Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear Agent,

At Warwick Hall Academy, the living and the dead both have secrets. Cassie has been waiting two years for her body to be found. She can’t remember how she died but she knows something is with her in the darkness--something from which even death is no protection.

Sophia Cross is a new student at Warwick Hall. Her father has taken up a teaching position at the school and they’re looking for a fresh start after a car crash left her mother dead and Sophia in a month-long coma. She doesn’t know where she was as she hovered between life and death, but she can still sense the darkness.

When Sophia moves into Cassie’s house, the girls learn to communicate via Magnetic Poetry. Cassie and Sophia will have to work together if they are to unravel the mystery behind Cassie’s death and the menacing presence that haunts them both. The answers are hidden somewhere within Warwick Hall, where everyone is a potential suspect and trusting the wrong person could get you killed.

WARWICK HALL is a cross between a Victorian Gothic novel and a teen detective story: Veronica Mars meets The Woman in White. It is a stand-alone paranormal YA murder mystery complete at 95,000 words.

I have just won an online contest and received a full MS request from Heather Howland at Entangled. I also recently parted ways amicably from my agent and am looking for new representation for WARWICK HALL, which has not been shopped.

I am presently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre. As a journalist, my work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler and CNN, among others. I hold a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to the opportunity to share the entire manuscript with you.



It was a beautiful day to be dead.

Cassie lay in a bed of leaves on the riverside. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud. She couldn’t feel it, but she imagined it to be warm.

She found herself waking up here more and more often. Cassie had been waiting almost two years for her body to be found. She didn’t know if this was Hell, but it sure wasn’t Heaven.

She shook the foliage out of her hair--to a passerby it would look like a sudden, isolated gust of wind. Cassie could never actually move anything when she wanted to, of course, but sometimes her energy brushed against the Living world.

She meandered back toward Warwick Hall, the prep school where her father had been the chaplain. She spied a doe taking a drink from the river, cool and sweet. The animal tensed as if it knew that she was there. The deer locked eyes with her and startled, loping off like it had seen, well, a ghost.

Cassie threw her hands in the air in frustration. The only sentient creatures that could see her were afraid of her. They sensed she shouldn’t be there, that she’d stayed too long at the party.

But she had no idea how to “move on” or “go into the light,” or whatever it was restless spirits were supposed to do. She couldn’t even have any fun haunting anyone because she didn’t know how to make the Living hear or see her.


Teresa said...

Loved the premise (you had me at Woman in White) and loved the pages. You've creatued an air of mystery and I'm interested to see how the girls interact. It kind of reminds me of the BBC show 'Hex.'

The query is evocative, sweet, and short. I'd definitely read on.!

Kristy Shen said...

Wow. Both the opening lines in you query and 250 words were amazing! No wonder you had an agent!

I don't have much to criticize. Your writing is already very polished!

Karma & Adam said...

Would love to keep reading! Only real comment is about the length of query -- felt a bit heavy on the bio. Maybe you can condense your experience into a line or two & really keep to the relevant stuff?
Good luck!

Karma & Adam said...

One small detail I forgot to mention...I have no clue what magnetic poetry is. Can you give a quick descrip?

Karma & Adam said...

Would love to keep reading! Only real comment is about the length of query -- felt a bit heavy on the bio. Maybe you can condense your experience into a line or two & really keep to the relevant stuff?
Good luck!

Deserae McGlothen said...

I really like the query and the first 250. Both are crisp, clean, and interesting. Cassie strikes me as a very charming character based on our encounter with her in this passage. There isn't much to say other than "it's good!"

Although it's not something I'd normally read (murder gives me the willies), I'd definitely be interested in seeing more. I'd at least love to get to know Sophia. Fingers crossed Cassie gets her ever after!

Best wishes,

Leslie said...

Hey...It's Leslie from the Litreactor class. Great to see you here! I wish I'd been in your critique group because I would've loved to have read your first three chapters. I really liked this opening. The first line is awesome.

I definitely would want to keep reading.

Good luck!

Nazarea Andrews said...

Wow, there are a lot of ghost/dead people stories in this group. I do like your query though. Very tight and clean. Although, I think you could lose the paragraph about your University background, but that's just me.

The first 250 doesn't grab me and pull me in immediately, but I like the tone of it, so I'd probably keep reading for a bit.

Robin said...

What stood out most to me in your query was your impressive background *impressed* but I wanted to be thinking about your awesome MS so maybe a little bit in your personal bio?

Also, have you tried to write the query from only 1 POV even if the MS is told in 2?

The 1st 250 was really pretty, but I wanted to be pulled in more, to care more for Cassie. Still, I would definitely read page 2:)

Good luck!

The Agent said...

This query might be the exception that proves the rule, afterlife-wise! I'm very impressed with it.

Part of what I think works here is the friendship between the two characters. The fact that one is alive and the other dead I find immediately more compelling, with more potential for conflict, than a story focusing on a single character after death. I also think this is a great example of the importance of setting--the gothic boarding-school setting feels immediately alive.

I also think the first page is strong, although (given my anti-preference for afterlife stories!) I'd prefer to start from Sophia's point-of-view. I'm also a bit concerned that, over the course of the first page, the introduction is a little bit too expository (there's not as much of Cassie's voice coming through as I'd like), but I'd keep reading.

Stephsco said...

I love the Veronica Mars meets The Woman in White line. It's such a great way to show how your book relates to what people are already familiar with. This is a really strong query,congrats on the requested pages!