#24- Morgantown

>Dear Secret Agent,

When seventeen-year-old Rachel is bitten and changed by Simon, a werewolf with a grudge against her uncle, she does what any sensible girl would do: run as far the hell away as she can get. The problem is her uncle’s house in California is the only home she has ever known, and after a few days of driving east, she realizes that soon the Atlantic Ocean will put a flaw in her brilliant plan. Full of frustration and fatigue, she takes a risk and stops in a small-town hotel for the night, only to find another werewolf intent on changing her life.

Despite their rocky first meeting, the local pack leader insists that he can help, and not only with her new identity issues. Simon is still on the hunt for Rachel, and she’s not even slightly capable of facing him. Yet.

As she waits for Simon to make his move, Rachel trains with the pack leader, learns to hold her own around other werewolves in the pack, and even makes some friends in the process. None of it will matter though, unless she can convince herself that even though she lost her best friend, her uncle, and her boyfriend Michael, Rachel still has something to live for. But she’s not really buying it, because Michael didn’t just die. He was murdered.

By Rachel.

Morgantown is a completed 98,000-word urban fantasy young adult novel. Although it stands alone, I plan on expanding Morgantown into a series. This is my first novel.

I am pursuing an English degree at Northwestern University. I am the co-founder and leader of an on-campus critique group, and was featured as upcoming talent to watch in the online magazine (www.michalstefillin.com). I am an active member of YAlitchat (a writing community on both twitter and ning) and an avid reader of young adult novels. I also recently won agent Jim McCarthy’s first lines contest on his blog, (http://dglm.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-lines-we-have-winner.html).

I would be happy to send you my complete manuscript for further consideration. Thank you so much for your time!

***
             I wondered if the girl sitting at the front desk knew things like me existed. How would she react if I told her? Would she be afraid? Would she embrace it? Maybe she would hit the ground running, like I had. I watched with envy as she yawned and flipped through a magazine, glancing at the clock with longing. Her life was probably blissfully normal.

            “Rachel, why do I have to book the room?” Kerrie asked from the passenger seat. We’d been in the parking lot for over ten minutes, and night had long since fallen. I wanted to either get inside, or keep driving.

            I turned to her and pointed to the gashes on my cheeks. “I think I look just a little more suspicious than you do.” Every time I talked, I felt the thin, brick red scabs pulling on my skin.

            She sighed. “And my pale skin won’t be suspicious?”

            “You’ve always been pale.” It’s the blue bags under your eyes and the elongated canines she’d notice first, I didn’t say.

            “Do we have to stop here?” she said, glancing up at the blinking motel sign. The “L” didn’t light up, so the only thing visible from the highway was “Mote.” It was the only sign of civilization we’d seen in forty miles, save for a few desolate gas stations. City lights flashed on the horizon, but I couldn’t handle crowds. Not yet.

            I shrugged. “I don’t know how much longer we can keep moving.”


7 Responses to “#24- Morgantown”

  1. Kelly Hashway says:

    >Query: I like this but it's a little on the long side. I would try to tighten it up a bit to cut back on the word count. Also, don't call it "urban fantasy young adult novel." It's a young adult urban fantasy. Leave the word novel off. It's redundant. I would remove, "This is my first novel." Remove "so" and the exclamation point from your final sentence. It makes you sound too eager. A period is better.

    First 250:
    Love the first paragraph. Great voice. But then I got a little confused. If they are in the car, how does Rachel have such a good view on the front desk girl? This may just be my opinion, but I didn't like having the word "only" twice in two sentences in you second to last paragraph.

  2. Ebyss says:

    >I will have to agree. The query is on the long side. Pick the most important parts and go from there.

    And I will have to agree also about the first 250. The first paragraph grabbed my attention, but then I got lost.

    I was wondering…how did we come from a school atmosphere (at least that is where I figured they were at) to a parking lot at night.

    Also the sentence with the…It's the blue bags under your eyes and elongated canine she'd notice first, I didn't say….confused me. Who is she? I thought they were at a hotel.

  3. patesden says:

    >I didn't have a problem with the length of the query. However it seemed to me that if Michael's murder is a main thread than he should be introduced early in the query instead of just being a bombshell at the end. I also suggest you cut "this is my first novel" .

    I like your writing and voice, but I also had a hard time visualizing where the characters were after the first paragraph.

    Your discription of the scab pulling is great. In fact I think you could started the story with that discription. Doing that would put the reader right in your main character's skin. Then you could show her friend and what they see through the motel window. In other words, I think your on the right track, but the scene would be clearer if you changed the order in which you give the information.

  4. Tuuli says:

    >This definitely sounds like an interesting story. I don’t read a lot of werewolf stories (actually, I don’t read them at all), but is this truly unique? I’ve heard agents get tons of werewolf queries. Make sure this one stands out from the rest. You’ve got some stiff competition.

    The main thing you need to do is tightened the query. For example:
    Frustrated and fatigued, she takes a risk and stops in a small-town hotel for the night, only to find another werewolf intent on changing her life. (Only problem is frustrated and fatigued is telling, not showing. I have no problems with it, but an agent might).

    What’s the risk? What do you mean by ‘changing her life?” Be specific.

    Despite their rocky first meeting, the local pack leader insists that he can help, and not only with her new identity issues.
    How is the first meeting rocky? Be specific. And why is she running away? She’s already changed into a werewolf, so it isn’t like she’s escaping to avoid it from happening. Too late. And is that the story problem? Or is it that the Atlantic Ocean is in the way, which technically isn’t a huge problem. I’d rewrite the first paragraph to cut that sentence out. It’s unnecessary baggage. And why does the local pack leader want to help her? Is she special in some way?

    Why did she lose her best friend? Running away doesn’t mean she’s lost her. She’s left her, but that’s all.

    Since Michael isn’t important in the overall query, just refer to him as her boyfriend.

    Tighten the sentence to: None of it matters though, unless she can convince herself that even though she lost her best friend, her uncle, and her boyfriend, Rachel still has something to live for.
    LOVE the hook. Makes me want to read the book to find out what happened.

    I am pursuing an English degree at Northwestern University. (good)

    I am the co-founder and leader of an on-campus critique group, and was featured as upcoming talent to watch in the online magazine (www.michalstefillin.com). (Not a big deal. Cut.)

    I am an active member of YAlitchat (a writing community on both twitter and ning) and an avid reader of young adult novels. (Agents assume you’re a reader of YA. You don’t need to state it.)

    I also recently won agent Jim McCarthy's first lines contest on his blog, (http://dglm.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-lines-we-have-winner.html). (Sorry, but that’s not a big deal. Cut it. If you won the contest, why isn’t he repping you? The agent might think your ms wasn’t good enough. Plus, the agent can see your first sentence in the sample. Why post the link? I do love the first sentence, btw.)

    I would be happy to send you my complete manuscript for further consideration. Thank you so much for your time! (Kill the exclamation mark.)

    Like your query, you need to tighten your writing. But I would certainly read more.

    I wondered if the girl sitting at the front desk knew things like me existed. How would she react if I told her? Maybe she would hit the ground running, like I had. (Huh? I think I know what you mean from reading your query, but I’m not 100%. Did she mean she hit the ground running when she found out things like her existed?)

    I watched with envy as she yawned and flipped through a magazine, glancing at the clock with longing. Her life was probably blissfully normal.

    You shouldn't‘tell’ us she’s envious and the girl is longing to leave. This is enough to show it: She yawned and flipped through a magazine, glancing at the clock every few seconds. I sighed. Her life was probably blissfully normal.

    Go back through you ms and make sure you’re showing and not telling your character’s emotions. And check out The Bookshelf Muse (http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com). It helped me big time. (no it’s not my blog).

    Good luck!

  5. Dorothy Dreyer says:

    >Query: Your premise is fine but the query reads more like a synopsis. Tighten it up and make every word count. As tempted as I am to put my own contest wins in my query, I found out that it's not really a good thing to do. Sorry.

    Opening: I like the circumstances you start off with. You've established a conflict right off the bat, which makes the reader empathize with the characters. Again, tightening of the sentences would help, but all in all I would read on.

  6. Roza M says:

    >I agree with a lot of the comments made here.

    In the query: I got the first part, the middle, but the ending was like Where did this come from and why mention it? Also, Who is the pack leader? What's his name? I know Simon was the one who turned her, but why her not the Uncle? And what's his beef with the Uncle? And where is her parents in all this?

    The 250 words: everyone else covered. =)

    Good luck! This is something i would read, cause i love werewolf books. Dark guardians is a great series by the way if you never read it.

  7. Kate Larkindale says:

    >Your query is a little on the long side and I'd leave out most of the paragraph about you being a college student and your activities there.

    Your premise sounds interesting, but you've explained too much. Tighten up your explanation of the book. Just as an example, you've written "None of it will matter though, unless she can convince herself that even though she lost her best friend, her uncle, and her boyfriend Michael, Rachel still has something to live for. " This could be condensed to: None of it will matter unless she can convince herself she still has something to live for.

    Don't say the book is completed. That goes without saying. You don't query until it is complete. You also don't need to say you plan a series. Better to sell the first book, then think about a series. Nothing worse than writing a series only to find the first book doesn't sell.

    In your excerpt, I like the voice, although the rhetorical questions in the first paragraph irked me a little. But I'd keep reading on.