Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear awesome agent:

Lark Hawkins comes from a long line of mind manipulators. And it totally sucks that she has to follow The Rules.

She may possess the same thought-influencing gift as others scattered throughout history, but she's not exempt from the dos and don'ts of her tribe. At 16, Rule Three is killing her mojo: she's forbidden to make anyone fall in love with her.

Lark's broken the rule before but this time the Ducere are lurking. Once the king-making CIA of the Duo underground, its mission to recruit, train and mobilize Duos has taken a sinister turn under its new leader. He's using members' talents to wipe out Free Spirits, or people immune to Duo power, and Lark's strong abilities are on his radar. She's been warned to lay low but, obsessed with hockey star Peter Hubbard, Lark finds obedience as impossible as dancing in tar-covered ballet shoes. Giving in to one tiny temptation results in a tragic accident and Lark is forced to seek refuge offered by the Ducere at their headquarters in Oxford, England. Once there, Lark discovers she's a pawn in a game of murder. She'd better think fast or she'll become the weapon that devastates the lives of everyone she loves.

For 13 years, I was a journalist for papers in Minnesota, Washington, and most recently, the Anchorage Daily News. I'm a co-founder of a local chapter of the Alaska Writer's Guild and at one point, was represented by Janet Benrey of Benrey Literary Agency.

Thanks for your time,
M.W.


DUO

I didn’t really understand the definition of obstacle until I met Stewart Moore.

The first time I noticed him, he was just a boy in a flannel jacket throwing punches at Royce-the-gorilla, the appropriately named football player.  My friends and I heard the noise in the main hallway after the final bell and pushed our way to the front of the yelling crowd.

I’d just caught sight of two writhing bodies wrestling on the floor when a skinny freshman crowed like a rooster right in my ear.

Turning to face him, I sent a spike of brain pain right between his eyes. The freshman--a string bean topped with a head of fuzzy hair and two gage earrings--stumbled backward, his face contorted as if he’d developed the worst headache.

Chrystal and Kaylee squeezed into the gap he left behind.  Both had their phones out, thumbs blurring over keyboards while they simultaneously watched the fight.

I spent the next few seconds scanning screaming faces to spot my current crush, Peter Hubbard, whose curly black hair and height meant he towered above everyone else.  He was the star center on our school hockey team, moved like a striking eagle on the ice and turned the air into a drug every time he was in the room. He watched his current girlfriend with a pair of hazel eyes that crowned her queen of all things.

And for the past month, I’d wanted to be the new queen.

10 comments:

The Agent said...

I like your first two paragraphs. Then I got lost in the third. A combination of too many elements and confusing sentence structure had me skipping forward.

Sample Page: My biggest problem is that, with a fight going on, why does everyone seem so distracted? She looking at her crush, he's looking at his girlfriend. I do like how you introduce Stewart--I know he'll be important later, but right now he's actually unimportant.

Melodie said...

Agent: Thanks. Your comments re: sample page showed me something I missed and will fix.

As to 3rd graph - which sentences are confusing? I'm going to remove the reference to Peter and wonder if that will help.

The Agent said...

After the sentence beginning with "Three is killing her mojo..." For some reason I saw that as two paragraphs. It's the last chunk of the second paragraph that loses me.

Emily said...

The query has great voice.

I was confused during the sentence:

Once the king-making CIA of the Duo underground, its mission to recruit, train and mobilize Duos has taken a sinister turn under its new leader.

Is this sentence talking about the Ducere? Are Duo's people? The power? The enforcers of the law?
She wants to make guys fall in love with her and causes pain to others easily. It'll be a problem if we can't sympathize with her at some point in the query.

I like the sample page you gave. It gives a good image of real highschool. I didn't know some schools had hockey teams. Hockey for us was always a community sport.

TW said...

I loved your voice and thought you did a great job of keeping it interesting. The only thing that killed the query a bit for me was that, by the time I got halfway through, I had to check back on who all those people and agencies were. -A lot of names and jobs to remember, maybe trim it down?
In the 250 words I had a similar reaction. I again loved the voice but wasn't absolutely sure how many character there were. Three boys? -Stewart fighting, an unnamed freshman crowing, and love-interest Peter- plus two girlfriends? Is that perhaps a lot of info to launch off with? -Just a thought. Great engaging writing though!

Melodie said...

Thanks guys! I had a big AAACK when i read your comments, realizing that in trimming the first graph, I'd left off the part that Lark is a DUO! For pete's sake its in all my other drafts but that's what I get for hurrying. No wonder you're all confused.
Sigh.
this line should read: She may possess the same thought-influencing gift as other DUOS scattered throughout history, like George Washington or JFK, but she's not exempt from the dos and don'ts of her tribe.

I had a graph about Duos = mind manipulators with red heart birthmarks on each palm but figured the birth mark info was too much info for the Q. Should I leave that in?
Thanks again!

Adam Heine said...

I got confused right here:

"...but this time the Ducere are lurking. Once the king-making CIA of the Duo underground, its mission to recruit, train and mobilize Duos has taken a sinister turn under its new leader. He's using members' talents to wipe out Free Spirits..."

I didn't know what Ducere or Duo were, and it lost me and got me skimming instead of involved.

I also wasn't sure what the two pronouns in bold were referring to (the first is the Ducere, I guess; the second I see now is the leader, but I think I was too confused at that point to catch it).

Jenny Phresh said...

I got lost here: Once the king-making CIA of the Duo underground, its mission to recruit, train and mobilize Duos has taken a sinister turn under its new leader. He's using members' talents to wipe out Free Spirits, or people immune to Duo power, and Lark's strong abilities are on his radar. Maybe you could say something simpler: Lark's rule-breaking draws the attention of the Ducere to her. The leader of this group is attempting to wipe out Free Spirits, or people immune to Duo power, but Lark is obsessed--and possibly in love with--hockey star Peter Hubbard.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Is this query missing the part where you disclose word-count, title and genre? I've read it through a few times just to make sure I'm not crazy....

Amy

Nicole Zoltack said...

I think the query is good bur I'm not sure what exactly the Ducere are. There are too many details andmakes it bogged down and confusing. I think being specific about the tiny temptation would help add more voice to the query. You also need to have the title, genre, and word count in the query, but I'm sure you just over looked that.

There are so many characters introduced that it is a little confusing. Focus on as few characters as possible, make them each distinct. I do like the sending a spike of brain pain.