Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Ms. Shea,

If George Konvolinka doesn't get a wrestling scholarship, he'll end up bussing tables at Mr. Greek, his family's restaurant, and worse, living with his parents. Which would be intolerable even if his mother didn't dress like a teenaged skank, and his father didn't throw chairs at the matches.

His sister Dorrie made it out of Waterboro unscathed (he thinks), and George is on track to do the same. But the new surfer-dude dishwasher that George recruited for the team, Clive Duval, turns out to be a former state champion, and wants George's spot.

When his mother amps up her flirting with Clive, George becomes a head case on the mat. It doesn't help that the coach is on Clive's side, and that Erin Breedlove, the team manager, has breasts he can detect under her baggy sweatshirt.

At Thanksgiving, Dorrie comes home thirty pounds thinner and his mom is thrilled she's a size zero, whatever the f*** that is. But when George hears his sister throwing up in their Jack and Jill bathroom, he knows something is wrong.

George must choose between helping Dorrie with her eating disorder and wrestling for his scholarship.

My writing has been published in anthologies and newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor and the Chattanooga Free Press.

I am seeking representation for THE NEAR FALL, my young adult novel, complete at 58,000 words.

Thank you so much for your consideration.



I have thirty seconds. My thighs are on fire, but I crouch low to the mat and circle him, moving in and out quickly. I shoot in and grab his leg, then explode up through his body. Again. And again.

Sweat streams into my eyes, but I couldn't see him clearly even if he was really there. I watch him, my imaginary opponent, as Three Doors Down plays Kryptonite in the corner of the gym. If I go crazy now will you still call me Superman? I check the clock and go again. I'm on my two hundredth shot when I feel a jolt of electricity right behind my elbow. I lose my balance, and stumble in the middle of the take down. I look at my time; 199 take downs in twenty minutes. I failed.

She should have warned me. Made a noise. Stomped her f****** Eskimo boots. Something. She's lucky I didn't jab her in the eyeball.


Erin Breedlove taps her ear, and I take my ear buds out. I don't know what to say. I should have said something earlier, back last spring when it happened. Her sister OD'ed and woke up dead. Or didn't wake up at all, rather. Heroin. I don't bring it up.


"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to let you know I'm here. Didn't want to freak you out if you saw me in the office." She jerks her head toward the little glassed-in room in the corner of the gym.


Susan said...

The opening paragraph of your query made me laugh, and gave me a clear picture of these characters. Nice job with that.

Ninja Girl said...

Wow, I love this!! Especially the excerpt. George's voice comes through loud and clear, and I love the wrestling phrasing used in the beginning, "explodes up." Also, love the part with Erin--and her name! Awesome. The query's great as well, but it kinda lost me in the para where the sister comes home. I think maybe you could tie it in better w/George's predicament, but I really enjoyed this. One thing: maybe instead of "has breasts he can detect..." Maybe say "has breasts even her baggy sweatshirts can't hide"?? Don't know, something about it just kinda threw me off for a sec. I think the writing is so on point. Great job!
Ninja Girl

Mary Vettel said...

Why must George choose between helping his sister w/her eating disorder and wrestling?
Why is the music playing in the corner of the gym but he's wearing ear buds? And I don't get how much time has elapsed since Erin's sister OD'd and present time and why the 1st thing he thinks is he should've said something at the time.Also, George seemed pretty intent on his imaginary wrestling partner to notice her going into the little glassed-in room in the corner of the gym. Just strikes me as odd that she'd interrupt.

Good luck.

Kate Larkindale said...

I love the characters you've given u in the query, but once we get to the sister and her problems, I'm a little lost as to how it affects George and his wrestling. I think you should focus your query on the one main conflict.

In the sample, I'm not sure it's relevant this early on that Erin's sister ODed. It kind of comes out of left field and made me go 'whoa'. Otherwise, apart from the inconsistancy of the music and earphones that was already mentioned, I think this is a good start.

JeffO said...

Okay, being blunt: I'm not sure I would have gotten past the query letter. There are some good things here, namely conflict and voice (though I think the 'whatever the f*** that is' was not needed here), but I also feel like you're throwing too much into the query: George vs. his parents, George vs. Clive, George vs. Erin Breedlove's breasts, Dorrie vs. an eating disorder. There's a lot packed into the query, and then it resolves into George choosing between wrestling and Dorrie. Why must George be the one to help his sister? And why will helping his sister get in the way of wrestling? That jump lost me there.

And that's too bad, because I think your sample is really good. It's got action. Movement. Energy. You can really feel George's drive and focus. And it's got a bit of teen awkwardness. I would definitely read more pages, but the query needs more of George's focus, I think. It would be a shame for agents to skip pages because of the query, because I think you've got something good here.

Jodi R. said...

This is a cool story and I like the voice. I did find the query a little sctattered - it had lots of info and jumped from topic to topic, as mentioned in other comments. I also didn't get how helping his sister precluded his scholarship efforts.

I must say, when I read the first paragraph of the sample, I was thinking, "Whoa - this is a whole other kind of novel!" Is there any way you could make it seem less ... um, porny? Sorry - gutter brain here!

Good luck with this!

Katie Shea said...

Clever and funny. But I'm not completely intrigued by the premise of the novel. "George must choose between helping Dorrie with her eating disorder and wrestling for his scholarship." - why has this come to a life-altering decision?