Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Ms. Shea,

Secrets are what Sophie Winters does best. She never tells--no matter what. From hiding her drug addiction to keeping her sexuality under wraps, she’s an expert at deception.

But when her best friend, Mina, is killed in what seems like a drug deal gone wrong, only Sophie knows the truth: that the drugs were planted after the tragedy in an attempt to cast some of the blame on her. Before she can convince the authorities they’re looking for Mina’s killer in the wrong places, she’s shipped off to rehab by her distraught parents.

Haunted by Mina’s memory and the secrets they shared, Sophie returns home determined to learn the true circumstances surrounding the murder. But the closer Sophie gets to discovering the truth, the harder it is to keep their biggest secret safe. Now, with the killer running free and secrets surfacing, Sophie must choose: tell the truth, or take it to her grave.

Because of your interest in heartfelt and character-driven contemporary work with complex relationships, I'd like to submit HOW WE FELL for your consideration. It is a YA mystery complete at 66,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



It doesn’t start here.
You’d think it would: two terrified girls, cringing together, eyes bulging at the reality of the gun in his hand.
But it doesn’t start here.
It starts the first time I almost die.

The first time, I’m fourteen. Trev’s driving us home from swim practice. We’re singing along to the radio in the back seat, and he’s laughing at us.
It happens fast: the screech of metal on metal, glass everywhere. I’m not wearing my seat belt and I pitch forward as Mina’s scream drowns out the radio.
Then everything’s black.
I don’t remember any more.

The second time, I remember everything. The beam of the car’s brights, his eyes glinting at us through his mask. How steady his finger was on that trigger. Mina’s hand was in mine; our nails dug into each other’s flesh.
After, I’d trace my fingers over those bloody half-moon marks and realize they were all I had left of her.

The first time, I wake in a hospital, hooked up to machines, with Mina standing next to me.
There’s a tube in my neck. I claw at it, frantic, and Mina grabs my hand away, ordering me to look at her. It takes me a second to meet her gray eyes, to focus enough to let her words sink in.
“You’re going to be fine,” she promises.
I stop fighting and trust her.
It’s only later that I realize she’s lying.


Janelle said...

I think the cinematic nature of your first three paragraphs of your first 250 are effective in drawing the reader in.

Questions: Why do Sophie's parents ship her to rehab if Sophie hasn't revealed her dangerous secret life? Also, the 2nd paragraph of the query implies Sophie knows the truth about who killed Mina, but then the next paragraph says Sophie's returning home to find out the truth. I think we need a clearer idea of how much Sophie knows.

Suzi said...

I had the same questions as Janelle above.

Here are my nit-picky comments for the query.

With this: "only Sophie knows the truth: that the drugs were planted after the tragedy in an attempt to cast some of the blame on her."

At first I thought you meant Sophie was being blamed because Sophie was the last one mentioned before you use 'her'. But I think you mean her friend.

With: "Now, with the killer running free and secrets surfacing, Sophie must choose: tell the truth, or take it to her grave."

Do you mean that Sopie will die knowing the secrets or that the killer will come after Sophie? Your wording leads me to believe the former, but I wonder if you meant the latter and there is quite a significant difference.

Good luck. Sounds like a interesting read.

Kristin Lenz said...

I read all the way through and wanted to keep going. Edgy and suspenseful. It's an unusual beginning, ending with a twist, leaving us with questions. In the query, I thought you covered the story well, but I was curious to know a bit about you, the author. Best of luck with this!

Jodi R. said...

This is very intriguing - I would definitely want to know more!

I, too, had some trouble with the ambiguities in the second paragraph.

I love the structure and pacing of the sample - I am very curious what the structure and content would be for the rest...

Good luck!

JeffO said...

The opening paragraph of your query really grabbed me. Nicely done! The writing is very crisp and smooth, but I lose sense of what is ultimately at stake here, and I'm left to guess. Will telling the truth bring Mina's killer to justice but damage Sophie's life? Is Sophie in danger from the killer? If she tells the truth, so what? I can't really tell.

I like the concept and execution of your opening page. It definitely drew me in and made me curious about both events and how they've shaped Sophie's life. One pick, in the third paragraph ('The second time') there are some tense issues. The first time, you're using present tense. For the 'second time' para, you kind of slide a bit, and I think you'd be better served with 'how steady his finger is on teh trigger; Mina's hand IN mine' etc. Nicely done.

misstante said...

i think all the comments have merit, and will make the query even better. but i must say i'm hooked. love the name 'sophie winters' and have a good feel for her already. i'm interested in the murder, and the secret and think it reads smoothly. want more!

Katie Shea said...

Great first paragraph. However, this sentence confuses me: "that the drugs were planted after the tragedy in an attempt to cast some of the blame on her." Planted where? On her? Or in the ground? Not quite sure if this is for me. Also, not blown away by the title.