Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Secret Agent,

Fog swirls through Eckhart’s twisted apple orchards and tumbledown farmhouses on the night seventeen-year-old Ava Nolan learns of Arabella's Curse, an occult ruby capable of resurrecting the dead. Necromancy isn’t really Ava's thing, though it would be nice to revive her family's dwindling bank account and rekindle her father's love.  Creep factor aside, the ruby may be the solution to Ava's problems, but finding it may leave her anemic.

When a run-in with her supposedly dead mother lands Ava in the hospital, she discovers the path to immortality is paved with backstabbing--not to mention literal stabbing. Breaking into a crypt and falling into a rat-infested pit doesn't frighten Ava half as much as her feelings for the handsome boy who fills her nights with stolen kisses and her head with ruby lore.  But there’s something strange about Ben Wolcott. He’s a bit too cunning, a bit too preoccupied with keeping Ava out of his basement, and much too interested in Arabella’s Curse.

BLACK HEART, RED RUBY is a 74,000-word YA gothic romance seeped in blood and scandal. My macabre soap opera will intrigue readers of Anna Dressed in Blood and the Pretty Little Liars series.  A full manuscript is available upon request.

I am a member of SCBWI. My blog, The Lit Connection, boasts 1.7 million page views since 2007 and is popular with book bloggers and teen readers.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



My brother would’ve killed the perv if I hadn’t stepped in to save the day.

Diving into the fray, I rammed Cam from the side and broke his stranglehold on the stranger. The creeper collapsed to the ground, choking and wheezing in the weeds.  He was a scrawny guy about my age, seventeen, maybe nineteen at the most. Propped against the side of the barn, he looked as pathetic as a scarecrow pecked apart by crows. Somehow he’d seemed scarier lurking outside my bedroom window, a dark prince cloaked in fog and shadow.

His name, we learned after Cam put him in a headlock, was Ben Wolcott.

“I don’t get you, Ava.” Cam scrubbed the sweat from his buzz cut. “You wanted me to talk to him and here I am--” He kicked Ben in the ribs. Ben groaned and hacked up a string of bloody spittle. “Talking.”

“Idiot!” I latched onto Cam’s brawny forearm and dragged him away from Ben. “Kick him again and I’ll knee your nuts so far north you’ll sing soprano for the rest of your miserable life so DON’T MESS WITH ME!”

One glance at my ‘I will cut you’ expression and Cam cursed under his breath. He whirled around and booted a rusty wheelbarrow instead.

Heaving a long-suffering sigh, I slumped against the wooden fence and watched the fog swirl around the orchard of twisted apple trees.  Uphill from the barn, our clapboard farmhouse loomed against a violet sky, all windows dim except for my bedroom where a halogen lamp flickered like a bug zapper.


Robin said...

Is Eckhart the name of the town? the property? a person? I attached to this name and then had to switch to Ava and then Arabella's Curse. It's a lot of names to process. I'd simplify that first sentence. I grinning at leave her anemic, but wonder if it's a little too coy when we're going for quick clarity.

like the backstabbing-not to mention literal stabbing line.

save the day=do it for him? And ick-outside her window! Interesting meeting Ben Wolcott this way. "a pathetic scarecrow pecked about by crows" i like the image, but I'd look for other words-pathetic and pecked are so similar and 2 crows so close together.

Love the setting an that final image of her halogen lamp flickering like a bug zapper.

I would be turning the page for sure:) Good luck!

Kristy Shen said...

Interesting concept! I like the mystery behind the curse and the love interest.

The first sentence in your query is a bit long so I would cut out the fog part and go straight into the Arabella's curse.

Deserae McGlothen said...

I really love the first 250 although I wasn't a fan of Ava's first line of dialogue. Still, it's a well written, very engaging start that is interesting and has my attention.

The query sounds interesting but I agree that the first sentence of the first paragraph should probably start with your protagonist (in lieu of the fog). I had to read that sentence twice to confirm that Eckhart was a place rather than a person. I didn't get the anemic reference until a million years later (I don't have a good eye for sarcasm/ inside jokes. You can ask my friends.) and while I think it's a pretty interesting phrase, I read the whole query thinking "how does this make her anemic?" Forgive me for being slow but perhaps it might be better to be more straightforward. Or not. Whatever works.

Wasn't a big fan of the title because it reminds me of Holly Black's BLACK HEART, but that's just a preference thing. I wonder if referring to the novel as a "soap opera" is a hit or miss since it managed to make ME smile, but the contrast between the serious (macabre) and the often cheesily dramatic (soap opera) makes me wonder what the tone of the story really is like.

But because of the intriguing premise and the hot first page, I'd want to read more. For sure.

Wishing you well,

Nazarea Andrews said...

I think the first sentence of your query (The bit about the fog) doesn't match the tone of the query or 250. But that's just me. Also, you use a lot of names (I know this was already mentioned) so be careful not to bog down the reader.

I'm not really sure what's going on in your first 250. Is she wanting her brother to beat him up or no, because it seems to be both. Maybe pick one and run with it?

Kate Brauning said...

Interesting concept! The back cover copy would interest me. The query left me with a few places I was wondering "why?" or "how?". Also, instead of "seeped" you need "steeped." The 250 again started in a great place and the events had me intrigued, but I felt like Ava's lines were overdone. I don't understand her relationship with her brother enough to believe that she would yell that way at him, especially since he's protecting her from a creeper. Otherwise I think you've got a great story brewing here.

The Agent said...

I think the voice in this query is a little inconsistent. The first sentence suggests a very gothic, very serious tone, but then Ava's voice seems to be more sarcastic. (Especially the anemic line, which I'm still puzzling over.)

I feel like we're missing some context here, though. Why does Ava know about Arabella's Curse? Where did it come from? Why does she need the ruby if she doesn't like necromancy? Are there vampires around? Who's the villain? I liket he introduction of Ben, but I want to know more about how magic works in Ava's world, and where the plot is going.

I have similar concerns about the first page. I think the voice is good, but I don't know what Ava's thinking, nor why Cam and Ava are attacking Ben. I think you can slow down and take more time to explain how they got to the middle of the action, and give us a chance to get to know Ava a little better. Neither Cam nor Ava is very sympathetic in this first scene, and I don't know if it's the best introduction to them.