Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Ms. Schafer Testerman,

Becoming part of the little girl's life was supposed to increase Emma's college options, not take them all away.

Everything Emma Francis owns fits in a garbage bag. Don’t you dare pity her. She’s survived the foster care system and is finally eighteen, free to make her own decisions. It’s about time.

The plan going forward is simple: graduate high school, go to college, get a job in marketing. Unfortunately, due to the foster-care-shuffle, Emma hasn’t stayed in one place long enough to put anything other than decent grades on her college applications. Community service is a must.

Her friend suggests she volunteer at her church and it is there she meets Gigi, a blonde hair, blue eyed, opinionated little girl, who is more than willing to be Emma’s charity case. What’s supposed to be an ice cream every couple weeks, turns into an unexplained desire to make Gigi happy.

As Gigi wiggles her way under Emma’s hard shell, someone else pokes through the cracks. Emma is far from a damsel in distress but when she’s attacked behind the diner, her knight in shining t-shirt comes to her rescue. She never expects it to be South High’s quarterback, known to her simply as Burger and Fries, an order he delivers with a charming smile every week. But there’s more to the boy than a strong appetite and a great throwing arm. Sam morphs from friend, to special friend to boyfriend so slowly Emma doesn’t even realize her guard is faulty.

Emma’s terrified of the soft, chocolaty center under her hard candy coating but she can’t deny she loves him. Maybe a happy ending is in the cards after all.

Emma's life plan is in full swing until Gigi’s sorry excuse for a father kills himself in a drunk driving accident, leaving the little girl with no one. Gigi is headed for hell, the foster system Emma lived through, unless someone steps in and saves her.

Emma must decide if she's willing to change everything she's got planned to save Gigi from the life she was forced to endure.

All She Needs is Love is Contemporary YA complete at 68,000 words.

I am a twenty five year old, Chemical Engineer by degree who has found a stronger calling as a fiction writer and singer in a classic rock band. The inspiration for All She Needs is Love comes from my experience as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. The premise started with a question. If my Lil’ Sister Payge had no family, would I alter my life and take her in as my own? The answer is a resounding yes.

I love a number of the works you represent including Stephanie Perkin's, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Ransom Riggs', Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I read about the KT Literary Retreat and think it's wonderful that you not only work on representing your author's work but also make an effort to build a relationship with your authors.

Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

K.L.


ALL SHE NEEDS IS LOVE

“Happy birthday to me,” I mumble as I walk out the front door holding a garbage bag with all my possessions. Every last one fits in this bag. Pathetic, I know.

When you’re a foster kid, you do a lot of borrowing. You never really own anything. So, I guess I’m lucky I even have something to put in my garbage bag.

I’ve been preparing for this day for a while though. When you turn eighteen the state washes there hands of you. Jan was nice. She let me stay an extra day. Didn’t want to kick me out on my actual birthday.

I’ve been working since I was sixteen, saving every penny I can. I’m not gonna end up like those other foster kids who take to the street when they officially become an adult. I’ve got big plans: graduate high school, four year college, a job in marketing.

“Emma!” little Jimmy calls from the porch. I turn and look at the tyke. I am gonna miss him, even if he did steal most of my socks.

“What’s up little man?”

“Where ya goin’?” he asks as he runs down the front steps. “I mean, can I come visit ya sometimes?”

I ruffle his hair and put on a smile. “Course you can little man. I’m not goin’ far. You know the diner where I work?” He gives me a big nod. “Ms. Shepherd is letting me live in the apartment above it. You can visit me anytime you want.”

He wraps his little arms around my leg. I can’t help but cringe. I don’t like affection, makes me feel awkward.

13 comments:

Cassie Mae said...

I really like your voice, and how the character's voice is evident in your query. I love reading those because even when they are a little long, I'm still drawn into the query.

Your first page was good, I only noticed one typo when you used there instead of their, but it would definitely be something I'd keep reading!

Good job!

Karen lee Hallam said...

Love this story idea-it is full of heart. And a bit scary too. I know going I'm going to be crying somewhere-either joy or sadness.
The beginning of the story brings me in and I can't get the garbage bag out of my head.
I'd read to the end.

Kathleen Basi said...

I also love the query--the story outlined in it makes me want to read it very much, although I do think it might help to shorten and condense some of the last few paragraphs...I was well-hooked by then, and felt like I was getting a synopsis.

The voice in the opening is very strong. I have some issues with comma usage (and lack of), but I can't answer the question about whether that would be a make-or-break in an agent's eyes.

Karen Akins said...

It sounds like a very sweet story with a good hook. I think you could trim the query a bit. It's quite long.

There's the "there" typo, but I think someone else mentioned it already. I'd keep reading.

Maggie Hall said...

This sounds like a really interesting story, and I liked the first page. As others have already mentioned, the query is definitely on the long side, so I'd work on condensing that. And I'd actually take out that first sentence in italics--the sentence after that is powerful and (I think) a better start.

It does make me want to see what happens, though!

Jessica Love said...

This sounds like a really touching story!

I would also get rid of the first sentence in italics - just dive right in to your query. Also, I would put the title of your book in the query in caps rather than underlined. When you email, different email clients will display fonts differently, so the underline might not show up, or it might not show up the way you want it to. Caps will help the title stand out but it won't get mucked up by weird formatting.

Good luck!

DMcWild said...
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DMcWild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMcWild said...

Third times a charm. (sorry, it's late at night)

I really enjoyed this. But as others have mentioned the query needs to be trimmed.

So here's my stab at lowering the word count from 365 words to 274 while trying to keep your great voice and story intact.

Hope this helps and good luck.


Everything Emma Francis owns fits in a garbage bag. She’s survived the foster care system and is finally eighteen, free to make her own decisions. It’s about time.

The plan is simple: graduate high school, college, a job in marketing. Unfortunately, due to the foster-care-shuffle, Emma hasn’t stayed rooted long enough to put anything except decent grades on her college applications. Community service is a must. Her friend suggests she volunteer at her church and there she meets ten year old Gigi who is more than willing to be Emma’s charity case. What’s supposed to be ice cream every week, becomes an unexplained desire to make Gigi happy.

While Gigi wiggles into her life, someone else wants to ruin it, as Emma’s attacked behind the diner, but a knight in shining t-shirt comes to her rescue. South High’s quarterback, known to her simply as Burger and Fries, an order he delivers with a charming smile every week. But there’s more to Sam than a strong appetite and throwing arm. He morphs from friend, to boyfriend so slowly Emma doesn’t even realize her guard is faulty.

Emma’s terrified of the soft, chocolaty center under her hard candy coating but she can’t deny she loves him. Maybe a happy ending is in the cards after all. Until Gigi’s sorry excuse for a father kills himself in a drunk driving accident, leaving Gigi headed for hell--the foster system. Emma must decide if she's willing to change all her future plans to save Gigi from the life she was forced to endure.

Escape Artist said...

You're up on my site, Write Escape, for the log line crits and I was very happy to read more than the 100 word logline! I think this would be a very touching story, one I can clearly see play out in my mind. I wish you the very best with it! : )

Kelley said...

Thank you all for your kind words! I hope it does bring tears otherwise I'm a big fuddy duddy because I cried while I wrote it. :)

As far as the 'their', thank you so much for pointing it out. That's what I get for changing a sentence after my critique partners went through it...

This is a much longer query than the previous ones I've written. I really wanted to get across the voice as what really drives the story is what's in Emma's head. But you're right, I don't want the agent tuning out before the end. I'll work on chopping out a few parts. Thanks for the suggestion DMcWild!

Again, thanks so much all of you! I really appreciate it! And good luck with your manuscripts if you have some in this contest!

Peggy Eddleman said...

I love it! It sounds like such a fabulous book! I really love the voice.

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

As others have mentioned before me, this query is a little long. I feel like you could start with the awesome opinionated little girl whose father kills himself, and go from there. I'm also not convinced we need to hear about Sam in this query -- it adds a romantic element, sure, but the heart of this story is Emma and Gigi, and I'd stick with that.

Unfortunately, I wasn't bowled over by the sample, but I'd read a little more to see if you perhaps just started in the wrong place.