Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Alex assumes her reoccurring nightmares are just freakish coincidences. She is dead wrong. The fires from her dreams destroy her reality one night, forcing her parents to shove her into their safe-room alone. Hours later, she emerges to no electricity and a city scorched with bodies and freckled with few survivors. Her parents have vanished, leaving Alex to grapple with her newfound clairvoyance alone. The maddening static of an old radio becomes her only confidant until a human voice breaks through. Call it luck, destiny, or fate with a screwed-up sense of humor, but Alex’s journey to one leads her to three. And what’s more, they all have Gifts received from the same night of fires that confirmed she had the “sight.” Bickering, hunting, and hiding from crazed survivors leads them to Washington D.C. where they sorely underestimate the power and reach of their President.

Evelyn Lilith, the fortunate Designated Survivor of the 2024 Capitol Bombing and now President, ratifies her Freedom Acts: laws tampering with life, religion, and self-protection as a prelude to her tyrannical overture. With Martial Law already in place from four nuclear explosions in the West, she sees the Book of Revelations as a creative instruction manual for how to erect a new country on the ashes of the old. Her desire for a smooth transition, however, hits sour notes when rumors of a militia and prophesized Gifted teens whisper through the halls of her Reintegration Center. If she doesn’t neutralize the threats, she will lose the country she worked so hard to corrupt.

The Gifted teens now have a choice: fight President Lilith and lose what’s left of their families or surrender to her apocalyptic plan and lose what’s left of their country.

BLESSED is a YA speculative fiction novel, complete at 60,000 words with a series potential. It is best described as The 5th Wave meets I Am Number Four with a unique twist of alternating points of view between the teen protagonist and the unreliable adult antagonist. This is my first novel, but I am a full time as a high school English and Creative Writing teacher of nine years, analyzing all tropes related to YA literature with my target audience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warm Regards,

C.M.


BLESSED

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

CHAPTER ONE

“A Time to be Born…”

Alex

Martial Law was about as fun as running over a gravel parking lot barefoot. Any step out of line left a mark. Not that it mattered. The government had no reason to check my steps. My file was probably the one with water rings tattooed on it--a coaster for their stale coffee. And I was okay with that. Better a coaster than a conspirator, right?

The decades-old song “Titanium” blasted through my ear buds while I crossed another day off my calendar. One hundred and eighteen days since North Korea wiped out Congress. One hundred and twenty days since they bombed our Western cities. Seventy five long-ass days of lame, invented games like how-many-stairs-can-Alex-clear-before-she-wipes-out. And seventy five predictable nights of sketching and sulking.

Like I said, a water-ringed coaster.

Tonight, my graphite-stained fingers drew an old tree while David Guetta’s lyrics became my personal anthem, and my sketchbook, filled with images of my reoccurring nightmares, my only freedom. A coaster armed with a pencil--my shield and my sword. Watch out, world.

At least I could belt the classics whenever I wanted. “I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose. Fire away, fire away!” Perfect pitch. I shot my hand in the air and gave it a high five.

Crushed it.

A loud knock on the door made me jump and drop my sketchbook. I yanked out my earbuds, nearly ripping off the small hoop in my tragus.

Jiminy frackin’ Cricket, that hurt!

So much for the shield and sword.

7 comments:

Dustin A. said...

This is a very interesting concept. I love paranormal abilities in stories.

Query
- change reocurring recurring
- change freckled to
- Alex's journey to one leads her to three
- I don't think you need Evelyn Lilith's name, just a description of her.
- The stakes don't seem to have urgency. Are the gifted being hunted?

I kind of started to gloss over the second paragraph so it may need to be redone to focus on the protagonist.

1st Page
Read through it all without stopping
- coffee ring might be more relatable
- replace tragus with ear.
- Nice reference to Titanium that I'm sure teens will get (remove "decades-old")

Good luck!

Deborah Drick said...

Wow -- interesting concept!

Your story pages were interesting and easy to read/follow.

Your query was so intensely written that it lost me. I had to work to get through all the detail. It read more like a story than an intro, if that makes sense.

I think if you got more to the point and took out unnecessary words ("The maddening static", etc. all the way through "she had the sight" could be shortened to something like "she believes she is alone until a voice on the radio leads her to others -- and they're just like her.") I think you'd catch the attention of every agent emailed.

Good luck -- I would totally read this!

DD #26

CMiller61408 said...

Thank you, Deborah! I've been wondering if it's too detailed. I like your idea of simplifying. :)

Unrepentant Escapist said...

I think you need something in paragraph one to indicate this book takes place in the future. I would try to be more precise in your query: for instance, why does the fire destroy her reality instead of her house or her city? The phrasing confuses me just because I wondered if she ended up in a parallel universe or something. I also want to know more about why Alex's parents don't join her in the safe room.

Naming your bad guy Lilith (first name Eve) in a book incorporating biblical themes seems a little on the nose to me. The musical references in paragraph 2 also feel like a stretch. (The president already imposed martial law, yet it's a prelude to her overture of tyranny?)

The "I am a full time as a" sentence has a typo.

The sample confuses me a little. How does the government know each step she takes? is she leaving literal marks? What does the government knowing about her steps have to do with fun? Why does she think they have a paper file of her with literal water stains on it if she's so unimportant? Hasn't the government gone digital by now? Is she even walking/stepping at all, since later she's apparently sketching? I presume she's in a bunker or something, but I'm not sure.

She seems really nonchalant about the bombings, given that they happened less than a year ago. It tends to make me not like her as a character.

Danielle M said...

I'm going to start by saying I really like the post-apocalyptic, magical realism feel of this premise. It's definitely got me intrigued.

The query feels long to me, so I would go through it with a sharp eye and ask what's really critical for us to know. "The fires from her dreams" confused me for a sec. I actually thought she conjured flames by dreaming them. Maybe "the fires she sees in her dreams" instead?

This is a really radical suggestion so feel free to discard, but you might want to cut the paragraph on the president and her motivations. I know you're looking at two POVs, and you definitely still need to mention the president, but I would spend the words you cut really making us empathize with your protagonist. Right now the jump between paragraphs one and three buries the final confrontation/dilemma and makes Alex's conflict feel disjointed - for example, you say "lose what's left of their families." Does Alex discover her parents aren't dead? That raises the stakes in a HUGE way, and I want to know that.

"Book of Revelations as an instruction manual" is such great phrasing. Also love your comps, they fit this very well.

The 250 words were not what I expected. Based on your query, I expected to start with Alex alone in the dead city, but it sounds like she's in a government facility? That being said, you do an excellent job of painting a picture here with Titanium and the sketchbook. I particularly like paragraph two, because Alex's voice is very strong there. The "water-ringed coaster" callback flew right over my head though; I didn't get it.

Definitely would want to read more. =)

The Agent said...

I noticed a small spelling error in the first sentence - fix that. Not sure how I feel about the sentence "the fires from her dreams destroy her reality one night" - I think I'd prefer to know that Alex dreams of fire first - start with: "Sixteen-year-old Alex dreams of fire every night" - be more specific. Why do her parents then shove her into a safe-room alone? Don't they join her?

The word "freckled" doesn't work for me....and now Alex has clairvoyance? I thought she just had nightmares. This isn't clear. I don't understand what you mean by "Alex's journey to one leads her to three." - "They all have gifts" - who? And does this mean that Alex received her gift of clairvoyance on that night too? That wasn't clear to me. So I guess the last sentence means that the President survived? Did they know this from the radio? Is that what led them to DC? I have a lot of questions and I would consider re-wording this first paragraph to clarify things.

I had a hard time jumping to the next paragraph because Alex isn't in it and now you introduce Lilith - who I first thought was one of the people Alex meets, but then I realize is the president. Where is Alex in all of this?

I like your comp titles but I'm not sure I'd read on. Try to re-work this query so that things are clearer and keep us with Alex so we understand her agency in all of this. She's the one I care about - so she's the one whose story arc I want to stay with.

The text:

Not sure the metaphor in your first sentence works for me, but the writing here is strong. However, from your query I expected you to start with the fire or with Alex's nightmares or with her being pushed into a safe room. I'm not sure what you mean by "So much for the shield and sword" - but there's something interesting to your voice here and if I decided to read past the query, I would likely continue reading.

CMiller61408 said...

Thank you so much. I have already fixed these problems and hopefully have remedied the transitions and focus as well.