Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Mysterious Agent,

I hope to interest you in taking a look at IN GENEVIEVE’S GROTTO, my YA fantasy complete at 86,000 words.

Jemma’s parents have always had one rule for her: don’t get caught. So when she nearly drowns an entire school and everyone in it, they flee to their hometown, Pequot Woods, Minnesota. Only, in Pequot, Jemma isn’t the only one with a secret.

The town is ruled by an underground society focused on the education of Elderlings, people with a gift for controlling the elements. People like Jemma--sort of. The thing is, she’s not even normal for an Elderling. The telepathic link she shares with her new Elderling neighbor, Cole isn’t supposed to exist. There’s only been one other documented case of this ability, and that story’s mostly myth.

When an ancient Elderling cult learns of their connection, they think it’s a sign. History is repeating itself. All that’s missing is the psychopath trying to obliterate a good portion of the Elderling race. And now that Jemma’s returned to Pequot, the only thing that can stop the sequence is her death. But Jemma isn’t convinced. She’s never heard of this psycho, this Hammond the Horrible and has no sympathy for his cause--whatever that might be. But try explaining that to a bunch of masked freaks whose only working words seem to be we want only to save the world. Jemma doesn’t care about saving the world. She cares about her friends, her family--maybe even Cole. The thing is, simply hiding isn’t really an option. Hammond’s return would harm more than just her life. It would mean the destruction of the only place she’s ever felt at home. If she doesn’t surrender to this cult and sacrifice herself before it’s too late, she’ll be risking the ruin of everything and everyone she’s come to love.



I set my bag down on the stairs and did a quick check. Cell phone, pens, pencils, house keys…all there. Though the keys still felt bulky in my hands. Awkward, almost. There were more of them than I was used to, with separate keys for the front and back doors, and another one for our garage. Even having a garage was new.

“You’ll settle in, Jemstone, I promise. It’s only been a few weeks.”

Mom leaned against the archway. I hated how she could always read me. It made keeping secrets really hard. And I was the sort of girl that had a lot of them.

“This is home, you know. This is where you were born.”

So they’d told me. At least a dozen times. On the trip up here alone. But I didn’t remember it. I was two years old when we moved to Minneapolis.

“This is your chance, Jemma, your chance to start over. Make friends. What about that boy that keeps lurking around here? He seems nice. Not stalkerish at all.”

I laughed. Cole wasn’t a stalker, I knew that now, but I’d had my suspicions too when I first found him stamping out a fire in our front yard. He claimed he’d overshot a model rocket, but his house was a good quarter of the mile through the woods.

I still didn’t really know what he was doing in our yard that day, since I never did see any wreckage from that rocket, but so far I was glad I’d caught him.


CallMeKarma said...

I really like the premise, and thought the 250 words were great - nice voice and style. However, I was a bit lost throughout the query. It read more like a synopsis to me (Then this happens, and after that, this...) and there was a lot of detail to digest: the problem (she nearly drowns her school? how? why?), the secret underground society, the Elderlings, the love interest, the mythical connection, the psycho...way too much info for me.
But I would read more, based on the sample and the idea of these gifts. All the best!

Kristy Shen said...

Nice hook and awesome voice. I would read on just based on the voice alone.

The query could be simplified a bit and maybe the first scene should start with more action, but those are just my preferences. You don't have to agree :)

I love your voice. Awesome job!

Robin said...

LOVE your 1st 250 words-esp. the last line. I want to know Cole.

Query felt like it could be tightened a bit in the last paragraph. But the concept is compelling.

Good luck!

Deserae McGlothen said...

After reading the query it seems to me that there's Pequot, then an underground society within that town, then a cult within that society which gives me a glimpse of the complexities of the narrative and makes me have to think a little bit harder about what's going on. I think I was with you until the third plot paragraph at the mention of the psychopath. I wondered where he fit in, who he was, and why Jemma has to be sympathetic toward his cause if he's the one who's trying to kill her. I think if you break up and focus in on the ideas in the third paragraph, the query will run a bit smoother. I'd tighten it up also because it felt a bit long.

The first 250 was pretty well written with very few errors and a good look at Jemma. One last thing about the query, though. I love the title, but perhaps letting us in on what Genevieve's Grotto has to do with the story could bring something to the query. Just a thought.

Best wishes,

Nazarea Andrews said...

I feel like the query is too dense. I felt like I was wading through until I got to the third paragraph, which I really liked.

As for the first 250--I'm undecided. I'm a little lost as to what's going on (aside from the obvious, she's talking to her mother) but I'd keep reading to find out.

The Agent said...

I'm going to join those concerned that the query was a little too dense. The problem, I think, is that you're trying to give us a lot of information about the Elderlings, but there's nothing among that information that's so interesting it catches my attention immediately. I'd rather take longer to learn about how Jemma discovers she can control the elements, and she's not alone, and see less about Elderling society. Without a visceral sense of why Jemma's powers are amazing, or that there's a deep mystery surrounding Pequot Woods, the setting and premise feel bland, making it hard to focus on all the details you give of plot and setting.

I think the first page starts in a very promising way, but I felt like it moved on to Cole too fast. I wanted to see more of Jemma's relationship and conversation with her mom, and more hints of why they moved. The jump to the introduction of Cole felt awkward to me, which, honestly, is enough that I might stop reading. It's important to linger on important moments--and the opening scene had better be an important moment, or you need a different opening scene! That said, I think your writing is smooth and I like the voice that's coming through in this page.