Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Ms. Shea,

I love the fact that you are a published writer and an ambitious Jersey girl. But I’m super excited that you love fiction involving serious personal themes. I hope you will enjoy UNRAVELED, a 55,000-word YA mystery. It’s a stand-alone with adoption-theme potential.

Taylor wants to swap her embarrassing mother for their Fashionista neighbor, so when she finds adoption papers revealing the neighbor had a child years ago, she hopes she’s the missing daughter. Taylor legally crosses the line to uncover the lies surrounding the adoption and wants to expose the real identity of the child, but the father will stop at nothing to keep his secret. Taylor must stay quiet or face juvie. Turns out, Taylor’s own mother isn’t so bad after all.

I’m a member of the Society and Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and focus on writing through Writer’s Digest University and Lawson Writer’s Academy Courses.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

R.L.


UNRAVELED

I grew up lucky. Lived in a big house, had my own room, had my own cell phone, had Daddy’s credit card number memorized. The list goes on. Except for number thirty-six: swap Mom for Nancy Kline. Nancy’s my mom’s best friend. Our neighbor. Ugh, major guilt. I don’t hate my mother. She just gets on my nerves--a lot.

“This is it.” I couldn’t keep the grin off my face when I saw the strapless dress hanging inside Nancy’s closet. She insisted I wear one of her original designs to my first homecoming dance. As if I’d say no.

I stood in front of her full-length mirror in the gown, fidgeting and wishing I had bigger...

Taylor, is everything all right?” Nancy maneuvered her wheelchair behind her fancy hand-controlled sewing machine. “You’ll need a necklace. There’s a tall dresser in my guest room. I think the second drawer.” She paused. “Maybe the third? I have a fabulous Swarovski choker. Help yourself, while I make a few adjustments to your dress.”

“No. Really?” Hello, sparkle.

I ran into the room and pulled the second drawer out as far as it would go. While removing the wooden honey-colored jewelry box, I noticed something stuck to the bottom. Without tearing it, the official looking paper came loose, and so did I. My adrenaline started pumping fast and this little voice in my head said, ‘No, don’t read.’ But, the rest of me said, ‘Heck yes, read.’

11 comments:

Susan said...

I would find the query more intriguing if it offered more detail about your novel. Your query is short, so there is room to do this without making the letter overly long, I think. I'd like to get a more vivid picture of your characters and their problems from the query.

Kate Larkindale said...

The query didn't do too much for me. The situation seems a little improbable, and there isn't enough substance for me to really find out what the story is all about. I was also a little confused by this line:'It’s a stand-alone with adoption-theme potential.'

Mary Vettel said...

I agree that the query needs needs tightening while giving more info. I don't think the last sentence of 2nd paragraph needs to be there.

It does seem improbable that someone would hide adoption papers in some sort of jewelry box rather than in a safe.

Good luck.

Veronica Bartles said...

I had no trouble believing that the adoption papers would be hidden in a jewelry box. That kind of thing happens a lot.

But why not open with her finding the papers? I got a little bogged down with the "I'm such a lucky girl with an almost-perfect life" opening.

Escape Artist said...

Just a quick note. Mention the age of your MC in your query. : )

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone! I've made some changes to the query. I also agree with Veronica to get right to the action.

Taylor Schuman unravels a secret like it’s a loose thread on the hem of her favorite designer dress. Only the dress isn’t hers.

Fourteen-year-old Taylor wants to swap her embarrassing mother for their Fashionista neighbor, so when she finds adoption papers revealing the neighbor had a child years ago, she hopes she’s the missing daughter. Taylor will do whatever it takes to uncover the lies surrounding the adoption, but when she discovers her best friend is the neighbor’s daughter, she has to tell her the truth. Only the father will stop at nothing to keep his secret. Taylor must stay quiet or face juvie.

Melinda said...

The revision is better, but there is still some detail missing. Does 'the father' refer to the biological or adoptive father? And what is the secret--that he's her real/not real father, or something else?

The line about juvie doesn't make sense now that you've cut the line about her legally crossing the line. Also, when you say the father will stop at nothing, it seems like he might be threatening her life, but then you don't mention that as part of the stakes. I think you need more info to connect all of these separate ideas.

I like the voice in the first page, but I don't like the first paragraph. I think you could easily cut it and weave this background info in elsewhere.

I also like the title, but a YA novel called Unraveling just came out this week, so you might consider changing it.

Anonymous said...

Melinda - thanks! Go figure. A new YA book would come out with the same title I came up with. Same thing happens when I invent things ;)

Taylor Schuman unravels a secret like it’s a loose thread on the hem of her favorite designer dress. Only the dress isn’t hers.

Fourteen-year-old Taylor wants to swap her embarrassing mother for their Fashionista neighbor, so when she finds adoption papers revealing the neighbor had a child years ago, she hopes she’s the missing daughter.

Taylor legally crosses the line to uncover the lies surrounding the adoption, but when she discovers her best friend is the neighbor’s daughter, she wants to expose the truth. Tell her friend. Only the adoptive father will stop at nothing to keep his secret. Taylor must stay quiet, continue to lie to her friend, or face juvie.

Suzi said...

I think you've made improvements. Personally, I'd scrap the loose thread line. I do like it, just not for a query.

I'm also wondering about the going to juvie. How exactly would the adoptive father get her sent there?

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Suzi, Thanks!

Only the adoptive father who is also the attorney who handled the adoption will stop at nothing to keep his secret. Taylor must stay quiet, continue to lie to her friend, or face juvie.

Sometimes, I not sure how much I should give away, but there is plenty more mystery is this story. I appreciate your feedback.

Katie Shea said...

Stronger one-sentence pitch is needed. My first thought is that this doesn't seem realistic. Not quite sure why a daughter would ever want to do this to her mother!