if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children


IMG_1499Wow, I’m a whole week late with this one! Sorry, T.C! Without further delay…

Dear Daphne –

Eighteen-year-old Georgia Bowen hasn’t looked at a mirror in six years, and with good reason: where normal people see a reflection, she sees a series of violent possible futures. Despite her secret, Georgia’s life is looking up: high school is a thing of the past, she gets to wear flip-flops to her summer job and college starts in a few weeks.

But when she inadvertently attracts the attention of a dangerous organization, Georgia must adapt to a new world: one in which she’s not the only person with a gift, and where the Guardians, a clandestine group that’s several millennia old, are rapidly snapping up the gifted for their own nefarious purposes. When Georgia is kidnapped by a resistance group who hopes to use her to their advantage, it becomes clear that her connection to the conflict runs deeper than she thought. Knowing that going home puts her family at risk, Georgia must choose between joining the ragtag resistance and striking out on her own. And she must master her gift to stay one step ahead of those who would use her.

Looking Glass Darkly is a YA contemporary fantasy that takes readers from rural Virginia to an island in South Carolina. The manuscript is complete at 81,000 words. I hope it will appeal to fans of Mark Frost’s The Paladin Prophecy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best, T.C.

My first thought: Hooray! We won’t have to deal with a YA heroine looking in a mirror to describe herself! Then I stopped being flippant, and kept reading.

I’m afraid beyond the detail of the mirror, this reads as very generic to me. With a little time, I feel like I could come up with dozens of gifted-teen-sought-by-secret-organization-for-nefarious-purposes-who-finds-shelter-with-a-resistance plots*. And sure, you may say, when you put it like that, it does sound generic. So what I’d want to see in the author’s query is what sets it apart from the expected.

What makes Georgia’s story unique? Who are the individuals she encounters that tie her to the Guardians, or the resistance group? Who exactly in her family does she have to keep safe? A little brother? Her widower father? Her pet turtle? And if you’re going to tell me she’s adapting to a new world where she’s not the only person with a gift, I’d love to see those other gifted teens (or adults). How does she feel about them, specifically?

You may also want to convey more about Georgia’s journey — not just emotionally, but physically. While rural Virginia to coast South Carolina may in actuality be vastly different, to the greater population of the US reading public (and, if you find an agent who frequently sells foreign rights, to the world) that’s not a big move. From the Southern East Coast corridor to the Southern East Coast corridor.

In general, look to find a way to give us the details that make Georgia’s specific story interesting, and her character one we’d like to hang out with for the length of a novel. Good luck!

*And, in fact, I already represent one – Susan Adrian‘s TUNNEL VISION, which comes out from St. Martin’s Press in 2015.

Photo by me! Of my flip flops, taken during my 2010 picture-a-day photo project.

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