Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Agent:

When Lorna McCloud's father died, she didn't cry--she buried him and vowedto avenge his murder. Years pass and she becomes an assassin, training herself as the ultimate killing machine. While trying to track down his murderer, she discovers she has the power to create and hide in artificial shadows. The Paranormal Intelligence Agency kidnaps Lorna, wanting to use her power, but she escapes to a small island, whose king many people want killed.

King Alaric is everything Lorna isn't--noble, kind, good. Falling for him slowly changes Lorna, but she can't ignore her vow. A mass gravesite on the island provides clues to her father's murder, why people want Alaric dead, and leads her back to the PIA, who promises Lorna the information she wants in exchange for her killing a seemingly random woman.

If Lorna achieves her life goal, Alaric will learn she is the assassin and turn against her, leaving her torn between duty and love.

HIDDEN IN SHADOWS is a complete 96,000-word urban fantasy standalone novel with series potential.

I am the author of a fantasy romance trilogy, WOMAN OF HONOR (2009), KNIGHT OF GLORY (2010), and CHAMPION OF VALOR (2011) published with Desert Breeze Publishing. I have also sold nine short stories for anthologies, including MERTALES by Wyvern Publications, and many collections by Pill Hill Press.

Sincerely,
N.Z.


HIDDEN IN SHADOWS

Heavy breathing. His--the hunted.

My unsuspecting prey muttered a curse as he lost his footing and slid a few feet down the mountainside.

I smiled. Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine.

Rocks tumbled down as he stumbled again, splinters of shale forcing me to hide behind a tree. I'd waited four days for this--my chance to hunt and kill him at my leisure with no eyewitness. I wasn't about to let him see me and make a break for it.

I peeked around the oak, and the setting sun momentarily blinded me, blood reds and flaming oranges blurring together like the gates of hell. How appropriate.

He stood, hunched over, his hands on his knees. His labored breathing shook his large frame, the back of his neck the same bright red as the sunset. If he continued at this pace, I might not have to kill him. His heart could give out. Perfect… save me the trouble.

But I couldn't rely on the possibility of a heart attack. He had to die by my hand if I wanted to be paid. I removed a throwing knife from its sheath inside my right boot and took aim.

Voices sounded, loud and near. Other hikers. I grimaced. Now was not the time to make my move.

The man now sat on the edge of the path in a stupor, idly picking up pebbles and letting them fall into a pile. The red Louisiana clay of Driskill Mountain stained his trembling fingers.

8 comments:

The Agent said...

I have no compassion for Alaric. My feminist side wants to rise up again him, actually. Why does she want to be with him if he isn't going to accept her for who she is? Especially since he is kind and good? And why do his people want him killed if he's so great? And what's going on with the seeminly random woman? The query raises too many questions that can easily be answered. Mostly, I don't get a sense of your main characters, and if the agent doesn't care about them, they won't want to read about them.

Sample Page: I would have kept reading. You demonstrate a knowledge of sentence structure and suspense. Keep working on that query letter and you'll see an increase of favorable feedback.

Adam Heine said...

The query raised a lot of questions for me. How could she train herself to be the "ultimate killing machine"? The mass gravesite sentence seems to imply that Alaric is the murderer (or a murderer), so why does Lorna still need the PIA to figure it out? Why would Alaric learn she is an assassin (and why "the" assassin?) when she achieves her life goal? And why would he leave her because of it?

The sample page was interesting, and I'd read on, but the modern setting threw me. When the query talked about assassins and kings, I assumed fantasy (I missed the word "urban," I guess :-).

erica and christy said...

I remember doing a first-page critique of this a few weeks ago, but I would have never put the page to the query. Keep working on it!! You're getting close!

I think you should work on your last paragraph of the query - you focus on her wanting to be an assassin and solve her father's murder, which doesn't lead me to believe she suddenly doesn't want to be found out...
erica

Jenny Phresh said...

Try using some of the more immediate and active language of the ms text in the query. The manuscript sample has more life and verve in it, whereas the query is more slow and gets bogged down in description.

Beth said...

First let me say I enjoyed the sample page and would read on, but after reading the query and sample, I had to go back and reread the query just to see if I'd skip from a query to someone else's story. I was confused when the query mentioned she "escaped to an island with a king" and then read she was in Louisiana. I also had problems reconciling the part about "the" assassin. I enjoyed your beginning. Keep working on the query...

Dorothy Dreyer said...

I think the query could be tightened a bit, but I liked your sample page. Your pacing is good. I would keep reading.

Nick Sanford said...

I think I'm in the same boat as many of our friends who've commented above. The sample page work really well, in my opinion, and as the agent pointed out, you have a strong grasp of how to control/manipulate tension.

I love the idea of a PIA! But I am wondering about the decision Lorna is faced with between love and "The Mission," which is to avenge the murder of her father. Why is she willing to throw aside her goal/desire -- something that's kept her going her entire life -- for a man that won't accept her for who she is?

I want to say again that I REALLY like the sample page. I think it really works. Some of the images are very strong. I particularly enjoy the "red Louisiana clay" staining the fingers at the end.

Good luck with everything! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Melinda said...

I agree. Good first page, but didn't get super drawn into the query. I think I get confused by who this King is and then the random woman?

I did like the hiding in shadows part. Great job!