Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Agent,

Nineteen-year-old Lex Hightower has two of the worst jobs in Alabama: part-time grocery store employee, part-time corpse killer. In the six weeks since some lunatic bombed the South, she’s spent most of her time beating back the radioactive dead and reluctantly helping useless survivors in Kroger.

She finds out there’s a safe zone on the edge of the Tennessee-Kentucky Line, but she’s not thrilled to walk two hundred miles on sore cashier feet. But when she finds out that the food reserves in the store are almost gone, she makes her mind up. Time to go to the Line.

Lex grabs a few packs of cigarettes, a metal bat, and the two survivors who annoy her the least, and sets out on her journey. Ex-friend, ex-meth addict Brian and naïve-but-well-intentioned Tony aren’t ideal travel companions, but she’s willing to do anything to get to safety and some d*** peace and quiet. A two-week trip on foot? Easy.

At least it would be if the corpses weren’t getting stronger and smarter every day.

It would be if a mysterious group weren’t carving Xs on buildings and people.

It would be if the fallout wasn’t just changing the dead, but the living as well.

THE DUST is an Adult Urban Fantasy novel at 90,000 words.

As requested, I have included the first 250 words of my manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
J.L.


THE DUST

Brian offers me a cigarette as we watch the corpses circle the edge of the store. There are two of them, a man and a woman this time; the man’s bloated gut stretches out of its ripped sweater, exposing its gray skin, and the woman isn’t wearing any shoes. Who kicks off their shoes when they’re running from something trying to kill them? Dumba**.

“Lex, take one,” Brian says, shoving a Marlboro in my face. An unlit one dangles from his mouth.

“D***, you’re annoying.” I haven’t taken my eyes off the corpses below. One is on its knees, pawing at the gap that separates the store from the parking lot. The ravine between the parking lot and the store is deep, but not wide; it could jump across if it wanted. Luckily the corpses are dumb as s*** and haven’t figured out the concept of jumping. Hopefully they never do.

I sigh, my breath making a small white cloud in the air. It’s bitterly cold for an Alabama September. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the uncommon cold or the thick gray clouds that blot out the sun, but bright green flecks of dust constantly rain down from above. I’ve only ever seen snow a handful of times, but the dust looks just like it--silent flurries that coat everything in green ash. Brian and I are sitting under an overhang to avoid it, though. If it touches our skin, it burns.

7 comments:

Deborah Drick said...

Your query -- particularly your opening is fantastic! I wouldn't change tone, but you could sharpen it with a few teeny word changes. I've bracketed what should be removed, since this has no strikethrough, and put suggestions in CAPS:

Nineteen-year-old Lex Hightower has two of the worst jobs in Alabama: part-time grocery store employee, part-time corpse killer. In the six weeks since some lunatic bombed the South, she’s spent most of her time beating back the radioactive dead and [reluctantly] helping THE useless survivors (HIDING? COWERING?) AT Kroger.

She [finds out] LEARNS there’s a safe zone on the edge of the Tennessee-Kentucky Line, but she’s not thrilled to walk two hundred miles on sore cashier'S feet. But when [she finds out that] the food reserves in the store are almost gone, she [makes her mind up.] DECIDES IT'S [T] Time to go to the Line.

[Lex grabs] ARMED WITH a few packs of cigarettes[,] AND a metal bat, [and] LEX GRABS the two survivors who annoy her the least, and sets out on her journey. [Ex-] FORMER friend[,] AND ex-meth addict Brian, and naïve-but-well-intentioned Tony aren’t ideal travel companions[, but] HOWEVER, she’s willing to do anything to get to safety and some d*** peace and quiet. A two-week trip on foot? [Easy.] SMALL PRICE TO PAY.

...At least it would be if the corpses weren’t getting stronger and smarter every day.

...It would be if a mysterious group weren’t carving Xs on buildings and people.

...It would be if the fallout wasn’t just changing the dead, but the living as well.

THE DUST is an Adult Urban Fantasy novel at 90,000 words.

As requested, I have included the first 250 words of my manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
J.L.

Deborah Drick said...

Oh it should say "addict Brian ALONG WITH...." Sorry. :)

Erin Craig said...

!!! I'm hooked! Your voice comes through strongly in both the query and first page! The only I would alter is to maybe have a quick bio in the query. Love it!

alexandraovery said...

I also love your voice in the query, you get such a sense of character so quickly. If I'm being picky, just the second paragraph you have two constructions of but... but... - you could maybe change up one of them?

But both the query and opening are great! I love the premise, and the voice is so strong.

Good luck!

The Agent said...

This is a great beginning to a query - we get the age, the name, and the location in the first half of the first sentence! Good job! I'm already intrigued.

How does she find out that there's a safe zone? Who tells her? Might want to find a way to include that.

I find it a bit strange that you say she "grabs" the two survivors who annoy her the least - wouldn't they plan together?

But all in all this is very well written query and I'm certainly intrigued to read more - though I must admit I'm not personally the biggest fan of zombies.

The text:

I would like a bit more of a sense of place here - what store? Where? The great set-up we got from your query is missing in this first paragraph for me. I don't know where they are or that she's a cashier at Kroger. We don't figure it out in the next paragraph either. In the third paragraph I finally find out they're in Alabama, and even though there's a great sense of the heat and what it's like outside, I still don't know that she's a cashier or that she's in Alabama or if there is anyone else with them in the store. Also, from your query I thought that she was more of a loner and only joined up with Brian later - but here he's front and center. I think I wanted to get to know Lex first.

I would probably keep reading to see what happens next, but as I said before, I'm not the biggest fan of zombies so the writing here would really need to knock my socks off - which you do in the query, but less so in the first 250 words.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

I wonder if this genre is horror, not urban fantasy. I liked the query a lot. I also the like the beginning, except I'm confused why she thinks the woman with no shoes was running from the zombies. What if she got taken you surprise when she was barefoot? I wondered if she was a zombie or someone fleeing because we don't get any other description of her other than it's barefoot.

I'd love to see more voice included in the part about the trench--did the main character help dig it?

I wonder if the snow she's seen previously is green too.

This stuff is right my alley. I'd read on.

Jessica said...

Thank you all so much for your feedback!! I'll get to revising right away :)