Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Inboxing Agent,

When she looks in the mirror, 17-year-old Stacy can talk to her 29-year-old self. She calls her future self “Older Me”.

Older Me has a lot to say. She's supported Stacy through her parents’ divorce, schoolyard bullying and a broken heart. But Stacy is about to find out Older Me has lied.

Older Me exists in an alternate dimension. She already lived the years Stacy is experiencing. But she claimed she couldn't remember them. When the truth is revealed, Older Me insists she’s hidden her past to keep Stacy from making the same mistakes. But she lived the life Stacy wishes for: Popularity, success and most of all, Mark.

Stacy can’t believe the bullying, derision and loneliness she’s experienced is a better alternative. She’s ready to do whatever it takes to find Older Me's version of life for herself--even if herself is the person she’ll hurt most.

LISTEN TO ME is a YA contemporary with a dash of magical realism, complete at 89,000 words. The premise was inspired by the www.dearteenme.com website in which adult authors write letters to their teen selves.

I'm a long-time member of a writers critique group which includes both published and repped authors. My former agent changed vocations last year, so I am back on the submission trail. LISTEN TO ME is a new work which my former agent has not reviewed.

As per your submission guidelines I have included the first 250 words of the manuscript below.

Thank you for your time.

A.L.S.


LISTEN TO ME

As he sinks into the chair, he looks just like a doctor should: greying hair, a well-trimmed beard with badger-stripes framing his lips, and wire-rimmed glasses his wife must have chosen. They're too tasteful for the polyester shirt and pants.

"How are you today, Stacy?" he says, too loud for the muted tones of the room--all earthy browns and soft corners. He's made his office look like a living room, complete with coffee table squatting between us and lamps on the varnished surfaces. Too bad the door has a combination lock. Kind of kills the good-time vibe.

He's waiting for an answer. I start to shrug, then freeze until the razors of pain ease. My stitches are all out now, but the hard, pink lines spiderwebbing across most of my upper body are a pitiful excuse for healing. Underneath I am still many layers of mangled nerve endings and fractured flesh.

Doctor hears me catch my breath and his eyes snap to mine. All that beguiling disinterest is an act. He is measuring me.

"Pain?" he says, softly this time.

"Yes. But it's not bad. I just moved wrong."

It burns and crackles under my skin until I want to scream. But I won't tell him that. For him I will be untouched. Ready to face the world. Sane.

I will get out of here today.

8 comments:

Kristy Shen said...

This is brilliant. I love the concept and your clean, concise writing.

I would definitely read on :)

Kristy Shen said...

One quick thing about your 250 words. I would suggest starting at the sentence about the stitches, rather than a description of the doctor. It's a stronger hook.

Deserae McGlothen said...

Great query and great first 250. I'd definitely want to read on and am extremely interested in this story. I wonder if the query needs the "inspired by Dear Teen Me" but part of me loves that you acknowledged that. It kinda made me love it even more. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get to read this one day.

Best wishes, Author,
Deserae

Christine L. Arnold said...

Love love LOVE the premise. You're query is great, intriguing. You could make the stakes a little clearer so that we know exactly what Stacy (young Stacy) would be giving up if she tries to live the life of Older Stacy. Right now, it doesn't seem like Young Stacy's life is all that great, so maybe just a glimpse of what she'd be giving up - but then you don't REALLY need it because I'm hooked as is.

Also loved the 1st 250. I want to read more!

Nazarea Andrews said...

One thing: I don't think you need where your inspiration came from.

Other than that--omg, I want to read more. Right. Now. Excellent work!! :)

G.B. Skye said...

I remember loving this at WriteOnCon and I love it here, too. :-) Really great stuff!

Jennifer Malone said...

I loved this at WriteOnCon too and I was really charmed by the inspiration line- I know there is a debate here but I'm casting my vote for keeping it in. I think it also plays into a hot topic these days- with the success of Dear Teen Me and the stars that have jumped on the "It Gets Better" campaign-it shows that the idea is a commercial one, if handled in a non-preachy, fun way, which it sounds like this is. How's that for a run-on sentence!!

The Agent said...

I like both the query and first page here quite a lot.

My only concern with the query--and this comes from repping a lot of fantasy--is that it wasn't obvious to me how much of a role Older Me plays in the story. Is she only in the mirror? Is she the antagonist? What does she say that makes Stacy want to hurt herself? The beginning of the query made me think this was more of an alternate-worlds fantasy, but then you identify it as a contemporary. If it's a contemporary, I'd like to see a little more about contemporary characters, not Older Me. And I'd like a little more of a hint of what Stacy's going to try to do.

I think this opening page is really strong--I love the description. Based on this page, I'd read on.