiping her hands on her shorts and all the sweat had me nervous. Was slightly jarred by "boobs", but maybe you wanted that effect (just not the way I normally refer to my anatomy, haha! But maybe I'm alone in that :P).

Really enjoyed this first bit! Thank you for sharing your words!

LT Shade said...

You guys are the greatest :) Thank you so much!

Queries aren't my forte, but you've given me so many ideas that I think I may have a solid query by the end of this. *Crossing my fingers*

(I don't think we're supposed to comment revisions, are we?)

250 Words:

SADIE is meant to tell you the POV you're in. I should have definitely put it in italics. The 'boob' comment is more about characterization. Sadie is a bit scatter-brained, but if it is too distracting from the story, I should take it out. I don't want to have any contact that jars you out of the narrative. Wow. These comments really are great. Thank you all so much!

Cassandra Wilsted said...

First, I'd like to say that queries are also not my forte, so I don't have a whole lot of experience to give you. That being said, I thought it all sounded great. The story pitch was intriguing, although I do agree about opening up with Sadie before Dante and the probation thing threw me off too. But these are small things. Your writing is great and this is a book I would love to read.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Just wanted to let L.T.S. know that the two comments on the header post are comments on this entry, too, so don't miss those pieces of feedback!

LT Shade said...

Thank you! I just took a look at them :)

Perrin said...

The query hooked me immediately, until I reached the paragraph "Blackmailed by her partner ...". For me, too much was thrown in and muddled the sharpness of the beginning. In the next paragraph, I also wanted to see how Dante's journey tied into Sadie's, and vice-versa. Show me how their pathways will eventually converge.

The tension is great in the text; good job. Though if she's that scared, she's really not going to think about how well her deodorant does or doesn't work. I also don't know what follows the 250 words, but the beginning of the flashback pulled me away from the excellent tension you set up and would perhaps stop me from reading. Which is a shame because the premise is strong and promising.

LT Shade said...

Query: Good advice. I am redoing my query after this :)

The deodorant line is officially gone! May it rest in peace! With the flashback, I'm hoping to achieve that same tension, since the flashback itself it short and tense. I wish I had more words for you! I'm glad you enjoyed it though. I will definitely be working to sharpen out the 250 as well as the query. Thank you!!

LT Shade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LT Shade said...

Decided to post this here in case anyone happens to see it and want to critique :)

NEW QUERY:

Two best friends, caught in the middle of a bloody family feud, will fight to save the other’s life (from their vicious blackmailer?), even if it means becoming enemies.

Dante Arzola stays as far away from his father’s illicit hotel business as possible. The need to distance himself from his family’s (corrupt?) dealings intensifies the night his mother passes away, leaving him unanswered questions and emotions unresolved. His anger lands him with three years probation and only two desires—freedom from his family at any cost and Sadie.

No one has heard from Sadie’s father in two years. That is until Sadie finds a letter addressed to her in her mother’s belongings.

What starts as a search for her missing father becomes an unraveling of all the lies surrounding her family and Maria Arzola’s death. She doesn’t know who to trust and when a blackmailer threatens to expose her own lies, she must choose. Keep Dante from learning the truth that could destroy their friendship or fight an enemy she has no clue how to defeat, alone.

BLOODLINES meets ABC’S REVENGE in THE ONES WE CRAVE, a 105k diverse family saga and book one of HEIRS.




I can't get caught. 
My stomach turns as I unclench my fists and wipe my palms down the side of my shorts. I can’t. I am so close…so close to the truth, I can taste it. If I get caught, she’ll take it away from me. She did it once. She’ll do it again.
I keep my eyes locked on the kitchen archway. Toes curled in the plush living room carpet. Sweat gathers under my arms and behind my bent knees, in the area where my boobs meet the underwire of my bra. My heart drums in my ears, much louder than the air conditioning or the gentle wind pulling the smell of salt-water and rain through the open terrace doors.
The wall separating us is streaked yellow with sunlight. I can almost see her through it, phone pressed against her ear, probably pacing and definitely with a drink in hand, but nowhere close to suspecting what’s going on right under her nose. With a shaky breath, I inch my hand into my mother’s coat pocket. Slowly. Slowly. Fingers touching metal and plastic. 
This is wrong. Stealing her keys. Breaking into her office.
I should stop. 
Maybe I should listen to Dante’s advice for once. 
The first time he told me some things were better left alone was when we were twelve. I didn’t believe him. I should have. If I believed him, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I wouldn’t have to steal. My father would have never disappeared.

Roller Coaster Robot said...

When I saw you posted a second version I skipped down here to read it.

W O W!

Fantastic tension, well done with the short sentences.

I would ask for the whole thing because it would tick me off to be into it and run out of story lol.

I very much want to read this book.

The Agent said...

Great first paragraph - I'm intrigued! But I would like to know genre/age/word count.

Is this adult/ya? I can't tell.

Great comp titles at the end - I'm intrigued and I'd definitely read on though I'm still not sure that this isn't a YA novel...

The text:

This is definitely well written and interesting and I'd keep reading, but your main characters sound young and even refer to the memory of being 12, so you might have a hard time selling/pitching this as an adult novel. But I'd read on to see what happens next!

(PS - I don't like the new first sentence of the revised query...I thought the old one was stronger, but I still would want to see genre and word count in the first line/paragraph)

Lauren said...

Whoops! I forgot the most important thing in a query. It's 105k family saga with series potential. The genre is thriller with a strong romance subplot. I've thought of lowering their age so that it falls into upper YA, but there are erotic scenes and...I'm not sure how that works in YA. As of now it is an adult novel. Sadie is a graduate student. Dante would be in graduate school if not for his probation. Though Sadie does mature as the story goes on. She has a sort of "youngishness" that is her character. I'm really glad you like it!!! This leaves me with lots to think about. Thank you :D