Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Ms. Marini,

A humanlike girl with an affinity to plants arrives on Earth to defend our garden from invasion. To learn English, she deciphers Dr Seuss and christens herself, Sam I Am. Each day here, she ages a year. Trillions of neurotransmitters inside her stomach, called Logic Cells, give advice inside her head. Bad enough these gut feelings never shut up, but they can also override her motor functions, guaranteeing Sam complies with the planned airborne immunization of humans against alien mind-control. At eighteen-days-old her Logic Cells will release pheromones to seduce a male to pollinate her spores before Sam’s dispersal sack explodes and she wilts, giving duel meaning to her plant teen response--that blows.

But at day-fourteen, soldiers with Yertle the Turtle shells on their heads discover her landing pod. Sam escapes, helped by Brooke, a teenage girl with leukemia. Attracted to Brooke’s brother Dylan, Sam hopes her Logic Cells intervene because at three days (years) younger than him, he avoids her like he might catch a dose--of poison ivy. This changes after Sam saves Dylan from an alien attack, because his thankyou kiss helps her realize, allowing Logic Cells to manipulate humans makes her no better than the invading tree reapers. Now prior to completing her mission, Sam hopes to give Dylan what he desires before her Logic Cells play Chemical Cupid. A cure for the disease circulating in Brooke’s red sap--even if she has to cut out her own stomach to do it.

PLANTED (I CAN WATER MYSELF) is a standalone 83,000-word young adult science fiction with series potential. I was the founder and president of Strategy First, a worldwide publisher of entertainment software for twenty years. Our franchise titles, Disciples, a fantasy, and Jagged Alliance, an adventure role-playing release, sold over one million copies worldwide respectively and were geared to a young adult audience.



I struggled with the onslaught of moisture in my eyes, fearing my Logic Cells would ask questions. Breathe…I needed to breathe and not think about the box. Think…think about something else…the first mutilation I deciphered in the dead forest named library. Its words helped me respond to a worker who had asked my name.

“Sam I am,” I said.
She laughed. “Where’s your mother, Sam?”
I pointed upward.
She touched my limb. “You poor dear.”
I almost forgot--never reveal Mother orbited Earth.

No, thinking of the genocide called books did not help. It made me want to grow thorns on my twigs and drop from the tree to mount a rescue, but knowing my Logic Cells would interfere--tears fell instead of me.
You are wasting fluids. What is wrong? my Logic Cells asked.
I refused to respond.

My permanent stomachache growled again. If you cannot speak, because someone may hear. Signal us with your twigs.
How about I manifest into a giant redwood and stomp my stumps while shouting ‘Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a human,’ but no, that ability along with Logic Cells helping remained a fairy tale. So I knotted all my twigs into a fist except one and gave my Logic Cells the middle twig. One signaled human warriors. Two, the Swarm.
Branches snapped. Humans dressed in green paraded through the forest. Sunlight glinted from the barbs attached to their weapons as they stabbed bushes. They had the box--now they wanted me.


B.C. said...

This is a really interesting and vivid story-world you've created. It's clear there's a lot going on, and I would be interested to see more.

That being said, I think you might consider narrowing the focus of your query. There's a lot of information that you give us, and it reads a bit more like a synopsis.

Specifically, you highlight several different conflicts in your query: the invasion, being on the run from soldiers, the interpersonal tension between Sam and Dylan, and the choice to save Brooke. These are all important, but it might help your query to focus on one or two at most.

With regard to the writing sample, I think you have a unique voice and I like the decision to drop us late into the action. However, at least for me, you may want to ease into things a little bit more. You give us a lot of information (logic cells, Mother, special powers).

Overall, a very interesting story idea!

Ryan said...

B.C. pretty much hit the nail on the head. But I just wanted to say that you must be some kind of genius 'cause every one of those ideas you spouted off made my brain go "ooooh."
Awesome premise. Getting that query focused is SOO tough, especially with complicated stories. I think I'm on number 25 or something and I'm still not there. ...stupid queries.
Good luck!

S.S. #20 said...

I'm afraid I'm echoing the above statements... I LOVE THE PREMISE. There is so much room for conflict, it isn't even funny. And the Dr. Seuss twist, hilarious.

But then you started talking about the logic cells and the alien mind control and immunizing humans and pollinating spores and I was lost.

I think there's so much in this query that you can streamline it... focus on the MC's goals, motivations and conflicts and hopefully that will help guide you.

I hope it helps, and keep up the great work... Yertle the Turtle shells... *walks away chuckling!*

K.A.S #5 said...

I feel like I may just be repeating what everyone above has said, but here goes:

When I read: "A humanlike girl with an affinity to plants arrives on Earth to defend our garden from invasion. To learn English, she deciphers Dr Seuss and christens herself, Sam I Am."

My response was: YES!!! That sounds so unique, so interesting. I love that we might be contemplating what it means to be human? What it means to protect "our garden"? Language and literature. I love it all.

But then, your query starts to lose me a little. There is just so much here that I can't follow and it makes me wonder if I can follow the book itself.

When I read your 250 words, I can follow it. I think it's beautifully written. Your world is vivid. Your character's voice is clear. I want to read more.

So, I would say pare down the query a lot. As S.S. said above: focus on the M.C. and her motivations and her conflict. Try not to include so many names or so many complicated world elements.

Victoria Marini said...

I love how imaginative this is, but I'm afraid you lost me. I think the basic nature vs. nurture conflict: she wants to save herself and protect her human friends even if her race/body won't allow it, is great. That would have been enough for me. But, if she's there to immunize humans against alien mind control, isn't that good for the humans?

Also, if she ages a year every day how is she supposed to carry on with people? she can't ever know anyone for more than a day at a time which means no real social interaction which means no real education about the patterns of humans etc...

The whole exploding spore sack thing sort of grossed me out, and then making friends with a leukemia patient and her boyfriend while trying to thwart (or cause?) an alien invasion was too much for me. why does she have to be sick? It feels like it's just drama for drama sake.

You clearly have an incredible knack for invention and fantasy, but this feels like it ran away with you and I think paring down all these elements would do it wonders.

Thank you!