Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Ms. Shea,

High school graduation: Check. College Apps: Check. Actually deciding where to start the rest of your life: Uhhh.

For Ryan, deciding where to go to college is easy: he lets someone else choose. His girlfriend Marcy’s the planner, not him. And he’d rather not think about all the changes graduating and leaving home will bring. Then their chosen school, Texas Central, cuts their soccer program. One more thing he’ll have to give up now that high school’s done. But he doesn’t think there’s anything he can do about it. He’s already committed to both TC and Marcy.

His neighbor Summer learned the hard way that avoiding decisions doesn’t make them go away. Like last June, when she missed her chance to cross the friends’ line with Ryan. She’s spent the last year avoiding him, denying the mistake she made--but that has to stop. She has one more of year of high school, but Ryan’s leaving soon. It’s time she let go of the past and fixed their derailed friendship--especially since she might be the only one who can help him figure out what he wants from the future.

If Ryan and Summer can’t learn to start calling the shots in their own lives, they’ll never reach their goals--and they’ll all end up where they don’t belong. UNDECIDED, a 60,000-word YA contemporary novel, should appeal to fans of Susane Colasanti and Jenny Han.



His music is too loud--not exactly a problem, except that it’s louder than mine. I jack up my iPod. My tiny speakers can’t drown out the noise.

Especially since they aren’t just competing with music, but laughter, splashing, screams. Fun. That’s what’s on the other side of the fence.

My phone buzzes and skitters across the swing’s seat. Amber’s name flashes on the screen, followed almost immediately by Max’s. Their texts are identical. She’s headed to his house, his parents are headed out, I can come if I want.

Half an invitation from each that doesn’t add up to a whole.

Can’t make it, I text back. Family movie night.

Not a complete lie. The windows flicker with light from a DVD.

I give up the fight with the music and shut mine off. Despite the dark sky, the air is hot.

I could join my parents, but instead I stay outside, between my house and Ryan’s, pushing myself in the swing, digging my bare toes into the grass, listening to the party I’m definitely not invited to.

Until the soccer ball lands in my lap.

I clutch it and blink into the darkness, trying to see if anyone’s there to claim it.

A head pops over the back fence, followed by a body, which lands with a two-footed thump on my side.

“Nice one, man,” Ryan yells over the fence, then jogs toward me.

I could throw the ball back, but I wait for him to come to me.


Susan said...

"listening to the party I’m definitely not invited to..."

I think this line pretty much sums up a lot of people's teenage experiences!

Suzi said...

I like your voice in the first 250.

The thing I'm not crazy about is the amount of sentence fragments and the choppiness I get. By choppiness, I mean that so many lines start a new paragraph where I would combine them. Ex: I'd combine, "Until the soccer ball... I clutch and blink... A head pops up," into one paragraph.

This is obviously just a personal preference and is totally a stylistic issue, but just wanted to mention it.

Good luck.

Mary Vettel said...

I would have liked the opening to be clearer - I didn't get that it was music on 2 sides of a fence - thought it was 2 people beside each other. I agree that it's a bit choppy and more of the sentences can be joined in a paragraph rather than separate. Also don't get the half invitation from Amber/Max. It seemed like each 1 invited her. ?

Good luck.

Leslie said...

I love stories like this. I love Susane Colasanti and Sarah Dessen, and this does seem to be a story that would appeal to fans of that author group. I think these kinds of stories will never get old.

I agree with the previous comments about writing style. I had a difficult time staying interested because the ideas didn't seem to flow. As much as I love the topic, I wouldn't have been able to keep reading.

I thought the letter was great. I love the opening. Story and conflicts are described clearly. I also liked it because I prefer query letters that begin with the story and a hook. If I were an agent, this is what would keep me reading.

Good luck.

James Koonce said...

Really nice voice in the excerpt. Right away you set up a good sense of who this person is, even though we don't get a name (but I'm assuming were being introduced to Summer), and there's a nice rhythm in the way the action starts to unfold at the same time we learn a few things about the MC.

The query part of the letter sets up a classic teen conflict, but I think you could turn up the stakes a little more and get into what Ryan and Summer are really risking by not being more active in their lives -- where IS where they don't belong? I'd like to know.

I'd read this based on the story, definitely. I'm always on the fence about comparisons to other works and authors, but I don't think it's a bad thing. You definitely know who you want your reader to be.

Owl said...

I think your query set up the expectation that I was going to be reading from Ryan's POV. There was confusion as I tried to switch gears and figure out who was speaking. I think if your MC is Summer and not Ryan then perhaps more focus on her in the query up front.

Anonymous said...

I'm a ninth grader and LOVE Sarah Dessen. This reminds me of some of her stories. I would definitely want to read more.

Katie Shea said...

This query doesn't open up with a bang. It seems typical and the writing doesn't impress me too much. Not sure if there is enough for me to want to read past the second paragraph.