Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Ms. Shea,

I'm eighteen-year-old Lora Winters, and currently I'm on the run from an international mob called the Fleur de Lis.

Actually, I didn't mind the kidnapping attempt that took place in the middle of my Christmas shopping. I mean, when you consider that my parents value their careers over their only daughter, and that all my classmates are prep school snobs, then running for my life sounds like a welcome change from the monotony of high school. (Besides, having a 24/7 bodyguard kind of kills a social life.)

With a price on my head and a target on my back, I'm sent to TRUST, a secret agency in London that is intent on protecting me from the Fleur de Lis. Alongside my bodyguard, the mysterious (and gorgeous) Cole Davis, and junior agent Lucy (who may look like a fifteen-year-old cheerleader, but could kill you with a toothbrush), I must be trained in surveillance and combat techniques, while handling gadgets James Bond could only dream of.

I transform from straight A senior to butt-kicking secret agent, stealing Vespas(and kisses) in Paris, and knocking out a full-grown man in Milan with a roundhouse kick. Then whispers of my dead grandfather's involvement send us on a scavenger hunt as we try to paste together the clues to determine why the Fleur de Lis is after me. With my grandfather's secret legacy at stake, my life on the line, and my friends in constant danger, the Fleur de Lis closes in around us, threatening everything I care about. But I'm not your typical eighteen-year-old girl. Watch out, Fleur de Lis. You are sooo not prepared for Lora Winters.

LORA WINTERS AND THE FLEUR DE LIS is an 89,000 word YA mystery and might appeal to fans of Ally Carter. Since listed on your website that you are interested in interesting settings and a character on a unique journey, I thought you might be interested.

I would be delighted to send the full manuscript at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
R.H.


LORA WINTERS AND THE FLEUR DE LIS

Chapter One: Christmas Shopping

Winter in Boston feels bitterly cold to most people, but I was sweating, my heart pounding as I ran past the rows of Christmas shops as if my life depended on it. And, well, it did.

"Martin, bring the car around!" Cole yelled into his earpiece as he ran beside me down the crowded sidewalk. He pushed through shopping families and tourists who looked appalled as he squeezed past them with me following right behind him. One woman cried out as I brushed against her, but I didn't stop to say sorry as I rushed on. I kind of had a lot to deal with at the moment.

"Lora and I will meet you at the end of the block!" Cole was shouting to Martin, our driver. Cole and I had planned on Christmas shopping in downtown Boston for another hour, so I could imagine Martin's generally stoic face register with shock as he dozed behind the wheel.

As we broke through the crowd outside a popular candy shop, I took a second to glance behind me. Several feet down the sidewalk, amid the crowds of shoppers all bundled up in winter coats and scarves, was a tall, thin man who towered over the sea of people. He was easy to spot with his curly red hair, thick red beard, and a face that looked pale even against the snow-capped roofs.

13 comments:

Susan said...

I like the idea of this tough heroine, but the query had so much detail in it that I got a little lost.

A word of caution on your opening line: I have heard agents and editors say that they don't like it when a book opens with a description of the weather. The fact that the girl is running is much more intriguing than the cold temperature...

Mary Vettel said...

I also thought it was a no-no to write the query from the MC's POV. Got a bit confused with the MC being kidnapped yet being sent to some sort of spy/martial arts school? Good luck.

Veronica Bartles said...

I love the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, so I'd probably give this one a try.

I'm not hooked with your opening, but that's probably just my personal preference. I like to get to know a character a little bit before I'm thrown into a life-or-death situation with them... I need a reason to care about them. (The thing I love about the Gallagher Girls series is how NORMAL the girls are, even when they're in very unique situations!)

Tess Sharpe said...

I like your first 250 words and how we are thrown instantly into the action, but generally, a query in first person is a big no-no. There are some really good parts of it that would work in normal 3rd (specifically the stealing Vespas--and kisses line and Lucy's descriptor).

I'd be careful with the parentheses as well. There is one too many asides in there.

Valerie said...

Re: Susan's comment about the first line: You can easily tweak this so that the running is at the front of the sentence and starts the story with a bang (which you do so nicely in your following paras).

"Running [note: I think you can give a better, action-packed verb here] past the rows of Christmas shops, I barely felt the bitter Boston cold through ..."

Nice job, I see a lot of agents say they are interested in Ally Carter-like stories. I think this one will do well!

James Koonce said...

I'm always a fan of stories about someone in over their head as they make their way through a great adventure, and Lora's definitely that.

Your first 250 set a good tone, and I definitely want to follow Lora because it seems she's going somewhere she's not used to being, and there's more coming. One thing, though -- we learn who Cole is right away, and Martin as well, but not Lora (apart from what we learned in the query). If you get to it soon, then I wouldn't worry -- reading only the first 250 is very limited, of course. Something to think about.

Like the other commenters, I made the connection to the Ally Carter books, which is a good thing. They're fun, and a good marketing comparison, which never hurts.

Owl said...

Don't send a query in the voice of your MC. That's Rule 1. Rule 2 is - see Rule 1.

Escape Artist said...

Whilst it is true that most agents don't like to have the MC query them, you can refer to Sara Megibow post about "Catching Jordon."
So there you go. If a query is solid, with an interesting concept, maybe it doesn't matter.
I did feel the same as others about the opening. I really wanted to know your MC before I felt her heart pounding! : )

misstante said...

it took me a minute to realize the MC was speaking, not the author, which slowed me down. and also the 'killing with a toothbrush' made me do a double take, but i like it after being a little more prepped about the story maybe. not sure you need to say 'not a typical `18 year old b/c we know that already, but besides tiny details, i think it sounds like a winner! i'm already speculating about lora and what's going to happen.

Melinda said...

I just want to chime in and say that you should definitely revise your query to third person. It sounds like you have an interesting story, but you risk turning off a lot of agents if you keep the query in first.

Anonymous said...

I am a high school student. I love Ally Carter books. I would like to read more about this book.

Jodi R. said...

Great query and sample. On the nitpicky front, you use interested/interesting/interested in one sentence in your query!

Very interesting... (*drums fingers*)

Good luck!
Jodi

Katie Shea said...

Writing from the character's perspective is a different way to start a query. It's harder to grab the attention of the reader, but sometimes it can work. The premise seems a bit confusing - I was lost by the third paragraph. Not really into mystery/crime novels.