Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Secret Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Rae can look at a photograph of a couple and determine the length of their relationship by its smell. It’s a strange “lovesense” she’s always had. The nastier the breakup, the worse the stench. It’s why she owns more nose plugs than an Olympic swimmer and dreads her photo counter job.

Trying to make the best of her lovesense, she runs an anonymous and “technically” illegal love guru business at school. As Rae focuses on passing English, conquering the 100-meter hurdles, and running her business she becomes more and more convinced that love doesn’t exist unless you qualify for senior citizen discounts. The relationships she reads smell like bat guano, diaper genies, and sewage. That is, until she discovers a picture of a little boy and girl playing in the sandbox. Rae smells something good. And this time, she’s in the photograph.

Operation Find Sandbox Boy commences as Rae scopes out and eliminates most of the Junior class. But just as she begins to open herself to the idea of love, her secret talent and illegal school activities are exposed. Now she’s suspended from school, banned from the most important track meet of the year, and rumored to be a psycho gypsy freak.

Rae must embrace her lovesense if she’s ever going to find and convince her match that she isn’t a freak.

LOVESENSE is a YA magical realism novel complete at 59,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
R.H.


LOVESENSE

I’m tapping my cross trainers in time with the photo processor’s whir, whir, flip as it spews three hundred prints of the same two smiling faces. No more reading into relationships at work, I remind myself. Never again, especially after last week’s debacle with Mom’s friend Barb. Trust me, being the first to know that your mom’s best friend’s husband is leaving her for their pool boy sucks the big one.

When I see a photo of a couple, my nose goes into overdrive and then my eyes cross. Next thing I know, I’ve read when their relationship will sour like the stink on cheese. The nastier the breakup, the worse the stench. I’d much rather look at engagement pictures and see what the rest of the world sees: two people in love. But I’m not that lucky.

I sneak a quick look at the screen. One hundred thirty-seven copies done. Not even halfway there. Needing a distraction beyond my burning, Altoids-crammed mouth, I spray Windex on the counter and put my weight into cleaning the glass to a streak free shine. Whir, whir, flip. The machine is louder than our cheesy elevator music. Don’t think about the photo.

Craning my neck I see the “Alfred’s has the Answer” digital clock: forty-seven minutes to bride time. The whir is getting louder, and my nose, even though I’m telling it not to, is taking in bigger and bigger breaths. I’m like a crack addict needing my next hit. And there isn't an addiction recovery program to save me either.

12 comments:

Jennifer Malone said...

I loved this on WriteOnCon and I love it here! The premise is so intriguing, yet not too out-there for my non-magical tastes. I would definitely read more of this!!!

G.B. Skye said...

I remember reading this query before (can't remember if it was at WriteOnCon or somewhere else), and I think I had a few nitpicks at the time. But it's perfectly clear now and I'm totally sold on the concept. Love it! Really well written and you've definitely hooked me.

In the first 250, I got a teensy bit confused at the "crack addict needing my next hit" line. I wasn't sure if she meant she's addicted to seeing/smelling the pictures and getting a whiff of the future (even though it's always putrid), or if she meant she's addicted to altoids because she's trying to avoid smelling anything else. But that could easily just be me. :)

I'd have kept reading anyway! Strong premise and great query, and your opening paragraphs drew me in. I like this! I think it's great!

G.B. Skye said...

Forgot to add--small typo in this one. Should be "sewage" not "diaper genies, ands ewage" in the query.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Typo corrected! That one was my fault. *blushes* Nice catch, G.B. Skye!

Kristy Shen said...

Wow! This is an amazing concept!

I really enjoyed both the query and the 250 words. I would definitely read on.

Only one small thing: the boy in the picture. Wouldn't she remember him? Or if she was too young, couldn't she have asked her parents?

Anyway, you probably explain it in the novel so it's really just me being nit-picky.

Nicely done!

Melodie Wright said...

I really like this premise and the query...but found myself skimming the first 250. Part of it is the visual - blocky graphs of text - the other part is I'm looking for what's next. She's standing in front of a photo machine...AND? Do we need to know how many copies are left? Or that the machine is really loud? Would it be possible to delete the final two paragraphs to move the action along? Maybe choose only the most vital info?
Just a thought...
Good luck!

ilima said...

I love that not only does she have to find her true love, but she has to convince him she's not a freak either. And the voice is wonderful! Nice job.

Christine L. Arnold said...

I'm totally hooked. Love the query and the 250. Nice job!!!

That said, I think the paragraph starting "When I see a photo of a couple" could be clarified. When I first read it, I thought she'd given in and sniffed the pic already, so I actually had to go back and read it again to figure out that this was talking about just in general what happens. Maybe even a tweak as small as changing the "when" to "whenever".

Great job and good luck!

Deserae McGlothen said...

Ah! I pretty love this one as well. I like Rae's story already and I haven't read it yet. It sounds like a fun, and yes magical kind of tale. The first 250 confirms that the query wasn't just making noise... The writing is great to match and my fingers are definitely crossed for you, Author.

All the best,
Deserae

Nazarea Andrews said...

I actually really like this. The query almost lost me with her job--why would she work there of all places--and the illegal school thing--why is it illegal?? But other than that, I like it a lot and I love the 250.

The Agent said...

First of all, I love the focus on smell--that's a really underused sense in fiction.

But this query didn't quite make sense to me. Partly I think that's just because it's hard to get a sense of how Rae's lovesense works in a short query. But it wasn't clear to me, from the query, if she could tell that a couple was going to break up, or only if they had already broken up. And what does length of relationship have to do with it? I'd like that to be clearer.

I'm also a bit concerned that there isn't enough plot in this book. I like the introduction of the mystery sandbox boy, but it's not clear to me why her suspension from school (and track) are a problem when it comes to finding him. Do we get to see their romance? If so, it might be good to know more about him. Right now, the focus is so closely on Rae it's not clear to me what the other important relationships are, and I'm guessing this is a character/relationship-driven novel, not a plot-driven one.

I do like the voice coming through in this query, and also in the first page. But again, in the first page, I found myself confused, with the introduction of the photo counter and also her power--I think you can take more time to show us how the lovesense works and why it's problematic. In a concept-driven book like this, it's fine to take plenty of space to explain the key concept.

Charlie Holmberg said...

First line of query: “Wait, what? That is . . . awesome.” ;) Very unique idea. I love the idea of Operation Find Sandbox Boy. This isn’t my usual genre, but I would definitely flip to the first page after reading this blurb.

That said, if I had picked up this book without reading the blurb/query, the first page definitely would have confused me. Perhaps easing the reader into Rae’s abnormal abilities would make the read a little smoother. Still, I would keep reading.